01 June 2014

The Life Raft of The Dawn Treader

The Spousal Unit has been back for about two weeks now and we've settled into what I guess is a kind of normal for us.  This is truly a set of experiences that I desperately wish there was some kind of road map to follow, left behind by others who have gone before.

Yeah...not so much.

Right now he has no funds except what little I managed to save from our joint account and the money I've put in from my own account every now and then when I can.  I've kept him on my insurance so he has relatively inexpensive access to the meds he needs.  I've bought him groceries each week.

Part of me feels the things I'm helping him with are unfair.  He *censored* up yet it is still affecting me - has never stopped affecting me.  I know rehab isn't a vacation, per se, but for those three months the SU didn't have to worry about groceries, bills, et cetera, while I did.  I had to coordinate my move into my apartment as well as the closing down of our old apartment.  NOT that I'm going to say God wasn't there in that because He was.  His generosity along with the love and generosity of His people made these last three months something...good; in a way, even awesome.

But I struggle with the idea that I took care of things then and I'm still doing it now.  Part of it, I know, is I have a money button.  My dad was never very responsible with it and, for me, having a surplus on hand represents security.  I wonder at times if that makes me akin to the parables about those who try to store treasures on earth.  They store treasures.  I look for a particular number that makes me comfortable. Although, come to think of it, they never stopped storing up treasure and I never found a number that made me comfortable.  Ah, irony.

Maybe that's what God has been trying to drum into my head?  Not to spend willy-nilly but to be generous with the Spousal Unit as my Abba has been generous with me.  It was God who paved the way for the SU to be in rehab in four days from his initial request.  It was God who showed his provision for me with all of his people who offered money, love, supplies and time.  Now that I have the opportunity to model this for the Spousal Unit, I balk?

To give the Spousal Unit his due, he has set out to do exactly what he said he would:  demonstrate a commitment to sobriety.  He has attended a meeting each day since his return.  He has a sponsor.  He starts his new job on Monday.  He is respecting my boundaries.

I think part of what makes this difficult for me is that there are so many triggers - some of which I don't even know about until they get set off.  Let's take yesterday for example.  We went to Walmart.  He pulled the truck into a space and I started to get out just as he took his foot off the clutch.  The truck jolted forward a couple feet.  This is a normal "oops!" moment for anyone else.  It's an "Oh no, he's been drinking!" moment for me even though there was no indication of it.  It's a trigger.  It's past behavior that is now inextricably linked to something bad even though, now, there may be a totally benign explanation.

I do my best to not ask about his meeting attendance or what he does with his sponsor.  His recovery, not mine and controlling co-dependence is so unattractive :P.  I definitely need not to try and control for my own recovery and mental health (scroll back through previous entries to see how well my attempts to control his drinking worked.  Cliff's Notes answer?  Not very well).  But holy cow, it' shard!  I want to know.  And I want reassurances.  And I want them in a language I can understand.  But I also know that to "make" him do or say the things I want him to will not really assuage my fears in the end.  They will be done or said because I demanded them and not because they came honestly from him.  I have to...HAVE TO...let him say or not say, do or not do, what he will in terms of recovery and relationship repair.  And all the time, I have to be working on my own healthier boundaries and expectations.

Separating and attempting reconciliation along with mental health is a ball of laughs, let me tell you.

We've had two date nights so far.  He comes over on Saturday afternoons to do his laundry.  We hang out on the sofa, watch Cops and cook frozen pizza.  It's actually not a huge change from what we used to do but it has been a long time since we've done it.  It's nice.  We've both said how much we've missed doing things like this.  No spending the night yet.  I'm not ready and neither is he.  I want my apartment to be my safe space a little longer; introduce him gradually into my new world.

To work on forgiveness and grace in such an active manner is painful at times.  The SU was a blackout drinker, meaning he has no recollection of a lot of the things he did or said.  BUT I DO.  Vivid, technicolor memories.  That means I also have to work past wanting my pound of flesh (carefully weighed and measured, mind you) for the pain he has caused me over the years.

However, I'm currently reading Timothy Keller's Jesus the King as part of my study.  In it, Keller talks about the need to go deeper in a relationship with Jesus past the "I wants" and the attempts to carve out or preserve what we believe our identity should be instead of building it on Jesus.  Doing that and letting Jesus go as deep as He needs to in order to be our foundation is risky and painful.  Keller illustrates this with the chapters of C.S. Lewis' Voyage of the Dawn Treader where Eustace has been turned into a dragon by his own greed and thoughts.

Just when Eustace thinks there is no hope left, Aslan appears, tells him to undress and jump in a pool of water.  Eustace figures out "undress" means to shed his dragon skin and starts trying to do so layer by layer.  But as much as he gnaws and tears, each shed layer only reveals another layer underneath.

It's at this point Aslan tells Eustace that "you're going to have to let me go deeper" (i.e. use his claws to divest Eustace of his dragon hide).  Eustace is afraid because, hey, claws! (and remember Aslan is not a tame lion, either).  But he agrees.  In describing it, Eustace says, "The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart.  And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt."  Soon, though, the skin is off, dark and ugly-looking and piled to the side.  Eustace is thrown in the pool and realizes he is a boy again.

Keller's point is that Eustace tried to do it little by little and could never have succeeded on his own.  He desperately wanted to be a boy again but tried to do it just by taking Aslan's instruction as a suggestion and never asking him how to get the dragon hide off.  It was only when he let Aslan take over that the change, the transformation, occurred.  We have to - I have to - let Jesus "use his claws", as Keller puts it, and reconfigure the main thing my heart wants.  The SU remaining sober is one of my most heartfelt wishes but as has been shown time and again, MY attempts to grant MY wish have ended in failure.  I have to let Jesus act as Savior and know that even though He can grant me what I want with a snap of his fingers, I need to let Him go deeper, let him deal with and remove/change the anger and fear that threads through my relationship with the Spousal Unit.  Forgive and be forgiven.  That's the only way either of us will ever receive true healing.