Monday, March 3, 2008

A Bad Story - Starting to End Well

(I wrote this story about a week ago. It got usurped by my wife deciding to take off for the lake and mountains without plans around my work and our daughter.)

I decided to add this to the post this morning:
What Lessons I Learned (because this blog is not just about venting, it is about grow. Albeit growth through getting angry sometimes and venting and stress, but growth.)
Here are my lessons:
1. Ask for Help - and unseen forces will come to your aid.
2. Making progress means taking little steps or actions, what I call imperceptible differences, and over time, things do fall into place.
3. This is related to #2. You may not see the results as soon as you wish. But be patient.
4. Know what you will sacrifice everything for. What is important. In my case my daughter having a chance at life and some normality.
5. I was never a "God person." I am not sure why I even put that in quotes. I do believe that there are forces in the Universe that will help us, we just don't always ask or ask correctly. This may be God. I do talk to God. I have called upon God over the past 3 years and he has not let me down.

One of my stressors was the fact that my wife could not and can not teach my daughter and work with her after school on her school assignments. This was obviously due to the alcohol. You may recall that I was rather trusting and assumed she was taking care of things at home.

I started to realize about the same time I was coming to a conclusion my wife was on her way to looney tune land (I thought her actions were due to early PMS or she was bi-polar). I noticed she would start talking to people on the phone while my daughter was studying. By the way, there was no study time set in our house. It was like pounding nails into a board with the palm of your hand trying to convince my wife that there needs to be a specific study time.

Then of course, I discovered she was drinking. Then I discovered all about alcoholism and how it over takes the entire household.

My daughter is precious to me. She represents peace and sanity. She is very pretty. She is sweet about 99% of the time (there is this 1% that she can draw upon that is right off of some brat show on TV). But in truth, I have been blessed. I am a big guy - the oldest of a large family of boys. The guy who worked construction to pay his own way through college. So when I say she is precious, I am going to a word I used to be very uncomfortable with using. Ever. I don't think I could have used the term "precious stone" - not that I would have had an occasion to.

Back to the Point
I did not realize the extent of how my wife's alcoholism consumed my wife with thinking about herself and how she looked to others. It wasn't until recently - that in the past several months when my daughter's grades slipped drastically to D's and C's. I became very frightened. Scared.

I did not want to have my little girl's self-esteem damaged by having poor grades and being left back. My wife at the time, was MIA, mind-wise. She seemed to think I was a control freak. I probably was. But when the earth is spinning off it's axis, what do you do, just sing, "Let It Be?"

This is our little girl! While she should not see us panic . . . We need to panic!

Was This Grade Harder?
Sure this grade is harder.But in listening to my daughter get frustrated, she would complain that, "Mommy does not make any sense." I know the feeling. If my wife tries to explain something I am/was dumbfounded. I thought it was a male vs female communication thing. Now I see it with my daughter.

So, for the past 2 months I have been working behind the scenes and especially in the past 3 weeks to find tutors for after school study. My wife tried to thwart me at every turn;

  • Cancelling a tutor who was supposed to come over.
  • Taking my daughter out for shopping with my wife's friends when we had a specified time to study.
  • My wife complaining in front of my daughter that I was controlling (actually the words were, "Control freak") when we set up a study date for 30 minutes on Saturday and one on Sunday.
  • My wife running around in the kitchen talking on the phone or banging pots and pans acting like she is cooking, when we (my daughter and I) are trying to study and when we have a teacher from the school over the house to help our daughter study.

She - my wife - does not like to be out of the center of attention. She barges into conversations and dominates them. She starts talking to the tutor and the focus is off of the studying. So, I now I have to buy a larger desk or table for the study we have in the front of the house. The point being, we have to move out of the kitchen when we have the "tutors" come over, and they can close the French doors to the study and not be interrupted.

All these machinations have taken a tole on me. It wore me out. I felt like I was taking one step forward and two steps back. But slowly, very slowly at first, got the extra help. I asked around and the help came.

  • Found the extra help for tutoring. A high school senior a neighbor pointed us to.
  • We found out that there was going to be an afternoon program for students at her school.

The forces of the universe, my HP, and just sheer work, was coming to our aid. I just didn't see it at the time. Slowly, imperceptibly, the little steps paid off.

Asking for Help

One thing that really helped me, and you probably need to hear this. And the little thing that turned out to be a big thing was that Al-Anon meeting I went to, back in the summer of last year. The topic was about; Asking for Help.

That was what the entire topic was about for an hour. I never would have asked for help. "Are you kidding me?", you might ask. Nope. Never would ask.

But I did.

I asked my neighbor. She came through a week later with a name of a high school senior whose mother is a nice lady who was a substitute teacher where my daughter goes to school. I called the daughter and mother and asked that we meet - saying that we could each eyeball each other, to see if we had a third eye in the center of our forehead. The teacher of my daughter also came through. She spends more time with me explaining where my daughter needs help. And she came up with a name of a tutor too. Now we had more options than we needed.

Slowly. Surely. Imperceptibly. Help is on its way. Thank you Higher Power.

I am reminded of a quote. I am not sure who said it. I heard it from Brian Tracy, one of my favorite authors. In one of his video and several audio programs he quotes someone who said,

"Act boldly, and unforeseen forces will come to your aid."

(see comments - I corrected myself.)

I love this quote. I didn't really act boldly. I just acted by asking for help. And help arrived.

And today I am grateful for one more thing. These results. I need to remember this was a major stress point 4 weeks ago.

A wish for you to comment: Please comment if you like the "Lessons Learned" upfront. And if I missed any lessons learned, please add them to the comments. I would be grateful as I know others would be grateful. If you like the idea of the LL upfront, I will continue to do this.


Catherine said...

It's a little easier to ask for help when your kid's welfare is at stake and that's one of those built-in blessing/curses of having kids: you simply can't do everything alone. It's a good lesson for everyone. Maybe your daughter now knows how many people care about seeing her succeed.

Joe said...

To Joe From Joe;

Found the quote and the correct wording. By the way, I love a good quote. It can cut down on the words and make you go, how did they write so little and say so much?

"Act boldy and unseen forces will come to your aid." Dorothea Brande - Writer & Editor.

PS - I read one of her books. She is someone who writes about success and pulling yourself up from the bottom by working on yourself.

Syd said...

I ask for help when I need help. I used to think that I had the answers and didn't need help. That has changed thankfully.

Anonymous said...

I have decided that I can "give it up' and have the patience to wait.... Wait for direction....

Tough yes, but based on all the resentment, anger, and fear from the past, I can go to bed at night with somewhat of a peace, and quiet-ness that I need to listen, absorb, and react in a way that comes from strength, and not defensiveness......

Wow..... What a cool feeling!