Every day I make a mental note to ring Ben from work. I do it to:
- check up on him
- make sure he speaks to someone other than himself during the course of the day.
I do it in the belief that time spent speaking to me is time spent not drinking. But every time I ring him, I ask him whether he has been drinking. And when he says he hasn’t, I accuse him of lying.
I know this isn’t the way to do things. I’ve spoken to the folks at Al-Anon who say that I need to let go and simply trust that things will improve. From time to time, I manage to do this, but all too often, I don’t.
Ben spent the entire Easter weekend on the couch, shaking like someone with advanced Parkinsons, throwing up water and anything else he tried to consume. Yesterday, I woke to find the bathtub caked in vomit. If it isn’t vomit, it’s faeces. If it isn’t faeces, it’s blood. And each time I’ve had to clean it up, wherever I’ve found it.
I went mad. I didn’t care that he was lying on the couch sweating. I didn’t care that Rosie was crying because she thought I was angry at her. I just kept shouting, filling the flat up with my vitriol.
I don’t know how many times I’ve had to apologise to her, explaining that it isn’t her, that I just get angry sometimes because I have too much to do all the time. I wonder how many times I will do this and when she will stop believing me, even though I’m telling the truth.
Today, I picked Rosie up from her child minder after work. We wandered through the park. She climbed the trees in front of our building. When we got inside, the kitchen was exactly as I’d left it: dishes in the sink, no attempt at dinner, flat still a mess. Ben was crashed out on the couch, exuding that noxious beer odour. And then Rosie refused to wash her hands with soap.
I sent her to the corner. She refused. I shouted. And even as I was doing it, I knew that I was angry at him, that I was punishing her because I couldn’t punish him. It’s all so obvious – a grotesque cliché – and I can’t seem to extricate myself from its boring predictability.
How to control the rage? Count? I can’t even breathe at these times. All I want to do is lie down in the road and let the cars run the rage right out of me. I don’t, for Rosie’s sake. But for her sake (and mine – even Ben’s) I need to find a way to check my anger.
Maybe this is one way of exorcising it.