My husband is struggling with addiction right now. He is upset with life and is taking anything that will knock him out. Ambien, klonopin, seroquel–whatever, it doesn’t matter as long as it knocks him out and makes him sleep. When I talked with him about this he said, “Well, sad people do sad things.” And it’s true. They do. And so he hates his life right now and wants to “check out of life.” At least that’s what I call it, “checking out.”
Every day I call him, and he answers the phone, half asleep. I think last week he was normal for one day–only one day did I call him and he wasn’t all messed up on something. I was so happy that one day! But the next day he had obtained some klonopin, and so he’s been on that for the past few days. I just talked to him earlier today. “What are you doing?” I asked him, thinking that he was probably asleep before I called. “Nothing, hanging out,” he said. And I got sad.
He should know how much this is hurting me, I thought after we hung up. And I began to cry. If he loved me, he would stop. Then I stopped as a flashback of living with my father and his alcoholism popped into my head. That’s exactly the things I had told myself as I grew up with my father and his drinking, as he tore himself and our family up from the inside out. He drank, regularly, every weekend and usually into the week. It was awful. Like most people who drink to excess, he started out fine…but after too many drinks, he turned into a monster. He never beat me or sexually abused me in any way, but he was emotionally abusive and at the same time, neglectful. (You can’t lovingly nurture a child when you’re drunk out of your mind.) So at some point during his drunk he would get mad at me (usually because I had a lot of boyfriends hanging out, at least when I was older,) and start to accuse me of being loose and promiscuous and would start yelling at me that I was a good-for-nothing slut and a floozy. Do you know what the does to a 14 year old? Nothing good. And when I was younger and he didn’t fight with me like that, he fought with my mom and I would cry, heart and mind jumbled with mixed emotions and praying to God that they would stop, that he would stop. Just stop drinking and be normal. Please.
But still he was my daddy, and I loved him dearly. We were always close as I grew up–I would sit on his lap and stroke his cheek and he would sing me lullabys and soft, slow songs. He cuddled me and hugged me and I would kiss him and we loved each other so much! Gosh it felt good. How many girls can say they have a daddy like that? “You are the apple of my eye!” he would say. And, “You’ve got me wrapped around your little finger.” And he was happy to be wrapped around my pinky!
But his drinking! Oh God, his drinking. How many nights I would end up crying because my wonderful, sweet daddy would turn into a raging monster, full of anger and profanity, with a black hatred of life and everything in it in his eyes. During his sober times, he would read the Bible. In fact, he wanted to be a preacher when he was a young man, before alcoholism got him and wrapped its cruel grip around him like a vice, squeezing the life and spirit out of him. He was a “Pentecostal holy-roller.” But every bit of Christianity and Christian behavior flew out the window once he started drinking. (The Bible calls drunkenness one of the “works of the flesh.” Galatians 5:21.) Who can be Christian and be drunk? Darkness and light do not mix. So my father was awful when he drank, and very far from Jesus.
And I remember thinking, although the thought wasn’t actually voiced or put into words in my head–but it was in my heart: Doesn’t my daddy love me enough to stop drinking? Am I not good enough that he will stop? What else can I do to make him quit drinking? What more can I be? Funnier, prettier, sweeter, smarter? Or maybe if I just ignore him he will understand how bad this hurts me when he gets drunk and calls me names…Why is he hurting me? Why is he doing this to me?? And, as I said before, it had nothing to do with me. I wasn’t even in the equation. And in my dysfunctional thinking, I thought maybe that if I were a part of the equation, he would stop drinking. But anyone who has dealt with addiction in themselves or another knows that this sort of thinking is not the way it works. That sort of thinking is a form of distorted reasoning and illustrates a dysfunctional thought process. Addiction is within the person addicted, not blamable on the outside for any reason, although sometimes the addict wants to think otherwise and blame someone else. But when it comes right down to it, drinking and addiction is an internal process with an internal reason, and with outward manifestations. So it had nothing to do with little Winnie Spencer. And so, neither does my husband using drugs to “check out.” This is between himself–and God, I suppose. No, Winnie, you don’t factor into the equation.
So? So I really need to grow up and quit blaming myself for his use. Let him be him. Love him through this time. Let go of anger and blame, guilt and internalization. Don’t take it so personally. Love him. Pray. Commit it and him and yourself to God–let Him handle hubby. Give Him your broken, 14-year-old’s heart and allow Him to replace it was the mature heart of Jesus Christ. Who can heal? Only God heals, only He can heal broken hearts. So give him yours, little girl. He’s glad to take it and give you back one renewed. “Behold, I make all things new.” And He does. Try it…you’ll see.