Blain Nelson's Abuse Pages
My Story
My Third Installment

I haven't written anything about my experience in recovery for a long time -- not since I discovered Al-Anon and began attending meetings a year and a half ago. I remember the time when I hadn't heard from my wife or kids for six days and I thought I would die if it went any longer. Now it's been almost two years since she left, and I've survived.

Things have been different since I quit going to weekly ACT meetings. I've attended most of the monthly support group meetings since then, but the mood is different than it was at the weeklies. Part of that mood change is because of the number of guys who have quit coming -- of all the guys who were in the weeklies with me, only one has come even semi-consistently, and only a handful besides him have even come once. I wonder how those guys are doing without even having the support I get from those monthlies. I haven't seen any of them in the paper for reoffending, and the facilitator hasn't mentioned them -- he would if they got caught reoffending -- so at least they haven't been arrested.

The other difference in mood comes from dealing with the same old guys month in and month out -- it's really easy to get into a "I'm okay, you're okay" sort of thing. On occasion we get a chance to work through some basic stuff again -- somebody will have a slip of abuse (usually a minor tactic) that scares them and we give it a good post mortem. But my guess is that the guys who aren't coming are having slips too, and aren't coming to the group because they feel ashamed for it -- some of them at least. The magic in the program doesn't protect people when they start making bad choices -- all it does is offer them the help they need to make better choices if they are willing to work at it.

I've been spending a lot of time working with people on the net through e-mail conversations and Usenet. Some of these folks have read my pages (hi everybody!), others I've run into on the soon to die Intimate Violence mail-list. The others come from the abuse recovery groups like alt.abuse.recovery. This provides quite a spectrum of interest, approach, and background -- abusers, survivors, friends and family members, therapists, researchers and activists. I've talked to women who were still being abused and probably still are. I've talked to men who were still abusing and probably still are. I've talked to those who were just starting recovery and those who have been in recovery for a while. I've learned a lot of interesting things dealing with the more academic folks and the activists -- there is quite a spectrum of opinions there, and some of the folks attempting to teach others how to break out of the cycle of abuse do not seem to be able to keep themselves from participating in the cycle of verbal abuse with people they don't agree with.

I've taken a break from school -- I found out that I wasn't quite ready to go back last fall. I had gone back to finish up one of my incompletes from Spring quarter and to pick up a few other classes. I got to Thanksgiving break being a little behind but still at the point to tie the whole thing together, and the whole thing just fell apart in front of me. I just didn't have the attention to give studying that I needed. I took that Winter Quarter off, then came back in the Spring and Fall to finish off the rest of the incompletes from the year before. Now I'm on campus a day a week for my Al-Anon meeting (the one I started so there would be a meeting that would be convenient for me to attend since I was spending so much time on campus -- I've had as many as four people attend the meeting at a time, and that happened this quarter), and to have lunch in the dining halls at school with a dwindling group of friends with whom I discuss anything and everything.

I see my kids every first and third weekend. They are growing and changing and I can see that I'm going to be way over my head when they get to be teenagers. We are getting along better than we used to, but I've still got a lot to learn about being their dad. I also get them for Christmas Break and a week or two at a time at different times during the year (and an occasional overnight beyond that).

By the time I finish writing this paragraph it will be March 20 -- the first day of Spring (the equinox will be three minutes after midnight) and my tenth wedding anniversary. This is our second anniversary since she left, and it's just a few weeks until it's been two years since she left. I'm feeling kind of strange about the whole thing (midnight). I would like this to be the last anniversary where we are apart yet still married. This will almost certainly mean that we will be divorced in the coming year. On the one hand, the divorce seems like a bit of a relief to get it over with, (equinox) on the other hand, I feel hurt and sad and alone. I've gone in waves in how I feel about it: paralyzed by the idea, accepting divorce as an interim step, wanting to get it over with, wanting to not push things. Right now I don't know how I feel exactly -- it's complicated. I don't really want a divorce -- I really want to have everything work out and for us to get back together. I don't want to go back to where we were before -- I refuse to do that -- and I'm not sure that the direction she's going to grow is a direction I'm willing to go. And, of course, she's got her own wants and boundaries to deal with, and there has been no sign that she wants to live with me ever again. We're not going to get back together anytime soon if ever, and I know that, but that doesn't change what I want.

So where am I now? I don't know. I've felt for a long time like I've been on a plateau of sorts -- I'm not seeing a lot of progress, and I'm not all that thrilled with where I'm at. Maybe all that's happened is that I'm no longer in the Pink Cloud stage, and this is just life. I don't know. I'm not prepared to accept that where I'm at is where I want to stay.

20 March, 1996


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