19 July 2010

Forgiving

Kay turned 19 last week. For the first time in 19 years, I did not have to arrange a party and pay for it agonising for weeks on what food to get, where to hold the party etc etc.. She just went up to the town centre with her friends to a club, just turned up at the venue and they all paid for themselves, got themselves home again on the night bus etc. Easy peasy! I stayed at home and put my feet up, watching my favourite soaps on TV.

She and I had gone out for a celebratory meal together the night before on her actual birthday. There is an old Italian restaurant, she ,Greg and I always used to go to, when we were celebrating something special. This time, Kay and I felt we would change the venue and go to a new Italian restaurant that has just opened, but as luck would have it (or not) the new place was so crowded and they were queuing out the door waiting for tables. Kay declared it was in any case tradition to go to the old place and we decided to head for that after all, but we ended up queuing to get in there too. For a Wednesday night, all our local restaurants seemed very busy!

I found it hard. Being in our special restaurant without Greg. Looking at the menu and just knowing what he would have chosen, as he always chose the same thing when we went there. It was hard too that I was the one doing the ordering, when he always ordered. It was hard that I paid the bill, when he always paid. The table was set for two, when it was always set for three. When Kay was very little, Greg would order chocolate fudge cake for dessert and ask them to cut it into one third for Kay and two-thirds for him, as she could not eat a whole piece by herself. Kay ordered a whole piece for herself this time. A year ago, Greg had celebrated with us, although admittedly he was so drunk before we even got there, that it was embarrassing. He kept standing up to go out for a cigarette and his trousers kept falling down. He was also uncharacteristically very rude to the waiters. So many memories sparked by every stage of the meal. At times, I felt as if Greg was watching over us from above.

Up to now I have been consumed by such anger about what Greg did over the last five years: the money he wasted on alcohol and cigarettes (about £600 a month, making quite a hole in our already reduced income); the mental stress he caused Kay and me; the damage he did to his own health and ultimately his life; the ruined plans for retirement together. In many ways, my anger and the events of the last five years had blocked out any feelings I had for him. But for the first time since Greg died, since the funeral and since scattering the ashes last week, I actually felt sorry for him for missing out on Kay's birthday. Just like he'll miss out on every other milestone from now on - her graduation, her marriage, the grandchildren, every birthday and Christmas, not to mention other milestones in my life and those of his sister and her family. And in his. He's missed out already on things like the general election and the Lib/Con Coalition, the World Cup and there'll be more things to come.

I went to one of my local Al-Anon meetings last week. We were talking about Forgiveness. Someone said "Forgiving does not mean you have to forget; it just means you get rid of the hurt, because storing up resentment doesn't help you to move forward." Another spoke of alcoholism being like a mental illness and not something the alcoholic can help. Suddenly it all made sense. Greg's drinking was like a form of mental illness. He could not help it. It was too big for him to deal with - like anorexia or depression can be. Being angry with him was pointless, inasmuch as telling someone who is depressed to pull themselves together is pointless. Being angry does not help me move on either. I can't forget what happened; I can't pretend it never happened; but Kay and I have to forgive him to find peace of mind and move on.

21 comments:

nuttycow said...

Happy belated birthday to Kay - I hope she had a good night out.

I think you're right, alcoholism is a disease - much like depression is. And no, you won't be able to forget but you do need to forgive and make a move forward.

It's not an easy thing to do ... but it will happen.

Flowerpot said...

Belated happy birthday to Kay, and I do hope you are able to forgive and move on, Addy. As an ex-anorexic (a long time ago) I can equate with what you said about that, linking it to any other mental illness. I certainly couldn't have stopped it, but was fortunate enough to recover. Forgiveness takes time I find but I hope you manage it. You are one brave lady. xx

one planet said...

my daughter is going to be 19 nearly in some weeks so congrats to you and your daughter

we have so may dipolare worker s in my working group .I never met a group to talk about this disorder .it slowly makes me angry ..they threaten to take live away but the y dont change anyting to built up a new life -..
i work their work and they take then bill.. thats not good ..
so dont worry .. and what do they with us --I stopped going into their mud . No ..I want a good life with much joy

Gill - That British Woman said...

everything takes time, and everyone moves on at different time frames.

Good luck to you both and a happy belated birthday to your dd.

Gill in Canada

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Happy Birthday to Kay and I hope she had a great evening. It is still early days for you Addie and I believe anger is part of the healing process you have to go through. It is good that you have a support group to talk with - I'm sure it will help enormously and I am so pleased that you are continuing to do posts about how you are feeling and what you are doing. Your happy memories shine through too. A x

Nota Bene said...

Happy 19th to Kay...that's quite an age. Forgive, not forget...that's quite a lesson to learn....

Nechtan said...

Hi Addy,

I have to agree with you about alcoholism being like a mental illness. Just like you described it is very hard to get out of when you are in it. Its not as straight forward as a choice to drink or not when both your body and mind is needing subdued. I do think there is a great misconception about alot of addictions.

The meal must have been very difficuly for you and Kay. I'm glad that you are finding forgiveness because as you wrote it is not something you can ever forget. That meetings seem like they are a real help to the people who are sometimes forgotten in these situations.

All the best

Nechtan

Cass said...

Time has a strange effect on you're feelings - they soften. As I've gotten older I've learned to become more understanding and sympathetic to my own Mothers alcoholism. She passed when I was 19 (I'm now 29) and I still miss her but I'm not as angry or hurt at the betrayal of it.

I hope Kay had a good birthday

x

Retiredandcrazy said...

You have come such a long way in your thinking Addy. Anger and resentment are so dibilitating, sapping away at your core. You have learned to overcome that.

As you know I have been going to Al-Anon for a long time and although Davy had been sober for 35+ years the things that I learned stood me in good sted in my everyday life, especially since Davy died. It is entrenched in me to live "one day at a time" and to make the most of each day.

Addy, you are one spunky lady. Oh, and happy birthday to Kay.

Furtheron said...

Happy birthday to Kay. My son is 20 in a couple of weeks time - given I could easily have been where Greg sadly ended up reminds me to be grateful I'm just here.

Powerful and wonderful post - thanks.

Of course I'm the other side of the fence - I know I've caused hurt but difficult for me to fix any of that... I just carry on a day at a time trying to at the moment.

I know where he was - my habit get got to a similar amount of money when I threw the towel in and admitted that I was utterly powerless over it. That day 14th May 2004 was the simple turning point they day I surrendered but actually won.

So sorry Greg didn't get that moment of clarity and pull through. Those of us that do are the rare and lucky ones - I need to remind myself of that every single day or else I'll think something stupid like I'm normal and can handle alcohol, I patently can't.

Thanks for your blog it is so powerful. I hope in time you can return to the restaurant and not feel so down about it but truly to remember the good times and can forgive but not forget. Good luck

DogLover said...

Reading your blog from the early days, I never felt that your anger at Greg's behaviour was all-consuming. I always felt that in the back of your mind you knew that it was the alcohol and not he himself who was being so awful for you and Kay (many happy returns to her, by the way).

I was very touched by reading this latest blog. It is very hard to lose one's spouse. In my case it was long after alcoholism had left us, so I have only some small idea of how hard it must have hit you that Greg died still in its grip.

One day at a time, your feelings will change. They say that time makes things better; my experience is that it doesn't, but that one gets used to one's new circumstances and content to live with memories of the good times.

Millennium Housewife said...

What a hard post to write Addy, I remember someone saying once that forgiveness doesn't let them off the hook, it lets you off the hook. I've carried it with me ever since and thought it might help xx

Working Mum said...

It will take time to go through the stages of grief including anger and forgiveness. Alcoholism, like many addictions, is a mental illness, but so difficult to see as such when we think that people have a free choice about how they look after their bodies. Forgiveness will help you to move on, but it can't be rushed.

Hope Kay enjoyed her birthday and having a meal out with her mum.

June said...

Your letting go of all that anger and resentment, especially now that the object has gone on to the place where all is forgiven by the One who understands and forgives all, is so freeing, isn't it?

sensibilia said...

Very, very interesting. How does one move from those happy honeymoon days, where you can never imagine anything ever going wrong, to a place like this? Your post is a lesson to anyone going through a tough marital time, and especially a place where one is starting to believe that the other person is suffering from a mental illness. How does one carry on? You are an inspiration.

Spencer Park said...

I'm sure I'd commented on this post so I apologise if mine is one that has translated itself into Chinese. Anyway, happy belated birthday to Kay.

I don't have much else to say as I'm no expert on anything but I am think about you.

Eliza said...

This first year without Greg must be so hard, so many 1st time without days to get through. I hope Kay enjoyed her birthday anyway. (((hugs)))

laurie said...

perhaps the anger has muted the grief, and now as the anger dissipates the grief must be dealt with. you are doing GREAT. so honest about what you're feeling. al anon is a very wise idea. good luck to you!

and many happy returns to Kay.

Shammickite said...

Your story is exactly the same as mine. I'm glad those days are over. Now I am enjoying lift without having to worry about how much is spent on booze, what will happen next, etc. And I have 2 lovely DILs and 2 beautiful grandsons, and we have a happy family life, and my late husband is missing all these wonderful things that are happening. Sad, but nobody misses him.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Happy belated birthday to Kay. Lovely post. Liked it a lot. The person I know is not an alcoholic but I understand about the forgiveness bit. They self sabotage without even knowing that they are doing it and the effect it has on others. Hxx

Saz said...

yes forgiveness in this sense is so powerful and liberating...l am getting there, for myself....and you too...so pleased to read this..l discovered it in the book..
the power of now by eckhart tolle.....talks such a lot of sense...

you are quite near me on sunday, have fun, hope your pet is ok for you to travel...

lots of luv


saz x