In a couple scenes we see George with Mary and he is (somewhat understandably) distracted, agitated, confused, self-absorbed and at times looks a little crazy. When he comes home after finding out the $8,000 is lost like, for sure, his face is drawn, his eyes are wild with worry, fear, and he clutches his child and cries desperately. Mary sees him, and we watch as, slowly, the bewilderment and then acknowledgement of the situation registers on her face. And then...she does nothing. She turns back to the tree and the kids and she goes about her business. She goes about her business. THEN, even after George lashes out and wonders why they had all these kids anyway (a little unacceptable, methinks) she tries to guide him into the kitchen and away from the kids, and she doesn't even look angry. You can see the love on her (concerned) face.
She speaks up for the kids after his outburst (because she's not a doormat) but doesn't argue with him, and when he leaves she doesn't follow him to ask him what the hell is wrong with him. Sure, she does call around to the entire town and try to help George and figure out what's wrong (after all, she's an Al Anon) but she didn't nag, scold or complain, she didn't lose her temper. She observed his behavior as his property.
Today was a tough day for me. My husband is in the mood where he just seems to completely hate me; his demeanor with me fluctuates from barely-concealed disdain to complete ambivalence. He isn't saying anything mean or being abusive - he is just withdrawn in a silent rage. It's been a while since I've attended a good meeting, and though I could blame my slips on that fact, I fear I am reaching the end of my rope. In the past few days I've seen myself behave as the kind of person I never thought I would be (after recovery) - extremely passive-aggressive, sarcastic, short, on edge, and just rude. Here I am with my family at Christmas and I am letting this trip and this holiday be about my husband's alcoholism and my pain. That's not fair to me, my family, or my husband.
My home-meeting's lead today was about expectations. As I've mentioned before, there's the saying that "expectations are resentments waiting to happen." Last Christmas my husband behaved just the same way he has been the last few days. It wasn't always like this, and sure it's hard to find the similarities in a once-a-year celebration. I can't reasonably expect my husband to behave in whatever way I deem desirable "because it's Christmas." I can't think to myself, wishfully, "Sure, he acts this way all the time - but it's Christmas." Unfortunately addiction doesn't honor holidays, or birthdays, or anniversaries. I can't expect him to be thoughtful, selfless, affectionate, interested in spending time with me and my family, curious about my day, the list goes on and on. That's just how it is, and to wish or hope or expect otherwise borders on masochism.
At this point, my only expectation should be that, as an alcoholic, my husband will continue to drink until he reaches his bottom, if that ever happens. Even on Christmas.
Some things that I will try to keep in mind tomorrow, that I hope can help some of you as well:
1) This is not about me. I have done nothing to deserve the treatment I'm getting, so I can stop trying to figure out what I did, or why he is this way.
2) Alcoholics drink because they're alcoholics. Not because (fill in the blank).
3) I didn't cause it, can't control it and can't cure it.
4) This day will not be about his disease or my pain because of it. I am going to enjoy the day and be happy regardless of his drinking.
5) I will "let it begin with me." Other people's moods do not dictate my moods, do not control my behavior and do not make me the type of person who isn't kind on purpose, who reserves her affection for others and punishes her husband with a cold and silent shoulder out of retaliation. Living this way is exhausting and just for today, I can't do it.
6) I will keep my focus on the conversations I'm supposed to be paying full and complete attention to, really enjoy whatever movie we're watching, savor our meal and smile with an open and easy heart.
Time to go to sleep now, this elf is wiped. And though I'm a little sad I'm not giving that emotion or my husband's alcoholism the power over my day. My family and friends have blessed me with their love and friendship and support; I have so much for which to be grateful and this day is about so much more.
To all a good night and may we all have peace, comfort and joy.
*Al Anon was started by Lois Wilson, wife of Bill Wilson (the founder of AA). Those in Al Anon are sometimes called "a friend of Lois" as AA members are "a friend of Bill."