Let it Slide

I put the trash out on the usual night.  None of my neighbors had their recycling bin out, so I presumed that recyclables would be picked up next week.  Morning came and I was rushing out the door to school when I see that all the neighbors now have two cans at the street instead of one.  I had no time to run back into the house to fetch the recyclables, but I could at least put out the yard waste to the street.  Husband is standing on the porch yelling at me that it all should have been done the night before.  I tell him that I didn’t know which week it was.

“Well, you should have taken care of it last night.”

“I’ve been busy.  Do you think that you can help me?”

“No.  You just need to work harder.”

That comment from the man who does nothing around the house except get food out of the refrigerator ended the conversation.  Why even bother talking to him if that is his mindset?  Everyday I spend hours on schoolwork, clinical assignments, or housework.  Free time, right now, consists of  a couple hours a day.  I am enjoying life, am super busy, but do not feel stressed out.  Why let the delusional thinking of a man who has destroyed his common sense ruin my day?  Let it slide.

This morning Husband got upset because he remembered conversations from a couple days ago totally different than how they actually went down.  The so-called truth that he has in his mind does not even make sense in the real world.  Of course, his memory is correct and I am as “dumb as a rock” and “so stupid”.  More chances for me to let it slide.  Which I did.  But, then our daughter joined in.

She is feisty, bold, angry, sad, and does not mince words.  She loudly spoke truth to her dad which he did not want to hear and did not believe.  He kept wanting me to step in and defend him.  I couldn’t.  I had no words.  It broke my heart to see all the hurt pour out of her.

I did step in when she threatened to take away his alcohol.  The lessons I am studying this week in pharmacology and pathophysiology just so happen to be on drug and alcohol disorders.  I have also covered much of the basic concepts in previous classes.  I gave both of them a two minute version of just how damaged his body is and that going without alcohol for an extended time without medical supervision would kill him.  I didn’t have time to tell them about the alcohol related brain dysfunction that we are currently covering in mental health class.  He was done listening to anything, told me that he doesn’t believe it at all, and that I am full of bovine excrement.  Another chance to let it slide.

“I’m running to the One who knows me, who made every part of me in His hands…Tuning out every single word that caused me pain…I am loved…”  Check out this song by Blanca.

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No Water!

After about 5 hours of sleep, it was time to get up and start my day.  Found husband sleeping on the floor, in a narrow hallway that I and the dogs needed to travel, and the door to the back yard wide open.  So, I tried to get him to stand, or to crawl back down to the basement because his clothes were wet and he needed to change.  Several minutes of trying proved worthless, so the next plan was for me to change his wet clothes where he lay.  I was able to get the dogs outside for a potty break, but needed husband to move before they could eat breakfast.  Getting him up and off the floor was not only a physical challenge, but a test of my patience.  He would not listen to me because he does not trust me, and he thinks that I am full of bovine excrement.  Compounding everything was the fact that I had a limited amount of time before I needed to be off to school.  I really was not happy with him.

Once he was able to get up, I had to wash the urine off the floor, feed the dogs, and get ready for my day.  I had 20 minutes before I had to be out of the house.  God must have slowed down the clock because I made it out the door on time.

Most of my school day was spent at the hospital taking care of patients (the reason I could not be late).   My main patient was someone I took care of last time.  Their health had improved so much it was like night and day!  We shared a wonderful day filled with good news, laughter, and joyful optimism.  And, I just love being around the younger students!

Traffic coming home was horrible, but there were plenty of good songs on the radio.  When I finally got back in the house, I confronted husband about the actions of the morning.  He did not remember any of it.  He appeared to be a miserable, broken, old man, full of regret and shame.  My anger towards him turned to feeling sorry for him.  He was weak and thirsty so I tried to get him a glass of water.  That’s when I found out that the water had been shut off.

The bill for water and sewer is in husband’s name and his email.  I had no idea it wasn’t being paid.  Customer service has set hours which ended right before I could call and make the payment.  Now we have no water and it could take up to two days to get it turned back on again.

We have enough cash in our checking account to cover all expenses for the year.  Why didn’t he pay the bill?  He had set up the autopay option incorrectly and deliberately chose to ignore all email notices from the water company.  Yes, I got upset with him.

My husband used to be a near genius with all things computer.  Today, even though he is not drunk, he couldn’t even correctly forward emails to me.  I realized that I can no more get mad at him for this lapse of judgement, as I could get mad at a blind person for incorrectly describing the landscape.

Drained and calm, tired and filled with pity is how I would describe myself now.  It has been a long day.

More Family Destruction

It has been an eventful family reunion kind of week.  All of my husband’s siblings were in town.  Our son and his family, who have not been here in a year, spent the day with all of us at my in-law’s home.  It was a shock for those people who had not seen my husband in a year or more.  Our son told me that he didn’t even recognize his dad at first.  Some people tried to have a conversation with him, but it was very difficult to do.  Most of the time he sat in the recliner staring into space.  He didn’t even sit at the table with us when it was dinner time.  Every so often he would slowly make his way to the back yard to have a smoke.

My heart hurts because I know my children are all sad/mad that they don’t really have a father anymore.  I am so sad that my granddaughter will never know how wonderful my husband could be with little ones.  My daughter-in-law has never been around my husband when he was not drunk or a mind-numbed shell of a human being.  She will never be able to listen to his odd sense of humor or his deep, insightful outlooks on just about anything.

This week was also the birthday of our daughter.  My husband never said anything to her acknowledging that event.  Did he know what day it was?  Of course.  He was on the computer, he was on facebook.  All he had to say was three words:  happy birthday D___.  She was crushed but tried not to show it.  A mom can tell, though, when her children are not right.

So much disappointment, hurt, anger, sadness.  Through it all, I kept hearing snippets of Aaron Shust’s song, “Ever Be” in my head.  “…Your praise will ever be on my lips…”

I am still taking care of him, washing his clothes, changing all the wet sheets, cleaning up his messes.  The other night I popped my head into the room and asked him if he was talking to me because I thought I heard him, but it was unclear.  He said that he wasn’t talking at all and asked me if I wanted to talk to him for a while.  I was in the middle of studying for a major test, so my answer was no.  As I left the room, I realized that I wouldn’t have wanted to talk with him even if I wasn’t studying.  I don’t like him.

His bad choices have not only hurt me, they have hurt our children.  His parents, siblings, and even that quirky cousin have all had their lives negatively affected by my husband.  These are all people I love and care about.

My deepest inner being is crying out to my creator in praise and worship.  The other part of me is avoiding interaction with my husband because I really don’t like him right now.  Such a contrast, but this is my reality.

Happy Father’s Day (just kidding)

This past weekend was Father’s Day,  a time to honor and celebrate the dads in our lives.  Not exactly a good weekend in my house.  For my husband there were no cards given, no phone calls, no posts on his facebook page, and nothing said to him in person.  He was avoided in every way possible.  It is too painful to be around him.  He is not the meticulous, kind, thoughtful person he used to be.  Today he has a swollen face (from the alcohol), an unkempt beard, purple splotches around his eye from the last time he fell, his clothes are filthy with cigarette burns on them, his fingers are stained brown, and his dirty jagged nails are a full centimeter longer than they ought to be.  His hair has not been washed in months so he wears a stocking hat at all times.  He does not always know if it is day or night, and can be as demanding as a toddler when he wants fast food or more alcohol.

An alcoholic like my husband will die if he keeps drinking and will die if he suddenly stops drinking.  If he were to choose to stop it would need to be in a detox setting.  His body cannot tolerate the absence of alcohol.  If I did not buy the alcohol for him, he would tear apart the house looking for car keys.  Letting him drive not only gambles with my only source of transportation, but also would put other people at risk of great physical harm.  My husband could walk a few blocks to the local convenience store, but the physical exertion would probably cause him to collapse and die on the sidewalk.  It’s a no-win situation.

As I was buying him more cigarettes and vodka this weekend, I was surprised at how angry I felt.  Angry that I had to buy this stuff so he could continue to kill himself.  Angry that our children were going to be constantly reminded this weekend that their dad was different.    Angry that he causes them so much pain.  Angry that they have to avoid him to alleviate the pain they feel.  My heart aches when I know my kids are hurting so I waffled between anger and sadness all weekend.

The only conversation I had with my husband over the weekend was asking him if he was coming to family dinner at his brother’s house.  For two days his answer was “I don’t know”.  An hour before we needed to leave, I ask again.  This time it is a yes.  I give him nail clippers and ask him to also wash up before we leave.  I check on him half an hour later and ask him again to please wash up.  When it is time to leave, he is drinking and smoking, has not touched his nails, and has not washed up.

“Just go without me.  You never really wanted me to go anyway.”  If that were true, I wouldn’t have spent so much time checking on him and asking.  I am swamped with studying for finals.  I say nothing for words are futile at this point.  I go to family dinner without him.

The past several weeks I consciously worked at trusting God for my future, to not worry or stress over it.  As Jonathan David and Melissa Helser sing, “I’m no longer a slave to fear.  I am a child of God.”  This weekend was an eye-opener of my need to consciously let God work out the anger that seemingly fills my heart.

 

Pride can be so ugly

I did check on my husband after writing that last post.  He was ready for help so I donned gloves, removed the soiled clothing, put on the clean, and got all his accumulated dirty clothes in the washer.  He is too heavy for me to lift, so he had to roll onto his hands and knees before I could even attempt to help him up.  Once on his feet he was very unsteady and started falling backwards onto me.  Before I returned to school, my everyday job involved assisting people with balance issues so I knew exactly how to keep my husband upright.  He was able to take a small step towards the chair.  His judgement was way off and he began to sit before he was properly in place.  The last thing I wanted was for him to be on the floor again, so I maneuvered my leg to allow his bottom to slide from my hip to the chair.  Simple body mechanics based on years of practice and training enabled him to end up safely on the chair.

My husband then started yelling at me, claiming that I was pushing him and trying to make him fall.  That bothered me so much that I started yelling back at him.  I was so mad that he thought I would intentionally try to shove him onto the floor and that I didn’t know what I was doing.  I slammed his belt onto the tv tray beside him.  I felt like hitting him.  He wouldn’t let me speak, he wasn’t listening to any explanation.  He just kept yelling over and over again, “Go away!  Leave me alone!”  With a dramatic door slam I did just that.

A few minutes later I calmed down and decided to give him some food since he had not eaten in nearly a day.  I set it in front of him and asked him (nicely and without yelling) why he was so intent on killing himself with alcohol.  He has no sense of time, so he believes that the bottle of vodka he opened this morning was actually begun a couple days ago.  With the head injury and the alcohol in his system, there was no point in arguing with him.  I checked on him a few hours later and discovered he had consumed the food.

Ephesians 4:32 urges us to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving, because Christ has forgiven us.  This morning as I was reflecting on how my pride had flared up and caused me to fail miserably at living that out, I was reminded of an old hymn by Theodore Monod.

Oh, the bitter pain and sorrow
That a time could ever be,
When I proudly said to Jesus,
All of self, and none of Thee.

Yet He found me; I beheld Him
Bleeding on the accursed tree,
And my wistful heart said faintly,
Some of self, and some of Thee.

Day by day His tender mercy,
Healing, helping, full and free,
Brought me lower while I whispered,
Less of self, and more of Thee,

Higher than the highest heaven,
Deeper than the deepest sea,
Lord, Thy love at last has conquered:
None of self, and all of Thee.

I want to live a life that reflects that last verse, but obviously I am not there yet.

 

…at all times.

Oh how fickle the mind can be.  The past few days my husband started showing signs of chronic liver failure along with other serious issues.  He could barely function.  I know that his body is too far downhill for a turn-around.  I thought I was ready for his death.  I was surprised at how sad I felt, being on the verge of tears for days.   All I could do was pray that he didn’t suffer.  Pity and kindness filled my heart.

Last night all those warm, fuzzy feelings went away.  He reverted back to nasty, demanding, verbally abusive husband.  God gave me the grace to not verbally retaliate when he was insulting my character, my mom, and my entire family.  He is not in his right mind and therefore it would be silly to try to argue with him.  I did get irritated with him and just wished that he would leave me alone.

This morning it occurred to me that “a friend loves at all times”.  Do I still love my husband?  I suppose that I do based on how I felt towards him over the weekend. Do I like him?  Maybe not right now.  But, I am still concerned about him.  I guess love doesn’t always feel like cashmere against the skin.  Sometimes it is more like burlap.  Today is a burlap day.

A Heart of Compassion

A new semester is starting and for the past several days I have waffled back and forth on if I should stay enrolled.  My husband’s health took another turn for the worse.  Should I skip this semester and therefore not have to lose any school time in the event of him passing away? Is he going to need more care and I won’t have enough time to actually study?

This morning as he sat half-naked in his basement chair, he was drooling, slurring his words, and unable to comprehend some basic information.  He had fallen again and really couldn’t walk well.  I offered to help him get some clean clothes on.  He didn’t want my help.  I offered to get him a blanket which he did accept.  I brought him some tissue so he could wipe his face.  I asked if he was hurt or bleeding.  His response:

I want you to go away.  I don’t ever want to see you again.  You are a curse to me.”

I did have an appointment soon, so I left him sitting there in his filth.  I was briefly offended that he had been so nasty when I had been so nice.  It was uncalled for.  I did not deserve that.  God immediately reminded me that what I just went through was nothing compared to what Jesus went through.  I needed to still have a heart of compassion towards him. Jesus was a servant to all, and I should serve my husband.

“And so as those who have been chosen by God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, patience, and humility…”

After my appointment I came home and laundered all of his clothes that he had piled in a disgusting filthy heap. I made an extra trip to the store to buy him alcohol.  I washed the dirty dishes that he had accumulated.  I offered to make him a sandwich.  His response:

Go away.  You are so condescending.  You treat me like shit.”

That’s just fine.  Still nothing compared to what Jesus went through for me.  I did roll my eyes as I left him sitting all alone.  He is so blind.