Back at the desk after Christmas. It went okay. Hubby (Who was off the drink for 3 and a half years but started to try and drink ‘normally’ again about six months ago) over did it a couple of times which brought all the old memories and feelings flooding back and the barrier went up again – My glass wall that stops it hurting too much. Anyway we’ve talked and talked and now that the ‘season of over indulgence’ has passed there are no more excuses for him to drink to such excess – we’ll see what happens. He seems to constitute a bottle of wine every night as ‘normal drinking’.
The only saving grace over the Christmas was his friend who is a complete alcoholic, went overboard this year and he saw how it is to have to live with it. The friend’s wife has been attending Al Anon for the past few months and has at last dropped her pride and started to talk about the problem. She now realises that he and his drinking has completely controlled her life and she has become very angry and bitter towards him, she is talking about leaving him. They have no kids so there aren’t the horrible complications of the upset it can cause them.
Hubby spent an hour talking to her last night, the friend had got to the stage of hallucinating about things that never happened, he’s convinced himself that he once shot someone and that’s why he’s drinking. Last year he convinced himself that he was abused as a child and that’s why he’s drinking – after much therapy he agreed he may have blown things out of proportion. Hubby agreed to call the friend this morning before he had a chance to drink. He’s using the excuse of not being able to give up drink at the moment because his wife is leaving him and ‘he has a lot on his mind’ – how often have we all heard that one?
So with the shoe being on the other foot ( I think that is the right saying!) Hubby is rethinking his plan of ‘normal’ drinking.
When you have an alcoholic spouse, Christmas or any other occasion can fill you with dread rather than joy. You dread being invited to work parties that you ‘must’ attend as you fear your partner will get drunk and then behave badly – co workers laugh it off as once off behaviour but little do they know that you are cringing inside as this is the behaviour you put up with on a regular basis. Or else you turn down invitations when you’d prefer to be socializing and celebrating the season and all because of that risk of the embarrassment or behaviour you expect your alcoholic partner to cause. My alcoholic husband wasn’t much into socializing, he was a home drinker. He liked to drink alone and not have his drinking interrupted by visitors. Even so Christmas gave him licence to fill shopping trollies full of booze because ‘it’s Christmas and people will be calling in’. My husband didn’t like to go to parties, friend’s houses or anywhere away from the home in the evening – he would much rather ‘relax’ at home. Why? Because he couldn’t drink the same amount elsewhere, the measures were too small or he would say he couldn’t enjoy a drink because he had to drive. This excuse wouldn’t stop him drinking at home and driving afterwards but it was a good excuse not to go socializing with me. The few times he did go out with me, he would have a soft drink and then would start hinting that we needed to go – it was getting late and who ever was minding our children would be tired, or he forgot to feed the dog or whatever – it wasn’t because he had a bottle of vodka or whiskey waiting to be drunk on the kitchen counter.
How did I cope? I usually went to parties, weddings, etc. alone. Though it wouldn’t have been my first choice to attend alone and I often longed to have my husband with me when other couples would be laughing or dancing together. When I had first envisioned what my life with this man would be like, I hadn’t suspected I’d be dreading Christmas and attending parties on my own. But then, I had never suspected my life would one day be so changed and sculpted by my husband’s alcoholism.
Now that he is sober we are starting to socialize more together – friends come over and we go with the kids to friends houses. For the first time in 11 years we are hiring in a babysitter tonight so we can go out together! We are going to my work Christmas dinner and for the first time I feel relaxed in his company while out with friends – but I will still keep my own independent social life that I have built over the years. Why? because I enjoy it now and it is important to me to keep the independence I have spent so long building.
To all of you still living with an active drinker my heart goes out to you, but keep in mind there can be light at the end of the tunnel and things can work out.
Decide to take steps to feel good again. Remember feeling good? Relaxed? Not on edge? What you’ll find fascinating, is your reactions to verbal abuse and disapointment change. It’s as if, the more you learn and concentrate on becoming the person YOU want to be, the less upset you’ll be about impending bad behaviour, and it gets easier and easier to blow off. I came to the conclusion that I could have a satisfactory life without my alcoholic partner meeting any of my expectations and I stopped feeling the need to treat him badly or like a child anymore. By developing yourself and growing stronger on the inside you will be more ready to decide to stay with him/her and you will no longer feel miserable as you will be in charge of your own life. Sit down with a pen and paper and make a list of all the things you want to achieve in life (EVERYTHING no matter how strange or unlikely!) Read it aloud once in the morning and once before you go to sleep at night. Concentrate on it. Without any other effort you will find subtle changes happening in your life which lead you to fulfil your goals. It works – try it!
They say that before an alcoholic can reverse their ways they have to reach rock bottom. I think the same goes for the spouse, partner or the loved ones of the alcoholic. My rock bottom was when my husband crashed the car with our one-year-old son in it, I had already decided to leave him earlier that day but the crash gave me the final push and strength I needed to stick by my decision. If it hadn’t happened maybe he would have persuaded me like all the other times that things were going to change. T
he crash stopped me softening to his threats of suicide should I leave him – so I left him, I walked out while he placed a loaded shot gun in his mouth, pushing my baby’s pram in front of me I got stronger with every step. I didn’t care if he blew his head off, all I knew was that no matter what happened my life was going to change, I was in charge of me again.
The result – I stood strong, he went to rehab and came out four years ago today and we are now one of the happiest couples ever. It was hard but it can be done.