Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Mothers, Don't Let Your Daughters Marry An Alcoholic

Update on Jake: I took him to the vet this morning. She thinks he may have eaten something rotten on one of our walks. He had a bit of a temperature so she gave him an antibiotic injection and she said to feed him chicken and rice and give him Immodium if he persisted with the diarrhea. He has perked up no end since then. Thanks for your advice, laurie and kaycie and everyone else.

Now onto the end of the boyfriend saga. I broke up with PB after I met someone else, yet another reporter at work. This was his immortal pickup line: "I like your shoes."

To me he looked like John Lennon. His house was Party Central, which I liked and he didn't. Almost immediately after we got together, he closed down Party Central. But he kept on drinking. And drinking. And drinking. And sometimes took some drugs too. We moved in together fairly quickly to a two-bedroom unheated, un-air-conditioned house. I loved that house. It had the most fantastic back yard, full of azaleas, dogwoods, and other shrubs and trees. I loved the domesticity. I wanted to entertain and party. Ex, as he will be known, wanted to drink. I would get home at night to find he'd drunk an entire bottle of scotch. On his own. He started coming home in the day for a beer. I was concerned but he shrugged it off. His parents drank like this too, he said.

One night after work a bunch of us ended up in a bar. I was drinking Wild Turkey on the rocks. Ex was just drinking. Some of the women and I got up to dance. Ex wasn't happy about it and tried to drag me off the dance floor. I threw my drink at him. He grabbed my wrists and dragged me out the front door. I was terrified. I didn't know what he was going to do. He got me out in the parking lot. I was screaming at him to let go. He wouldn't and said we were going home. The owner of the bar told me she was going to call the police if I didn't shut up. I somehow managed to calm down and told him I had to go back inside to get my purse. He let go and I ran inside and into the bathroom. Our friends knew nothing of what had happened till they saw me crying. One went out to drive Ex home but he insisted on walking. When he got home, he filled the bath up and got in fully clothed. I went home with another colleague and stayed at her house that night. The next morning I heard her whispering on the phone to my boss that Ex had hit me. He did not hit me, though he did leave bruises on my wrists. I went home that day. Ex said he was going to quit drinking. Which he did for two days. He said he had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from covering the Sunshine Skyway Bridge collapse a few years earlier. My boss, a Machiavellian bitch who disguised herself as a human being, thought I should leave him. Maybe I should have, but I didn't have the strength to do it yet. My career suffered as a result.

Everything was fine with Ex as long as I didn't do better than him at work or anywhere else. Eventually, I got a job interview at a major city daily, quite an accomplishment for a 25-year-old. Ex was beside himself with jealousy. We'd just gotten engaged that Christmas, and he obviously felt threatened and insulted that I got a week-long tryout and he got a postcard saying no thanks. I stayed at a friend's apartment that week. Ex took to phoning and saying nothing and hanging up or abusing my friend on the phone. I wasn't in the best frame of mind that week. Needless to say, I didn't get the job.

With my tail firmly between my legs, I decided to start planning the wedding. We went to premarital counselling even. And I'd already been seeing a counsellor to convince myself to marry this man. We planned the wedding for April, just four months later. The big day arrived bright and early with a wakeup call from my cat, who'd had diarrhea all over himself. I had awakened from a dream about nuclear holocaust. As the day went on, the skies blackened. Ex cut himself badly while shaving. I took two tranquillizers and have very little memory of the actual ceremony. Ex managed to alienate and insult most of my family. My sister managed to alienate the wife of Ex's best friend. This would have bothered me more if I actually liked the best friend.

A month later I was sleeping in the spare room because Ex and I had had an argument. At the time, I thought this wasn't right. We were still in the honeymoon phase. Ah yes, the honeymoon. Not very exciting. Ex got drunk each and every day and couldn't perform in the bedroom.

Not long after that, Ex had what he thought was a heart attack. He was rushed to the hospital from work. A very nice lady from work called and told me because she thought I'd want to know. I sort of rushed to the hospital. Ex had not had a heart attack (he was only 29), but every nurse and doctor he saw told him to stop smoking. He didn't. But he did quit drinking.

And the next month we were on our way to New York and new jobs, courtesy of my contacts. Ex and I hardly saw each other. He worked days. I worked nights and weekends. When I say nights, I mean I went in at 5 p.m. and got home at 7 a.m. I did this for 10 months, my health was terrible, and I hated my life. Ex, on the other hand, was having a superb time flirting with his boss and getting all the kudos he thought he was worth. I would call him sometimes during the day because I was lonely. He told me not to call him at work. Eventually, I moved to the Sunday magazine, becoming editor. Ex wasn't happy because this meant that he worked for me part of the time. He made my life so miserable about it I lost weight and finally went to the Editor to see if we could get him off the magazine rotation. The Editor informed me that he thought my request was unprofessional, and that if I couldn't cope with the pressure then maybe I shouldn't be in the job. I went back to Ex and told him if he was unhappy he could go talk to the Editor. He never did, the spineless bastard.

Ex never seemed to want me to go with him to visit his parents. One time he went and came back with a shiny, new pickup truck. He never consulted with me about this. His high school 10-year reunion came up. He said he wanted to go on his own. Fine by me. I went out with the girls to NYC and had a blast.

And yet somehow I still brainwashed myself into believing I was happy and loved this man. Then many things happened to change this.

I had offered to have one of my nephews visit me for a week. I paid his way, but my sister never actually confirmed the arrival day. I assumed it was the next day. The actual day was one of the worst days in my career. I somehow had forgotten about a deadline. Anyone in journalism knows that's a huge no-no. I had to work my tail off to get an entire section ready in one day. I had just gotten a new car, which Ex and I had argued bitterly over (remember the pickup truck?). Ex came up to me at the exact wrong moment and asked for the keys so he could show it to a friend. I rolled my eyes. Ex had a fit. I got home that night and the phone rang. It was my sister asking how my nephew was. He comes tomorrow, I said. I put him on a plane today, she said. I panicked and phoned the airport security and was hysterical. Ex actually drove out and found him -- safe -- and brought him home. Then Ex told me he wanted a divorce. I cried. I said let's get counselling. He said he'd had enough. I said let's sleep on it. The next morning I got out the yellow pages and made an appointment with a marriage counsellor. Ex refused to go, so I went on my own and continued to go for a year. I talked about everything but my relationship with Ex. Then one day the counsellor asked me about him. Suddenly, I had the worst stomach cramps and had to go to the bathroom immediately. I never talked about Ex.

Then, in 1990, the year I turned 30, more things happened. One was that Ex got chosen to go to a prestigious seminar, which pissed me off no end. He was gone a week. I went out one night after work for a drink with colleagues. One was a photographer, who flirted heavily with me. And started to hang around my office. And call me at home. In one week, I lost about 10 pounds.

Ex came back all happy to see me, but I wasn't happy to see him. Finally, after two weeks I told him I didn't want to be married anymore. He didn't take it well. He threatened to kill himself. I asked him to come to counselling with me. He did, and said I had a lot of problems with my dad that I needed to work through and he thought it would be best if we separated while I did this and he'd made up a list dividing our possessions. I was dumbfounded. We went out for a meal afterwards but I couldn't stop crying so we went home, me to the spare room.

I waited till Ex moved out before sleeping with the photographer. What a disappointment. I have to say it was the worst sex of my life. I'd built this guy up into something he clearly wasn't. He deserves no more words.

I decided to stay single and alone till I worked out what I wanted from a man and found that man. No alcoholics or smokers. No egomaniacs. And absolutely never again anyone from work. Though I did try to get together with one or two. Fortunately, they declined. Ex managed to continue to behave badly until the day I flew out of the country. I have never heard from him since. I do not ever want to hear from him again. While I can muster up fond feelings for PB, RB, and CB, my heart and mind grow cold at the mention of Ex.

I'm sure he doesn't have many kind words for me either. It was long ago and only eight years from start to finish. But I do feel I wasted most of my 20s on this man. Thank God he's not been around for my 30s and 40s.


laurie said...

yowser, girl! you have great stories, but i feel pain behind them. is it hard for you to dredge all this up again and write about it? if so, i'm sorry i ever asked....

i wasted my 20s, too, on no-good men, including the one famously known as the Psycho Killer because he was so scary. (though he never killed anyone, or even hit anyone, to my knowledge.)

we can't have that time back. all we have is what's ahead, so make it good and make sure it's with someone kind. that's my mantra, anyway.

and i'm really glad to hear the diagnosis on Jack. does he seem to be doing better yet?

Kaycie said...

Damn, I'd never want to see him or hear from him again, either. What a moron.

I'm amazed at how you can write all of this down for us to read. I think it would make me feel naked and vulnerable.

I'm glad you took Jake in to the vet. Sounds like sensible advice, and he'll be himself again soon, I bet.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

laurie: It's been nearly 16 years since our divorce. And yet those 16 years have flown by. I look back in amazement that I stayed with him after the bar incident. But sometimes we learn from our mistakes. And, boy, was he a big one.

I like your mantra. Can I adopt it?

kaycie: If we can't feel pain, how can we know when we aren't in pain? Does that make sense? Probably not. It's a cautionary tale, one I wish I'd known many years ago.

Swearing Mother said...

Wakeup: that was one harrowing tale, so glad it's all behind you now.

Flowerpot said...

I do sympathise - I've done the alcoholic bit - as in living with one - and it is hellish. Sorry to hear you lost some of your 20s, but at least he was otu of your life from then on. No point in looking back. I'm so gla dyou are happy now. And great news about jake.

Vi vi vi vooom!!!!!!!! said...

Sounds similar to my ex. Thank god we both got rid of them!

Aoj & The Lurchers said...

I have also done the living with an alcoholic bit....and it is not pleasant and something that remains with you for a long time. I suspect it might have done you a world of good to get this all written down.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

You have certainly had some interesting experiences in your life. I admire the way you tell your story. And I find myself hoping that you've gotten what you were looking for.

Please tell me you have?

Candy said...

Wow, what a story. It's always hard to understand, when you look at a relationship from outside of it, why women stay with losers like that. But I can imagine that when you're in the midst of it, it doesn't feel that way at all. You're just a woman trying to make a relationship work.

Glad you got out of that safely. It could have been uglier, I think.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

SM: Do you know I didn't realise just how bad till I wrote it down?

flowerpot: You're right. At least it was only my 20s. I've moved on.

VI: And the worst bit about them is they make you think the problem is you, not them.

aoj: It was quite cathartic actually.

RC: Read on for the rest of the story. While this marriage isn't perfect (what marriage is?), it has lasted 15 years, which says a lot, given my track record.

candy: I thought at the time that I'd actually gotten off quite easily, all things considered. Still do.