The husband drinks

I’m an alcoholic.  I’ve been drinking on and off since I was 18.  I’m 46 now.  I started drinking heavily when we went to visit my grandparents in Louisiana.  The drinking age at the time was 18, so I told my parents I was going for a walk, snuck over to the liquor store and bought several large bottles of Jack Daniel’s & stuffed them in my suitcase.  I would hide them in my closet and take a sip every now and then.  I drove drunk; wrecked my car once, at the mall, weaving uncontrollably and sliding over the curb at Denny’s, wiping out the sprinkler and my left front wheel.

I’ve had issues with guilt.  I think that’s part of the problem.  My dad used guilt to control and punish me.  School used guilt to control and punish me.  I was a straight-A student, valedictorian of my class of 750, until my senior year when I just couldn’t take the pressure any more.  I graduated, Mangum Cum Laude, or whatever it’s called – I actually hated the school so much that I skipped the ceremony – and dropped out of college after one semester.  I’ve had it with school.  I’ve even stopped going to church because they also use guilt to control and punish you.  Now I can’t do anything without feeling guilty.  My weekends are filled with guilt.  I can’t get anything done because I have this huge weight of guilt on me, and the only thing that makes it go away is alcohol.

Several things hit me really hard.  After home-schooling both of my children, taking them to church, praying over them, they ended up getting their GED’s and basically floundering.  My son spent the $10,000 I gave him, for college, that I’d been saving up for his entire life, at $50 a month when I could barely afford it, on classes that he didn’t finish or a laptop that he lost or partying with friends.  He wrecked the car that I got for him, then talked me into co-signing on a brand new car, made one payment, then wrecked that one too.  He currently owes me $14,000, over and above the college money, which I will never see.  Then my daughter took her turn, doing all sorts of things.  She huffed paint, cut herself, attempted suicide, spent a week in a mental institution, and ran away to Mexico with her boyfriend.

The thing that really got to me was cancer.  After all the stress of life, plus all the crisis that my kids put me though, when my wife got cancer I freaked out.  She’s over it now, got checked the other day and the cancer hasn’t come back, but I just gave up.  I don’t want to live any more.  I’m much too big of a whimp to kill myself, so I just drink & drink until I pass out.  My wife has had to leave the house several times with our other two little boys.  I never drink before work, but I go to work hung-over and barely able to think.  I have high blood pressure, acid reflux, a hernia, migraine headaches – any stress-related illness, well you name it  I got it.

At this point I don’t really care.  I’ve tried to quit.  Went 26 days cold-turkey once.  I tried switching to beer, then malt liquor, then back to whiskey again.  Had to switch from Jack Daniels to Jim Beam because it doesn’t upset my stomache as much.  And, so far, my liver is fine.  My doctor gives me regular blood tests and it always comes back normal, except for my chloresterol, but I take pills for that.  In fact, I have a whole basket of vitamins & drugs that I take on a daily basis; probably the only reason the drinking hasn’t killed me yet.  My latest thing was to try and use nicotine instead of alcohol.  I ordered some electronic cigs online (http://www.v2cigs.com) and I puff away on that, but it doesn’t help very much.  I end up drinking whiskey and chasing it down with my coffee-flavored nicotine vapor.  Maybe it’s helped a little, I don’t know.

Today, I’m going to try something new.  I just ordered the “last call” program (http://www.drinklessnow.com/) which is insanely expensive but looks like it might do the trick.  We’ll see I suppose.  It’s over $800 but just one DWI would probably cost me that much.  I go through one 1.75 liter bottle of whiskey a week, plus a few beers usually, and at $30 a bottle maybe, if this stuff works, it’ll pay for itself.

I have lost so much of my faith in God.  I still believe in Him, I still tithe, I still read my Bible on occasion, but going into a huge fancy church with a big “Give money for our new building” banner makes me want to throw up.  I did everything I thought was right – I got saved, married the church girl that led me to the Lord, joined a fundamental, Bible-believing church, went on Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesdays, plus any other time they had a special function.  I was in the church band, helped out in the nursery, taught a class once.  But, the pastor, who officiated at our wedding, ran off with the lady who sang at our wedding, and the piano player divorced my best man, who turned out to be gay.  The church finally folded.  All of that effort home-schooling, then paying for private Christian school, and I thought my kids got saved, really, truly saved, and I naively thought that the in-dwelling Holy Spirit would keep them from all the typical sins of the teenager.  It didn’t; if anything, they were writing down all those sins on a to-do list for later.

I shouldn’t complain.  I drank, did drugs, ran away from home, quit school, got a girl pregnant (she had an abortion).  If anything, I believe in Karma.  I think God forgives me for all of my sins, past, present and future, but my first two kids couldn’t help but repeat the sins of the father; I had it coming.  Hopefully, that took care of the Karma, and my two little boys have seen how much their older brother & sister go through, barely scraping by, always needing help, begging for money, maybe they’ll actually make something of themselves & get a decent education or training or SOMETHING so they can support themselves; a career, not a job at fast food joint.

So, we’ll see how this stuff works.  My wife has threatened to have an intervention or force me to go to AA or Alanon or even a hospital treatment.  I do NOT want to go to some place called Alcoholics Anonymous where you have to tell everyone your name and everything about yourself.  Anonymous my ass…  I’ll post back after I start taking this junk & let you know how it goes.  This will be an honest report; I don’t get anything from these people, I’m not going to post a referral link that would get me a little money; I just need a place to record my experience.  Maybe, if it works, then someone else will read this & get help too.  But for now, I’m going to TRY and make it at least until 4pm before I drink again.  That’d be an improvement for me…

-Mark

ps I didn’t make it to 4pm.  I started drinking when my wife took a nap yesterday at about 2:50 in the afternoon.  I don’t remember much about yesterday.  This Monday morning, I looked at the bottle and there’s about 3/4 inch left.  That bottle was completely full when I bought it on Friday; I don’t know how it happened.  “Just a little more.  Just a couple of more swallows.”  I don’t even get a glass or attempt to mix it – just up-end the jug and guzzle it down, just like a drunk bum.  I can’t wait for that stuff to arrive.  I’m going to document my experience here; I hope hope hope & pray that this works… Stay tuned…

The Wife Works

I wrote this a few years ago when my wife decided to get a job.  It was quite an ordeal.  Enjoy…

My wife has never “worked”.  Oh, sure, she’s been sequestered at home with infants for days on end, changing diapers & doing housework, and she’s even done that professionally at daycares.  But, this was the first time she ever got a real job, outside of the home, with a paycheck that didn’t smell like baby powder.  She got a job with Southwest Airlines as a reservation agent.  She talked to people on the phone, helped them book air travel or change reservations – perfect job for her, since she loves to talk.  Being on the bottom rung of the seniority ladder, hers was the night shift – from 4:30 pm until 1:30 am – and her days off were Wednesday and Thursday.  That left three weekdays where I was the one at home, sequestered with small children for hours & hours, plus both Saturday and Sunday evenings.

I thought I would make a pretty good “mom” at first.  After all, I was pretty good at my complicated computer job; surely I could handle a couple of rugrats for a while.  Besides, it would be fun to spend some time with the kids.  I got off early and made it home usually about 3:30pm or so.  Just enough time to say Hi to my wife before she rushed out the door.  That left me with 7 or 8 hours alone with the kids, until I would tuck them in to bed and take a well-deserved nap until I had to get up at 5 or 6am for my own job.  No problem.

My initial idea was, this’ll be great!  I can get so much done without my wife home.  I had started a project, installing a new bathtub & shower in the master bathroom.  Perfect!  I’ll use all my newly acquired free time to finish it up!  I worked a little every day on the bathroom, and I took the kids to the hardware store once or twice to get supplies.  Bad idea.  They enjoyed it at first, getting to spend time with Daddy and go shopping, but after a while I think it traumatized them.  Now all I have to do is say “Lowe’s” and they start crying.  So I thought, I won’t drag them all over town looking for GFCI outlets and CPVC plumbing, I’ll just concentrate on cooking.  It was a good chance for me to experiment with all the different types of meat that can go with rice from our new rice cooker: beef, sausage, fish.  But it turns out my kids hate rice.  After a week or two, all I had to was mention “Chicken and Rice” and they’d start crying again.

Have you ever heard of the monkey-ladder-banana-shock-collar experiment?  No?  Well, this is how it goes.  You take a bunch of monkeys, fit them with shock collars, and put a banana on a string at the top of a ladder.  When a monkey climbs the ladder, he gets zapped.  Pretty soon, they all learn to stay off the ladder.  Then you take a monkey out & replace him with a new monkey, without a shock collar.  If he ever tries to get on the ladder to get the banana, all the other monkeys attack him.  Pretty soon, he too learns to stay off of the ladder.  You repeat the process until all the monkeys now have no shock collar, and yet, they pounce on any other monkey that attempts to retrieve the prize.  I am not an evolutionist, but I never knew how much I had in common with monkeys before.  Every time I get up to grab the banana, the little monkeys attack me.  If I want to cook, they beg for McDonald’s.  If I want to go shopping, they whine & cry.  If I do manage to get them out the door, they take f-o-r-e-v-e-r getting in the car and belted up.  And if I want to go to the bathroom, they always manage to have some urgent need that causes them to pound on the door, or they decide that’s the best time to settle an old score with each other.

So, after about three months of this, I’m a frazzled wreck.  I come home and plop down on the couch.  I distractedly wave a limp hand at my wife as she leaves for the night.  I spend hours watching the kids play a video game that I swore I would delete, but I can’t bring myself to erase the bloody, violent gore that’s keeping them entertained.  Around 7pm, they start saying they’re hungry, so I ask their permission to make food, and give them some very nutritious choices: fish sticks or ramen noodles?  By that time, they’re pretty hungry, so they’re willing to let me go into the kitchen for a little while.  If I take too long, of course, they start fighting or doing dangerous stunts on the banister to get my attention.  After I administer first aid to cover the scrapes & bruises from the triple-axle they attempted to land on the sofa (but missed), they eat their fried calories with soda pop, and beg me to play with them on the trampoline.  Most days I decline, but out of a feeling of oppressive guilt, I sometimes spend 30 minutes playing Tackle and Tickle Two at a Time.  It’s exhausting.  They run & squirm to get away, as I try to get them both into the middle of the trampoline, on their backs, and tickle them at the same time.  At 8 years old, my oldest boy is getting more and more strength, and my aging bones and sleep-deprived body can barely keep up.  After a few times of managing to defeat them and defend my parental honor (can’t let a kid beat me), I collapse exhausted and rest a moment before I get the first aid kit again.  (It’s incredible how much battering those little noggins can take without breaking, but they sure do bruise easily.)

After coming indoors and settling the daily dispute over who’s playing what game first or which movie they will watch as they go to sleep, I finally get them settled in around 10:30pm.  My heart has stopped pounding and I no longer fear imminent death.  I am a total zombie.  I can’t open my eyes all the way, but for some maddening reason they won’t close either.  I can barely move as I crawl over to pray with them and hug them good-night.  I silently add a PleaseGodMakeThemSleepICan’tTakeItAnyMore right before we all say Amen, and I slither into the bedroom.  Sleep still escapes me as I watch three consecutive reruns of Malcolm in the Middle on the Tivo, envious of their close-knit family unity, and I nod off just before my wife comes home all pumped up from her day.  Usually, all she does is throw her purse with her keys on it, from across the room onto the chair by my head, then clamor into the bathroom as I try to gather myself up & stumble to my office/bedroom in the garage.  Other days she’s feeling real good and singing the operatic solo to Oklahoma or plunking out a new song on the piano.  At last, in the solace of my garage room with its single floor mattress and window air conditioner, I can find rest for my weary soul, for a few hours before I have to get up for work again.  That is, if I’m not accosted by the 2-inch roaches that invade our house and have become immune to everything except industrial chemicals.

I guess I’m not much of a mom after all.  I can’t seem to get the kids to do anything they don’t really enjoy.  It makes me feel too guilty.  I even tried bribing and it didn’t work.  I said, I’ll take you to see Ratatouille, the new Disney film, if you go to the hardware store first.  No, take us to the movie first, and then we’ll talk.  I can’t win.  I no longer work or cook or clean or anything while my wife works.  I just spend hour after hour after hour praying for a miracle and trying to figure out why I, magnum-cum-laude graduate from a 5A high school and self-made genius computer programmer, am no match for the sweetest, kindest, cutest 6 & 8-year olds you ever saw.  I guess in the end, I’m just a human.  Just a soft, gewey, stupid human.  No, wait.  I’m weaker than that.  I’m a dad.