You Will Become Him (I Have Become Him)
Someone messaged me and asked if things had gotten better, worse or stayed the same with my husband and his drinking. This is what you must know about alcoholism: IF the alcoholic is not seeking treatment and striving for sobriety Every. Single. Day, then he is getting worse. Every. Single. Day. There is no status quo, no leveling off, no a little bit of an alcoholic. He is getting worse. Daily. Weekly. Monthly. Yearly. I used to think about that a lot. All the time. I was consumed with shock and disbelief over who my husband had become and how he had changed from the man I married.
I did not marry a verbally abusive, pathologically selfish, toxically withdrawn, emotionally indifferent husband.
I did marry an alcoholic. And no matter the man your husband may have been when you married him and/or when his alcoholism was in its early stages, that is not the man he will become as his compulsive drinking continues. But as shocking and sad and unfathomable as the changes in my husband have been for me, nothing prepared me for the changes that would occur within me.
I have become just as angry and just as volatile as my husband. I have lost everything I once loved about who I was. Two weeks ago we went to the beach. One of my children brought a friend. And that friend and my child brought "edibles" to the beach. Pot-laced candy. They got high the first night.
I lost my mind.
Not in front of my child's friend. With the two of them I was angry but controlled. However, I later took my child out for a drive and to talk about this "choice" of theirs. Long story short, I ended up screaming at my kid. I mean the definition of "losing your shit." It's not the first time I have yelled at one of my children. I already knew I yelled too much. And I already knew it the degree of rage that I felt most likely had little to nothing to do with whatever I was yelling about. But this time was different. And I don't mean different in a good way. I mean just horrific things coming out of my mouth. 20+ years of living with an alcoholic unleashed on the most vulnerable in my life. I was beyond sickened by my own behavior. I couldn't even bring myself to apologize - not because I wasn't sorry but because How? How do you apologize for verbally assaulting your child?
People wonder why we wives "fail" to leave our alcoholic husbands. I wonder why myself and I am married to an alcoholic. The answer is "complicated" of course but when I think back over the past 20+ years and think of all the times I felt like I just HAD TO GET OUT - but never did - there was one important factor missing from my consideration:
I was always in flight mode. I was always thinking about how I had to GET AWAY from him. I was always trying to escape the negative. It seems like that should be a powerful motivator for a human being. After all, we jerk our hand away from the hot stove. We run for cover from a thunderstorm. If something hurts, we seek pain relief. So why, how is it that the idea of getting AWAY from a verbally abusive, emotionally toxic alcoholic isn't enough or sustainable as motivation?
I don't know the "technical" answer in the sense of what is going on neurologically but I have no doubt there is plenty happening in the organ known as the brain. Neurotransmitters and pathways, dopamine and the pleasure-pain loop are all jumbled up together creating our habits and choices. But outside the neurological, "scientific" reason as to why the misery of my life and marriage never sustained me to the point of change, I'd say the biggest issue was I never saw My Life as something to run toward! I was always focused on getting AWAY from him rather than getting TO me and the person I wanted to be and the life I wanted to live.
Well, I am done focusing on getting away from him..
It's time to move forward to me.