My Other Scarier Life, The First Sign of Trouble

This is the category on this blog that gets the most readers.  It feels like a side note to me, after family stuff and teenagers making me drink more wine.  I guess people search for stories that are like their own.  Kindof like how I’m watching Parenthood because identifying with the parents of wayward teenagers makes me feel not so alone.  I’ll have to write more about those dreadful days.  Remembering is hard because I’ve moved past it and now my life is really good.  I don’t mean I’ve put it in the past, the way people do when they think it’s as easy as not thinking about it.  I’ve processed it, done some EMDR, and I don’t feel attached any more and so it has faded.

I’ve also forgotten what I’ve written about and what I haven’t.

I know I haven’t written about the early days when the signs were there and I should have known better. It’s rather embarrassing at this time in my life to look back and admit to being so naive.  I still wonder why I would ever make the choices I made.  Anyway . . .

We worked in the same restaurant in the wilderness.  People came from all over to work there and it was isolating and full of employee drama.  We lived where we worked and had no bills, other than the ones we’d brought with us.

My last day there he came to work smelling like the rum he was still drunk on and slurring.  He couldn’t handle his tables’ orders and I worked behind him, making sure everyone was happy (covering for him).  I was out in the dining room bringing misses items to tables that he’d forgotten when I heard him having a loud argument about toast with a waitress.  So loud I could hear it all the way to the fireplace where Buffalo Bill followed me with his eyes from the picture above the fireplace.

At the time, being drunk was not a red flag for me because we all drank and we all went to work our shifts in various stages of hangover.  Waking up drunk to work was almost preferred over a killer hangover headache.  But there I am making excuses for his behavior again.  Or maybe I’m making excuses for mine.

So after the loud argument, the shift soon ended and I was called upstairs to talk to the manager.  I thought they wanted to ask me what happened.  Instead I was told that I would have to leave the restaurant to work in the gift shop–a demotion in money and status.  Mostly money.  I don’t remember the reason given, something about the ex and his friend not being able to get along while I was in the room.

He and I had planned to spend the weekend in town and since I was crushed and confused I spent the weekend as planned only I was angrier and angrier at the decision to move me when I hadn’t done anything wrong and instead had done my best to keep things running smoothly through his drunken slurring and the loud fight.

He commiserated with me in the unfairness of it all and suggested we quit and run back to the East Coast earlier than we had planned.  The grass is always greener in Massachusetts.  In hindsight I wonder why he didn’t remedy the situation by taking responsibility and stepping down.

We moved into a pay-by-the-week hotel until he could get his license back.  He sat across the street in a dive bar every day and then complained that there were dirty dishes in the kitchenette when he came back to the room.  “As my wife, it’s your job to do the dishes.”  That was the first sign of criticism and control.

Why did I stay?  I already felt trapped by the “marriage” and wasn’t sure how to get out of it.  Because of him I had lost my job and was living in a hotel.  I had no support system.  I thought/hoped that when we became “real adults” with real jobs and bills and responsibilities he would act like one, which was what I already knew I would do.  I put my expectations of myself on him, instead of seeing the reality of what he was.

Now I can see all the red flags:  no drivers license, no job, no bills, drinking daily, telling me what me role was, not taking responsibility.

At the time I was almost as much of a bum as he was and saw nothing all that wrong with it.


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