Archive for June 2011
There is a secret I carry, and I’ve decided to remove this secret of its power over my life by bringing it into the light. I’ve told myself over the years that it’s not my secret to tell, and telling would be disloyal to my husband. I accepted his denial as my own, and looking back I think I was actually brainwashed in a way, as substance abuse distorts everything through a lens of deception and insanity and makes you doubt your own observations and wisdom.
So that’s my secret, sneaked into that previous sentence because I’m too much of a coward to say it outright. It still feels disloyal to say my husband is an alcoholic, even though I realized a couple of days ago that it is every bit as much my problem as it is his—and probably even more so, since I’m left scrambling to pick up the pieces of our life together as he lets them slip through his fingers. I’m no different than any other woman married to a substance abuser. I’m trying to keep the problems from touching my kids, and trying to love and support him into getting help, just trying to do the right thing in general.
This secret peeks out every now and then in my writings, like when I allude to my challenging marriage or problems I can’t talk about. But I can talk about them, and I think I need to talk about them. But of course the substance abuse is a much greedier and needier animal than I, and I catered to it for far too long. I don’t have to talk about the substance abuse itself because that actually is my husband’s domain, but I can talk about the way this substance abuse has affected me. And so I shall.
I might start a new blog for this topic, if I find I have a lot to say about it. Or I might use one of my old wordpress URLs for it. I might chicken out and delete this post and never speak of it again. But if I do that, I think the act of writing it down and putting it out there will still be beneficial. And at least the people who care about me most, my regular readers, will know what’s going on.
So here’s where I am right now. Since the beginning of May I’ve been camped out on the futon in the den, which contains the washer and dryer, our second (and awful) tv, and the kids’ computer. There’s no door to this space, and the futon is so hard it takes an hour to work out the morning stiffness in my joints. I’ve given up on convincing him to go for treatment, or even the simple hope for a meaningful conversation about it. The only thing left to do is withdraw from the source and save myself. I fear the changes this will undoubtedly bring, yet I’m convinced the fear of the unknown was what kept me here all this time--15 years, total. I can’t afford to be afraid anymore. It killed my spirit a long time ago, and now it’s causing physical problems.
My feelings are all in a jumble, but one thought has carried me onward, and it’s this one: Shouldn’t I care for myself at least as much as I have cared for this illness? For that’s what I’ve been doing, caring for the illness, catering to it and enabling it so that we can seem “normal” and give my kids a chance. Divorce ripped me apart as a child, so I’ve seen it as the thing to avoid at all cost. I just don’t know what to do. So I wait until it becomes clear, as I feel it will soon.
I think if I just started typing every day, whether or not I have a topic in mind, I’d post a lot more often. Nothing seems important enough to write down, except for some stuff I can’t really talk about. But today I decided to take the plunge and just write anything. Just communicate.
I haven’t been writing fiction at all for a long while, so long that I don’t even feel guilty anymore. Letting my agent go let me go. I felt like the band of a slingshot must feel right after it releases its missile, flaccidly bouncing with the force of the release. I’m not ready to load another stone, but I am finally still enough to begin hunting for the perfect one. The hunt might take a while, and apparently I’m fine with that.
As I’m opening files and emails I haven’t looked at in months, I’ve found something disturbing. I’d thought Black Veil Angel, what I consider my better book, had been barely subbed, maybe to ten or so smaller publishers, while Ea’s Gift had been subbed to the death. Now I see it’s the other way around. My agent had abandoned EG in favor of BVA (apparently it was the better book), and I was so deep in my helplessness that I’d never laid the subs out side by side.
The reason this is disturbing is that BVA was going to get me another agent, if I ever decided to try that route again, and EG was self-pub fodder, something that didn’t have a life in traditional publishing but was good enough to experiment with. I thought my future was in contemporary fantasy anyway, so it would be fine. But the most likely next project, the one that captures my imagination, is another traditional fantasy like EG, complete with a dragon.
So all this means is that I still don’t know what the hell I’m doing. This whole time I’ve been trying to balance what I want to write with what I think others want me to write, which is impossible. I bought into the advice that it’s best to have a whole bunch of people read your stuff and tell you how to fix it, no matter what. I’m starting to think this is a big reason my creativity died.
Other people, those who don’t have a people-pleasing gene as dominant as mine, might do well with this advice. For me, it’s just managed to confuse me enough that I freeze up. I haven’t had a vision for my projects, I see in hindsight, except to write what pleases others. And not in an attagirl way, an ego puffing way, but that if other people don’t like my work, then my work isn’t valid.
What I see now is, if others don’t like my work it might not get published, but that doesn’t make it less valid. And once I understood that, it was easy to see that somebody is going to like my work, if I am authentic and true. Some people know this and apply it instinctively. I never did.
- Brand-new car—My Saturn’s not brand new, but a perfectly wonderful substitute
- Brand-new house—I no longer feel desperate for this like I used to.
- Happy relationship—we’ve always had a rocky relationship, and I’m not seeing that change anytime soon.
- Nicer clothes—Somewhat, because I’m working at it
- off foodstamps—it was scary, but we are now government assistance-free
- good health—The health problems I had then are still with me, but I’m learning to manage them. Also, I’m working on solutions now.
- book published—grumble grumble
- BVA finished—Done!
- new recliner—Got one for my husband, and a futon for me.
- home repairs--That’s happening next week.
- bicycle—Got this before I had a car to take Maggie Rose to school
tighter skin—probably wishful thinking, at my age. :)
- new laptop, lightweight, fast, pretty. Plenty of memory, comfy keyboard. Strong but light. GREAT BATTERY! –Got this one for Christmas last year
- cell phone—It’s been a life saver
- I want to feel free to be myself.—Might never stop working on this one, but I feel more myself than ever
- iPod—We have 3! Hand-me-downs from my mom, but perfectly usable.
That’s 12 out of 16! And while at the beginning, three years seems like forever, it’s really not long in the scheme of things. So maybe I need to make another list. It’ll be a lot shorter now that I’ve received so many of the things I needed. And you know what? There’s still time to receive the other things on my list.
Those things did enrich my life. They helped me feel more independent, more relevant, more connected—and most importantly they brought joy to me when I needed it.
Have you received anything you’ve asked for lately?