“…a sober drunk…”

Listening to New Life Live on WAVA the other day, www.newlife.com, one of the guys used the term ‘sober drunk’ and it peaked my interest and tumblers began to really click home. Tim is about to get his 9 month chip. He has not acted out in any way for 9 months, including pornography. Things should be fabulous, yes? A faithful husband is what I want! Why did things still feel so wrong, with little glimpses of right? We’d gone to Intimacy in Marriage and really learned there is a why to these behaviors and how to dig in and figure out the “why’s” so we could heal. We’d experienced what will ultimately be the answer but hadn’t quite attuned that in our hearts yet. I knew things were still not where they should be and he knew he was still not happy with our relationship, especially the physical part.

We’d learned to differentiate between non-sexual touch and sexual touch and how they should never be intermingled and this was where our struggle was. It is essential to have safe touch, to feel each others heart beating, to breathe together. Actual physiological things happen when we experience this, much the same as when our mothers and fathers held us. Until we began this after Intimacy in Marriage we were both two islands really. We’d dance around each other, one wanting one thing, the other running from it.

Tim had his behavior under control, he’d eliminated all the “illegal” ways of acting out and stopped doing those but now I had become the object of his acting out. I was the only “legal” avenue. This is what I thought I wanted, my husband lusting after me but NO! This doesn’t feel good. He had just taken his addiction and made me the drug of choice. A better choice than the others but still my soul was dying inside of me. Ironically, this all blew up on September 11th, 2017.

I’d gone to see my therapist and we’d discussed this and I’d told her he is saying and doing all the right things but we are still in this dance. Tim trying to manipulate circumstances and me trying to avoid the traps. This did not feel right and I said, “There is no heart change.” Just behavioral change. So when Tim got home that night we had a talk…well it began as a talk…it ended with me leaving knowing my marriage was over. Instead of listening calmly and responding he got defensive and then exploded with “How long is this going to take anyway? I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing, when are you going to get better?” That is a much abbreviated version. It was horrible because I was begging him not to speak with me that way and telling him he was really triggering me. I finally took my blood pressure and it was 198 over 100 and he finally stopped but much damage had been done. As reality settled over me and I tried to calm down I knew we were done, there was no way I could stay in this situation. I now knew it was abuse and to stay would just be stupid.

I gathered my purse and inhalers and got in the car not knowing where to go. I didn’t really have anywhere to go so I thought I’d go for a ride and figure it out. Thought about going to visit my sister in Woodstock, 2 and 1/2 hours away and realized I didn’t know if the car would make it there safely. New realities flooding in, my actual situation came home to my soul. I didn’t even have a safe car to drive away from this relationship in. Having no where else to go I went back home.

I don’t often lose control in anger but I was angry and I let him know every reason why and to save my life I had to get out of our marriage. He was not a safe person for me.

Tim was repentant. He’d been calling the entire time I was gone and I wasn’t going to answer the phone. I don’t think he expected me to come back. Then we talked. Then we watched tv.newlife.com and how to make your wife feel safe and how to deal with triggers and how to make restitution and all these shows and Tim’s eyes seemed to be really opened to the pain he’d been causing. With a pending possibility of separation sex was no where on the table and that ended “the dance”.

The following Friday we had a family conflict and that somehow drew our souls together. We didn’t blame each other, it had actually happened because Tim was trying to protect me. No one is used to that! Lol! He held me so that I could sleep and he’d put his hand where the pain is and gently press in to make it feel better. My mother used to have me press my stomach against her and that is the last time I experienced that kind of safe touch, except for with my babies and grandbabies. Our souls were becoming entwined in our mutual pain. Until Friday.

The AC had been acting up and with my asthma Tim was really worried about it because it had gotten hot. We were managing and then he said he was going to buy a little unit for the bedroom so we’d be cool in there until Robert could come and fix our ac. Being the end of the season they were out and he ended up making several stops on his way home but he’d gotten one. Tim had been busy all week because when I pointed out the car situation he saw how that would make me feel unsafe and he seemed to take personal responsibility for it. We are allegedly selling our house and we want to replace our car then and not borrow money. I literally go out alone like once a week so the car has not been a priority. He’d been working on taking care of repairs all week and I couldn’t sway him. He was determined and when I questioned him he said, “You will have a safe car, even if it’s to drive away from me.” Back to Friday.

It was hot and he was struggling to get the unit to sit right and get everything where it needed to be. I told him to calm, I was getting more and more anxious but he didn’t listen. He just exploded on me and horrible vitriol came forth from him. His real feelings just spewed at me and I was begging him to stop and he wouldn’t and my world was again falling apart before my eyes. At one point I was on the floor and he kept on raging. I can’t stay in that situation if I want to somehow allow God to redeem what is left of my life. The really sad part is my heart had already begun to harden from the time two weeks prior.

The following Monday was when I asked if I was a narcissist and was told no, that I was a victim of a narcissist. This was devastating because I was ready to be the bad guy. I’ve been told many times I’m the problem, how can they all be wrong? What had happened was I began to believe what I was being told. I’ve spent so much time in self examination looking for what I did wrong, what I’m doing wrong, what I might do wrong. My therapist calls me on it and I’m glad but you give me a negative event and I’ll work it all the way around to it being my fault. If it’s my fault the pain was self inflicted, not someone else hurting me, rejecting me. If I’m the problem I can control it. The bad guy can get good. I’m a victim? Tim and I dove into tv.newlife.com and he saw it. He saw the damage that he’d been doing to me and the damage that he’d been doing to himself and to our family. My symptoms are text book, his actions have been text book. Narcissism is pretty common in addiction. He saw it and he was broken.

My dad lived the last parts of his life as a sober drunk and a drunk drunk. He never went into recovery to dig out the pain that caused his addiction. He’d do fine for a while and a trigger would send him diving back into the bottle. When he was sober he was exercising great self control until he couldn’t. With Tim, up until the “diagnosis”, he’d simply been exercising great self control until he couldn’t. It’s how he’s managed it our entire marriage. Until times got tough and he’d blow up our world again. With this last explosion has come great repentance, what appears to be Godly sorrow. It’s difficult to trust in that but I’m not running out the door quite yet.

It’s been a little more than three weeks and every day is wrestling with the realities of where we are. God has been so active in all of it, getting me other women to get around when He knew I was going to be crushed again, I got into my Sustained Victory group and even went to a ladies night! I would never leave him alone because I was afraid of what might happen when I was gone. If I have to live in that fear, though, what kind of life is that? What kind of relationship is that? Not one that is healthy and I reject that.

Because Tim appears broken and repentant and changing, I am staying. The ball is really in his court. I just read this to him over the phone and he says to post it so here it comes!