I was inspired recently by this whole Throwback Thursday thing that people do on Facebook and Instagram to pull some old, dusty boxes from the garage and hunt for old photos.  I uncovered stuff that hasn’t seen the light of day in fifteen years – old year books, lots and lots of old photos, mementos (much of which I have no idea now why I ever held onto), and old diaries, both of the handwritten variety, and of the typed variety.  Stuff from as far back as the 1980s.  I’ve skimmed a lot of it, but to read all if it in detail would take weeks, maybe months – and I’m not sure I want to.  But I also know that I can’t part with it, because it’s a record of so many experiences I’ve had that have left so many marks on me and shaped me in so many ways.

This is a brief diary I kept in March, 1999:

Friday, March 12, 1999

Kelly didn’t come home until 10:15.  Missed dinner.  I never bothered paging him. He finally called at 9:40 to say he would be home in 15 minutes. He was drinking. Said he stayed after work with the guys.


Saturday, March 13, 1999

Boxing night. Kelly went somewhere to watch the fight (after having mentioned earlier in the day “let’s do something tonight.”  I don’t know where he went, a bar probably.  I’m pretty sure the fight was over by 10:00 because a friend of Kelly’s called then to see what he had thought of the fight. Kelly didn’t get home until close to 11:00 though.  He was drinking, of course.


Sunday, March 14, 1999

Kelly left the house at about 2:00 saying he was going to the grocery store.  Kevin was down for a nap and we had planned to take him to the park when he woke up.  Kelly did not get home until 9:30 p.m.  Missed dinner.  I paged him at around 6:30 but he never bothered to call me back.  Didn’t have his cell phone on.  When he finally got home, he said he had remembered when he left the house that he needed to go to work to take care of a few things (on a Sunday????).  He said he didn’t know why he didn’t call to let me know.  When he got there, the guys were there so he stayed out drinking with them.  He was very restless and agitated when he got home and I was very upset.  However, within 15 minutes of finally getting home at 9:30, he turned around and left again saying he was going to the store.  He was gone for another hour, out drinking some more.


Monday, March 15, 1999

I got home at about 6:30 after picking Kevin up from Bill & Becky’s.  Kelly was already home.  He no longer seemed sorry for the night before and was defensive instead.  We had another big fight where everything was twisted around and made out to be MY problem.  He didn’t appear to have been drinking when we first got home, but after our fight I think he was sneaking out to the garage.


Tuesday, March 16, 1999

I called Kelly at work to make amends.  He came home after Kevin went to bed, can’t remember exactly what time but it was after 8:00.  He had been drinking, gave me his standard line that he had had just one beer. Which I don’t believe.


Wednesday, March 17, 1999

We talked on the phone in the afternoon and he said he’d be home by 6:00.  He called at 7:30 and said he would be home in 10 minutes and got annoyed and huffy when I told him that I was putting Kevin to bed rather than keeping him up to see his daddy.  Kelly didn’t get home until 7:50 and missed dinner.  He appeared to have been drinking and/or something else.  I’ve noticed over the last few months that sometimes when he comes home he seems agitated, antsy, sketchy.  He claims he doesn’t know what I’m talking about.  He insisted he had not been drinking or anything else tonight but I have absolutely no reason to believe him.  Later when I had gone upstairs to read, I heard him coming and going in and out of the garage and just making a general racket downstairs … typical drinking behavior.


Thursday, March 18, 1999

Talked to Kelly on the phone around 5:00.  He was still at the office and when I called he said he had 2 other calls holding for him and that he was trying to get out of there right away.  He called again at 7:30 and said he would be home in 5 minutes.  I told him I was putting Kevin to bed and he insisted I keep him up so he could put him to bed.  I gave in.  He got home about 15 minutes later and put Kevin to bed.  He had been drinking again.  He said he stopped on the way home for 5 minutes to have one drink.  I told him again that I can’t keep living like this, that Kevin and I deserve more than this and that the only difference I see between continuing on with my life with him like this and being single is that being single would at least give me more options.  I told him that I have needs and desires that aren’t being met, as a wife, a mother, and as a woman.  All he had to say was that yes, we need to work on things.  I implored him to realize that Kevin is going to grow up learning about how relationships work from watching us, and that this isn’t how he should see husbands and wives behave, that he needs to see a cohesive family that cares about each other and does things together. He agreed.  In that spirit, I suggested we have a family date tomorrow night.  I wanted to do something together as a family, so I suggested we go to the Block and walk around, have something to eat, have coffee, ice cream, whatever.  He said “What time do you want me home?”  I said “How about 5:30?  Can you do that?”  He said “I’ll be here.”


Friday, March 19, 1999

I tried not to get my hopes up about our date tonight, but I still felt a little excited, thinking how nice it would be if we could really pull it off.  I got home with Kevin around 5:00.  5:30 came and went.  I paged Kelly.  I finally gave Kevin dinner, but still with the hope that we could still get out for a while together tonight.  Kelly finally called me at 6:10, was very apologetic, said how once again things took place beyond his control, that he had to go drop off some material for a customer, etc. etc.  He said he would be home in 30 minutes.  It took him over an hour to get home, and by that time Kevin (who hadn’t had a nap all day) was tired and cranky.  Kelly gave him a bath and put him to bed.  He had been drinking.  (Side note: earlier in the evening, I had found a beer that was obviously carefully hidden in the fridge behind a loaf of bread, and Kevin had happened upon a day-old cup of leftover beer in the family room left on the floor between the couch and the end table).  I was very angry and hurt and was yelling and crying.  He said that the fact that he had had a drink had nothing to do with why he was late.  As if it even matters.  He doesn’t get it that the fact that he drinks EVERY NIGHT is the issue, that it’s out of control and destroying everything.  He was apologetic at first, insisting that he had wanted to be here and that he was disappointed too that things didn’t work out, but I just got angrier and angrier and it turned into a huge fight with both of us yelling and him calling me a psycho bitch and telling me that I was freaking him out (this is one of his usual ways of twisting it around to make ME the one appear with the problem).  He will not address his drinking, every time I bring it up, he avoids it and says that I am the one with the problem, that I take little things and turn them into huge things, and that his drinking would not be an issue except that I have a problem with it and have turned it into an issue.  I told him that I think we ought to get separated because this just isn’t working out and I can’t live like this and neither can Kevin. He said he couldn’t believe how easily I would throw it all away.  At about 8:15, Kelly left again, saying that he was running to the store for a can of Skoal and would be right back. He was gone almost an hour and when he got back he was noticeably slurring his words and it was clear that he had been drinking even more while he was gone. 


He stopped fertility treatment a couple weeks ago, saying that I am putting too much pressure on him and that we shouldn’t bring another baby into this situation.  He is right about that.  What kills me is that he is creating the situation in the first place.  So he has made things unbearable, and has chosen to take away from me the one thing that means the most to me in the world – to have a family, more children.  I hate him for that.


Saturday, March 20, 1999

Kevin had a birthday party to go to today.  Kelly and I were going to take him.  I awoke at 6:30 this morning as Kelly was getting dressed to leave.  He said he had to go to work to move some material that had been left out in the rain.  I reminded him about the birthday party.  He said he would be here to go.  I ended up taking Kevin by myself because Kelly never showed up.  It’s 4:20 p.m. now and he still isn’t home, although he called at 3:30, returning the page I had left for him and hour and a half before that, and said that he had to drive out to Riverside unexpectedly and that he’d be home in an hour.  I left the house with Kevin around 5:00 (Kelly still wasn’t home) and went over to Bill & Becky’s.  I got home at 8:30 and put Kevin to bed.  Kelly was home.  I don’t think he had started drinking yet but was treating me like someone who had done something wrong, saying that my leaving for the evening was playing tit for tat.


Sunday, March 21, 1999

I woke up at 4 this morning and realized that Kelly was still downstairs, all the lights were on, the TV was on.  I went down and he was drunk again.  I spent the next couple of hours tossing and turning in the spare room.  When I got up this morning, I started searching for his stash, as I know he sneaks out to the garage to drink.  In the backyard I found a trash can separate from where all our usual garbage goes and in it were dozens of empty beer cans and bottles (most of them extra large), as well as 2 empty 5ths of Jack Daniels.  I searched the garage and finally found inside his Defenders video game an empty bottle of Jack Daniels, a porno video and a stack of at least a dozen dirty magazines.  I took everything upstairs and dumped it on the bed where he was sleeping and told him to leave. He says he is not going anywhere.  Naturally, it’s all been turned around to be my fault, my problem. He followed me downstairs and out into the backyard and hurled the magazines, the video AND the glass bottle of JD at me.  We had it out again later, with me crying and both of us yelling and Kelly basically refusing to be held accountable for anything.  He finally said “Fine, I won’t drink and I’ll come home at 6 every night.”  But he said it like he was going to prove me wrong, prove that I can never be satisfied with anything no matter how he is.  In spite of that I actually was stupid enough to have a glimmer of hope that he would try at least on a temporary basis, but before the evening was out, he was drinking again.


Monday, March 22, 1999

Kelly was home before me.  It seems like for some unknown reason, he is usually able to be home at a decent hour on Mondays, the night I pick Kevin up from his parents’ house.  And he almost always calls over there under the pretext of checking up on me (he rarely calls me other nights, nights when he is late, even when I page him).  I think in reality, he calls over there for two reasons: (1) to let it be known to his parents that he gets home at a decent time, and (2) because he feels threatened on some level that I am over there.  Anyhow, I got home with Kevin between 6:30 and 7:00 I guess, and Kelly was already home.  I don’t think he was drinking last night, although I asked him point blank if he was going to be drinking and he said “Just for that, for asking, yeah, I think I will.”

What an asshole.  I fucking hate him.


Tuesday, March 23, 1999

Kelly got home a little after 7.  I had made dinner and Kevin and I had already eaten.  I left Kevin with Kelly and told him I was going to Ross to buy shoes.  He got all huffy, wanted to know what I was really up to, blah blah blah.  I ended up going to the craft store as well and he called me on my cell phone 3 times to check up on me in the hour I was gone.  I think he has a hell of a lot of nerve to act suspicious of me.  When I got home he reeked of JD and was obviously well on his way to being drunk.  I was furious that he can’t even restrain himself when I leave him responsible for Kevin.  I broke down and was sobbing and bawling about everything, about how it’s all going down the toilet and I feel desperate and broken and I begged him – literally – to go to marriage counseling with me.  He finally agreed.  I should know better than to have a meaningful conversation with a drunk, but I couldn’t help myself and plan to hold him to his word (whatever that’s worth, not much it appears lately). 


I asked him if he remembered being in the hospital when I was in labor, watching Kevin come out into the world, and all the hopes and dreams we had for the life we were going to make together.  He went off on this long emotional drunken tangent about how Kevin almost died when he was born (he needed a little coaxing to start breathing, but I don’t think he actually almost died), how I had no idea what was going on because I had just delivered and then went off into la la land, but how he watched Kevin turn purple and thought he was a gonner and how that traumatized him and that was a defining moment for him.  He is so full of shit.  First of all, I was completely aware of all that was going on after Kevin was born, but leave it to Kelly to know better than me what I was feeling and seeing and perceiving.  Second of all, if that was such a defining moment for him, how did it change him?  It certainly hasn’t made him any less selfish or more committed to his family and responsibilities.  He insinuated that his experience with that was just as profound, if not more so, than what I went through, growing a baby in me for 9 months and then pushing him out into the world.  He hasn’t a clue.  Again, I should know better than to have a meaningful conversation with a drunk.


Wednesday, March 24, 1999

Kelly was obviously hung over this morning and wasn’t able to drag himself out of bed until around 9, and that was only after his pager had gone off several times.  He was real nice when he got up though, went out and got me coffee at Starbucks and even kissed me goodbye (can’t remember the last time that happened) and said he would be home early.  He did get home around 6.


After Kevin went to bed I went downstairs and Kelly was out in the backyard filling up the dogs water bucket and as soon as I opened the door to go out I smelled JD.  He swears he hasn’t been drinking tonight though.  I just know he lies a lot – he lies about everything, all the time.  I went up to take a shower and when I was done I went downstairs and discovered him in the garage dialing the phone, and when I opened the door, he looked like a deer caught in headlights.  He made some lame excuse for making his call out there, but I think he was looking to score something.  I hit redial on the phone and he was apparently calling his pager.  I hate being so suspicious of him, but he has completely ruined any trust or faith ever had in him. 


I did contact a therapist today, a guy Sue and Laura have raved about.  I made an appointment for us for April 15.  Wish it was sooner, but there’s a lot going on between now and then – we have to go up north to spread Dad’s ashes on his birthday – and that’s the soonest it would work.  I haven’t consulted Kelly about it.  If I bring it up this far in advance, he will have plenty of opportunity to get out of it.  Not that he won’t anyway.   I am just going to bring it up a few days beforehand and remind him that he agreed to go.  I can’t do any more than that, either he will go or he won’t.  I see several possible scenarios.  Either he will change his mind about going, or I will make an appointment and he will run so late that he won’t make the appointment, or he will go and deem the therapist an idiot as soon as things are brought out that Kelly doesn’t want to deal with.  Of course, my hope is that Kelly and I will both go with open hearts and open minds and we will resolve our issues in time and live happily ever after.  Pathetic, huh?

This was about three months before he died.  Between the end of this particular diary and the day he died three months later, things got worse and worse: he was in a car accident (his fault – which I was sued for after he died); he finally admitted to me that he was using cocaine (as well as drinking excessively); I took Kevin and left him and was gone for about a week; he talked me into going back; things continued to spin out of control; he disappeared overnight with Kevin while he was on a binge; I took Kevin and left again, for good, filed for divorce, and got a restraining order against him.

Reading this was surreal.  When I think back to that time of my life – to my first marriage – I feel a great sense of remove, distance from it.  Not detached, really, but as if it was a movie I saw about somebody else’s life that can stir up emotions in me.  But reading this – it brought so much of it back to the surface – the terrible fear and anxiety and distrust I lived with day in and day out, how I could barely eat or sleep (I went down to 105 pounds by the time I filed for divorce – skin and bones), how my stomach was in knots all the fucking time and I felt like I might die from it.  I was in survival mode for so long, I didn’t even know what actual living felt like.

I felt raw when I finished reading it.  And I realized that I still carry around an incredible amount of pain and anger.  I’ve never really gotten over it.



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15 Responses to Diaries

  1. Ruby McGill February 24, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    I grew up as a child of an alcoholic – not the same, I know. But I know the feeling of being let down again and again; the knots in my stomach when I would hear him come home once the pub had closed. I feel your pain, but I hope that someday you can let go of the pain and anger you feel, and leave it in the past.

  2. Nicole February 24, 2014 at 2:51 pm #


    I wish I’d kept my diaries of tales pertaining to the drunken/drugged out days of my mother. I too carry a lot of anger, still. Maybe it’s the pregnancy making me super hormonal, but damn it. I was just telling my husband that one of my biggest fears is getting a call from my dad or siblings, telling me she’s dead – and I’m left with the feeling of “nothing”. No weeping or missing her…just a void.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Lisa February 24, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

      One of the most painful things for me to relive as I read those old diary entries was how my relationships with my mother and younger brother – already strained – came to a crashing end when my husband died of a drug overdose. They both – my own flesh and blood – decided that I was such a horrible person that I must have drove Kelly to his death. I’ve been estranged from them all these years. I think about that, too, Nicole, about one day getting the news that my mother has died. I suspect I won’t feel much of anything. Which is very sad.

  3. Liz February 24, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

    Lisa, my brother died of addiction in August of 2012 and this diary could’ve been written by my ex-sister in law. The stories are so similar it’s eerie. I can’t tell you how much I respect you putting yourself out there like this. What a painful time in your life but I think being willing to share it could be invaluable to other woman in the same situation. I’m glad you were able to move on and make a happy life for yourself. My sister in law never has and she and my brother we divorced for 9 years when he died. There’s nothing I’d like more than for her to be happy and my nephew to have a solid male role model. Thanks again for sharing.

    • Lisa February 24, 2014 at 11:45 pm #

      Thanks, Liz, and I’m sorry for your loss. Addiction is such a terrible, horrific thing, and its impact lasts far beyond the addict’s death.

  4. Nobody February 25, 2014 at 12:09 am #

    It’s painful to read and check the dates of the every single darn day of the ordeal. Was the end a huge spiral and not so bad before or was your denial so strong / thinking it was temporary adjustment to changing life circumstances like he lamely mentioned (those few scary birth moments — if you can’t recover for that wow you should not have children!) / we are young, fatherhood will solve this darkening problem as your pregnancy progressed.

    He had a job that seems responsible – he had to have been in more control. The drugs must have been a recent addition or increase. Sucks cause you probably don’t know.

    Our family has deep seated blame and every time we try to get it resolved, someone jumps back to clueless evil over reasonable acceptance & non-judgemental perspective. Praying for peace and maturity for you all (well maturity and a clue for them!). Not saying you will mend but I doubt you are the only relationship ruined in their jump to illogical conclusions demeanor.

    No resolution is tough. Easier than repeated harm & hurt. You spare your family the drama but it still leaves you a bit disconnected and empty. You’ve filled your life to the brim with overflowing love. What an excellent way to compensate.

    I’d say the odds of ALL of your children fighting as adults at the same time or banding against one (without due reason like an intervention or harmful situation!) is unlikely. I hope you have good friends & other extended family to more than make up for the missing uncle & grandma. You have to save energy for life. Not waste it on others who are unwilling to listen.

    What a good swift decision maker you are! Most people are not that perceptive and aware and taking action so complelty. You ROCK and saved yourselves from who knows what. Too scary to have him leave with your son. I hope I would have done the same but I will never be tested thankfully. We are blessed with awareness of the toxic people after seeing so much.

    • Lisa February 25, 2014 at 12:29 am #

      Pam, our marriage was bad from the beginning, really. He was my high school sweetheart; we started dating when I was 16 and he was 18 – he was the first real boyfriend I had. We were young, I had a terrible home life (abusive, unstable mother, abusive step-father, a lot of chaos). I ran away from home shortly after I turned 17 and left the state with him. I was looking for someone to rescue me, and he wanted someone to rescue. But he was very controlling and there were signs I ignored very early on, mainly because I had zero self-esteem and felt I had no options. I went through the whole dabbling in drugs/partying thing, but I grew out of it. He and I married young – I was 19, and he was 21, and by that time, we had already broken up once because he was on top of me, choking me and a neighbor heard the scuffle and called the police. That was neither the first nor the last episode of physical violence. But again, I didn’t see any options for myself – I didn’t have a family to turn to, I had dropped out of high school when I ran away from home – I felt stuck. Anyway, while I outgrew the whole partying thing – by the time I was 19 – he didn’t. His drinking escalated, he smoked pot every single day, more than once a day, and towards the end, he was doing coke (he died of “acute cocaine intoxication” and the autopsy notes said there were needle tracks on his arm, indicating that he was shooting it up). He and I were married for 12 years – Kevin didn’t come along until we had been married for 10 years. So, a swift decision maker? No. I stayed way, way too long. I threw so many years of my life away with him. I think having Kevin was what really kicked me in the ass though – I could someone justify living with a lot of messed up stuff when it was just me, but to put a kid through that – especially given my own childhood with an alcoholic father and an abusive mother – I couldn’t do it, so I finally left.

  5. Lisa February 25, 2014 at 1:26 am #

    I went to a therapist at the ripe old age of 40. I had a lot of issues that seemed to haunt me and I want to make sense of it. She said it’s a misconception that you “get over” things. Truth is you pack up the crap with you and carry it around your whole life. Best thing anybody could have said. But damn the bag gets heavy at times. I too was married young with a bad family life. Only it was drugs not booze. I also got pregnant but sadly it was the first of several losses. Funny you said you weighed 105 pounds . It was my exact weight as well. He didn’t die but did stop breathing at work and had to be resuscitated . But he lost his job on account of the drugs and then the abuse started. I get it. I hope you get the love and support to balance it. I know it hurts. I know when your the good one and people side with one that was or is the problem it doesn’t make sense. Sadly , things haven’t changed much for me. I hope they do for you. At least we left our marriages . We got a new start. But you do know that’s sin ? We are going to hell. Ha ha!

    • Lisa February 25, 2014 at 2:26 am #

      Of course I know I’m going to hell. My brother told me so.

      Anyway, so yeah, this is why I have such a hard time with the whole tragic person who died of an overdose, leaving a void in the world, blah blah blah mentality – like when Philip Seymour Hoffman died recently. I mean, it is a tragic waste. But he, like my ex-husband, is dead now. Neither one of them are suffering. And yet, it’s the people who go on with life afterwards who will always continue to suffer on some level because of the damage the addict’s behavior caused.

  6. Beth February 26, 2014 at 8:03 pm #

    Reading these diary entries was heartbreaking. I can’t imagine what that must have been like to go through, and you were so very young. I don’t doubt how surreal it must be to look back on now and how that experience shaped you. Hugs and love, friend.

  7. Deborah Mitchell February 26, 2014 at 10:22 pm #

    Sorry, for the late comment. (I had an issue with my left eye, and it hurt to even read.)

    There’s so much pain here–and I know, from previous posts, so much more. I’m sorry for the pain you went through, and I just hope that the love of your family and friends will be some sort of salve….

    • Lisa February 27, 2014 at 12:58 am #

      Sorry to hear about your eye, Deb! Hope it’s better.

      Thanks for the kind words, as always.

  8. Sheila February 28, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

    (Sorry to be late to the table here. I swore I wasn’t going to comment on every.single.post, but they call to me.) We really have so much in common. My first husband was addicted to prescription drugs. He was crafty, he hid it. Months before our wedding I confronted his mother, I had nowhere else to turn. She denied as he had always done, despite knowing exactly what he was doing and we got married. After 6 years I’d had enough and filed for divorce. To his family & friends, I deserted him. He was sick and I selfishly left him. Even my mother who is devoutly religious was upset. He was the victim, despite the bad day-to-day life I was living and I was wrong. I regret the time I wasted, but I refuse to give any more energy to it. I’m so happy with my life now.

    Low self esteem is an incredibly dangerous thing. It caused so much pain for me in the past and I always think/worry about how my kids can avoid that altogether.

    • Lisa February 28, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

      Sheila, I didn’t even know that you had a first husband. We really do have so much in common, it seems.

      It’s really messed up how people you think would support you in a situation like that end up turning their backs on you. Reading those old diary entries of mine, it really brought back to the surface so much anger I still have not only at my first husband, but at my own family for turning on me and actually siding with him, when they had no fucking idea what I went through with him.


  1. Sister, Sister | - March 4, 2014

    […] I couple weeks ago I started going through old boxes in my garage, where I found old diaries and lots of old photos.  So many memories came flooding back.  Memories of good times and bad.  […]

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