The Beginning of My Memoir
My name is James and I am an alcoholic, I say it all the time at AA meetings and sometimes, I say it to myself, either in my head or outloud, just to remind myself.
My name is James and I am an alcoholic, I say it all the time at AA meetings and sometimes, I say it to myself, either in my head or outloud, just to remind myself. Two years ago now, while living in North Carolina, I quit drinking just as my wife of 8 years was headed for a five month research trip. By then, in my mind, the marraige was unlikely to succeed, the distance placed between us by my drinking and her retaliations had become too great. I suppose as she was leaving I had some idea that maybe we could make it work.
With great reluctance and doubt I started going to AA meetings. Being an agnostic, anti-social and feeling entirely scooped out and hollowed of any humanity I was sure it was not for me. To my complete shock, within a couple of weeks I felt that I had found a sort of home, a club that I belonged in. I caught AA fever and for the first time in my life I started to feel hope. I of course shared all of thi with my wife whenever we could talk online or over the phone. To my dismay, she asserted that she would have nothing to do with AA or Alnon and continued to assert that a book that my therapist gave us to try and salvage our relationship was of no interest to her. She had been eager to see me quit drinking, but it seemed only because she feared I would wreck one of the cars or burn down the house in her absence.
I was devestated and scared and felt betrayed. It didn't occur to me that my own history and defects of character were contributing to her behavior, it would be far too late when that information would reach me. I could see only how she had wronged me and continued to by not appreciating and assisting in my efforts to change. I resented her for all of it.
Sober only a few months I took a trip to my home state of Michigan and payed a visit to an old friend who was sober for a long time, I had questions for her. It turned out to be a fateful visit. In spite of our both being married the visit kicked off a heavy flirtation that was limited to texts and emails for another month or so. She was stirring something in me though. All my life there had been this certain darkness in me and I feared it and keeping it repressed was what created the barrier from my humanity, because I never truly allowed myself to feel anything, except anger and fear.
Soon began in earnest, an affair, darkly sexual, full of fantasy fullfillment of violent, sadistic and just plain taboo acts. In spite of the nature of it, we fell in love. We knew that one way or another there was going to be heartache and misery for one or both of us and very possibly our spouses and families. Such is the selfish and reckless nature of alcholics that that fact did nothing to stop us.
When my wife arrived back in the country I watched as she decended on the escalator at the airport and knew that my heart had been emptied of her, later she would tell me she felt it too, that she had lost me. I told myself I owed it to her and to the eight years we had been together to try to make it work. It was mid-December and in a matter of days we would be heading on a drive out to California to her parent's for Christmas. On the drive back from the airport I sat hoping that things would improve (though I had no intention of stopping the affair). As soon as we walked in the door, those hopes were dashed as she berated me for the unfinished laundry, the house not being in good enough order; the romantic gift I made for her was not something she knew what to do with. She took photos of the house and was going to show everyone what I did to her house while she was away and what she had to come home to. I slinked off and found comfort in texting with the other woman.
In spite of my guts telling me not to, I decided to go with her on the trip to California. The ride was horrible, I had given up even hiding the fact that I was constantly texting with someone else, though I denied anything was happening. Once in California I grew miserable and depressed, I went to meetings while she drank heavily and lashed out at me. AFter a discussion with the other woman, I left. I packed my things and headed to Detroit, telling my wife I needed to think about our future. I knew I was leaving for good but wasn't ready to tell her.
I ran to the comfort of deviant sex and loving arms of a married mother of two. It should have seemed wrong at the time or at least foolish, but it didn't. I returned to NC in late January to tell my wife it was over. I had intended to stay until spring, but she insisted that I leave the house and so I headed directly back to Michigan, where I holed up in my friends basement and indulged in my deviant little affair. For a time, things were blissful, but in time the relationship turned to poison as I wanted her to leave her husband and she refused, hinted and put off the action.
In May of 09 I went to an Alnon meeting and it was there that compassion for my estranged wife struck me. I had been blind. I wrote a letter, asking her if she might consider reconciling, she would not. By then the information had reached her that I had been having an affair.
So things went on, I navigated my way through the affair, through unemployment, financial ruin and a divorce. The affair started finding reasons to be around less, things cooled, my eyes began to open to the realities of my situation. Being lonely, I found comfort in the company of a friend, a wonderful divorced woman with two kids of her own, older than me, beautiful and strong and wise. She had her own problems and flaws, but we had known each other by then for some time. Allison was ideal and our interactions held the promise of a real and healthy relationship.
Shamefully I clung to the affair, Allison was to be just a companion. She went through torment and shame to be with me, most of the time I was oblivious to it and it will be a burden of guilt and shame that I will carry forever. I have no idea why she kept subjecting herself to it, she is not a woman of low self esteem or weakness. Slowly, too slowly however, my heart started turning to her, I fell in love, though it took time to admit it to myself and longer to admit it to her. Then one day, I woke up, ditched the affair and threw myself into Allisons heart and life. That caused a whole host of turmoil, but we found our soul mates if you ask me.
My journey into and out of addiction has been one of selfishness, hubris and mistakes, people have been hurt, hearts have been broken, lives altered, sometimes to ruin. The consequences of my particular foolishness seem to fall equally upon those around me as they do me. I hope to tell the whole story with an honesty and thoroughness that permits the very telling of it to unburden me and steer me toward redemption.