Hiding in plain sight

64419783_368906000434651_5877571720587379614_n

I went to an Al-Anon meeting tonight.  I have not been to one in probably almost 20 years.  At that time, I went because of my father’s alcoholism.  This time, it is about my ex-boyfriend.  I guess technically I am killing two birds with one stone.

The topic the speaker chose could not have been more perfect for me.  It was about feeling responsible for other people and not focusing on yourself.  For SO LONG I felt responsible for my boyfriend, especially at the end of our relationship when he was hospitalized and so ill.  I put him and his health and his alcoholism first and I knew he really needed me.  It was all about him, but really most of our relationship was that way.  He said something to me right after our dog died…he said, “I knew I wasn’t taking the best care of her, but I also knew that you would.”  I thought I was helping him, but really all I was doing was taking away any responsibilities or consequences.  In reality, I was making it very easy for him to drink, because he knew I would hold everything else together.

Someone in the meeting said that they often get lost in other people because it feels makes them feel safe.  I recognized that is exactly what I have been doing these past few months, since everything in my life became complete chaos.  My sister bought a house at the end of June and ALL I have done this summer is help her pack, move, decorate, etc her house.  I also have been helping her with her two year old daughter.  I obviously love spending time with my niece, but I know I have been hiding in their lives and their new home as a way of avoiding my own.  I also realize that I have been trying to do EVERYTHING for my sister, whether it be at her house or helping with the baby.  Another member of the Al-Anon group spoke tonight and said that they always want to be needed because if they are not doing things for other people, they feel worthless, like they have nothing else to offer.  That is how I feel about myself right now and I am aware that I have transferred a lot of my codependent tendencies from my exboyfriend to my sister.

So, here are my takeaways from tonight’s meeting…

  1. I am not responsible for anyone else’s behavior.  I should not feel guilty that I can’t be supportive of someone who is harmful to my emotional well being. I am only responsible for myself.
  2. I cannot save anyone, especially those who do not want to save themselves; people need to face the consequences of their actions. 
  3. I have to stop trying to do everything for other people and start realizing I have more to offer.  People will still care about me and want to spend time with me, even if I am not “doing” things for them.  I have to stop needing to constantly feel needed.
  4. No. More. Hiding.  As much as I love my sister, my niece and their new lovely home, I must have my own life and enjoy the time I spend at my own house.

un(girl)friended

7ad658b97e4cfeec6c29f4bd96aefe81

So much has happened, it almost seems like a blur…I almost need a calendar or timeline to remember what happened when.

February 28- my boyfriend was fired and started drinking more heavily

March 15- he was admitted to the ER and then transferred to ICU and put into a medically induced coma with a breathing tube and ventilator (on life support) due to withdrawal from alcohol…that same night, I discovered he had been cheating on me

March 16- I moved his belongings out of my house into a storage unit, so he had no alternative besides going to rehab…from this day on I stayed at the hospital every single day (taking FMLA at work)

April 12- he was discharged from the hospital after 28 days (17 of them in the coma) while he was there, he contracted pneumonia and c.Diff and his kidneys were almost shut down

April 13- he left to go south with his parents, rather than rehab

April 25- he returned and rented an apartment a mile and a half from my house and the first night back, our dog died

May 2- I rushed him back to the ER, where he was diagnosed with c.Diff again and was admitted to the hospital for 20 days

June 18- we got into an argument via text and I told him to not contact me anymore

June 27- I found out that he had relapsed badly and was sent to a rehab in CA on June 21…no one told me

July 2- he called me from the rehab center and explained that he had spent the first week at a detox center…he gave me the name and address so I could send him cards…that night I googled the rehab and found out it was a horrible place, with no medical doctors or therapist, and immediately emailed my concerns to his family…his sister wrote me back that I was crazy and to leave their family alone

July 3- his father called me at night to say they were “getting him out of that place”…that he had called and told his parents all of the information I had corroborated in my email

July 4- he returned to his parents house

July 17- he came back to his apartment…I had previously told him that if he did not have a solid sobriety plan, then I was not going to be able to offer my support and that I needed space. He landed at 4 pm and within an hour and a half, a neighbor called to say she saw him driving back and forth on the main road by my house

I have had SUCH a hard time disconnecting from him.  I have not been able to completely let go.  Him not getting real help for his alcoholism and relapsing so quickly makes it easier for me to not talk to him.  I also have had more of a chance to express to him my anger about his communication with the other woman, which I am still rightfully mad about.  My sister and friends were REALLY concerned about him “stalking” me, whereas I think it is harmless and he was feeling nostalgic.  We haven’t spoken at all since he came home.  My best friend’s sister’s best friend was just murdered by her husband and so she was very upset about him being around my house.

I just feel like nothing has changed.  It is a repeat of before…hospital/detox, go to his parents’ house for two weeks and return with no plan.  He has no dog, no best friend (he moved to another state), no me, no job, no other friends.  What is going to stop him from drinking again???  I know I cannot control him, but it is really hard to detach and not worry.  I want to get to a place where I can care about him, but not have it affect my everyday life.  My cousin has struggled with sobriety her whole life and I spoke with her and she made me understand more…she said that NOTHING stopped her from doing drugs- not losing her job or her kids or her money or her marriage.  I truly think I understand now that I cannot save him.  My loving him and supporting him is enabling him and doing more harm than good for both of us.  I took a major step today and defriended him on Facebook, which seems petty, but it was still a way to stay connected.  I am getting the courage to also delete him off of Instagram.  I know I need a clean break, but this whole thing has been so messy and damaging and emotional and heartbreaking.

I think I need to find a way to start forgiving him.  Not even for him, but for myself.

You may never know…

heart-316845_1280

My love,

It’s been ten days that you have been in a coma.  Ten days that I haven’t heard your voice, that we haven’t slept together in our bed.  Ten days that I have had a broken heart with so many unanswered questions.  The doctors keep telling me YOU won’t remember this.  I am glad for that, there has been so much suffering.  However, I will not ever forget this and it has changed me permanently and forever.

Let me start from the beginning.  I knew since you got laid off, you have been drinking more.  I know you gave yourself permission to do so and I really tried to understand how hard it was for you.  I also knew the problems you have had with alcohol that have affected our relationship were going on far before you lost your job.  I gave you time.  I tried to give you space.  Finally, it became too much for me.  I never knew what I was coming home to…would you be drunk? sleeping all day? going to a meeting? I was scared to come home, anxious all the time.

Once I told you I couldn’t do it anymore, you made more promises.  I asked you about rehab.  You said no.  You could do it on your own.  I told you that you couldn’t.  You said you would go to more meetings.  I know you wanted to stop, I believed you, I believed IN you.  You did start going to more meetings.  I encouraged them and the relationships you created there.  I felt the more sober people in your network, the better.  You had met Mary and she became your unofficial sponsor.  You would pick her up and take her to meetings.  I thought that was a good thing- it gave you someone else to be responsible for getting to them.

I know you were drunk Tuesday, but I do believe you that you stopped on Wednesday.  But you started acting so strangely- you were disoriented, shaking.  I told you it was withdrawal.  You said no, something else had to be wrong.  You had a physical appointment on Friday.  I was so relieved you were finally going to the doctor for a check up.

Friday, 8th period. I got a call from the doctor’s office.  I stepped out of my classroom to answer it.  They said you were VERY ill and that they tried to convince you to go to the emergency room in an ambulance.  You pushed the doctor out of the way and ran out of the office barefoot.  I panicked.  I called you and you answered as if nothing was wrong. I told you if you didn’t go to the emergency room, we were finished forever.  You finally agreed, reluctantly.

When we got to the ER, you were confused, sweating, couldn’t follow directions.  They right away knew it was withdrawal.  You told the doctor you drank up to two pints of vodka a day.  You told him you would try to drink in the morning and vomit.  How did I not know how bad it was? Was I in denial? Did I not want to know? Were you just that good of a liar?  You started to become incoherent.  You began hallucinating.  I was so scared.

They got you admitted into a room.  They said it would be a couple of days and they would help you go through withdrawal safely.  At first you did not want to stay, thank god you did.  Within an hour, you were trying to pull out the IVs they put in your arms.  You were talking and making no sense.  An alarm would go off in the hospital and you thought you were at a high school sports game.  Once in a while you would seem normal, but then the hallucinations would begin again.  They tried to get you to stop touching your IVs, you started to shake uncontrollably and the nurse yelled you were having a seizure.  The rapid response team was called and within minutes 15 nurses and doctors were crammed into your small hospital room.  In the hall, I watched with disbelief that this was happening.  I was so terrified.

They rushed you to ICU, just down the hall.  I ran after you, but the doctor said to wait in the waiting room.  Thankfully, your best friend was there and my sister was about to arrive. I felt so helpless.  The doctor finally called me out into the hall.  He said they gauge alcohol withdrawal on a scale called CIWA.  6 is uncomfortable, 12 needs medical attention, 20 can be life threatening.  You were a 45.  The doctor looked at me and said that I saved your life.  I broke down.  He said you would have most likely had a major seizure if they didn’t start you on the medications when they did.  Then, we heard security being paged and guards running to your room.  You had to be strapped down, restrained so they could put the IVs in to save your life.  The doctor said he would be back to talk to us.

He did.  He said they put you in a medically induced coma.  No other patient had ever needed more sedatives before.  The inserted a breathing tube and you were on a ventilator.  Life support one doctor called it.  The first time I saw you strapped down with all of those machines, my heart broke into 100 pieces.  I couldn’t stop crying, we called your parents.  At first it didn’t seem like they were going to come.  I wanted to scream, “YOUR SON IS IN A COMA”. I let your friend talk to them.  They said they would “decide” in the morning.

I sat next to you and cried and cried.  How could it have gotten this bad? We were supposed to go to the mall and get dinner.  How could you be in a coma?  Finally, after being at the hospital for nine hours, the nurses told us to all go home.  You were sedated and I had to come home and take care of the dog.  You had accidentally left her outside.  You’ve never done that before.

At 1 am, I got into the guest room bed.  I couldn’t sleep without you in our bed.  I still haven’t.  I took your phone to look up some phone numbers of people to contact in the morning.  The first person I though of was Mary.  You two had become so close and she was such a support system for you, almost like a mother figure, considering she was almost 20 years older than you.

NOTHING could have prepared me for the texts I saw.  I read them over and over.  I felt like vomiting.  I was shaking so hard, I could hardly hold the phone.  I called my sister and read them all to her.  She said she was going to be sick.  I kept saying, “how could he do this to me? how could he do this to me?” I never ever suspected you of being unfaithful.  I never doubted you.  I trusted you with every fiber of my being.  I thought we were in love, even with the problems we have been having.  I devoted almost 10 years of my life to our relationship.  Besides all of the very sexually explicit texts, you told her SHE was the reason you were staying sober (which you weren’t), that SHE was the most interesting person you ever met, that HER support was helping you, that you thought about her A LOT.  I felt my already broken heart splinter into 1,000 more pieces.  I felt like a fool.  I encouraged you to see her, thinking she was helping you.  You told me Wednesday night you would go to a meeting with her and then come get in bed with me.  You never did- you slept in the basement.  How could I have been so blind.  I was texting you that I loved you and believed in you and on the same day you were texting her about wanting to fuck her.  I will never know if you did.  It doesn’t even matter.

The next morning I went to see you in the hospital with my sister.  I kissed you 20 times.  I held your hand for an hour.  I told you I loved you over and over and over. I cried and cried and cried.  I left the hospital and went directly to a storage unit and rented one.  By the end of the day Saturday, all of your belongings were in it.  While taking your furniture out of the basement, we found 21 pints of vodka.  I told your parents the truth.  That regardless of what happened to you in the hospital, you no longer lived with me.  Part of that was pure betrayal and if you were not sick, our relationship would have ended anyway due to your infidelity.  The other, bigger, part was that I could not have you come back here and act like you didn’t almost die and just continue drinking.  I did it for me, but for you too.  Rehab had to be the only option.

For the past ten days, I have woken up and gone to the hospital.  I have kissed your face next to your breathing tube.  I have held your hand, still bound to the bed.  When you have opened your eyes, I have reassured you I am there and I love you.  I hung up a collage of pictures of the dog and our nieces and nephew.  I made a playlist on my phone of your favorite songs and I sit next to you and play them.  When your parents arrived, I still was the one who had to tell the doctors everything about you.  In some ways, I know you inside and out.  In other ways, I feel like you have lied about everything. I spoke with your therapist and meeting facilitator, both of whom thought you were maintaining sobriety with “occasional” relapses.  You even lied to them.  You must have been lying to yourself.  I did your unemployment paperwork, your COBRA, paid your bills.  You will probably never even know these things.  I have done everything I can to help you and support you and love you and take care of you during this time.

I get home late at night and I get in bed and I read, over and over, the text messages you sent to her.  I cry myself to sleep, wiping my eyes on your sweatshirt.  I sleep with your deodorant open on the pillow next to me to smell you.  I feel so alone.

But then the next day I wake up, and I go to the hospital and do it all again.  The nurses tell me I am strong.  They are shocked at your parent’s disconnect.  You will most likely never know, or believe, how truly and deeply I love you.  You are still in a coma, there have been a lot of setbacks.  Your kidneys weren’t working, to the point they were talking about dialysis.  You had a 103 fever for 60 hours.  You have pneumonia and two other infections.  I thought at one point you would die.  I agonize over the last thing I said to you.  Did we sleep together on Thursday night?  Did I kiss you goodbye when I left for work on Friday?

I took FMLA at work- I have missed more day of school in these two weeks than I did the whole school year last year.  Your dad introduced me at first as your girlfriend to each new doctor who came in to see you.  I was the only one who could answer their questions about your history and your health.  By midweek, he casually nodded towards me and said we “live together”…I was downgraded to just being your roommate.  Today, he didn’t even bother to even introduce me.  I sat on the couch by myself, huddled in the corner, feeling like I didn’t belong there.  But I refuse to leave.  I don’t care how awkward it is.  While you are in the coma, you still feel like mine.  Once you wake up, everything is going to change.  I don’t know how you will react.  I don’t know if you will agree to rehab or if you will refuse.  Your parents want you to go down by them.  My body physically aches when I think of what you will go through and knowing I will most likely not be a part of it.

I feel like I have lost so much.  Sometimes I am so angry, other times I feel so sad it’s overwhelming.  I have lost weight because I can’t eat.  I do laundry and organize closets at 3 am because I can’t sleep.  My friends and family and coworkers and students have all been so incredibly supportive.  I appreciate it more than I will ever be able to express to them.

But right now, all I want is you,

and I will always love you,

and you may never know any of this.

 

Thankful…

images

Things have been a little crazy lately.  My boyfriend and I definitely hit a rough patch and the holidays are always a little stressful.  On top of that, I am traveling to D.C. next week, which is triggering A LOT of travel anxiety.  It is so easy to get disheartened by the negative things, but I am really making an effort to look at the positive things in life.  My friend is having a baby girl, my dad is still doing pretty well, I have really nice students this year, things with my boyfriend are looking up.  I do have a lot to be thankful for this year.

Over this past weekend, I met a girl at a party.  We had talked very briefly once before, we are about the same age and I knew she was a teacher, so I figured we had some things in common.  We ended up talking in the corner for over an hour and I confided things in her that I normally would never tell a stranger- she also is divorced, so she understood things that many other people do not in my life.  She was so sweet and easy to talk to and we had a very similar history as far as the timeline of our marriages and divorces go.  This girl is now engaged (her fiancé is actually my boyfriend’s best friend’s good friend, which is how I happened to meet her).  It really surprised me how open I was with her.  I guess at this point I don’t have anything to hide and I am not ashamed by anything that I have experienced.  It was just really nice to talk to someone with a different perspective, who could still really relate to my life.  The only thing that made me kind of upset was how excited she is to get married again and how happy she kept saying she is.  I don’t know if I really feel that way…I mean, I don’t know if I would ever want to get married again and the fact that she is so eager to marry her fiancé made me question whether I would want to get married if I was with “the right person”.  I’m not saying my boyfriend isn’t that person- he is so supportive of me, but we definitely have problems and her relationship just seems…easy.  Now I have definitely learned not to take other people’s lives and relationships at face value, but she genuinely seemed so happy and in love and kept saying what a nice guy her fiancé is.  I feel like I was so traumatized by my divorce that I don’t know if I would ever risk having to go through that again.  But one thing we both said is that we both saw red flags going into our first marriages (and ignored them, obviously).  She clearly sees no red flags now with her new husband, but I feel like I see some in my relationship now that would make me a little hesitant to make that commitment again.  Meeting her just made me think about how much my life has changed in the past ten years and how I really don’t know what is going to happen and maybe I just have to be okay with that right now.  I mean, I never, ever thought my father would go this long without drinking, so it just goes to show you that life has a way of throwing curveballs.

So, I am going focus on being thankful this Thanksgiving.  Instead of being too scared to travel, I am going to try to remember how lucky I am to be able to go to D.C. with my boyfriend (who I know will help me get through my anxiety to get there) and his family, who has embraced me in so many ways.