Today’s post is a rant. A rant of my 30 plus years of experience, fragmented thoughts and frayed emotions. I’ve searched for spots and forums regarding relationships with workaholics to no avail. They’re out there but all say pretty much the same thing, regurgitating ridiculous action plans like “stop nagging” or touting the ever popular “it’s not your fault” psycho babble bullshit.
Here’s the thing, I know it’s not my fault he’s addicted to work just like it’s not his fault I still smoke. Still I feel as if I contribute to the addiction by not earning more money than I do. I feel lazy because i don’t work enough to earn his respect. I live a life of waiting which creates a feeling of floating with no direction. I feel like I use his addiction as a safety shield to protect me from living my life to the fullest. The view from my point of vision looks like I am his perfect martyr.
The rudimentary action plans devised by the alleged professionals seem so silly to me. The advise goes pretty much like this:
Don’t nag him to be home. What a plan. if nagging worked I wouldn’t be sitting here thirty some odd years later wondering if there is even life out there. I would be writing the coolest blog about how much fun our lives have been.
Encourage him to take care of his health. Honestly? He is grown and fully aware of his aches and pains. If he needs a mommy he already has one. I do cook healthy meals daily and offer a never ending supply of fresh vegetables and fruit lovingly prepped and ready to eat. I offer OTC pain remedies on the daily and frequently offer massage or soaking bathes which he finds a waste of time. Every now and again, I gently offer to make appointments with doctors, dentists, acupuncturists, chiropractors and so on. Keep in mind he is never home before ten at night and more often than not it’s closer to midnight, consequently he is too tired to accept any comfort.
Let him know you appreciate his provision. Are you kidding? That’s like offering an alcoholic a shot as he gets in his car. The fact is we, myself and our children, feel guilty when we need any financial support. We all wince at the very mention of needing a little money to get us through till the next payday. Some of us have even gone as far as selling off personal belongings or taking odd jobs just to keep from looking like parasitic charity cases in his eyes. When we do muster up the courage, because we are down to our last three cents, to ask for a bit of money, he assumes the role of victim. “Why don’t you feel like you can come to me for money? I promised I would always take care of you” he whines. Imagine going to your local heroin clinic and asking the lurking dealer for a hit. Or maybe asking a recovering alcoholic to supply you with Jack Daniels. Then there is the ever popular “after all I do for you and this is the thanks I get”. Punctuated with ” this is why I work so hard”. Sounds very much like ” if you were a better person I would be better too”.
Develop your own life. So you’re suggesting that I don’t already have one. I do. A committed relationship in every other world means union except this type? If you’re committed to a workaholic you must develop an entirely separate life in order to survive. Seems contradictory to me but hey I’m just a lonely half of a broken whole.
Let’s discuss what this disease is and what it is not from my seat of experience, his admissions and my relentless study of the few available statistics.
He openly admits he “can’t stop”. Not even long enough to shower, eat, or sleep sufficiently. This leads me to realize it is a compulsive/impulsive situation. He says he “wishes” he could stop as he leaves before seven a.m. only to return sometime before midnight every single day except select holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas day on which he only works half a day. Work controls him. The rewards are more money and undying reverence from those outside the family unit leading to no incentive to gain control. Think about it, if every time a junkie hit his veins he received large amounts of money and adulation why on earth would he even contemplate giving it up.
The experts report that the divorce rate of this type of union is double that of regular, garden variety bad marriages. Double an already fifty percent failure rate. So why do we stay? Same as others I suppose. We hope it will change with no faith that it can. We feel that if we leave he will certainly die a lonely death early in life. We reason that at least his is an acceptable addiction. We don’t want to appear ungrateful for all he provides. We are afraid to walk away and develop our own worlds. All of this is codependence at it’s finest.
They also like to remind us that this type of disorder is a form of depression onset by feelings of inadequacy. I actually find this to be reasonable. Of course he is depressed, life is passing him by, the kids are grown and while they love him they find any meaningful conversation impossible. They carve out time for him only to have it snatched away due to the latest task. they feel as if they are after thoughts for him. And me, well I feel so incredibly inadequate, utterly undesirable and profoundly lazy. How’s that for using adjectives? The truth is I’m none of those things. I”m a pretty cool old broad who happens to remain linked to a great man with a terribly unfair disease.
I often enjoy fantasies about what life would be like if he and I walked through a nice park or spent an evening in our back yard watching the sun set over the hill. I wonder how I would handle spending the evening playing a board game with our kids and their friends. I see other couples our age driving in cars together and I wonder if they are together because they want to be or if they have been forced together by some tragic event requiring him to sacrifice a bit of time for the family.
Here’s the thing: