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Starting from the bottom. #1

This is the post excerpt.

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Well, here goes nothing. 

I am writing this blog as therapy for me. Sometimes I find writing is helpful because I just get to word vomit and not be interrupted. And right now, I need therapy from myself. This blog will probably never be read by anyone, that’s okay. Again, this is for me and helping me thru my demons I am struggling with. 

So here is my story. I’m a middle aged white guy, seemingly successful. 6 figure income, highly successful health care career, married almost 10 years to an equally successful wife, 2 amazing girls. Live in a great neighborhood in Midwest suburbia, country club membership, dogs, kids sports, and overall a life many would dream of. And I’m throwing it all away. It’s slipping away faster than a fat kid on a soap lubbed slip and slide going downhill. 

I’m an emotional alcoholic. And I’m just now realizing it. And it may be, probably is, too late to salvage what I have spent my entire life building. 

The reasons are many, my childhood, my relationships, my parents, and family history. As a medical person, you would think I could have identified this. But we are natorius for being terrible patients. And I couldn’t see the forest thru the trees. 

Drinking for me became social. Mildly my senior year of high school, moderately in college. Then I began using it more and more to cope with stressors of school, clinical work, relationships. 

This progressed during my 20’s, I could drink w buddies, family, my wife. We drank to have fun. Fun drunk sex. And we drank to forget our past. Only I never forgot my past, my hurts, my pain. And every time I would get black out drunk, when I used to be fun, I was now angry. I was back to the pain, abandonment, anguish. Even thinking about it now hurts. Makes my heart race. And I explode. I used to say “I used to explode” but I realize, I still explode. If I go home tonight, have a couple (8) crown and diets, i would explode. I have a sharp tongue. You’ve hurt me so I will cut you with my tongue. That’s how I roll. 

So, for 10 years, my wife put up with this. We would fight at first. The last 5 years, I have had half a dozen outburst. Last year, I was screaming at her in the car. She punched me right in the mouth. I deserved it. I stand 6″ taller than her, athletic and strong. I had almost 100lbs on her. And I grabbed her hair and told her never to touch me again. And she stayed. I don’t know why. But she said never again. And I haven’t touched her in anger since. But a month ago, things were rocky, both busy w the kids and our careers. And she pissed me off. And I got drunk “at” her. Because talking hasn’t got thru to her. She was already emotionally gone. 

So there I was, probably 10 beers, 8 crowns deep. And my filter was off. And my “courage” came up. I’m gonna tell her how much she’s hurt me. I’m gonna show her the wrongs she’s done to me. And I snapped. 

I’m not sure all the hate I spewed. I’m sure it was vial. I’m sure I made my point, again. This time, she would see what she’s done to corrode my soul. She’s the one to blame. And I’m leaving. Im packing my overnight bag, grabbing my gun, and driving off. I’m gone. 

And she sat there, the one to held my hand after surgery, who vowed till death do us part, who beared our 2 angles, who trusted me with her darkest corners of her past, who told me to keep going when I was dead tired from rotations, saying she loved me and thank you for doing this for our family, she just sat there. Not crying this time. She knew it wasn’t “Me” yelling. It was this evil, nasty, angry person, who take over when I drink. And she said, “I love you, I will always love you. But this isn’t safe. Please, for you, for your kids, go downstairs, sleep this off. But if you leave, this is over. And there is no chance of coming back.”

Not “I hate you.” Or “fuck you, you stupid asshole.” No rebuttals or arguements. See, even in my darkest place, she was there for me. And I was too drunk to see it. 

So, here I sit. A month later, sleep deprived, restless, angry at myself. Starting to make a walk I never thought I would be on. Realizing I may be too late. But like she said, she can’t promise anything, she won’t promise anything. But she loves me, and always will. And I ask for her help thru this, which is crazy and selfish I know, but she says she already is. Going with me to my councilor, praying for me, and mostly, not kicking me out, or leaving. So I got that going for me. 

This isn’t the beginning of some “you can do it if I did it” blog. This is a way for me to word vomit and keep myself grounded on where I was at a certain time. So I can make myself see, I’m moving forward or backward. 

So my goals for today. 

Find joy in every day

Give her personal space

Be happy around my kids

And sleep. 

Because I need to work on me, to try and get my family back to the place I have promised them I would take them. And it’s definitely not down this hole.

It’s not you, wait; actually it is #10

So, it’s been 36 days I’ve been sober. It’s been almost 2 months since I’ve been drunk. I have developed new friendships with a great mentor. I have spent thousands of dollars and countless hours with a therapist. I have given up time with friends, time at the gym, time alone, trying to work on this situation. Trying to save my marriage. And I have finally come to determine. It’s not me, it’s Her. 

I am not saying my issues didn’t contribute to our situation, not at all. If anything, I have been overly critical of my actions and taken too much blame for everything. But, I am moving on from that. I am determining, my happiness, my wellbeing, my future is not determined by her, but by me. And the most important part of ensuring all of that is to surround myself with people who build me up, want to see me succeed, want to see me happy and fulfilled. And I am realizing that isn’t her. 

She had dinner with her mom the other night. I am extremely close to her parents, so much so that they say I’m more of a son to them than any of their other kids. They have always been so supportive and encouraging for me. We have had amazing experiences as a family. I am trueky blessed to have them in my life. But she said, she needed to talk to her mom bc they needed to show that she was their number 1. She needed them to be parents. Not grandparents first. Not worry about me more than they worry about her. Which would make sense, but that also means she is making people pick sides. She still sees a her side and my side. She is still playing the victim of abuse. 

Let’s be clear. She has been abused. By multiple people. Including me. I physically touched her by pulling her hair once, over a year ago, after she punched me. I have been verbally bashing. I have said hateful things. But that was a very long time ago, with the one exception. So how long is this going to be her go to? Seems like forever to me. 

I realized talking with her last night, she has been non-emotional toward me for a very long time. This wasn’t about the fight before we went to Colorado in Feb, this wasn’t about me getting drunk and exploding in March, trying to get a reaction from her. This was way before that. Back when I was trying to tell her she was working too much, spending all of her weekends away at work. Trying to tell her we needed her at home more. Trying to get her to understand the kids were struggling because she was never around. And it hit me. She has been emotionally disconnected from this relationship for 6 months, maybe even before then. Maybe even last year. How long has she not been there for me? 

She says it’s because for years I have not been there for her. I’ve been mean and an asshole. Yea, there have been times that is true. I haven’t been the best husband ever. But I’ve never claimed that. But she is equally at fault. By picking work and whatever else she has going on, she is picking to not put our marriage first. And that is very telling. Thru all of this, she isn’t wearing her wedding ring. I have asked her to, she won’t. I have worn mine, then stopped to tell her I’m not wearing mine until she wears hers. Doesn’t change it. I am wearing it again to show, regardless of how she feels, I am trying to show I am married and committeed to her. Doesn’t matter. 

She won’t take any small steps to show she is trying or committed to me. She says, “but I get up and have coffee with you.” Yup, and try and sleep. “Well I make your lunch for the day.” Yea, you do. “I let you sleep in bed now.” Well it’s my fucking bed and house too, I’ve given you way too much power in that. That will be coming to an end. 

I’ve reached a point where I can openly look back over the past months and years. She resents me. She hates where her life is. She wants a perfect marriage. She sees her parents and thinks it’s always been great. They did a great job shielding her from any of their issues. Mind you, they were our age now when they got married. There was a different level of maturity. But she wants a storybook tale, and isn’t willing to put forth the effort to try and make it one. She would rather spend her time and effort on work, then the kids. Maybe a little with me. But that’s it. And I deserve someone who will invest that time and energy in a different order. 

I can honestly say, I am not happy anymore. I’m not scared of what will happen if we split up. I will be in a deep hole, but I’m already there. I will be able to get out of this hole because I will depend more on myself, have my kids as motivation, and begin to move on. Maybe someday, I will try again with someone else. I know she will, even though she says she won’t right now. She is so insecure she needs someone to puke compliments at her, not challenge her, and put her on a pedistal. I’m over that. I can do it for a while, but I want respect and love and friendship back. It’s not going to happen from her. 

So I am going to end this journey soon, it’s not going anywhere I want to go. I need to think of this as a marathon. I have come out of this in a sprint. I’m wearing out. So I need a breather, reset my course, and realize I need to save my energy for when I see the end goal, which is much farther away than I figured. Because I’ve been running after her this whole time, but in the wrong direction.

Going, going; Gone? #9

So this is a slight change for me. But maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s just the natural progression. I’m beginning to wonder if this is all going in the direction I haven’t wanted it to go. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s all sliding away from me, if it’s coming to the end. 

So I have been sober for 27 days. Sober without a drink. I had 2 beers the night of March 29. I drank 2 days before that at golf. Had 4 beers. Not drunk, but drank. I haven’t been drunk for 38 days. These are big steps in my life. I have noticed big changes as well. I feel physically better than I have in a while, aside from the chronic feeling of being nauseated from stress. I am less short tempered with my kids. I am less angry overall. And I have a feeling of accomplishment. I still feel embarrassed some around friends who drink, like I have a disease, which I do, that I can’t control, which I can, and that I’m weaker than them, which I’m not. Actually, I’m seeing myself as stronger than I have imagined because I am finding ways to survive in situations where I used to enjoy alcohol. Which is also strange for me, because I deep down have lacked confidence in myself for as long as I can remember. 

Which is a good thing, kinda. It’s also showing me that I deserve to be happy. I deserve the things I have worked for. I deserve the fruits of my labor. I have overcome difficult situations that I was born into, grew up in, and have found success, and happiness. I have surrounded myself with successful friends who have great families, like I have also built. 

For so long, I felt inferior to these friends. Jealousy was a huge part of me. I was jealous of their success, their happiness, their loving relationships. I was too negative toward my own, not realizing I had all of that, and more in some cases. But realizing what they have does not effect me. It’s easy to see it when other people are envious of you, but it’s harder to realize it when you are the one full of envy. 

So here I sit. Wondering if I am pushing in the right direction. Wondering if I’m doing the right thing. Maybe I’m looking at this all wrong. Maybe I have been the whole time. Maybe my focus on committement isn’t in the right place. I have always been committeed to trying to make other people happy, sometimes at my own expense. I realized I felt great making others feel good. I gave a lot of me for others. Hell, its part of my job. Giving of my time, nights, weekends, holidays, time w my family and kids, for the sake of others. It’s part of it. 

But maybe my committement needs to be toward me. And toward my kids. Focusing on making me great, making myself happy, making sure I enjoy what I have. And leaving the rest behind. Leaving the people who drag me down far far away. That will mean some people I call friends now. And that may include “Her.” 

Yup, “Shes” back. Actually “she” has never really left. she has come thru a couple times, during long conversations, but “She” is the normal, “She” is the constant. And “She” isn’t nice, or loving, or kind. I know she is still needing protection, from the past hurt and pain. she brings me so much happiness and love, and joy I have never experienced before. That’s why I married her. But I’m not sure she will ever come back. 

So that’s why I am still lost, broken, feeling like a mental fat ass. But not as often. I am feeling stronger, happier, and enjoying my kids more. Which is huge. And I deserve it. They deserve a happy dad. Especially as they start to go thru teenage year. And I think the best for them would be to live in a happy family and intact family unit. But, I am actually considering the but. 

See, “She” won’t be happy. “She” won’t let me happy. “She” is always angry, especially at me. “She” is physically avoiding me. “She” won’t be there to support me. “She” won’t let us succeed like we could as a family. “She” wants to see change in me before “she” can feel safe. Now “Her” concern is I won’t give her enough time to take baby steps to work thru this. 

And “she” is right. “She” hurts me with rejection every day. It’s shitting on my snowcone. It’s taking the wind from my sails. Every thing I work on to improve is becoming tarnished by “Her” attitude and ambivalence toward the situation. 

One thing I want to touch in is my sex life. For the entire marriage, sex has been an issue. It started hot and heavy, constant. “she” was loving and affectionate. “she” constantly was showing love thru physical connection. As with any marriage, it slows. But this was different. It became control for “her/Her.” “She” always had a place in the sexual relationship. It’s from “her/Her” past. But “she/She” has always resented me asking for “more”. I don’t need more. I need to feel wanted. I need build up. I need spontaneous actions. I need feeling like my wants are important. “She” says I’m sexually addicted. Like I have to have it or I get pissed, disconnected, and distant. There are times that is correct. But it’s not in the matter of days, but weeks, sometimes a month. Sometimes it’s not because we don’t have sex, but because it feels forced, like an action that has to be done but doesn’t want to be done. It’s not having wishes met. It’s not being sensual. There is a difference between being sexual and sensual. Being sensual to me means being open to the needs of the partner. Meaning, I love a good kiss. I love kissing. “She/she” doesn’t. I love showers together, “she/She” doesn’t. I love being seduced. Another nope. When we have emotional sex, it’s amazing. But otherwise, it’s a physical act. I get the leftovers of the day. Then there isn’t any emotion left to give. And it’s not big things I’m looking for. I want the buildup. I want the text saying “I can’t wait to see you at home. I just want to be with you.”  I don’t need dirty talk, lude photos, aggressive behavior, kinky actions or attire. I just need to know that during the day, you think of me. That I am wanted. That you want to share something with me you don’t share with anyone else. 

And for years, this has been an issue. I want to feel safe in my bed. That I can explore my physical and emotional needs with my partner. And “She” controls that. Yes there have been times it has been more in my control, but mostly, it has not been. When it is, I’m scared and nervous, afraid of doing the wrong thing, saying the wrong thing, because “She” has snapped at me before. “She” has stopped and made it obvious “She” was taking over. So, invalidated is what frequently comes to mind when it comes to discussions of sex. 

I understand baggage. I have some. Okay, so there are going to be some things I will never get from “her/Her,” but I can deal with that more if “she’ll” meet more in the middle than just “Her” side. 

So like I said, maybe this journey is in the wrong direction. Maybe “She” was right and there are multiple ways this ends. Maybe it ends with me walking away, to find my happiness and success, and not focusing on everyone else’s. Maybe I’ve earned that. 

Broken #8

I have become a broken man. It started when I was a child. Coming from a failed marriage, I’ve had struggles: but I survived. I have wounds, cuts and scars, but I survived. It helped mold me into what I am today. While it’s not perfect, it is why I am the way I am. 

I am outgoing, looking to impress people, trying to gain their affection. I had to do this, I had to try and please people. It was because the adults around me were always stressed. They were dealing with a divorce, being a single mother, an estranged father getting a week here or there with his son. Grandparents who rarely saw me and stressed about the issues of their child. A stepdad trying to gain my love and trust. So I grew up around stress, and tries to impress them w my actions to gain love. I still do this. 

I’m funny. I deflect stress by trying to make jokes. I don’t like a high pressure environment. Not saying I can’t handle it, I just don’t enjoy it. I’d rather make a joke and lighten the mood and still get stuff done. I prefer a laugh to a moment of awkward silence. 

I’m loving. I love feeling love, I love being in love. I love showing others I love them, and feeling that in return. 

I know I am not perfect. But I am not evil either. I desire to be needed, appreciated, validated. Like my opinion matters. And I have worked for my entire life to achieve goals, status, and relationships that epitomize that. And now I’m broken. 

For all the success I’ve had, I am currently left with just failure. Failure in a relationship that matters the most. A failure in my wife’s eyes. A personal failure because of that. And it’s broken me. 

Like I was a wild stallion, only more like a quarter horse, not much to be won over. But she has taken the things in me and made some of them better. She has challenged me to become things I didn’t think I could do. She has shown me love I never imagine feeling. And she has broken me. 

See, like her, I have a past. I have issues that happened long ago that creep into who I am now. She has them as well. I have asked about them, we have talked about them. I try and avoid them. While I’m not always great at this, I honestly try. I avoid the sexual confrontations that cause her issues. I am there in the middle of the night when she has nightmares. I never blame her for these directly, although I probably get frustrated indirectly. But I honestly try. 

My major issues are, insecurity, trust, abandonment, needing to feel validated, and needing to feel love. She knows all of these. She pointed a lot of them out to me. But she also works against me with these. 

The obvious one. She resents sex with me. She feels like it’s always the issue. No matter how much, I will always want more. I use sex to show her how much I love her. She may not like this, but it’s how I’m wired as a guy. I don’t need sex constantly. I need to feel wanted. I need to feel like some days she can’t keep her hands off me. I need to feel like she is willing to focus on my needs more than her own. That some days she just wants to make me happy. I try that every day. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for her, to show her I love her. That isn’t focused on sexual stuff, I just mean in general. And I want to be able to explore with her. I’ve had 1 serious relationship aside from her. It was the same. Someone else in control. Sorry man, it’s when I want to do this. Yea, cool I get you have ideas and feelings, but this is my control thing. 

Validation. I know this also ties into sex, I want my feelings to be validated. But my feelings aside from sex as well. Stuff about the house, our schedule, our kids. When she is stressed, she stretches for more control. It ends up being micromanaging. Maybe I put something away in the wrong place, maybe I forgot to start the dishwasher. But I cleaned the whole house, did so much you didn’t ask, and you only notice the 2 things I forgot? Or hey, look at this article, it’s funny, or it’s about marriage and exactly where we are, here’s a song/video that’s about us. Whatever. No response. Couple days later, “hey what did you think about that?” Oh I never saw it, etc. Obviously didn’t register on her give-a-shit meter. But she comments on 12 other things I can see on Facebook. Glad that’s more important. 

Trust and abandonment. Well, these are tough, they stem directly from my youth. I can’t fix these alone. I need help with these. She broke my trust years ago, and I do fine w it overall, except when I was drunk. If she maybe followed thru some on the other stuff, maybe I’d trust her more. But again, I need to work thru this with a professional obviously. And I’ve always felt like people were going to leave me. It’s the nature of me. Again, I need council on this. It’s not normal to think everyone is going to abandon me. 

This ties in directly to insecurity. So often, she has corrected me, undermined me, questioned why I’m going this way, doing it like this, try this instead, or “Here, just let me do it.” I’m all about equality in thoughts and ideas. I know women are as smart, smarter than guys, me. But I’m not stupid. I am all let’s talk about this and see what’s best. But don’t take over, just abandon my work or ideas. I’m a guy. I need praise. I need to know I contribute to this relationship, in a positive way. 

Look, it comes down to this. She’s independent. She can survive without me. She will be just as successful and achieve as much alone as with me. The part I struggle with is if I’m holding her back. Are there things she can’t achieve just because I’m around? I know I am not able to be as successful without her around. She builds me up, makes me a better man. She also wears me down. But overall, it’s more of a buildup, but not right now. 

Right now, it’s just wearing down, more and more. There is minimal positive, constant wearing down of my psyche. No physical. Almost 3 months of no physical. And I’m tired. Tired of the stress, of not sleeping, of fighting. Of feeling like a failure, feeling like I’m fighting for a lost cause, like hope it lost. Amazing that I wrote a post over a week ago saying the same thing. And after another week worth of “working” on this, the major point she addresses, you didn’t make an appointment with your counselor. Yea it’s important thing to do, but totally discounts all of the things I have done. Again, look at what you haven’t done for us, for me. 

So, I’m lost. Or maybe, I’ve lost. 

Fat Bastard #7

I’m a fat bastard. Well, not physically, but mentally. I’m not the thinnest person in the world, but I definitely don’t look like this on the outside, but my internal dialog is something completely different. 

In my line of work, being morbidly obese challenges me, makes my job harder. And making my job harder, well it can cost you your life. My job is keeping you alive. And the less you care about yourself, the fatter you get, the more likely you are to have issues when I’m taking care of you. These issues can literally kill you, in spite of my best efforts. 

So let’s get to the root of the obesity issue. What causes it. Well, habits cause it. Habits of not exercising, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle; calories in vs calories used. It’s really that simple. Change your habits, change your life. 

But it’s really hard. It’s habits you started when you were a kid, your parents feed you TV dinners, didn’t sign you up for sports, they sat around every night and were not active. You weren’t good at basic sports in gym. You were pudgy and picked last. You learned to hate running around. It’s become engrained. And now you weigh twice what your body was designed to carry around (this is extremely common, and these aren’t the biggest people we see). And your joints hurt, your back hurts constantly. So you can’t work out. Hell, you’ve never learned how to. You don’t know where to start. And when you start, nothing changes for a while, or you platue, and quit. Because it’s too hard, because you’re just too damn fat. So there you go. You’re going to die younger than your healthy peers because of your lack of coping, lack of trying, lack of caring enough to get thru the struggles. 

And you know it. Everyone around you knows it. They try not to say anything to you for fear of hurting you. Your doctors mention it, but don’t push. Kids stare, you feel it. People are always watching the fat guy. And you hate it. You hate that you let yourself get this way. Hate that you won’t change. Can’t change. Hate buying new clothes, always bigger. Saving old stuff in hopes that your next fad diet will stick, that you can fit into those pants, still bigger than they should be, may fit again someday. Until the next pot luck, cookie day, bad day, ice cream craving, the list just goes on and on. And you hate knowing it won’t change. 

How do I know these things? Because, even in my trim BMI of 27, athletic and tall, less than 20% body fat dad bod, I feel the same feelings. Only not about my body, which I wish was more tone and thinner, without scars and asymmetrical ribs, I feel it about my mind. My internal dialog. I feel like the fat sweaty stinky guy you see “walking” into Golden Corral for dinner alone. 

See, all my issues are the same as the fat guy. They are all habits, genetics, tendencies, traits that are terrible for me, that make it hard to be around me. That will eventually kill me. The self loathing is tremendous. I feel like everyone around doesn’t see the real me. Not like the fat girl who wants a friend to see the kind person they are, but I want people to see the failure I see in myself. Don’t look at the outside, don’t tell me the success I have, the amazing career, out of this world wife, awesome kids. A life people would dream of. Look at the dark spots, the failures. The shortcomings. 

WHY CANT YOU SEE HOW TERRIBLE I AM?!?!

I look at people I work with, who have a much harder life, less income, less fortunate, rough lives, single moms, working dad’s w stay at home wives, kids with lifetime disabilities. I’m jealous of them. They have confidence in themselves. About everything. I know I can do my job. I’m great at it. I’m sought after. It’s a task. I am not confident in me. I have been trained that good enough isn’t acceptable. I’ve been trained those around me haven’t fulfilled their dreams because of me. These things aren’t really true, but it’s truly how I feel. 

So what does that mean? Stop being a bitch man, you have shit people would kill for. Well it means I’m self destructive. When I let my guard down, I try and destroy the things I don’t think I’m worthy of, including my family. Especially my wife. I feel so unworthy of her. She is a princess and I am a toad. And then I get mad bc I can’t understand why she wants me. Then I test that love. When I don’t get what I hope for, I start a negative cycle in which I feel more unworthy of her. And this is where I drink. To get drunk at her. To lose my shit at her. 

I push to test her love. To see if she really does love me. How much can I push to see? How much can I expose of my past and how much can she love me. Because I don’t love me that much, I know she doesnt either. She cant. Again, sober me knows not to do this. Drunk me doesn’t. Drunk me expects her to be like everyone else and lie, at some point come to where I have exhausted their love.

So, now that I have pushed this far, and I’ve found her breaking point. And I realize why I do this, but I hope I can take it all back, and that she sees, it’s not me. 

Lost #6

So we have good days, and we have bad days. Everyone does. Today, starting off, it is not a good day. Maybe that will change, maybe I will make it change. But right now, it doesn’t feel good. 

I know the reason. It’s fairly obvious. It’s the weekend. And while that brings happiness, time away from work and time with family and friends for 99% of the world, inside the 4 walls of my house, it brings stress, anxiety, worry. And that’s really sad. I look at this time as an opportunity to talk with my wife, continue to work thru the issues we are having. She sees it as a time that She is not distracted from the problems by work, as much, the kids are hungry for her attention, constant stimulation showing the problems, not hiding them. The house is just that for us, especially her now. It’s no longer a home. There is no safety or reprieve from the worlds stressors. They are glaringly apparent, right in front of you. The weekends are by far the hardest time for us during this. 

It’s apparent when I go to “bed” every night, on the couch in the basement. I hope every night is the night She says “come to bed with me, just be by me.” Doesn’t happen. So I go downstairs, laying on the couch, hoping to get a text that doesn’t come, saying “I miss you, come upstairs.” I hate the dark now. I have always had issues when going to bed with Her, when I need Her in an intimate way. When She says no, it constantly feels like rejection. I know sex isn’t every night, but I liked it a few times a week. But this rejection is different. It’s more. It’s “get away from Me, I don’t feel safe.” Seeing that from your wife is humiliating. Makes me feel like I’m not a man. 

We have a lot of other “things” going on. In the midst of this, I am changing jobs. Or supposed to change jobs. Going to a busier place with sicker patients. A job I have been working toward since October. In my career field, you don’t just give 2 weeks and move it. It’s a process. So I’m supposed to change this summer, the ball is rolling. And my life is a mess. Not exactly great timing to make big changes. My current group doesn’t want me to leave, have offered more money, better benefits. They have identified issues I’ve noted as reasons for leaving and are actively trying to change them. Perfect. So i stay, make less money, but have stability. Tell the new place, sorry it won’t work right now, my life is teetering on the brink of disaster. Only they won’t understand. Word has it, you turn down a job with them, you’re blacklisted, banned from ever working there. Mind you, I’m young, only 5 years into what will be a 30 plus year career. I know things change, but it’s a small community. 

So this is a big decision. And I have to make it soon. So I talk with Her about it. What do you think, etc. I value her opinion. But she isn’t “there.” She talks, but ultimately she tells me to follow my heart. My heart is broken and in no position to make a serious decision. And I need my best friend to help. And she’s not here. She’s hidden somewhere in a deep, safe place inside of Her. And I say “Her” and not “her” because “her” is my wife, the loving, caring, nurturing woman who chose me as a husband. The one I left down in so many ways. “Her” is the person she becomes when she is hurt and angry. Emotionless around me. Stone faced when we talk, work face. Serious stuff. Not loving, caring, conversational like I’m used to. “She” is indifferent when I talk about stuff. Like this morning, discussing the plans for the weekend, “she” is there because it was about the kids. Then I discuss making time to work on us. “She” just sits there, not answering. Just blank. 

I understand I don’t always handle things the best way. That’s a major reason we are where we are. I didn’t handle my reaction well this morning. I stood up, cleaned my coffee cup, put away my blanket, and sighed. Looking for a reaction. And that’s part of the problem, looking for a reaction, instead of just talking. So I just asked, what’s wrong with that plan? “She’s” afraid. “She’s” afraid of giving the wrong response, afraid of saying what I don’t expect to hear, don’t want to hear, afraid of the weekend. “She” is assuming I want to hear things are great. I know they aren’t. But I need to know where She/she is at. To mentally prepare for this weekend. 

I know this is going to move at a snails pace. A step a day in the right direction isn’t reasonable. An inch will have to do. But She is an anchor. Not budging. Solid. It’s Her protection. “She” has been here before, a failed abusive marriage. While the abuse is hugely different, but to her, it makes her turn into Her, the abuse is abuse, the words tear her apart. So she retreats into a bunker long ago built, trusting to never need it again. And going back to it makes it hard to come back out. 

So I am lost. I have no idea where to turn. I have people to talk to, but they all tell me to stay to course. Just be patient. Patiently walking on an unknown course, possibly back to where she is, to walk hand in hand, side by side someday. Or directly off a cliff. The hardest thing about staying the course, continuing my walk is knowing it won’t take me to “her” bunker. “She” has it hidden, guarded, inaccessible. And as much as I walk, as far as I can go, I’ll never be beside “her” while “she” is in there. “She” is a protector, keeping “her” safe. 

So no matter what direction I turn, whichever way I walk/run/sprint, it’s wrong. And it’s so hard. I turn to prayer, it calms me some. Giving the heartache to Him helps, but it still weighs on me. I pray for Her to soften, but She is strong. So I spin, lost, alone. And the one thing I used to always turn to, it’s gone. And my substance of abuse, to medicate my mood, to help me forget, but remember, is gone. Which is good, but makes me realize it’s something I’ve leaned on a lot. So that step is good, to not treat this the ways I’ve treated it before. But still, I feel lost.

Becoming Overexposed #5

So I finally came to a point in this journey where I couldn’t do it on my own anymore. My wife was at the same point. We needed people to help us. We couldn’t talk to each other, she didn’t trust me, I was in a typical guy mode of panic and try and fix things. So we needed support. And while I know she has reached out to friends, and her family, I’m not at liberty to discuss what she has all done on her own. Not because it’s super secret and she is afraid someone will figure out she’s struggling, but because she is keeping it closer to her vest. She isn’t sharing in detail every step of her process, healing, and journey. Probably because she knows her journey may not end with me in it, as painful as that is to write. But, the positives for me are, I’m still living at home, getting to see her everyday, and she still loves me. So I still have all of that.

So my first step was admitting I needed someone. I have been a lukewarm Christian, letting my faith drift away when I’m doing well, running back to it when I’m struggling. So I turned to prayer. But I didn’t have a good grasp on where to start. And personal forgiveness. I was/am so ashamed of the position I had put my family. So I guess the first step was admittance of a problem. Check, I’ve fucked stuff up. Got it. Now what to do. 

After another long night of not sleeping, just laying in the basement crying, I took a shower one morning. And sat there. Just lost. Hopelessly lost. It was the first day I didn’t know if I could get thru the day. I couldn’t focus, I had barely slept. I had a busy weekend ahead of me. My brothers wedding. We had rehearsal dinner that night. It was going to be a long day ahead of me. And there was going to be drinking. It’s a wedding, and typically at weddings, we tend to have quiet a few drinks. Cool, so I’m emotionally unstable, super tired, no connection to my wife, can’t tell my family, gonna be super fun. I had to talk to someone. 

I had talked to a buddy, but not in detail yet. It just didn’t feel safe. But I needed to talk to someone who had been married longer and had experienced a really rough point. So I asked if I could reach out to my brother in law. I asked because he’s my BIL by marriage, and I knew it would get back to my wife. I don’t need to give her more fuel for this inferno I/we had started. She was supportive, telling me I needed help and he is someone I can relate to. And he and his wife have been marriage counsilors in their church. 

So I messaged him, and was blunt and honest. And told him everything. And I expected him to protect her. And tell me off, get a life, move on. I hurt his family. But he didn’t. He wanted to meet. And that opened the flood gates. 

I felt so naked tell him what happened. So exposed. We had made this picture of what was going on so believable, everyone around us assumed everything was okay. Hell, I believed it. Well, it didn’t get better that weekend. The wedding was hard. I made it without drinking. It was so hard. Everyone kept asking me what my deal was. Never knew that everyone just associated me and drinking so much. I was hurt. I was ashamed and embarrassed. But they were right. Drinking and me was just common place at events. And everyone knew something was going on. 

The rest of the weekend was tough. We had hit our max. We were fried and burned out. Finally, we had to let our parents know. My parents knew something was up, obviously having spent the weekend with us and seeing the discomfort between us. So I talked to them, fully expecting fire to be spewed and sharp words to be thrown at me. Failure. Stupid. Irresponsible. Drunk. And nothing. None of those things. Not a single one. 

All it was was encouraging. Understanding. And pump up. Yea it was some “Get your shit together” but it was more, “You have too much too lose, you’ve worked too hard to let this get away from you” and “You’ve accomplished everything you have ever cared about before, you can do this too” 

Same when I talked to her parents. I have amazing in laws. Truly, they are another set of parents to me. They understand the stresses we go thru better than anyone else. Both accomplished healthcare professionals, big names in the community. And yet again, no evil, no hate, no negative. There were request, not demands. Get rid of the gun for now, you don’t neee that around my daughter and my grandkids. Good with me, I don’t need it. And no alcohol. Again, I had cleared this all out. Get a counselor, a real one. Cool. 

So, I’ve gone to the counselor, she came with me to the counselor. And we’ve worked thru some things, or as she said, the tip of the iceberg. A long way to go. 

All these times I had to explain what happened, why I snapped, how much I drank, how little control I have over my anger when I drink, my insecurities from childhood, it makes me feel naked. Vunerable. Uneasy. Opening myself up for their anger and ridicule. And it’s never happened. 

My counselor said I needed a good support system. Accountability people. I maybe don’t need a formal program, I just need mentors. People to be there for me. So I’ve started to build this. Again, opening up to friends I have made, old friends whom I’m built a show of “perfection” to. And unlayering that is hard. But I’m starting to feel good in my skin. Not about what I’ve done, but about what lies ahead. And beginning to let go of trying to appear perfect. Not trying to impress everyone. Showing I’m vulnerable. And letting go of what they think. So I’m surrounding myself with people who aren’t judging me. Embracing fixing me. And for the first time in a long time, I’m starting to feel a little more clear in the head. And starting to feel, normal. A little more than before.

The Jokester #4

So I have always considered myself a funny person. I am quiet in crowds. But when I find my people, I come out of my shell. I like to have attention come to me, but I don’t chase it. Mostly because I’m afraid of rejection, but I play it off as narcissism. I want people to like me, but I put up a wall of protection. I do this by saying, “Hi, I’m ME, I’m an asshole.” Then explain, if I set your expectations low, I won’t let you down. And people think it’s funny, or dislike me. Either way, I’m covered, I don’t get hurt. 

Typically, I have fun, an ornery smile usually is on my face. I’m quick witted and always have an inappropriate joke ready. I like people around me to be laughing, maybe at me, themselves or someone around. I like having fun. Until I don’t. 

See when I start to drink, and something has been bothering me, I try and be my normal funny self. I start to make inappropriate jokes, but this time, they may be a little bit more true than before. Maybe you’re someone I care about, and don’t like to hurt your feelings, for fear you’ll hurt mine. So I’ve held stuff in, and now, Coors light is my filter. And it doesnt help hold my tongue. It gives me courage to challenge you. To air my problems with you. And don’t you dare challenge me, because I will have a 6 pack down by the time you start your second, and then the jokes, they start to disappear. 

Next, I start in on things that just bother me. Like lately with my wife, it’s work schedule. Always gone doing something. Never committing to anything because of work. Always on your work phone. Why don’t you make time for me? Why can’t you see I need your attention? Haven’t you heard my jokes? I’ve been making them for days, or weeks, maybe even months. Oh, you’re angry now? Let me show you how much you have hurt me.

BOOM! Right back into the cycle!

See, I have realized this over the past couple years. So I try and open up some, but only selectively. See I want to make you understand where I’m at, I don’t care much where you are coming from. This is typical me when I drink. Sober, I can process this a little more. Doesn’t mean I will have worked thru it by the next time I get smashed. But there is at least a chance. 

Having gone to some counseling, and having developed some mentors, I have started to work thru some of the deep issues that are stuck in the depths of my brain. I think the issue of needing to be heard, needing to be validated is normal, part of the relationship process. But I need it, and I need what I say to be validated. This probably stems for my lack of relationship with my dad, the biological one. See, him sending me tapes of him talking was a kind gesture. It was the result of a 5 year old who didn’t understand talking on the phone well. And the cost associated with long distance calls (you used to have to pay for those, and they weren’t cheap I guess). And being from a family where he never had a strong male role model. So I can’t blame him for doing it. He tried. As a father, I understand that now. But I resented him for not listening. I have memories of me crying about him just taking and not listening. So the tapes stopped. But the pain didn’t. I guess it never has.

This is also probably why I am so long winded with stuff, I dominate conversations I’m comfortable in. I want people to understand why I am saying what I am saying. And I don’t want to listen too much. I’m better at talking than listening. Side note, not a great way to be in a marriage. Trust me, mine isn’t great right now, if even that helps someone else, this is worth it. I realize this in my marriage now, again probably too late. It’s how I was talked to when I was very vulnerable. It’s what I learned. 

Again, this is probably never going to be read by anyone. Maybe I’ll read it again in a few days or weeks. Maybe it will help remind me why I’m doing this. But getting these words out today, my mind feels much more organized and clear. I’ve connected some dots. I’m making progress. And right now, very humbly, I have to admit, before I can try and save my marriage, I have to save me. Dig out of this hole. Fill it in 1 scoop at a time. And I want an earth mover, but all I have is a teaspoon.