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.

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