Sunday, March 8, 2009

Another Weekend, Another Wedding

Day 62

Feel awful. Nervous pit in my stomach, plummeting emotionally. Basically, I got all riled up because it was 9:30 and the kids still weren't in bed. I muttered something about Linsey being a permissive-indulgent parent, and locked myself in the den for some quiet. She asked me if I needed to go to my mom's, which really means “stop being a cranky asshole.” I came out when it was quiet again and she was sitting on the couch rigidly typing into her journal, which means she'll be distant and curt for a few hours. Quiet isn't really her default state – her childhood report cards commented “too interested in her neighbor's affairs.” Linsey likes to dig, just not in her own stuff. I apologized; I should move on and give her space. Codependent, codependent, codependent.

Weekend update. Saturday, my cousin Jack married his fiancé Gerri. Let me do that “I statement” thing here: I have a tough time at weddings. And in the last year, there's been about ten of them. Close family, distant family, friends, church people. The church ones included a few that were basically rentals of our facilities; I was just the “sound guy” in the booth, starting the syrupy sweet slide show and playing Celine Dione.

Most of the time, the ceremonies aren't too terribly triggering. I've actually tried to listen, to be teachable and open. I think what hit me the hardest several months back was really hearing the phrase “for better or for worse.” Leaving isn't an option. Using or suicide or checking out isn't an option. Just a good reminder to have on the table.

It's the receptions that kill me. Over the years, I've been in this panic-attack vicious cycle of nervously anticipating that I will feel upset at the reception, then feeling upset at the reception, then remembering feeling upset at the reception and feeling nervous about feeling upset at the next reception, and feeling upset about feeling nervous about feeling upset at the next reception. Whatever.

Our cultural formula is to move from sacred-ish stuff at the ceremony to increasingly sexual stuff at the reception. And each of those sexy little traditions – clinking glasses for kisses, the garter belt toss – is another tripped land mine for me. I have typically responded by remembering what I didn't have (closeness and intimacy and warmth) and concluding that I'll never have it. Then I've watched my body react to the nausea by shutting down my systems, one by one. I stop hearing people talking, I stop tasting my food. I stop being upset or nervous or excited. I stop remembering, and I sever my connection to the room I'm in. The romantic lighting and the dance floor go away, and I stop smelling the catered food and the alcohol. I'm ready to go, now, I tell Linsey. Drive me home and let me sleep.

Some song says “all night long,” again, and I am sick, again, that we never had “all night long.” There's a reason for “all night long,” you know. Endorphins and hormones are released in early courtship that give you boundless energy, that make you invincible. I read it in a book. A book that I had to bury, with the rest, because it triggered me. I had those hormones, that energy, and she didn't. They don't come back, it said. Not like that.

But I made a decision, an act of volition, that I would be Linsey's partner this weekend. Not her sulky, helpless man-child. I wasn't perfect. I screamed at her on the phone that I was going to kill myself on the way to the rehearsal. I was mad because it made her feel uncomfortable that I never made it into the office Friday. I was running endless errands and doing wedding-stuff, I told her. Not using, hallucinating, floating in a delirium of porn, like I used to do. Don't you trust me after 60 days??!? Silly Linsey.

But aside from that little detour into crazy-land, I did a good job. I apologized for being impossible, took a deep breath, and moved on. I took it one moment at a time, and filled a mental scrapbook with memories of being a groomsman, a cousin, and a friend. It helped that Jack has been in recovery with me, and that we were surrounded by program people from the rehearsal to the alcohol-free reception.

Jack's mom asked me to write a song for their mother-son dance. I sang it live, while they danced, and people loved it. Everybody cried. They were speechless and wide-eyed and breathless. They wanted to know if they could buy it for their weddings. Of course, that wasn't enough for me. I felt insecure and stupid and sick. What if I sounded amateur? Or if my dedication beforehand wasn't funny? There's some big bag of psychological crap there, and I'm just starting to tear into it.

Most importantly, I danced with Linsey. Just two songs. But I held her and kissed her. I enjoyed it and experienced it. And I'm still here, writing about it. No drama, no crisis, just a lot of gear to shlep out to the car and an uneventful ride home. What a blessing. That's serenity.


  1. Wow, how tough to face feelings like this. But cut yourself a little slack..most people never look this far inside themselves. They just keep blaming the other person & get divorced.
    I'm a strong believer that it takes two to make or break a marriage. I'm skeptical when I read how it's all the other persons fault.
    I think you are giving it your all, it can be painful & raw. You are willing to own your stuff & you write about it well.

  2. Eli, that's quick!!!

    Thanks, listen, I gotta go now yo my 7 AM meeting..Talk to you later. Need Email address, send to please.
    Steve E,

  3. Some nights I wake up alone in bed and 'freak mode' goes on - without my being aware of it, I fear going to look for my husband because I do not want to know that he is gone if he is - that my trust has been broken after so much healing -I have been told it is compareable to post traumatic stress - you expect certain things after so many years - seeing that something else can happen is hard work and then accepting that it is there for good even harder.

    Keep up the good work!

  4. I am so glad you danced with your wife and kissed her. Its the little steps my friend, that take us to the mountain tops.

  5. I'm glad things went well for you at the wedding.

    You know, you shouldn't beat yourself up too much about not enjoying yourself at wedding reveptions in general. Lots of people don't like them. Like me. I guess I'm lucky my husband's not a huge fan either - and he knows it's best to get me out of a social situation when I've hit my cooked point - because we'll get out of there as soon as it is socially not rude (notice I didn't say acceptable. That's because sometimes we escape the first chance we think no one will notice we're gone).

    When I drank, at first I'd be ready to leave an hour in. But by two hours in, I wanted to keep the place open all night. Yuck. I don't miss those days.

  6. I wish we could hear the song.

    If it helps at all, my brain seemed to settle down a LOT between 60 and 90 days. And that would be each time, not just the first, second, third, etc. I mention it because each time I managed to forget. Maybe sobriety chips should be little brains instead of circles.

  7. Eli,thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm glad that I found your site. It sounds like the best part was dancing with Linsey. Tender and loving. Good for you.