Wednesday, April 10, 2013

BJ's Stuff

He says he's gonna kill me and toss me in the creek! Can you guys come and get me? I think he might be serious this time and I'm afraid.

It's not the discussion you would choose to have with your mother in law, but some people's lives are just more dramatic than others and I knew full well that if she'd actually called us, she wasn't crying wolf.

It was nearly 40 minutes to the house and Linda and I talked during every second I raced westward. She'd divorced her parents for all intents long before I'd met her, and it was my doing that had put her back into the relationship saddle. Her mother never would have called for any reason beyond offering holiday meal schedules, had I not butt in and prodded the two together; explaining in my good natured know-it-all way that there would surely come a day Linda'd regret having tossed off mommy and daddy.

All my wife had regretted to this point was her reunion, the two adults who'd raised her were a daily nightmare and this day, only the most spooky to date. It hadn't been six months since BJ had been found passed out in her running car; the fact that she was at the street end of her own driveway had not swayed the judge in his quest to remove her license and drop her into a 72 hour lockup.

That was the first time I'd really pushed. The clinic/halfway house had called and pleaded with us to convince Barbara to stay a month, or as long as it would take to dry out and realign her priorities. Linda had no desire; she believed alcoholism was a fallacy, that her parents could stop drinking themselves to death by simply saying no and that there was no convincing anyone to do something they were dead set against.

BJ and Raymond had been drunks all her life; time had only increased the frequency and longevity of each binge until finally it had become booze upon first rising until last light. There was no hope Lin would say, and our chatting with BJ won't do anything more than waste an afternoon.

I played the logic card, that certainly nothing would happen if we didn't try, and that we had all day with no previously scheduled agenda so what would it hurt?

I had my own thing; Barb liked me and I liked her back. She could be clever and calm, she was well read, well versed and well mannered...around me anyway; and I really felt badly for her with a husband that verbally beat her from dawn to dusk.

The first time I suggested "intervening" Linda told me if I was so interested that I could do it myself. I couldn't blame her, I didn't have her baggage. I hadn't spent my life ducking and dodging hurled abuse as she had...well, not from her parents anyway; so at one time I offered to go it alone if she liked, but that didn't set well either as it was her parents/her problem.

Eventually we'd decided to go together and rope one brother into our group as well. Linda was right in the end, it was pointless. BJ turned a deaf ear to the assertion that she had a problem, and was insistent that there was zero chance that she'd spend one more moment in recovery than the law forced upon her. I was right too, it was the right thing to do to at least try, no matter how predictable the outcome.

Since the day we drove off with BJ still in denial and state required bondage, we avoided the family as best we could. Both Ray and Barb were back on the heavy sauce the moment she was released, and her not having the freedom of a drivers license only made her feel the need to stay loopy 24/7.

Now some months later the powder keg had lit up at last and the two were at each others throats in a more physical fashion, though still not of the type that could be used to separate them by law.

It was silent as we drove mom from the country into the big city; we waited for her to blow off steam and she responded by staring out the window.

Once in our livingroom she opened up a little but never really explained what the fight was all about, nor what the threat was designed to accomplish. The reality was that Raymond walked as if he were 100 years old; his legs were unsteady, his feet were tender and he was always stoned so he couldn't have caught BJ to kill her if his own life was in the balance.

Maybe she just needed a break from his shouting, but we felt that if things had gone far enough that we were going to be dragged into it, she was gonna have to live with whatever lecture we'd dole out. So with no apologies we dug in, pressuring her to leave Ray once and for all, to sober up and start a new life before her old one killed her. To that end we offered her every resource we had from places to live to every cent we'd collected in 40 some years; we had a list of people who had sworn to come to her side and we promised to be in the front lines alongside her so long as she took the first step.

She humored us for a time, agreeing that she had a problem that had to be dealt with; and then she shut us down explaining that she could never leave her home because that's where her stuff was. Stuff this and stuff that, she wasn't going to take the risk that she would lose so much as a thimble's worth of her "memories" by either moving out or legally forcing him out...her stuff was worth more than her life.

It's more complex than I can make it here, history always is. But the bottom lines are true and all our cajoling and pleading didn't change a thing. The next morning we drove her back to her stuff, where Raymond was impatiently waiting for her to serve him lunch and retake her place as his whipping post.

Within the year she was dead at 66. A liver induced coma had dropped her into the hospital and she never recovered. One of Linda's brothers refused to even visit her on her death bed as he claimed my mother died years ago, I don't know this woman.

Lin is grateful that she'd repaired her relationship with her mother enough that BJ felt compelled to call her the one time she reached out for help. And as we did everything we could have done, there's no guilt in our house. But man, what a shameful waste of a life; one of many more to come, no doubt.

We were talking today about how many incidents of this magnitude we went through in the first 5 years of our marriage, and we were both a little amazed we came through it all together. But when I think about it, I couldn't imagine not having someone just like her to lean on as she leaned on me. BJ believed she was alone, that the world would take everything from her if she ever let down her guard. Poppycock. She chose to ignore those that might help her, those that cared enough to be there in spite of her prying them away.

As for me, I have Linda watching my back...the world doesn't have a prayer.

1 comment:

  1. That's really sad but gives hope for all of us, I think.