Tomorrow is D's hearing. I have put off thinking about it for this long, and there has been a lot of progress made for both of us in the past month, but now I am scared. I have a feeling deep in my gut that things will work out fine (and my gut is usually pretty spot on), but I still can't help being nervous about what might happen. I am trying to let faith replace fear, giving things up to my higher power...but I must admit, I would like to ask anyone out there who might read this to send your prayers, good thoughts, and positive energy his (and my) way.
I don't necessarily have a whole lot to say about Thanksgiving yesterday...D had to work (in exchange for having Christmas off), so I spent the day at my two family dinners, and today we are seeing D's family. I ate far too much and enjoyed not thinking about school. But the one thing I do have to say about Thanksgiving is that I have a couple of things in particular that I am grateful for this year. I am thankful for D's recovery, frustrating though it may often be, and for the past two months of sobriety that have really thrown light onto what our relationship is working to become. I am also thankful for the fact that I am finally beginning to reach a point of not worrying constantly about things outside myself, to a point where I can (at least for a couple of days) take things one day at a time. I am thankful that yesterday I did not once concern myself with what D was doing, or how things were going, or what was going to happen on Monday, but instead just sat back and enjoyed myself.
Ugh. Why does SAA have to be such a damn touchy subject around here? Last week (as was perhaps obvious, from the lack of posting) was a relatively good and normal week. Nothing much to report, other than the fact that I had a set of exams and was mostly brain dead for the rest of the week from then on. Also, my computer has all of a sudden decided to slow down and not allow me to type more than a few words at a time without stopping to spin its wheels briefly. Most frustrating.
The one good thing from last week was that on Wednesday, D got off work at 6, which meant he was free to go to saa that night. Soon after he got home, however, one of his good friends called to say that he was in town for that night only on leave from the military (he's in the guard, and training at a base about an hour away). When D asked if it was ok if his friend came over, I told him that I didn't care, but asked if he still planned on attending his SAA meeting that night (which he had mentioned earlier). Since his friend was in town only for the evening, he wanted to stay home and visit, but he also went over to his work calendar on our fridge and noted that he would be able to go to SAA on Monday night (tonight) or even Tuesday morning this week. This whole exchange was extremely positive sounding, and I let him know how much that meant to me, because I really need to see him committing to recovery. We talked about how it helps me to see him go to meetings on his own, and even to want to go, because it lets me know that he is committing to this and that we're always moving forward, not getting complacent or letting our relationship get back to the place it has once been. He even agreed that it did no good to do anything but be positive about meetings, because while they are one more thing to do in the schedule, they are a good thing for him, and staying positive helps keep things in perspective and makes meetings seem like less of a "thing that must be done." I, for one, came away from the whole conversation feeling much better about the state of things.
Then, tonight, D got off work at 4. We've had a wonderful evening, watching tv, having a snack, just basically lounging around. He took a bit of a nap on the couch, and I studied a bit. Remembering what he had said last week about going to SAA on Monday night, I woke him up around 6:30 and let him know what time it was, that I wasn't sure when he wanted to leave. I'll spare the details, but essentially he got angry and surly and generally in a foul and horrible mood and stomped around the house getting ready, being rather rude in general and to me in particular. When I asked what was wrong, he wouldn't answer. I offered to drive with him over to the meeting and study at a coffee shop while he was there, but he turned me down. Finally, while he was driving over, he called and explained that he was angry because he had been extremely warm and comfortable and content for the first time all day, happily dozing, and that I had woken him up and promptly thrown him out into the dark and cold. As he put it, he knew he needed to go, and yes he had indicated that he would go tonight, but he had finally been comfortable and I had woken him up and automatically thrown this in his face.
I'm just so tired of this back and forth. Honestly, as I've told him at this point several times, I don't really care if he goes to meetings or not. I need to see him in committed recovery, but I am not going to sit around and police whether or not he attends (or at least, I'm trying desperately not to). But Christ, it's impossible to know when it's ok to bring things up and when it's not. When he says he wants to go on Monday, and I wake him up an hour ahead of time to make sure he's got time to get ready, is that really so ridiculous? I asked him what would have made the situation better, and he said he thought we should have discussed it earlier in the evening--but had we discussed it earlier (i.e., had I brought it up earlier, because he never does) I have a sneaking suspicion that he would have only gotten upset then that I was ruining a nice afternoon that we got to spend together. I've told him before that I think it would help if he was willing to bring things up sometimes, or at least to let me know in some general way what his plans are so I don't do something "wrong" like tonight, but he never does it on his own.
I know, I know, I need to calm the codie side down. I'm trying to just let him go on his own and see if he makes it back into recovery. Problem is, I thought that's what was happening last week, which is what led to this whole episode tonight. I count it as positive that he went to the meeting at all instead of throwing a fit and just not going...and also positive that he acknowledged that he did need to go tonight...I just wish we could get into the habit of doing this without a huge ordeal each time.
EDIT: When he got home, D apologized for getting angry. We talked about how he felt controlled, but he was extremely glad to have gone and thanked me for reminding him to go. Makes me feel a tad better, but also makes me wish he'd just remember that it's just not a big deal for the next time.
We went to see the new James Bond movie last night, and it was quite good. I recommend it, especially if you enjoyed the last one (which I did...and not just because Daniel Craig's eyes are amazing). One of D's good friends was in town last night and went with us, and we had a lovely time catching up. D got switched to be off today because of a business meeting later this week (which was supposed to take place on his day off), and we are enjoying a quiet day together after lunch with some of my family. One of the advantages to having friends in town is that we cleaned up the house (and really cleaned, rather than just a requisite quick run with the vacuum), and for some reason a clean house always makes me feel much more relaxed and comfortable and able to enjoy my day. Clutter drives me mad. I should probably never have kids, I suppose.
I made a realization last night and this morning that particularly struck me for some reason. D, for as long as I have known him, has been perpetually late for everything. One of the things that used to drive me insane about him was that he could never get anywhere on time (and, by proxy, I could never get anywhere on time when I was with him). On Sundays even a few months ago, whenever we were supposed to be meeting my family for lunch, we would inevitably arrive after they had sat down to eat--not because we had been somewhere else or busy, but because D could simply not be made to get ready any faster than he wanted to. I could beg, plead, borrow, and steal, cajole and convince, even bribe, but I could not make him leave the house when we needed to for anything. We were late for movies, we were late for lunches, he was late to work. When meeting friends, we were always the last to arrive, usually at least 10 or 15 minutes and sometimes as much as an hour late. I eventually took to telling him we needed to arrive places an hour or so before we actually needed to be there, just to try to make it on time.
One of the most pleasant things about D's recovery for the past two months has been, as I realized last night, that we are not late any more. No more do I have to jump up and down in my coat and purse as he sits at his computer, begging him to please put on his shoes so we can leave. This morning, he took a shower and got out around fifteen minutes before we needed to leave for lunch--and lo and behold, fifteen minutes later, we were in our coats and out the door without so much as a prompting from me.
A question for the masses: How, in the early days of your recovery, did you prevent the whole codependent control-freak thing from completely overcoming your life?
D and I had an argument (well, not even that, really, more of just a very emotional discussion) last night about--well, about a lot of things. But one of the main recurring themes was the fact that when he got done w/ his group class yesterday, he was rather chatty about how things had been going for him lately, and I was encouraged, so we talked about it for a bit. He changed the subject, we talked about other things for a while. After a while, he started talking about how a) he needs to get a haircut when he gets off work today and won't wait until Saturday to do it, and b) how he was texting a girl from work on his way home from class because she had had a very bad day to do with a cheating boyfriend the day before.
Now, these two things may seem totally separate, but not in my all-controlling brain. The fact that he needs to get a haircut tonight means he probably won't be going to SAA tonight. Which means he won't have gone since last Wednesday (which was only his second time going). The girl thing...well, we can just say that that was a huge trigger for me, since one of the ways he used to get started with a girl online or any other way was by offering to "help" through some problem and use that to manipulate his way into the situation. So in one fell swoop, you have the control-freak that lives in my head screaming "WHY do you talk about how great SAA is but never want to go???" and also "WHY are you talking to some random girl from work on text and trying to fix all her problems???" Helping someone "fix their problems" used to be code for "let me weasel my way into your life and then start being all suggestive." I told D that I was a little weirded out by the phone conversation with the girl from work, and while he understood, he was upset that I got weird about it because he felt he had been so forthcoming about the conversation rather than hiding it, and said that for once he was actually trying to be a good person without having an ulterior motive and was proud of that. He even showed me the entire text conversation, and it was completely harmless, nothing that could have even been misconstrued as inappropriate. But still.
I think part of my problem is that I truly wish D could understand how badly he has hurt me in the past, how much baggage I carry because of this whole situation. And he can't, really, because he's too busy just trying to get from day to day without letting this consume his life. I tried to explain a little, last night, that it is not just him who carries this burden, who thinks about the addiction and the offense and the recovery 24/7. If I could stop thinking about it for more than a few hours at a time, I totally would. I hate that I feel compelled to check the phone bill every day, because when I do I am conflicted by the fact that I want to be free of it (and knowing that it doesn't really do any good), but that when there are no strange numbers I do indeed feel better. The problem is that my response to all of it is to talk. The more I talk to D about how things are going, and what we're both feeling, the better I feel. He, on the other hand, deals with things by keeping busy and trying not to think about it as much as possible except when he has to. And that combo is what brings up conflicts like last night, when all I want to do is sound off and all he wants to do is talk about sports. I keep trying to just let it go....hopefully someday it will finally get easier.
D and I had this entire weekend off together, and yesterday afternoon we went to Target to pick up a few things and ended up getting lost in the Christmas section for an hour, pointing out our favorite kinds of ornaments and decorations, laughing about the hot pink tinsel trees, choosing what we will eventually go back for when we have the money to decorate the house to the extremes that we want.
I'm a huge dork about Christmas. My mom always had all kinds of special decorations that we would get out around the end of November, and it was a ritual we looked forward to every year--putting the candles in the windows, getting out the superfluous numbers of advent calendars for each of the kids, trading old candles and centerpieces and rugs for festive ones with snowflakes and santas and stockings. My dad would play every Christmas carol he knew on the piano while we decorated the house and the tree, and year in and year out those are my dearest memories.
Yesterday was the first time D and I have really started to consider our own Christmas rituals, and it was the cherry on top of a wonderful day.
Things have been good lately. Really good. Surprisingly good. D is finally working more normal day hours again, and we are seeing each other more, and life is pretty much steady (with maybe the exception that I'm not studying as much as I should...pre-Christmas burnout, here we come). So that's why I hate what happened tonight.
I was driving along a windy country road tonight en route to see my youngest sister in her school play, when all of a sudden I had a flashback to another very windy road I drove down on New Year's Eve with a friend of mine about four years ago. Relatively benign memory. Except that the reason I was driving down that twisty road with my friend was because that year, D was somewhere else with other friends I didn't know, because he wanted to be away from me with them, right around the time he first started acting out. It was uncomfortable, having a memory of that time sneak up on me like that. I've since had a lovely time at the play and gotten to hang out with my mom a bit before coming home to relax and study (yes, on a Friday night...such is my non-stop thrilling life), and I'm not too concerned about anything whatsoever. I guess I just hate the way things sneak up on me sometimes. I'd much rather have crazy definitions and lists of terms sneaking up on me, because then I'd at least feel productive.
When he came home last night, D thanked me for holding him accountable and getting him to go to the meeting, saying it was good and he needs to do it more regularly. We talked about the reason he was upset--mainly, that he had had a really good day at work and felt affronted that when he got home and was excited to see me and spend time, the first thing I did was jump on him about his problems--and about how I was feeling (see below) and things worked out just fine. Both of us, I think, have a little better understanding of where we are at this point, and later we're going to come back and talk about how we can avoid the same problems again (namely, working things out to where he will schedule what day he's going to SAA during the week so I don't have to pester him about it and he doesn't feel threatened by my constant questions). So things are all good...maybe I'm just an alarmist. Or crazy. That would work, too.
Well, no, not really. Sorry to scare any potential readers with the doomsday headline. Tonight has just turned into a frustrating night in the last ten minutes.
D has not attended an SAA meeting since his first one, which was 2 1/2 weeks ago. Combination of working late shifts and being exhausted gave him really very little time. The only day he was free to go was the day of the court date last week, and he was so mentally spent that he didn't want to go then, just wanted to hang out, and I didn't push the issue. He had told his PO, counseling group, and me that he was really excited by the first meeting, couldn't wait to go back, and once his work schedule cleared up again (that is, he got switched back to a normal schedule) he was planning on attending at least one or two a week, probably on Mondays and Wednesdays. So this past Monday night, I asked if he was planning on going to a meeting. He got off work at 6 (meetings start at 7:30), and said that he really just felt like coming home and hanging out with me for the evening, so that's what he did. I didn't say anything, but later that night I mentioned that it wasn't a big deal as long as he made it to one later in the week. He happily agreed that this was true. So earlier today (and even last night) I asked if he was planning on going to a meeting tonight. He said he would see how the schedule and timing worked out. I told him that I would be happy to meet him after work for food or something before he had to go, since there wouldn't be much turn around time to get all the way home and all the way back there in an hour between when he was off and when the meeting started. He seemed amicable but didn't commit. Later in the afternoon, I texted him from school, telling him to just let me know one way or the other so I could plan when to leave school (and whether to just go home or to meet him). He was busy, and so didn't reply.
Finally at 6:30 he called to say he was coming home from work. We spoke about our days, what I was working on (a frustrating project, which didn't really help my mood), etc. And after a few minutes, I asked what the plan was for the night. He said he wanted to come home and have dinner, so I asked if he was planning on going to the meeting or not so I could know when to start supper. He got home, upset, changed his clothes, and stood by the door looking utterly dejected, saying that "well, I guess I'll go now because you want me to go, or I'll be late." When I told him that going for me wasn't a good reason to go, his only response was "but you want me to, don't you?"
B: "I won't lie and say that I don't want you to go. I'll admit, I think it's a good thing, especially since the last time you went you were very excited and practically bouncing off the walls when you got home. Also, because you've told other people (read: PO and group) that you'd be going back regularly and they thought it was important too."
D: "Fine. I'll go." *looks depressed*
B: "If you don't want to go, don't go. Me wanting you to or them wanting you to can't be the reason you go, you have to want to do it for you or it's not necessarily worth it."
D: *stands by door*
B: "What do you want to do?"
D: "I really just want to stay home and hang out with you tonight. But you think I should go, don't you?"
B: *pauses* "What I think you should do doesn't matter."
And with that, he walked out the door, looking just as upset/mad/dejected/whatever as possible. And now I sit here caught between the two sides of my brain. Part of me, yes, desperately wants D to go to SAA because his commitment to his recovery signifies his commitment to me and to our future family, his commitment that he's not going to let himself go back to who he was in the worst parts of our relationship. I want him to want to go, I want him to make it a regular thing, even if it's only once a week or once every two weeks or once a month, but to make it a commitment. I feel like if he's not really going through with it like he said, then he's not really committed to recovery like I thought and he's just blowing sunshine up everyone's ass again, just like he's done in the past. The other part of me knows that I'm right about the fact that if he's not doing it for himself first, he's probably not going to get much out of it. And that part of me feels horrible right now, knowing that it's my nagging and pushing that have got him there right now, and not his own desire. I am afraid that he will become resentful and angry and only fall back deeper into his addiction cycle if I do this. I am also afraid that I may be ruining a good thing, because even having gone to SAA only once, D is still sober after a month and a half and doing really well as far as not acting out and being a fabulous husband, friend, and person. I feel bad because I know he deals with this a lot, having so many other things to do with it throughout his week, and I am worried that putting one more thing on his plate that makes him consistently remember his problems will only be harmful instead of helpful, even with the best of intentions.
Sometimes I question whether or not D is truly an addict, or if he was just so willful, prideful, and full of himself that he thought he could get away with murder. Sometimes he seems so repentent--the way he talks about what went through his mind when he was acting out, like the thrill, the chase, the shame and anger afterward and how horrible he feels about it all--that it seems like the perfect "addiction" story. Sometimes I think he had/has just a really bad case of chauvinism and narcissism. I worry if he's really, truly, seen his problem for what it is, despite the fact that he does seem to be taking steps to correct it. If he really recognizes it as addiction or if he only recognizes that he used to do bad things and now he's not going to anymore. Some days it seems to swing one way, some days another. Meanwhile, I am caught someone out here in no-man's-land wondering what the hell I'm supposed to be doing to help--supporting his choices as long as he is pursuing some kind of improvement/recovery (even if it's just on his own), or demanding that he demonstrate his commitment by going to meetings, or something else. He's said himself he felt like he got more out of SAA than his group classes. In his group classes, he's known the right answers to all the questions for a year now, he just didn't think he needed to really apply them fully to his life/actions. So is that enough? Now that he has a plan for relapse and seems to have been doing well for a month? Now that we took his computer away, will there be need for all this? Or is he (and am I) fooling ourselves if we think it can all go away that easily?
I like how things have been lately. Things have been really, really good the past few days in every respect. I want them to stay that way. I just hope this helps, and I haven't royally screwed it up.
After doing some procrastinating blog-reading tonight (I should be studying for an exam on Monday, but alas...not so appetizing), I have stumbled across a couple of blogs that have given me a great deal of two things--recognition and hope. Both MPJ and Sophie in the Moonlight have written a great deal that resonated with me so much, but what they wrote about that I identified with the most was the idea that I am not insane for loving my husband through his imperfections, for seeing the good and wonderful man he still is despite his flaws. I have been told many times by many people that I should ditch my husband--not necessarily because they knew of his addiction (of which I have really only truly known or recognized for about two months now), but because they recognized the problematic behaviors in which he engaged, and sometimes because they recognized the pain in me that the behaviors were causing. People have said that I deserved better, that they didn't understand why I stayed, etc. etc. etc. And every time, all I could think was that they didn't know what I knew. They couldn't see beyond the behaviors, they didn't experience the nights full of laughter, the afternoons chasing each other down the grocery store aisle, the tender conversations over dinner, the intellectually stimulating political debates, the times when we would lie on the couch and just stare in each other's eyes and connect so intimately without words or even actions. And because they didn't know that person, I can understand at least somewhat why they would discourage the relationship that they thought was so toxic. But that's the problem...they just didn't know. And because they didn't know, I have long subjected myself to wondering if I really am crazy for staying. It's nice to hear stories of other people who have stayed, despite the pain and doubt and insanity, because they also knew that underneath the problems was a beautiful person, and even a potentially (or actually) beautiful relationship.
One of the things I have struggled with for a little while is the fact that whenever D's addictive behaviors would show themselves (even long before either of us recognized them as addictive), I would, in one way or another, threaten to leave. When he was first arrested, I threatened to leave. When I stayed instead, I told him that if he ever engaged in the old behaviors again, I was done. When I found more conversations, texts, or other evidence of relapse, he apologized, and I told him once more that I couldn't take it any more--any more and I was out. On the day after our wedding, when I found an online conversation, I wept and told him that if he had not meant anything from the day before that I would walk out. Yet over and over again, I have stuck around because over and over again I could still see the man I loved. Despite the recognition that I was not following through with my threats, despite doubts that if I didn't leave he would just continue his behaviors (knowing my threats were empty)...I stayed because I wanted desperately to believe that the part of D that was my husband could someday be the only part.
I firmly believe we are on our way to D becoming the best parts of himself. Despite our struggles, despite the fears that I struggle with daily, we are working toward that goal. And as long as we are, I can find strength to stay. It is wonderful to know that there are others who have made the journey, too.