Hope for a fresh start carried us to a new home in a safer neighborhood with more convenient off street parking. Moments of true contentment sustained the belief that we could create the life we both longed for – a life with a loving family in a happy home. Drugs were no longer in the picture, but late nights slowly returned, with alcohol as the mistress. I still clung to the belief that a flourishing family would somehow support sobriety. I still believed there was a way I could reroute his need for alcohol as a sedative for painful memories. We decided to expand our family. Following a difficult pregnancy, but speedy delivery – almost in the car as my mother had delivered me – a daughter created an idyllic family of four. Seven months as a stay at home mom followed and friends commented they had never seen me so happy. It was a good life, but not good enough to fill Ron’s need for retreating into the haze of inebriation.
I returned to work part time at a new position with preschoolers with special needs. It became my sanctuary. I loved the way the kids made me feel. I loved the rewards of my efforts as their skills grew. I loved the camaraderie and respect of my coworkers. I loved the sense of independence and control over my day. I loved looking forward to picking up my own children after work. I dreaded not knowing if tonight the door would close, despite my begging or anger or tears, as Ron went out for his fix. His work, or rather, missing work after late nights out, became a threat to our security. He was the main breadwinner. My part time salary could not pay the bills.
Illusions of the life I wished for died a very gradual death. It was inflated with the air of fun vacations, the four of us together and kids excited and happy. It lost its buoyancy as debt accumulated. Money was a constant issue. I had grown up in a home with a tight budget required to just satisfy basic needs. Vacations were camping trips. Ron had grown up in a big house with hired help when young, until things went downhill and they ended in an abandoned hotel, and eventually foster care. But the need to live as if money flowed from a fountain seemed to be deeply rooted. I constantly scrimped and he constantly spent. We kept separate bank accounts despite the discrepancy in the size of our paychecks – mine very small and his much larger. We each took care of designated bills. Our finances were never shared. As also held true for many parts of our relationship, including trust.