I have fought with my own insecurities about writing this. Partially because it’s part of a past experience, and we are suppose to ‘let go’ of the past, but more out of fear of what OTHERS might say or conclude from my reveal. After a year of crying uncontrollably every time I put thought to MY PERSONAL experience, I decided what better time to feel, purge and heal!
Anyone who reads this who KNOWS me will fully appreciate the power writing holds for me. Anyone who has a negative comment or judgment of MY OWN EXPERIENCE (‘should have’, ‘I can’t believe she said that’, ‘why is she bringing up past’ etc….) can in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS ‘go fuck themselves’.
One year ago, I sat like a warrior in my boarded up home ready to ‘fight’ Harvey. I sat video taping the bold gusts of wind from our garage bunker; a couple of lawn chairs, a missing back door window and provisions for a few days. It wasn’t that bad, at first. A heavy wave of wind here and there but no rain or crazy winds.
Not like I had expected. Then again, what did I expect?
My husband and I sat in our garage with ringside seats, fully prepared to capture every fearless moment on video, prepared with four fully charged phones JUST IN CASE we lost power.
This experience highlighted the final days of my beloved’s toxic relationship with ‘The Drink’, so we had stocked our coolers with enough beer (a case and a half) and wine (ONE 4-pk) to ride out the storm. I LOVE wine and although I wasn’t a heavy drinker, to me there was nothing more relaxing than sipping a glass or two just sitting and watching the storms roll in.
As the hours ticked away, the ambiance of the streets was pure desertion. Apocalyptic. Maybe the sound of a car on the nearby roadway splashing or rushing, but no sounds, not even sirens. Nothing other than the roaring wind.
We sat in ‘our space’ for 5 hours, talking and watching. Him drinking. Me watching. Both of us seemingly content and fearless.
The trees were blowing around shadowed against the oddly coloured pink-gray night sky. As we approached 10 pm, the closer we were to Harvey’s landfall and assault. I remember thinking ‘This wasn’t so bad!’
After about two to three glasses of wine, I was cozy and asleep on the cot in the garage next to my hubby, feeling the wind and mist from the rain on my face as it squeezed through our open garage window. I felt oddly safe and confident.
At 2am, I was suddenly awakened! Not by a storm or the roaring wind ripping my roof off of its foundation, but by a highly intoxicated, crazed and very panicked man….my husband.
Nearly two to three hours had passed since I fell asleep in full safety. But now…..
He was screaming at me to get the ‘FUCK’ up and get inside the house, that we had to leave because the house was going to collapse soon! He was screaming at me for being too slow, for being so ‘stupid’ to sleep through a storm, even though he was right there beside me. He was now yelling about the neon green flashes of lightening radiating across the Victoria sky and how they were not natural; that this hurricane was man-made.
He was panicked, raging, erratic, shifting between confusing conclusions of the situation, absolute hate of the government, arrows of abuse towards me for not moving faster and moments of solitude staring out into the windy night sky!
Every time I attempted to speak to him, he would rage at me screaming that I ‘didn’t understand that we were going to die if we didn’t leave now!’ Then he would go into the garage and just watch the storm in isolation. On one of his episodes of sheer panic, he told me to awaken my sleeping son, get on our boots because we HAD TO LEAVE!
Volatile. Violent. Frightening. Horrible. Fear.
I woke my son up, which was a frightening experience for him, and together, we crawled into a corner of the laundry room and huddled with pillows, fully dressed to leave the house with the dogs at our side. Mind you, my hubby was currently in the garage having ‘one more‘ beer, sitting in his lawn chair watching the storm and seemingly unscathed by what, just moments earlier, was an imminent death for us all!
I frantically texted my mom asking her for updates of the storm as we had no internet and very limited text capabilities. She would send me ‘screen shots’ of current wind speeds and location of the storm. I explained to her that my hubby was literally ‘freaking out’ on us and although it was bad, he was terrifying us with his raging, calling us stupid and lazy for not understanding or moving fast enough and his panic over what he didn’t know. I’m sure she was panicked with me, and as I later discovered, she didn’t sleep at all that night either.
I absolutely refused to leave the safety of my home no matter how much he screamed at me. I was scared he would leave us alone, as he threatened to do. I was scared that he might do something to push us out of the house. It was all so terrifying and confusing.
The winds were violent, at a sustained 70-90 mph, but with gusts of up to 120 mph! The house was making intense knocking sounds. The pressure changes were so intense, you could feel the air pushing outward like a balloon ready to pop!
He would come inside intermittently, panicked saying we needed to leave NOW and then he would confusingly call me into the garage and begin ranting uncontrollably about how this is not a ‘natural storm’ and telling me how I don’t understand how bad it is.
Always with a beer in hand.
My mom continued to send me screen shots of the storm’s location and wind speed…my only outside connection to the world. I was able to somehow convince him that the worst of the storm was over even though it wasn’t, and that it was slowing in speed. He sat outside watching the storm a little more calmly, had a few more beers, walked inside, sat in his recliner and passed out!
Me and my son sat on opposite couches. Both in sheer disbelief. What just happened? He seemed a little calmer now that my husband was passed out, wanting to return to his room, but I needed him.
He stayed in the living room with me, his headphones in his ears. Me, I had just experienced a hurricane of epic proportions….an experienced that others never even knew or understood had occurred.
I was internally damaged.
As the wind raged on (it hadn’t let up, in reality), I sat all alone riding out a massive hurricane, with my snoring passed out husband to my left and my checked out son to my right. My mom was keeping in contact with me the best she could, with texting limited due to cell service being lost. Internet was lost. At least we still had power….I sat alone in complete horror.
At about 5 am, one of the dogs took a huge shit on our rugs. The winds were still howling violently and you could see bits of other people’s lives blowing down the roadway. I couldn’t let them outside. I started to clean up the horrible smelling mess littered down the hall on all of my rugs when the lights flickered. We lost power.
I was so angry!!!! How could this be happening and why was I forced to do it alone!
I cannot begin to describe the overwhelming fear associated with all facets of this experience thus far! The storm itself was the LEAST of my present or future worries. The lack of a safe space or a kind and consoling voice to get me through was devastating.
Sitting in complete silence, feeling your head fill with pressure and your ears feel like they want to explode! The bangs, crashes and rumblings outside of the boarded windows.
A feeling I cannot explain, but one I had never felt before. It was like being alone on a ship slowly sinking into the ocean, wondering if you will survive.
I honestly don’t know why, but I would run to the garage and video the experience periodically. I felt so scared every time I stepped into the garage, as if the hurricane was a monster and I was trying to avoid it seeing me!
As the morning light emerged, I felt a sense of safety return. Somehow, the light of day gave hope. I opened up the front door in order to remind myself that the world was still in existence. There were bits of homes, trees and belongings blowing around everywhere.
My husband woke up and walked outside. He was still intoxicated, combative and still angry at me and my son for not moving fast enough. Honestly, I don’t know what he was angry about. He was drunk. As he held the door open and the wind grabbed it, ripping it open and breaking its hinges. At this point, both dogs seized the opportunity, bolted out of the door and took off down the street!
He was hell bent on leaving them out in the storm and I couldn’t argue with him in his current state. He came back inside, sat in his chair and went back to sleep.
The dogs eventually returned, but were banished from the house and put in the garage.
As the winds subsided, he got up. He was still angry and made a few hateful comments towards me. I just sat alone and said nothing. I was tired, sad, afraid and had no will remaining. A warrior defeated. He put on his shoes, chugged another beer and announced he was leaving to go to the shop.
Terror consumed me! This wasn’t a work day. The winds were still blowing as we were in a hurricane. I begged him not to go….but he said some hurtful words and left.
I was devastated! I cried. I walked around the dark and silent house lost, alone and scared as hell! I was pacing, full of worry for the unknown.
About 10 min later, he returned home, stricken with panic. He said ‘you’ve got to come with me! It’s BAD’…so I did.
Yes he was driving. Yes he was still intoxicated. Yes the winds were still blowing. But somehow, this left me feeling safer than being alone in the house and him driving around alone.
The apocalyptic aftermath was devastating.
All I could say was ‘oh my god’! Huge old trees blocking roads, roofs literally ripped from homes, power lines everywhere, like spaghetti tossed in the roads. Fences laying down and blown across roadways. Entire structures fully collapsed. It was humbling at best!
Deathly silence consumed us as we drove, observing the warlike environment around us.
No power and an apocalyptic feel, we gathered us what we needed to ensure survival. We had prepared for the storm and had a plan of usage for refrigerated goods and other supplies. He kept drinking all day and passed out at night.
The Fear of theft, or worse, crept into my mind. I was truly dealing with this all by myself. He would shift between drunk, intense raging, deep affection and sleep. It was hot, muggy and was only bound to get worse. I busted myself sweeping the floor, reading, coloring, cleaning and baking to get rid of expendable supplies. A pioneer’s heart! I had already texted my mother and she was heading down on Tuesday to bring supplies.
On day 2, he drove around and saw activity at some of the stores. I knew his beer reserve was diminishing and he would either stop drinking or would do whatever he could to get more. Walgreens had limited credit card only usage (debit and chip cards didn’t work) and he wanted more beer, under the excuse of buying snacks for my son. A tactic he used often.
Unfortunately he was unable to complete the purchase and told me to give him all of my cash out of my wallet. We went back inside and bought the beer only. He then drove around and purchased an 18-pack of beer for $30 at a convenience store selling their items at inflated prices to one person at a time.
I was absolutely surprised that the few local businesses were encouraging, even enabling the drunks while taking advantage of them. I not only had a front row seat to what an ADDICT will do to get their fix or maintain their high, but I witnessed what the dealers and opportunists do to take advantage of the weak and vulnerable, especially in a volatile time!
I felt so defeated in every way. Safety. Security. My peace. My sanity.
For the next few days, he continued to shift between a drunken rage, snoring/apnea, driving around and being super affectionate. He would go outside, talking to the other neighborhood drunks, drink their beer and then come back home and pass out.
Nights alone with almost no sleep. Days with him foraging for beer and snack foods. Driving around looking at the devastation. Cold rainwater baths. Sticky humid nights.
When my mom arrived, I ran to her and hugged her so tightly. I cried so hard! She was the BEST thing I had seen in 3 days of horror.
She brought food, supplies and a generator. But mostly, she brought safety and companionship. He was upset and kept asking WHY I had brought her there, saying it made him look like he couldn’t provide. He was angry that she brought stuff, but more angry his drinking secrets were going to be exposed. I guess to make it right in his eyes, he wrote her a check for the cost.
While trying to put the generator together, he got so drunk, he passed out in the garage in front of everyone in his folding chair. He would argue, humiliate me with his behavior and say inappropriate things to us, about us about other people.
The next morning, he tried to sneak away for more booze, but lied about it. I went with him after he fought with me and my mom about me going. We both knew he was hiding his drinking even though he said he wasn’t and I wanted to be with him so he didn’t do something stupid.
He pulled into a gas station, looked at me and told me I didn’t understand and that he was going to get his beer no matter. I had no say. He bought another case of beer and we returned home.
He deceived me with his lies once again and left for his shop, only this time, never to return. He spent the next 2 days at his shop drinking a case a day, plus tall boys. He completely checked out, blaming ME for having my mother help me and us women being too powerful because we were doing the labor the ‘MAN’ should be doing. His current excuse.
My mother and I cleaned up the apocalypse mess, burned all the debris, cut up the trees that were downed in my yard, and returned my home to a state of normalcy ….all by ourselves… while he stayed drunk and checked out. She had to leave, partly because she couldn’t stand watching him treat me like this and partially because the hurricane had impacted other family members and she was close enough to help them.
I was deeply wounded, but had to do this.
He remained in a saturated drunken state for about two weeks, keeping the tv shop and gym closed and using the hurricane as an excuse. No income. No work.
Our lives eventually returned to normal in the days following. However, the deep wounds of my own soul remained septic. I was poisoned by the terror. I had no one to tell my story to and no one to listen to me fully, so I held it all inside.
Sure, there were the few who might say ‘anytime’ you need to talk, but honestly, when was anytime? How do you show a person all that you have been hiding and dealing with emotionally without creating an uprising or feelings of judgment?
His drinking escalated to an epic high that served as the impetus for a complete change in his lifestyle. The hurricane pulled this out of him like an infected tooth! His sneaking around to access the drink, disappearing to the shop for days, driving drunk, collecting change and walking the streets with the local dirty scum just to get beer worsened. He completely checked out from life, family and our work.
Today, one year later, he is still alcohol free. He has removed the ‘daily drinkers’ and partiers from his life. He says NO to weddings, dinner and gatherings where alcohol is even a remote possibility. He will not spend time with family if they are sitting around drinking. He has slowly eradicated the drunks and bros from his life that he use to hang out with, clearing a path for the possibility of new, fulfilling and healthy friendships.
The opportunities for healing since that night of absolute terror have been abundant. I have grown so much in the year in terms of expression and power.
I love my husband deeply and fully.
Where most wives, sons, daughters, family and friends would have left him to die in his own vomit and blood, I took up my sword for battle. The road to healing is still ongoing, as he learns to fight his own demons daily without numbing his own toxic and abused past.
Don’t get me wrong, I am no coward and will stand TALL for myself and will not ever let him or anyone put me in a situation like this again.
I, one year later, am grateful for the hurricane and all of the emotional terror I experienced in direct relation to it. It’s impact on my life was the necessary storm for change and healing.
“Life’s roughest storms prove the STRENGTH of our anchors”-unknown