I just separated from my husband this weekend, and my heart literally feels torn from my inside. But I asked for it. We’ve only been married a year. We dated two years prior to that, and I fell for him mostly because he is The Man of all men.
He is so precious, but I took advantage of that. We clicked so well. I started having family problems with my father and brothers who are alcoholics, and I wanted to be there for them, a little too much. I ran up there constantly (they live six hours away), and I made plans to have one of my brothers move in with me to get him out of a bad situation.
My husband disagreed. Ever since, there grew a distance between us. I started seeing someone else, never sexually, but it was still cheating. A few months ago I told my husband, and he begged me to work on our marriage. So we went to counseling.
A few weeks ago I started to feel our marriage was a mistake, so I brought up my feelings. He apparently had enough of hearing it and took all necessary steps to arrange our divorce. I guess that’s why I’m writing.
Not only do you now know how much of a loser I am, but also that I realize giving him up is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Let me tell you, I’ve faced guns put to family members’ heads as a child and that was a piece of cake compared to this experience.
I bawled and felt empty all weekend. It’s Sunday night and I’m about to lose it, but before I do, I want to ask you one thing. Would it be a mistake to move up north away from it all to be with my family, or would it be wise?
Judging from what I’ve told you about my family, I think I know the answer. I just need to hear it from some people who know their stuff.
Remi, your father had a disorder. It might be his fault. It might be someone else’s fault. It might be in his DNA. It might be a disease. It might be the result of converging factors. We don’t care what the explanation is.
His disorder was communicable. He infected your brothers with his disorder, and he also infected you. How deep was his infection? This deep.
Human beings have an inborn bias in favor of protecting the young. But your father was so deeply infected he couldn’t or wouldn’t stop drinking, though the disastrous results on his children were right before his eyes.
Now you wonder if going back to the cause of your life’s problems is the answer. That idea makes no sense. It shows how deeply you have been infected.
A contemporary metaphor about nourishing contact between parent and child compares it to a friendly game of ping-pong. The parent and child volley back and forth, living life together. The child learns good habits and routines that will embed in their brain for a lifetime, and they learn they are cared for.
But if the parent’s response is erratic or volatile, not to mention uncaring or violent, the child’s brain is patterned in a way which is so harmful as to be almost wicked. That’s the problem with alcoholic parents. To state the obvious, they are drunk, and almost all of us know what it’s like to deal with a drunk.
Alcoholics live in a fictitious world of imagined hurts, wrongs, and misconceptions. It’s a world of things they will not face. At the same time, they nose-dive in the real world. Either the game of volleying doesn’t occur, or it occurs in a way that is potentially deadly to the children.
Our short answer is don’t go back. Our long answer will come next week.
~ Wayne & Tamara
Direct Answers column for the week of February 3, 2020
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