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).
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.