Anger Management

If My Alcoholic Husband Died It Would Be A Relief

When my husband was an alcoholic (correction: my husband is an alcoholic still but not an active alcoholic) I went through a stage of thinking of myself as a victim, that these things were happening to me. Then I finally realized that things don’t just happen to me – they are a result of me not taking action or were a result of me repeating actions that didn’t work. This was my comfort zone and it took a hell of a push for me to step out of it and say “No More!”

Not Caring Anymore

The same way your body fights infections, your mind creates coping mechanisms, ‘barriers’ to protect your mental health.

Many times when I felt strong and my husband was drinking, I thought to myself, “If he just got on with it and died now, I could get on with my life.” This was my mind’s defense system kicking in.

When living with an alcoholic, your own mental health hits all-time lows. Repeated disappointments make you numb. Think about it -the human mind is strong enough to make someone crave a substance so much that they are willing to risk everything for it and likewise, it is strong enough to develop an invisible barrier to emotion to stop us from being hurt over and over again – to survive.

You may feel the alcoholic knows what he’s doing to you and that he’s killing what love is left.  You may feel you don’t care if there’s help for him anymore or if he becomes well or not, or if he lives or dies.

This is not a natural way to feel about someone you love; it is your mind protecting you.

Alcoholism is a mental illness which affects those living with the addict also. Illnesses are nobody’s fault, not yours and not theirs. Your negative thoughts and feelings are normal.

It is possible ,however, to hate the problem of alcoholism and love the person who is drinking – both at the same time. This is called detachment.

You can learn more about how to detach with love at free Al-Anon meetings in your area or in my book ‘How To Live With An Alcoholic And Still Enjoy Your Life‘.

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6 thoughts on “If My Alcoholic Husband Died It Would Be A Relief”

  1. Thank you, it’s like you and I are the same person, thanks for reminding me it’s ok and to detach and live MY life, not his….

  2. I no longer love my alcoholic husband. Then what? We have three kids to raise. We are showing them how to be miserable. So why not leave? My husband is a professional, highly functional alcoholic. He can be a fun dad. I am just the bitch who makes everyone get the things done they need to get done. I can’t afford to stay in our home on my own. So what do I do? Move out and leave the kids here? Take them with me to some crappy place that I can afford? I feel my body is being killed by this disease – that the stress, the anxiety and the lack of being loved is devastating my health. I think every day how much of a relief it would be if my husband died. How do you have sex with someone who you are detached from by the way? Ugh.

    1. Hi, thanks for taking the time to write. You have hit on so many things that others (including me) will relate to. I remember so well being that bitch! I think a lot of mothers, even those not living with an alcoholic, will relate to that. I always had an image of myself being the perfect mother – I’d be the cool, relaxed, fun, bake cakes, make jam, be the mum that all my kids friends would want. But then life kicks in – bills have to paid, food needs to be put on the table, school work needs to be done, some sort of routine needs to be kept. When you live with an adult who is not responsible for their actions, we become the responsible one. They are fun Bob while we’re the bad cop.

      I had an invisible barrier between me and my husband. I was always on guard of my emotions I would not allow myself to be too happy about anything or too sad about anything. It stopped me from being hurt too much, it helped me stay strong. Unfortunately I kept a barrier between me and my eldest for a time too. I was practical about my love. I did not want to love her too much because if anything happened to her I needed strength to get through it. How stupid is that?! It was only when the real shit hit the fan and I reached rock bottom of my husband’s addiction that my animal motherly instincts flared up and I realised it was okay to completely love my children – I realised if anything happened to them that I wouldn’t care if I survived or not.

      It sounds like your husband’s drinking is still controlled – he could continue like this for a long time before it becomes an unmanageable problem for him. We had to sell a beautiful house because my husband had no work and drank everything I earned. He got sober but it was too late to save the house – I didn’t mind selling it as it held so many miserable memories. The only house we could afford did not have running water or indoor toilet. For three winters we had no heating, a sieve for a roof and an ongoing battle with rats. But as a family we were just getting happier. We lived in a sober house, it was calm and other then living with the challenges the house threw at us, life was normal. Without wanting to sound too much like a Hallmark card, a home is not the type of house you live in but the love a family shares within a space over time. We have gradually done up the house over the last 7 years. Last year we installed heating (DIY) and as I type my husband is fixing the roof.

      I can’t tell you what to do. But I can tell you this – bitch or no bitch, you are the backbone of your family, if you move out without your kids their lives will most likely fall apart. If you feel you couldn’t love your husband again even if he was sober and if you are miserable and it is ruining your relationship with your children, well then you need to think about your options. Ideally it would be for you and your kids to stay in the home and your husband to move out. That’s usually easier said than done. Your alternative is to live in a crappy place that you can afford – for me, at one stage, this was the option I choose because living in a dump without my alcoholic was better than living in a palace with him.

      The first thing you need to do is start looking after yourself.

      Can I suggest you go to an Al Anon meeting and ask for a recommendation for a counsellor? A counsellor will help you figure out your options and the route to follow. I’ll write about these topics in more detail including the unspoken issue of sex with an alcho partner in the coming weeks. Stay in touch.

      1. Thanks, I will. I just want peace on a daily basis. I have such low expectations anymore. I went to an Al Anon meeting – it was so depressing to see all those broken people who were talking about their accomplishments for a given day that seemed somewhat sad to me. I don’t know. It feels like just one more thing I have to find time to do – that is because of him. I have been reading your book – your description of the mental illness he suffers from was very helpful – it’s what I have known and I felt relieved to know it was not my imagination that he is mentally ill.

  3. I’ve been living with my alcoholic husband for five years now. There were times he was a high functioning alcoholic and times he wasn’t. My barriers have been slowly under construction but there are nights, such as tonight, where I find myself crying myself to sleep in our daughters room which has become my room. The alcoholism is a hard thing for me to grasp. My mother in law offers me lots of advice as she dealt with his father who was an alcoholic. He took his life a few years ago. She offers her words of wisdom and tells me the alcohol is what is causing the pain not him. The awful names he calls me, the lies he tells, the infidelity, all caused by his alcohol addiction and it is not him who is behind it, but the disease. But as the days pass, I find myself not able to accept that. Those names he calls me and things he has said, they rip me apart. And even when he wakes up to go to work without alcohol, there is never an apology. Those times I’ve found him at motels in bed with other women or the text messages from other women seem to make the pain travel throughout my body and through my skin. I find it unacceptable to believe this disease is the cause. Am I alone? Is his “disease” the reasoning behind it all and somewhere beneath the layers of sickness is the man I once fell in love with? I’ve been to the meetings and read through blogs but I still sit here in complete disbelief and pain. Even last week when they told me my mother had less than six months to live and I reached out to him at a time I knew he would be sober I am still left with no comfort. I’m trying to find my happiness and not focus on the bad but its hard. I’ve lost the weight after hearing the name calling, I’ve offered the money to get the help, I’ve tried and tried to just accept this as a disease but I can’t. Is this disease a cause for our turmoil or is there more behind this? We’ve never had a fight about anything but alcohol, we are like best friends when he is sober but those times of soberity only come when he has to function as a normal person. Where do I go from here.

    1. Hi Lisa,
      Hmmm. I do believe alcoholism is a mental illness but if someone is an ass when they are sober maybe we have to accept that they are just an ass?

      You mention you are best friends when he is sober but yet he doesn’t comfort you about the terrible news about your mother even during his sober moments. And you have found him with other women in motels – I have never dealt with infidelity but I know that action does take effort and a certain amount of sobriety. This cannot be ‘blamed’ on too much to drink over and over again. And he is unapologetic about this when he is sober?

      You mention you have offered to pay for treatment, so maybe funnel that money into getting a short term place for yourself? I know this would be a HUGE step but I think it’s time for you to give yourself some self care and spend valuable time with your mother if you can. His mother seems to understand alcoholism and sees what it can do, maybe hand over the care reins to her for a while and take some time out to figure out what you want in your life for yourself. It will also give him time to realise what he will miss or wants from life.

      Stay in touch xxx
      Lilly

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