Friday, May 25, 2012

A poem from Whiz Kid

My seven-year-old wrote this poem for me in church last week. After he made me a really cool flip book. :)

You sing a beautiful song,
I could listen to it all day long.
I miss you when you're away from me;
I love you when you're home and free.

Being a mom is so rewarding sometimes.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Random observations

I tried to sign up for internet so I could get some of these posts burning in my head out onto my blog. I forgot that we owed the internet company money. We could use Comcast, but I loathe them because they have the world's worst customer service after the DOT. So I guess I'll be internet-less a while longer. :(

Princess Berry learned to sit up a few weeks ago. Then she learned to crawl forward. The next night she forgot, and wailed and screamed, and protested with heartbreaking but amusing frustration her inability to repeat the process. But a couple days later she learned again and has been unstoppable. The only time I can be more than 3 feet from her now is when she is sleeping.

I had thought about nursing her long. Then short. But now I don't know what's happening. She seems to have tummy trouble with almost any food. Oatmeal cereal was ok, but she decided she doesn't like it any more. Maybe it's her teething. She's been teething for 3 months - I kid you not - and the pediatrician seems to think that's fine. I suspect she will cut 3 or 4 teeth at once. She's becoming a very aggressive and grabby nurser, pinching and hitting and gnawing and yanking at my clothes and face while she eats. So I'm not sure about putting up with that much longer; but if she has trouble with food, I will need to keep her on breast milk for a while. 

DH had a cookout last week to celebrate six months "clean." By which he means off of heroin. He wanted his family to see how much better we are doing since he started treatment. I told him in the very beginning, when he was obsessed with proving to them that he was going to be a better person, that he needed to accept that nothing he did would ever be good enough for them. Of course he couldn't. That's understandable.

He's been doing that thing where you talk to all the people close to you and apologize for the things you've done to hurt them. Everyone but his mom has accepted his apologies. His stepdad cried on the phone with him and apologized for all the things he had done which contributed to DH's financial and emotional troubles. But she won't discuss it. She wants to hear that he is sorry for disobeying her and going off to that wicked, worldly college where all his problems started because he fell in with a bunch of partying lowlifes and became a drug addict. Which is light years away from the truth. So until he is ready to placate her ego by saying what she wants to hear, she doesn't want to hear it. Typical Borderline Personality.

So he invited his stepdad and brothers and his mom, and they all said ok. But everyone was suspiciously late. And about a half hour after they were supposed to arrive, one of his brothers texted him and said that they as a family feel that he cannot call himself clean or sober as long as he is on methadone. But because they care so deeply about him, and they wanted to see the kids, they would come anyway. And they did, and on the surface it was a good time. But I am so furious that the G people struck again. (That's a reference to their last name, in case you're confused.) They just can't stand to see him happy in some role other than the black sheep niche they've condemned him to. This is the FIRST TIME EVER that he has initiated social interaction between himself and his family as a whole, and they had to crap on it. Just typical.

He's been home more than usual lately due to rain, and the difference between last year and this year is really amazing. He's making some headway with changing his behavior now as well as his habits, and it's so good to relax, even if I can't always relax. I still get frustrated at times, like recently with the Family Guy thing. But it's a lot better.

He has decided not to go to church any more for the time being. That's ok. He usually keeps the princess while I take the boys. I'm working on getting them to be calm and quiet in church, and it's easier without her. He explained that this time of year is when his emotional turmoil is the worst, because it marks the anniversary of telling his family about the abuse he was suffering, and he sees it as the beginning of his hell. Because then he had to start reliving things he never wanted to remember, plus his mother went from neglectful to viciously abusive in a physical way, and everyone else started to view him as something less than, damaged, someone who might contaminate their own children. That does explain some of why our relationship always gets seriously messed up at this time of year. I'm glad he told me.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Trying to find common ground

It's ironic that Dulce de Leche chose to post this article today. DH and I were just discussing this very thing a couple nights ago.

Like Melissa and her spouse, we - or perhaps I should say, I - have been questioning our relationship as it was, is, and will be in the future. (DH prefers the deny/ignore/pretend approach.) In conclusion, I have to admit that it wasn't what we thought it was. It isn't what it needs to be. And it won't survive without more changes than just DH staying sober.

Some of those changes can be mine. And I have hesitated a long time about bringing the subject up, because I don't think it's fair to sit there and say what I feel, which is: "You have no parenting standards, no boundaries, and therefore I am right by default and it's up to me to set the boundaries and you better toe the line if you want to stay."

I went to switch out the laundry at my mom's house next door the other night. Batman was on the TV when I left and all three of my guys were watching it. I was gone ten minutes. When I came back, Family Guy was on. A horse was licking Peter's bare ass in the bed. I. Flipped. Out. 

A few months ago I collected all the South Park, Family Guy, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and Always Sunny DVDs, and hid them, because DH refused to stop watching them in front of the kids. Oh, he didn't refuse verbally. Verbally, he agreed with me as always and assured me he was on board. He just didn't stop.

So his response was, "Whiz Kid got it out. I don't know where it came from." Oh, and that is relevant HOW? "As long as they were hidden, this wasn't a problem! I haven't been letting them watch it. This just happened, he found it and put it on." So you were powerless to stop this? Your 7-year-old makes the decisions now?


I decided the talk was too long overdue. So we put the kids to bed and I sat down to try to put all the pent-up anger, betrayal, and anxiety of the past few months into words other than "I hate you for being a liar and a fraud." Which is a little bit of how I feel, but not the majority of it. That's just the part that takes over when I'm feeling hurt.

After a while I managed to express that I realize we have nothing in common. And I mean nothing. No interests, no beliefs, no values, no hobbies, not even foods for crying out loud. Except one thing. Or three, I suppose. Our kids.

I have given up on changing the other things. He will never be interested in socializing or making friends with anyone I want anything to do with. He will never want to participate in the sorts of activities that I enjoy. I can't be friends with the kind of people he associates with. I am tired of wasting the very little time I have for fun on things he enjoys. Can I live with that? Yes.

Our beliefs and values, however, must find a common ground. I can sacrifice a few things, because I feel it is healthier for the kids overall to have consistent household standards than for me to stick to my guns. The trouble is, I've already made all those compromises, just unwillingly. I am not going to make any more. My kids have already become the kids I wanted to keep my kids away from. And although I no longer believe in keeping my kids away from peers unless those peers are abusive to them, I still am unwilling to compromise further.

I can live with my kids playing video games and watching Batman and listening to wordly music that is not angry or excessively loud. But they can't watch mature television shows, horror movies, or listen to violent and screaming music. System Of A Down and Black Sabbath are not appropriate for young children. Plus it's bad for their hearing. Just like lots of sweets are bad for their teeth. Both things he refuses to believe.

Dulce made the point about being a united family, not a united front. I do think it's important to be a united front when the kids inevitably try to bend the rules. And they will, because that's what kids do. But I was already thinking about how to involve the boys in establishing some household rules and agreeing on consequences if they are broken. My only fear is that DH will break those rules himself on occasion, and the boys will be in a position of either tattling on Daddy, which is not good for them, or seeing him break the rules without consequence, which undermines the value of the rules.

All I can do is try. And as always, he says he will go along with it. We shall see.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Closure, maybe?

For many years I felt that DH had a bit of a double life. I've interpreted it more recently as a split personality, because he never followed the patterns I'd expect from someone with a real double life. But his behavior can change so radically at times. And when that other personality comes out, that's when we have our deepest conversations; so it's very frustrating that his "regular" self seems to have little or no memory of what I say to his "other" self. For a long time I assumed he was lying and the lack of memory was his excuse for ignoring me.

This month he is celebrating 6 months in successful treatment. Methadone has many down sides, but it has for the most part kept that "other" personality at bay. On occasion, however, that person I hate still comes out, and in the past I have always believed that was his junkie self.

I didn't come by that conclusion lightly. I can tell you the day it happened. The day I became a controlling wife instead of waiting for him to step up and be a partner. I'm not naturally a leader. I don't want to lead. I wanted to be his helpmeet, in the truest sense of the word. Not a servant helper, but a team member. Yet he seemed to think I had everything under control just fine and he was free to do whatever he wished, as long as he spent his nights with me. I knew he was using drugs from the time he entered college. (Actually it began much earlier, but I didn't know that.) However, I knew nothing about drugs. They were a non-issue in my isolated upbringing. Drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, tattoos, piercing; same difference. All things that God told us not to do because our bodies are His temple and we have no right to damage them. I knew they were illegal because he was so sly about obtaining them, but nothing about why or the consequences if he were caught until I began to use the internet later. Besides, it's illegal to drive without a license, too; yet I did that for years because I couldn't get one without a social security number, and my parents didn't want us to have them. (Long story, not for this post.)

Alcohol was my big concern, because my mother's father came from an alcoholic moonshiner family, and there was a long history of violence and abuse there. So I was constantly on him about his drinking. But the drugs I wasn't sure how to handle. I just wouldn't let him smoke in the house. Since he spent most of his spare time either at home, or with his obsessive weirdo friend, who would never have allowed his attention to wander away for long, I knew that he couldn't be cheating on me. At least, not regularly and with the same person. Yet he seemed to be hiding from me constantly. I knew it had something to do with his phone, because he was ALWAYS on it. I never looked at his phone; I felt that was a violation of his privacy, and I was embarrassed to ask. But the knowledge that something was very wrong grew until I couldn't justify not looking.

One day he took a shower and left it on the kitchen counter. I picked it up, feeling like a low dirty rat for snooping, telling myself there was no way he was cheating and what else could I really hope to find? But I had to know.

I was floored by what I saw. He must have had 60+ text messages in the memory, all of them seemingly related to drugs. Buying, selling, meeting, or trading. And that was the day I realized what the word "addiction" really meant. This bad habit of his had engulfed his entire life. I told him what I'd found when he got out, and he immediately erased all the memory and has done so habitually ever since. Of course he claimed I was overreacting, too. But I knew better. And that day I decided that what he actually needed me to be was a guardian. Someone to help him fight this beast by watching and criticizing every move he made. I truly believed that would solve the problem and bring us our "happily ever after."

Of course, I was wrong. My new role did nothing to improve our relationship. But now I had an explanation for this strange behavior I'd never seen in him before. Was my kind, gentle sweetheart acting aggressive and crude? He must be high. Was the hurt and sadness replaced by rage behind those beautiful dark eyes? Was he being pushy and obnoxious instead of withdrawn? Well he must be high. Was he making up ridiculous and far-fetched stories to account for problems or absences? It was definitely drugs. That there might be another explanation never occurred to me.

As I learned more about depression and PTSD, I began to interpret some of it in that light. But there were still things that didn't add up. He's a good liar, but I'm very empathic. And he usually managed to confuse me, but rarely convince me. Mostly I'd just pretend I believed him after a while because I recognized the argument as futile.

Lately I've chalked it up to a split personality. For various reasons I'll go into later, I've been trying to evaluate our relationship at its current level, and the prospect hasn't been encouraging. He's doing all the things I insisted were necessary. He's stayed in the program, he started a real job and has been supporting us at a sustainable level, he's begun interacting with the boys like a parent instead of being that guy on the sofa. He's quit hounding me for sex constantly to the point that I literally can't sleep at night. (Actually, all I really needed for that was to put my foot down firmly, something I never thought was "right" to do as a wife.) He's never been violent towards me, although I've always known he had it in him and could see it at times in his eyes. He always walked away when it got to that point. Deciding we are incompatible after eleven years and three children seems a bit, well, unreasonable.

Still, there was that other person in there who never really interacted with us. Whom, quite frankly, I hated. And I started to seriously wonder if that person was with us for good. Maybe he had other outlets for that raging, cutthroat side of him that I never saw. Maybe the drugs - or, as I later began to understand, the craving - didn't create that person, just made it harder for him to hide. If so, could I learn to live with him? Especially if he kept hiding from me and refusing to be a part of our lives. Do I want him to be part of our lives? The answer is a definite NO. But I can't live with half a person either.

So I have been thinking about a lot of things lately. And the other night, he said we needed to talk about something. I wasn't sure what to expect, but after the boys went to bed I sat with him for a while. It took him a long time to start talking, and when he finally did, it wasn't anything I would have predicted or expected.

Only once before has he told me something I could never tell anyone, even anonymously. And this makes two. Which is hard for me. I have wondered lately if being a counselor is really right for me, since I feel the need to talk about things in order to prevent absorbing the PTSD myself, something I know has happened to me with DH. But this certainly explains a lot that I still didn't understand.

I'm not quite sure where it leaves us, since I suppose bringing together those two people he has tried to be separately will have repercussions. I'm a little bit worried that we may not be able to stay together after all. That he may become more aggressive and belligerent, and I may realize that I can't live with this person I pushed him so hard to reveal. But I've just been watching and waiting and trying to reserve judgment for the past few days, and things seem to be getting better. I would love to believe it will stay that way. That this will be the start of a more complete life together. May God grant it.