Einstein once said insanity is doing the some thing repeatedly but expecting different results. So maybe I'm insane, but what I think what happens with me when I'm dealing with active alcoholism is this: what I think I'm capable of in the quiet serenity of my peaceful home is different when actually faced with it head on.
My ex had been sober for weeks. All through the holidays. This is reason to rejoice. When he is sober, he is reasonable and agreeable and our conversations are on point about child care. My son spent ample time with him over the holidays and by all accounts and my conversations with him, our son was comfortable, cheerful and agreeable. He really enjoyed this special time with his Daddy. I really want my son to have a close relationship with his dad, and sobriety is a key ingredient to its success.
So our son had one of those extra days off school that hang at the end of a long holiday like leftover tinsel and I wasn't sure what to do with him as I had to go back to work. He had bounced around a lot during the holidays between relatives, and although it was joyful time for him, he was settling into his home routine and I was loathe to pack him up for yet another sleep over. So I asked his dad if it was okay if came over in the morning and stayed with our son. Yes, it was, but he needed gas money. Okay, deal.
He was there on time and sober. We went over meal plans and I was on my way. He called an hour later and informed me a pipe burst in the basement and we dealt with having a plumber come out. He was helpful with that and still sober, though rather stressed after the incident.
A few hours pass and then the call comes, and I know. He's drinking. Did he find the brandy I used for eggnog? Did he bring a bottle? Did he run to the store and buy one with the gas money I gave him? He's talking about how the plumber told him the pipe bursting was due to my overloading the washing machine though I shouldn't question the plumber on this because he would be offended and not be my plumber any longer. He is not making sense and my stomach is in knots, though I try very hard to remain patient. When he drinks, even a small amount, his initial euphoria takes the form of lying to somehow boost himself to some important position.
I manage to extricate myself from the overloaded washer/burst pipe conspiracy conversation. A little while later I call home to gauge whether I need to come home early, but my son is happy watching a movie and had eaten lunch so I make the call to continue the day as planned instead of risk a scene by interrupting the day. My son confesses to me his irritation with his daddy though, which is another sure sign of alcohol consumption as he is a little barometer. His Daddy is not "acting normal" when he drinks.
When I get home my ex is in the basement, telling me he cleaned up (it looked no different than when I left) and that he got me a good price on the plumber, etc. --again with the posturing. I tell him thank you, and doesn't he have appointments? Well, the appointments are rescheduled, he has things to talk about. He is not making much sense. He comes upstairs and its obvious he doesn't want to leave. He talks about a checklist he and our son had for what needed to get done today. He must mention this checklist 20 times, which drives both of us crazy and my son starts to backtalk. I'm telling my son not to be rude, in the meantime thinking to myself, what the hell?
He needs to leave. How do I get him to leave? I thank him again. He wants to stay. I'm the love of his life, he says. I will always love him but we don't work, I say. Why? he says. I don't want to get it into what will become a circular and painful and useless conversation. I tell him I don't think this will end well, and he needs to leave because I don't want to argue with him. Why? I tell him I will speak with him tomorrow but tonight its obvious he has been drinking.
He denies this, as usual. But its no use denying it--he is like night and day. I can smell it and I know getting hooked into any conversation will take up my entire evening and end in arguments. So I have to stay on point. Like a drunk, I keep repeating the same things: It's time for him to leave. Thanks for you help. We'll talk tomorrow because this wont' end well tonight. It works and somehow I get him to leave without a scene.
I think my home is a trigger for him. This is the place he did most of his drinking. This is also the place that has the most bittersweet memories for him. He has told me before that he hates coming to the house. I should have listened more closely to that and not had him spend the day there. But then again, I can't control his disease. Something else would have happened to make him want to drink.
It breaks my heart to see how broken he is. I told him I wish him happiness and success and I do. How wonderful it would be for our son if that could come true. To have a father who is whole and sound each day all day. So in the New Year, that is my hope and my wish.