So I was thinking last night. I was thinking about how my husband felt I treated him like a child. As I said before he was right, I did treat him like a child. And then I thought about how I met him and why I wanted to take care of him.
As the story went, he was “abandoned” at the age of eight so his parents could seek a better life in America. He and his sister were left behind in Mexico to be cared for by family friends. Tuesday’s conversation with J reminded me that I did feel like he was an abandoned child all along. My heart broke for him as if he were a child. I wanted to take him in and take care of him and make sure he knew that everything was going to be okay from here on out, as most people would do for any abandoned child. Our first Christmas together, I gave him oodles of presents. The look on his face when he saw the pile just for him was priceless. It’s a look that I now look for on my own son’s face on Christmas morning. He never had a real childhood. He never received presents like this at Christmas or his birthday. When he did arrive in California, he was put to work and took care of his siblings (six in all) and went to school. That’s not much of a childhood for a thirteen year old. Many kids have more tragic stories, but this was tragic to me.
I had a wonderful childhood, regardless of my father’s drinking problem. I had it good. My family had an acreage on which to explore and play. I had animals galore. I had freedom to be a child. I didn’t have constraints, such as working to help support my family. I mean, I worked. I worked our farm and the neighbors farm at the tender age of nine. But that taught me something…I am a hard worker and I have a strong work ethic. My husbands first job was working in the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant. There, he washed dishes, bussed tables and helped the cooks in any way he could. He also learned a bit of Chinese. This is a smart guy. Learning English and Chinese! Hell, most adults can’t do that. I know I can’t. Even in San Francisco, as liberal and accepting as the population is, he encountered a lot of racism. The diners used to call him names such as, dirty Mexican, wetback, trash, etc. He didn’t have it as easy as I did.
J has had conversations with his parents about his feeling of abandonment. He feels that he is “over it” and sees no room for further discussion. Maybe he has forgiven his parents and understands why they did what they did, but that doesn’t stop that little child inside of him from crying out. Although he lives minutes from his family now, he hardly sees them. They don’t call him, they don’t drop by for a visit. I used to think it was my fault they stayed away. I thought they didn’t like me so they didn’t come over and they didn’t call. Yesterday, I told my husband this fact. He confirmed that it wasn’t me at all. And I asked him why he thought they didn’t come around or call. He had no answer.
I sent him a link for AA meetings in his area. I originally thought that it could garner one of two responses: either ignored or with resistance. I had to try though. To my surprise, he was accepting of the idea. I explained further that his relationships have crumbled. It’s at least worth a try to see why and to understand his anger issues when he does drink a little too much. I mean, I think I know why, but he really doesn’t understand why. If you don’t understand why, then you really can’t fix it. We will see if he goes to one of these meetings. I really hope he does. I think it will be a tremendous help to hear other stories and maybe he can associate with some of the attendees. I sent him links to those that were in espanol only. I know this would be more comfortable for him and he might find people with similar experiences. When I went to Coda meetings, I felt as if I were going home. It was a place of comfort and trust. At the time, it was the one place I felt normal and accepted. If nothing else, I hope J finds the same thing within AA.
A piece of me feels terrible that I have also abandoned him. It’s as if his history is repeating itself. I always felt he was attracted to me because I reminded him of his strong mother. She had a big job with seven children. She didn’t take crap from anyone, not even her alcoholic husband. She eventually got him straight too. My father-in-law drinks on occasion, but I have never seen him drunk…ever. I do hope that J knows that only he can break that cycle and that getting help is the first step. He also admitted he had a problem last night…for the first time.
So, no wonder I treated him as a child and he felt treated likewise. So, anyone treated like a child would most definitely act like a child. Duh. As the age old question goes: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I can’t answer this. I’m not sure I should. I think I should just treat him like an adult now. I should not be treating him as if he is that delicate little child anymore. He is an adult with his own child. And no wonder he was so jealous of our kid. I stopped treating my husband like the child when he came along. That was probably a blow he was not expecting.
I hope for so much for J now. I hope he does seek the help he needs. I hope he does heal the relationships that have been destroyed by his drinking. I hope he comes out a better person. And, finally, I hope that he realizes what an awesome person he is.