Please don’t patronize!

9:00am

Michelle sent me the following text at 10:30pm last night:

Michelle: You ruined my life and I fucking hate you.

She called me multiple times. I texted here and asked her to stop. She called at midnight I didn’t look to see who it was (I was asleep) and answered the phone. She was sobbing and inconsolable. She feels I am punishing her by “taking” the boys away. I described the confusion the boys feel and why that wasn’t good for their well being. It isn’t what she wants to hear. She started hurling the insults again and telling me how I felt rather than listen to when I talked about my feelings. She is all rage and hate. I’m afraid she’ll never change.

I sent her the following text this morning:

Me: Are you okay this morning? I know you don’t trust or believe I am getting better with my drinking and because of that you don’t want to be with me. I just feel the need to tell you this so you know…I still want us to be together. I am willing to do whatever work is necessary. I am already in therapy for myself. I will do couples therapy…I will do anything for us. Please don’t patronize and dictate to me how I feel. This is how I feel! I hope you are better today.

Maybe she will take me back, maybe she won’t. I won’t waste my time trying to influence that. I will make decisions about my life and my children’s lives using all the information I have available to me. She has told me innumerable times we aren’t going to be together:

  • I don’t want you to have any hope of us getting back together.
  • I have felt so much, more calm since I don’t have your standards to live up to.
  • I feel more content with myself when I’m not with you.
  • Go fuck yourself.
  • If there was ever a chance of us being together that is gone now.
  • You ruined my life and I fucking hate you.

I don’t have anything else to say about Michelle today.


Oct. 6, 2017

12:00pm

Monica and I have been talking more. She was getting a bit flirty and I had to tell her that isn’t what I want in reconnecting with her. She’s been lonely and with our sexual history it makes sense. To be honest I had thought about it too. I have extremely fond memories of that aspect of dating her. So I’m working on boundaries. Making sure to keep what I need/want in mind. Not trying to please everyone else etc.

Hope?

the difference from

where I was – to now, gives me

hope for the future


8:00am

Yesterday, I was so upset and angry at Michelle with the horrible thing she was saying to me that I left work. She is consumed by anger and resentment (maybe hatred?). She kept landing these blows that were expertly placed for maximum damage. I wish I could say I didn’t try to do the same but that would be a lie. She is just so much better at it than I am. My heart isn’t in it. I mostly ended up trying to defend and explain myself. I’m pathetic!

I got in my car and just started yelling at no one in particular as I drove home. That lasted a good 10 minutes or so. After I blew off steam I decided I needed to get out of my head. I got home, did a tough 20 minute circuit work out, and immediately went for a 3 mile run. All told it took about an hour. When I got home from my run, Dennis and Brad were home. Brad and I talked for about an hour while his brother did his homework. Then the three of us went out for sushi down in the old market. We walked around talking, having fun, and ended up at a coffee shop for desert. We talked at length about Michelle and how they aren’t going to be seeing her for a while. They were/are both sad. I explained why it was for the best with an analogy:

When you pull off a band-aid, you can do it slowly and it doesn’t hurt as much but it hurts a lot longer. Or, you can quickly rip it off. It hurts at first but very soon stops. The way I see it (this is me telling them), we can either extend the pain because it seems easier (it isn’t) or just rip that band-aid off.

As we were driving home, Brad said he feels good about the decision. I asked why. He said he feels less stress (he suffers from anxiety and has a therapist) because he knows what is happening now. There is no longer any confusion about the status of Michelle and I. Uncharacteristically, Dennis chimed in and said he felt the same way and then said, “this was a really great night.” Brad agreed.

After her attacks the last two days, I know what I wrote to her in that letter (on Sept 18th) about being so much further ahead of her and being afraid she wouldn’t be able to catch up…it has come to pass. She doesn’t even think she needs to see anyone. I feel so sad. I need to focus on the positives: I’m healthy, I’m sober, I have honest/clear/loving lines of communication with my children, and I’m not overwhelmed by being sad like I was.

After dropping the boys off at their mother’s I went to the movies. When I got home, I went to bed and read for an hour. I am proud of myself. I left work just a mess: hurt, sad, and longing (I’m being honest, I am still wanting Michelle). Shortly after, I had worked out and was on the front porch laughing and talking with Brad. I turned my day around. I did that! I didn’t stew about things. I felt those awful emotions, I let them in, and then got rid of them doing what I know works: exercise, time with my kids, movies, and reading. Last night I slept like a baby. I have made so much progress.

I just realized, my go to thing when I am upset (like I was yesterday) was drinking (either alone or with a friend). That never entered into the realm of possible solutions to getting “out of my head”. That is progress!!!!!!!

 

Forgiveness

it is cathartic

to apologize. more so

to be forgiven.


7:45am

I’m trying to use the steps in the 12 Step Program that aren’t so full of God: 2, 4, 5, and 8-10…so half of them, the rest are bullshit. The biggest theme is making a personal inventory and admitting to other people your short comings. The 9th step is making amends to those you have wronged. There is a woman (Monica) I dated for a few months I needed to make amends to. I found her on Facebook and sent her the following message:

Hey. This is Joseph from like a million years ago. I don’t want to bother you (don’t feel like you need to reply if it’s weird). It’s been so long since we saw each other and I’m sure you’ll have a hard time remembering what I’m talking about but I wanted to apologize for the way we ended things. You deserved better and I’m sorry. I hope you and your kids are well!

She replied a few hours later and we ended up talking on Facebook Messenger for a quite a while. She still had some hurt there and we spoke, candidly, about everything. She said it felt a lot better having the explanation even if it was 4 years later. I feel better having done it. So much time has gone by since we dated. It was nice to chat with her. She asked if we could keep in touch. I’m super low on friends right now. It would be nice to have an extra one even if it’s electronic.

So bored

what was familiar

is harmful now. make what is

healthy familiar.


9:00am

I can sum up this weekend in one word, boring. I read, went to the movies, wrote, exercised, walked the dog, and worked around the house. I was marking time. It was excruciating. I was glad to go to work today. The first time I was genuinely pleased since Friday was when I picked up Brad for school this morning. Those 10 minutes were more fun than the entire damn weekend. I’m reminded of a quote (I’m embarrassed to say which movie it’s from), “I’m alone but I’m not lonely.” I aspire to that, being alone but not lonely. This past weekend I was both.

I’m only going to have Dennis until he is 16. Then he’ll be more involved with his friends. Brad will be 16 in 3 ½ years. I can feel it coming. I need to find something meaningful to do when I don’t have the boys. What would that be? 9 weeks ago it was Michelle and our life together. We were so content and happy. I’m 44 years old now. The prospect of me finding someone I’m that connected to is rapidly diminishing.


12:00pm

I was driving home from the coffee shop I was reading at and the muscle memory tried to kick in. I wanted to stop off at Herbe Sainte for a delicious manhattan or three or four. So I did…except I didn’t have the manhattan, I just ordered a bite to eat and read my book. I made the craving about the place not the booze. I’m forming new habits and they aren’t about alcohol. By the way…their meat board is amazing!!!

 

 

Happy birthday

we want you with us

but you are so far behind.

please catch up, hurry!!


the resentment I

felt was not real. it was fear

wearing a disguise.


9:00am

Michelle sent me a text a few minutes after midnight wishing me a happy birthday. Of course I’m reading all sorts of things into that. I just responded with “Thank you”.

I can see now I’ve really hurt my chances at reconciling with her. Thinking back to the letter I sent her on the 18th, where I said I have gotten so far ahead of her…of course she is resistant to everything I say. She hasn’t processed anything. I’m seven weeks into therapy and sobriety. Emotionally, Michelle is still in Arizona, nine weeks ago when my drinking problem and resultant controlling behavior became so evident to her. She hasn’t moved beyond that. She won’t be able to until she starts therapy.

I’m a different person. No, that’s not correct. I’m the same person…I’m just a better version. I understand what drove my drinking. I understand what created my need for control. I understand all anxiety touches and impacts in my life. Knowing helps me: not drink, squelch (I love that word) my controlling behavior, and manage my anxiety. I’m going to continue with therapy and continue to get stronger and healthier.

To say Michelle is resistant to therapy would be an understatement. Until she starts, any time we spend together will be fraught. It will be detrimental to any chance of us finding each other again. I’ll be looking to the future wanting to heal and she will be angry and resentful of what happened in the past. She has said she loves me and wants to be with me. She has also said she doesn’t see how that can happen. We can’t address the desire to be together and reconcile it with the anger and resentment she has until she gets help. As much as I want to, I can’t spend time with her until she does. I have to be patient.

Thinking through this…I’m not resentful (anymore). I am afraid. I am afraid she’ll never catch up. I’m afraid she isn’t brave enough to grow. I’m afraid we’ll never be a family again.


3:45pm

Michelle just sent me a text asking if we could get together. She wanted to buy me a crème brulee for my birthday. I told her I have plans and can’t. I do have plans tonight but I could meet her. I really, really want to meet her but can’t. It will do more harm than good.

 

It’s her anger

your anger is what’s

hurting us now. I am not

the problem anymore.


8:30am

I had another great night of sleep. I didn’t wake until my alarm went off. This is the best rested I have felt since Michelle and I split up. My therapist commented (more to herself than me) the grief seems to be lifting. Is it fucked up that makes me sad? I’m not over Michelle but the severity of the loss is diminished. I guess it’s to be expected considering how much I’ve been working at therapy and my sobriety. I suppose I should say, good for me?

The boys seem to be doing really well. We are still laughing more since I quit drinking. They seem to be more at ease. Dennis and Michelle are going to start spending Tuesday afternoons together before his swim practice. I think it’ll be good. I know they miss each other.

Tomorrow is my birthday. Michelle wanted to get together and go out. I cancelled. I’m not interested in pretending everything is fine. It isn’t. I’m angry she hasn’t done anything with respect to her anger issues and panic attacks. I shouldn’t be around someone who makes me feel like shit. That’s what she has been doing. Everything I say is responded to with contempt. She won’t listen to me. She just waits for me to stop talking so she can tell me how much she resents me and how angry she is.

That’s enough about her. Let’s focus on something positive that doesn’t make me feel like shit. After I dropped the boys at their mother’s house I came home. I was considering going to the movies or watching some Game of Thrones while doing laundry. I thought what if I went to another AA meeting? What if I went to a discussion meeting? I like that I can go to these meetings and just listen. I might go to one on Friday after I have dinner. I’m going to start going to meetings a few times a week. I don’t have to buy into all that God bullshit to derive value. Dennis, Brad, and Michelle are the thing I’m giving my drinking up to.

I wish I could leave Michelle out because she doesn’t give a shit about me. To get through all of this, I need to be honest with myself. It’s not just the boys…I’m doing this for her too.

 

I can bear it

I feel it lift. the

weight isn’t as burdensome.

I can bear it now.


8:00am

I went to an AA meeting last night. I’m glad I did. I’m not sure it’s something I’m going to need to go to every day (they ask you to do 90 meetings in 90 days). I think going every other week, when I don’t have the boys will help. It was a “speaker meeting”. I found the stories inspiring. These are people whose lives have been profoundly impacted by alcohol. They have spent time in prison, lost careers, lost families…alcohol has hurt them so much more than me. In spite of all that, they managed to find and hold onto sobriety. There was a line of folks celebrating their “birthday” (the yearly anniversary of their sobriety). I want a “birthday”. I want it for my kids, for Michelle, and for myself. I only have 313 days left.

I got a copy of “the big book”. The first third is about the 12 step program. Every speaker talked about how “only through the grace of God, this program, and the fellowship (you all) have I stayed sober.” I don’t like the God part. It’s off putting. God isn’t going to get me sober, I am. God hasn’t helped me get through the last 7 weeks, not letting Dennis, Brad, and Michelle down has. I don’t know how to reconcile those. It may be that I just go for the inspirational stories. I’m going to attend a “discussion” meeting next and see what I think about it.

At the end of the meeting everyone joined hands and said The Lord’s Prayer. It reminded me of a dream I had Friday night. Michelle, the boys, and I were on a road trip. We were in the mountains. As we came around a bend in the road, I lost control of the vehicle and crashed through the guard rails driving off a massive cliff. We were falling. It was high enough that as we were falling we had time to realize we were going to die. We started saying The Lord’s Prayer. Michelle and I both reached back to hold the boys’ hands and I closed my eyes waiting for us to hit the ground. We didn’t die. The landing was soft, the Tahoe wasn’t damaged. I realized I needed to get us under control and stopped before we went over another cliff. I said to no one in particular, “are you fucking kidding me?” I think I said it out loud and it’s what woke me up. I was incredulous we had survived. I woke up after that.

Anyway…after the meeting, I cried when I got to my car. I felt/feel relief. I know I can do this. It’s not a matter of trying. It’s something I’m just going to do.

I called my parents on my way home from my AA meeting. My mom was glad I found it helpful. She told me my father thinks I’m wasting my time. He thinks I don’t need to it. He even challenged me Can’t he just be supportive? I’m not hurt. I’m frustratingly resigned. This is who he is.

 

 

Mild disappointment

Struggling to be

better is futile. It is

the same as before


8:00am

This past Saturday evening I went bowling with the kids, their friends, and a buddy of mine. He and I bowled a few games but then went to the bar to talk. We talked, of course, about Kim and I. While we were talking I got this strong urge to drink and get hammered. Not do 5 shots in a row…no…to order a drink and talk with a friend and keep doing that until I’m done (done = good and tight). I’m upset thinking about it. It’s interesting, as it was happening, I felt tons of anxiety.

I’ve been working on an exercise with my therapist to help alleviate anxiety. I visualize a container, put the thing that is stressing me out in it, and close the container. I’ve only done it with racing thoughts about Kim so far. With her I visualize my journal, close it, and then place it in my container. It works. I did that with my craving to get drunk. Actually I did it with the stress I was feeling about wanting to get drunk. I imagined a bottle of vodka, I put the cork back in it, and then I placed the bottle into my container. It helped. I was able to do it while in the middle of a conversation with Jason. I had to do it a few times that evening but each time I felt better, I felt less stress.


11:00am

Struggling to be better is like taking a trip to a sunny location only to realize it’s not as sunny as you had hoped. Except for small variations, it’s pretty much the same as the place you just left only you’re happier here than you were there. I still want to get there, this better place, I’m just realistic about what it is. I’m even resigned to being slightly disappointed.

 

 

Resignation

she won’t acknowledge

she has work to do. why am

I trying so hard?


9:00am

Michelle and I had a bad fight Saturday afternoon. I called to talk to say hi and ended up talking about some resentment I (recently) had. She tried to turn it around like I was trying to control her. I wasn’t. I was simply giving voice to my feelings. I have always felt love was a behavior, not an emotion. She agreed. I told her I’m hurt she hasn’t gotten into therapy yet. She scheduled an appointment for October 5th (that is 12 weeks from when we broke up). I told her that spoke volumes about her commitment, or lack thereof. She interpreted this as me telling her what to do. I wasn’t. She refused to see what I said as an expression of my emotion…my hurt. No matter what I said she wouldn’t listen.

It feels like she’s stuck in this death spiral of anger and resentment. She is stuck in the past and what happened vs. the way things are now and into the future. She can’t see my actions for anything but controlling. She told me the difference between that long dinner we had on Friday (a lovely, tender night between us) and the following Thursday was Friday “she was in control…could express her feelings and I just listened.” The following Thursday I tried to talk about my feelings. She doesn’t want to hear my feelings. She doesn’t want to hear that I feel resentment that it will be 12 weeks after we broke up before she has her first meeting with a therapist. She doesn’t want to hear how that hurts me or how that hurts Dennis and Brad.

Right now, it’s not about me respecting her thoughts, feelings, or opinions because I do. Right now, it’s about Michelle being the only one who is allowed to say or do anything. She expects me to feel and say nothing unless it’s obsequious and apologetic. She doesn’t care about my feelings.

I think it is sinking in. Michelle isn’t going to try. She sees me as the only problem we have. She’s resentful, unforgiving, selfish, and hateful. She isn’t brave enough to look inward with a critical eye. It’s our death knell.

I feel sadness. I feel resignation. I’m fighting so hard to be a better man for my boys and for her. I can’t believe she won’t fight for us. I feel hurt. I do not feel hope. I slept better Saturday and Sunday nights than I have since we broke up. I guess resignation leads to less stress.

I can’t believe we’ve come to this.

Thanksgiving, I had this idea of doing “An Affair to Remember” in Chicago. Tell her I’ll be somewhere at noon the Friday after. Fucking stupid!!!

I would still jump if she said she’d take me back.

I am fucking pathetic!!


3:00pm

A letter I sent to Michelle:

Michelle,

The whole point of me sending these journal posts to you (The more insightful entries I have been mailing to Michelle) was to share. I realized I was going to have to do some colossal soul searching and super uncomfortable examinations of myself. I thought it might help both of us if you could witness it. It felt right to make myself vulnerable to you.

I had hoped, maybe naively, you would be willing to do the same (be vulnerable not necessarily keep a journal). With both of us sharing/growing, I thought, maybe, we could find our way back to each other. Maybe that’s wishful thinking. I don’t know. After our dinner on Thursday and the phone conversation Saturday afternoon, I feel further away from you than ever. I feel like we had started a trip together, 8 weeks ago, only for me to realize you’re still asleep, in bed, you haven’t packed your suitcase, and you aren’t planning on leaving for another 3 weeks. I have gotten so far ahead of you. I hope you can catch up but I’m afraid you can’t (or don’t want to).

I hope at some point, if you catch up, we can find each other again. We all feel less without you.

I love you.

Our future

resentment requires

living in the past. I look

towards our future


9:00am

Michelle and I had dinner last night. We ended up talking about our relationship…again. I had hoped we were just going to hang out and have fun together. In retrospect it was good. We didn’t have much fun but we worked on a few things. Michelle has a lot of resentment. I don’t say that in an accusatory way. That’s where she is. She kept talking about things that had happened in the past about my drinking, control issues, etc, etc. I told her that was the past. She is stuck on what I did instead of focusing on what I’m doing.

It makes me think about the movie “Land Lines”. The parallels Michelle and I have with this film are palpable. Jenny Slate’s character cheats on her fiancé, she comes to deeply regret it, and through it learns to truly value her fiancé and their love. Ultimately he takes her back but he is tortured by her infidelity and he torments her. She finally breaks down and tells him that she can’t help what she did. She did it. It happened. All she can do is love him and be the person he deserves now and into the future. He wants to be with her. He needed to learn how to let go of his resentment of how she hurt him. I hope Michelle wants us to be together enough to get past the resentment.

Michelle told me, on the phone, she wishes she had been stronger. She wishes she had MADE me stop drinking. I don’t know how to explain to her the only way I was ever going to stop drinking was if I hit rock bottom. Ruining our family and not having her to love is my rock bottom. Maybe there is a compliment in there…losing her was my rock bottom. That’s a pretty fucked up compliment.


my problem ruined

our lives once. did it teach me

how to be better?


1:00pm

I’ve been struggling with the “higher power” part of a 12 step program. Talking with Michelle last night made me realize what that is for me. It is the three of them. I truly hope we are going to be together. Michelle wants us to be together, pair that with her anger/resentment and it’s confusing…I get it. At the end of the day, if she loves me and she wants to be with me, she’ll sort out the resentment. We’ll find our way back to each other and be a family again.

If I ever went back to drinking I would lose Michelle and the boys. I will NEVER lose my family again. That is the higher power I have given myself up to, our family. It sounds like I’m making them responsible for my drinking. That’s not what I mean at all. I am responsible for my drinking. If I can’t stay sober for myself, I can stay sober for them. The ultimate motivation for sobriety: Dennis, Brad, and Michelle.