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Berber – thank you for your sweet post. I could probably use one of your big hugs today!

Velvet, I appreciate the talk in Group today – the hour went too quickly.

In response to your last post here: My husband and I talked about the issue of trust – on both sides. He is fully aware that it will take a great deal of time for me to completely trust him again. And I am aware that every time I have a mini melt down over something (which happens less often) it makes him less likely to be open with me.

We have enjoyed him being home for so long. Things aren’t perfect of course, but we are so much easier with one another. The longer he is away from the possible quick trip to the casino, the better he is. He says he has not gambled online since before the wreck on September 26, and there are no casinos here at home, so I believe he has not gambled or played the online slots in almost 2 months. We talked some today after Group about his boredom and what he can do to fill the void, but no solutions yet.

We have talked more during this time than probably ever in our marriage – about things that matter I mean. The counseling was an impetus for our communicating in a different way – although the counselor was terrible and we are looking for another.

I was certainly more aware than she was, and as I told you in group, I have been doing a good deal of reading and exploring other options for gambling therapy. I am also giving thought to the suggestions to consider separate counselors. Our paths to recovery ARE separate: I’m really beginning to understand that.

Your post has helped me tremendously Monique. I feel validated in expecting our therapist to listen and care, and to be competent. Instead, she ‘didn’t have time’ to read anything I gave her or to look in to gambling addiction – and she talked too much; mostly about herself.

In my last one-to-one with her, she talked about her mother, her mother’s house, her love for everything organic, and on and on. She spent the last 10 minutes of the session on her computer showing me a “Green” hotel website that was her favorite place to stay. It was very awkward – like she didn’t know what to say to me or how to start being therapeutic, so she just chatted about nothing. I went home and cancelled the rest of our appointments. My husband did not think she was very engaged either, but he was going anyway just in case she got better.

You have also, and especially, helped me to realize the complexity of our situation. With your insight, and our bad experience, I now think a good counselor might know better than to try and work with both of us on everything at once.

I think you and Velvet are right: He needs to work on his addiction separate from everything else, and without me.

And we obviously need to work on our relationship.

But I also realize that I have much to work on myself; things I’ve mentioned before – my disorganized, messy house, my weight, my chronic lack of discipline. One of the things my husband said in counseling was that he would like to come home to a clean, organized home – not accusingly, just honest. I’ve not always been this way – at least not to this extent – but it has not been as a result of his addiction. It’s gone on for many years. And I have to do something about it. So it’s probably time for me to start paddling my own boat again huh?

I don’t exactly know how to get started in earnest. I used to at least have spurts of effort to accomplish things. I’d get motivated to work on a project or clean house , and I’d pour myself into it almost to the exclusion of everything else.

I’m realizing that I have poor coping skills – just like my cg husband.

For instance, when my father’s COPD got really bad in 2000, I started a major landscaping project in my front yard. I dug out new, elaborate curvy flower beds down both sides and the middle of the yard, using cut landscape timbers and truckloads of river rock (hand-picked) to edge the beds. A neighbor had busted up concrete in their front yard so I hauled these huge pieces home and made curvy walkways. I was obsessed with the project – hanging lights in the trees so I could work through the night when I was on a roll. My neighbors must have thought I was nuts – and I was a little. All the while I was trying to take care of my dad, and both my in-laws who were also in bad health – taking them to doctor’s appointments, shopping, whatever they needed.

This was my excuse back then to quit working full time. Both our parents had some serious health issues, and my brother – who was 48 at the time – suffered a stroke. (Two years later he suffered another more debilitating stroke and could no longer work at his job.) So I was always taking off work to take somebody somewhere or to do something for someone. I justified quitting because 1) family was more important than work, and 2) I knew my job performance was suffering with the distractions and absences.

Somewhere in the middle of starting and stopping the landscaping project over several years, my father’s COPD worsened, and we were told by Hospice that he was in the last stages of the disease and we could expect that he might not be with us in 6 months. I dealt with my fear and grief by going back to working hard, long days and nights on that never-ending landscaping project.

Not long after we got the news of my father’s prognosis, my brother cashed in his 401K (after his 2nd stroke) and bought a house that needed a lot of work. His wife was mentally ill (classic Borderline Personality Disorder was my best self-educated guess), and their family terribly dysfunctional. I think they were on the verge of being evicted from their rental. I knew he couldn’t get the house ready by himself, and no one was else was likely to, or capable of doing the things that needed to be done, so I dropped what I was doing here and went there to help him. After a month or so, I stopped coming home during the week (they lived about 20 miles away) and slept on an air mattress at the house – working from the time I got up until I went to bed at night – still running the parents and my brother around as needed.

My sweet husband would come over most evenings to help, doing all the electrical work while we did the construction. He even spent a number of weekends on that stupid air mattress just to be with me. He never begrudged me the time I was spending with my brother, even though I was neglecting him terribly. He has always supported me in my crazy, headlong endeavors (and sadly there have been many others similar to this), almost always without complaint.

When I look back I have to wonder why he didn’t complain. Why didn’t he eventually point out the ridiculousness of my actions and insist that I moderate my behaviors and pay a little more attention to him? If anyone is still reading this ramble and has any idea or understanding of either of our behaviors, I’d be very interested in hearing it.

After months of working on my brother’s house, I stopped staying over there and decided, for the most part, I had done enough – it was time for his family to pitch in and finish. I needed to get back to my life.

My father-in-law was suffering from chronic and intolerable neuropathic pain and my mother-in-law’s Parkinson’s and Rheumatoid Arthritis were exacerbated by the stress. Daddy was being tended to at home by the angels on earth that work for Hospice. My mother’s strength and her faith in God were amazing during this awful time.

Early on a Monday morning in March of 2001, having run out of morphine over the weekend, and in the delirium of pain, my poor father-in-law shot himself. In the raw anguish of the weeks that followed, strangely, my husband and I were closer than we’d ever been. He was not demonstrative, but he was vulnerable and in pain, and he turned to me for physical comfort and emotional support.

Two weeks later my father was taken to the Hospice House to be kept comfortable in his last days. My sisters and my mother and I spent the next 2 weeks mostly at the Hospice House and taking turns sleeping in the recliner by his bed. We were gathered around my sweet daddy, loving him and praying over him when he took his last breath.

The pain of losing my father was so deep I would not have thought it possible to hurt that much had I not just witnessed my mother-in-law suffer what I think must have been an even greater pain than mine. I desperately needed something from my husband – I don’t know what exactly, something real – but I don’t think I ever really felt comforted by him. Maybe it wasn’t possible. The closeness we felt after his father’s death was gone and I was left wanting.

My mother-in-law lived with us for a number of years prior to her death, and by the time we had settled her estate, sold her house and sorted through a 60 year collection of – well, everything, my house was an even bigger overflowing mess, and I was tired.

Somewhere along the way I lost interest in gardening and building things and being creative. I lost my passion for dancing, shooting pool and playing golf. I’ve not socialized much since quitting my job and I live with a non-communicative man. I’m not very comfortable in social settings anymore because I don’t have anything interesting to talk about – I’ve very nearly lost that skill. I’ve grown lazy and become an expert at doing nothing – or nothing important anyway – wasting so much time obsessively playing Guitar Hero, or Farmtown, or some other online game where nobody could give a flip about me.

I could just as easily have escaped to a casino if one had been handy.

I don’t exactly know why I’ve gone on like this, except that I’ve been soul searching and these are some of the things I’ve been thinking about and examining – what my part is in the mess we’ve made of our marriage. I feel disengaged so much of the time, and now that I have admitted as much to my husband, I must also admit that I have just as much to work on as him.