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.