The house of broken dreams

I was working late one Friday evening just about ready to wrap things up for the night. I didn’t prefer to work late on a Friday night because…well Wisconsin…drunks…

I pulled up to a house with a for sale sign in the front yard. I rang the bell and a man answered…drunk, slushy, and slurring. He said he never filled out the census because he had nothing to live for and didn’t care.

He said back on the census day he had the life he wanted, but that life disappeared. His wife connected with an old boyfriend on Facebook and then she was gone taking their baby with her. I could tell it was really painful for the man to fill out the census questionnaire as if they were still together.

The man was very emotional during the interview almost teetering on the verge of suicidal. He said he was moving out the next day. He said he had nothing left to live for. His dreams were gone.

I wondered what I should do. I tried to say comforting things. But only time, not alcohol, could take away the raw sting of his pain.

Thankfully at the end of our conversation the man said he had a friend staying with him that evening to help him move the following day. When he opened the door to go back inside of his house I saw his friend inside. I knew at least for that night, he would be okay.

Gratitude week 42

  1. I got my haircut and I really like how it turned out even though my daughter said I have the same haircut as my son.
  2. My husband motored our sailboat to its winter home. I’m grateful for his safety. The weather turned and he had no choice but to bring it back in strong winds, waves, and icy temperatures.
  3. I’m also grateful he has some pretty wonderful friends to take the boat back with him. Although they wore their winter gear, they got wet and were absolutely freezing.
  4. My best friend’s husband had surgery and is doing well.
  5. My husband planned a surprise date, something he has never done before. It was something simple, a trip to the local museum. But I haven’t been there since the kids were little. We are starting to get used to being able to do things without the kids. It is lonely, but in some ways it is nice. Now we started to plan a monthly surprise date night.
  6. I am in the beginning process of planning a trip this winter. Everything I had planned this year got cancelled or put off so it is nice to switch into planning gear again.
  7. We have been having problems with our 17 year old daughter. She wants to move out and live with a friend. It’s a long story that I will probably tell someday. This weekend we talked to her and set boundaries we are comfortable with. Her behavior has been causing us all a lot of stress, but I’m grateful we won’t continue to let her treat us poorly.
  8. I’m grateful for a supportive best friend.
  9. I’m grateful to have more time to blog.
  10. I’m grateful to feel like I am healthy and strong to be able to handle the dark days ahead.

Gratitude week 39

  1. I’m grateful for the warm sunny weather we had this past week.
  2. I’m glad because of the good weather we were able to have a wonderful sailing afternoon.
  3. We moved our daughter back home yesterday!!
  4. Paul had a wonderful birthday. We went out to eat at a nice sushi restaurant and rode around town with the top down on our daughter’s Jeep. We stayed overnight at a nice hotel and helped our daughter move back home.
  5. I’m grateful that I have known my husband for 25 years. Not a lot of people are given enough time.
  6. I’m grateful that my dentist appointment went well. I was really nervous that maybe I would back slide since I missed my last appointment due to COVID. Everything remained pretty stable.
  7. I had an excellent appointment with my wellness nurse this week as well. My latest test came back with wonderful results. My body is healing itself. My diet is not as strict anymore.
  8. Yesterday I ate regular pizza for the first time in over a year and I felt fine.
  9. My son’s friend, who came over this past week, ended up testing negative for COVID after he was around someone who tested positive a few days before they got sick.
  10. I’m grateful that my dedication paid off and has brought about healing. I’m grateful for good news!

Gratitude week 38

  1. It’s been one of those weeks and I’m glad it is over. Nothing major, but sometimes it’s the little things. My son got his exhaust fixed on his car and a few days later the exhaust is loud again and a headlight burnt out. But I’m thankful that all my kids have vehicles that for the most part work so I don’t have to take them to work or school.
  2. Honestly, I’m grateful that the census job is almost over. It’s been stressful lately. I’ve been going to rough neighborhoods that I have been having difficulty closing cases in. Yesterday as I was walking through a neighborhood a man yelled at me to leave. I’ve been feeling quite anxious lately and I think an overall sense of not being safe is adding to that. It bothers me to see the living conditions of the children. Filthy apartment complexes with signs on the doors saying its recently been sprayed for roaches. Garbage littering, broken beer bottles shattered, and a haze of stale cigarette and pot smoke lingering in worn apartment hallways. Today as I was working several young unattended children came up to me and asked me if I had any quarters for them. It’s really quite heartbreaking. I also saw a woman walking around on a busy street in a bathrobe. Oh, all the stories I will write about the things I saw that will change my life.
  3. I’m grateful though for all the wonderful people I met through the census job. It gives me hope that humanity is not totally screwed despite people having to live through tough circumstances.
  4. I’m grateful that despite windy conditions Paul and I were able to take my cousin and her husband sailing. We haven’t seen each other in about 5 years at the family Christmas party. Even then we really didn’t have the chance to catch up and visit. Plus she works in the editing field and wants me to reach out when I am ready to publish my book.
  5. My daughter is moving home at the end of the week!
  6. Paul’s birthday is this week and it is the 25th anniversary of the day we met. I am renting a really nice hotel room where my daughter lives to celebrate then the next day we are moving her home.
  7. We are supposed to get some warm weather within the next couple of days. It’s been so chilly here that I’ve heard some people put on their heat. Not me! But I did break down and briefly wore my winter jacket outside.
  8. I am feeling a lot better. I had a couple of bad days of stomach cramps and nausea. I was worried that I might end up really sick with colitis again. I felt pretty miserable. Miserable enough to ask God to just let me die. Please Lord take my life because I can’t take it anymore. I still managed to somehow stumble to work. As I was getting ready for work, Paul came in to tell me he was having chest pains that radiated down his arm. What a sad lot we are! He figured out he wasn’t having the big one but just pulled a muscle. When I asked God to take away my life I didn’t mean Paul. In that moment I felt really grateful for Paul because who really knows how much time we have left. That’s the scary part about getting older. Someday all of this is going to end. We are starting to get reminders of that.
  9. I’m grateful I managed to find the time to finish the book I was reading. It was probably one of the most depressing pieces of fictional family drama that I ever read. Everything fell apart but in the end everyone and everything miraculously came back together. All broken relationships were mended. I found the book to be rather triggering. It made me think of the book I’m writing. There are plenty of messes that don’t seem to be resolving themselves. It was so sad reading it that I wondered what people would think reading my book. Too bad I couldn’t just write it with a happy ending. I want the feel good book of the year. I want people to feel good about what I write. But is that real life? Does it give hope when things magically come together? Or does it give more hope that we can handle things when they don’t?
  10. I got some good test results back this past week and I am meeting with the wellness nurse this week. Despite a couple days of setback, I am hoping that my path forward will include better health.

Gratitude week 34

  1. Summer! The weather has been absolutely amazing this summer.
  2. My son got the job he applied for at the auto parts store. I cautioned him about taking his own car for the interview, apparently they offer 20% off of car parts for employees. Man they are going to go broke with my son. His car is a wreck.
  3. I was able to work overtime this week.
  4. Paul and I went up north to the family cabin on my day off. It was his first time up there this year, my second. We were able to kayak around the lake and go swimming. It was strange because we were the only ones up there. My mom has been avoiding me like the plague since I started this census job. The kids grew up, the dog is too old, and I haven’t seen my youngest two brothers since this whole COVID thing started. But it was nice to have a quiet place on the lake to relax.
  5. Paul and I were able to go sailing and the weather was perfect for it.
  6. I have the hottest day off this week and we made plans to go sailing and swimming with our boat neighbors.
  7. My cat seems to be feeling better on the thyroid medicine.
  8. I’m grateful for the nice people I’ve met on my census job. Someone gave me a bottle of water when it was hot out today. I bring my own water but it doesn’t stay cool for very long. I hate drinking hot water.
  9. I’m grateful to have a good supervisor.
  10. I’m grateful that last night I had a good nights sleep.

The ultimatum, part 7

Paul said he was willing to try to stop drinking until his birthday almost two months later. He wanted to see if he could even do it. It was a step in the right direction.

What did that mean though? Could I still have a few drinks with my friends around him? I was willing to give it up too. His close friends asked if he wanted them to stop drinking around him. Some friends just stopped drinking with him when he stopped. I think everyone was a bit uncomfortable doing this new dance at first.

Paul said he didn’t want everyone to change the way they lived their lives. But they did. I really didn’t realize how much we influence other people with how we live our lives. When he quit drinking quite a few of his friends cut back too.

It changed the dynamics of our relationship big time. I was angry and we argued a lot at first. But after the initial anger wore off, I noticed another change.

His drinking gave me a lot of power and control. I didn’t realize it until it was gone. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted him to stop or at the very least cut back. I nagged and nagged him to stop which didn’t work. It only made things worse.

Every time Paul and I got in an argument I would never look at my own negative behavior. I would throw back in his face that I would talk to him about my issues when he stopped drinking. I held the trump card of remember when you screwed up _____ with your drinking. It gave me a get out of jail free card that I used in almost every argument that wasn’t in my favor.

Now I could no longer avoid talking about some of my issues. Not only that but without drinking he now had the upper hand. He was working through his issues. That meant I had to work through some of mine too. I started seeing a therapist to work through my anxiety and depression.

In some ways I envied Paul. I wanted to leave my issues on a shelf, to not drink of that bottle and then they would be gone. But I’ve learned so much since then. Battling addiction is more than just leaving the bottle on the shelf. It’s the longing to reach for it like the embrace of an old friend in sadness and celebration.

I had to face the fact that my anxiety and depression also scared him. He’s had to reach into the darkness to pull me out many times. I can’t seem to escape the trauma I’ve experienced. At times it still threatens to drown me.

We both had to work on our issues. We were both broken people in need of a fix. It wasn’t just about him and his drinking. It was how we learned to cope with our trauma at our very core. It was exploring every crack and crevice that was tearing down our foundation.

We spent those two months rebuilding our relationship. We got along better than ever before. Then after that things went a little haywire.

Gratitude week 27

  1. Summer!! We’ve had a bit of a heat wave here in Wisconsin. It’s been in the 90’s for over a week. Typically we are lucky (if you like it hot like I do) to have one or two days a year that hot. I finally broke down and turned on the A/C.
  2. I have one less teenager in the house. I went from 4 teenagers this year down to one. Our exchange student from France, Estelle, went back home this last week. Now I am not grateful or happy about this, BUT Estelle and my daughter Arabella started out as best friends and left not even speaking to each other. It was difficult because Estelle wanted to do everything with me and Arabella wants nothing to do with me. So I am hoping for less stress now that she is gone.
  3. I am grateful to keep busy so I am not depressed about Estelle leaving. My birthday is next week and I have some fun things planned that I enjoy.
  4. My daughter came home this past weekend. Paul and I had a great time with our son Alex and our daughter Angel and her boyfriend Dan sailing and swimming.
  5. I feel grateful I am able to get away more now that the responsibility of having foreign exchange students is over.
  6. Paul taught me almost everything I needed to know about sailing over this weekend. This is wonderful because I need to know how to run the boat if something happens to him.
  7. After being gone the last four days I am grateful to be back home.
  8. I am grateful for my faithful followers and I can’t wait to share more of my story.
  9. I am grateful we didn’t run into any storms while we were out sailing. With the heat and humidity the weather has been volatile.
  10. I am grateful to have a supportive husband even if it means writing about him.

The ultimatum, part 1

I am finally ready to tell the story of what happened last summer. It’s taken me almost a year to share this post originally written in August of 2019 because it has been tremendously difficult to talk about.

It’s over. At least that is what I thought as we were sailing on the way home from our anniversary trip. I wanted to take my wedding ring off and throw it into the drink. After all, he was throwing away our marriage for the drink.

Just the night before, our wedding anniversary was ruined. He stood at the dock screaming obscenities for everyone to hear. He told me to leave. I quietly walked away. I knew it didn’t pay to fight. He was wasted.

I felt so embarrassed the next morning. I knew that people were near and overheard the anniversary domestic dispute. I pretended that everything was alright. We had a very happy anniversary I said, probably our last I thought.

It would’ve been easier to get drunk that night. If I drink, it is easier to forget that he is drinking. That is the trap I see. Couples that both drown in the drink can’t pull each other out before they sink.

I told him if he doesn’t stop drinking, I would leave him. I meant it too.

It wasn’t always like this. It started out slowly, just a couple drinks a night to take the edge off. But gradually over time, it grew steadily worse. He was a happy drunk. Paul was always the life of the party. He loved everybody and said many kind words, until he wasn’t that way anymore. For awhile he was in control, but then it took control of him.

Paul said he would try to stop drinking, he loves me more. For how long I want him to stop, I am unsure. Tonight will be the test. It’s the night he goes out with his buddies once a week. They might try to pressure him to drink. He will tell them that he screwed up and if he drinks his wife will leave. Paul is afraid of losing his friends and not being fun anymore. But I said if they are truly friends, they will care about you whether or not you drink.

He thanked me for pulling him out when I saw him go under. But I’m not sure he is out of the water yet. I’m happy he is willing to try. I’m glad he ruined our anniversary because that was the catalyst for change.

Gratitude week 22

  1. It felt good to go in for a haircut this past week. Funny story, when I got to my appointment I had a fever from sitting outside in my hot car. I was a little afraid she would turn me away. By the end of the appointment, I looked great and my temp was below normal.
  2. We finished painting the shed. I wasn’t sure it was going to happen at first because it seemed like a wild animal was living inside. Every time I got close it started clawing at the walls. But a few days later it was gone. Estelle, Arabella, and I started painting together. Then Estelle and Arabella started fighting. Estelle will be leaving soon. I will miss her a lot because she became like a daughter to me, but I will not miss the fighting. The shed will be a visual reminder that everything happens in its season.
  3. The month of May is over. I’m saddened by the state of this country and have to hope things will get better. Maybe this month…
  4. We were able to go back to church for the first time since the pandemic this past Sunday.
  5. The books I ordered came in the mail. I paged through Colitis for Dummies and learned more than what my doctor told me already. Apparently I am the 10-15% of the colitis population that has an undetermined cause. It could be ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s, but they really don’t know. I wish my doctor would’ve explained that to me.
  6. This past week I celebrated my 5th blogging anniversary. I’m still here!
  7. Today is the 2nd anniversary of moving into our house. I am thankful to be living in a house that I don’t mind being quarantined in.
  8. I am grateful to have a husband that loves to cook and is good at it.
  9. I’m grateful that my mouse issue was solved with replacing the batteries.
  10. I am grateful to be able to do a little planning and finally put some new things on my calendar after everything else has been crossed out. The funny thing as I was looking ahead at my wall calendar I put the wording on December’s photo as best year ever. Note to self: never put the words best year ever on a wall calendar in December…maybe in January.

working well not working

My husband and I ran a business together for 10 years. We worked amazingly well together. Running a successful business with your spouse is a huge accomplishment that few couples wish to tackle. Both of us are rather type A task oriented people. There aren’t any back burner lists or room in our lives for procrastination. What can be done tomorrow should’ve been done yesterday. We worked together for a common goal.

At home discussions commonly were about our shared experiences. Our frustration about working with a difficult client. How we were going to solve a work related issue. Our kids got used to shop talk at the dinner table. It was a big center of our life and created a level of intimacy rarely found in most marriages.

Together we built something so amazing that it was coveted by others. It’s been over two years now since we sold our business. The new owners kept me on for the first year then outsourced my job to a centralized corporate branch. It was a huge adjustment for me.

One of my favorite ways to outrun my demons is to throw myself into the distraction of work. I didn’t have time to think about my problems because I was always too busy. I rushed to this and rushed to that. I had kids to race here and there. I had a new bigger house to clean. I filled every minute of my day. I started writing. I trained for marathons.

It was hard for me when I lost my job and my husband continued on. It was harder to push the demons down when I could finally hear the cries of my inner child. Then two out of three of my kids became adults. I was starting to feel the emptiness of losing them. My health went downhill and I haven’t fully recovered. But even worse, the foundation of my once enviable marriage started to crack.

My husband’s hours were drastically cut. He is pretty much a figurehead for the company we sold. They wheel him out every now and then as needed. But he is pretty much semi-retired. Retiring early sucks! I’m just going to say that now. It’s a huge adjustment. You really can’t do anything during the week because all of your friends are still working. It is really hard for two task oriented workaholics.

So we fought. A lot. We fought about the big things. We fought about the little things. How come we worked so well together when we had so much stress and things to do? There was no longer anything new to talk about. Our relationship got stagnant like putrid water. Everything he did annoyed me. Everything I did annoyed him. I tried to fix him. He tried to fix me. Many times we wanted to throw in the towel but we still both wanted to keep working on our marriage.

It was hard because there was nowhere to go for advice. Neither of us wanted marriages like our parents. Most of our friends are on their second or third marriages. Where do you turn? We kept talking and working through our issues, some days that was all we accomplished.

We decided to start a second business where we could once again work together. Things were going pretty well.

Then this whole coronavirus hit. Once again we were forced together with nothing productive to do. Everything we were looking forward to is now gone. My structure and routine have been replaced with chaos and uncertainty indefinitely. We are getting ready to launch our new business. How will that work in this economy? Plus the money that we were counting on living on is simply not there. Who knows when and if it will rebound? Then we started fighting again.

We are still working on our marriage. I have to be a healthy me and Paul needs to work on himself. We can’t fix each other. If I learned one thing about being married over twenty years it’s that. Both people need to be willing to work on themselves to work on their marriage. We will get through this too.