Guilt has been heavy on my mind for the past few days. I don't know what provoked it or where it came from, but I just can't seem to shake it.
In my head, I know that I am not responsible for my ex-husband's death. I know that it isn't *my fault*. But still, I have been overwhelmed with feelings of guilt.
Why should I feel guilty? I didn't force him to drink. I tried to encourage him to seek out the treatment that he needed. I tried to support him to the best of my limited ability. I kicked him out, I took him back, he got better, he got worse, and it just kept going.
I'll be completely honest - when I kicked him out for the final time on May 6, 2009, I was glad that he was gone. I felt relief, knowing that I wasn't going to have to walk on eggshells or pussyfoot around the house waiting for the next verbal assault to come out of his mouth and find its way to my heart. I knew that at least in the physical sense, my kids and I were safe from harm.
But even while all of this was happening, I still had that hope that he would straighten up, that he would get treatment and that he would get sober and stay sober. We had so many heated conversations about this very topic - he would swear that if I just let him come back, he would change. Unfortunately, I had heard it all before, and my trust was gone. Every time he got drunk and abusive, he always said that it would be the last time and it would never happen again, and I always believed him.
I didn't want to let him come back so that he would get sober - I wanted him to get sober and then come back. Even when I drew up the divorce papers, I put in there that he would have no visitation with our son until he sought treatment. I hoped that maybe, just maybe, that would give him a reason to get sober. But it didn't. Even his son wasn't worth it.
Did I try hard enough? What if I had let him come back? Would things have turned out differently? Did I make a mistake by not allowing him to come back one more time? Did I really do everything in my power to help the situation, or did I do more harm than good? Was I too harsh in our conversations after we separated for the final time?
The eternal question.
Then there is the anger. Along with the guilt is an enormous amount of anger. I'm mad at myself for not trying harder. I'm mad at him for choosing booze over our family and ultimately his life. I'm REALLY angry with his family for just taking him back into the fold and continuing to enable his self-destructive behavior. His mother allowed him to move back into her home, provided him with food, lodging, and transportation. He could have gotten his license back after the one-year suspension for the DUI but he didn't. He could have gotten a job, but he didn't. He could have started to rebuild his life, but he didn't. Instead, he sat in his mother's house and continued to drink himself stupid, seemingly without a care in the world. In the meantime, 1700 miles away, our family was losing everything - our home, our transportation, our security. I admit that I was in denial for a long time and I made some poor choices - or stuck my head back under the covers and refused to make any choices at all - but I finally realized that I was on the verge of losing everything and I had to do something about it. I had to find transportation and I had to find a new place to live, and somehow I did. Somehow things have managed to work out and we are doing so much better now. Why couldn't he do the same? Why couldn't he want things to get better and do something about it instead of simply offering the same lip service that he had so many times before?
I am really mad at him for dying. In my eyes, he took the easy way out, whether it was intentional or not. He doesn't have to worry anymore. He doesn't have to sit and analyze every single emotion that he has to try to determine if he is "normal" or not. He doesn't have to explain to our son why he isn't a part of his life.
Even though I feel so guilty and angry, in my heart I know that he is at peace. I know that there is some bigger meaning in all of this, and that I just haven't figured it out yet. I know that everything happens for a reason. I just wish I could understand that reason NOW.