Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanksgiving terror

As I stepped out into the cold, crisp midwestern air tonight, bound for a short evening walk with my dog, I heard a car engine start across the street, and as I walked forward I saw its lights come on. It was a white car, and the shape of the headlights looked familiar. Immediately I was struck with a flashback of terror, of the many days while living in another state -- literally and figuratively -- I walked outside my house feeling dread, fear and a state of panic. I would look around at every car, and wait for a figure to step out of the shadows, drunk and ready to fight, ready to reveal my secrets and ruin my life.

I have not felt that fear in a long time, but I cannot forget it. It was a fear that rose up in my chest on Thanksgiving morning two years ago when R. sent me a text message before 6 a.m., telling me if I didn't come and get my "shit" from his apartment, that he was going to bring it to my house and I could explain where it came from. I was terrified, knowing he was drunk and capable of anything. I was still living under the delusion that I loved him and that he loved me. In fact, I lived under the spell for four more months -- lay in his arms as my husband got the call that his mother was dead, made myself sick with worry that he would kill himself, lost myself in the insanity of fear that I might hurt him if I said goodbye.

Tonight's headlights were just the neighbor, but they were a grim reminder that lurking in the shadows are many hidden secrets that still could rise up to haunt me, to take away this marriage that is finally beginning to come together.

I heard someone say at a meeting earlier this evening that his sobriety was the most important thing in the world to him. It was the first time I actually nodded my head and agreed. Without my sobriety, I have nothing, I risk everything.

In the past few months a couple of newcomers to the program asked me if it couldn't be possible that in their own cases that the love between them and their qualifier was real. Who am I to judge? I don't know. I can only speak for myself, and what I know is that my "love" for R. felt like the most real thing I'd ever experienced. In hindsight, in sobriety, I can see it was the scariest, most terrifying experience of my life. I was willing to risk my marriage, my self-respect, and all my dignity, to please his never ending need for love and acceptance. More than all my dozens of careless sexcapades, losing myself in my cunning, baffling and powerful addiction to this man was the most dangerous risk I ever took. Walking away alive with my mind even slightly intact is a miracle I can only credit to my Higher Power.


Anonymous said...

This reminds me of a story. (and gives me something to post about later :O) )
My roommate from Bethesda and I was having dinner one night and he was telling me that on his recent trip to Alabama on business, his wife called him at a time of day she normally wouldn't call and his first thought was "oh crap, what did she find?!" Then it dawned on him, wait a minute, there isn't anything to find anymore.
Living life clean, sober and innocent is pretty nice when you think about it. No more lies to cover lies. No more hiding. Pretty cool huh?

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

My husband was telling me something like this just this morning. I was up late working last night, and he said that when I came to bed, I had a big smile on my face.

And it reminded him of how he was never able to go to bed with a smile when he was acting out -- how he would have to compose himself into something cold and emotionless, because he didn't want to lie about why he was smiling and he didn't want to show his shame and guilt and pain.

It's a gift not to have that there each night anymore.