Just stay with me…
Because I’m dramatic and an admitted hypochondriac, I used to refer back to that list on the internet where they list stressful life events, just for fun. I Googled it now and it turns out it’s called the Holmes and Rahe stress scale.
I used to tally up my points, but not to feel sorry for myself. I always did it to give myself a break, to literally cut myself some slack by just stepping back to see just how much was going on in my life. To reassess what is important. It helps me cope and deal with stress and figure out next steps. I don’t recommend this for everyone because it might not work for everyone. In fact, it may depress some of you.
I hope not.
Mine adds up into the 560s in the last four years of my life.
Why four years?
Because in January, I’ll be living in Belgium four years. I’ll be married for just as long too, considering there’s only a two-week gap between marrying my husband Davy and moving here to Belgium. Hypothetically speaking, this is where my blogs, about being an American expat in Belgium, will go from woohoo-happy-levels down to what the fuck have I gotten myself into-depths and back up again.
Thankfully, I chose to live here. Nobody made me and I didn’t have to, and so this isn’t a boohoo blog, it’s just not a woohoo one. I’m sure there are veteran expats and people married longer than me who are chuckling reading this now. The thing is…
Getting married and staying married, is like comparing oral sex to anal sex. Obviously one’s nothing compared to the other. But in both cases there has to be enough love and lust to happen. I’m not saying you have to have anal sex to stay married. Maybe you do. Maybe I do. Maybe we all do have anal sex when we’re married, if not in practice then surely in mind-fucking. Staying married will ass-fuck you in the mind all the time, which is the ultimate kind of mind-fucking. If you don’t work at your marriage and for your marriage, then it’s not a marriage.
Add to all this a very random and sobering unknown fact about Belgium…
ALCOHOLISM IS RAMPANT.
And particularly in small towns like I’m living in where nobody ever leaves, or goes anywhere for good for that matter, alcoholics are alcoholics until they die, in Belgium. Basically. It doesn’t matter if said alcoholic is a raging one or a functional one, or what age they are.
And then there are the enablers that will always be around and stay around, and cover for the alcoholics and pick up the pieces for them until there’s nobody left and the alcoholic finally dies. I’ll probably be public enemy number one to everyone I offend with this blog, but since I live a life in the 560s on the stress scale, being number one in anything often enough becomes okay.
If I cared about gossip then I wouldn’t have time to care for my marriage and my son. My food business is a whole other baby. If I cared about gossip then I wouldn’t be where I am today, and willingly at that. Talking about alcoholism in 2014 shouldn’t be taboo, here or anywhere…
I tried “way back” in 2011 to seek resources, online and otherwise, and I discovered that AA and Al-Anon are not readily “available” in Belgium like in America. Nothing in Ghent as far as Al-Anon. Shocking and not shocking, but disheartening. Books and forums don’t compare to real conversation.
And it was almost like I was the only one who saw and acknowledged the damage of alcoholism all around, in a country I newly call home. Families breaking up left and right and generations rotting their livers away. Really, the proverbial elephant in the room was a welcomed guest compared to the drunk one who hurt people at every party. I really thought I was the crazy one for a while until I started meeting more people like me, whether expat and born-and-bred Belgian, who acknowledged that yes, the culture here ignores the “problem of alcohol” yet still, gossip about it is like cocaine in the form of the Dutch language. Small-town stereotypes come to life, every day in Belgium.
So this small environmentally-sound and so far fiscally-solid country in the middle of Europe, has some of the best beer and basically-free healthcare…and a shit-load of alcoholics.
Everybody’s living in their proverbial glass houses and most pretend they don’t look into yours when really they watch it obsessively because they hate being in their own house. The chances of people here, particularly women, standing their ground to an alcoholic man, are lower than that of said woman giving up her ass for you to fuck anally. I’d bet my rice that more women in Belgium have anal sex than they do stand up to an alcoholic. And those that do are met with indifference and sometimes ostracized by the very people who should be protecting them.
That is some fucked up shit and I’m sick of seeing it.
Too many people die every day because, you just never know. Alcoholism kills. It kills people but their souls die first, and there’s almost always collateral damage.
I’m a realist, and as a realist, I knew coming into this marriage in a country foreign to me, that I’d be the outsider, and for a very long time. That was fine with me, because I was here forever I do’d to Davy and having a baby was one of our early goals. We achieved this goal and our son Noah shines bright.
You have to have goals. Without goals you’re just living in a broken glass house bleeding imaginary blood. So every now and again when I refer back to the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, I’m reminded of what and who is important in my life, to help me cut out people and things that aren’t. Only then can I focus on Davy and Noah, and other goals in my life.
I said in a recent interview for OneChicklette.com:
I know now what I want my next big goal to be.
I’ve taken steps to start an Al-Anon program here in my town of Evergem, out of my own pocket if I have to. Size doesn’t matter when all you need is conversation. And most likely I will be using Rice House as a venue for meetings. So I don’t write this to hurt anyone, but merely to inform and hopefully relate, and provide a forum where people feel safe to start that conversation, publicly or privately.
Why? Mostly because I love Davy and Noah, who mean everything to me, and the life we have created here. But there’s alcoholism all around us. I don’t want to ignore it or sweep it under the rug anymore…
Whether you live in Belgium or not, please share this blog. You never know…someone you know who knows someone somewhere may know someone in the Ghent area.
Please also feel free to share your story about life, marriage, expat-living, alcoholism, anal sex, rice, whatever…in the comments section below. As a thank you and welcome back, and gesture of good faith in the world, I’ll be giving away Rice House polos (one women’s and one men’s) to two subscribers. Winners to be chosen in one month’s time.
So please be sure to subscribe to the site for your chance to win.
And this is basically what my absence here, and recent stresses have manifested in, a big weird “just stay with me blog”…