Monday, September 29, 2014
Randy has been sober and in rehab for 12 days. Seems longer but a short time as well. Time gets to play that sort of game.
The in-laws and I drove up to see him on Sunday. I was packing along the list of things that he wanted me to bring; his old army field jacket, a compass,(it is a huge complex and he gets turned around easily), DVDs (mostly avenger movies), a rain jacket, boots, remote wi-fi, a roll of quarters, an alarm clock, and more. It felt like I was moving him there.
The drive up was one filled with mixed emotions. Wanting to see him, excited about that. Worry about how he was taking being there. Our last communication on the subject of his "being there" included keywords like "prisoner" and "touchie feelie crap". I had not asked about it since and it had been over a week. I had no idea what sort of mood I would find him in. Especially with the in laws in tow. Would he clam up or would he be willing to communicate?
As it turns out, he was happy to see us. He immediately drug me off on a hurried walk by ourselves... to the ATM. Hummmm... not the sort of thing I was expecting, but yes, giving him spending money was fine. He did give me a decent kiss and hug out of sight of "the others" which includes staff and peers. Our initial one was stiff and brief.
Then he checked himself out for a field trip. He wanted to go to an Army Surplus store... which turned into 3 of them. He is looking for particular patches for his field jacket for his training at Ft. Knox and his tank division. We ate lunch out and then returned him so that he could blow into the machine and prove that we had not allowed him to drink.
We sat and visited and then walked and visited. Nothing earth shaking happened. He seemed fine but also on edge. He lost a glove, which we found... and I also found a pack of camels in his pocket. This, I silently pondered and did not share the information. I knew that finding his cigars would not be easy for him, if even possible, on campus.
I looked over his schedule of classes... a good assortment of themes to do with how one feels about ones self and alcohol issues. That evening he would attend his first AA meeting. Prior to this he had said he would never do AA. My feeling on it was that he felt it would be embarrassing for him... a blow to his pride... to stand up and admit that he was an alcoholic. I made no comment on his confession that he would be attending. I wait instead for his comments on what happened there and how he felt about it.
It was exhausting for me. Sounds odd that it would be hard for me when I was not an inpatient, but there was a great deal of emotion flowing in the undercurrent up there. You could see signs of stress on the faces of his peers, and on his own. As we visited one man was begging his wife to reconsider and wait to see how he did in rehab... a projection of desperation not to lose his family... a strained plea over a public phone... his head down to hide his misery while his hand roamed his face and head, pressing and rubbing.
We noted the change in Randy, well many changes in Randy.
But the one I speak of now was an increase in agitation. It was time for us to take our leave and let him get on with it without the pretense of a happy family get together. He walked us to the car and gave me a long, tight hug. He whispered that he was sorry if he had been an ass.
"Well, if so, you're my ass and I forgive you." I whispered back. I watched his back as he hustled down the sidewalk to the smoker's area, a cigarette already lit, clinging to his lip.
I can see a difference in his walk. He moves at a brisk pace that I have not seen him achieve since before his stroke. His mind seems more alert. His body looks healthier. And he likes being there. While we were off campus eating, he developed that same agitation and we took him back... he feels safe there. That is good. He told me that they all had shared experiences that no one else understood (service related) and he had never had this feeling of being understood since his stint in the Army.
They gave him a new walker that is very nice and streamlined. He uses his brakes like a BMXer. It was clear that he was thrilled to have it to replace the clunky old folk ones he has here at home. I'm giving those away. Anyway, there was much to be impressed with... progresses, changes for the positive. But there is still work for him to do.
My in-laws live about 45 minutes north of me and wanted me to stay the night. Nope. Dorothy was right... there is no place like home. As soon as I heard the clicking of Roxy's claws on the oak floor, I felt all the heaviness of the day slide away. We exchanged kisses and wiggles. She got a couple of cookies and her evening meal. Then we flopped down to watch Netflix for the rest of the night.
I am doing okay. I have lots that I am sorting in my head. I am not unhappy or upset with Randy. I want whatever is good for him to come out of this.
He is one of those people who was raised to keep emotions tied up inside... buck it up... be a man... by a man who would not accept him as a son who could ever measure up to his own mighty self. One of the unfortunate who truly did get a beating when he did things wrong. There were very strict expectations... these expectations he passed to his own kids to a lesser degree. There is much family emotional cancer to be cut out.
I stand on the fringe. I see some hard times ahead, but I also see great potential for real growth and happiness. At this point its not up to me. I'll just hang out and do what I can to help and support.
On that note... hope you all had a fine weekend and enjoyed it with people you love, who love you!
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Life has made me a liar... I promised to be back regularly, then I wasn't. Sorry about that. There have been troubles. I know you all will understand.
As you know, the man had a stroke about a year and a half ago. We applied for his disability right then, within days upon the doc's advice. Still not here. Yet, we have managed to hang on by our fingernails all this time. That will continue. I personally do not require entertainment outside of my home. Let me read and write and I am the happiest bunny in the warren. I get up, go to work, come home and interact with the man for a bit, then go to bed and do it all again.
Unfortunately not so for the man. He has not been happy. So many things he can no longer do well, frustrations and disappointments. Lack of money is troubling to him. This season we cannot even get our beloved Duck games on TV, let alone afford to go to one. In fact, no TV. Old friends don't know how to react to his stroke, so they avoid coming over. The man's world has gotten very small,boring and lonely. To compensate, he began to drink too much, then way, way too much.
I have known from the beginning that he is alcoholic. Back then it was functional. His job kept it in check for the most part. He would come home have a couple of drinks and stop because he had to work. Then he would cut loose and party for Duck games or bbqs. As alcoholics go, he was mild and pleasant and not over the top.
Over the course of the last year, the man began to get drunk more and more often. He would be drunk before I ever got home. Sometimes he would go on a toot and be up for a couple of days... often waking me up every hour or so to tell me of some thought he'd had making my brain sleep deprived. I get crabby when I am sleep deprived. My crabby was setting off his crabby. Our crabbies fought. Life was less and less fun for either of us.
I decided to talk to him when he was sober, but finding sober was getting hard to do. I tried not taking him to the liquor store. An exercise in futility. He got out his walker and stoically made his way to the liquor store a mile away and back again.
( from hillbillyrepair.com)
A great many things happened in the span of a few months. His daughter came over, caught him drunk in the middle of the day and had a fit... blaming me for "neglecting" him and other general bad mouthing about me... leading to why he should divorce and get rid of me. His youngest son and girlfriend have been trying to guilt their way into living off... I mean... with us. Neither hold jobs longer than a week or two and not for many months now. Her family has given them a month to get out.
We talked about alcohol and his health, his family's concern, my concern and his unhappiness. It had to be his choice. No one can force him. It can't be our choice or it won't work. But he made that decision. So we made an appointment at the VA near us and went in to get him signed up for treatment. It took a while to get in, 6 weeks in fact. He used those six weeks to cram in all the alcohol he thought he might consume the rest of his life if he could continue to drink. Its been a roller coaster.
Yesterday early in the morning, I dropped off my husband 400 miles away. He stood there stiff as a board when I hugged him. He had a cross between a "deer in the headlights" and "first day of kindergarten" look... shock, fear and abandonment on his fuzzy face while he tried to look manly in front of all the other people around. As we drove away, I felt emptier than I have ever felt before. Empty and terribly sad, though I know this will be good for him and for us. But fear and suffering are not things I like to see, especially on someone I love.
I have been living in that land. Whatever that land is where discourse and chaos rein and exhaustion is all that is left of you. Now I walk my quiet house with my shadow, Roxy. I don't know what I would do without her. When I finally got home yesterday after the long drive, I opened my door to my tap dancing, tail wagging, wiggly dog and felt so hugely blessed to have such a welcome home. We watched Dexter all evening and then slept in. I don't know which of us snored louder.
His son began to pressure me to let them move in with me to keep me "company" while the man was gone. He told me that he had already asked grandma if it was okay. He did not bother to add that she said it had to be okay with me and didn't know she had warned me that he was going to ask.
I said "No. I am aware this is not my house, but it is my home. My first priority is to your father's well being. I want him to be successful in quitting drinking. That means I won't allow stress here when he comes home and I need quiet time until he does come home."
The reference to the house not being mine is because it belongs to their grandma and these two kids like to remind me whenever possible that it is more theirs by family right than mine, because I am obviously not their family. I am only an occupant in their eyes. I'm less than a tenant who gets privacy consideration. They walk in unannounced anytime. They planned a going away party for their dad here on last Sat. I got a text saying "We are having a going away party in DAD's house..." They used my pots and pans to cook (I don't get to cook, his daughter says they have their own family's recipes.) They did not bother to ask if I was okay with their having the party here or if they used my kitchen and stuff. They ate, talked and laughed, then left me with all the dirty dishes, kitchen and plates, cups etc. strewn all over my home. Complete disrespect.
I should say that his oldest son, Jr. is very good to me. So is grandma. Its the other two kids who act that way.
I gave myself a day to get my head right again before returning to work tomorrow. I'll be a day short on pay day, but this time it will have to do. I deserve a quiet day. I intend to have a quiet month too. And I will be back here. I am losing my blog friends right and left. But then I have not been visiting as promised or blogging at all. Believe me, you have meant a great deal to me. I appreciate you all.
One last thought that has been bugging me. Have you ever noticed how we look at babies with their big toothless smiles and think they are so cute? But when we look at a grown up person with no teeth and big gummy smiles we think "YIKES!" I guess something gets lost the in gummy smile appeal as we age.
Here's a giggle before you go. I saw this in a pawn shop...
I think its good advice.