Yesterday I went to marriage counseling at the Minneapolis VA, with Bob. We agreed that no matter where we end up, we need the help of a third party. We even had lunch after. Quite different from last week, right? Welcome to the ride.
It might have been the best counseling session I have ever been to. Of course, my expectations were very low. I really didn't want to go, because I didn't see the point. But I do think it is important that we try to have a good relationship apart, or together. Obviously, because we have kids, we will know each other for the rest of our lives. And I need reminding of how sick he is, and how to deal with how disappointed it makes me.
I think we are off to a good start there. We all agreed that the ball is pretty much in Bob's court. He has a decision to make on how involved he wants to be in our lives, and then I have to accept that decision, without my own expectations in the way. The counselor was clear that people often choose the path of least resistance. And if that's what they need to be happy, then no one should judge that. This isn't making light of Bob's illness. We all know its real, his anxiety, his depression, his fears. He admitted that life is much easier at his sister's. Obviously it would be. His only real responsibility is to get out of the house once a day and not drink. The drinking part isn't easy, but things aren't as easy over at my house. With myself and the four kids, we tend to have more demands of him.
Whatever he decides, I will find a way to cope. I have had trouble accepting that he will not really participate. I proved that last week, I get hung up on what I think he should be doing, and what he wants to do or can do. My timeline for his recovery hasn't really matched his timeline, and I get impatient.
There was the other part of him not doing things unless I bitch at him. If I stay quiet, he never goes to meetings, or does anything. If I talk enough or nag enough, he goes to a meeting, (don't freak out on me all of you Alanon folks). He is externally motivated and I am the naggy motivator. Neither of us really want these roles, but we are in a vicious cycle. I get what I want if I nag, and he gets to be mad at me when I do. He needs to figure out if he can be internally motivated to be more involved in recovery and the life that we are going to have over here. But I have been fired as his motivator. Now let's see if I can keep my mouth shut...
All in all, it was a very good session and a very good counselor. We don't have a goal to live happily ever after together or apart. We are only dealing with right now. And for all of us, this arrangement is the best. Of course it is the VA, so their isn't another appointment until March 11th. But that's cool.
The part that felt like a punch in the gut was that I was planning on starting my internship this summer. That would mean that I would be gone for 40-plus hours a week all summer. I am currently in the prepracticum course that you are supposed to take the semester before you start your internship. When I signed up for this, I thought his recovery was going to be faster, and he could take care of the kids for me. The counselor thought that this was a bad idea. I know he is right. Bob says he can do it, but I think it is a set up for misery on all of our parts. If he can't, the kids suffer, and so will I . And so will he. So I will start my internship in the fall. And be done with school spring of 2014.
That is life. It isn't the end of the world. I can do it. (My lip is quivering a little and I can hear the violin music.)
Have a good day.