the test

Wouldn’t you know, right after I wrote that last post and asked Jesus for patience, I had the opportunity to display patience and kindness.  I passed but not with flying colors.

I checked on my husband to find him lying in the doorway to the backyard. Still breathing, not bleeding, and somewhat awake.  I had to pull him in a bit so he had room to roll over and get onto his knees.  He didn’t have anything close by to help him to push up on one side.  He refused to use the walker and instead asked for my hand.  I was not going to pull him and risk throwing my back out.  I braced myself and held out my flexed arm as something he could pull on.  This whole ordeal took 15-20 minutes because he kept arguing with me about proper body mechanics, telling me that I don’t know my excrement, but I am full of it.  I did tell him to shut up several times even though I have ingrained in my brain that “shut up” is an impolite term.

I did not berate him for his behaviors or all of his irrational and obscene statements.  I just wanted to make sure he could come all the way inside the house and I could get the door closed.  It seemed like an eternity because he was moving so slow.  It was really quite sad because I wondered how much of this loss of muscle ability is due to the amount of alcohol today or the cumulative effect over the years.

Once on his feet again he commanded me to go away and leave him alone.  So I complied.  I did check on him a half hour later.  He was coming up the stairs to go to bed.  He apologized for saying some very unkind things earlier in the morning.  I didn’t say that I forgave him.  I did tell him that I was used to it because he gets really stupid when he drinks.

Standard procedure when he leaves the basement is that I go down there to turn off the tv and lights and make sure the outside door is closed.  Today I also had to pick up soaked disposable underwear that had just been left on the floor.  There was also a massive wet spot in a line towards the toilet.  Mopping up urine and sanitizing the floor was suddenly on my to-do list.

Alcoholism is such a horrible disease.

Got everything cleaned up and tried to study.  The song in my brain that is making it hard to concentrate reminds me that in spite of failing here and there in this Christian life, God still loves me.

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Blessings Unnumbered

Count your blessings, name them one by one.  Count your many blessings see what God has done.”   An old hymn with lots of truth in it.  Today I was overwhelmed with blessings.  Contact with old friends, going to church and having a grateful heart for the people there whom I have come to know, the ability to sing praise songs, the people I know through school, my relatively good health, my relatives, my children and grandchildren…

During worship at church today I needed to stop thinking of how good God has been to me.  Had I continued, I would have been a sobbing, blubbering mess on the floor because my heart was so overflowing with joy.  (I cry when I am happy.)  Really didn’t want to cause a scene like that.

At least for today, I am not going to look at all the death and dying around me.  I choose to look up.  Life can be beautiful and full of blessing and joy.

smoky mt

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.

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.

 

Enough is Enough

This morning my husband had fallen again.  He now has an ugly bruise and gash on his head.  As he laid on the concrete floor of our basement I removed his soiled pants, washed his bottom, applied a skin barrier and got some clean pants on him.  (Thirty some years ago when we were married I never imagined that one day I would have to put diaper rash ointment on him.)  He continued to lay on the floor for another couple hours.  Then he was able to navigate the stairs with my help, and flop onto the couch.

Fast forward 8 hours and he had fallen on the concrete floor again.  He seemingly wasn’t hurt and didn’t want to get up, so I left him there.  As I dove into my homework, I honestly forgot about him.  A couple hours later, when I did remember to check on him, I found him still on the floor, but now he was ready for my help.

I gathered up everything I needed to clean him up and then he asked me how much vodka was still in the house.  He really didn’t like my answer of “There’s enough”.  He began demanding, in very colorful language, that I go buy more vodka.  I thought that I could ignore his words and begin to help him become presentable.  However, when he immediately switched from demanding to insulting, I didn’t feel so charitable anymore.

“What, are you so stupid?  Do you understand?”

I decided to not put up with it right now.  I laid his clean clothes down and walked out of the room.  The last thing I heard was him yelling at me to give him the car keys so he could drive himself to the store.  Yeah, sure.  This from a man lying on the floor, who doesn’t know what day it is, and cannot walk well.  I just had to chuckle.  I will check on him in a couple hours.

…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.