I remember the years when he was newly sober, and I had hoped we would start to come back together again after his drinking. What happened, actually, was the exact opposite.
We grew further apart in his initial months and first years of sobriety. He was unhappy, irritable, short, and angry the majority of the time. I couldn’t handle being around him, because all there were were repeated arguments.
Sometimes breaking things down is the best way to build them back up.
In speaking to my therapist, she said at this time I needed to let go. I needed to let him start his new path, figure out his footing, and give him time and space. There was absolutely nothing I could do to speed things up, or help him get clarity and happiness faster- it was all up to him.
In addition, the times we did come together were often met with the same bitterness on both ends, and living apart was the most pleasant thing for the two of us to do.
What I mean by this was, we were roommates, like two ships passing in the night.
We have two children together that need to be raised, but he sometimes lived in one bedroom, and I lived in another. This broke my heart.
He began connecting with his AA tribe, taking time for himself to heal and get healthy. In the meantime, I was the breadwinner and drowning in exhaustion. The resentfulness continued to brew between us. If we felt it, I’m sure the kids felt it, and our friends and family as well.
As he ventured down his path of sobriety, I had to get to know my new self as well. I had to learn fresh behaviors, thought patterns, responses vs. reactions, etc. I began to research the disease more, and began finding books for Al-Anon members.
The more we grew as individuals, the more we began to like ourselves again. We had both been tainted by this disease, and had come to miss things about ourselves- like being happy and laughing, or being positive and productive on a daily basis.
Sometimes, life is best experienced by learning a new dance.
We had to get to know ourselves again, because we had both changed. We had to decide if we wanted to come back together and “learn this new dance.” It took a “Coming to Jesus” talk with a roundtable of all our therapists- each individual, as well as our marriage, and we had to make the decision to- for lack of a better word- “sh^+ or get off the pot.” So that’s what we did.
We decided to both immerse ourselves in individual counseling, and then come together bi-weekly with the marriage therapist to discuss changes and what we were working on as individuals in an open, honest, willing, and healthy way.
We had to each literally step one foot out of the impending continuous tornado whirlwind of our storm, stop the insanity, and put things back piece by piece.
While this took time, money, willingness, and a breaking down and dissection of separate lives, it was what was needed. Allowing ourselves to conscientiously drift apart, and be on our own for a while, was the absolutely necessary thing in order to come back together.
We needed to “clean house” of our internal cobwebs of memories, feelings, and emotions where alcohol played a role.
This meant continuing to grow in our marriage and relationship separately and as a couple. Those were some of my toughest years, but I look back on how some of the saddest, hardest things can blossom into something new and beautiful. Today is a whole new story.