I need to ensure that people understand that I’m not an innocent little lamb here. There are a couple of long time readers that may be tempted to call BS on parts of that letter because they know more of the whole story. (Nothing I wrote was untrue, but without the back story, it may not have the right flavor) So here’s the Readers Digest version.
Circumstances 6 or 7 years ago were much different, my mother-in-law had just succumbed to cancer and there was just a ton of other stuff going on. Looking back on things, there were signs of problems long before that.
Those signs? Always wanting one more drink before leaving a bar, problems with passing out at home, being inappropriately drunk in public, so many examples of coordination issues – falling down stairs (at restaurants no less than three times), tripping down bleachers in hockey rinks, falling UP the stairs in the garage, falling down the stairs into the basement (again, no less than 3 times). Another thing that became apparent while reflecting on things was an oddball form of control I tried to employ. One method of keeping Cindy from drinking I used was to try and make sure there was less around for her to drink. Pouring the stuff out was too obvious, so I would drink it instead. Genius plan, no?
I made a conscious decision to quit smoking, August 22, 2004, and then about 4 – 5 months after that I made a serious commitment to lose weight. From my post-Army ‘fighting weight’ of about 175 (at a whopping 6 feet tall), over the years I had ballooned up to 265, my blood pressure was borderline high, my cholesterol was beyond borderline high and I was approaching pre-diabetics status.
Built my own diet, joined the Y, started working out like a mad fool. Took a little break late summer/early fall of 2005 after having shed nearly 50 lbs. Cindy had a DVT in her right leg and the ensuing hospital visits & sorta helping her through what she needed derailed my weight loss for a bit.
Got it back on track over winter and by summer of 2006 I was down to a svelte 185, could run a 5K (3.1 mile) road race in about 23 minutes and was preparing for the first of several 100 mile bike rides.
In the process of losing weight, I had to make a choice about where my calories came from. Since I preferred eating to drinking, I severely cut back on my own alcohol consumption. This did two things. First, it saved me several thousand calories a week. Second, it made it apparent to me just how much Cindy was drinking. It seemed that the more weight I lost, the more she drank. It got to the point where she was drinking 5 or 6 nights a week and was usually nodding off on the couch around 8pm. The more she drank, the less we communicated. In efforts to reach out to someone, anyone, she would start drunk dialing her friends and her mothers friends, all to talk about how bad she’d been feeling ever since her mom died. Well, people don’t feel bad about hanging up on a drunk and with caller ID they’ll eventually stop picking up when they see your number calling in. Cindy got isolated and drank herself deeper into her pit of depression.
Here’s where I really fucked up. I met a person. Emails at first, then phone calls, then meeting at a coffee shop. That turned into visits to watch movies that eventually turned into visits to go hide in her bedroom and take out our frustrations on her mattress for a couple hours at a whack.
I had long since joined Al Anon in an effort to understand where I was and what I could do. I’d been in long enough to know the ropes and got myself picked to be a group rep. Group reps attend a big 2 day shindig every fall where 8 hours a day are dedicated to the inner workings of Al Anon. The other 16 hours a day I dedicated to the inner workings of my new playmate that joined me on the trip.
I eventually got busted. Not in flagrante delicto, but I’m sure enough signs & symptoms were there. That led to Cindy & I seeing a marriage counselor and starting to work things out. We had to establish conditions under which we’d each be willing to work towards reconciling things. The biggies were that I would terminate my affair and Cindy would get help & quit drinking. After that, we’d have to re-learn how to communicate again.
The first counselor didn’t pan out, (too ‘in your face” for Cindy – called her on her crap and wouldn’t budge) so we switched to the counselor we’re still seeing today. Things are obviously not ALL peaches & cream; there are trust issues on both sides and other character defects that need to be addressed. But we’re working on many of them with the counselor.
So here we are two years or so into the counseling work I’ve broken off all contact with my ‘friend with benefits’. One of my diversions & a means of escaping the problems of the day were gone. The part about Cindy quitting her drinking had somehow been modified into her not drinking to excess or ‘controlling’ her drinking. In case you were wondering, this it totally counter to the teachings of AA. Incase you were wondering, Cindy still attends meetings 3 times a week. I’ve pointed out this dichotomy a couple times in the past. I’ve asked for some clarification, a dedication to one camp or another. It seems that Cindy prefers to hang on to the belief that she is one of the 5% or less of problem drinkers that an somehow retrain themselves to be a successful social drinker. I won’t deny the possibility, but recent events have me believing that she is NOT in the minority and she will eventually slip.
All of that, and more, is what lead to that letter from the “Product of Silence”.
Oh – the day counts at the head of each post? That’s how long since my last smoke. As of 2/7/2011 it’s nearly 6.5 years.