I walked out of our hotel the same day I married him, because he had been so drunk for so long that day that his best friend and I had to hold him up on the way back to the room. He chased me down, screaming at me that if anyone was leaving, it was going to be him. I came back five minutes later.
I left him when our sons were infants, partly because I was sick of it and partly because he'd thrown me out - though I very purposely poked and prodded at him until he did, because I couldn't find a way to say I was unhappy; I needed him to tell me to leave. I came back three months later.
I left him after he crashed his car in the middle of the night, out drinking with some girl that worked behind the bar, and cost us a month's rent in bail money and another month's in car repairs. I moved the kids and myself to Colorado Springs and he began court-ordered-sobriety in a court-ordered alcohol treatment program. I came back three months later.
Five months after that the drug testing stopped and the drinking started back up.
I stayed for a long time that time, and things were okay for a while. I saw both of my boys into school and was looking into university for myself. I was 29 years old and just starting to get an idea of who I was. I made some new friends, some of the kinds of friends that adults make who stay with you forever, and I started this blog in secret. We fell pregnant with another baby, moved out of our crappy apartment and into a house, and it all started to unwind then.
These things never happen suddenly. They slowly amp themselves up, and we simply choose to see it or ignore it. I ignored it, because I didn't know what else to do. And then we got transferred to Canada.
And then he lost his goddamn mind one night while I was at an alanon meeting and that's when I took my children and got as far away from him as I could. I went back to Denver and started my life over, and he stayed in Vancouver and started his life over. He was work-ordered sober on a work-ordered treatment program. I was a single mother with three children thousands of miles away from him, where I could work on myself, my life, my children, and not enable him any longer.
I was happy. I was broke, tired, lonely, worried, and proud of myself in a way I can't describe. It felt so good to be finished with it all, to not enable someone anymore, to live for myself for once. I lived. I worked at a bar two or three nights a week, cleaned houses one or two days a week, and took care of my kids the rest of the time.
It was an impossible existence that I only pulled off because I had an incredible support structure of friends who would help me when I asked and let me figure it out for myself when I didn't. They didn't make it easier for me, but they made sure it wasn't too hard, either. I came to realize that I was worth being loved, that I was respectable and capable and could have meaningful relationships with healthy people who made me a better person.
I went back a year later.
He was unbearably far away and the children didn't want to live without their father any longer. He was getting better and I couldn't live without my co-dependent any longer. The idea of someone getting sober-him after I'd give up a decade to drunk-him was unbearable. So I came back.
Two weeks after I'd dismantled the last little bits of my life in Denver, in the middle of a summer Vancouver night, I heard the crash of him passing out drunk on the kitchen floor. I came downstairs and laid down next to him, in the bed I realized I'd made, and I've been laying in it ever since.
Until 36 days ago.
36 days ago, I flew to Montreal to finally end this for real, to put us out of our misery in front of a third party who would make sure he, and I, had the tools we needed to deal with everything that came after.
And I didn't do it. But I didn't not do it, either.
We talked a lot while I was there - with the therapists, with each other, with the people going through treatment with him. We talked about everything that has been, and everything that's coming, in real terms that mean something to both of us. We talked about what needs to be done now, and what can wait for tomorrow. We talked about what actually matters to each of us as people, and for him, that's recovering from his addiction to alcohol and for me, that's recovering from my addiction to alcoholics. In particular, him.
We talked about how hard it is to change anything, let alone everything, and that maybe everyone would be well-suited to take advantage of the fact that we don't have to do all of it rightthissecond. And so we aren't. We made a deal that we wouldn't fix the marriage, and we wouldn't end the marriage - we would just let it sit here while we work on all the other very large changes happening in our individual lives.
And I am terrified. I am terrified that I had my final out and I didn't take it. But at the exact same time, I sat in a chair in a basement in a country north of us and I met this man for the first time. I have never seen him like this. Whatever they did, it worked. I'm not saying he's cured, I'm just saying he is changed.
And I am more afraid of sabotaging that than I am of missing the last exit on this highway.