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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Month of love...

I always seem to struggle through the month of February. In my mind it’s a small month that is packed with stuff – National Freedom Day, Groundhog Day, Rosa Parks Day, National Wear Red Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, Susan B Anthony Birthday, President’s Day, and let’s add Arkansas’ Daisy Gatson Bates Day. In spite of all the listed holidays, February is still known to be the month of love. Valentine’s Day seems to over-shadow all the others.

My struggle with this month of love is that I am a romantic disguised as a cynic. I make jokes about the best thing about Valentine’s Day is the day after when the candy can be bought at 75% off. I send funny cards and reserve all my goosheyness for my great-grandbabies who loved getting my little gifts declaring my love for them. If you pull back the mask and look underneath you will find that I’m not just a romantic, I am utterly and completely hopeless. I am also a realist. I suppose that means I’m a realistic hopeless romantic.

I was watching a television program about a wedding. It was beautiful. The gown was incredible with bits of shiny beads, pearls and lace. It fit her like a glove and her beautiful figure was easily recognized. Flowers were everywhere and all the guests were both smiling and crying. It would surely be a day the couple would remember for the rest of their lives.

As I watched and listened I noticed that somewhere inside me I experienced a bit of stinging when the vows were said and done and the minister pronounced them “husband and wife.” It was like the words were said in slow motion – h u s b a n d   and    w i f e. That part is always saved to the end of the ceremony, like they don’t tell you the punch line of the joke until the end. Husband and Wife. As if their names were no longer John and Mary, but rather “husband and wife.” I turned off the television and decided to put it out of my mind by baking some bread. I like to bake as a distraction from things that are disturbing.

The baking didn’t help because I kept thinking that I didn’t really know what all that meant – or maybe I did know what it meant and was uncomfortable with it. I’m sure it’s the later of the two. I am a wife and I have a husband. It’s a path I chose many years ago – more than 40 in fact. It was decision made with open eyes. As is the case with most newlyweds, I was young and inexperienced. When I think about it now I don’t understand how young couples can be expected to make such life-altering decisions at such a delicate, tender, age. It’s like saying at age 15, I’m gonna love roses my entire life and then realizing when you’re 40, that you like hydrangeas better. I suppose that’s why divorce was invented.

Strangely, I've never been a wife to a man that I felt I could have spent my entire life with. I've been married to an abuser (Peter) and to a drunk (Riley). If I have to measure, I have far more affection for Riley than I ever had for Peter which is understandable with all things considered. I am now, and have been almost forever, Riley’s wife. That means I do wifely things. I cook, clean, organize, manage, and take care of him because he cannot do these things for himself. Sometimes I do a better job than others, but I always do something for him on a daily basis. He is my husband and that means he is my responsibility.

I could have chosen to get a divorce when I realized that taking the vows meant I would be forever tied to this other person. But, I didn't. I’m a hopeless romantic. No matter how bad things got, I stayed the hopeless romantic. I believed he would leave his mistress, Ms Vodie Aristocrat, and return to me with a renewed vigor towards saving our marriage. That did not happen. When the mistress left him behind, she left a broken man who was not recognizable as the man with whom I took my vows.

People ask me how we have been able to stay together so long. They say we must have a secret to making our marriage work. I want to scream out that the only person the marriage works for is Riley. The secret for couples to have a long marriage is to marry someone who will feel a sense of responsibility and will not leave when things are unbearable. And if you split up, make sure you maintain some semblance of a bond, so the healthy one will come to the aid of the unhealthy one during bad times. My advice is to forget love and marry for loyalty. Did I mention that I’m a cynic?

I have a love-hate relationship with Valentine’s Day. I’m jealous of the people who I believe have found that true and everlasting love that will sustain them for their entire life, yet I'm happy for them. I long to have had that with the man that I believed would be a true and loving husband. I realize that will never happen. I fantasize that there is still hope for me. I believe that I have little time or energy left to really search for him. I refute the idea that a Prince Charming will ride up and save me from the beast. I would probably tell me to ride on and go save his own self anyway. I know that I want true love. I doubt that it will come to me in this lifetime.

Maybe there should be two types of marriages. First there should be the young love marriage that allows for the procreation of our species. If it lasts forever, that’s great. The second type of marriage is one based on practicalities like common interests, friendships, sexual compatibility and has nothing to do with producing offspring. This second type of marriage would happen at a later age when each individual has already been through the first type of marriage. Each individual would know themselves as their own person and would be better able to communicate wants, needs, desires, dreams, etc. In fact, the second type of marriage doesn't even have to be a licensed marriage. It could be just two people who join together with a common goal.

In my opinion, the chances of have a “first type” marriage that lasts till death do part is rare. No one is the same at age 60 as they are at age 20. If what you’re looking for is a “death do part” marriage, don’t get married until you’re already in your 50’s. It’s easier to keep the romance alive over a period of 20 or 30 years than it is 50 or 60 years.

This year on Valentine’s Day I did my usual cynical stuff. I laughed and carried on. Inside I was conflicted. Maybe just staying in bed under the covers for the entire month would have been a better way to handle things. Oh no… wait… I just realized that June will be upon is in no time. June is the wedding month… here I go again.


Christina Joiner said...

You always seem to speak my thoughts Linda. Wow... another great post. How do you read my mind? I am here, for better or worse, and I don't expect everyone to understand that, but to respect it would be wonderful. Sometimes I don't understand it myself. :) Thank you again for a bright spot in my day.

Christina Joiner said...

You always seem to speak my thoughts Linda. Wow... amazing!! I am here for better or worse. I don't expect people to understand, sometimes I still don't understand, but just respect my decision. So many of these things run through my mind all the time, that it's hard enough on me to stay, let alone to think about what other people think of me because I do. Thank you for the bright spot in my day, and for all you do to make sure we all know that we aren't alone in this craziness!!

ADDY said...

Hear hear.

m.lee said...

A silent bow to your writing and authentic voice

Jacque Gabrielle said...

i wish you freedom...

Wife Goes On said...

I hear you so well - and sometimes even those later marriages are entered into without the alcohol being present at first, but oh does it come storming in.

Anonymous said...

Linda, I just found your blog and I am blown away. I am taking some time and going back and reading all your old posts. Please keep writing - you are touching a nerve here and talking about stuff that I have never seen in print.
I feel the same way about V-day, and in fact I think your idea of 2 marriages in a lifetime is bang on.
To get me through the month of February, I have chosen that my favorite day is Groundhog Day - makes me hopeful for spring and new beginnings. When I watch that movie - Groundhog Day - and see that the repeated insanity can actually finally be broken, I feel hopeful. It's just a movie, but hey, hope springs eternal.

Rachel said...

Very honest. I love it when I hear others say what we are all thinking, usually I have to be that person! Go you!

Rachel said...

Fab. Just love it when someone other than me says what many think but do not dare mention! Great post.

Anonymous said...

Yes...the month of Feb...after Christmas and New Year's...and it still goes on..Let's see, Christmas..Drunk...New Year's (our Anniversary) Drunk....Valentine's day...Drunk..Groundhog day..Drunk...as a matter of fact, he's been drunk for months..I mean in the bed and/or on the floor drunk..so, I just got home from the hospital...yes, detox again...they want him in a 30 day rehab!!(did not work before)! I need to go somewhere that they will listen to me, cook my meals and I can just chill! Man, I can't wait for spring! And, for June...if there is a soon to be bride considering marrying an alcoholic...RUN...RUN...

Anonymous said...

Vain babbling.

Lise said...

And sometimes the alcoholic is abusive too (and addicted to rage just as much as he is addicted to drink)! Then the holidays are just plain scary.
The saints all seem to be in places like Alanon, the healing arts, Buddhist temples, spiritual retreats, et al. Maybe actively finding love is in those places gives one a chance at "real love"?
I know someone who remarried at 80 after her alcoholic husband died (she is now 90). She is very, very happy (and even gets doted on imagine that!). There is always hope!

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