Tuesday, April 28, 2009

So many appointments

Finished my intensive evening treatment classes and now I'm down to one evening class, an AA meeting, a psychotherapy appointment, and a massage therapy appointment weekly. So, that's 4 - 5 appointments a week…a lot I guess, but worth it.

H says to me, "Wow, so many appointments…I thought you were done with treatment."

"Well, I want to make certain I don't drink anymore and I was already going to the therapist and massage," I said. The reality of it is that I'm just taking care of myself, wanting to stay sober, and trying to figure out what my life looks like. Yup, I need the care.

"I just don't think you need to go to treatment anymore...you never drank that much," he said. "I just don't know why you're seeing a therapist...you've seen him for years already and it isn't helping our relationship."

By now, I've learned to not defend my choices or my actions. It doesn’t matter. He doesn't need to agree or disagree or approve anything that I'm doing. In this case, being silent is the high road. But, he does pout about it.

I feel a transformation underway…for the first time in a long time, I'm focused on making my life better for me. I think that H can see me changing…certainly my personality has changed since I stopped drinking and I feel peaceful…but he's afraid of that change as much he's wanted it for many years. And he's not in any position to change himself at this point…his life is continuing to shrink and he's making it worse by not accepting where he is or we are.

He keeps wanting me to be at home (all the bloody time) and, happily, these appointments give me a reason to not be while also helping myself.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Dementially yours

As my head clears up, I'm really noticing how bleak my time with H is…especially on the weekends. And because of my distress at seeing how empty and odd he is/we are, I drank at home to numb out.

While H wants to spend as much time with me as he can, I find that I want to spend as little time with him as I can get away with. I'm in a weekday evening "class" at my local treatment center and, even tho' the classes are a bit dry (sic) at times, they at least get me out of the house in the evenings and talking with other adults. Even AA meetings, in all their bizarreness, are a relief for this reason.

Our time together is reduced to watching TV, smoking cigarettes (started that again, but will stop again), and eating dinner. I'm just bored with him and as we continue this long, slow declining dance together, there just isn't much of him left there. And I feel great distress from this.

Our conversations are pretty much me talking about work and my projects/hobbies and him talking about how he's still angry at his dad because "he never would admit that I'm right," his continual frustration and angst about being ill and having to take meds that make him sick, and reliving and being angry about the past. Oh, and the latest gadget that he found surfing the web that we have to get.

About a week into my treatment class…just as my head was beginning to clear...H told me that he wanted a divorce because I had mistreated him so…"I'll live in a hole if I have to." The next day he told me that he didn't want his medical smoking to cause us to break up because he knows that when folks get sober, they often have to cut all prior ties to stay that way.

Over the past several years, I made the transition from lover/partner to friend/caregiver emotionally. But I was too drunk to really notice it happening bit by bit. Now I see it. H readily accepts my friendship and care, and he clearly benefits from this. But H still thinks that I'm his lover/partner, which I no longer am in my mind and heart, even tho' I love him a great deal.

I don't have the heart to put this change in his face...he'd forget the conversation anyway...so every day I dance around the rotting elephant in every room.

If he were not demented, I would just tell him or he could see what has occurred…that wouldn't lessen the impact, mind you. But given how he is, he can't see it, doesn't remember what happended, and continues to live in a distant corner of the Twilight Zone, expecting, hoping that when I'm sober long enough I'll come around again.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Changing dynamics

In my treatment program class last night, we learned about how families can react when someone gets sober. In my case, I'm not certain that H knows what to do with me ("Hey, where's the asshole I lived with for so many years?").

Many marriages end in divorce after one (or both) of the spouses gets sober.

But I'm not interested in fixing my marriage, just fixing me. Right now, it IS all about me.

He can't be fixed (tho' I likely underestimate him), so my marriage can't be fixed, I think.

And do I really know who he is now? I'm assuming that he isn't capable, which is likely true. Would I have drunk so much if I thought he could be there?

And also, to the degree he WAS there, I wasn't because I was drinking too much.

I've learned that H is an addict as well…a prescribed one, but one nonetheless. I mean, he's been taking pain meds for so long now and the long-term affects on brain biochemistry are there nonetheless. Throw in significant dementia and he'll not ever be what I need, in spite of how much I love him and want that.

As I get weller and weller (sic), I’m realizing how impaired he is, but he can't get well…well, as well as I need him to be. Where does that leave me, leave us?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Finding a replacement

Someone in my treatment class was whining about how much time the class and homework is taking. (I didn't say it, but I was thinking the same thing: Class weeknights from 6 - 9:30 and homework too.) The counselor asked, "Well, how much time did you spend drinking?" Every evening and weekends too.

Someone else in the class was whining about how they had to rearrange their life around the classes. (I'm sure you can see this one coming.) The counselor said, "Well, you rearranged your life around alcohol, didn't you?" Uhhhh, yes, I did, clearly.

Very strange to not drink 1,000 or more calories a day. Now I have to eat and eat and eat. And even so, I’m still losing weight. Eventually, I'll figure out and get comfortable with how much I need to eat, but sheesh…I've never been a big fan of eating anyway.

Even stranger still is to be able to know in my heart that my romantic life with H is over, yet not be angry at him about it . The more present I become as I dry out, the clearer it becomes to me that I have to take responsibility for getting my needs met and not blame H...just love him.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Weekdays of clarity

I haven't had a drink since last weekend and I'm amazed at how clear I'm thinking; people ahead of me in the treatment program say that thinking continues to improve for a long time.

Work is easier, my quick wit (we can debate how funny it is) is returning, and I'm realizing just how much I love H in spite of it all. And a little support from H and our family goes a long way in helping me feel better too.

I also realize just how impaired H is - not just in the "big" things, like not being able to cook a meal - but in small things, like tracking a simple conversation, mumbling half the words in a sentence, or struggling to wash a pan because "no matter how much I wash it, it just feels oily." (It wasn't.)

Weekday schedule now is work 8 - 5 & intensive outpatient treatment (group therapy) 6 - 9:30. Throw in physical therapy and psychotherapy once a week each and 2 AA meetings a week and I'm max'd out. Too much therapy if you ask me…. And just for fun, I'm getting a cold too.

Happily, sister and nieces are cooking for H and he likes seeing them and they love to spend time with him. And a nurse is now coming in to manage meds for H.

Nice to have some relief so that I can take care of myself.

But best of all is that my anger towards H is diminishing in a big way and I'm able to be more patient and kind. I simply don’t have the hostility towards him that I've felt in the past…even when I'm exhausted and he's being, well, his impaired self.

And for all of this I am very, very grateful.