The best kind of fail is the one you finally see and can learn from. I say finally, because although it felt like I caught the fail in its first iteration yesterday, I know I didn’t. I know damned well this has been going on for a good long time, and I’ve never bothered to look beyond me to see it. But yesterday, I did.
Anyone who’s been through ANY detox process can tell you that the first X days are a bitch, and so are you! My first week off of sugar, Spouse couldn’t talk to me without getting the look of death, and I’ve been told I have a pretty potent one. But I couldn’t have told anyone in the moment that I was cranky (to put things mildly) because my brain wasn’t getting the biochemicals it wanted. Just like a child can’t tell you why he is having a meltdown as he has it. And on some level, that has to be ok. In particular, that has to be ok with your loved ones. And that was my fail, yesterday. I failed to recognize in Spouse a problem I’ve been through; I faied to see it from the other side.
But it was a good fail.
I work in an office where sugar rules the day–every day that ends in Y. In fact, I just finished a bagel. With garden veggie cream cheese. And then went and had another half a bagel. Because falling off the wagon is a talent I share with Spouse. I will have to get back on the wagon. But this is about Spouse’s wagon, and he is ON.
Yesterday was day three. Day three of any wagon SUCKS. I cannot cap, bold, italicize or emphasize that enough. And there’s nothing to be done for it.
We began day three with Spouse coming out of his bedroom, ranting at me, getting dressed and then leaving. Spouse managed to say “I love you” before leaving–a rule I instituted at the beginning of our relationship. I gave Spouse my death stare.
The rant itself is important, so I will get back to it, but first, the rant and reaction. Spouse is not ever a happy morning soul. I hate waking up only slightly more than I hate going to sleep, so essentially mornings are the time to not be in our house (or our marriage). Two cups of coffee and an hour or so of silent newspaper reading (on Spouse’s part) plus two cups of coffee and some talking (on mine) can fix it–but we rarely get that much time together.
SO: Crankibutt is the order of the morning.
Also, you should know that in order to facilitate both Spouse’s hard work toward sobriety and my work toward sugar sobriety, I cook all our meals each evening. I make dinner and breakfast and lunch all at the same time (and am right now experimenting with a tapas driven diet which I will discuss some other time).
The other night, I came home ragged, and exhausted. I had every pain I can have; arthritis in my feet, back, hips, and newly neck; chest pain, which I think is a new arthritic development, headache on the verge of migraine as we have been slowly raising my meds to try to get away from the constant edge; and bits of fibromyalgic sore spots to round it all off. I was a bit tired from the pain–to say the least. Spouse and I agreed it would be best for me to go to bed and cook in the morning as I had a late start the next day.
The next day was day three. I had a late start, I was making breakfast when Spouse woke. Spouse’s brain was making excuses to be angry and stressed so Spouse would give in and give it what it wanted–alcohol. At the same time I called a contact I was supposed to meet about a freelance gig. She had a grandchild with a high fever. I offered her the chance to reschedule. She demurred.
“Tell me you didn’t just cancel.”
“No. We are meeting a half hour later. Her granddaughter has a high fever, and I offered to reschedule.” I answered.
And as he walked to the bathroom, under my breath, piqued as I already was, I added, “but thanks for the faith you consistently have in me.”
He asked me to repeat myself in that angry tone people get when they know you’ve said something ugly.
I did, in that ugly tone we use when we really mean it. I hate myself for that moment.
That’s when the rant started. About all I have not done. All the things I could do better. Down to the laundry I had not moved from the washer to the dryer. And here’s the thing. It was wrong, but Spouse was right. I have failures. So does Spouse. The rant had nothing to do with the list of failures.
“I’m leaving,” he said. “I love you.”
I gave him the death look. I hate myself for that moment.
It wasn’t until hours later, at my desk, reading crap I was not interested in, thinking Spouse had better apologize! and Who does Spouse think Spouse is?!? and all the other defensive thoughts one can gather, that Spouse texted me that he was having a crappy day.
Insert BOMB going off in head instead of lightbulb here.
Of course he’s having a crappy day! It’s day 3!
And I refused to say I love you.
Did I mention I hated myself for this?
But that’s when FAILURE can become fortune.
It hit like a recycling bin full of gin bottles.
Every time he tries, he hits day three, gets ugly with me, I get ugly back, he has a bad day, I make it worse, and then he drinks. And I wonder why he didn’t get through day 3. Which makes me slow, I know.
Bless my heart, as we say in the South.
So I texted back asking about his bad day. Asking about how to help. And then asking about the pattern.
“ok. so here’s the pattern. On day three, you have a crap day. I respond badly, and that takes away your sense of support. I think I need to be more careful around you on certain days. Does that sound right?”
That was all I got back. And then there was “radio silence” for a while then a reminder that reminding him about tough days makes them tougher. Then things went back to ok for us. No apologies from Spouse; apologies from ME. because I FAILED.
I failed to give support. I failed to understand that what I go through, Spouse goes through. The jargon for that is empathy! That being understanding is sometimes ALL I can do–and far more important than anything else. And here’s the biggie. I failed to notice that the pattern of Spouse’s drinking, while not caused by me, is affected by my behavior.
NO. I am not taking responsibility for Spouse’s choices. NO. I am not taking blame for wagon falls. but, YES, I am taking note that Spouse does not drink in a vaccuum. That Spouse’s interactions with me can be a way to keep the feeling of support and love he needs to make it through the really, thoroughly CRAPPY days that sobriety entails.
It’s the best kid of fail ever.
Spouse failed to drink last night. Yay.