Open Letter to the Alcoholic Who Broke My Heart (December 12, 2013)

This may seem like an odd post right on the heels of so much Thanksgiving happiness and gratitude, but life is full of twists and turns that way. I did not write this material as a blog post. I actually wrote and sent this to my now former flame earlier this week. It will never be responded to and I am not likely to ever have the answers I need to help me make sense of it all and move on cleanly. But my life and voice matter and in order to try to minimize what is already a huge pile of sorrow and waste, I am reprinting the letter here.

I realize that certain portions of it may be shocking, embarassing, perhaps even anger-inducing to certain people who have come know and respect me. Clearly I am an imperfect being with a lot of work to do on herself. I am one who lived a life (prior to age 30) mostly in the shadows – secrets, hidden pain, truths almost too awful to speak. In a sense, though there was much love, serious portions of the last 18 months have been a lived lie as well. I just didn’t see how clearly that was so and it’s time to throw the doors open so that maybe, just maybe, I can find some peace.

Dear Sir-

For reasons I will never fully comprehend or understand, I am sitting here thinking about and viewing the wreckage that was our life and home together. As the entire Facebook world knows now, you went out last Friday night on one of your famous benders, came home later than promised and nearly burned the house down for the second time in a month – all this when I had the flu and needed security and care. The next morning, I woke up understandably incensed but instead of apologizing, you mocked me, told me you were tired of my shit and said you were going for a walk. Yes, I threw your coat and sweatshirt into the hallway and invited you to walk it off and return when you had some sense of responsibility. Who wouldn’t? I am not a doormat and this had happened too many times

As you know I never saw you again despite many, many pitiful begging outreaches for you to return, let me apologize (when I had done nothing wrong) and work things out. Instead you chose the situation we have now. What I regret more than the loss of you and I is the way I let your disease control me. I degraded myself convinced that your logic, grasp of right and wrong and love for me would lead you back to sanity. I was arrogant. I never understood until now that I was never a match for alcohol.

I was so confused, depressed and desperate, I put myself in harm’s way on Saturday and it is quite fortunate I am sitting here typing this message today. I took way too much (apparently overdosing is harder than it looks) and I woke up vomiting, hating myself for my weakness and giving you the satisfaction. You never looked back at me despite 18 months of love, family, experiences, intimacy and life planning. I will never be sure or be able to prove it, but will always suspect that something angry and destructive clicked in your head Saturday and you wanted to definitively punish me for my inability to accept your disease and commitment to drinking, knew we could never come to agreement about it. Perhaps you were right, but I am a human being who took good care of you: invested in you, your dreams, your child and grandchild, believed the best in you. You were and still are the love of my life but if there is any justice for me it will not remain that way forever. 

Your ongoing flight from reality has allowed you to hide from the harm you’ve caused, the fact that I am terribly, terribly hurt when you know well from my history that I am a person who can ill afford another disillusionment. You’ve taken advantage of that as you have so many other elements of me. I remember when we started dating, you predicted it. You told me more than once: “My drinking is the source of all my problems: financial, career, relationships. If I lose you, it will be my fault and everyone will know it. Know that I blew it with a woman who loved the shit out of me that I probably never deserved anyway.” I should have taken you more seriously, clearly, but another one of your tricks is to always straddle the line between “humor” and reality so that no one ever knows what matters to you or how serious you are.

I deserve some sort of conversation, closure, some taking of the responsibility that you haven’t been able to assume while I propped up the relationship and gave you a great Facebook love story.

Almost everyone who knows us, even those who don’t like me much, know I was good for you. They also know you’re a drunk and that at your age, there’s not too many chances left for health and happiness like we had (because really, at the end of the day, every problem we faced stemmed from your drinking – the embarassing episodes, the womanizing, the fights and police activity, the damaged ribs, the broken promises, my hysterical confusion – all had genesis in your bottle). The same couple that could build a Run for Fun and the family we were forming is thoughtlessly and effortlessly brought down by one man’s refusal to be well for himself and the person he claimed to love and cherish. This is an epic tragedy and one I will just never understand. I have to believe somewhere that you did love me, that what we had was real, but it’s so hard to grasp given your heartless behavior.

What I wanted Saturday was a loving, calm partner who could see what his patterns were doing and work with me on finding solutions. Only a completely blind person could miss that this dream is now impossible and I have to find another. It will be hard but I will do it.

What I won’t be anymore is a dehumanized warehouse for your belongings and the remnants of our life, left to come home to an empty apartment each night to look at what was: the only adult who seems to be wondering how we’ll end our storage lease, whether you have enough clothes and toiletries, or if you’re drinking yourself to death. It has been clear for several days that you are not wondering about or missing me. The fact that I haven’t eaten since Friday night, can’t sleep and feel a gnawing pit in my stomach probably means nothing to you. My sister advised me not to tell you these things but I have nothing to hide. It is you who should be ashamed. I am proud of the effort I gave us. I was my best partner with you. 

So here it is. If I don’t hear anything from you by Sunday evening, this is what I am doing: I will have friends help me remove your belongings from the storage place and my apartment and put them somewhere, anywhere out of my sight so that I am no longer burdened with the pain of having to see them. Both the apartment lease and the storage space are in my name and it is my legal right to do so in the absence of some accountability from your end. I have said this to you in a voicemail but I am also typing it out for posterity with witnesses so there’s no later confusion: I do not want you in my apartment moving and packing things when I am not present. I no longer trust you with anything.

All this said, you do not have to let it come to that and any wise person would probably encourage you to act like the 42 year-old man you are supposed to be. You can collect your belongings at a mutually agreeable time and it doesn’t have to be by the close of Sunday, but if you’d like to take advantage of my patience in that regard, you are going to have to communicate. You don’t make all the rules. This is not your world with me just gratefully living in it. I want to leave no room for being misquoted. 

The storage lease is due December 28th and the rent on the first. I will not pay the former out of my own pocket just because you refuse to make a transition plan with me. The rent I will deal with as it would be mine whether you lived there or not. If you need to leave things in storage beyond the 28th, you will have to pay me half the fee. Not negotiable and silence is not a response. If that is what you choose, I will revert to Plan A which I delineated several paragraphs up.

I have advised my building super that you have a key but are not welcome in my apartment so again, I must fervently discourage you from trying to go there without my presence. I cannot believe I am having to type any of this. I have been through divorces that were more adult and caring and amicable. One of the only comforts left to me at this point is the absolute certainty that somewhere in your confused brain you are well aware of the mistakes you are making, and will regret them long after I have ceased to feel pain. I would have loved to say all of this in person but you will not grant me any courtesies. So this is what I have.

In my secret dreams, I will nourish a fantasy of you showing up at my door, 30-day sobriety chip in hand, saying all the words you couldn’t say when you had the chance and vowing to take care of me for the rest of your life to atone for everything. Of course that will never happen but it’s a lot more plesant to ponder than the sick and awful events you have intermittently subjected me to over the course of 18 months. I will do my best to always remember the good in you, your humor and your potential. I also promise to always be there for your child and grandchild, as well as treasure the bonds I formed with other members of your family. I do not have to lose all of that just because I am nothing to you.

Above all, I will always live in fear of that call – the one that says you’re in jail, the hospital or dead, the outcome of some terrible drunken tragedy. You deserve better than that. I hope you see that, believe it and take action one day. You are letting alcohol do your living for you. It’s not the choice you pretend to yourself that it is.

I await your response – or not. Then I will follow-through with Plan A with a very heavy heart, simply because you’ve left me no other option. Through it all, I love you. I always will. I also thank you. You were really the man who brought my heart back to life after my divorce two years ago. My sister will tell you she’d never seen me happier with a man, for however long that lasted. I know better than to expect you to say anything kind in return, no matter how true. It’s safer to keep to yourself, I’m sure. So I will have to learn not to need it and hold onto my own truth.

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