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.

 

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…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.

Petty Stuff

I normally have nice, fun dreams.  Lately, there have been times in my dreams that I have broken down crying.  They almost always stem from dream interactions with my husband.  In my dream I try to tell him that he always puts me down, makes me feel stupid, is very unkind.  In reality, he is not always that way.  In fact, right now, we are at a good place.  He is not overly drunk, therefore his interactions with me are nice and courteous.  He is even washing the dishes almost every day.

Washing dishes is one of those tasks that I would start, pause, and come back to later.  Sometimes my husband would get mad at me for putting the dishpan full of soapy water and dishes in the sink and leave them there.  His reason for being mad was that the sink would be blocked.  I didn’t see it as a problem because one can always lift the dishpan out of the sink.  He, on the other hand, washes dishes by putting them directly in the sink.  Then he will walk away, sometimes for hours, leaving the sink blocked.  One has to remove all the dishes and drain the water to use the sink.  (Writing it out now makes it very clear that this is all really petty stuff.)

Anyway, this morning he filled the sink up with soapy water and dishes and prepared to leave the kitchen.  Very nicely, I asked him if he remembered all the times he used to get mad at me for blocking the sink.  I wanted him to see the double standard he was living.  Of course he didn’t remember getting mad at me ever and saw no problem with the way he was washing the dishes.  Right after that, I immediately regretted even bringing it up.  Why do I need him to acknowledge my hurt?  Why should I try to punish him or push him into guilt?  Blocking the sink is such a minor thing and certainly not something to fight over.  Have I been hurt in the past?  Yes, it even shows up in my dreams.  But, that does not mean that I should try to hurt him now.  I need to forgive my husband to the same extent as I have been forgiven by God.  That certainly isn’t easy unless I focus on what I have been forgiven of.  Even so, I find that it can be a very long process.  I am not there yet.  I can be kind to him and sometimes initiate conversations.  But, for the most part, I do my best to avoid and ignore him.  Not very Christ-like.  Right now it is the best I can do.

A song by Keith and Kristyn Getty has been going through my mind.  “The grace of God has reached for me, and pulled me from the raging sea, and I am safe on this solid ground, the Lord is my salvation…”  There is no need for me to jump back into turmoil.  Forgive.  Forget.  Move on.

Challenges

This morning I woke up with the phrase “whatever happens I will not be afraid…” running through my brain.  As I lay in bed, trying to pray, trying not to worry why the furnace keeps running, that portion of the song by Tenth Avenue North kept a continual loop of music in my mind.

I finally did get up to check on my husband.  He has been falling several times a week because he gets so thoroughly drunk.  I am getting quite proficient at pulling him out of doorways and dragging him across the floor.  This morning he had fallen again, but at least the door to the outside was mostly closed.  (It is 0 degrees outside.)  He had fallen in an interior doorway and I still had to drag him across the floor so he could eventually get up.  As I was sweeping up the broken glass, he decides to tell me that he is fine, his pants are clean, and there is no blood on the floor.

I know that since he is currently very drunk and naturally combative he is unable to see the mess he is in.  But, I still found myself getting mad at him.  I told him I was angry at him for throwing his life away.  I reminded him of how gifted, talented, and blessed he used to be.  It ended with me telling him that I am still willing to help him get cleaned up when he sobers up.  Then I gently slammed the door.

Which brings me to this moment.  I am starting a second college degree and am taking online classes.  Technology has never been my friend and causes me lots of frustration.  I have had to learn so much before the classes even begin.  Today will be filled with continuing to learn how to navigate in my new world and completing as many assignments that I can before they are due.  I need to work ahead so that if my husband does die, I can take a little bit of time off from my studies.

It seems like a very morbid outlook, but it is my reality.  It is a miracle of God that my husband is still living today.  He defies all medical and conventional wisdom.  The day could come that he would die from a stroke, heart attack, total liver failure, lung cancer, brain injury, or simply bleeding to death.  (He almost did that in November.)

So, as I begin my new college career, I need to remind myself that I am in God’s hands.  With his help I can do all things.  “I have this hope in the depth of my soul in the flood or the fire you’re with me and you won’t let go…”

Yes, I’m Angry

The other night as I was helping my husband get up off the floor, I just wanted to pick him up and throw him onto the couch.  I wasn’t very kind with my words as I prevented him from slamming down onto the floor again.  I just got madder when I checked the basement door.  There was evidence that he had fallen in two places in the basement before I had heard him fall in the living room.

Was I angry because I was so tired?  After all, it was 3am and I had only a couple hours of sleep before hearing the crash.

I get angry with my husband when I think of how he wasted his life.  He used to be so talented at many things: music, woodworking, photography, poetry.  He excelled in the business world and received superior reviews from his boss every year.

I get so mad at my husband when I think of all the hurt he has caused me and our children.  I am thankful that when the kids were younger, he did all his drinking in the basement after they had gone to bed.  Unfortunately, when our youngest was 16, my husband changed for the worst.  No more hiding it from the kids.  Alcoholism in all it’s ugliness was on display for everyone to see.

I get mad because I sometimes think that if only I had done x, y, and z, my husband wouldn’t be this way today.  Too bad time travel isn’t a reality.

When I did get back to bed the other night, God reminded me of some verses in Isaiah 61, “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness…”   My anger might be justified or it might be sinful.  Therapy will help me to figure that out.  Right now I can have joy in what God has done for me.

Just a Typical Friday

In the past 24 hours I have:

Cleaned up vomit from my husband and cleaned up vomit from a dog.

Watched my husband weep because I said that one of our cats needs to be euthanized.

Tried to have a discussion comparing how he feels about the loss of a cat and how we feel about the loss of a husband/father.

Been told several times that I make no sense and that I am full of _____.

Served a plate of food to my husband because he refuses to wash his hands and there was no way I wanted him to touch the meat I had cooked.

Had to help my husband get up off the floor because his leg muscles were too weak.

Been in on a conversation between my daughter and her father.  Heard the pain in her voice when she asked her dad if he loves alcohol more than his kids.  Got angry because my husband is either still choosing badly or is at a point where he cannot choose rightly.  (I don’t know, there are different schools of thought on that.)

Witnessed my husband walking around naked from the waist down, made him put clothes on, and had a conversation about what is appropriate.  Several hours later he asked me who had put different pants on him.

Seen God work out specific details in two different areas of my life.  Further proof that my God is taking care of me and that I can completely trust Him with everything.

Been reminded that “I’ve been held by the Savior…All my hope is in Jesus…All my sins are forgiven,  I’ve been washed by the blood…”

 

Hope Deferred

Proverbs 13:12 tells us “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”   For 4 days my family tried to get my husband to go to rehab, with varying measures of success.  Tuesday the answer was no.  Wednesday the answer was yes.  We actually got in the car and went to the very first step of admission.  Once there, my husband changed his mind so we went back home.  Thursday was a yes again but it was too late in the day to do anything.  Friday morning he had changed his mind back to no.

Friday I asked him if he ever thought about how good, gracious, and patient God is to allow him to live another day.  He has another chance to live a life that is glorifying to God.  He has another chance to determine to change and leave our children with a good memory of a dad who loved them enough to choose to live.

This past week has been very hard and somewhat depressing.  It was the hope of him changing and then the reality of him still choosing the pity party that made my heart sick.  I was caught up in the waffling back and forth.  I was frequently angry with him.  I don’t know if it was because of him changing his mind so often, or having so much of my time wasted.

Music really helps me to refocus on God’s truth.  I wish that for my husband it could be as simple as listening to a song and having a change of heart and mind.  I will not dwell on wishes and hopes too much, though.  It’s too painful.

Never Too Far by Jordan Feliz is a song for all who are hurting or are in a dark place.