Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Miles to go.

I saw your light once
Did you see mine?
But not all things will pass away
You turned your light off
So I turned mine away from your sadness,
Away from the nothing that you feel for me
My run this morning was cold because of more than just the weather. Temperature-wise it was almost perfect. Cool enough to keep my sweat cold but warm enough to strip down to a t-shirt three kilometres in and I could take my jacket off and tie it securely around my waist which gives me a slight wobble when I run and gave Lochlan pause to assume it meant I was open and ready to talk.

I wasn't.

If I wanted to talk about Ben's drinking problem I would just talk about it instead of writing about it and then logging off, closing the browser window and walking away from it so I can see if he needs anything, pretending that it doesn't bother me when he retreats into himself, as if his pain is that much greater that he can't crawl out of himself long enough to let me help him. I want to help him, I just never know what to do because nothing works and so I just hover on the fringe of his life like a bumblebee around a garden full of wild flowers.

Loch flew out yesterday because in the brief span between the total blackout and brief, tentative sobriety Ben asked me to stop. Just stop everything. Stop letting everyone run our lives, stop letting them interfere, stop taking medications that barely work and therapies that merely spread the pain around, keeping it in the forefront and just let us be. Let us be in love, let us learn how to be happy, let us just do family things and smile more and not let the ghosts win. Not let the past be the Most Important Thing.

But then he would slip again and the snarl would return and he no longer wanted to talk or do anything except disappear and pour more liquid on his flames to try and make it stop hurting so much.

He was angry that I told people. Because I need help with this. I've never been married to an alcoholic before. I've never been married to Ben before. When we were friends, I could never understand how he made himself so easily loved and hated all at the same time. When we got married I expect that to change and it didn't.

I spent last evening following him around and watching as he turned all of our friends away. While he tried to lock down our lives even though at this point we're forced to play them out to a group vote based on the choices we've made, based on my needs to not isolate myself from more objective sources that I trust. As fast as he could turn them away, I would call them and reassure them that I was humoring his outbursts, that we are okay, and someday we might be more than okay but for today just please, please keep the peace and stay away from him so that he doesn't hurt you.

He had a few kind words for the kids, but they know and they look at me as if I make choices that will ruin their lives because they're old enough to pass judgement and they're old enough to know a total breakdown in willpower when they see it. The fragments of broken promises all over the floor was a dead giveaway.

And so I used my hearing loss as a convenient excuse not to talk to Lochlan while we ran, but just to churn the distance under my legs until I could turn despair into determination and Loch didn't have to do any convincing anyway.

I had an appointment booked this morning for therapy and I just got home from it. Just now.

It was watching Ben that convinced me not to stop. It was so much like looking in a mirror that I have no choice but to keep going forward, keep letting people in who can help me, keep going to therapy and keep taking medications that make me shake and have nightmares because for god's sake, I don't want anyone to ever look at me like I looked at him last evening. Maybe they already do and that's why I had to break one promise to keep a million others.

I was really hoping he was stronger so I don't have to be so hard. Or so cold, maybe.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Bring me your enemies
Lay them before me
And walk away
The one thing I always think is the most amazing thing about you is the way you will come to me with all of your secrets and then once I am holding them, heavy as they might be, you fall apart. You keep yourself together just until you can get to me, and then the flashing, angry black eyes that you look upon people with melt into warm honey-brown pools and the anger is something I don't have to see, if you can help it. If I can. It goes with your standard stern and concentrating face that dissolves into the sweet awkward smile when your eyes find my face.

I try so hard not to be afraid of you. When the hulking impossibly strong and impulsive form towers over me is instantly replaced by the willow-thin and sinewy guy who isn't as coordinated as he might have you believe, I can breathe. The one who only shakes when he doesn't drink, the one who holds those secrets inside until they block the light from his eyes and that is what turns them to black. That's the one that scares me.

But I have those secrets now and I'm putting them out somewhere because they don't matter.

I walked into this with my eyes wide open and my broken heart beating once every seventeen days and I knew you had a very big problem but hey, don't we all?

So the fact that your albatross won't go away doesn't scare me and I'm not going to hide it for you.

I'm not leaving you either.

Last night you said only we matter, and we'll figure it out but when all the complications are stripped away we're still a team and we're going to stay a team no matter what. And you said it with fear instead of conviction and I don't like that but when I tried to turn away you wouldn't let me. Most days I don't know who needs who more. You can burn down all the history you like, the memories will remain.

The memories are what make us who we are.

Last night I learned that it wasn't you that the angel appointed to save my soul. It was me, sent to save yours.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Fade like a played-out song.

We come to find
What we take for granted
Keeps us alive in the end

So don't let time
Leave you empty handed
Reach out tonight and make amends
What's different is nothing. We're on a long play record and the needle is stuck in the middle, grating across the grooves in a hiss of static and the wailing guitar notes have dissipated into thin air.

In this house misery loves company. She waltzes across the wooden floor and reaches her arms out to embrace him and company, well, he comes back for more, always. He does whatever he must to put forth a show of strength and no matter how flimsy he feels he keeps coming back for more.

And every now and then someone will bump the record player and we all get to hear a little more of our song, but really, this thing is never going to work right.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Wooden ships and iron men

We'll have to stop at the river market today to get apples, I didn't get them yesterday. I got something else instead.

After not appearing at home more than thirty minutes after my appointment with Sam ended, Ben came looking for me, walking the three blocks to the church, a curious look on his face no doubt. He found Sam pacing his office pretending to be busy and found me locked in the tiny women's bathroom, shaking like a leaf and unwilling to leave that room until I felt like I could pull myself together and face the world. Sometimes our appointments end like that.

They're really hard.

Ben came into the washroom and shut the door behind him. He smiled at me softly, told me that lunch was ready and that he'd walk me home now. He ran some warm water and wet some rough paper towels and held them out to me to wash my face. Then he took my bag and my coat from me and asked if I was ready. I shook my head and he said we would do it together, on three. He counted to two and took my hand, pulling me out of the room and into the hall. Sam met us, with so much concern in his eyes he matched Ben perfectly and sometimes I wonder who exactly this is harder on.

But nevermind that, there's a group hug to be had, and four arms is always better than two.

Ben and I walked home slowly, holding hands, and made sandwiches and some milk for lunch. After we ate, Ben offered a drive. A long leisurely drive burning up overpriced gas and carbon credits in his oversized truck with the oversized speakers under the seats so I can feel the music and we drove for hours, listening to music I chose, holding hands and stopping now and then to let the kids explore things and blow off energy and to eat some Thai food because I had wanted it earlier. I ate an entire plate of pad thai and thought I might start sprouting beans through my ears but it tasted so wonderful. And then to my delight we kept driving, exploring new neighborhoods and hearing the wind on highways I've never been down before, still holding hands.

And then finally, home. Home to respond to messages from Sam seeking assurance that I was indeed okay and home to get the kids bathed and in pajamas and home to not pay attention to movies on the television and home to charge phones and change to warmer sweaters and home to put the day to bed so that the next would be better, happier and different.

Holding hands.

We'll get the apples after lunch today, and maybe some carrots. I won't be letting go of Ben's hand though. I think I'll keep it. It's warmer than it used to be and that is a gift I didn't expect from him. Something tells me it was there all along, I just didn't want to see it before.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Cold and sunny Saturdays

I've left Ben in bed this morning to sleep in, dead to the world in his own fragmented, psychotic dreams, blankets tangled around his arms and legs. He sleeps stretched out long on his own side, my side if it's very cold, never moving an inch unless I pester him to be held sometime in the early hours of the morning. He will sleep until almost lunchtime.

Henry and Ruth were up early as usual for toasted bagels and Power Rangers on the television.

I am up fiddling with my journal. I'm trying to make it friendlier. I put up a (partial) list of my favorite blogs, I added a picture and labels and I'm considering adding comment capabilities back again. I'm trying to write about life in addition to feelings and sometimes it will work and sometimes it probably won't. You've been so patient.

Thursday night we had one of the last dinner parties of the summer season, since Autumn officially starts on Monday. August stayed late, his arms wide open for me to let my head go off-leash and pretend he was Jacob. And Ben allowed it only as far as I did, which was so generous but he always takes the spoils in the end. I'm feeling like I might be tough enough to get through the winter that's coming. Only in the last little while have I really been able to approach certain memories of Jacob without keening in pain.

And for now I just want to get through today.

I have to see Sam this morning, he's conducting a private grief therapy class for me and I go every second or third day and I've kept it up for almost two months now. Later on I want to get a bag of apples at the farmer's market and eat some Thai food and watch a movie and bask in that rare and perfect sweater, jeans and suede clogs weather that we hardly ever seem to get around here. It will be a good day.

But first, I need coffee. Coffee and maybe some fried potatoes. Saturdays are very slow to begin around this house and I like that fact.

Friday, 19 September 2008


I'm incredibly mindful today of the fact that my mind has waged a mostly successful mutiny against my brain and they are currently engaged in a fierce struggle for victory. I used to think that my mind was stronger, obviously because it always seemed to come out ahead, but lately I find myself rooting for my brain to win and take back control of the things it is supposed to be in charge of.

I'm not sure if it will and so I watch with interest and more than a little curiosity because it's a rare gift, a day in which I see it taking place from the outside instead of from my usual position between the two.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Faster, pussycat.

There's something to be said for being good to yourself. It's one of the things that should come first, but in my life has always come last. First comes trying to be the best wife and mother that I can. Second comes trying to be a good friend. Third comes taking care of this giant house and all of the things that involves. So I come in fourth, in my brain, in the grand scheme of things when it comes to treating myself.

Lately I've been holding the line, enduring stress, keeping it together while we go through Ben's traveling, double-stacked therapy and grief counseling, medication, changing seasons and whatever else you can throw at me. Well, what I mean is I'm keeping it together as well I always have, which isn't great but believe it or not it's been better.

Yesterday I got a little overwhelmed and lost it completely. Somewhere across the late afternoon I fell apart and couldn't pull my pieces back to resemble any bit of Bridget whatsoever.

And Ben stopped pretending I was fine on my own.

He gathered me up into his arms and took me upstairs for a three-hour nap. In his arms. Held tight. He woke me up in time to read to the children and get them into bed and then he made us some dinner and we ate on the living room floor in front of the fire, not talking much at all, just being. Just being good to ourselves. Food, fire, rest. Comfort. Closeness.

I'm not here reporting on any changes to my grand plans or any epiphanies. Therapy with the new doctor will continue, albeit I get tomorrow off. Grief classes with Sam will continue tomorrow. Medication will continue. Autumn will officially arrive on Monday whether I like it or not. Life keeps going on around me and in spite of me. I just need to remember to stop and be good to myself here and there and take time to do quiet things like sit by the fire, nap when I'm low on sleep and hold Ben, since I don't see him enough and can't get enough of him besides.

It seems so easy to forget about those things when I'm so busy trying to be a fully-functioning human. The definition of which I do believe I got wrong. It has nothing to do with keeping moving. Not at all.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Why talking at 4 a.m. is never a good idea.

If you could change one thing about me what would it be, Bridget?

I'd permanently remove your temper.



Good choice.

Are you mad?

Is that some kind of pun, Bridget?

I don't really have an answer for you.

I know what I would change about you.

Really, what?

I'd make you taller.

That is what you'd change? Of all things?

Sure. You're so tiny. I feel like I'm going to break you half the time.

And the other half?

Oh, the other half of the time I WANT to break you.


Okay, maybe I'd change the snorting thing, too.

Oh, well, if we're going to throw down now, I'd change something else then, and you know what that is. It's a waste.

Oh, really?

Hell yes.

Nice, Bridget.

Benjamin, you started it.

You're so ungrateful.

And you're mad again aren't you?

I give up.

Does this mean I win?

I'm going to go with your competitiveness as my final answer.

Yeah, Bridget for the win.

Are you listening?


And you wonder why I get mad.

I KNEW IT! I was only kidding, by the way. I'm very grateful indeed.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Fall for me.

We're great in small doses
I pronounce it.
You're satisfied loving me.
You're so proud of yourself and your disadvantage to me.
It's just something you love to say (and hear that you're uncommon).
The greater the dosage makes me mispronounce it to be.
You're dead inside of me.
You're dead inside of me.
But when you're alone.
And no one knows.
It doesn't seem to matter.
You're the same inside of me.
Outside this house the last of the cherry tomatoes are ripening on their vines, while the leaves scatter haphazardly across the stones and thread their way through the grass. The toys have been put away and a rake leans up against the wall beside the garage door, ready to do duty against the coming autumn winds. The skies are dark, overcast and grey, full of clouds that herald the colder air.

Inside this house the air is equally cold sometimes, our emotions scattered like the leaves, pills and therapies leaning up against the door like a rake to clean everything up, only we're never sure if we should use it as the leaves appear or wait until everything falls down and the trees are bare. Do it once, do it big.

That doesn't seem to work. None of it works and last night saw magnificent change once again as I was halfway to the airport in spirit. I swear I didn't want to go, I just thought Run, Bridget, run! But at the last moment we discovered a new kind of balance somewhere in the middle, somewhere between Ben's earlier attempts to do nothing at all in fear of being compared to Jacob and Jacob's ways altogether. Instead Ben found a Cole-balance. One that always worked, no matter what. The leaves always got raked and it was never a bit at a time or all at once, it was the just the usual magic that worked for Cole and worked for everyone else too and now it appears to be working for Ben.

We've had more than our share of struggles with this, with everything, with trying and failing to adjust to him leaving and coming home and being here versus being away and we seem to have picked perpetual fall to live in, with the leaves needing to be picked up all the time, but they never stop dropping. They block out the sun, there's so much here to gather but we rarely make headway.

It's a big yard.

We made some headway last night. We made a lot of headway. We figured out a great way to stay ahead of those falling leaves, just in time.

If there's one good thing about living in endless Autumn, it's that winter will never come.

Monday, 15 September 2008

All the cool kids are doing it.

I thought it was time, guys. The slate is clean and I'm writing fresh. From this day forward it's going to be fresh news, fresh entries and a fresh outlook.

A fresh start. I did this before, back in 2005.

For those of you missing the archives, well, eventually you'll see them again. I promise (Edit: Nov. 5, 2014. They're back up. Every last one of them.)

It feels kind of good to start over here. It was a long overdue and slightly painful decision to remove the entries of the past three years but I'm glad I did. A huge weight has been lifted.

Onward and upward, dear readers. Oh, and your feeds might be messed up now. Sorry about that.