The family meeting

I arrived home and we all sat in the living room.  JD started out telling the children that he has a drinking problem, knows he needs to get help, and is going to start going to a support group this next week.  He proceeded to say a few more things to the children and then turned to and asked me what I was intending for our marriage.

I said, “I think it’s great that you are going to do these things you have discussed, I think you should.  But you need to do these things for you.  Not to win me back, not for anyone else other than for you.  I don’t want to do this anymore.  We’ve been at this place before.  I don’t trust you.”

It is at this point that it became VERY ugly.  He said, in a very loud and upset tone, “I can’t believe you’re throwing this whole family down the drain.  You won’t even try to make things better anymore.  I know why I’m doing this and you sit there all smug and arrogant, in front of the kids, and tell me you don’t want to be married anymore.  Fine!  You’ll see just how ugly it can get with me not around anymore.  You’ll see just what you’re missing when I’m gone.  And just how great you really do have it.  You bitch!”

At this point all 3 children are an emotional wreck and in major tears.  I knew I needed to stay calm and not say a word at this point.

He had packed his bags earlier, while I was on my way home.  Which he had returned from the downstairs with his bags.  Grabbed his computer, vitamins, all our cash in the house, keys and continued to berate and bash me all the while the kids are in tears.

I still remained calm, knowing I was going to have to pick up the pieces – again!

He was on the way out the door and the kids ran up to him to hug him.  His last words were, “this is all your mother’s fault!  And she’s the one who’s going to have to live with it!”  And he left.

By now, the kids are hysterically crying.  And I just held them.

After a short while of consoling them, we talked.  We had a very open and heart-to-heart conversation.  One in which I was left with my mouth wide open in amazement.  I thought that all this time I was protecting them by not really talking about the alcoholism.  I soon realized that my children were much more in tune to this than I ever thought.

We talked, I listened.  My daughter told me that she knew the moment daddy had something to drink – he changed.  She didn’t like the way he was when he drank.  He’s not mean, he just acts very different.  He thinks he’s funnier than he really is, he becomes very luvy-duvy (mushy), talks really loud, forgets things he says and has done, repeats himself quite often and embarrasses her sometimes.  She knows that he sleeps in mostly because of drinking, is not there as much as he’d like to be because of how his drinking makes him feel and wishes he didn’t drink at all.  Sometimes when she’s at a friend’s house, and they don’t drink, that’s what she would like our home to be like.  She knows when we fight, and why.  Mostly because of dad’s drinking.  She doesn’t like it when people who drink a lot, like one of our neighbors, come over.  It means he will be drinking a lot and what’s going to be taking place.

WOW – WOW – WOW!  So much for thinking I was protecting them by not talking about this!  That was wrong of me!  To feel the need to keep this in and not talk about it, must have been tormenting her!!

I listened to how my son feels.  He’s almost 10, so he wasn’t able to express it so vividly.  That’s part boy too!  But he expressed he didn’t like it when daddy drank beer, and didn’t know why he needed to.  Why can’t he have fun just being with us, doing things we love to do together without drinking?  He didn’t like how it made us fight and was hurting the family.  All very real and finely expressed feelings!

Throughout or discussion, I came to realize just how this has impacted our children and family – more than I knew.

I also told the kids I have the support of Uncle B and Aunt L.  This is JD’s uncle, his mom’s brother, who lives in California.  Uncle B grew up in an alcoholic family and struggles with the same temptations.  He’s a great resource because he knows firsthand what the disease does.  On both ends of the spectrum.  From being a child of an alcoholic mom/dad, to fighting the same tendencies.  Both Uncle B and his wife (Aunt L) have been there to pull me through some very rough times and have had theirs hearts torn by JD’s drinking actions. 

Both of them are deeply rooted Christians and if it were not for them, I wouldn’t have been able to survive some past situations.  The biggest part of their involvement has been through Christ and the prayers they personally have prayed over many years.  But also through a prayer chain at their church, which circulates hundreds, possibly thousands of prayer warriors.  They attend Saddleback Church, Pastor Rick Warren’s congregation – huge church.

This past weekend, our daughter attended a 2 day christian conference – Planet Wisdom.  When she returned on Saturday, she told me she felt God was calling her to do something.  She didn’t know exactly what it was right now, but she felt something she’s never felt before.

During this picking up the pieces discussion with the kids, she said she feels the Holy Spirit is telling her that we need to call Uncle B and ask him to come.  I said I certainly would call them and discuss what’s going on, but since JD has done things like this before, I was not convicted to asking Uncle B to come (as of right now).

So we called and talked to them.  We talked for about an hour, prayed, and things seemed to calm down a bit.  Remember: this is not something new that JD has done.  He semi-regularily leaves and stays somewhere after we have had an argument.  90% of the time our arguments are centered around drinking.

Around 9:30 pm I received the following email, which I responded in red:

in red below

—– Original Message —–
From: “JD”
To: A

Sent: Sunday, December 5, 2010 9:38:38 PM

There is obviously more than meets the eye to this whole situation, which would explain why you haven’t been a wife to me in a LONG time!  This would be your way of trying to pass blame – again.  Alcoholics are very good at this!  The difference is I can spot your blame passing immediately. 

More than meets the eye?  YOU have not paid any amount of attention to what I, I mean you, have said regarding your drinking.  This dates back MANY years!  Let’s take a look:

1.  2 summers ago, while sitting in a restaurant in Lake Powell, the morning after you had disappeared and the children were extremely worried – you made a pinky promise to Mitchell.  You broke that promise to THE KIDS!

2.  You have stated on many occasions, both during our marriage counseling and before, that you know you have a drinking problem and need to get help.  You promised me on many different occasions.  This has not happened.

3.  You have tried numerous times, on your own, to “handle” your addiction – it hasn’t worked.

4.  These are just a few……..

I have…….

1.  Stuck by your side for – How many years? and been forgiving, understanding and more than patient with your broken promises, lies, and continued drinking.  You are having an affair – and it’s with alcohol.

2.  Tried to strengthen our marriage via church activities, devotions, marriage counseling and many other aspects – all of which you turn away from at one point or another.  And mostly due to your drinking, or the effects afterwards from your drinking.

3.  Watched you waste away – health wise – as a result of your addiction.

4.  Watched you push most everyone away who wishes to help you.

5.  Continually told you, in very bold terms, my stance on drinking.  This is no secret to you.  Yet you disrespect this and TELL me time and time again how you will do what you wish.  YOU will handle this on your own.  NO ONE will tell you what to do, especially me.  I think you stated it in these terms Saturday night……”I’m going to have some to drink tonight.  Remember you don’t want to be the alcohol police.”  It’s things like this that make for a strong marriage??!!

So let’s revisit your “more than meets the eye” and not being a wife for a very LONG time.  No I have not!  I do not feel anything for someone who continues to have an affair.  You choose alcohol over me and the children over and over again.  You can continue to sugar coat how alcohol has affected me and the family.  But as time passes, this become more apparent to me.  You do just enough to make things seem good for a while,  and then it starts back up.  At that time you wonder why I’m acting the way I do – I mean come on – you think to yourself (and have verbalized this) look at all the things I have done that are worthwhile.  It’s like your license to drink.  You justify how you have “earned” the right to start drinking again.  And you think I shouldn’t have anything to say, think or feel about it?  Please tell me how this is a relationship together?  You don’t respect me and my desires.  And visa versa.  And I won’t continue to compete with alcohol – your mistress.  THIS is why our marriage has failed.

It spoke volumes to me to see Mariah crying.  And believe me, I said NOTHING to her about your drinking – it never came up between us that night.  It bothered her so much that it brought her to tears.  To hear her tell you the reason why she doesn’t like you drinking, is because how it changes you – pretty insightful.  At that point, I realized that this has to stop. 

That was completely wrong of you to put them in a family discussion and just “expect” me to dance to your tune!  I told you earlier that if you wished to talk with the children, please do so.  I didn’t want to be a part of this conversation.  I only did it for Mariah, because she pleaded with me.  What you say has no binding truth to it.  Why?  Because the past proves this.  And like I already said, “this is something you do for yourself, not to win me or the children over with your words.”  You want this?  Do it for you – not us!  Yes, in doing so, MANY benefit from it.  Which would include your family.

But opening up a family discussion and expecting me to feel warm and fuzzy about it, making everything okay is just insane!  Your actions are what speak the loudest – both good and bad!!  Your words and REactions spoke loud as well:

1.  At the school (after Mitchell’s game) you stated you wanted to have this family meeting.  I told you to do it with the kids, and not me.  A few more words were exchanged, and you said, “what was so bad or wrong with what I did last night?”  (This says you don’t think what you did was wrong.  And how can anyone change if they don’t think what’s hurting their family is wrong?)

2.  After telling you Saturday night, that your daughter was upstairs crying because of your drinking, you pass the blame onto me.  Which the blaming is something you continued to scream on your way out of the house last night and in this email.  You have never taken ownership of the damages your drinking has caused.  You address how harmful it is, how you want to stop and how bad the actual act of drinking is.  But you have never faced the fact of the harm it has “caused” in our marriage and family.  I know this from you continually telling me, “oh you have lived and live in such a terrible marriage.  Others would kill for a husband like me.”  And this Jeff, is the primary reason I don’t believe you.  It’s prideful and self-righteous.  If you don’t believe the harm it has caused, then nothing will change.  How could something change when you-yourself don’t believe it’s as bad as it is?

3.  Upon bringing the fact that I don’t trust you, when the question was turned to me with what our marriage looks like during the discussion – you blew up.  It was all one-sided with regards to your drinking issues.  Nothing else would be heard by you – you then blew up – and passed blame.

 You can live with the consequences!  Good luck explaining it to the kids!  I don’t need to explain anything to the kids.  They get it!

After calming the kids a bit, it was time for bed.  I needed the rest!  And so did the kids!!  (They were not aware of this email.)

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