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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Pain and Embarrassment

It was supposed to be a very nice day. I had plans to write and do housework in between. The two activities balance themselves out: I keep writer's block at bay by getting up and doing something mind-numbing for awhile and I manage to complete boring tasks because fresh ideas for my writng start to come to me.

Everything went to hell in a hand basket by 1:30 p.m.

A loved one is an alcoholic. I am going to refer to my loved one as LO. I am not ashamed of him because he is an alcoholic but it is his business. I can only share the pain it causes me because it is my pain.

We've been down the road a few times with this disease. It took twenty years before LO finally sought help. After a few attempts, he managed to stay sober for almost two years. He had a relapse upon taking a new, high stressful position. LO got back on the horse quickly after that relapse and when getting another job last week, he relapsed again. This time seemed very different. He was vile, belligerent and prone to violence. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to see LO in this state - never.

Another family member and I went to the local medical center where LO had gone by ambulance after ingesting enough alcohol to have a 2.7 reading. Whenever this sort of thing happens and we get there, LO pretends like nothing is wrong. When he twiddled his fingers at me, smiling, when I arrived like Oliver Hardy would do, it was all that I could do to not blow up.

I just said hello. The psych nurse came in and said that LO would be transported to a local facility for further treatment. She told LO that he was going about getting help the wrong way and it wasn't fair to his family pretending to be suicidal. He smiled and agreed with that. The other family member stepped outside the room with the nurse and I asked LO "Why didn't you call your sponsor?" He didn't do that either on Monday when all this started again.

"I don't know!" he shrugged with great irritation. "If you're mad just go the hell home."

That did it. I responded in a rather strident way and off we went. Our voices got loud, two nurses and family member came in to quiet us down. LO really started going, calling me a "bitch" and a "loser." That didn't really bother me as I know he was trying to push my buttons but then he let loose with a word that I never, ever, never ever though would come out of his mouth.

He called me a cunt.

I said, "Call me that again and I will slap you." He called me that again and I went to slap him. The police, who are always stationed there in the emergency room area, stepped in before any slapping wad done but just barely. The family member watching all this was in tears and pleading with us to stop. I stopped. I decided to not utter another word as I knew LO was only pressing my buttons and I was letting him. The police pulled him aside and verbally chastised him for using that sort of language to us and then threatened to put him in jail for being drunk and disorderly. LO shut his mouth for a bit and then resumed calling me "a bitch" repeatedly and loudly once out in the parking lot.

This is so unlike LO. Yeah, blame on the booze, sure, but you wonder sometimes if the truth comes out when someone is drunk. And does it hurt any less because the LO saying these things is drunk?

I felt sick to my stomach for two reasons: one, because he called me that vile word and, two, that I allowed him to make me lose control. It was embarrassing as I knew better and that I had put the family member through all that. It was as if I was on the Jerry Springer Show - involved in a near brawl in the emergency room of a major medical center.

All the frustration, anger and fear came out in that moment when I went to slap LO. It was wrong, of course, and something I could have gotten arrested for. Still, that's not the way to handle things and I felt ridiculous.

I was unsatisfied too as my hand was still itching to bitch slap the guy.

But I am human. I felt sick, embarrassed and of course when I cry my head starts to hurt. I was trying to be of some assistance to the family member but at this point I think that goal was shot to shit.

So now I am in the position of deciding if I want anything to do with LO again.

There's a line you don't cross no matter how close you are to someone.

I have a lot to think about.


Anonymous said...

I'm fighting the (male, protective, older family member, been-there-done-that) urge to tell you what to do. But I'll tell you what will happen: LO will sober up and either not remember (?) or beg for forgiveness. Don't let him forget. He will be most malleable at that time. I love him too, but, frankly, he needs to put his balls back on and stand up.

Love Tom

Bruce said...

Good luck.

Cassie said...

I am so sorry :(

Alcohol just destroys brain cells. My family member has called me names, made accusations, been violent and then didn't remember any of it. I did have to distance myself for several years. It's painful and I'm so sorry that this is happening to you.

Dino said...

That situation really sucks, I'm sorry to hear about it.

You are a good and kind soul. If you have had it there is a good reason and you probably should have gotten angry. I'll light a candle for you and the loved one. - Dino

Anonymous said...

Don't sweat it, babe. Take care of yourself first.


Alondra said...

It's hard to know what to say. I'm sorry this happened to you. What he called you was about the lowest thing a man can say to a woman. I hope that it was only because he was drunk and that ordinarily it would never occur to him to say this kind of thing to any woman. I don't blame you for not wanting any contact with him right now but I hope that somehow this situation can be resolved and you and he can make peace.


Cheryl (your friend) said...

Hey my friend, I'm sorry you're good intentions backfired and hurt you. I'm here if you want or need to talk or vent. Hang in'll do what you feel is right when the time comes...


Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry this happened to you, Nancy. I will pray for you and your Loved One. You know how to reach me if you need to vent.


Charlotte said...

I am sorry that happened to you. Hope you feel better now.

Annie Ruth said...

dear Nancy,

don't feel guilty or ashamed that your buttons were pushed, that you were pushed over your limits.
Our LO's know our limits best, and only our LO's know best how to push us over those limits.

Also? you were in a high stress situation: anger, disappointment over your LO's relapse, not to mention fear about the future for your LO. Anyone in your situation would have reacted similarly, I think.

You touch on the question of:
do one's true feeling come out when one is intoxicated?

Well, I think yes, but not in the way you wondered about. What I mean is, there's the lifting of inhibitions when one is intoxicated. But the fact that your LO was calling you names, putting you down, I don't think that is LO's true feelings toward you; what I think *might* be going on is that LO feels guilty, ashamed, envious, maybe even angry toward you because you have your life together, whereas LO must know, at some level (if not at every level) that LO's life continues to spin out of control. You don't define your relationship with LO, but if LO is a sibling, I think that this might be especially true. I think most of us measure ourselves against our siblings, throughout our lives.

So, the short version is: don't take anything LO says to you during these states as even approximating LO's true feelings and attitudes toward you. Don't take any of it to heart.

Also? forgive yourself for becoming upset that day. And look at it this way: you quickly realized, 'oh my gosh I'm losing it' and quickly got it back together; a lot of people would not have had that insight or that level of self control. I think, in the situation in which you found yourself, you did just great.