Everyday Courage

Image of Set Stories Free - 2018
Image of Short Story

I know when my husband goes to work bartending each evening, there's a chance he will not come home after work.

He is a charming and funny guy - which makes for a great bartender. He can talk to anyone. He's been doing this for 20+ years. He comes from a family of heavy drinkers. He has no identity without alcohol. He will always have a job. Happy, sad, celebrating, commiserating, unwinding - you name it, people will always have a reason to drink. He has a problem with alcohol.

One of his coworkers has a crush on him. She works with him three or four times a week, and gets so drunk she needs him to give her a ride home or share an Uber when he's wasted too...she and her husband and two little kids live in our neighborhood. I know she calls my husband and sends him text messages dozens of times each day.
Even though I've asked her to back off, still she persists.

My husband says he has no feelings for her, so he doesn't see anything wrong with this 'friendship'; in our time together we've both had platonic friends of the opposite sex- no big deal. Until now. She is manipulative and destructive - she has proven this without a doubt. This situation has caused many arguments between us, he cares not.

She betrayed me, pretending to be my friend, offering to look after our kids with hers. Calling and chatting, asking advice about stuff for months, inviting us over for dinner and having our two families hang out.
It was nice, I was fooled, I thought I had a friend. Then she used everything I told her in confidence and betrayed my trust, sobbed on my husband's shoulder with similar stories of how bad her marriage was, topped off with a flurry of text messages about how they are meant to be together and this is his big chance, which I found on his phone.
When I asked him about it he was embarrassed, apparently, she wouldn't leave him alone.
When I confronted her about them she tried playing it off with a lame 'I was white girl drunk' (whatever that is) excuse and 'are you sure that wasn't for my husband?'
Still, she has persisted. My husband tells me continually there is nothing going on. But won't tell her to go away. Because he has to work with her, 'it's best he retains the friendship'.She is at least 10 years younger than me, taller, blonde. One of those girls who squash their boobs together and bat their eyelashes when talking to men.
The realization that one of us is incredibly stupid ~ either him 'innocently' encouraging her or me buying into this deception, leaves a gaping hole inside me, an actual physical pain that is with me constantly.

Still, I stand by him, support him, let him know I am here for him, for our future, for our kids, honoring our history and time together. Our love was so deep and unconditional for so long, how does that disappear? I hope that we can get through this and finish our story together for the rest of our lives. He declares his love for me and our family regularly but treats me like a yo-yo...I want to change, Leave me alone, I love you, I'll do what I want, I'm here for you, Stop expecting so much of me, Let's work on this...

Sometimes I want to throw all his stuff into the driveway and set it on fire. His life is exactly how he wants it.He gets to stay out and drink and party with who he wants. His phone is locked to everyone but himself. He flirts to feel important. He doesn't wear his wedding ring anymore. He sees no problems with his drinking.
It's overwhelming, heartbreaking and infuriating.
I feel like an idiot. I don't know what to do. I feel trapped, I cannot breathe. We have no money, I have no money. I am a stranger in a strange land. There is no one I can talk to. We moved here to be closer to his family, but since things are not going well for us after 15 years of happy marriage, his family avoid us like the plague.
They post pictures spoiling all the other grandchildren on social media weekly.
It kills me that our children are being punished because our relationship is struggling.

Is he an alcoholic? I honestly don't know. Does it come in degrees? He still goes to work regularly. He definitely has a problem with alcohol. It weighs heavy on me. He doesn't think there's a problem.
He won't talk to me about anything anymore. He used to be my best friend, confidante and lover...for 18 years total...that's hard to just let go. Especially when he says he can't move out or separate from us.

We 'co-habitat', for the kids. We have separate bedrooms and separate lives.

I feel I am dying inside. I don't understand. I want to help him.
He doesn't want any help.
I work full time and the main caregiver to our three kids. I am exhausted, some days I just want to lie down and die.
I will not give up though, I keep going for them, doing my best, day after day. Focusing on joy and love. I don't know how this will turn out.
I want them to see their mother is a fighter and will keep fighting day after day to overcome this situation.

Our children don't like their father's behavior. Their beautiful faces are so hopeful and expectant, they love him so much. It is not my place to destroy that.
Ever aware that this is their childhood, I work to be the best person I can be for them, keep my head up, focus on the good. Smile when my heart is aching.

I just need to get through today. Provide them with as much stability as I can. They know they are loved. I summon the courage every day to keep going. Everyday. Courage.