As I continue the Yom Kippur story, I'd like to mention that I've learned an important writing tip that all of you real writers already knew: it's very hard to write about things as they happen to you. Sometimes you have to wait until the topic has had time to simmer for a while and, perhaps, you've gained enough distance to allow you to write without crying and your tears fall in the keyboard and muck it all up.
That's part of the reason I didn't write for a while; this one thing was devouring my life and everything else seemed too stupid and mundane to write about at all.
But if you've been following me for the last few weeks, you know that my broken family has been healing. This is the continuation of the story of the day we hit rock bottom.
Where I left off, it was after midnight. My husband had told me he was pulling into our neighborhood at probably the exact time that he was actually pulling into a parking lot behind the pub he used to own, with the intent of drinking one quick beer before popping in the door after I was gone for the evening.
I woke up early Saturday morning, but I didn't pack a bag. Instead, I got dressed, filled a travel mug of coffee, and found Peaches (who was already up and watching TV) and assured her that Daddy was home. I also told her I wanted her to come with me down to Regina's house.
Now, Regina lives about a block away, and one thing I can tell you about her is that she is NOT a morning person. Chances are, she had been up working until 2 or 3 in the morning and wouldn't be up for hours. I also knew that her husband Aaron would have been up for hours making breakfast and hanging with the kids. Which is why, when I knocked on her door and asked Aaron to go get her, he invited Peaches in to hang with their kids and went to get her. I told him I'd wait on the porch. Regina was sitting beside me in less than a minute. I told her I was going to go back up to my house and tell him to get out.
Within fifteen minutes, three of my best friends were sitting on the porch with me. We made a plan, they offered their support, they shared stories of life with alcoholic parents and ex-spouses. After I had built up some courage (this took over an hour; it was harder than you'd think) I left Peaches at Regina's house, walked up to my house, woke him up and told him exactly this:
"I have tried to tell you that I can't live like this, but you won't
listen. I love you, but I've had enough."
Now, I'm a 44 year old (okay, 43 at the time) suburban working mom, five feet tall on my best day and weighing in at a solid 170. I'm not supermodel, in other words, and I've never had a man throw himself at my feet. But that's exactly what he did. Literally. Threw himself at my feet, cried and begged me to give him another chance. It was weird.
He tried to explain. He said that he only drank because he was afraid to come home. I told him that his problem was solved now; he could come home in peace from now on. He asked where he could go. I suggested he crash on his drinking buddies' couches; certainly they wouldn't mind; after all, they were all such good friends. He said they hardly knew each other; didn't even know where most of them lived, whether they had families or kids. I told him that if they acted anything like he did, they were probably all divorced and living in apartments paying child support.
I was a bitch. I was the calmest I had been in months. My heart was pounding, but my mind was clear. Everything I said, I meant. Every word.
By the time we were done, it was almost noon and I had missed the morning service. I picked up my purse and walked out the door. Before it closed, I heard him say behind me, "Please don't do this".
I made him sweat another thirty seconds before I walked back in again.
"No more drinking".
"Not a drop, I promise".
"No more lying."
"I swear I'll tell you everything."
"No more stopping at the bar. At all. You want to see your friends, they can go across the street and meet you at Starbucks".
"Yes. Starbucks. Of course".
I set down my purse.
That's basically the end of the story for that day. His behavior hasn't been perfect, but moving to this house has helped a lot. And sadly, I think he needs to get away from that bar, from the memories of his failure and his attempts to re-invent the past. Which is why when I have second thoughts about moving to California, I remind myself of how bad things can get if we stay here.
Perhaps that's why these memories are coming back right now.
Thanks for reading.