No Genie in The Bottle
“My Gutsy Story®”-Ginger Simpson
I married my high school sweetheart and expected to spend eternity together. He worked as a police sergeant, and I spent my days as an Academic Counselor. Like most couples, I thought we had a perfect marriage–the average American family, two kids, two cars, two careers. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. One of our sons was grown and married, and the other just graduated high school. And then after thirty-two years, the proverbial crap hit the fan. I’m not sure how, or more importantly, why, but my husband found something he loved more than me, Jack Daniels.
At first the occasional drink didn’t concern me, but when his JD over ice became a nighttime ritual, I decided it was time for a talk. I told him I didn’t understand how a non-drinker suddenly became one who imbibed regularly. I tried to make him see how insecure his drinking made me feel. I offered to go for counseling but he insisted everything was fine. Of course, I continually asked him if I was the reason he turned to alcohol, but his answer was always ‘no’–he was completely happy and only drank to take the edge off his day. He promised to stop, but what he actually meant was he wouldn’t leave the booze where I could find it. Yet, every cabinet I opened had a bottle inside (some filled, some half empty), even the peg boards in the garage had JD hidden behind them, yet he insisted he didn’t have a problem.
Even when forced by his supervisor to go for rehab, he lied and told me he’d volunteered to go for us, but I later discovered the program wasn’t his choice. He either went or was forced into retirement. So, yet another lie to placate me.
Wanting someone to change isn’t enough. They have to WANT the change, and he obviously didn’t. I don’t think he believed I was strong enough to honor my threats of leaving. His ten-day rehab proved a waste of time that didn’t kill his desire to drink but made him a tearful drunk. He obviously got in touch with his emotions but only exposed them when he drank to excess.
At a time when I was looking forward to midlife security and being proud of our achievements as a couple, I had to decide if living in continued fear of what I’d find when I walked inside the front door was worth it. I’d already found him passed out, with a cigarette smoldering in the carpet and the house in disarray more times than I could count. Our youngest son had long ago stopped asking his friends over because his dad didn’t grasp the concept we all shared the same home. Our feelings ceased to matter.
The day I came home and found my husband…this man I had loved for so many years, passed out, naked, and soaked in urine, his usual cigarette burning yet another hole in the carpet we couldn’t afford to replace, was the day I decided to make the change. I couldn’t stand one more minute questioning my own integrity. Had I caused him to turn to drink? I went to an Al-Anon meeting and listened to stories like mine, but no one there had solutions. Others continued to live in the same hell, day after day, but I knew I couldn’t. Choices are pretty limited when you’re faced with a difficult one. If someone refuses to change, your only option is to remove yourself from the situation. I’d moved right from my parent’s house to a duplex I shared with my new husband, so I’d never lived alone. Could I find the inner strength I needed?
Starting over at forty-nine wasn’t an easy decision. Somehow, I mustered my determination, packed some clothes and walked out, leaving him with the house I once loved, and everything except the few things I needed. Luckily, I had shared my story with a co-worker who gave me a key to her house and told me she had an extra room. I took her up on the offer. Living in one bedroom, surrounded by nothing that belonged to me was hell. I don’t know which was worse–my living arrangements or still trying to work things out in my head.
I’d tried to make my husband understand that love is comprised of trust and respect, and every time he lied or I saw him in a repulsive state, the loss of trust and respect chipped away at that emotion. I’d often wondered about the saying “I love him but I’m not ‘in love’ with him,” because it didn’t make sense to me. Suddenly, I knew what those words meant, but not out of want.
God granted me sisters for moral support, and one, gratefully, for financial. With her help, I was able to get into my own apartment for the first time in my life and see what being independent was truly like.
Once our house sold, my husband relocated to the apartments next door to mine. I tried several times to tell him I was moving on without him, but he apparently didn’t believe me–or didn’t want to. In desperation, I put my feelings in writing, and explained I couldn’t help him heal. In my written plea, I also told him I wished him well, would always care for him, but in order to open new doors, I had to close the old ones. That was my determining moment–picturing him standing on the other side while I moved blindly into a new life, not knowing what to expect. That decision was the most frightful I’ve ever made. Sometimes, the unions we think are the best are missing elements we don’t realize until we seize the moment and make a change. It was the most difficult, gusty move I’ve ever made, but it worked out for the best.
GINGER SIMPSON BIO:
In 2002, Ginger Simpson decided to attempt writing her own novel, and in 2003 her first offering, Prairie Peace, was published. Since then, she’s dabbled in other genres but always seems to migrate back to her favorite historical era. As all authors continue to learn through the process, so has Ginger, and her debut novel has been recently released with a new cover and title, Destiny’s Bride. Although her biggest dream has been saying ‘yes’ when someone asked if her book was at Walmart, she’s happy with the progress of ebooks, but after repeated questions, she recently tucked one of her books into her coat and smuggled it into Walmart just so she could take a photo of it on their best-selling shelf. She never said it had to stay for long. http://www.gingersimpson.com
Please join her on Twitter @mizging
Ginger has several books on Amazon. Check out her Author Page.
SONIA MARSH SAYS: The phrase that struck me in your inspiring story is:
“Wanting someone to change isn’t enough. They have to WANT the change.”
This applies to everything in life, and I am also sad to see how women so often “blame” themselves when something is not right.
“I continually asked him if I was the reason he turned to alcohol.”
Thanks for sharing your “My Gutsy Story®” story and the fact that you left, and started a new life after 30-some years will help other women in the same situation
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