Here’s another post from the Crying Out Now blog.
I don’t drink.
Reading people’s stories on forums yesterday made me think that perhaps my drinking habits are not that bad. The stories didn’t shock me – although they did make me sad – but they did give me a moment’s pause: I don’t physically or mentally abuse people, I don’t get violent, I don’t lose jobs, marriages, yell at my kids, etc.
Then I began thinking:
I don’t have kids – they would have got in the way of my drinking career
I’m only recently married at age 43 – previous boyfriends didn’t want to stick around to witness the sideshow that was my life
I couldn’t lose friendships – my ‘friends’ were all heavy drinkers
I didn’t lose jobs – my career has gone nowhere because I was happy to ‘get by’ in roles with little responsibility because I was always too hungover to deal with anything more senior
I don’t abuse my nearest and dearest – I essentially cut myself off from the positive and happy people in my life in order to drink.
Alcohol has been the most significant relationship in my life.
In my twenties, every social event was reviewed as to whether it was alcohol-friendly, e.g., if a friend invited me for coffee I would generally make excuses not to go. If they asked me to meet them at the pub, however, I was the first one there! Even going to the cinema was off limits because I couldn’t take a bottle of wine in with me.
In my thirties, I still reviewed some activities by alcohol availability, but I was generally more willing to go out because I had a cunning solution! I would be sociable and happy at dinners with family and friends just having a glass of wine or two, then I would get home and the real, heavy drinking would begin. This is when the secrecy, and consequently the shame, really began to take hold.
Now in my early forties, the pain of living with the shame is finally greater than the perceived pain of living without alcohol. It has been so draining on every level to maintain my excessive drinking and I don’t have the energy for it anymore. To be honest, I think it will be easier and will take less energy to not drink than it was to live with the constant daily struggle of self-loathing and fear.
I need to wake up not hating myself
I need to stop wondering what the hell I am punishing myself for
I need to be the person I’ve always wanted to be, but was too scared to let the world see
I need to treat myself as I treat someone I really care about.
I know Ellie wants to have kids. She told me how she adores Asians with freckles—which is exactly what our children would be. She even told me what she wanted to name them—Kelley and Cadence. If she keeps drinking, she may not get the chance to have them, much like Imogen in the post above.
I am pretty sure that Ellie wants to get married, since she and I were talking about doing just that for a week, just before I confronted her about her drinking. Everything subject she raised with me—religion, children, what to name them, when we’d get married, where we’d get married, asking to see the claddagh ring I bought her, etc.—all point to that fact. In fact, I believe that she would have accepted my proposal had I not confronted her about her drinking.
Of course, given the example her parents have set, I can understand why Ellie might be hesitant to get married. Her father treats her mother pretty horribly much of the time—worse than the way some people abuse their pets. In fact, a mutual friend of ours has confronted Ellie’s father repeatedly over the past thirty years I’ve known them about how he treats Ellie’s mother. His treatment of Ellie has been pretty poor, and I remember how Ellie told me she couldn’t wait to get away from her father years ago when she was younger. Why else would Ellie choose to live on campus of a school that is only about a 15 minute drive from her family’s house when the cost of her room and board is something she has to pay for out of her own resources?
I don’t think Ellie really understands how a marriage or partnership between two psychologically and emotionally healthy people is supposed to work. I think of the partnership I had with Gee—even though her physical health issues were very dire—our relationship was one of joy, happiness and love—far beyond what I think many people will ever experience. Gee and I as a couple were so much more than what either of us could have been separately. This is much the same as how I see what Ellie and I could have if it wasn’t for her addictions. We could be so much stronger together than we are apart—if she could only learn to love herself and trust the love between us.
I think that one reason Ellie’s mother doesn’t seem to have a problem with my wanting to marry Ellie, despite the large age difference, is that she knows what kind of person I am through almost 30 years of friendship—that I have proven my friendship, trust and love over that 30 years. Ellie’s mother knows how committed I am towards Ellie and knows how much I must love Ellie to have asked her to marry me. She knows that very few people, if any, will ever care for Ellie the way I do. She also knows that I keep my commitments, even in the face of difficult circumstances as I proved with Gee—and that I will stand by Ellie on her long road to recovery as I have promised them both if I am asked to.
Ellie has cast away any of her friends that don’t approve of her drinking and drug use. In many ways, all of the people she has surrounded herself with since last summer are enabling her drinking and drug use. The only one who tried to get her help, as far as I can tell, was me. I am also the only person she has pushed away since her addictions took over her life.
She hasn’t lost any of her jobs… though she did nearly lose her scholarship last semester. Her job at the cinema isn’t exactly challenging for someone as intelligent and capable as Ellie, and the people—her work friends—all support her drinking and drug use from what I can see. Her work for her father’s company is basically a glorified file clerk—again, not something that would challenge someone like Ellie.
The only place she might be have been challenged is at her college and she clearly blew it last semester—as I warned her and her parents would happen. Part of me hopes she does well this semester, but part of me hopes she bombs so that she might lose her scholarship and possibly see that she has a problem with drugs and alcohol—but that part is in the minority because I love her and want her to succeed.
She has abused her nearest and dearest as far as I can see. She has lied constantly about me since I confronted her about her drinking. Given that for a week she told me she loved me in two different languages—English and Korean—and we talked about having children, marrying, raising a family—I think I would be considered someone near and dear to her. Aside from that, we have nearly two decades of caring, love, friendship and support between us—something which she has basically thrown away because of her addictions.
Right now, her primary relationships are with marijuana and alcohol. She was “dating” Jarrod for much of August through November, and he was effectively providing her with alcohol and marijuana for sex. As soon as he tired of her, he dumped her—just as I warned her he would—because Jarrod had no love or commitment to Ellie—unlike me. I’ve loved and cared for Ellie all of her life in some fashion.
Most of last summer and fall she was actively seeking her next fix or drink almost constantly. She had loaded applications like Liquor Run Mobile onto her smartphone. That application finds the nearest open package store based on her location. There really was no good reason for her to have any need for that application. Last summer, she admitted that she was regularly buying alcohol—basically committing a felony under Massachusetts state law on a regular basis—something that the beautiful, honest, smart and intelligent woman I love just would not do normally.
I think that deep inside Ellie hates who she has become. I think she is ashamed of what her addictions have made her do. Her addictions basically made her prostitute herself for several months last summer and fall—trading sex for drugs and alcohol her addictions require. She has lied about the one person that truly loves and cares about her because of her addictions.
The more that her addictions make her do—the deeper the shame and greater her need to hide from herself. She chooses to hide from what she has done by drinking and doing drugs, rather than facing up to what she has done and taking responsibility for her own actions. Unless she chooses to break this cycle, it will only get worse. I truly fear how far she will have to fall before she realizes she needs help.
In many ways, the blow to her self-esteem and her anxieties and self-doubts that Ian triggered by cheating on her have become a vicious cycle. It would appear that she has been self-medicating with drugs and alcohol in many ways for almost a year—not realizing this is pretty much what her big brother did and he ended up flunking out of Bentley and in the hospital because of it. But, in some ways, that was good for her brother—because it allowed him to get help and his addictions to drugs and alcohol are now under control, since his chronic depression is being controlled and it was the underlying cause from what I saw to his drug and alcohol use. Ellie has been self-medicating and it isn’t working. Her use of alcohol and drugs and what they make her do are just making her more ashamed of herself, and it is a downward spiral that only she can break.
“This journey has taught me about the person that I want to be.
In this process I can’t lose who I am…it’s like my sponsor told me, being an alcoholic is only part of who you are. The hardest part of sobriety is cleaning up the wreckage of my past.
I continue trying to mend relationships with those that I have hurt, trying to get more time with the one thing that I love most in life (my daughter), figuring out my future, recovering from financial ruin, and figuring out who I am…”
I do not believe that Ellie wants to be the drug-addicted alcoholic she has been for most of the past year. I do not believe that it is God’s Will for my beloved Ellie to be the drug-addicted shadow of who God meant her to be. But, Ellie has to choose to be something other than the drug-addicted alcoholic she is currently. Until Ellie chooses to be better than that—until she asks for help—no one can help her.
I think that at her core, Ellie still survives—hidden beneath her addictions. In all of this time she has never lied to me directly. She has lied about me to her friends, her family and everyone else—but she has never lied to me as far as I can see. Instead, she has flatly refused to speak to me. I think this is because she is too honest and loves me too much to lie to me—and that, as long as she hasn’t lied to me, she can tell herself that she hasn’t broken her faith or trust with me.
She hasn’t denied what I have written about her illness over the past months and has even admitted that what she had posted on her social media profiles were the truth. She hasn’t accused me of lying either—because deep down inside, I think she knows what I have been saying is only the truth.
Ellie needs to realize that she really is the amazing, beautiful, smart, strong, funny, compassionate and generous woman that I see when I look at her. I really just wish she could see herself through my eyes for a day. I wish she could see why I love her so much that I’ve spent the better part of a year fighting for her, even when she wasn’t willing to do so herself.
I hope she learns to love herself soon. She can not hope to really love anyone or accept anyone’s love for her until she learns to love herself. I hope she learns it before her addictions destroy her future and destroy all the hopes, dreams and goals she and I used to talk about all through the night. I hope she learns to love herself enough to realize that she can be more than the drug-addicted alcoholic she has been for most of the past year. I hope she learns to love herself to see how much I truly love her and learns to accept that love.
May God watch over my beloved Ellie. God bless her and protect her, even from herself. May God grant her the strength, courage, and will to fight her illness and return to being her true self. May God grant her the wisdom to see the truth—both about her illness and about us.