The Excuses

Yes, it would be really easy to rant and rave over the excuses I received from my alcoholic husband for years and just go off on a spiral of negativity. But I’m not here to do that. I’m here to talk about the excuses I made. Me. Not him. 

Sure I made a whole lot of excuses for my husband, but he never asked me to do that. He could care less whether anyone knew he was hungover and just needing the day to sleep it off. No, I made the excuses. I did the covering up. I was the pretender, just trying to make it through another family event with people asking me where he was.

My family is close. We always have been. Some see their distant cousins once every few years. We all try to catch up regularly. So when my husband isn’t there by my side, the questions start coming.

“Awe, he couldn’t make it. Did he have to work today?”

No.

“Is he working on the house? Mowing the yard?”

No.

“Is he doing some other noble thing? Something for a good cause? Anything that really matters?”

Nope…(he’s just sleeping it off.)

I didn’t want to lie. Believe me. I wanted to scream from the rooftops, “He’s in bed sleeping it off because he stayed up too late drinking again with his buddy Miller Lite!”

But I couldn’t. I would just say “Oh he’s just really tired so he’s trying to rest up for next week.”

Some people saw right through it. Others were just trying to make small talk. My mom and dad knew, that’s how parental intuition works, right?

I think some people thought “Oh, they must be having problems. Maybe they’re separated?” 

This would have been almost easier to say out loud. “Yes, we’re having problems and we’re giving each other space.” But that wasn’t the case. 

I was ashamed that my husband didn’t want to spend time with my family, but I was terrified he really just didn’t want to spend time with me.

Grape Juice

I find myself still searching for that glass of wine that will just take the edge off. That will make the stress calm down for just a little bit. That will make the challenges of raising three small kids just a little bit easier. 

But, thankfully, I never find it. I only search figuratively because I know there is really no booze on the house. Even if there was wine, I wouldn’t take a drink. I’m just searching for the “easy button” to make my crazy thoughts go away.

Sometimes at the dinner table, I’ll have a glass of grape juice in a fancy glass. I’ll imagine it’s an intoxicating liquid followed by pure peace upon swallowing. 

Then I’ll get snapped back to reality as soon as someone slams their fork on the table or spills their milk. Taking a deep breath is a much better alternative and has a longer lasting effect. What also works is saying a prayer to make it to bath time without losing my shit.

These may not be the best coping mechanisms, but they seem to work for me…

Just Taking a Nap

So I have completely conflicting ideas about naps from what the public opinion may have. I’m not talking about kids and their physical need for sleep or that turkey coma you go into after a Thanksgiving feast.

I’m talking about the I can’t deal with the world today so I’m going to lock myself in my room and sleep until I don’t feel anymore.

I try to have compassion. As someone who has never struggled with depression (at least I don’t think I have), I still have problems wrapping my head around why in the world you can’t just get up and go! 

I thought it was him just being hungover and I would think, “Well, I don’t feel great either, but someone’s got to take care of these kids.” Then it continued into sobriety. There are still times when he slips off to the bedroom and naps for several hours at a time.

This is his coping mechanism and although I’m not always happy with the timing of his naps, he’s sober. He’s working on it. It’s called giving grace. He gets up. He goes to work to provide for his family. He’s an amazing father to our children. He goes to meeting a few times a week. I feel like I hold him to stricter set of expectations than I hold other people and I need to be the one giving more grace and having compassion.

The Mother I Could Have Been

I do think about it a lot. It’s probably the main reason why I outdo myself as a mom most of the time. I’m sure people think I’m trying to compete with the other moms for the “Super Mom” award, but really I’m just in competition with myself.

I was a decent mom. I never left my kids anywhere. I was present for them when they needed me. I attended to their every need. But I was also a lot of things I’m not proud of. I was impatient. I was not as compassionate as I am now. I yelled when it wasn’t necessary. I snapped at my kids when I should have taken a deep breath or walked into the other room. 

Basically I was a martyr. Everything bad was happening to me while I was just trying to “make it”. The truth is, things were not as bad as I made them out to be. My attitude was bad. My perspective was totally skewed.

I wasn’t a daily drinker. I didn’t HAVE to have something to drink every day, however, when the weekend came around, all bets were off. I would binge on whatever we happened to have in the house, most of the time beer or wine. 

I was always up for the kids the next morning, groggy, tired, and hungover, but nonetheless I was awake. But I was just functioning. I wasn’t really present. I wasn’t the mother my children deserved. Yelling at your kids because you have a headache (hangover) isn’t their fault. Feeling like all of my nerves were going to crawl out of my body at any given moment (on the edge) was no way for them or myself to live.

So yes, I am the home room mom. I cook things from scratch like bread and cinnamon rolls. I get up early on Saturday mornings and watch cartoons with my kids because I know my kids won’t need me one day. They’ll grow up and move out. But I don’t want the memory of their mother growing up to be the angry, impatient, and on edge Mom I used to be. I’m still not perfect, not even a little. But I’m sober today and I’m trying.

Friends

You know it’s hard to be married to an alcoholic, but it’s even harder feeling like you can’t tell anyone about your life…your real life. Not just the rainbows and butterflies that everyone shares on social media.

The real stuff…the ups and the downs.

I guess it’s my fault for not being real from the get-go with some of my friends. I should tell everyone, “Hi my name is …neither my husband or myself drink so please don’t make it weird and ask us to go out and do anything with you because A) we’ll feel obligated to make up a reason why we can’t go or B) we’ll show up and make everyone else feel uncomfortable because we aren’t drinking and we won’t give a clear answer why.

It’s been very difficult to make friends when you can’t fully be yourself. Our family moved almost 3 years ago, right at the same time we both decided to get sober, and that was the FRESH start we all needed. We moved to a small, country town with great schools for the kiddos. But man, it’s really lonely when you don’t have friends or family close.

We’ve been here 3 years and I just now feel like I’ve made friends I can trust. I feel like I have a handful of friends who I can be REAL with and I cherish those friendships. It’s not about having friends to go “do stuff” with on the weekends anymore. My friends are all just as busy as our family and so we appreciate our time together. We don’t feel the need to speak every day or make small talk to pass the time. We can sit down together and say “I had a shitty day today” and know that the other person will genuinely care about what you have to say. We listen to one another. We show empathy where it’s due because let’s face it, we could all benefit from knowing we’re not the only ones.

I think it is a good thing it has taken me this long to find my true circle of friends. Although I’ve told myself that I should have more girlfriends in my life to go do stuff with, the truth is, I’m happy with my friends. I don’t need to fill my life with people I have to impress, babysit, make overly grand gestures to impress, or have to fib on who I really am.

I just want to be real. I want to be me. If someone doesn’t like it, that’s okay. Because I am enough. I have the people in my life who love me and support me just the way that I am.

 

Recovery

The road to recovery is paved with lots of anxiety, high hopes, and a renewed spirit. But it’s also REALLY hard to accept. 

Here we were trying to keep our lives pulled together, but now instead of drinking every day my husband has to leave to go to his meetings. There was much resentment about this. I was throwing the world’s biggest (might I add ridiculous) pity party known to man! 

I wanted him to be sober, but I didn’t want him away from us after he got off of work to do what needed to be done at those recovery meetings. I just did not understand. Can’t he just quit drinking and be done with it? Does he really NEED to go every single day? Why can’t like 2-3 times a week suffice? 

I was clueless what the road to recovery looked like. I didn’t know the real work he was doing in there. I honestly (and coldly) did not understand why these meetings were a necessary thing for him to be sober. I thought alcoholics went to one AA meeting, and they were “healed”. Hooray! That’s all it took! One meeting and our family is completely put back together and we’re all sublimely happy!! 

Not even close…

I look back and see a lot of resentment on my part and I’m ashamed of how I behaved. But I also look back and see resilience on my husband’s side. He went to meeting day after day after day. He didn’t know if it would work. He didn’t know who he would talk to that day or what he would walk away from that meeting knowing. He just knew he had to change the cycle. He had to do this with someone’s help. 

I urge anyone reading this to get educated on alcoholism. There’s SO MUCH that I not only did not know, but had so far misconstrued in my head. Even when my husband told me it’s what he needed, I still resisted. 

“Every day? But you’ll miss dinner. What about putting the kids to bed? What about my needs? I need a break too you know.”

I’m ashamed of my behavior, though I’m sure they were just my human emotions coming to the surface.

As I sit here, years down the road to recovery, my encouragement would be to keep trying. Have hope. It does get better. Find an Al-Anon meeting or someone you can talk to about your feelings. You’re not alone. I wasn’t alone in feeling this way. I just didn’t know it until I finally said something.

I’m Sorry My NOT Drinking Makes YOU Uncomfortable

I should give people the benefit of the doubt. They don’t know the reasons why my husband and I don’t drink. I’m sure they’ve formed an opinion (as people tend to do) about a reason why in their own minds. Typically, if you don’t give someone a reason or the whole story, they’ll fabricate one in their own minds anyway.

But when I say I don’t drink and I haven’t drank in 3 years, all of the following are NOT appropriate things to say in response to that:

“Oh really? Not even a glass of wine?”

Nope, not even one glass of wine. Because I can’t just drink one glass of wine. One glass of wine turns into 3 bottles of wine later I’m passed out drunk on my couch sleeping in my own urine because I have the world’s tiniest bladder and always peed wherever I was when I passed out drunk. (Charming…I know!)

“Just let me get you a mocktail.”

No, I don’t want something that tastes exactly like a margarita without the tequila. I don’t want a rum free pina colada. I don’t want a jack and coke without the jack. All this does is remind me I’m not drinking and what used to happen when I would drink. Thanks anyway.

“You know they have that sparkling apple juice and alcohol-removed wine!!”

Thanks, but again it doesn’t work that way. I don’t need to imagine I’m drinking something that isn’t really there.

Let me explain to those who don’t have a drinking problem, alcohol is alcohol. There is no category that exempts a wine cooler from being placed on the same shelf as everclear. They’re both alcohol. It’s like comparing smoking pot to shooting heroine. Smoking pot is more accepted and even legal in some states, but it’s still a drug. Shooting heroine is probably frowned upon more than smoking pot, but they’re both drugs. Not just the one that has a bigger impact on your mind and body.

So I’m sorry if I say No to a beer at the tailgate or a glass of wine at your paint party.

I used to not go to any of these events anyway because I didn’t want you asking questions of why I don’t drink in the first place.