Friday, November 18, 2005

What I lost

I'm not sure if I ever mentioned it, but I was a nanny for seven years. I started when I was 20 and the boys were 1 and 3. Even after I stopped being their nanny, I had become a part of the family and I had gotten to be really close with their mom. They owned restaurants and clubs around Denver, all of which my friends and I could go to pretty much free of charge whenever we wanted. She was unbelievably generous with everything – time, money, whatever – you needed it and she could provide it? Done. She was there for me through two big boyfriend breakups, and countless dramas. When my roommate got evicted two months after we moved in, she immediately put me on their cell phone plan so that I wouldn’t be without a phone. Birthdays and Christmas were extravagant – I usually had as many presents as the kids did, and when I graduated from college, she gave me a pair of diamond earrings. We went to Napa Valley together on vacation. We went to kid events, we did family events – I was one of the family, through and through. I learned about cooking – she’s a chef, and I watched her cook a million times – I loved coming into the house in the winter because it smelled like her unbelievable homemade spaghetti sauce. Big dinners, small dinners, simple dinners, fancy dinners – you name it. Sundays meant Mexican food, Saturdays in the summer were barbecue. If she happened to be in the kitchen when I came into one of the restaurants, I didn’t even have to order – she made me what she knew I would love. Which, I’d like to say is no small feat, what with my myriad of food issues. Anyway. I learned how to properly set a table and I learned how to host a fabulous party.

I learned how to deal with an alcoholic. I can see drunk a mile away now, no matter how hard the person tries to hide it. I can smell it, I can see it, I can recognize someone hiding a problem. I learned how to overlook it, to gloss over it, to cover it. She used to call me when the boys were little so that I could come over and put them to bed because she was too drunk to do it. I've hauled her out of numerous neighborhood parties – literally hauled, as I dragged her down the street back to her house, after she'd pissed off her friends for the first time... after she'd pissed them off for the last time. I’ve driven her home from numerous occasions and stayed the night because she said she'd be home at 10 and didn't show up until 3. I’ve stayed up for hours trying to listen to and console her drunken ramblings, to keep her from calling anyone, to make sure that her husband was home before I left in case the boys needed something. I've endured ten and fifteen calls in an evening, and I've endured calls in the middle of the night, even when I had to go to work the next morning. Most of all, I've made countless excuses for her behavior. She is a very powerful and intimidating person, and in all the years I’ve known her, she is always the boss of everyone because no one dares to say otherwise. Including me. I knew she had a problem. But I didn’t know what to do – she lost so many friends because of her drinking behavior that I couldn’t leave her. She'd done so much for me. She needed me. The boys needed me. I did what I did because I loved her and I love those boys and I thought I was helping.

But a year ago came the last straw. My boss lives across the street from her, and mentioned to me how the older of the boys (he was 10) came over and asked to borrow a cooking ingredient. When my boss asked him why, he said “because mommy drank too much and can’t cook me dinner.” I lost it. See, in my head, I could tell myself that the boys didn’t know, and if the boys didn’t know, that was somehow ok. But for a ten year old to know what drinking too much is, much less that his MOM was drinking too much, much less that he had to make dinner for him and his little brother because of that? No way. I had let countless “incidents” slide over the 8 years that I knew her, but this? This was not something I was going to let slide.

That day after work, I drove straight to their house and walked in, looking for the 10 year old. I found him and told him I needed to talk to him outside. I asked him if what my boss said was true, and he said no, but I knew he was lying to me. I told him that I needed him to tell me the truth, because I was going to talk to mommy about her drinking. His little lip began to tremble and he finally told me that what my boss said was true. It was all I could do not to cry as I hugged him and told him that he was a good boy for telling me the truth.

Just then, she walked out of the house and asked what was going on. I sent him back in and told her that we needed to talk. I am a patient person. But when I do get mad – I get really mad. Especially if it has something to do with someone I love. I was furious – so furious and hurt and sick to my stomach that I was shaking and I wasn’t sure I could even talk. I told her I couldn't do it anymore. That her drinking was out of control and I couldn't deal with the calls every night and the drunken crying in the middle of the night. That most of all, I couldn't watch her destroy the lives of her boys.

She sent me an email the next day, apologizing for putting me in difficult situations, but that that drinking was her way of dealing with the fucking worthless son of a bitch that she’s married to (MY words, not hers – I have no use for that bastard). She said that the story my boss had told me must have just been a misunderstanding. I wrote back and told her that she didn’t need to apologize to me – that she didn’t do anything to me that I couldn’t forgive her for. I told her she needed to get help, and that I would do whatever it took for her to do that, because I loved her. I would take the boys, I would stay at the house – anything she needed, but she had to get help. That the people she needed to be apologizing to were those boys. But she refused to admit she has a problem. I haven’t seen or talked to her since.

This was by far the hardest decision I’ve ever made -- harder than any break up. And I constantly question and second guess myself, wondering if I did the right thing, or if I was just being selfish. I love those boys as if they were mine. I would throw myself in front of a car for them without a second thought. But this wasn't something I could protect them from -- and I felt totally helpless.

I miss them so much, especially the younger one. He was MY baby. He came to me for hugs and stories. When he was a little bitty one year old, he'd get up from his nap and want to dance. And we'd dance around the living room forEVER. When he learned how to talk, mine was the last name he said -- he called me "Ma ma ma", which got confusing, because that's also what he called his mom. I got all choked up the first time he got his blonde baby curls cut off, and when I looked at him one day and realized that his fat baby belly was disappearing. When I'd spend the night there, I’d put him to bed and without fail, he would come in and want to climb in bed with me. We talked about lots of stuff, and he went everywhere with me. He's 10 now. I miss him so much. I still see him when I'm in the neighborhood -- it's the place where I'm always housesitting and also since my boss lives across the street. My boy always runs to my car to give me a kiss and then he follows me around while I take care of the dog. He asks me why I don't come over anymore, and I tell him that it doesn't mean that I stopped loving him because I didn't and I never will. And from what I hear from everyone (but never him), his mom has gotten worse. It tears me up. I feel like I deserted them. I feel like I left them to a life...what kind of life? What did I leave them to? I feel like if I keep thinking about it, my heart might break. I feel like that every single day when I think about them and I feel awful.

26 comments:

The Zombie Lama said...

Ouch. Tough place to be in.

You did the right thing though. Even though she has gotten worse, think about how much worse it could be if she still had you as her "safety net".

Timmortal said...

Amber-that's a tough one. I dont know what to say except that you couldnt change her and continuing to be her crutch wasnt helping. Someday she will wake up or someday she will die. Her children will live a harder life because of her choices but there will come a day when you can explain your actions. Just hold on.

Miladysa said...

((Hugs))

I do not have any answers, I have an almost identical situation. The lady concerned is the nicest person in the world sober and extremely nasty drunk. She goes through cycles of behaviour. Most people do not realise she has a problem and so you cannot mention it because they think you are being catty. I have tried to get her to seek help for years and also feel responsible for her children. It is about self preservation - I have been carrying her since I was sixteen years old and enough is enough. If I allow her she will destroy me too. Alcohol is a terrible drug when abused.

Hope said...

Wow, that's really tough. I can't say I've ever been in a similar situation, but that really breaks my heart. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can say or do, something has to change within her for her to want to get better.

Okie said...

Perhaps one day one of the boys will have the courage to confront her. That might get her attention. I feel so sorry for those little guys. I hope their father is being a better influence.

Edge said...

This is why I say people are - at their root - evil. That's just plain selfish of that lady.

I HOPE these boys will remember the love you showed them and know that is what a real mother is.

~Jef

Kendra said...

Doing the right thing isn't always easy and this is a perfect example. You know how well I can relate to a situation of dealing wih an alcoholic and I know how agonizing it can be. Just know that those boys know REAL love because of you.

The Husband said...

man...thats a sob story. i think at this point you have done all you possibly can. it comes down to her wanting to get help. you can't force her to do it. is she still married to the husband...how come he isn't stepping up?

just sayin' said...

Tough situation. I wish you could still see the boys as much as before. Take them to a park? a movie? sleep over at your place?

Whinger said...

Yikes. I had no idea. Those poor, poor boys. At least they know you'll be there if they need you.

Stephanie said...

Amber: I'm so sorry you are in this mess.

I know you love those boys dearly, but did the right thing. No matter what. You did the right thing. Don't EVER question that. Just know that God is bigger than this: just keep those boys in your prayers. Hopefully they'll grow up having learned a thing or two from thier upbringing and will be better men for it.

The Other Half said...

you did good amber...very good

Marie said...

I think what you did was very brave and was done out of love. It may feel crappy but someone needed to tell her with brutal honesty that she has a serious problem that is hurting her sons, not to mention herself. I think the boys will always know and remember that you put their welfare above anything else because you love them. I'm sorry because this is such a difficult and painful situation. I can relate to some extent because I've been in the place of dealing with alcoholic relatives whom I used to be close to. But enough was enough.

Aliecat said...

She's going to have to hit bottom before she gets some help. I feel sad for her boys, they're victims too. Do the best that you can, reassure that you are there for THEM, not her and hope for the best.

C. said...

Amber- You just keepo doing what your doing, it will be relized of all the good things you are doing. It will just take a little time.... :)

Cheryl said...

Those are the kinds of things you can't make somebody see or do anything about. The people who succeed at rehab are ones who want to be there. She doesn't have that realization of needing help yet. It's very sad, but you can't force her to change. I just wish you didn't lose out on seeing the boys. Thanks for sharing, I know it must have been difficult to do.

Kyahgirl said...

Hi Amber, just slipping in from whinger's blog. I don't know why I never came here before but I'm sure I'll be back.
This story just breaks my heart. You did the right thing in terms of dealing with your friend. You can also go to al-anon for support and guidance, they are very good in helping the people that get tangled up with alcoholics to deal with it. Its tough to love someone yet know you have to cut 'em loose, for your own sanity.

With respect to the boys, never underestimate the strength and healing capacity of children. Also,kids that age are perfectly capable of conducting relationships. There is no reason you can't continue to be a loving and steadying influence in their lives. It would be best if it was with the blessing of your friend. She probably understands why you had to let her go and she hopefully is unselfish enough to let her kids continue to benefit from your support.

Good luck Amber. You're an amazing person. I'm glad I stopped by.
Laura

Karen said...

You've done everything you can for her by telling her she needed help. She needs to come to the decision herself that she needs help, hopefully it is before she hits rock bottom and before one of her boys has to confront her with the problem. What is the husband's take on the situation, is he really as worthless as you say? Is he a stable figure in their life at all?

Kellie said...

wow... what an awful situation...

The sad facts are that you can't help anyone until they want to help themselves. What's the saddest part is that she's not only harming herself, but her children... and they don't have a choice.

I'm sorry- so tough.

Frank The Tank said...

Jesus. That is tough. Great writing though. What an awful story. Unfortunately, you can't make someone change... only they can do that. You did the right thing.

Linda said...

The only great thing that came out of that whole scene is that you and I became friends. For the rest of you, I was the nanny before her, and though I didn't stay as long, I, too, had to cut her loose...we were losing our minds trying to be around her, Amber. Don't forget that. She was sucking the life out of us and you know it. Yeah, the boys don't have us anymore, but there are other issues there that we both know about as well. She didn't hide it well how much it bothered her that her kids loved us and at times preferred us, and as is her way, those subtle jabs at our weaknesses were her way of trying to get even. Am I heartbroken that I can't be with them anymore? Heck yeah. Was I heartbroken when everyone hated how (at her request) I finally cut off L's baby curls? Heck yeah! She was a force to be reckoned with, and the two of us escaped. I wish the boys the best of luck in doing the same. We're in this together, my friend.

Romeo Jensen said...

wow

so I dont show up and look what happens...
all acH Eee Double toothpics breaks out

First you post a HNT... on behalf of all of us here at Manwhorenation...
Thaaaaank You God!!!
such a hawtie... but...
The Devil Went Down to Georgia???
Thats how you roll?????
And you were... partaking of adult beverages???
*crosses arms and shakes head as he says*
tsk tsk tsk

Okay... second... you totally dropped the "F" bomb!!!
All I can say is...
Beeeeeee Careful little lips what you say!
Beeeeeee Careful little lips what you say!
For the Father up aboooooove
Is looking down with precious Love
So Amber... be careful little lips what you say!
*pictures Jesus crossing arms and shaking head as he says*
tsk tsk tsk

okay... u mad it up with this posting... my dad is an alcholic... I cant begin to tell you how many times I covered for his drunk butt and... lied... excused... forgave... then started it all over again. not good! brings back memories. I tease alot about the drinking... but... I am very careful cause Im affraid its herieitary and I dont ever want to be like my dad is when he's drunk

now lets get back to Jesus...

Beeeeee careful little Amber what you blog!

hehehehehe
Heart ya Colorado cutie
Romey

Marissa said...

Wow. Amber - this is such a powerful post. I read with tears in my eyes. I know walking away is probably the most difficult thing you've ever done, but I think, in this situation, there was nothing else you could do. Either way, it would tear you apart. And sadly, it seems she'll have to hit rock bottom before she ever makes the decision to get better. But that's just it, the decision will have to come from HER. You're a wonderful person and just the way you care about those boys - well, even if you're not in their daily lives anymore, they still know.

Paul said...

I want to NOT comment on this entry, although I'm sad you can identify alcoholics that easily...but instead I just want to say:

JAMES BLUNT ROCKS.

Been listening to that album for weeks, on and on and on and on and on. I wish he'd play live in LA soon.

Jhena said...

Oh my! I just can't imagine anything worse than living a life like that. I just hope their mom will realize that. Your boys deserve a better life.

Romeo Jensen said...

I have two words for you

update now

is that three?
technically i guess it is