Not a Creature Was Stirring

Christmas gifts.

Christmas gifts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love the holidays. I hate alcoholism and addiction during the holidays.

I love the lights, seeing friends and family, and eating things I try to avoid the rest of the year (mashed potatoes with sour cream, for example).

I loathe this loneliness. I’m on the verge on tears.

I love giving, and seeing my tree filled with presents for my boys. I listen to the Charlie Brown Christmas album, but round it out with She & Him.

Tonight after the kids went to bed and the dishes were washed, I made tea for Husband and I so we could spend a little time together talking about the kids, recapping our family celebration, and enjoy one another’s company, for once. For years we’ve had a tradition of exchanging one gift on Christmas Eve. Even though things are very different between us this year–he lives in an apartment and will do so until he gets good and truly sober–I thought we could keep up the tradition, if only for one last year.

Hey, we’re still married after all, we share two children, and I do love him (even if he’s sick and broken).

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree Shopping

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree Shopping (Photo credit: K!T)

But Husband is just a shell of a man I think he could be. I would say shell of a man he once was but, in fact, I’m not sure that’s true. The more I dig into myself (therapy) and him (reading about alcoholism) and us (Al-Anon, marriage counseling, conversations between us) the more I realize I have carried this relationship. I have molded it, created it, and seen it through. I organized our Christmas get togethers, even with his family. I bought the presents and prompted him to buy for me. I started our Christmas Eve tradition. He played along.

Tonight, when I asked if he’d like to continue our tradition, his face fell. He didn’t bring a present for me. There’s one on order, he said, it’s coming in the mail. His guilt filled the room. His self-hatred shone brighter than my tree.

That’s ok, I said, it doesn’t matter. There’s been a lot going on, I reassured him.

His shoulders slumped.

I said, you always enjoyed picking out one present. He loves presents.

I guess it all seems irrelevant now, he replied. I was stung. My eyes filled with tears. I work so hard to keep a safe, warm family: I set my anger and resentment aside and bought him presents I know he’ll love. I hate his disease, alcoholism. I can’t understand why getting better is so hard for him, but I asked him to celebrate Christmas with us anyway, if he wanted to.

I asked him to move out because I cannot live with an active addict. I didn’t want him to abandon everything and me in the process.

But he’s a sick, broken man. Every time I hope that things will be better, or normal for a minute, I am disappointed.

And now I’m here, alone, and very, very lonely.

I don’t miss him, exactly. I’m glad he took his depressed self home. He brings me down even when I try so hard to remain upbeat and find my own happiness. I want a loving partner who will not only gleefully accept my gift, but who also has something to give me in return.

Husband’s lack of presents is symbolic. He has nothing to give from within, either.

And that makes me so sad.

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13 thoughts on “Not a Creature Was Stirring

  1. I could not bring myself to “like” the post. Only because I felt the pain in your words as I read them. Your soul is healing by voicing your truth through writing. His lack of presents and lack of presence is symbolic. Moving on sucks and is hard. Alcoholism doesn’t care about family. You do. Take the steps you need to take for the famy to move forward. He will recover….or he won’t. You can. Find peace for you and your kids!

  2. You have carried the relationship and you tried to carry it tonight. Alcoholics disappoint us. Over and over. I don’t know why that continues to surprise us. But it always does.

    I hope you find some joy with your boys tomorrow. You sound like a very strong woman. You will find a man with gifts to share. In the meantime, enjoy those mashed potatoes.

    • I did! And I still have some in the fridge that will not spoil. The disappointments do add up. I’m trying not to suffocate under them and instead focus on what’s good. Today was a marvelous day in my house; I hope it was in yours, as well.

  3. So sorry you’re going through this pain, WriterlyOne. H & I didn’t exchange presents this year, either (by unspoken understanding). It’s so hard when you want a normal, healthy relationship, and you want to be wanted, but the other person doesn’t know who they are or what they want. (And they can’t even begin to find out those answers until they heal….)

    • That is exactly right. Thank you for reading and responding. This blog community has helped ease the pain and loneliness, yourself included! I’ve spent so long longing for his own healing that I forgot to focus on mine. No more.

  4. My heart hurts for you as I could feel your pain through this post. Sending as much love as I can muster. I know it doesn’t feel like it, but you’re on the right path even though you’re hurting terribly. Soak up those sweet smiles on your boys’ faces. That’s getting me through these holidays. Here’s to happier days in 2013.

    • Yes! No one told me how magical Christmas morning could be with kids. The opened presents, the joy, the gratitude expressed by my three-year-old; many blessings to count. I’m sure you’re counting yours today, as well.

  5. I’m so sorry for your pain. These days I try to find the good in everything, my pessimism was killing me for to long. So the good I found in your post was… Your husband came to Christmas, that had to be good for your kids, he stayed after they went to bed, he demonstrated shame and remorse when he realized he should have brought a gift. Would it not have been worse if he’d shown no remorse? I know it hurts either way but try to focus on the things you did get. One Christmas a few years ago when my husband was in active addiction he did not get me a gift, on x-mass eve he ordered some shit off the internet put printed the receipt and wrapped it in a box.. He also had not taken the kids shopping (the only way they could have bought gifts), I was the only one in the house with not one gift under the tree that year. I was devedtated. That Christmas still hurts, but now he’s sober and he did great this year. Have hope… Help is out there. If AA is not working maybe he could try NA, my husband found his fit with NA. AA just did not cut it. Keep your chin up and count your blessings.

    • Thank you for sharing and reminding me to count my blessings. My husband just asked if he could attend an Alanon meeting with me. While I’m not sure that’s a great idea right now, it’s a big step. I hope your blessings are many today!

  6. You express yourself so well and have obviously done a great deal of hard work and introspection about your situation. I’m cheering you on here, while my heart aches for what you are having to go through. Here’s to strength and joy in 2013~

  7. Pingback: Holidays as a Single Parent: Not a Creature was Stirring, 2013 Edition | Broken American Dream Diaries

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