For a long time I thought being an alcoholic made him mean. Now I see he was mean, and he was an alcoholic. Not all mean people are alcoholics, not all alcoholics are mean. He could be so nice, so attentive, caring and thoughtful. It never lasted. When the cycle would begin again, each time it eroded more and more of my belief in the possibilty we could have peaceful times. I learned I could not trust any kindness. I could never relax and just be in those moments.
When I came to realize it would not last I began to build a life that didn’t center on him. I still had to dodge his daily verbal assaults. And moods. And accusations. And demands. And withdrawal. And mind games. As much as I tried to focus on me it seemed hopeless every time I walked through the door, not knowing what to expect. I lost me while I was so busy trying to find some common ground with him, looking for peace in my life as well as the children’s.
To survive I had to carve out a life where I did things that made me happy and surrounded myself with positive people. The more I moved away the more he tried to control me. The healthier I got, the sicker he got. The more independent I became, the harder he tried to hold on and the meaner he became.
He chose to blame me for every bad feeling he felt, every disappointment he experienced, everything wrong in his life. I fought it but inside I did think I was responsible after so long of being told I was. Responsible for ruining his life, his children’s lives. Reminded of who he would be, what he would be doing, and would have if it weren’t for me. I was never enough: not good enough, not from the right background, not attractive enough, not even sane enough. It was a weight that I carried and continue to a lesser degree. Though I try to throw it off, it is a daily battle to ignore his voice and continue on.
It was like being lost in a jungle and all the paths seemed to lead back to the same place. There doesn’t seem to be a way out. Now that I am out and looking back into it the way seems so clear. To be in it was not so black and white. It is the areas in between, the grayed areas, that look like hope to us while we are in the relationship. It’s easy to look back now and realize in leaving the relationship I wasn’t giving up hope. I was actually grasping hope and bringing it closer to me.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
Proverbs 13:12 (NIV)