A year from hell or the best ever?

  • June 2017 – My father dies.
  • July 2017 – My husband goes into rehab.
  • January 2018 –  My husband is obviously drinking again.
  • January 2018 – I tell him I want a dissolution.
  • July 2018 – He moves out and we get dissolution.
  • August 2018 – I sell my house and buy a smaller one in different school district.
  • September 2018 -my daughter starts a new school her freshman year.
  • October 2018 – I lose my job.

That’s a lot of “stuff” in a short period of time.

So many of my blog posts on this site reflect on incidents that occurred in and around that crazy year of my life.I had every excuse to feel sorry for myself and go into a hole. I didn’t, but that is no credit to me. God blessed me. Every negative incident gave me a new perspective and allowed me to relook at my priorities. I have reshaped and rebuilt. A former colleague respectfully suggested that it might be a mid life crisis. Lol. Easy to be seen as that by outside eyes.

By finding my weaknesses and admitting them, I have been able to help others more. Isn’t that what life on this planet is about anyway?

I like to help people. I think it’s my personal addiction. Most of the time, I find myself helping people problem solve or use their resources wisely. Offering knowledge and support to people who are willing to accept help has been fruitful. I particularly like to help people find happiness. Give me a grumpy person, and I’m pleased as punch to befriend them:-). As a matter of fact, a grumpy guy that had to have been sent my way by God, is a whole lot less grumpy and I’m pleased to be dating him. Thank goodness that helping others is one of the few things God calls on us to do.

In my life before “the crazy year,” my own house was REALLY far from being in order. From the outside, people probably could have perceived it as “perfect.” But they didn’t know reality.

Since the “crazy year” ended, I’ve been able to put most of my house in order (there is still room for improvement.). However, each step I get closer to real order, gives me more opportunity to do God’s work, helping others.

For that, I am TRULY BLESSED

I really hope that calling is tied to the emotional and/or spiritual needs of people, but I’m sure I’ll know it when I see it.


A moral inventory of yourself. Wow.

The twelve steps in both the AA and the Al-Anon program have a 4th step that reads “take a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

For people unaware of the principles of AA and Al-Anon, I can assure you that the program is well done and could legitimately help many people, even those not impacted by alcoholism.  So, I start this blog because of how impressed I am by step 4 as I reflect on it myself tonight.  This morning, I read today’s reflection from “One Day at A Time in Al-Anon.” and I’ve been thinking of it all day.

The reflection suggested that most of us use self -justification when we uncover a flaw, suggesting that it was  reaction to someone else’s wrongdoing.  It goes as far as to say that even psychiatrists can’t self analyze because of that block.  But it left me challenged with “personal honesty and humility can achieve what superior knowledge often cannot.”

And so, I begin to try step 4 again.  I can honestly say that my first time through it, I checked generic boxes.  I thought I really knew my strengths and weaknesses, so I just made that list.  After all,  I was  admitting that I was a control freak, that I often started tasks before completing other ones, that I was plagued with anxiety, etc. etc..  Wasn’t that enough?

No.  No, it was not enough.  You see, there is so much more to it than that.  For example, are we willing to ask others what they believe our shortcomings are without making excuses, or challenging their thoughts?  Can we listen to them?  Can we process what they say without trying to self-justify?

For example…..my mom told me that I was very critical and negative.  My instant response was…..how dare she…..I mean she is as negative as anyone I know…..the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree….doesn’t she realize that I have to talk to someone about ugly things…..if it can’t be your mom, who can it be???   Without realizing it, I went right to self-justification.  I didn’t accept it as a shortcoming.

It is a shortcoming.  While I am cautious to never appear anything but upbeat and positive to some, I had failed to realize that I let my guard down way too much around the people I love the most.  I did not put on a happy face for them or present the glass half full.  Why do we give the worst of ourselves to the most important people?  And if I am  as emotionally intelligent as tests show, and I fall guilty to self-justification, then I believe that nearly all of us do.

That being said…..  Can we stop self-justifying?  It’s not easy, but being aware of it as the typical response is important to slowing it down.  For example……if someone tells me that I appear agitated, I hope that I can accept that instead of thinking of all the things around me that cause the agitation.

So, back to step four……once we have the list of shortcomings, we have to be willing to work on each of them one at a time, trying to turn them into attributes.  For example…me being a control freak.  It’s true.

In parenting my only child, I’m certain that I spent way too much time trying to control the perception that others had of her and trying to make her something that she was not.  My daughter is clearly not me, so I should not have encouraged her to do the things that I thought were good for her.  I should have spent much more time asking her for her goals and ideas.  Fortunately, by changing schools in the divorce, she was given a “do-over” and so was I.  She was allowed to “blend in” instead of “stand out” as was the case for me and my expectations.  Thank goodness I realized it before it was too late.  Thank goodness that God and Al-Anon opened my eyes to honesty and the time to deep dive into my shortcomings.  While I’m still a control freak, I’ve realized that there are some things that I must not focus on or else they cause other people unnecessary stress.

Step 4 in the programs can take a long time to accomplish.  If done right, it isn’t a checklist.  It’s a lifestyle change. If alcoholics and al-anon members successfully complete this step as designed, focusing on honesty and humility, I’m certain that they can teach the world a thing or two and that they are headed in the right direction.  I hope to get there someday soon.






Who is an alcoholic?

There are high functioning alcoholics all around us.  They continue daily work, in even the highest types of professional positions, while managing an addiction.  Their ability to appear “normal” allows their condition to be overlooked for a long time, or even through their own death.

A former employee of mine saw patients everyday in a medical office.  The patients loved her, and requested her for care.  She treated their chronic conditions and acute illnesses with care.  Her clinical notes were thorough, accurate, and professional.   Employees around her were glad she joined the team.

My ex-husband managed people successfully at work.  He never drank during work hours or when our child had school functions.  He didn’t cross paths with the law or get into any altercations.

A friend of mine traveled all over the world for work and continued to get large monetary increases in salary.  She had a husband and two kids and appeared quite successful.

All three of these people are alcoholics.  What do they have in common other than being “hidden”  from suspecting eyes and being professionally successful?

They, and others, use alcohol as a coping mechanism.  In many cases, it is trying to cope with a feeling of “less than.”  Social anxiety, depression, stress, and generalized anxiety are what drove many to alcohol use and eventually to alcoholism.

The people closest to them, typically those that live with them, know the reality.  They worry about them, and worry, and get angry, and get sad, and get frustrated, and get sad, and (repeat, repeat).  It’s a family disease because families walk on egg shell;, they take emotional rollercoaster rides; they get treated to many periods of silence; they have many things that they have said or done forgotten, because the alcoholic was drunk originally.  The list goes on and on.

Typically, they (the alcoholics) become more and more selfish and more and more isolated over time.  Their actions and decisions seem immature emotionally and while they are ashamed of their condition, they build a wall of protection, or even a bubble as my ex did.  And they drink more, and perhaps hide it more.

How does it stop or does it ever?

Nobody can make another person stop drinking.  NOBODY.  I repeat….nobody.  It doesn’t matter if the alcoholic knows that he/she is hurting the family.  It’s not that they want to, but  they can rationalize it away.  Ultimatums do not work….at least not long term.  Some may cave temporarily, but it never works in the end.

The successful and sober alcoholic is one that made the decision for himself/herself that it was time.  Many have said that it takes hitting an absolute rock bottom place to make that decision.  In my ex-husband’s case, he wasn’t ready.  It was/is a parasite within him that has not been ready to leave.  While he tried rehab, he didn’t follow instructions from the moment he departed the building.

In my former employee’s case, she was caught with a lot of empty alcohol bottles in her office at work, and she seemed relieved to no longer have to keep up the façade.  She entered detox/rehab right away.  She fell off once and is clean again for six months.  An incident forced the change, and only she knows if she is truly ready to be done.

My friend’s body started failing her.  It was scary.  She was fine mentally, but her body started losing functionality.  She made the decision to live, to fix her body by giving up drinking.  She is now three years sober.

Sadly, many alcoholics drink their entire lives.  They often die younger than others with heart attacks or sudden deaths, or even the obvious one…cirrhosis.

They walk among us.  While the word alcoholic carries a stereotype look (or even smell), it is not the case with many.  They are our friends, neighbors, doctors, teachers, and even clergy.  There are no socioeconomic boundaries.  The parasite can live in anyone who tried alcohol as a coping mechanism and then continued to use it until it overtook their power to quit.



Who gets to park in the garage? The answer should have been my wake up call years ago.

It came down to this:

Me:  “I am pulling in the garage when I get home.”

Him:  “Bikes are there.”

Me: “Move please.”

Him:  “Fuck you.”

It was the evening of July 3rd.  My daughter and I were watching fireworks in our local town.  He had been moving out for a week or two and was nearly finished.  I had refinanced the house and given him his share of the equity.

I won’t share the rest of the text conversation, but I can tell you that it was the first night that I told my daughter that I didn’t feel comfortable staying in the same house as her dad.  Not only was he drunk and angry, but he slept with a loaded gun right beside his bed.  I didn’t share the details with my daughter, but she was emotionally distraught.  She knew there must be a good reason for my decision, but she also feared for her father’s own safety if we didn’t go home.  Without it being discussed over the last few months, she seemed to know his emotions brought him down to suicidal possibilities.

For the most part, I’ve been able to put the ugly times out of my memory, but I can’t seem to shake the events of that evening.  I was so torn on who and what to protect, and whether or not the police should be involved.  If I took that step, our bubbled life would have been completely exposed.  I don’t know if I made the right decision, but we all got lucky.  Nobody got hurt that night and the bubble didn’t break.

Because I can’t shake it, that damn garage argument has become symbolic of much of my marriage.

When we first got married, we lived in a house with a one car garage.  Guess who parked in the garage?  (wasn’t me).  Guess who had to clean snow off their car before going to work many mornings ? (yep, me.)  At the time, I chalked it up to his quirkiness about having really clean vehicles.  It was not a battle I cared to fight.  Looking back, I bet many people, including my father, thought “he’s an asshole making his wife park outside.”  I never saw it from that perspective at the time.

In our second home, I got a place to park inside, and we lived there twenty years, so the garage dilemma was irrelevant, but it was under the surface….just waiting.

In our last home, we had a two car attached garage AND a two car detached garage.  Lots of space.  No worries, right?  Hmmm…..

I got one space.  It was in the detached garage. When it was raining, I got wet going to my car.  When it was snowing and icy, I tried not to land on my butt getting to my car.

The attached garage was almost like a room in the home.  It was a showplace for his motorcycles.

Over the next three years, the last three of our marriage, it definitely became a sore spot.  My father had passed, and there wasn’t “room” for his 4-wheeler at our place.  The true self centered nature of alcoholism was raging in our garage space.

So, on July 3rd, when we had already been to court and he had 90% of his stuff out of the house, I said I was parking where I wanted to, and all hell broke out.  Crazy.  And sad.  Sad that physical “space” and physical “stuff” were his primary concern for most of our marriage.  So many things I can look back on and be more aware of now.

Guess what?  My daughter and I decided to leave that last house behind us.  We bought a new place.  It DIDN’T EVEN HAVE A GARAGE!  Lol.  But we had one built with a nice little enclosed breezeway, so that we can walk safely to our vehicles each morning.





Yes, I love you, but I’m not in Love.

That particular visit to see my husband in rehab was one that I won’t ever forget.

He was a completely different person.  He had been humbled.  His soul was desperate for love, support, rebirth, and warmth.  He wanted to be as close to me as he could.  He wanted to shower me with affection.  He wanted physical embraces.  He wanted to tell me how wonderful, beautiful, and spectacular I was.

I was cautious, but I’m thinking I may have been different than most spouses in this situation.  I mean….isn’t this the person we have been waiting for and wanting?  He was apologizing and talking enthusiastically about our first date after he was discharged.  In my mind, I was thinking that it was too good to be true and that it was temporary.  I had detached in such a weird way.  When he told me a month prior that he was going to admit himself, I was grateful for his desire to get well, but I wasn’t sure he was doing it for the right reasons.  From all that I had learned, he needed to be doing it for himself, and I felt like he was doing it for me and our marriage.

Torn.  So torn.  He shed many tears that day and so did I.  It was an intense emotional situation, from all that he had gone through in those prior days.  Honestly, it was likely stemming from all we had both gone through for so long.

He sensed my hesitation.  He said, “do you love me?”

My mind flashed back to a conversation we had had a few weeks prior in our bedroom.  I had told him that no matter how hard it may be, that I was going to be completely honest with my feelings.   And so there I was……being asked a question I needed to answer.

“I love you, but I am not in love with you.”  That was my honest answer.

I don’t know if it was the right thing to say or not, but it was the truth.  And with that, I cried more.

And I cry now just typing it.


Timing…why then?

up in trees

We were boyfriend and girlfriend in junior high.  Despite our age we became very close emotionally.  Both only children and recently seeing our parents divorce, we had much to share.

In high school, we didn’t date.  It was because he was too “wild” and I was too straight-laced.  One of those wild things was that he drank alcohol.  I didn’t.  Despite our lack of communication, we maintained an unspoken emotional connection.  After 4 years of high school and 4 years of college, we reunited and it seemed like we never skipped a beat emotionally.  He was ready to be “saved” from the party life and settle, and that sounded very nice to me.

Despite me being an extrovert and him being an introvert, our relationship seemed to work.  He was my best friend.  We never argued.  We trusted each other completely. After 10 years of marriage, we had a child.  While things weren’t perfect, they were more good than bad.

In the last five years of our marriage, things became more bad than good.  I felt us growing apart even though we had grown up together.  While he was still my best friend, I wasn’t sure if there was more than that.  Of the four pillars key to a relationship: physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental;  there was really only an emotional connection.

The fact that there was never a spiritual connection grew more troubling over time.  He seemed to become less and less spiritual every year.  I grew up attending church weekly, and I had continued to do that without him.  For many years, my spirituality had been unfortunately, a habit of activities and not much of a relationship with God.  However, I had started growing in my faith.  It felt wonderful.  I was feeling compelled to do the Lord’s work through some type of service.  I began reading daily reflections and passages, and sometimes they felt as though they were written for me.

We had spent almost 20 years in the same home, which was very simple, but space was limited.  As his dependence on alcohol increased, I had no choice but to watch it because we had only one common area in our house  So, if the three of us were home, we would spend evenings in the same room while he drank (under cover), as it was in a glass mixed with something.  It was silently painful.  And I knew it wouldn’t be long until our daughter became aware of the reality.

Easy answer?  Buy a bigger house.  I know…sounds stupid, but we did it.  He didn’t like some things about our house, and I wanted different space.  So, we moved a couple miles away into a much bigger house with little maintenance.  I didn’t have to watch him drink.  We had a living room and a family room, but the very odd thing is that our master bedroom became his cave.  He did nearly everything there.  Watched TV, ate meals, drank.  He truly began isolating without even realizing it.  Every so often he would surface and speak a sentence or two.  The only positive outcome was that my daughter didn’t have to watch her father drink and realize it.

During those last five years of my marriage, my father battled cancer.  I spent as much time with him as I could, as I was his only child and he didn’t have a significant other.  I was his world and I knew it.  My husband was supportive of the time I spent with my dad and I was grateful for that.  My dad’s care, along with my daughter’s upbringing became my highest personal priorities.  Because my dad’s only wish was to spend his final months and days in his home, I was determined to do everything to make that happen.  It was both challenging and rewarding.

My dad passed away on my daughter’s birthday.  Shortly after he was gone, I had no choice but to focus on my life, which included my marriage.  I told my husband that I was going to start counseling.  He realized I was not happy, and so it began.





Early Indictors

Nobody knows at what point a person changes from a social drinker to an alcoholic. Most alcoholics can’t determine this for themselves, let alone a spouse trying to determine it for their partner. It is the time when the alcoholic no longer has control of the ability to stop drinking. When the alcoholic personally starts to question it, he may actually scale back or drink a lighter alcohol for a while which then convinces him that he is still in control.

A spouse without knowledge of alcoholism is certainly going to think the same. They can “rationalize things” by: he only drinks beer, he never misses work, he never gets violent, he didn’t drink when he had the flu, he needs it to calm his nerves, etc., etc., etc.

Since I’ve been down this road, I can look back at all the excuses that I made, without even realizing that I was making them. My lack of knowledge on the subject contributed to my unknowing contribution to the illness.

Had I known then what I know now, there would have been a few times early on that I would have made a firmer stance. For example, at only a year or two into our marriage, I remember realizing that my husband was drinking beers on his way home from work. It was a 35 minute drive so he could have 1 or 2 without me realizing it. When I did find out, he said he only did it occasionally. I thought that was true and didn’t make a fuss. In reality, he likely just did a better job discarding the evidence.

Another regret I have was tied to his use of alcohol on vacations. I remember asking him if he could just go one day without drinking while we were on a vacation. He responded “no, it’s my vacation and I’m going to do what I enjoy on vacation.” I clearly should not have accepted that, but I did, again unintentionally contributing to the disease progression and my own unhappiness.

I certainly wish I would have been more aware of alcoholism and how it shows itself. Maybe I would have intervened. Regardless, I know that it wouldn’t have been me that stopped the progression of the illness. Only the alcoholic himself can stop it, and he has to want to stop it. In most cases, he has to reach a really, really low point to want to stop. Could I have stopped the progress? No. No, I can’t, nor can you.

If I had intervened sooner, it simply would have allowed me to find peace sooner.



The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Through my own unintentional experience, healing, and reflection, I have come to the point of starting this blog.

In 2018, after 23 years of marriage, I asked for a dissolution.  I never wanted it to come to that.  My husband was an alcoholic.  Neither of us know how it came to be.  At what point did he lose control of his ability to stop?

We tried everything.  Counseling, clergy support, detox, rehab…..all failed.

I went to Al-Anon meetings.  I found them to be highly supportive, confidential, and educational groups. But I didn’t find anyone who thought  like me.  We had gone to counseling too late and I had already detached.

My perception of Al-Anon was that the spouses in the group believed in finding ways to save the marriage to the alcoholic.  Many pledged that attending Al Anon and working on themselves instead of trying to fix the alcoholic was the secret to the success.  I admired them for their commitment.  They are wonderful people.  Many of them found their own peace and way to “be happy” while being married.  I didn’t find any that were actually “happily married”, though, unless their spouse got sober and stayed sober.

Over the last several years, I have learned a tremendous amount about the social and behavioral reality of alcoholics, both active and recovered.  I’ve learned, and I am still learning, the personal results of being in a relationship with one.  My spouse built a bubble around himself and I unintentionally became a part of that bubble.

This blog is dedicated to my journey of bursting out of that bubble, and finding peace, happiness, and self direction all while preparing for the challenges ahead.  If you have been in a relationship with an alcoholic or are in one currently, I hope you’ll continue to visit this blog so we can learn, support, challenge and praise each other.

If you do not have a support person in your life, I encourage you to look beyond this blog.  There are many resources in your community.  Al-Anon is a great place to start.  Or simply confide in a friend.  All of us need multiple support options.