Epilogue

I just tried to call you.  Call me as soon as you get this!

I thought I had heard my phone ring from downstairs.  Sure enough, one my dear friends left a message that was not typical for him.  David, a mutual friend of my beloved’s and mine, is far too laid back to leave a demand over text.  I called him immediately.  He got straight to the point.

“I just got a call from a sheriff.”  He sounded so severe.  My heart dropped to my stomach.  Oh no…. another DUI?

“He’s gone, Ruby.  He committed suicide about an hour ago.”

**************************************************************************

(That was Thursday evening, January 12.  I’ve had a few days to process now.)

My brain went into immediate shock.  Did I just hear what I thought he said?  If his voice hadn’t have cracked as he said the words I wouldn’t have believed him.  But I could hear him crying on the phone.  I could feel my heart break.

The days that followed have been filled with asking questions, answering some, gathering pictures and information.  He had a girlfriend that he had just given a promise ring to and moved in with.  My heart broke for her and for my beloved.  I can only imagine what he was going through in the moments before he made that final decision.

My beloved.  I struggled to continue using that name for the last several posts to this blog.  It seemed wrong to refer to a man that I chose to leave as “my Beloved”.  Though I chose to never use his real name for confidentiality purposes (or mine for that matter), I realize now that I never stopped loving him.  Even now.

Yes, I detached and moved on and we have been divorced almost a year and a half now, but we remained friends and I tried to be encouraging in his new life.  He seemed happy and from what I hear from his girlfriend, he was making strides in his faith life and attempts at sobriety.

He had finally gotten his day in court for that DUI from spring of 2015.  He took a plea deal and lost his CDL and was told that he MUST remain sober during his year’s probation.  He tried but alcoholism is an evil disease and he fell off the wagon several times since that court date late November last year.

He was most definitely OFF the wagon when he took his life.  Yes, he was going through some recent financial hardships but we will never know what exactly his thinking was when he made that decision.

All we know now is that he is finally at home with his Maker.

Rest in PEACE now, Beloved!  Your demons have been conquered.

final

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The End

I’m kind of hurt about what you said about me and my heart so I’ve decided that I’m going to leave you alone and not bother you anymore until you change your mind.

textI stare at the text in amazement.  How could he twist around what I said to the point of not wanting to talk to me anymore???  We had started the day casually ‘chatting’ over text like we had the last few weeks.  After a few teasing texts back and forth, he got serious and said:

You know I have a good heart and I am a good man

To which I replied:

I think I do.  And hopefully you continue putting God first so He  strengthens you and truly makes you ready to be a good man to a good woman.

His response was:

I’m sorry to hear that you don’t think I’m a good man.

Whhaaat?  I just told him to re-read what I said.  Shortly thereafter I got the “I’m not talking to you anymore” text.  I was busy at the time so I simply shook my head and figured I would deal with it later.

But later came and after some Bible time and serious thinking, it occurred to me that “my beloved” has done this very same thing to me numerous times throughout our relationship.  Its funny how things become more clear once you are further removed from them.

narcissismI read an article last Spring about the different signs that you are in a narcissistic relationship.  Nearly ALL of those applied to my marriage.  But at the time, I was a little busy dealing with alcohol, rehab and separation issues to really give it any more thought.

Now its all come flooding back.  A quick Google search will tell you all you need to know about narcissism.   I wish now that I had bothered to learn more back then.  SOO many of the sign/symptoms where there in my marriage and maybe if I had known about it, I could have found a way to deal with it.

LISTEN TO YOURSELF RUBY!!!   You are doing it again!  All throughout our marriage I looked for excuses as to WHY he treated me so poorly.  You wanted so badly for there to be something wrong with him that could be fixed -instead of just accepting that maybe he just didn’t love you enough -or at all.

But man!  He has the classic signs.  He loved telling everyone what a war hero he was.  He works hard simply to get the praise and be considered the best at what he does.  He would only buy me flowers when there would be other people to see what a great husband he was.  He would fly into a rage anytime he was criticized.  He was extremely competitive -especially with me.  Any time I would compliment or admire someone else for something, he would have to tell me how he was better somehow.  He expected me to be at his beck and call and would get upset if I gave him push back or insisted that he learn to do something himself.  Even his “memory issues” come into play here.  Apparently the narcissist has trouble remembering anything that doesn’t directly affect them.

Joanna Ashmun, a layperson with a lot of experience dealing with people who have NPD, wrote about many of the NPD traits and they manifest in real life.   This perfectly explains the opening text above:

“The other “punishment” narcissists mete out is banishing you from their glorious presence […] The narcissist expects that you will be devastated by the withdrawal of her/his divine attention, so that after a while — a few weeks or months (i.e., the next time the narcissist needs to use you for something) — the narcissist will expect you to have learned your lesson and be eager to return to the fold.”

“..until you change your mind.”  and go back to accepting that I am a good man.   Wow.  I think back to the number of times he has pulled this crap on me before.  Its been three times since we broke up!  Countless times that he withdrew from me emotionally while we were married.  Heck -he STILL doesn’t talk to his father whom my beloved feels wronged him and he spent 17 years not talking to his sister because he felt she thought she was better than everyone else (not true).

I see the writing on the wall now.  Now that I understand this tactic and will refuse to play the game, I doubt I will ever hear from him again.  Which, in all honesty, is probably for the best anyway.  But my readers out there know how hard it is to just cut someone out of your life that you loved for years.  At least it is for someone who is NOT narcissistic.

So I need to start a new chapter and put this blog to rest.  I will leave it open in hopes that my experiences may help those out there who really DO struggle to respect, love and support someone with PTSD.  I would be honored to talk to anyone who reaches out as a result of this blog.  After all -MY struggle may be over (for now) but I’ve learned a lot and am happy to pray for others.  Please email me at:  rubymerten@yahoo.com.

Thank you all for sharing my journey!

THE END

 

 

Feel Like I’m Drowning

“I woke up this morning and threw up a bunch of dark blood.”

This was the the answer to my “How was your night?” question to my new friend.  NOT what I was expecting!  My ‘momminess’ went into immediate overdrive and my brain automatically began going through the former EMT files trying to remember what conditions caused dark coffee grounds looking vomitus.  Just as I remembered it is a classic sign of ulcers, he adds:

“I’m sure its just from all the stress and stomach issues.”  Sigh

He already knows what the problem is.  He’s already been told what to do to fix it.  Already been given prescriptions.  Yet has he been doing any of it?  NO!

ROBERT HOPKIN OIL

ROBERT HOPKIN OIL

Aarrgh!  What is it with men -especially military men- when it comes to ignoring their health?  I don’t WANT to take all those pills, he says.  Well fine -but do you WANT to be making the holes in your stomach worse and puking up blood in the mornings?  Do WANT to deal with the VA or the medical bills or the resulting hospital stays that WILL happen when you ignore your doctors?  Sigh again!

After festering about this for awhile something occurred to me – I was actually festering about another man with PTSD related health issues and that really bothered me.  This guy isn’t even MY man!   He is just a friend who wishes he was more than a friend.

It was far too soon after my divorcing my (former) beloved for me to even consider dating, but when this repair man asked me out enough time had passed for some loneliness to set in so I gratefully said yes to dinner.  We had a good time, but I was clear to him that I am not ready for a romantic relationship and he has respected that.  But I’m not a fool.  He wants more.

The problem is that there are too many parallels to my last relationship.  It gives me great pause.  Thanks to Al-anon, I have been learning more about myself and beginning to be able to see flags of all colors better -especially the red ones.  Something about Sam is pushing me away and its more than the fact that he’s a smoker.  It’s because he sees me as a buoy.

PTSD is all about stress, yes.  But it actually CREATES more stress in life too.  Being constantly hyper vigilant makes the sufferer see even slightly stressful situations like, for instance, going to a crowded grocery store, as a major deal.  Often that now major stress makes them lose patience for the littlest things; say, taking too long at the stop light to make your turn.  Now, in an angry outburst, he says something mean that he now regrets and is now stressed out that he hurt you.  And on and on.

Or -the PTSD is wreaking havoc on your stomach lining from all the acid reflux and he begins to develop ulcers.  Now he has to go to the doctor or-God forbid- the VA to get it taken care of.  We all know how the VA can increase his stress tenfold!  But if he can get thru that, he now has to take a handful of pills and is likely told he can no longer eat or drink his favorite foods anymore.  No more comfort foods or alcohol?  Whether he follows those directions or not, he’s not going to be happy with the results so pile on some MORE stress!

I imagine it as rough seas and these guys are often barely keeping their heads above water.  In MY house, I had to “take care of everything”.  I paid the bills, I did most of the chores, I made sure appointments were made and kept.  I kept the peace.  I helped otheBuoy2rs to understand.  But I also took the verbal abuse, dealt with getting ignored for days, and suffered the consequences of bad alcoholic-influenced decisions.  The more my beloved was drowning the more he dragged me down with him.  My buoyancy could only handle so much.

I can see similar traits in Sam.  Of course his stress level is high.  He can’t help that and I understand that.  I appreciate that Sam does a better job treading water in his stress sea but I can see the struggle.  Problems with jobs, his health, his ex and his kids all seem to be more than the average guy usually deals with (thanks PTSD!) and a lot of how he deals with it is straight out of the military guy’s handbook (stuff it down and deal with it when off duty -which is never).

I am a rare woman who has experience dealing with his problems.  Of course he feels comfortable with me.  Of course he wants the stability I can provide.  Of course he’s attracted to someone who could make his life easier and take care of him.  Someone to make sure the bills get paid, food is in the fridge, doctor appts get made and dinner is healthy.

Unfortunately for him, I am still recovering from my near drowning.  The last thing I want to do is become someone else’s buoy.  My hat is off to you other buoys out there who are still in the rough waters.  It’s not an easy job and I know there are times you feel like you are drowning too.  PLEASE take time to care for yourself too so you don’t lose your buoyancy!!

Go on a weekend getaway. Go get a pedicure.  Find 15 minutes a day to meditate or pray.  Practice deep breathing and look for something positive or good in your beloved every day -then TELL them about it.  Make sure YOU get to your doctor appointments and actually listen to your doctor!  Learn the serenity prayer!  And learn to let go of all that stress you cannot control.  But most off – learn to drop it all at the foot of the cross.  For there is one buoy out there that will never fail you:

jesus-reaching-in

Still supportive?

“I think its time I shut the blog down.  It was supposed to be a blog geared towards helping the loved ones of veterans be more supportive of the medical and emotional issues that vet’s tend to suffer.  It was supposed to be all about showing respect to them.  I feel like I’ve failed!  I just LEFT my vet, for Pete’s sake.  What kind of example is that!?”

My heart has been sick about this for awhile but I just started talking to friends about it.  Seems I rarely make any decisions anymore without consulting a bunch of people – not since I’ve been paying dearly lately for not listening to advice.

I don’t know about others… but your strength and how you lean on God keeps me encouraged,” one of my friends/readers responded.  That really gave me pause.  Just because I always seem to have to learn the hard way, doesn’t mean that other people haven’t learned from my mistakes.

***************************************************************************

That was written weeks ago.  I still struggle with finding the heart to continue writing this blog since my marriage to my vet has ended.  But God continues to lead my life and wouldn’t you know it – I recently met another veteran who suffers from PTSD and its been an eye opener.

As a result of educating myself on this subject I became more aware of the often subtle things a vet will do during every day interactions with people – especially people they are just getting to know.  For instance, when my new friend Sam and I went out to eat the other day, I suspected he had issues with the seating arrangements.  Being a gentleman, he allows me to chose a seat at the table.  I naturally take the seat that allows my back to be at the wall and usually faces the entrance.  Its a safety/ fung shui thing for me.  I don’t even realize I do it.

The waitress hasn’t even come to the table yet when I notice his foot tapping and his eyes darting about.  Ahh!  I recognize this stress pattern.  Sam had passingly mentioned to me a few weeks ago that he too suffers from PTSD but didn’t go into detail about it.  No surprise -he doesn’t know me that well yet.

I grab my purse, tell him I need to hit the ladies room and ask if he minds if we switch seats.  I tell him a breeze was making me cold.  When I return, he has his back to the wall now and is remarkably more relaxed.

The incident, though minor, struck me.  I may not be married to a vet any longer, but he IS still in my life and I have a new friend who is bringing new set of symptoms to light for me to learn from.  I may still be of help to others who struggle to deal with supporting our afflicted vets.  The biggest difference between Sam and my now ex-beloved is that alcohol is not a factor.  I am beginning to see true PTSD symptoms that are not either caused or exaggerated by the influence of alcohol.

Sam is beginning to open up to me now that he knows I understand what he is going though.  The vet organization he is a member of gave him free tickets to a local haunted house.  Being a huge fan of Halloween and all involved, I was excited to go.  But Sam told me he would not go into the attraction.  Since his time in Afghanistan, he has avoided places where things may jump out at him.

Duh!  Of course.  I’m disappointed that I cannot share the scary fun of a haunted house with him, but I completely understand his reluctance to subject himself to that stress and the nightmares sure to be a result.  Thankfully, he has no issues with roller coasters.  🙂

I’ll give an update on my ex next time for those who have been following his story.  My new life adventure has been going well enough for now.  Thank you for sticking with me this past year.  I look forward to what God has in store me next.

 

Week One

“I’ve done a lot of thinking and praying and I know what I have to do,” he says sincerely.  It is a rare moment of seriousness where my beloved actually seems THERE in the moment -not thinking five steps ahead.  “You are the best thing that has ever happened to me and I’m gonna do what it takes to get you back.”

new lifeThe old Ruby would have swooned.  The new Ruby not so much.  The new Ruby stoically sits across from him quietly listening with no emotion.  The new Ruby realizes that although he absolutely means what he says and has every intention to follow through, the likelihood of success is slim.  No hopes are rising over here.

I had agreed to let my newly rehabbed husband to spend his first night “in the real world” at my new condo with me so he could take some time to find a place to live.  Having spent the last 28 days in a full time rehab facility, he was excited to get his freedom back, but also a little wary about the temptation he would face.  I was glad to help, but a little concerned that he would get settled.  His plans changed from day to day so I learned to take it one day at a time.  Last I heard, he had found an in-law suite that would allow a 6 month rental.

Ah yes, the 6 month plan.  My readers know that I insisted on a 6 month minimum separation before deciding if we had a chance of working this marriage out.  My beloved aggressively disagreed with the time length to the point of saying 6 months was too long so he wasn’t interested in trying.  The plan WAS that he would move to Florida when he got out.  Then, two days before his end date, this in-law suite thing happened and suddenly he was willing to wait the 6 months.  Oy!  What a roller coaster, no?

Warning!-This-guy-might-do-things-that-some-viewers-may-find-disturbing!He was at my house before noon that first day.  He had a whole list of things he wanted to get done that day with the most important being a trip to the used car lot to buy some convertible he had been pining after for the last 28 days.  I took a half day off work to drive him to the lot.  He asked me what I thought after the test drive and I thought this car was a really bad purchase, but he bought it anyway.  I headed home while he completed the purchase.  It’s HIS money after all and I am learning to let things go.  He called me on his way back to my house to tell me that his phone and GPS were nearly dead and that neither the navigation system nor the cigarette lighter in the car work.  I gave him directions back to my place and figured with traffic I would see him in about an hour.

SEVEN hours later, our friend and I have called the local hospitals and police stations.  No one knows where he is.  His phone is dead and I doubt he remembered what my address is.  I now live in an unfamiliar area to him and he is the worst person with directions in a “new” car that may have a litany of other things wrong with it.  Needless to say, I was quite concerned.  Especially after the last time he didn’t come home as expected (read about DUI crash here).

He finally showed up around 9:30 at night.  Drunk.

Oh yes, I was pissed.  I was also not terribly surprised.  Of course he denied it.  Of course he blamed being gone so long on being lost and trying to get home.  He finally admitted to drinking when I did not get upset about it but matter-of-factually stated that I knew he had been drinking and didn’t appreciate being lied to.  He was all surprised and upset when I asked him where he was planning to stay the next day.  Apparently, at some point in his sloshed up brain, he thought he was going to stay with me until his appointment to see the in-law suite on Saturday.

The drunk drama diva in him went to the extreme.  Fine then!  I’ll go find a room.  I’ll be out of your hair and out of your life… blah blah blah I told him not to be foolish and that he should just stay the night and let his phone and GPS charge up so he can find his way the next day.  He left in the middle of the night with a note on the counter, “Good bye Ruby. I love you.”

Sigh

depressed-womanHe drank the next two days as well.  But it didn’t “count” cuz he doesn’t drink ALOT.  This is how an alcoholic thinks.  I spent the next day filing the divorce papers.  Though I knew it was the right thing to do, I still sat in my car after the deed was done and cried.

He did go through with the plan to rent the in-law suite.  He viewed the apartment and made the payment to reserve it.  Unfortunately, it would not be available until the 25th – leaving him with two weeks of nowhere to live.

It was while he rented a hotel room that he did all this thinking and praying.  He decided that he made a mistake and “had a fling” with alcohol right after he got out.  He decided that it would be best for him to stay with me where he would be held accountable and would have his best chance at sobriety.  He vowed that he would not drink AT ALL (even outside the house) if I would allow him to stay with me till his apt was ready.  He vowed to go to AA meetings everyday and spend his time helping me fix up my house and getting his things in order to move.

I went against my better judgement and agreed to give it a try.  The practical women inside just could not justify spending $500 on a hotel for 2 weeks.  I HAD to give him a chance.  After all, he IS my husband for the next couple of months.

Sunday went well.  We both found meetings to attend.  Yesterday, he found a noon meeting to go to.  By the time he got home a few hours later, I suspected he had been drinking.  The wife ALWAYS knows.  He was acting as if he had a 20 oz beer – which has been his go-to choice lately.  Easy to buy a single can at the gas station and drink in the car while out “running errands”.

He got overly “offended” when I told him of my suspicion.  Drama diva came out -which only affirmed my suspicion more- and he went from I will do anything to save this marriage” to “we are done! I’m moving out tomorrow and I don’t ever want to talk to you again.” 

The new Ruby isn’t fighting him.  The new Ruby is letting him go.  It’s probably easier this way.  Easier for me to let him go and easier for him to see me as the bad guy who doesn’t trust him and expects too much.

He lays in the bed in my guest room as I write.  This may very well be the last time I will see or talk to him for a while but I doubt it.  This ride isn’t over yet.

But at least I am watching the ride more so than riding it these days.   Here’s hoping I can stay off of it long enough to gain strength to see it for what it is – MY addiction.

large_230461728

 

New Life Update

“What I decide to do all hinges on you,” he said.  “I’m not gonna wait forever for you decide if you’re gonna take me back.”

I stared at him from across the table in the stark classroom.  There is very little in the room to absorb sound so we keep our voices low despite the privacy of a closed door.

Visiting day was an eye opener.  This VA run facility is nothing like the Passages- Malibu rehab commercial that has been playing on the TV in the background.  This place is in the middle of a business park and looks more like a prison.  Armed guards and locks are at every door, the smoking area is surrounded by a tall iron fence, and visitors are only allowed in the classrooms which have nothing but a table, chairs, a TV and some games in them.  This is NOT a place where anyone would choose to be if they could help it.

IMAG0342Yet, my beloved seems oddly at home here.  Of course he says he hates it, but there is something about being in a regimented facility that puts him at ease.  He’s back in the military again.  Back where respect is given by rank, back where his day is dictated by someone else, where there are no decisions to be about meals and such, where he is bolstered by simply making it through another day of sobriety.  All the guys like him there.  They are all brothers.

The real test will be when he gets out and has the freedom to decide to remain sober.

The last time he tried recovery, it was less than 24 hours after his last day of rehab that he got drunk and was in a DUI collision.  He drank every day again after that saying that it would all stop when he went to the VA’s rehab.  I guess I can kinda understand the mentality.  After all -didn’t I eat everything “bad for me” that I could before I started my diet in January?  I was gonna eat Doritos ‘while I still could’ and finish off all the treats in the house so they didn’t go to waste.  Of course, in doing so, they all went to my WAIST, but I wasn’t seeing the harm I was doing at the time.

Still, I have every reason in the world, including his own past behavior, to assume that this recovery won’t stick either – especially since I am not convinced that his motives for going into rehab were “right”.

I’m told the only time rehab has a real shot of working is when the addict finally admits that they really DO have a problem and that they WANT to get better.  My beloved, on the other hand, up to the day he entered, still claimed that he just needed to control his drinking and he would be fine.  He’s not a raging alcoholic like his father so he doesn’t really have a problem.

But he was going to do the 28 day program cuz it would look good to the judge when he went to court for the DUI charge.  And even if he DID get convicted, the judge might consider the program “time served” and that would be the end of it.

So you may see why I am skeptical still when he told me on Saturday that yes, he knows he has a problem and yes, he plans to remain sober now for the rest of his life.  I am encouraged, but will believe it when I see months of it.

rvAt our visit, I listened to him tell me the new change in his plans.  Before going in, he was going to buy an RV and park it at a lake.  As a result of that plan, he bought an old beat up pick up truck big enough to haul a 5th wheel that already had the hook ups in the back.  He sold nearly all his belongings and the furniture we deemed “his” because he would not need any of it.  The RV had all he would need.

Now he has decided that was not a good plan after all and was thinking about getting a small apartment or maybe renting his sister’s condo for awhile “till I decided to take him back” and he could move back in with me.  I commented that he now had no furniture for that idea but was assured he could live off Goodwill for a while.

Then he decided that renting an extended stay apartment would work better and told me that he wasn’t going to do that for long due to the cost.  “You’ve got a month after I get out, Ruby.  I’m not gonna keep asking the same girl to go out with me over and over again.  You either want to or you don’t.  You aren’t gonna keep stringing me along.”

Funny -but when he says it that way I can see the logic.  However- that’s not gonna work for me.

I don’t want to start a fight and I certainly do not want to discourage his progress, but I had to find a way to set him straight now so he could plan for HIS future -not ours.

I know that it takes time to see real progress.  All along, I had told myself not to make any decisions regarding our relationship for at least 6 months.  When I told him this his answer was not what I expected.

FL“Fine, I’m just gonna move to Florida when I get out then.  I’m not waiting that long for you to change your mind.”  He said it so matter-of-factly.  No anger or malice.  He is going to do what he’s always done before when a relationship ends – move far away and start a whole new life.  I guess I am not surprised but I had to fight the disappointment welling up nonetheless.

Wasn’t I worth the wait?  Wasn’t I worth fighting for?  Couldn’t he understand how burned I was or how foolish it would be for me to enter back into a potentially toxic relationship so quickly?  The detached part of me can see how this is a manipulation thing.  He has been quite successful forcing people into things they aren’t sure about.  I don’t even think he realizes he does it.

Al-anon has helped me remain strong tho!  I vowed to stick to a minimum of 6 months -even for just my own recovery.  With the house selling and moving I’ve barely had time to attend my own meetings.  I also planned to get through more of my own 12 steps before making any relationship decisions.

So I guess that’s that.  Divorce papers had already been signed -his idea to protect me in case he got sued by the guy he hit in the collision -but not filed till after the home sells.  I always figured that they were just papers and if all went well, we could easily re-marry but my heart knows that once he leaves the state I will likely never see him again.  He doesn’t even keep in touch with his step-daughter -why would he keep in touch with me?  It makes me sad but at the same time, a little relieved.

rockThe road to recovery and marriage repair promised to be a long and rough one.  It was going to require a lot of patience, forgiveness and trust on my part.  I was willing to do it, of course, but I wasn’t looking forward to it.  Apparently, its a road my beloved isn’t willing to travel at all.  At least not now.

A dear friend of mine reminded me that God can and does perform miracles.  She is of the mindset that I should stay in the marriage and continue to show Jesus’ love to my husband and keep praying that God will change his heart.  I did this for years, though, to no avail.  Eventually my prayers lead me to passages in the Bible about hardened hearts.  Yes, God CAN perform miracles but He would never force someone into becoming a faithful person.  Only my beloved can decided to LET God in so a miracle could happen.

And often, the only way a heart will soften is by losing everything.  I know now that it IS the loving thing to do to leave and get out of God’s way.  I was given as a gift to him and the gift was abused and taken for granted.  Sometimes God takes away gifts as a way to reach us and teach us.  I don’t claim to know God’s plan but I have asked Him repeatedly to use me in whatever way is needed for His glory.  God does not like divorce but He also does not like the sin that leads up to it either.

Call me foolish or naive, but I have every faith that God has a plan for me and I am totally open to the possibility that it may be years before my beloved has a change of heart and comes back.  Or it may be never.  All I can do is continue to have faith and do my best to live a life according to His will.  I can’t go wrong there!

rb road

Reconcile Leaving

“Why are you still here?”

pastor-collarThat was the first question my pastor asked me when he came to visit after my husband’s DUI accident.  I was more blown away about HOW he asked it.  His tone was incredulous not inquiring.  He honestly couldn’t fathom why, after all he knew I’d been through, I would still be living with/married to this man.

I imagined all the times this man of God has heard stories of heartbreak in marriages.  I’m sure he has heard every excuse in the book.  Although he had not provided counsel for my beloved and I (not for lack of trying on my part) the pastor knew our story from the numerous emails I had sent him and prayer requests.

He was well aware of my husband’s PTSD issues and the sexual abuse he suffered as a child.  I reached out in hopes that the pastor would meet with my man and smack him around a bit spiritually.  But it never happened.  Sure, Facebook messages and texts went back and forth a few times trying to arrange a dinner but there was always something that got in the way.  We go to a growing community church and this head pastor is an extremely busy man.

But really, I can see now that my wise pastor knew something all along that I just figured out recently:  no changes will happen unless my husband is the one who truly desires them.  Why should he spend his precious minutes on a man who is not ready to take to heart what he has to say?

So after a few years of trying to get the one religious man I know my husband respects over to my house it finally happened after I sent him a picture of my husband’s broken, bloody and bruised face after the accident.  I was watching helplessly as my husband’s world crumbled about him.  He had sobered up after the accident and realized what had happened.  I’ve never seen him sob so hard and I was at a loss.  I wasn’t sure what to say or do and really not so sure I even wanted to help.  My numbness at my husband’s drunken decisions had hit an all time high.

Still, my humanity wouldn’t let me just do nothing.  So I texted the picture to our pastor and begged him to come right then.  Never was my man in such need of some spiritual guidance.

I’ve never been a fan of God’s timing.  It’s never when I want things to happen.  Pastor didn’t come that day but he did come three days.  And in only three days my beloved had let go of all his repentant sorrow and decided that it was impossible that he was driving the night of the accident so he absolved himself of any major wrong doing.  He was back to blame shifting and ignoring all the “little” bad decisions on his part that led up to the night’s disaster.

“I mean really, WHY are you still here?  Do you even love him anymore?”

Ouch.  The question hit a nerve.  Not so much because it was legitimate question but because I had been asking myself that same thing for the last few years.  Of course I love him…but.  But was I in love with hiSilhouette of a man in a business suit giving a shrug with a question markm?   It actually hurts to admit that answer is no.  Part of my recent counseling had opened my eyes as to why I chose the men I do.  There were many things about my beloved that I was drawn to and in love with in the beginning.  My readers have almost 2 years of posts detailing how I fell out of that infatuation type love.

As I grew up I learned that love is a choice.  Every day I had to get up and CHOOSE to love my husband.  Some days it was easier than others.  I answered my pastor:

“Yes, I still choose to show love to my husband.  No, I haven’t been in love with him for years, but I care about him.  And I’m still here because I made vows to GOD.”  Tears threatened but I held it together.  My pastor is not a fool tho.  He could see how miserable and chained I felt to those vows.  I’m supposed to stay married through sickness and health.  What kind of horrible wife leaves a sick man?  Or worse – a war veteran battling his demons?

“Ruby, your husband made vows too.  Vows he hasn’t kept.  And he is supposed to the leader in your relationship.  Being unfaithful is not just a sexual thing.  Being unfaithful to your vows upsets God just as much.”  Hhmmm. OK, I can see how this could be a way out for me.  My husband was unfaithful to his vows so God will let me off the hook for leaving him.

But what about MY vows to God?

weddingBy the power of a wedding video, I just now reviewed exactly what my vows were that day 5 and half years ago.  Nowhere did it say I made a commitment to GOD, but the vows were made to my husband in the presence of God.  Wow.  What a relief.  I do take pride in being a woman of my word, but it is vitally important to me to keep my word to my Maker.  I made these vows to my husband, not to my Lord and Savior.

So, why don’t I feel any better about leaving?

He broke the vows first, right?  I’m absolved of the contract, says my legal brain.  But look at how broken he is!  Look how pathetic he is acting knowing he is losing you!  The man is sick and you are leaving him.  My heart speaks way louder.

This is exactly where Al-anon fits in.  During meetings everything seems so clear.  Everyone -including me- knows that I cannot change my man.  We all know that enabling him is actually more harmful.  We all know that sometimes it IS the loving and caring thing to do to get out of the way and let the alcoholic/addicted fall to their rock bottom.  Usually -its the ONLY way they finally get help.

My man will never reach his rock bottom as long as I am there.  I KNOW this.  And I know that I cannot bear to keep watching him harm himself and make bad decisions.

clinical-depression-man-drinking-alcoholFunny -but I am leaving more of for HIS sake than mine.  Numerous friends and readers have advised me to leave for months.  His verbal and emotional abuse alone was enough reason in their eyes.  Funny how all those other really good legitimate reasons to leave a marriage don’t play much of a part in my final decision.  Perhaps its because it is my nature to sacrifice and suffer for others.  Or perhaps I just never loved myself enough to care for ME above others.  But the idea of leaving for my husband’s sake is what is getting me through this.  Like the mother who gladly sacrifices her time, job,  health..etc for her children’s sake.  To this I hold dear.

And this is also the reason I have not filed divorce papers.  Hope springs eternal in this girl’s heart that my husband will experience that magical life-changing 180 that you hear about.  I know personally of several couples who split up and got back together.  Where the addicted finally got clean and became a whole new person and they lived happily ever after.  How cool would that be?

But I also realize that it will take “a whole new person” to emerge in my man in order for me to consider remaining married -or remarrying if it comes to that.  And the biggest thing I have come to realize is that my eternal optimism is what has hurt me time and again throughout my life.  I have these grand expectations that never realize and I’m crushed.

Not this time.  I can’t give up the hope, but the ‘new Ruby’ knows better than to expect this will end up a happily ever after thing.  In fact, I expect quite the opposite.  If there is one thing Al-anoners learn the hard way -its to expect the worst outcome in everything.  We are a jaded bunch for sure!  But its a mode of protection.  And it works.

Yes, alcoholism is a symptom of PTSD, but it is a manageable symptom.  Despite it’s use as “self medication” it does NOT help the post traumatic stress.  It makes it WORSE.  If my husband’s problems were all simply a result of PTSD, I would find a way to stay -especially if he were at least trying to get some help for it.  But this is not the case for us.   It’s time to go.

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new lifeYesterday, we spent half a day at the VA going through the motions needed for him to enter a 28 day inpatient program.  I was beginning to think he would never go through with it.  This first big step is encouraging but it’s just a step.  He still needs to actually follow through and GO when a bed opens up.  I am hopeful that he takes advantage of the treatment and counseling that these war wound experts can provide him instead of just putting in the time for a judge’s sake.

Thank you for your continued prayers, my dear readers!

Bit of a flashback…

couple_fighting_scl“Yes, I am being super selfish.  I am going to do what I want, when I want, how I want and I don’t don’t care if anybody likes it or not.  I’m not checking in with anyone.  I’m not asking friggin permission.  You wanting to know where I am, what I’m doing or when I’m coming home has nothing to do with being a good husband or not.  You are just being nosy.”

Well.  There it is.  He finally verbalized what his behavior has been like the last few weeks.  This behavior got exponentially worse when I followed Al-anon’s advice and finally detached from him.  For me, detaching emotionally from him and his manipulative ways allowed me to get a bird’s eye view of our marriage and how one-sided it has been.  Has always been, really.

My beloved has enjoyed the benefits of having a nurturing wife without returning the favor often.  Whether this was actual enabling behavior or not, I realized just how much I was doing in this relationship and how little I got in return.  I may not have been enabling him to drink, but I was enabling him to treat me badly.  I was told that I am supposed to let the alcoholic take care of himself.  He is a grown man perfectly capable of taking his own pills, making his lunches, cleaning up after himself.

SO many times he complained that I was NOT his mother – yet he enjoyed the fruits of my mothering him so much that when I stopped, he decided the marriage sucked.

“I don’t like the new Ruby.”  He flat out told me.  When I asked for clarification he said, “I want things like they were:  I take care of repairs and stuff around the house and you take care of me.”

Rainbow1Wow.  If only he actually DID hold up his end of the bargain.  My mind went back to numerous time chores sat for weeks while he sat on the couch or slept the day away.  Heck – I’m getting to know myself pretty well now:  I would have been happy to do 100% of everything if I only got the love and respect I ave been fighting for from him in return.

“I just don’t feel very close to you right now.  It seems like your attitude has changed and you’re very standoffish and I don’t like it.  So I don’t like to be around you when you’re like that.”  Sigh.  If only he could see that he has acted that way towards me for the last 5 years.  I guess now he knows how it feels.

“It feels like our marriage has run it’s course.”  Run its course?  What a cold thing to say.  I didn’t realize marriages had a course to run.  This statement made my blood run cold.  It was as if he had just told me that if I don’t cater to him anymore, he had no further use for me.

I told him that both AA and Al-anon advise that no major decisions or purchases be made AT LEAST in the first couple of months.  I tell him that I think we should both just work our programs and see what happens by the end of the year.  I have great hopes of dramatic transformation in him.  I picture us finding a new closeness and becoming truly happy for the first time.  I hold on to this hope desperately as I watch and feel him draw further and further away.

“So we are supposed to be unhappy for a whole year?  I just got done telling you that our marriage is progressively getting worse,”   is his response.  “I am NOT going to work for something that I don’t want and this marriage sucks right now. I hate it.”  I actually agree on his evaluation.  Only I have felt that way about it for a few years.  Yet I continue to try to and fight to make it better.

“I think I’m just going to check out for a while and see how I feel.  Just do my own thing, take care of myself.”

That was several days ago.  Since then, he had decided that he wants to buy another car.  A convertible.  He doesn’t care what I think or how getting rid of his truck might affect us/me. He got pre-approved for a loan on his own and has spent hours searching for checking out his latest distraction.

Since then, the expensive USMC k-bar necklace/chain came in the I ordered a few weeks ago.  I added a cross to the chain as a symbol that God can overcome all the pain that k-bar caused in his life.  (Funny -in his drunken raw moments of truth, my beloved would admit and show the pain of the moral injury he suffered in the gulf war when he killed men with that k-bar.  But sober, he is drawn to the power of that knife and thinks they are cool.)  He coldly accepted the gift with a “wow.  Nice.  Thank you.”  No hug, no smile, no emotion at all.  It was the worst present I ever gave anyone.

Since then I have spent hours reflecting ‘from afar’ what our marriage looked like from the outside.  I realized that I have spent years trying to figure out a way to get him to show me love and respect.  I couldn’t fathom why someone wouldn’t be totally in love with me.  After all -I’m a pretty awesome person and a damn good wife.  I have a grown a lot in the past few years in both respects as well.  So there must be something WRONG that he has trouble treating me well.

panic-man-in-elevatorI thought back to the first time I realized he had depression.  He had slept through my son’s high school graduation (almost a year and several break-ups into our relationship).  The fight that occurred after made him admit that he should probably go back to taking the anti-depressants he had been given years ago but decided he didn’t need.  Oohh!  He has depression!  Now I had something to focus on.  I learned all about depression, its symptoms and causes, and worked with the doctor to get him on the right meds.  For a while, things improved and I was happy.  He was more engaged and not such a jerk all the time.

But it didn’t last.  Not even with an increase in meds.  How to make him happy again?  He begged for a dog.  Against my better judgement, I got him a puppy and he was happy.  I had to train, feed, walk, and clean up the puppy messes but he got to lay around and endlessly kiss that damn dog.  And he was happy.

But it didn’t last.  In my searching to find new therapies for the depression that my beloved claimed he did not have until the war, I stumbled upon a site for PTSD and was astounded at the striking similarities in symptoms.  I got him registered with the VA and he was tested and diagnosed.  The upside was that I learned more about him and he was given a disability rating -which came with a monthly check and that made him happy.  The downside was that having a diagnosis changes nothing.  No new therapies or anything.

And it didn’t last.  What am I supposed to do with a husband who STILL largely ignores me, often treats with contempt, disrespect and often downright verbal abuse.  What more could I do to make him love me enough to treat me nicely?  Maybe if I was a better wife!  I started looking at myself more and realized that I was lacking in my duties as a respectful wife.  I read books and took classes and made great efforts to be a nicer, more respectful christian wife.  I began to focus less on him and more on my own salvation.  After all – God’s love and respect is all I really need, right?

My hopes of a magic transformation in my husband as the result of having a more loving, respectful wife did not materialize.  He just reaped the benefits.  I began to realize about a year into our marriage that he had a drinking problem.  I had dealt with the consequences of his drinking almost daily. Some of them severe (as my readers have witnessed).  I began to think if the he would just stop drinking the problems would go away.  The alcohol was affecting his sleep, his decisions, his mood and all would be well again if he would . just. stop. drinking.

clinical-depression-man-drinking-alcoholWell guess what folks?  That hasn’t helped either.  That was my last thread of hope.  His unloving behavior towards me has actually worsened now that he got sober.  It became obvious to me that the only time has EVER acted lovingly towards me was when he had drink in him.

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Dear Readers:  I had written the above about 20 days ago -BEFORE the DUI and all that ensued.  In fact, this was written just the day before we had decided to officially, physically separate.  I found it in my drafts folder and decided it should be published anyway though it is out of order.

Others living this kind of life totally understand how things can change from day to day with the addicted.  I really should go back and read my own words to remind myself of what things were really like.  I must have some weird survival mechanism that makes me forget about bad things.  I have had people question WHY the heck I do not have depression myself.  It must be this survival mechanism and the eternal optimism I was born with.

The problem is that I was not learning my lessons!

THAT is what is different now.  Al-anon is teaching me to focus on myself and figure out MY problems for once instead of trying to fix HIS all the time.  As you see above, I have spent the last 5 years trying to fix his…. and failing.  The ‘new’ Ruby is calmer and more focused.  But the focus is on what I need to do to get better.  My beloved’s sobriety and mental issues are his own.  I didn’t Cause them, I can’t Control them and I can’t Cure them.  But I think Al-anon should officially add a third C to that mix.  I also do not need to Condone them.

And more on that fourth C next time…

3c

Done with the drama!

man-closing-door_thumbHe makes a big show of dropping his cell phone on the ottoman by my feet.  “Well, I’m not gonna be bored tonight,” he declares defiantly.  “I’m gonna go out and party and have a good time.  Don’t bother trying to reach me cuz I won’t answer.”  He grabs his keys and stomps off.

SIGH

I calmly pick up his phone and go plug it in to the charger.  I know the battery is almost dead anyway.  What a dumbass.  Now if he gets into trouble no one will know to call me.

Hhmm.  Is that such a bad thing?  Would I want anyone calling me?  Would I respond anyway?  Still – he now wouldn’t be able to call anyone else either.  I hope he would be smart enough to ask the bartender to call a cab.

But I know better.  This is the same man who makes horrible decisions when he’s drinking.  Hell -his sober decisions aren’t always so smart either.  I take a deep breathe and ask God to give me serenity.  I marvel at how this very act of him stomping out of the house last year would have sent me spiraling into worry.

And he knows it.  Which is why he did it.  He WANTS me to worry.  He WANTS to hurt me.  Well, darn it.  I am not gonna let that happen.  I remind myself that this only bothers me because I know about it.  Soon enough I will be living on my own and he will continue to make bad decisions and do things like go out to drink then drive home less than two weeks after he got a DUI.  Only then I won’t know about it.  I won’t have it up in my face.  Soon I will have my serenity.

But I will be honest.   I want to say that I spent the rest of the night serenely going about doing my thing and that I didn’t give it another thought.  But that would be a lie.  I AM proud to say that it didn’t consume me this time.  I watched a movie and did some cross stitch and only looked at the time about every half hour.  I considered taking my phone off Do Not Disturb mode for the night just in case, but decided that what ever was gonna happen would happen whether I knew about right away or after 7 am.

My phone was on Do Not Disturb mode the night he got in the accident and that’s why I did not get the call till an hour later when I woke up on my own and checked it.  At first, I was horrified by that, but now that I think about it, having that extra hour just allowed things to calm down at the hospital, test results to come in and time for my husband to sober up a little more.  Nothing would have been gained by my getting there any earlier.

do-not-disturb-iphoneStill, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t seriously consider taking it off that mode.  Or that I didn’t take a Valium in order to calm my mind enough to fall asleep.

I was still up reading my Al-anon book when he came home.  I breathed a sigh of relief and hoped he would not be foolish enough to come in to my bedroom.  He didn’t.  He wisely went straight to bed.

After I turned off the light and snuggled in, I thought about the last few days and how anxious I am to get my own place to live.  He has gotten drunk and been in bed by 8 pm the last three nights.  He thinks he is hiding his drinking and doesn’t give his wife of 5 years enough credit to KNOW all his signs.  I know exactly how he acts with every beer.  Weirdly, I can even tell by how he texts me if he has been drinking.  I don’t even need to hear the slurred speech or watch his eyes jerk.  Before ‘getting sober’ he wouldn’t have bothered hiding his drinking and thus would not be slamming 20 ouncers on the way home.  The alcohol is hitting harder and faster.  It’s no wonder he suddenly “feels sleepy” and has to “take a nap”.

I think I am dealing with this better than I used to.  Knowing I wont have to watch it much longer helps.  Reminding myself that I cannot control his behavior helps.  Its the obsessing over it that I struggle with.  That part is especially hard because he is always so clingy the next day.  He knows he’s losing me and is laying on the charm hard in the mornings.  I have a dozen roses sitting on my counter and have gotten more hugs and kisses in the last 2 weeks than the last two years combined.  Before we got an offer on the house and “shit became real” he was thinking he could ‘win me back’ and I would give up this separation thing.

Now that I have been looking at places with a realtor a big part of him has given up.  I can easily see that he is using losing me as his excuse for drinking again.  The little comments he makes (you’re leaving me so what does it matter) are a clear indicator.  And honestly -and I hate to say this – this back-to-drinking thing is making it easier for me to go.  I have enough guilt about leaving someone who is obviously SICK but it was even harder when he was trying so hard to keep me from leaving.

To all of you who kept shoving Al-anon down my throat:  yeah, yeah, thank you.  🙂

AA-meetingishI can now see that this all pretty classic behavior.  It helps to diminish the seriousness of it when I know that so many others have dealt with all this same crap.  And it really helps to read  the stories of people who went through all the same crap. My brain, friends and family all say I am doing the right thing by leaving.  I know that he will never get the help he needs as long as I am here to enable him.  And I know that despite all my efforts NOT to enable, it is in my nature to take care of people and its in his nature to take advantage of that.  It’s hard sometimes to distinguish the line between helping and enabling.  At least if I am not there to ask, that line is easier to avoid altogether.

The good news is that my house has an accepted offer on it and my offer on a condo has been accepted too.  🙂   As long as nothing happens to throw a wrench in it all, I should be in my own place in about a month.  Funny though -living with an alcoholic has made me fully expect that a wrench WILL get thrown.  It always does.   I assume the worst will happen and I WILL lose the condo.  I hope God has a different plan for me.  I hope for once, everything works out in my favor and goes smoothly.  Because Lord knows I am already dealing with enough rocky terrain.

I hope to know by the end of the weekend if all is set to go with my buyers.  Wish me luck!!

 

The Aftermath

I stared at his mangled face trying to sort out how I felt about it.  There was a part of me that knew I should feel badly for him -that should be worried about him and I pondered in awe why I couldn’t seem to muster up those feelings.  After all -this is the man I refer to as my beloved laying there.   Was I in shock?  Was I still reeling from the last 45 minutes I was convinced he was dead and preparing myself for that confirmation?

I could tell from his one good eye that was dilated and jerking that he wasn’t coherent as he babbled on about various nonsense.  Funny -tho, he was speaking fairly clearly, and his sentences seemed to follow a logical progression, but the story was too disjointed to be nothing but a dream flowing out of his banged up brain.

Accident-ReportIt was almost a relief to get the real story from the nurse.  He had been in a head-on collision that was his fault.  He was extremely drunk and had been driving his friend home from the bar. Thankfully, no one was killed and his passenger was only bumped and bruised up.  In fact, she had been taken to jail that night for having marijuana in her possession.  The driver of the car he hit also walked away.  My husband apparently received the worst injuries.

Good!  was my thought when she told me that.  Was it horrible of me to be glad that my husband got hurt?  Maybe NOW he will finally learn?  Or was I glad that he was finally feeling some of the hurt that I’ve been feeling for years?

I was surprised when it was less than 15 minutes before the doctor came in to talk to me.  I was informed that he was fully CT’d and checked out and that despite how horrible his face looked, my husband was deemed “OK” and as soon as the last belly scan was officially read, they would be sending him home.  I barely had time to register this news when an admin entered to get payment from me.  Luckily, an officer also entered to give me my husband’s belongings and his citations.  I took out HIS credit card and asked for mine back from the admin who happily switched cards; agreeing that the patient should be paying for his own mistakes.

They discharged him less than an hour after I got there.  Granted, my beloved had been in the ER for almost 2 hours before I even arrived but it seemed like it was too soon to be released.  He was still writhing in pain and still drunk.  What was I supposed to do with him?

I stopped trying to explain to him what happened on the way home.  Some things were beginning to get through and he certainly understood that something bad had happened because DAMN did his face hurt!  I got him home and gave him the pills the ER suggested and put him to bed with an ice pack on his face.

Despite the suggestions of the few people who I confided in to leave him to suffer alone; the former nurse in me could not leave a patient in this state.  A massive head injury is not something I felt comfortable walking away from.  I checked on him every half hour as he moaned in his sleep and I talked to my Al-anon sponsor, HIS AA sponsor and a few friends to get support and advice.  I felt strong.

And I acted strong – even when he finally woke and had sobered up enough to hear what had happened.  I was strong when I watched his world crumble and saw him break down sobbing with remorse.  I was strong as I listened dispassionately to him cry about how his life just ended -that he couldn’t believe it, he had to be dreaming, he lost everything…

I was strong…..until he reached for me and said he was so sorry.  He was sorry he put me through all this, he was sorry he treated me so badly for so long, he was sorry he failed to be a good man.  He begged me not to leave him.  But then he added something that snapped me back into reality. He said:

“Please don’t leave me…until I can get through this.”

Aaahh yes.  He needed me.  I was his rock.  I was the fixer.  This remorse would only last until he had things under control again.  Till he felt secure again.  Then his need for me would be over.  I mentally gathered up my panties, squared my shoulders and found my resolve to remain detached from this, from him and let him suffer his consequences.  I vowed not to bail him out.

A few days have past since now and as you can imagine this roller coaster ride is a doosie!    Much of my husband’s time over that weekend was spent feeling sorry for himself.  He slept A LOT.    Then I took him to get his belongings out of his mangled truck and everything changed.

20150511_104940After seeing that all the blood in the vehicle was on the passenger door,  that his injuries were all on his right side -where the vehicle was hit- I finally asked him if he was SURE that he was actually driving.  It didn’t make sense to me according to what I remember from Physics class that he could have ended up laying across his friend’s lap from the driver’s seat in order for all his blood to be there.  It would not have surprised me that in his drunken state, he would think he would be Amy’s hero and say he was driving in order to save her from the serious jail time she would be looking at for her FOURTH DUI.

At first he thought that I was accusing him of being overly nice to a woman like a jealous wife, but then I watched hope plant a seed in his good eye.  That hope plant grew rapidly and over the next several hours, he became convinced that he wasn’t driving and his life WASN’T over and he could fight the charges.  Suddenly this girl that he was so intent on helping became a demon.  He is positive that she was driving and is lying to save her ass.

Over the last few days, between talking to attorneys, friends and bosses, my husband’s story melded into “I had a bad night.  I made some really bad errors in judgment but I am innocent!”  I have tried a few times to remind him that we have no proof of anything yet.  Though the accident report says he was driving, until we get dash-cam proof or eye witness statements that he was indeed behind the wheel we simply do not know for sure.  But there is a better possibility that he really WAS the driver and he needs to prepare himself for that.  And if he was, then he is going to be crushed all over again.

But he is not listening.

I thought he was looking at rock bottom.  I thought there was FINALLY going to be changes -that he would finally get serious about getting help and working a 12 step program.  I thought there might be hope for our marriage.  But this isn’t his rock bottom after all.

The day he started calling DUI lawyers and lamenting about where he was going to get the money to pay them, he received a Am Express card in the mail he forgot he applied for a few weeks ago.  He also discovered that his one other credit card had raised his limit by $5,000 for “being a good customer”.    Money problems gone.

The insurance company totaled out his truck and he ended up with $4,000 more than he owed the bank – enough to buy the new used truck he wanted for the RV he planned to buy and live in when our house sold.  Vehicle problems gone.

His job as a CDL driver coincides with the school year.  His boss can’t/won’t fire him until this DUI charge gets settled because until his court date in July and potentially months thereafter while a case is built, he has a valid license.  Now that he has an attorney and this hope of getting the charge either dismissed or lessened, if he loses his job, it won’t be till the fall.  In fact, the timing just happens that he will be laid off for the summer as usual and will be able to collect unemployment as usual.  That gives him time for us to get an offer on this house and buy his RV while he is still technically employed.  Housing troubles gone.

Now the only serious badness he is still looking at is his marriage.  I had told him all along that I did not intend on divorce.  I was in no hurry to file.  I just needed him to get help and get serious about a program and about our marriage.  Right after the accident I had hope that it was actually going to happen.   Now I can see the old Beloved is back.  The guy who feels sorry for himself, thinks people should treat him with kindness and graces because he is a veteran with issues and really is “a good guy.”  I hear the cockiness back in his voice.  He is no longer contrite.  He tells me I need to get over my issues about Amy and what actually happened that night cuz “I’m the only one worried about it”.

Our pastor came the other day to visit and talked with each of us separately.  He was aware of the troubles we’ve had over the years and that we separated recently to get him into treatment but he is the pastor of a large church and a busy guy.  It wasn’t until I sent him a picture of what happened over the weekend that he found the time to finally visit us in our home.  I fully expected to get the encouragement to stick it out.  I expected to be reminded of my duty as a wife to stay through sickness and health,, blah blah blah.  But I was floored by the first question pastor asked me when we were alone:

“Why are you still here?”  The question was one of disbelief.  “Do you even love this guy anymore?”  They were honest questions.  Instead of godly wife encouragement from him, he told me how impressed he was that I was so calm and that I was still living with him.  He agreed with me that there is nothing I can do to make my husband truly hand his life over to the Lord.  He told me that he thought I already went above and beyond what most women would allow or do or put up with.

I told him I take my vows seriously and feel guilty leaving a man who is obviously sick.  But that I understood that sometimes leaving is the loving thing to do.  He agreed.  Then he told me something else that blew my mind.  He talked about unfaithfulness.

I am well aware that unfaithfulness is one of the few reasons God “allows” divorce.  But I don’t know what happened that night with Amy and I honestly doubt that any full-on sexual activity happened.  After all -no matter how much I don’t trust the actions of the drunk -I also am all too aware of how physically incapable my husband would have been to perform any such actions.  I told this to pastor.

“Unfaithfulness in a marriage is more than just sexual, Ruby,” he explained.  “He has been unfaithful to his vows.  He vowed to love you as Christ loved the church.  He vowed to be a spiritual leader.  He vowed to be faithful to YOU, not to a bottle or work or friends or himself.”

He didn’t outright say it, but he gave me an off-handed blessing to leave.  He gave me a godly man’s understanding and acceptance if I made the decision to leave my husband for good.

I guess now I really to decide if this man really IS my beloved.  Am I still in love with him?  I believe I was at one time but honestly not sure any more.  5 years of being hurt changes a person.  I can honestly say that YES! I do love him, but is it the kind of love that should be in a marriage?  If I’m honest I have to admit that I love him the same way I love my friends.  I care about them and would do almost anything for them as well.  But would I trust them with my life?  Would I follow their lead as a wife should?  Would I expect them to put MY needs or desires above their own?  No.

There is too much going on right now to make any life-changing decisions.  I am trying to live one day at a time.  My husband’s course of action will determine our future.  If I  really am his number one priority as he claims, he will make decisions based on what he thinks give US the best shot of repairing our marriage -not based on what will save his butt.  I’m sure many of those decisions will benefit both causes so I pray that God will grant me the wisdom to know the difference!

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