Updated: Oct 10
The biggest casualty of my inability to drink fermented beverages and maintain a healthy mind was, undoubtedly, my marriage. The family I created as an adult came crashing down alongside me.
Examining the failures of my marriage has been one of the most humbling exercises of my life. Mostly because whichever way I look at it, the one indisputable fact is that I fucked up. This fact, up until now, blinded me to other realities. Such as the obvious truth that marriage is a partnership. And that failures concerning a partnership often involved the misdoings of both parties in the partnership.
The overly hydrated-on fermented beverages partner will always be sitting on the guilty bench. Why? Because a drunk is on the losing side of any argument.
I never had any capacity to offer words of compassion and love; when my ex-wife pointed out how I was failing to love her. She often told me how unhappy she had grown not just in our marriage but with life. I would arrogantly come to my defense by stating, “well, if you could just stay focused on yourself instead of fixating on the love I lack for you, maybe you could find happiness outside of me.” I often said a version of this while being heavily intoxicated. Needless to say, I can not bear to reflect on the lesbian drama that unfolded after these exchanges. These are the moments I am most ashamed of, the moments I bottled into jars and buried. When I eventually sobered up for a couple of days, I simply accepted the full responsibility for making someone who dared to love me too much incredibly miserable.
This made the idea of washing down a load of guilt with a glass of red velvet even more appealing, lubricating the wheels of the cycle. When one is a natural self-loathing human and a Catholic by training, it is much easier to take full responsibility for the pain we inflict on others, disregarding their own agency. I have often found that people change when they experience emotional distress. They do not change from who they are, but they reveal what is deep inside. Outsourcing the source of the revelation to others. Typically I find myself ready to catch the load. Not because the other person is outsourcing the cause of their suffering to me, but because I somehow relish in the responsibility of making people happy.
In those culty 12-step recovery programs, which I love BTW, we are told that those who love the addict, the mentally ill, are just as sick as the troubled spouse. I have never acknowledged this to be true because my ex is the picture-perfect of health. Healthy, hot body, stable, successful single-momma, a badass business lady. I mean, I fell in love with her for all good reasons. I often think that we diminish the relationships we had while being poorly medicated or in active addiction and deem them unhealthy. Still, the reality is that real love is often present. I did not fall in love with my ex-wife simply because she was willing to care for me when I needed to be taken care of. I fell in love with her because she’s incredible, brave, and worthy of being loved.
AND… I have come to see that we were both equally incapable of stepping outside the roles we decided to play in our marriage to salvage our union. One as the drunk and the other as the martyr. One chose to marry a drunk, a stoner, a rebel without a cause, and then was hurt when I proved to be the person she married. By default, the drunk or psychologically impaired, it’s how we are built, will sabotage whatever good comes their way. These were the roles we both played for seven long years.
Humiliation is not the right word to use when reflecting on my marriage. No word can capture the utter shame of not being able to step outside of these roles soon enough to honor our vows. In staying true to my part, I will say that honoring my vows never got me sober and healthy; destroying my marriage sealed the deal. I would imagine that those who care for the troubled spouse often never leave their caretaker role to care for themselves and their own happiness. The survival mechanism kicks in, making it easier to point a figure in one direction while running away in the other.
After three long years of analyzing and dissecting this topic and over a thousand of miles cycling and or running to this tune, I can finally lay this fuck-up to rest.