I am getting divorced. You all know this if you've been following my blog since I made the initial announcement this summer, but I don't think many of you know the whole story. Right now, I am coming out of mourning. A mourning for the marriage I had, the marriage I lost, and the marriage I will never get back. It's been a process but this was a decision I knew that was right and knew I needed to make. Getting divorced is a lot like having a miscarriage in that you don't realize how common it is until you are one of those statistics. Yes, you know the numbers that 50% of marriages end in divorce and 50% of women experience a miscarriage but until you're really there it's hard to wrap your head around both ideas. But when you do you join a club that no one speaks about and no one wants to belong to.
I've been wanting to write this post for a while, both for myself and for anyone who may be going through what I went through because I think if more people were open about this I would've had an easier time dealing with what's happened to me over the past four years. So I am going to share with you everything, or as much as I see applicable, because I want to help and I want to heal myself and I think I will have an easier time healing when I finally get my feelings out.
My husband and I met each other at work in 2007. I post with some anonymity and I don't want to taint my husband's reputation anymore than needed so I will refrain from saying where, but let's just say we'd worked in an environment where we'd been working together for almost 2 years before we actually met and spoke for the first time. We had a connection that day and it ended with his friend asking me out for him. Two weeks later we went on our first... and second and third dates. Everything was great.
We dated from January of 2007 and got engaged in July of 2007. He was 14 years older than me but our personalities and maturity levels were very even. We actually made a great pair. So on July 11th, 2007 we got engaged and started planning an April 2008 wedding in Jamaica.
About a week after our engagement we learned that we were both laid off of our jobs. This isn't unusual in our business and we both actually saw it coming. It was only a matter of time before something else came along and we were back at work- that's how it always happened. Only, that's not what happened. I got bored with being out of work and in September took a job at an animal center- he decided to wait it out. In October our lives got even more ripped apart when one of the unions we worked closely with decided to go on strike. Our unions decided not to cross the picket lines and our business basically shut down. This strike lasted 5 months.
During this time I continued working at the animal center, and he continued to "wait it out" by sitting at home and drinking. And drinking and drinking and drinking. My husband had always been a bit of a drinker, but socially and never to extremes. We had one instance where he was drinking alone one day, I got upset, and he didn't do it again (this was before we were engaged). But during the strike he was drinking all the time. He WOULD wait until 4PM, but from 4PM on he would drink until he went to bed. Pretty much every night.
Yes, I saw all of this, but I turned a blind eye. I justified it by saying "He's out of work! When he goes back to work everything will be OK again".
Our wedding was April 26th. We left for Jamaica on April 22nd. The strike finally ended and we both went back to work the week before. FINALLY, my life would go back to the way it was. We'd have money again, we'd be busy, he'd stop drinking. I went forward with the wedding and we actually had a great time in Jamaica.
But upon coming home, nothing changed. He'd go to work, come home, drink. Go to work, come home, drink. And when he was laid off again in July of '08 he'd just drink. And drink and drink and drink. And drink. He would wait until 4PM then drink until he passed out- and usually he wouldn't pass out in bed. I find him on the couch, on the floor, and even in the backyard passed out in the morning. I had to start locking our fridge up at night because he'd eat all of our food while he was drunk and I was watching the money I was still earning at the animal center dwindle as I tried to rebuy enough food to live off of while his priorities were cigarettes and alcohol- which he'd spend HUNDREDS on each month... while he wasn't earning a paycheck at all.
Tough times hit our industry as it did everywhere in 2009 as the economy tanked. With it went his sobriety. I couldn't ignore it anymore. In February of 2009 I wrote him a long letter telling him to quit drinking or I was leaving. I sent it in an email. And email dated February 16th, 2009.
On February 17th, 2009 my world came apart. I was in an accident involving a goat (yes, a goat) at the animal center and was left disabled with a very serious shoulder injury that would eventually lead to surgery. I would never be able to go back to my job again. I was making only $200/week on disability which in CA will barely pay one bill. I became completely dependent on my husband from this point on.
Work for him would come and go. I did my best in my recovery to get back to work but it was out of my hands- my collar bone had been destroyed and needed to be partly removed and with that still in place there was going to be no recovery for me. So I did what I could to keep myself sane. I started up a small photography business, I started this blog, and I read a lot. As I strived to get better, but got worse and worse.
It was also during this time that he got more mentally abusive. He'd call me fat when I was 5'7 and weighed 120 pound max. He'd call me lazy for not having a job when I was on disability and not being allowed to work. He'd say I was ugly because I wore glasses. He blame me for his problems. And he always had this way of taking something I was really excited about and ruining it for me to the point where I spent a lot of time in tears instead of enjoying life.
On August 31st, 2009 things became violent for the first time. I came home after going to garage sales (something I did every week to try to save some money) and found that he'd gotten so annoyed with my parrot Marley's incessant chatter (which she would do when I wasn't home because she missed me) that he'd let her out of the cage and left the back door open. She'd flown away, never to return. He, meanwhile, got drunk and passed out in the backyard and that's what I came home to. I was furious and I let him know. He went up the stairs to our bedroom with me hot on his heels giving him a piece of my mind for the first time and he slammed the door. He MEANT to slam it in my face. He didn't really mean to slam it on my finger but he did mean to slam it. And it just to happened to slam on my finger. The tip was nearly severed off, it was hanging on by the nail. I went into shock almost immediately, started throwing up, blood was everywhere... it surprised me how much a finger can bleed. You could see straight to the bone. It required 6 stitches but since my husband spent all of our money on booze I couldn't afford the stitches and instead got steristrips. The doctor called it an "open fracture" and I was put on antibiotics in order to avoid a bone infection.
That was enough for me. I started going to Al Anon and told my husband that if he didn't quit drinking and get help I was leaving in 6 months. And I meant it. And that was the last time I would warn him.
6 months later I had my shoulder surgery. My Mom flew in to take care of me since my husband was working and I required 24 hour care for at least 3 days after the surgery since I was having it outpatient. I begged my husband not to drink while my Mom was in town. Clearly he hadn't quit but I at least didn't want my Mom thinking negatively of him even though I did plan to leave him after I was done recovering from surgery and had already lined up an escape to a summer camp in Wisconsin. The first thing he did after my surgery that let me know our marriage was over was he didn't call. The surgery was on Wednesday at 9AM. I gave my Mom the phone saying "Husband will call when he's on lunch, let him know I'm OK, just too drugged to wake up." He didn't call. And when he came home my Mom encouraged him to wake me up because I wanted to talk to him. He said he'd just talk to me later, made a drink, and went out into the back yard. My Mom was the first person to see what was going on in my life.
I never slept in our bed after that. After my Mom left I stayed on the couch for 2 weeks and then started sleeping in the guest bedroom. I feared telling him my full intentions of leaving when I went to camp for the summer because I didn't know what he'd be capable of doing when he heard that news and, besides, he was never sober to hear it anyway. Al Anon encouraged this move since he had violent tendencies in the past. But a whole month had gone by and he never asked why I was sleeping in the other room, I figured he knew it was over, too.
In March I met someone else. I wasn't looking to meet someone else and initially resisted it but my Mom encouraged it. I figured why close myself off to something great? My marriage was over and I knew it. But I still made him wait. I wasn't ready to move on yet but I kept him in my life as a friend. It was with his encouragement, and my Mom's encouragement, that in April I told him I was leaving for good if he didn't quit drinking and I was leaving in just 2 weeks. His response was "I don't want to quit drinking". That was my answer- he chose booze over me.
On April 27th, 2 years and 1 day after we were married, I signed out divorce papers. On May 10th I packed up my car, took my dog, and left in the middle of the day while he was at work and, honestly, I never looked back.
Over the course of the summer we chatted a few times, me always calling him. I think he still thought I'd come back in August when camp was over. He insisted he didn't drink on weekdays anymore and only drank with other people on weekends. But to me, no AA=No me. Also over the summer Cody, the new guy, was calling me every day. He even sent me a care package full of food and other goodies. He asked me how my day was, I asked him how his was, and a romance definitely sparked during the summer while we were thousands of miles apart. He convinced me to move to Phoenix- he and his family would help me out (and they really, really have, I honestly don't know how well I could've coped if it weren't for them), and I could be around people who truly loved me. He even offered to fly to Minneapolis and meet my entire family (Mom, Dad, SIL, brother, nephew, and Grandma) and then drive my dog and I down to Phoenix so we wouldn't have to make the trip alone. During this time my husband didn't call me, he didn't ask how I was doing, how my job was going, and what my plans were after camp. And I didn't tell him I wasn't coming back- I let him figure that out on his own.
Over the next couple of months we'd talk a few times as I figure out how to get the rest of my belongings out of his house. Every time ended with me in tears as he did his best to make me feel guilty for leaving him and getting pissed at me for moving on, even though he admitted he was dating other people, too. I eventually did get my stuff out of his house and then didn't call him again.
But I still mourned. I mourned for the person he was before he started drinking. I mourned for my marriage and the family I'd wanted so desperately. I struggled with having to start over fresh with a new relationship in the beginning, but Cody is an amazing person with so much patience it often makes me feel guilty for being so hot headed. He stuck by me, dealt with the nights I'd cry myself to sleep, dealt with my mood swings as I mourned, and did all he could to make me happy and feel at home with him. I know now that I've met a person who truly cares about me and I am now working to opening myself up again so I can truly care about him. He's earned it and I love him and want to spend the rest of my life with him. He doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, and treats me well and with respect. He's everything I wanted my husband to be but he couldn't be because he didn't love me enough and I didn't love him enough in the end.
I wasn't only mourning the loss of my marriage and husband. I didn't tell anyone how much he drank and I didn't tell anyone we were having problems in our marriage. To everyone outside of our house we were the ideal couple- happily married. And I fed that belief by making up things that we'd do together and say to each other. So when I left it came as a surprise to everyone except my Mom (who'd seen it with her own eyes) and our two roommates who also witnessed my husbands fall into alcoholism. And the sudden appearance of another man made them think the worst about me. Since I was the one who left and he stayed behind- I let them think this. I guess it was my last dash effort to not be the cruel one in this relationship. So mutual friends took sides and I lost all but two of my San Diego friends, the two that I am still friends with didn't really know my husband and didn't have a relationship with him. Everyone else chose his side and I guess I understand why. But it still upset me and I was mourning the loss of many friendships that I'd built up since moving to San Diego in 2005.
Today I learned that they are starting to understand why I left. I got a text message from the girl who was my best friend in San Diego that she finally saw what I'd been living with during our marriage. She even apologized for not believing me when I would talk about our problems. Which means my ex husband hasn't quit drinking at all. He isn't dealing with his problems and I've been able to move on with my life and avoid another year of alcoholism. It's a disease and my true hope is someday he realizes this and gets the help he needs. And then someday finds someone who cares for him and he can find happiness again. But this will never happen until he quits drinking and I've done all I can to get him to that point. From here it's up to him. It's too late for us now, but it's not too late for him and it's not too late for anyone else dealing with alcoholism. But for me, I'm done. I've moved on and I'm happy. I know I will still think of him from time to time but I no longer wonder where I'd be if I'd stayed. I know exactly where I would be because I've already been there.
My divorce is final next month. Almost a year to day from my surgery and my decision to leave him. It's been a rough year (a rough couple of years) but I am wiser now. I know what happiness is and I know what it isn't. I know how a relationship should be and how it shouldn't be. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger and I am lucky- I get to be stronger because I didn't let it kill me... I didn't stick around long enough for it to kill me.
Anyone dealing with alcoholism I have only one piece of advice- Al Anon! Even if your loved one won't get help themselves you can get yourself help. Alcoholism not only affects the alcoholic but everyone else around them. And if you let it, it will destroy you. Al Anon will help! I cannot stress this enough!!! It has helped me make myself whole again. And now I am happy.