What is in the Bottle (written during my marriage to an alcoholic)

What is in that bottle over there?

To the average eye the bottle on the counter is just wine, vodka, whiskey, whatever the pick of poison is today.

To you, the alcoholic, the shell of a person I married, it is a way to relax and to forget about the stresses you feel.  It is a way to become a happy social person.  A way to like yourself.  It is a way to get some sleep or get out of doing a chore. You see it liquid courage, a party, an escape. All of your happiness is in that bottle. Everything you care about. What you think about from sun up to sun down is all right there in that little bottle.

To me, the spouse of a person addicted, I see it as a bottle of my hopes and dreams being quickly sucked down your esophagus. A bottle full of lies and broken promises. It is filled with conversations that we will have tonight, that you will never remember. It has a few hospital bills in it from when you get so intoxicated that you fall down or need medical attention. It has A LOT of money in it. Money that could have gone towards our child, a home, a vacation, memories that do not involve alcohol. In that bottle I see all the poor decisions you have made. The affairs and nights you didn’t come home. I see the jobs you have lost because an eight hour day is just too long to go without a drink. I see the arguments that got escalated to a violent rage. The holes in the walls, the holes in your relationships, in your life. After dealing with this for years, that bottle could easily fill up with my tears.

I often wonder . . . how can two people see the contents of one bottle so differently? Tomorrow it will be a different bottle, but until you get help, the contents will always remain the same.  

Dear Single Parent, I Get You. . .

Dear Single Parent,

I get you. I am there with you. I know how exhausted you are. I know your routine. I could probably step in and live it moment for moment like I had been there all along. The morning rush, drop kids off, off to work, work hard for 8 hours while part of your mind is still on your kids, your drive home thinking about all you have to do once you get there. You need to cook dinner, clean up, be present with your child , keep your patience and temper under control when you are getting stressed, showers, prep for the next day, attend to a pet, do a bedtime routine, get the kids to bed and finally pass out just to do it again the next day. In between if you find a free second you need to schedule doctors and dentist appointments (that you will attend with them alone), school meetings (that you will attend alone), sign them up for extracurricular activities, plan vacations or playdates, pay the bills, figure out HOW To pay the bills on one income, try to stay in contact with important friends even though you can maybe one send a text every once in a while, try to remember who you were and who you are. It is overwhelming. I get you. I am overwhelmed too.

Sometimes it feels like it can’t get done. Sometimes you feel like a superhuman and other days like you aren’t even keeping up with any humans. You feel proud of all you can do on your own, but at the same time so jealous and angry of your friends and people on social media who always share about their spouse and how much help they are blah blah blah.  You feel like you are everything to everyone and yet you feel like you aren’t 100% in anything you do for anyone. I get you. I feel these same emotions.

The stress . . . oh the stress. Sometimes the clock ticks so fast it is like a ticking bomb in your ear. It starts sounding like an anthem “you will never get it all done, you will never get it all done”. The pressure to be successful at work, loving at home, happy at all times, it feels like giant man sitting on your chest. The weight and pressure of him literally hurts. Sometimes you can’t breathe. It is just too much! You want to cry out GET OFF ME! But you would just be screaming at life in general. GET THE FUCK OFF OF ME, LIFE OF MINE! THROW ME A GOD DAMN BONE!! I get you. I hear you. I join you in those cries.

Sometimes when an unexpected emergency comes up and you have to rearrange your preplanned day, week, etc. it feels like you are in a tornado and you cannot hold on to anything. It is a full on panic and you feel your insides shaking with anxiety like an inner earthquake. Yet you have to stay, calm, cool and collected on the outside. I get you. I am shaking and hanging on with you.

When an unexpected financial cost comes up that you didn’t plan for, because as a single parent we have to budget down to every penny, it feels like you are being choked. The air can’t get in or out. It is tightening so quickly, just like your bank account is tightening. You wonder how you will ever get out of this mess. Will you ever catch a breath? Why do you even bother to work as hard as you do? Will you ever get ahead?? I get you. I hear your fears.  I fear them with you.

When you finally get a break from your children and get to have some adult time but you crash out at home alone because you are too exhausted to look nice, or walk out the front door, or put on a brave happy face. You just need to self soothe and sleep. I get you. But then when you do that and in turn feel even lonelier because you do not have much adult interaction besides co-workers or teachers and doctors. I get you. When you wonder how on earth you could EVER find a special someone who will accept what a fast paced shit show your life is. I get you, I wonder it too.

When your child is away and it feels like your right arm has been cut off and you miss them soooo much. You spend time planning how much you will do with them when you see them and how happy and loving you are going to be. You are done losing your temper and being stressed around them…. but then life happens and you feel guilty that it all didn’t work that way. I get you. I feel that guilt daily.

When it has been a REALLY long week and you do get that break from your kids and on the way to pick them up, as much as you love them and they are your whole life, you wish the drive could take just a little longer because you were just starting to feel human again. I get you. I feel that. I drive slowly too.

I don’t have all the answers for us. Shit, I don’t even have some of them. I do have the confidence that we will get through all this, that we are doing the best we can, and that is it so worth it. I know that we will get it all done, we will raise happy healthy children, and we will survive. I know that we will be stronger than many of our counterparts. I know that we can handle much more than most people, even when we don’t want to. I also know that no matter what I am feeling or what you are feeling. Someone else gets it. Just like I do.

To My Daughter Looking Into Her Future

I see you looking in those binoculars every day. So innocently curious about what is ahead. While you are just looking into the immediate future and taking it all in, I want to take a minute to tell you about some things you are sure to see in your future and things I hope you see.

 Looking deep into your future you are going to see some disappointment. Maybe a friendship that doesn’t work out the way you want, an opportunity that passes, some loss and some tears. These things are inventible and happen in every life. I hope you also see the strength that I already see in you, and your ability to overcome any obstacle in your way.  The things you have dealt with in your 6 years so far have made you into a little spitfire and I love that spirit you have. You think everything is possible. I hope you still see that little girl in your future self.

My hopes are that you see soooo much more positive than negative in your future.  I hope you can see all the love that will always surround you. I hope you can see me, your mom, being your biggest cheerleader now and forever. I hope you see acceptance as you enter an adult world that does not work the same as you and sometimes will not understand your difference (you are honest and sincere and literate and the world is not always like this).  I hope you see friends, lots of friends and smiling faces. I hope you see the difference you are making, the awareness you will bring to the autism community.  I hope you see goals accomplished, strides made, and every wonderful wish met. 

In your binoculars you see a little into the near future. In my dreams I see much farther into your future and baby it’s beautiful!

Can I Trade in Men for an Older Model?

I am driving my commute home from work and I start to look at the people in the cars all around me. They are 90% women, also coming home from a hard day’s work.

I am not sure what has happened to our generation and gender roles. Before everyone gets up in arms, I am not talking about equal working rights etc. for men and woman. I am talking about the newer generation of weak and lazy men! Where did y’all come from? Can we return you? Exchange you for some real men? For men like my dad and his generation?

Exhibit A: My ex-husband has not had a job in over 3 years. This is based purely on choice. He prefers to sleep in, watch TV, go to a bar around 2pm and stay there until late at night so he can repeat the same routine the next day. Well doesn’t that sound easy? Isn’t there something else we would all rather do with our time than work? Don’t worry about him though, he still manages to have his own place, brand name clothes and the ability to drink and eat out daily. How does he does this you ask?? MOMMY! She also bails him out of any trouble he gets into and always makes excuses for him. For example, when he came into my home many years after our divorce and stole all of my jewelry and pawned it, she did not hold him accountable and blamed me for pressing charges.

Exhibit B: I have 2 male friends who make significantly less than their wives, which is fine. However, after work they go to the bars and stay there for hours spending the little money they have made instead of going home to their wife and kids. This, leaving their married wife basically living the life of a single mom. Picking up the kids, dinner, homework, baths, playtime, bedtime etc. all after being the breadwinner all day.

Exhibit C: Another ex who can’t hold down a job. He gets one and then gets tired and decides he doesn’t want to go anymore and literally stops going until they fire him. Then he will give a poor me story and expect a woman to take him in, in which we do because. . . well for many reasons I won’t get into.

Meanwhile women are taking a huge leap in the work force. There are more women entrepreneurs than ever. The unemployment rate of men and women has done a flip flop in the past twenty years, and especially the last ten when my shameful generation of men entered the real world.

Yet have we told women to stop taking care of children, to not clean the house, to not make meals, not be a good daughter, sister or friend? Have we told them that they no longer need to be present with their kids or at school events? Did we give them any reduction of their assumed tasks because they have entered the work force in higher numbers out of necessity? NO! We expect women to do it all because little by little, the men are doing less and less.

My dad is from the older generation. He worked 8 hours a day, on his feet no less, and still came home right after work to interact with me, have dinner as a family etc. On weekends he was just as hard working always doing projects around the house or going on getaways with us. No matter what sacrifice he had to make, family was always a priority and we were always taken care of.

So while men are out there thinking about trading their wives and girlfriends in for a newer model, I am left begging for a receipt to return the men who come from my generation and trade in for an older more dependable model.

Lucky to be a Special Needs Parent

I wrote this a few years ago and while my daughter has made progress in some of these areas, they are replaced by others now because as special needs parents we know it is an ongoing roller coaster. . . . .

As a special needs parent I admit that I often feel sorry for both myself and my daughter.

I feel sorry for myself when I am up with her for hours in the night because she can’t regulate herself enough to sleep. I feel sorry for myself when I have to sing 15 different songs just to get her attention for a split second so I can take a picture that  you can see her gorgeous blue eyes in.  When she melts down worse than other kids her age and I can’t explain things to her like “Its ok we will be back at the park tomorrow.” I feel bad when I have to fight the school district during IEP meetings to get services that are detrimental to my daughter’s development and I have to be the bad cop against professionals. The looks I get at the park from other moms when my daughter runs around flapping her hands and babbling like a baby or paces the fence back and forth, or I have to tell her not to lick the slide, I feel bad for myself then.  When I feel that I can’t connect with her everyday like I would like in pretend play or games, it hurts. When I think about the future and the things that we as mother and daughter probably won’t experience such as getting a drivers license, going to proms, her wedding or having children of her own and I often cry and worry what she will do in this big scary world when I am not around to navigate it for her.

  I feel bad for my daughter when another little girl comes up to her to innocently talk about the kitty on her shirt but to my Hailey it feels as if she is coming in for the attack. I feel bad when I can’t let go of her hand at an unfenced pumpkin patch because she will wander and not listen when I call her name like other children. I feel bad for her that the world seems so scary and uncertain and that the sun is harshly bright for her. I feel bad that she has thoughts trapped in her head that she just can’t get out and brilliant ideas of her own that will never be heard. When she seems hungry but she refuses to eat anything that is not crunchy and salty or baby food.  I feel bad for her when I drop her off in a new class and can’t explain to her that she is safe and that mommy will be back. Instead she spends 2 ½ hours feeling alone and scared.

Life as an Autistic child and as the parent of one are probably some of the hardest things to be dealt in life. The lack of awareness and support is another heart breaking reality.

At the end of the day when I watch her sleep so innocently I feel blessed. When her world finally makes sense, when we have survived whatever came her way that day and handled it as a team.. . . It is then that I finally relax and realize the people I should really feel bad for are the parents of typical developing kids (I know sounds crazy). While their day to day lives might be easier (which they will hate me saying, but hey its true), they also will never get to experience the things I do. The depth of my love and understanding and purpose for being on this earth I believe is much stronger than if I had a typically developing child. Of course all parents are close to their children. But the closeness that a truly intune mom has with her special needs child is like no other. I know her inside and out. Her needs and wants that she can’t even express.

And the little things she does that seem like HUGE things. I don’t have to wait for a report card with straight A’s or a baseball trophy to feel like I am on top of the world and the proudest parent alive. I get to see huge amazing accomplishments in her every day because ,life, in general, doesn’t come easy for her. When she can communicate a need for the first time or when she makes eye contact or says hello to a stranger. When she plays next to another child without fear, or tries to sing along to a song. When she laughs and finds joy in a new song or activity that before was hard for her. There is something we get to celebrate everyday because she is adapting to living in a world that is not like the world in her head. She is amazing and adaptable. She is my hero and I got to give birth to her.  How lucky am I?

Why Wine is Better Than Men

  • Wine does not judge me after a long day or offer an opinion, it only comforts me
  • I get to choose how much money I invest into it, it does not beg for more
  • Wine has never sent me an unsolicited nasty picture (OUCH, MY EYES!!!)
  • Wine doesn’t cheat, once I open a bottle it is committed completely to me
  • Wine has a job (to make me happy!) Side note – most men I have dated could not get/keep a job
  • Wine makes me look and feel more beautiful
  • Wine helps me make new friends instead of taking time away from the ones I have
  • Wine lets me go to sleep when I want to, it doesn’t need any special late night attention
  • Wine doesn’t have facial hair, it feels good on my lips every time!
  • I do not have to clean up after wine, it is self contained (unless of course I have too much and spill it – party foul!)
  • Wine smells like heaven on earth, not like butt sweat and gym socks
  • When wine gets older it gets better, not worse