Life Can Be Very Messy

I was never an immaculate housekeeper, but I thought my house was always clean.  Not so anymore.  I don’t have the time nor the energy to keep up with it all and that bothers me.  The adult children in my house don’t have the time or don’t always make the time to make things clean and tidy.  I am annoyed by constantly seeing clean laundry in the living room, random items in the dining room, and dog fur everywhere.

My husband used to be meticulous about his appearance.  He was that person who had a place for everything and everything in its place.  Alcoholism has certainly changed that.  He leaves food and dirty dishes on the table.  He will take off a pair of disposable underwear, overflowing with urine, and put it on the floor.  He doesn’t appear to remember what a trash can is for.  He has bathed and shaved twice this year.  Previously, thanks to alcohol, he neglected self and surroundings because he didn’t care.  He probably still doesn’t care, but now he is physically unable to safely get items off the floor or sometimes walk up a flight of stairs.  He is becoming physically emaciated and can often have a difficult time walking upright.

Yesterday afternoon I came home from a long shift, opened the front door, and was bombarded by foul smells.  My husband had accidentally peed on the couch.  This has happened before, so there are waterproof pads put down to protect the cushions.  However, those soaked pads were still on the couch along with the wet sheet/couch cover.  An alcoholic’s urine does not smell normal for biological reasons that would be of no interest to most people.  Sometimes the offensive odor is so strong that it can be smelled 30 feet away.

So, I had to change the pee pads, change the sheet, wash all the urine-soaked laundry, plus wipe up the urine that was on the floor by the toilet.  Upstairs in my husband’s bedroom, lying on the rug, was another very used disposable underwear and soiled clothing from the day before.

After cleaning up after him, taking care of dogs, and several hours of schoolwork, I slept well.  When I woke up there were more messes to clean up.  Husband had slept on the couch during the night and had another accident.  He was very apologetic about it.  So, I took care of changing everything on the couch again, and also wiping up more puddles of pee on the floor by the couch and by the toilet.

As I was doing all of this cleaning, seeing a cat litter box that needed to be attended to, piles of laundry where they should be and piles where they should not be, and husband’s messes everywhere, I did not have any overwhelming emotions of anger, sadness, frustration, etc.  It was almost as if I was numb inside.

Then, suddenly I heard a specific song in my head, “…it is well with my soul…”  Everything was put into perspective.  Husband is debilitated and needs to be taken care of, house is not clean but it is not going to kill anyone, children have good jobs that they work hard at, dining room is not needed for meals right now so it is alright for it to be messy at the moment.  I wish it were different, but I will not put myself into an emotional stew because of it.  “Through it all my eyes are on You, and it is well with me.”

 

Advertisements

Health Crisis?

This past week was the beginning of a new school term, so, just like 3 out of the 4 last terms, my husband had another near-death experience.  He was barely eating, could hardly walk, and was sleeping 18 hours a day.  His body showed physical signs of shut-down.  The suddenly, after a couple days, he did his whack-a-mole imitation and popped right back to his normal state.

Now, I did not think that I was stressed out.  I was able to get all my assignments done and actually work ahead in each class.  I did grieve a little because I honestly thought my husband would not live much longer.  I was looking forward to new school experiences, new information to learn, and seeing my classmates.  I felt relaxed, but could not get my heart to beat normally.  Later that day, I went to the local hospital emergency room.

Heart problems run in my family, in fact, I am the only one not on heart medication.  When I started having symptoms of what could be a heart attack, my son drove me to the ER.  Several hours later, I am told that my heart is a bit erratic, but I am not in any danger at this time.  Just to be sure, I need to wear a 48 hour monitor, which I have on as I type.

Moving around this morning I started feeling stiffness and discomfort in my rib area.  Am I dehydrated?  Am I just needing to stretch out because I didn’t sleep well?  I don’t think that I am stressed out about school or husband.  I took out my stethoscope to listen.  My heart was dancing instead of marching.  Breathe deep.  Remind myself of what the doctor said.

Still was a bit concerned so I got my Bible out and said, “God, I need to hear from you today”.  I love the psalms so I flipped my Bible open towards the middle section.  While scanning the page, I came across phrases such as “Will the foe revile your name…” and “They smashed all the carved paneling…”.  I thought, “This isn’t exactly what I wanted to read”.  Then I looked at the very top of the page.

“but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

I had to laugh.  Of course God would tell me something about my heart when that was the biggest concern I had running through my mind this morning.  I can relax because God’s got this.

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.

 

Surrender-it’s a good thing

It is finals week and life is intense.  I still don’t know what to expect from my husband.  One minute he is telling me how proud he is of me in going back to school and making good grades.  An hour later he wants to get into a verbal fight with me.  When I don’t respond, his go-to reply is, “Are you so stupid that you can’t have an opinion?”

Last night I asked him what was all over the floor, pee or water.  He said it was pee, but he cleaned it up.  “Then that is a puddle of water?” I asked.  The next few sentences out of his mouth claimed that yes it was water because he cleaned up an accident, and no, it was pee because he had an accident.  I tried to ask him which it was and his response was, “Really?  You’re that stupid?”

He will complain that nobody talks to him and that we all must hate him.  Shortly after that little rant he proceeds to insult me, our children, and my parents.  He doesn’t always remember stuff that we do tell him about.  Most of the time though, we have shut him out of our daily lives because it is too painful to keep him fully involved.

It has been a long time since my husband’s flip-flopping has increased my blood pressure or gotten my emotions out of whack.  I haven’t always been able to express why this is when my closest friends ask me how I am doing.  All I know is that there is something about the peace of God passing all understanding, if I am willing to surrender.

I have one dog who will let me totally cover her up with a blanket.  She does not freak out, probably because she knows I would never hurt her.  My other dog hates to not be able to see, even for a short time.  Which dog will I choose to be like?  I don’t know if today is the day my husband dies or if it will be next year.  I do know that God has a perfect plan for me and a path to travel.  I cannot see it, but I am ok with that.  My God has covered me with his blanket of peace, and He loves me.

“You still my soul with quiet joy…through the fire and the flood, I know that I am loved.  I can hear You singing over me…”

A Second Chance?

Well my husband has mostly recovered from traumatic brain injury that occurred in November and a mini-stroke that occurred at the beginning of this year.  He is not falling down several times a day anymore.  He does not suddenly fall out of his chair, either.  He can go up and down entire stairways again.  He can speak normally.  He does not sit and stare into nothing for hours at a time.  The physical signs that told me his body was internally shutting down have disappeared.

When I talked to him about these changes and said that God is showing him mercy and kindness and giving him a chance to start living differently, his response was disbelief.  He was sober during this conversation, but still unable to see the big picture.  Why can’t he just surrender to the Creator who gives life to all?

My husband and I are so far apart in our thinking and living.  It reminds me of a song called “Just One Touch” performed by Kim Walker Smith:

“I searched the earth when all that I needed was just one touch, …my soul won’t rest ’till I find rest in You, for there is no peace, no freedom apart from You,”  This is the part that my husband just doesn’t get.  He keeps trying to find peace and freedom with alcohol and thoughts of dying.  He is content to wallow in misery.

“Here at the end of me you are my victory, I’m trading my scars for all that you are, for just one touch.”  He doesn’t see that in surrender there is true victory.  We can give all our scars, hurts, addictions, etc., to Jesus and he will give us an abundant life.

The next part of the song expresses the truth of my life:  “My joy overflows from all of Your beauty revealed to me…”  (Anatomy and Physiology class shows me every day just how awesome the human body is with its billions of cell actions and complex muscles.)  “I have been longing, I have been yearning in reckless abandon, surrendered to You, I feel Your fire, I feel You healing, all that You are is all that I’m needing,  here at the end of me, You are my victory…with arms stretched open wide come set Your heart in mine, I’m here at Your feet, Jesus I need just one touch.”

I have surrendered to the God who loves me and my heart is at peace in spite of the turmoil of my surroundings.

Pick a Different Road

What do I say to those I know who are believers in Jesus, or at least were raised in a church, but choose a lifestyle of drinking alcohol?  Several times a week they are consuming more than just one or two drinks.  Frequently they are at the point of fall-down stupid drunk.  We live in a culture that yells “don’t judge!” when a conversation tries to occur so what can I say to them?

How can I tell them that my heart breaks to see the path they are on?  Don’t they know the consequences of continuing in this lifestyle?  It might seem fun right now, but can they think ahead several months or years down the road?

Are they ready to accept heart damage, liver inflammation, pancreatitis, a higher risk of developing certain cancers and a weakened immune system?  Do they want to live with frequent stomach pain, diarrhea, loss of bladder control, sexual dysfunction, muscle cramps, and possible diabetic tendencies?

Are they ready to accept that their thought processes in the future will be really messed up?  That they could get to the point where their moods are not what they used to be and it will be difficult to think logically for any length of time?  That the ability to do simple tasks like putting on a belt will take significantly longer than normal?

If their physical bodies are working fine right now, are they willing to give that all up for muscle loss and loss of coordination?  How about loss of appetite or even throwing up while eating because of the irritation alcohol has done to the intestinal system?

Are they willing to lose their job and the dignity that comes from contributing to society?  Are they willing to be cut off from friends and family?

My whole being wants to shout at them.  I want to be in their faces to point out the wrong way they are on.  I want to open their eyes to the amazing lives they have.  I want them to be grateful for how well their bodies work right now.  I want them to have a good look at the amazing world in which we live.  How can they see all the beauty around them if they put themselves in a grey cloud of alcohol?

I wish that I could go back in time and say all these things to my husband.

The song running through my brain says, “Fresh outpouring, tear the fabric open.  Come, Jesus, come.  Breath of heaven, nothing left unshaken, we long for more. We need a fresh outpouring…”  Sometimes all I can do is pray:  Let my friends be gently pulled back to You by Your Spirit.  Remind them of how much they are loved.  Help them to live in ways that are pleasing to You.

False Alarm

A week ago, after several more falls and injuries, my husband took a turn for the worse.  He wasn’t drinking nearly as much as usual, but the effects were so much more pronounced.  He was slurring his speech, drooling, unaware of his location or position, and hallucinating.  He spent 24 hours not being able to stand, walk, or crawl.  After that segment of time there was a day or two where he could barely sit up and take a step.  He had other physical symptoms indicating that his body was shutting down.

I made the hard decision to immediately quit my job.   It was time.  My husband looked like he needed a full-time caregiver, and that person is me.   It would not be right to have my kids be the ones to change his clothes and bathe him.

I shed lots of tears that day.  I discovered deep down that I was not ready for my husband to die.  Yes, on the surface he irritates me and I wish this whole phase of my life could be over.  But, I will miss him for who he used to be.  I will also miss the wonderful people that I have worked with over these past 9 years.

Wouldn’t you know, the day after I quit my job, my husband was back to his somewhat normal self.  He was walking, talking, and acting just the same as he was two weeks ago.  A couple of the symptoms of body shut-down went away.  He even was able to walk up a short flight of steps.  I am continually amazed at how this man’s body defies science.

He is eating better now because I am making him small meals now and then.  Partly done out of compassion.  Partly done because I am tired of him making a mess in the kitchen.  Eating soup with a fork can leave lots of debris behind.

This near brush with death hasn’t made him change his mind about his lifestyle.  If anything, he wants to do all he can to speed up the process of dying.  What a waste of all that God has given him!

Every day I still need to choose how I live.  I sing with Jesus Culture:

Here I am before You, falling in love and seeking Your truth
Knowing that Your perfect grace has brought me to this place
Because of You I freely live, my life to You, oh God, I give
So I stand before You, God
I lift my voice ’cause You set me free….I am Yours.