Thursday, July 23, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
Just for today I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle all my problems at once. I can do something for twelve hours that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime.
Just for today I will be happy. This assumes to be true what Abraham Lincoln said, that "Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be."
Just for today I will adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my "luck" as it comes, and fit myself to it.
Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will study. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.
Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways: I will do somebody a good turn, and not get found out; if anybody knows of it, it will not count. I will do at least two things I don't want to do - just for exercise. I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt; they may be hurt, but today I will not show it.
Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress becomingly, keep my voice low, be courteous, criticize not one bit. I won't find fault with anything, nor try to improve or regulate anybody but myself.
Just for today I will have a program. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. I will save myself from two pests: hurry and indecision.
Just for today I will have a quiet half hour all by myself and relax. During this half hour, sometime, I will try to get a better perspective of my life.
Just for today I will be unafraid. Especially I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe that as I give to the world, so the world will give to me.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
I have stopped crying 20 times a day. Now, it's once or twice a day. But my emotions range from relishing my newfound peace that rules in the house (instead of tension, fighting, shouting, anxiety, fear, agitation) and feeling very down or desperately lonely. I realise that I am in grief: mourning the loss of my husband and my dreams and so many other things that I haven't quite intellectualised yet, but feel on a deeper level. This grief is a journey all of its own.
My husband has been to see me every day since we separated, even when I ask him not to come - though he has given back the key. He has, of course, been relatively kind and caring -the side of him that I love and miss. And my mind can easily seek the safety of denial that perhaps that traumatic night never happened, and this man standing in front of me is actually what is true and reality. And here is where the battle begins inside me.
One voice says: "Did he really hurt me or was he trying to protect me from getting out of the car into heavy traffic as he suggested?" The other voice argues, "He had lost control of his anger and he was being violent as a result. Even if he was trying to restrain me - the violence he used to do it was totally unnecessary. And he could have stopped the car or communicated that he would as a response to my request."
The first voice then says with enormous doubt, "Am I doing the right thing, leaving him?" followed by reminiscing about a good memory or a longing for cuddles that I'm beginning to miss, or the pain of being alone, or thinking of something that happened in my day that I would like to share with him. Then the second voice reminds me of the traumatic incident and the daily shouting (along with criticisms, swearing and name-calling), and that protecting my child is paramount.
One voice accuses me, the other cares for me.
Well, tonight I have to say that all I wanted to do was to pick up the phone and ask my husband to come and stay the night with me. Instead, I forced myself through a few hours before I went off to some elders from my church for their advice. One of the elders that I spoke to (a married couple) is an Alcohol and Drug Counsellor, so you can imagine, that was very helpful. I'm so appreciative of their help and support. Through our conversation tonight, my mind cleared considerably and I was able to realise my position, what I needed to do, and what I needed to say to my husband.
As this couple asked me questions, I learnt something about myself. First, they asked me about my reaction on that night in the car, whether I had perhaps experienced something like that when I was a child. After considering this briefly, I realised that when I was a child and growing up, whenever there were arguments, shouting, excessive criticism or abuse, I would feel trapped in the house - or wherever we happened to be - and helpless against anything that was happening around me or to me. It took me right into my adulthood, where I mentally had to say to myself "you can leave!" So when I felt trapped in the car with my husband shouting at me and saying hurtful things, I immediately wanted to get out.
Another question they asked me was what I feared the most. I realised that what I feared the most was being alone. My family are not close or very supportive, and I always felt alone as a child and growing up. And I still experience the loss of that support to this day, and could not shake that feeling until I met my husband, who would give the shirt off his back to his family. Believe it or not, he is there for me and completely supportive (when he is not in conflict with me). That is something I had not experienced and was missing inside me before I met my husband. The pain of being alone has driven me into the arms of abuse, and I need to work on that so that I do not choose the pain of abuse in preference to the pain of being alone. Quite how I shake the alone girl that grew up, I don't know, as I've never been able to so far - but this is a journey and I'm only at the beginning of it. And although in the past I have been afraid to be real to others because I have been judged, I am now finding support because I am willing to be open and real and ask for help. This brings me support and love instead of isolation.
Through my conversation with this couple, I realised how important it was for me to set a firm boundary that while he was not admitting his problems and actively getting help for them and while I could not trust him or feel safe around him, I would not live with him. Their reassurance that this was a good and right decision for me, for the baby and for my husband was a huge relief. They made it clear that taking him back was doing him no favours, but was in fact, making the problem worse. It was a bit of a shock to realise that by not putting up any boundaries, I was enabling his problems to perpetuate and get worse. They encouraged me to make this boundary very clear - to be careful about the frequency that I saw him, and to keep a clear message that we were apart and not drifting back together until those changes in him had taken place. They also encouraged me to communicate that should my husband assault me in any way again, that I would call the police.
So I dragged up the courage and said this to him (the police thing), and he was defensive and a bit rude but not too bad - not angry and going off his head at me like I imagined him to be - though it might have been different if I had said it to him in person, or if I'd said it in my usual manner! Instead, I approached him humbly, but I was firm with what I said. I'm not angry, not bitter, not resentful.
It felt good to maintain this boundary - a boundary that puts my safety and my wellbeing first, and not at his expense, but at his benefit. Though this consequence hurts him, it is truly for his good.
When this couple prayed for me tonight, they gave me words of encouragement. One was that "love does not demand its way." I wondered whether that was for me or for my husband, because so often I demand my way, and immediately my mind wondered whether I was to blame?
Later, one of them mentioned to me that this double-mindedness, confusion, doubt, guilt, blame I am experiencing is part of the result of being an alcoholic's wife and a taste of the "battered wife syndrome." Even when she said that to me, doubts plagued my mind - this had just happened to me once, surely I wouldn't have that issue?
Divorcenet describes "Battered Wife Syndrome" like this:
To understand battered woman's syndrome, one must first understand how someone becomes a "battered woman". According to Dr. Lenore E. Walker, the nation's most prominent expert on battered women, a woman must experience at least two complete battering cycles before she can be labeled a "battered woman". The cycle has three distinct phases. First is the tension-building phase, followed by the explosion or acute battering incident, culminating in a calm, loving respite - often referred to as the honeymoon phase. Walker, L., The Battered Woman (1979).
It is also important to understand why battered women stay in abusive relationships. The Court in People v. Aris, 215 Cal App 3d 1194, 264 Cal Rptr 167, 178 (1989) stated that "battered women tend to stay in abusive relationships for a number of reasons." Among those reasons: women are still positively reinforced during the honeymoon phase; women tend to be the peacekeepers in relationships - the ones responsible for making the marriage work; adverse economic consequences; it is more dangerous to leave than to stay; prior threats by batterer to kill self, or children; or to abscond with children; lost self-esteem; and no psychological energy to leave - resulting in a learned helplessness or psychological paralysis.
"Battered woman syndrome describes a pattern of psychological and behavioral symptoms found in women living in battering relationships." People v. Romero, 13 Cal Rptr 2d 332, 336 (Cal App 2d Dist. 1992); See Walker, L., The Battered Woman Syndrome (1984) p. 95-97. There are four general characteristics of the syndrome:
1. The woman believes that the violence was her fault.2. The woman has an inability to place the responsibility for the violence elsewhere.3. The woman fears for her life and/or her children's lives.4. The woman has an irrational belief that the abuser is omnipresent and omniscient.
I relate to a few things above - the struggle to place the blame for the violence where it belongs, some loss in self-esteem, the cycle of tension-explosion-calm (usually just an explosion of anger rather than violence except recently) and feeling supported and reassured during that 'calm phase', having a strong desire and sense of responsibility to make the marriage work, economic struggles associated with separating, concern for his safety (eg. suicidal tendencies that have been there in the past) resulting in my staying with him despite his behaviour. But I do realise that I am only beginning to feel the effects of such a syndrome, and how the longer a wife/partner stays in these circumstances, the more entrenched it becomes and the harder it is to get out. The Alcohol Drug counsellor this evening said that I needed to concentrate on becoming strong enough to stand on my own without depending on my husband - and I see now that the longer I stay in this situation, the more dependent and unable to leave I will become.
I am left with the beautiful words of a song the couple felt God had wanted to communicate to me. The words go like this:
O Lord you're beautiful,
your face is all I see
for when your eyes are on this child
your grace abounds to me.
I felt so reassured by these words. They reminded me of when I was standing in church on Sunday amongst beautiful worship - singing to God, our Creator - and my mind could not resist the love and grace that I felt God had for me. His eyes are on me, His child - even when I don't feel that I can reach out to Him: He is with me, He is watching me, He cares and He loves me no matter what I think of myself.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
I think I had imagined that perhaps this blog might be about my personal growth as someone married to an alcoholic. I suppose I thought it might be an encouragement - something positive. I never imagined the trauma or depths that life could sink to.
My hope has changed - at least at this stage in my life. My hope is that this blog might reach out to others who have some similar experiences and where I might find friendships in a virtual community of sharing. That is my hope. So if that is you - please write to me here. I need the encouragement and support and friendship. I am just going to pour out my heart as it is, without trying to figure out what's right - perhaps you can help me with that - some of my thoughts need correcting. I am at the beginning of a long journey and have a lot to learn. Maybe you can help me?
It's been two weeks since I attended Al-Anon because I have taken up part-time work and it interfered with my attendance to my usual group (I have to go to a different group now). So in all honesty, I don't know how well I was doing not reacting to my husband's behaviour (or trying not to) and so on, and trying not to provoke him. Probably not very well. Which makes me feel responsible for what has happened - even though somewhere in my brain there is another voice saying that perhaps it is not my fault. The perhaps part is the battle - and I can't quite find the truth.
Yesterday an argument (where I told my husband what I thought which was quite confrontational and made him very angry) broke out while at his family's place, and I asked him to take me home. His anger continued in the car - thumping the window with his elbow and raising his voice. Finally saying things like "the only good thing you've ever given me is this baby" (I'm 21 weeks pregnant), and "I hate you. I hated you a week after we got married."
I have to say that I have been building up emotionally for a long, long time. And being pregnant, I am extra emotional. The hurt that I felt when he said those things to me was instant, and I burst into tears - his reaction was to tell me to shut up (from memory) and I told him (while crying) to let me out of the car. He refused several times (we were fairly close to home by this point but it was dark and night time). So I got hysterical: I felt trapped in the car with this man who was angry and saying hurtful things to me that I couldn't bear, and I felt powerless and at his mercy. And I'm quite sure the pregnancy hormones made me very irrational. I started screaming at him to let me out, but he refused. So I opened my car door, screaming at him to stop - he started calling me a selfish b&$%# and that I was going to kill the baby... but I had totally lost rational thought. I just wanted out. Finally, he turned into a side street and parked the car, but not without pulling my head and face over to his driver's side and then yanking my hair hard enough that he could drag me up the street with it. I got out of the car and walked home, and by this time he had driven back and was there before I was, packing up the car with his things. He told me that our marriage was over (he has said that many times before) and "I will never forgive you for what you did."
I was astonished that he showed no remorse, not one word of sorry for hurting me physically. Can't blame it on the drink (he was sober)... And today when he came by to demand money from me, he was still angry.
I am thoroughly devastated. It was one thing to have the husband that I loved to shout at me and to call me names - but to physically injure me is too painful. And if I had the power and ability, I would will this away so that it had never happened and I could carry on living with this alcoholic man with a bad temper.. but I can't pretend that it didn't happen - even though my mind can't even recall the memory fully because it just felt so traumatic at the time. My face is still bruised when I touch it and my scalp still hurts, and I had to take panadol today for the headache I had from him pulling my head and my face. But much more than that, my heart is totally broken and my life is shattered.
7 months ago I married this man I loved - and it was the fairytale wedding followed by the fairytale pregnancy and long-awaited baby on its way! All my dreams have shattered and instead I face pregnancy and parenting alone. My dreams of living and working in an orphanage in Romania seem shattered because how could I take my son away from his father? My Romanian dream that I had put on hold while he studied - 17 years of longing to work overseas in that kind of capacity, just gone.
And who would think that I could long for a man that treated me like this? But what is most painful at this moment is that I have lost him - my friend and companion and lover and husband and partner in life. Yet the moment he hurt me like that, my trust in him was gone, and I felt afraid when he came through the door today to confront me. Afraid of this man I had chosen to love all my life. And in that moment that he hurt me, I feel like it took the decision (about whether to leave him or stay with him) away from me. I couldn't excuse this one - much as I want to find a way to (and I know that if I call him he will find a way to convince me that I am to blame and he is justified in his actions - and perhaps it wasn't that bad!?). As a few have mentioned to me, with any kind of violence in a relationship, it tends to get progressively worse - and just one push or blow to my stomach and my baby could be severly damaged, perhaps even killed.
My heart is broken for me, and for my baby. My baby who never deserved a start to his life like this one. Who deserves a loving family and two parents, is now going to be born to one solo-mother and all the effects that go along with that, including being a child of an alcoholic. I didn't want this for him or for me, and I feel stupid at the decisions I have made and the consequences that has to my little boy and to me. I wanted my husband to be OK, and I thought I could love him despite his issues - but I had no idea that he was capable of this. The man I married is swallowed up by anger and he has become someone I don't know.
When you marry a person, your love for them is so strong it's built to weather many storms - and it's hard to separate from someone who you have that kind of love for. And of course, the only memories you have as you sit alone in your house with only pain for company, are good, beautiful memories of your time together. Like torture.
Perhaps there is in part the co-dependent in me that hates so much to be alone and will do anything to stop the pain of it. But then there's just the real human part of that too - we were not built to be alone. The battle in me to pick up the phone and connect with him just to relieve the pain of being alone and loneliness is very strong - to connect with a man that would hurt me emotionally and physically. It makes no sense - but that's how it is.
My life opens up like an enormous, overwhelming, yawning hole. As big as a canyon. And in that canyon are my fears for the future: Will I have to move in order to be able to survive? Will I have to live with someone just to make ends meet? How will I be able to afford my rent/bills/expenses? What will happen when I have to give up work - how will I get by? How will I manage a newborn baby all on my own? After three or more years of being in this relationship, suddenly I see (and remember) the loneliness of being single - years of it opening up in front of me, except this time with a baby. And who will be my birthing partner now? Will it be this man? This one that hurt me? Will I be stuck in New Zealand for the rest of my life - tied to this man because of my baby? The future looks unbearable to me. Just full of broken dreams and pain and loneliness.
I am full of guilt - that somehow this is my fault - and so I can't face God. I need God so much because I am so lonely and feel so vulnerable and so full of pain, but I'm scared that He is so disappointed with me. That I have failed as a wife in my marriage. Failed my husband, failed my baby, failed God. I feel so responsible.