Four days ago we returned from our very first sober vacation in more than 12 years.  My husband and I, along with our daughter and her significant other spent 7 days in a beach front villa in North Carolina.  We shared the villa with my brother and his family.  It was a wonderful vacation.  Everybody was able to do exactly what they wanted to do without any expectations from anyone else.  If we wanted to do things together, we did; if we wanted to do different things than others, we did.  It was so nice to go on vacation with others and not have to worry about “pleasing” someone or “disappointing” someone.  We all got up early, walked along the beach, collected sea shells, took pictures, let our bodies be brutalized by the ocean waves, soaked in the sun, got tan and laughed.  Over all, the vacation was relaxing and allowed me to get “into the present” which is something that is very hard for me to do. 

Although it was a great feeling to be able to spend time with my family and not have my husband be drunk or passed out somewhere I had fleeting moments where alcohol consumed my mind.  Thoughts of alcohol situations would enter my mind and I’d have to pray to be released from the fear.  After more than two years of my husband’s sobriety and almost two years since I walked through the Al-anon doors with an open mind, I still have moments, even though they are becoming  fewer and farther between, that I fear alcohol more than I trust my Higher Power.

One of the first nights of our vacation, my husband took his beach chair and a flask of iced coffee and went to meditate on the beach.  It was getting late and the pool looked so beautifully inviting with the lights on and the water rippling and shimmering in the artificial lighting that the rest of us decided to stay at the pool and swim instead of sitting on the beach and watching the waves.  The water in the pool was delightful.  We swam for a while and then sat on some chairs and talked while our swim suits dried out a little before heading back up to the villa.  It was such a beautiful night that I asked my daughter if she’d like to walk along the beach with me and meet up with her dad.  She thought it sounded like a great idea until we looked down the stairs that led to the beach and it was pitch black.  The lighting at the pool gave us a distorted view of how dark it had become while we sat in the chairs talking.  We both looked at each other and decided that we should probably just blow off the walk on the beach and head up to the air conditioning and civilization. 

We all walked into the roomy condo but something wasn’t right.  My husband was not in our room.  My mind went immediately to places it hadn’t been in over a year.  The vision in my mind’s eye was of my husband drunk on the beach, unable to walk, passed out, or wandering into the waves and not even realizing where he was.  A feeling of complete and utter dread engulfed me and I was filled with fear.  I could feel my heart racing and pounding in my heart.  I tried to act as if nothing was wrong but my daughter must have felt the “wave I was riding” and asked me what was wrong.  I told her that nothing was wrong but she put my feelings our there for me to view.  “You’re worried about dad aren’t you?”  I nodded my head yes and then I took a deep breath in and said out loud.  “God, remove this fear from me.  I trust that You know what is best for all of us.”  With that my heart lightened and I walked into my bedroom to take off my swim suit and hop into the shower.  Before my suit was in a heap at my feet, my husband walked through the door and was as sober as when he left.  I gratefully thanked God for returning him home safely and for taking away my fears.

It is just at those times when we are willing to Let Go and Let God, that God is able to do for us what we would not allow Him to do for us before.

Getting what you ask for isn’t always all that it’s cracked up to sound.  The road to getting what you want can be pretty rough. 

 I’ve been praying that my Higher Power would get me out of my present job and settle me into a job that I can enjoy that would be less physically demanding and a little less stressful.  For a long time I’ve “known” what that job should be but it appears that God didn’t see things my way so I was “stuck” at my present job. 

My husband and I both talked in detail about what we would be willing and not willing to give up for me to take a job that would be a pay cut or even quit my job and become a “kept woman.”  To be honest, I have grown fond of the way I live.  I don’t live pay to pay, I usually get what I want and go where I want and don’t have a hard time financially except for those occasions where everything breaks at once. 

 The job I have currently is very stressful and often times I find myself going out of my hula-hoop to get things accomplished that really should be somebody else’s job.  Since my boss is a little bit of an under achiever and I’m a little bit of a  control freak;  me leaving my hula hoop works out well for him.  Since the goal I set for myself in my job is to do the best I can do for the patients and the nurses,  I don’t really ask for any praise from the powers that be so he is able to let others think that what I do is his idea.  The whole process works out rather well for him and I do well at enabling him to do his job without him doing the work.

Lately, I have been telling my boss that it’s really not a wise idea that some of the things I do at my job nobody else knows how to do.  I told him that he should know or at least someone else should know  how to do things in case something would happen to me and I would be unable to do my job.  He doesn’t find this to be a “reality” but the fact is that we are all mortal. 

Since I didn’t think my Higher Power had been listening to me about my job change, I had half expected to stay where I was until I learned what I needed to learn from being there.  I’m a slow learner so I thought I’d probably just retire from that job and that would be that –  but God has a sense of humor.  My husband and I were joking about my job “killing” me and he said to me, “Until you are ready to accept that you may never leave there, God may not put you anyplace else.  Annie, you have a tendency to run the show and maybe He wants to run it this time, or least make you realize that He is capable of doing so.”

So, the job I thought I wanted I didn’t get because my boss told me “he couldn’t afford to lose me at my present position.”  Since he is the boss over both areas, I kind of was stuck.  I was angry and resentful and I told him so.  In fact, I think I told him every day for over a month.  I also told him that I was not going to train the new person how to do her job because I was apparently “unable” to do it well enough to be hired into that position.  I had done the job before (in fact the only person who had done the job before) but I would not be able to help her because of my “value to the job I was in.” 

After a period of whining and being a “not so nice person” inside, I couldn’t stand myself and had to give my job situation to God.  I had no control over it and my thoughts were making my life unmanageable.  Sound familiar?????  I finally just handed my job to God and asked him to let me be what he wants me to be that I may be of service to Him.  Serenity entered.  Resentments were removed.  I liked myself again. 

The job prospect?  Well, I think that is about to change as well.

Today was a particularly stressful day for me today.  It wasn’t one catastrophic occurence that made my day stressful, but a series of small incidents that I think could have been handled by any reasonably prudent nurse.  What I have found is that if some nurses are not being paid the extra incentive to make decisions, those decisions are not made; they are pawned off to someone else who is more capable (in charge or making charge wages) to make even the most minor decisions.  I guess that is life and I can’t change anyone to live up to my expectations.

For quite some time, I have been thinking and praying about leaving my present position.  I have asked my Higher Power to help me with this decision and I think (although I am not completely sure) that an opportunity has fallen in to place that will get me out of my present position and make me rely on my Higher Power more instead of relying on myself.  Getting out of my present position doesn’t scare me but relying on someone other than me (a Power Greater than Myself) is a little frightening for me.  I know I shouldn’t feel that way but I do understand that I am a work in progress.

Speaking of a work in progress, I think I have mentioned that my husband and I are working the steps in an RCA program.  The steps are grueling but I do think ultimately that they will be of great benefit to both of us and hopefully to a couple we may help in the future.  I’m sorry if what I  may say next may offend anyone, but I need to put it out there.  I need to say it or it’s going to eat me alive.  It is not meant to be crude or rude; it’s meant to be a reality to me at this time in my life.

When I came home from work today, my husband asked me what kind of day I had.  I told him it was stressful and he apologized for it being stressful.  Recently I had a wound on my leg and it’s been giving me a little problem and a lot of pain.  The pain in my leg makes me walk funny so as a result, that makes my back hurt a bit more than normal.  Yep, that’s right, if it’s not one thing it’s another.  The doctor at work suggested that I stay off of my leg and keep it elevated.  I planned on doing just that.  My husband was very thoughtful and helped me by putting a pillow under my leg and telling me he’d bring something home for dinner after the Al-Anon meeting.  I decided not to go to the Al-Anon meeting tonight because of the pain in my leg.  Perhaps I should have gone, I don’t know.  I guess I  have to think that everything happens for a reason.

During my “rest” period, my father asked me to freeze the peppers that he had picked out of his garden.  He had blanched them and they were spread all over the counter so I felt I had to get them out-of-the-way so I put them in freezer bags to freeze them.  No, my leg didn’t hurt me too terribly bad but I was resentful of the fact that I had to do these peppers or they would go bad and my father would have some comment to make about me not being like my mother and the food that he produced would be “wasted” and he should probably just not try to do anything anymore.

Just after the peppers were put away, my brother called to see if I was going to come down to  his house to  help him with the financial aspect of my daughter’s business.  Since he does this out of the kindness of his heart and gets nothing out of helping her, I feel a certain amount of obligation to help him on “his” time.  I didn’t want to do it tonight, but I couldn’t refuse — at least I felt like I couldn’t refuse.  He and I did what we could do and it didn’t take very long (thankfully) and I came home. 

A friend of mine at work hadn’t been feeling well as of late and I heard today that he had 4 cardiac stents placed.  His wife and I are good friends so I called to inquire about his health.  I was concerned about him, about his wife and the fact that his wife takes care of her mother-in-law.  All in all, that is quite a burden to carry but she seems to take it all in stride.  She has asked me so many times to come and visit her but I always say I will with the good intentions of going, but it always seems I don’t “have the time.”  I had been on the phone with her for about 10 minutes when my husband returned from the meeting with food in toe.  He called down for me to come to dinner and I told him I would be up in just a few minutes because I was talking to my friend.  He waited a short while and then bellowed down again about me “never being at the table when we are ready to eat.”  I admit, I was more than a little pissed off because I felt that talking to my friend in her time of need to vent was more important than me wolfing down food.  He called a third time for me to come and eat so I knew that our conversation was futile so I made my excuses and hung up.  I felt a little more than bad because I knew she wanted to talk.  If the truth be told, if I was a better friend, I would have been able to have a short conversation with  her just to let her know that I cared about what she was going through, but I’m not a good friend.  A fact I face about myself often.

I ran up the stairs to eat.  While I was halfway done with my dinner, my daughter called.  Normally I could have made this conversation short and sweet but I had asked  her to call me as soon as she had a couple of minutes to talk to me because I needed to tell her something about her business and perhaps a business proposition she could make use of.  My husband was not pleased that I was talking on the telephone.  He made several sarcastic comments that on a normal day would not have amounted to anything but today they bothered me.  I felt pulled in every direction and couldn’t get a grip on my own thoughts and opinions.  The conversation ended and I still had a sandwich that I wanted to eat but my husband was asking me if I’d like to do some RCA work or just lay with him in the bed before he went to bed.  I tried eating my sandwich but in the end I opted to just throw it away because I wasn’t really tasting it anyway. 

We went back to the bedroom and I got on my jammies and layed down next to my husband who said he just wanted to “spend some time” with me.  He told me that he was feeling a little slighted by all the people I was talking to and he wanted just to lay with me for a little while if that would be okay.  So, I layed beside him.  I nuzzled my head in the crook of his armpit and we talked a little.  I told him the person I was talking to when it was dinner time was our friend whose husband had just had several cardiac stents placed and she was feeling fearful.  I told what I was talking to our daughter about and then the conversation faded as I looked down to see that he was fondling his penis.  At that moment I felt absolutely awful about myself.  Once more, I felt like nothing more than a warm body and a whore.  I felt that all the talk about him wanting to just hold me was a hoax and what he really wanted was a sexual moment with me.  I know I shouldn’t feel bad about having a husband desire me, but it didn’t feel good.  The conversation turned to, “will you please touch my penis, will you please …… will  you…..can you….  and all of a sudden I felt dirty.  I felt as if all I was was a vessel and something that could fulfill his desires. The reality of my day, my friend, our daughter was unimportant.  The important issue was his needs and desires.  I felt used.  I felt awful about myself.  I  hate feeling that way even if he doesn’t mean it. 

I am constantly being told that it’s “baby steps” and things will get better.  There are times when things are great.  There are times when things are just as they should be and I feel comfortable and content.  There are times when I want to be with him sexually but I know as soon as I express my desire, the expectations for “every night” or more..more..more.. will be there and the thought sometimes pushes me away. 

I could have said no tonight.  It is my right.  I can say no when I don’t feel comfortable but my excuse for today was that me saying no would have been just one more thing added to my stressful day.  What I needed to do was get it out…get it out of my mind and down on paper.  Writing always makes me feel better or at least when I read what I have written a few days later it gives me better insight as to what I was feeling at that moment in time. 

I love my husband, he is my soul mate; but right now I feel a huge resentment against his penis.  Can I separate the two?  I wish I could.

This past week I’ve been mentally processing some bad news after having a wonderful AA/Al-Anon weekend with my husband. 

My husband and I, along with many of our friends spent a weekend of growing and fellowship in our respective 12 step programs.  In the car on our way home my husband received some terrible news.  His brother called him to tell him that his younger sister was very ill and in the hospital.  Instinctively, my husband thought the worst, so I called my sister-in-law’s husband to speak with him directly.  There are times when ignorance is bliss, and this would have been one of those times when I wish I didn’t know as much as I do.  After speaking with my sister-in-law’s husband who told me bits and pieces of what was happening, I asked if I could have permission to speak with one of the nurses.  He was more than willing to add my name to the short list of people who could call and inquire about her.  The very first time I spoke with the nurse taking care of my husband’s sister, I knew the outcome was grim.  In fact, to say her outcome was “grim” was actually being hopeful. 

I told my the seriousness of the situation and I told him what “in my professional opinion” would be the outcome; but as I do with all families who have terminally ill relatives, I tell them that I am not God and that my opinion is based purely on the scientific, not the spiritual.

Without taking my sister-in-law’s inventory, and just stating the medical facts as I have learned them; she was an alcoholic.  She had abused heroin when she was younger and was able to “kick” that habit without really ever working a 12 step program.  She abused cocaine, and was able to leave that substance alone for long periods of time without working a 12 step program.  The one drug she was never able to put down was alcohol.  During the last year of her life she drank about a 5th of rum a day. 

She died 1 1/2 days after my husband got the news she was hospitalized.  Her death was “sudden” but it had been coming for a long time.   She was 52 years old with a hundred years of pent up hurt and resentments that she could not get rid of.  She was an angry and tough woman but very much a little girl.  Her life was not a bowl of cherries but was filled with trials, tribulations and condemnation.  She was a liar with a tremendously huge heart who loved imperfectly but loved the best she knew how….the best she was taught.

I have watched more than one alcoholic die an alcoholic death.  Their disease that ultimately takes their life is probably one of the worst deaths to watch, and I can only imagine a much worse death to endure.  When we got the news she was in ICU because of her disease and that there was really nothing more that could be done for her I remember making a silent prayer for her that if God wanted her that he would take her quickly, then I remember the next thought I had.  “But for the grace of God, that could have been my husband.”  I felt ashamed.  Not seconds after I thought that thought, my husband turned to me with tears in his eyes and said to me, “That could have been me.” 

I have spoken to my sister-in-law’s husband several times over the last week.  Today I called him just to see how he was doing.  The conversation was a little odd.  He said to me, “How can someone who says they love you keep all these lies from you?”  Being a bit confused, I asked  him what he meant.  He told me that in going through her things, he found out that the wife he had loved had lied to him about a great deal of things.  I gave him the opportunity to vent and cry and  hurt.  He was such a ball of confusion.  At the end of our conversation I told him to remember that his wife was consumed with a disease that she had no control over.  I told him that alcohol owned her completely and she did the best she could with what she had.  We spoke a little more and I hope I was able to give him some comfort.  The whole situation saddens me.  There is no healing words that I can say to make him feel good. 

My husband has lost his only sister from a disease that he has found a program of recovery.  I am told from his sponsor and my sponsor, that he is having survival guilt.  I don’t like seeing my husband in so much pain.  I don’t like the fact that he feels that “if only….”   Even though he knows, I had to remind him,  “You didn’t cause it, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it.”  

What is the blessing here?  He was the only one in his family that was able to love her exactly where she was….

Too often, I make the mistake of thinking that my husband can read my mind.  For some strange reason, I think that since we have been married for 32 years he should instinctively know what I am thinking or feeling.  When I expect him to read my mind all communication is lost.  Why would I want to communicate with someone who I think should already “know?”  What would be the point in telling another my feelings if I expect him to know what it is I am thinking and feeling already?  Another trap that I fall in to is that when I expect him to read my mind and he does so incorrectly, I feel he has just totally disregarded my feelings by thinking that “wrong thing.”  The poor guy can’t win when I get into what I affectionately call the “fortune teller mode.” 

Likewise, I think that I am capable of knowing what is going on inside of his head.  He can say a small sentence that would be perfectly innocent to anyone else who would be within earshot, but in my mind there is an hidden meaning to what has been said and of course, since I have lived with him so many years, I intuitively know what that “hidden” meaning is.  I don’t give him a chance to express what he feels or thinks because I already have a preconceived idea of what he really “means.”

That, my friends, has got to be communication at its worst.  If I don’t express what I am thinking or feeling, how can I expect anyone else to know?  What is worse is if *I* don’t even know what my feelings are at any given moment, how can I expect someone else to know?  This cycle of “communication” is ludicris. 

Recently, I have had a spiritual healing.  It’s been a tremendous load off of my shoulders, my mind and my heart.  I have finally, after all these years, been able to put a painful situation to rest.  I thought my husband would see an instant change in me and get a spiritual healing of his own.  I didn’t understand when he didn’t.  It’s almost like our roles have been reversed and where I once struggled, he now is struggling himself.  Right now, in his struggles he is lashing out at me and hurting my feelings…..my pride.  I am trying to give him time to come to terms with the load he is carrying but it is difficult.  Where I once expected him to “understand” instinctively what I was feeling or how I felt; he is  now doing the same thing to me.  It is rough but I am trying to look passed the tantrums to what my Higher Power has in store for us when he receives his spiritual healing, which I have no doubt he will receive.  I am struggling to not “assume” I know what he is thinking or feeling and by the same token I am trying not to expect him to “instinctively know” when what has been said has hurt me. 

Because my husband and I speak to each other each day and tell each other that we love and care for each other, I thought we were far ahead of any others in our communication arena.  Everyone can say the words, everyone can interpret what he hears in his own way.  Communication really begins when your mouth closes and your ears open and you listen…..actively listen…to what someone else has to say.

Sometimes……

Posted: July 19, 2010 in Acceptance
Tags:

Sometimes I just want to sit and write…let all of my feelings out.  I was looking forward to doing that tonight…..   but the best laid plans of mice and men…..   Oh well, I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

My husband got sober, got a 12 step AA program and had a spiritual awakening. 

When my husband got sober, I thought my life would be wonderful.  In my mind, alcohol was THE problem and since he quit drinking, life was going to be a bowl of cherries.

He got sober and I “became” sick.  I started to live in the pits instead of in the cherries.  Life was miserable for me until I hit my emotional rock bottom and admitted that *I* had a problem with alcohol even though I didn’t drink it.  I went to Al-Anon and began to listen with an open mind.  I worked the 12 steps and grew in the program.  I worked the 12 steps again and learned even more about me and this disease called alcoholism.  The program had and continues to be my lifeline to sanity. 

My Higher Power put a young woman in my path and I began to take her through the steps.  She is a blessing to me and is eager to travel along the road to recovery.  Taking another person through the steps is almost like doing the steps once again yourself.  When I listen to  her and look into her eyes, I see my reflection.  When we begin the step work to recovery, we think that our actions and thoughts are unique; they are not.  In varying degrees we all experience similar things.  My heart breaks when she shares her inventory with me but I know that by accepting the pain now, she can release it and live joyously.  One day at a time the walls that we built begin to crumble and the ability to hear the birds sing once again returns. 

So, my husband works “his” program and is able to take others through the same steps that keep him sober.  I work “my” program and am able to take others through the same steps that helped me regain some sanity in my life.  What about a program for “us”?  I remember asking my Higher Power if such a program existed for couples who were growing, one day at a time, in AA and Al-Anon.  It was a request but not a terribly strong request; more of a fleeting thought.  Well, my Higher Power picked up on what I thought was a fleeting thought and placed a couple who have worked a 12 step program for couples.  Imagine that????  Out of the clear blue one of the couples that my husband and I fellowship with asked if we’d like to do a 12 step program for recovering couples.  They said they had been through the program and wanted to share it with us.  They wanted to be our sponsoring couple.  I jumped at the chance thinking that RCA (Recovering Couples Anonymous)  is exactly what I wanted and I was eager to embark on yet another road to recovery.  My husband wasn’t as eager as I was but nevertheless he was willing to work on our recovery together.  Before we actually started the stepwork, he was as eager as I was to start.

What was I thinking? 

Steps 1-3 were not too bad.  Each of us learned some things about our families of origin that we had been previously been unable, unwilling or simply forgot to share.  Our families gave us our “ideals” of what we thought marriage, life, spirituality, etc was.  Each of us brought into our relationship something that we thought was “normal” for all relationships.  What was “normal” for him was not “normal” for me and vice versa. 

We have started Step 4 and 5.  Each week we meet with out sponsoring couple and go over the questions in the RCA workbook and talk about the week and how things are progressing.  I have to be honest… things are not so good in the Step 4 and 5 arena.  It seems we can’t sit down together and work this step without one of us throwing a tantrum or getting upset.  Yesterday, with a firm foundation of the Al-Anon program under my belt, I threw the RCA book at him and told him I didn’t want to do it anymore.  I told him that I didn’t care about working the steps anymore in ANY of our programs.  I told him I was done.  I acted about as “grown-up and sane” as a child who gathers up all  her toys and refuses to let the other kids play. 

This step has been very difficult for me.  I didn’t realize that I had so many issues about us as a couple and what is even more troublesome is that I thought he thought our relationship was perfect.  Yes, I made amends for throwing the book and acting like a child.  Yes, I am willing to work the steps with my husband to have a better relationship with him even though I thought we were practically perfect in every way.  But…..I don’t want to!!!  This is probably the hardest 4th step inventory I’ve ever done….and I thought it would be the easiest.

I am so grateful that we both had a firm foundation in our respective programs before starting on RCA together.  RCA is grueling work!