New Year = New Hope

Lovers and friends of alcoholics tend to dread Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I always did. This year he’s been off the drink for 14 months and life is good for us – real good. However I’m still not having the movie style New Years Eve when everyone clasps hands and sings Auld Langs Syne and looks perfectly in love. He’s not feeling good ‘man flu’ or it could be just memories of past New Years drinking catching up with him. We were supposed to be going to my parent’s and brother’s house but they all have a tummy bug so that was cancelled. I’ve just splashed grease on my good top so changed into my old PJs, the hairdresser went on early holidays so my roots haven’t been done in 8 weeks and I look like a scarecrow and the dog just threw up… but himself is sober and the house is calm and my kids are healthy… I sometimes feel frustrated that life is not like it is in the movies but then I think back as to how it used to be and how happy we are now.

It’s not like the movies. It’s real, he’s sober, we are genuinely happy. There is hope for you too, because we were where you are now. Hang in there, there is a new year ahead and new hope. So whatever you are going through tonight, the despair, the sadness, the anxiety, know that there is light at the end of the tunnel, 2013 is going to be the year that you start living your life again – it can’t get worse, it can only get better! xx Happy New Year friend.

A Guide to Living With An Alcoholic

Practical guide and tips for partners and spouses of alcoholics

Some good news for a change!!

I have finally finished the book that I have been developing for 3 years! It is a practical guide to living your life to the full while still living with an alcoholic loved one. By following the action plan, written exercises and advice which I followed, you too will find a better more fulfilling life, and as a result your loved one may find sobriety.  It is thanks to the feedback I have got from all you who have visited this blog over the years that I have stuck at this project. So thank you and I hope you find it useful. A print version will soon be available.

(I have kept the price low, but if you can’t afford it, please let me know and I will send you a copy free of charge. )

Remember, you’re not alone – there’s lots of us in this ‘secret club’!

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Caring for an Alcoholic

It is human nature to shield, protect and nurture the ones we love. Living with an alcoholic loved one challenges this instinct. A lot of things go wrong in the lives of drinkers: taking care of their home, work, family, appointments, etc., all tend to suffer in various degrees. Human nature kicks in and our help often consists in solving the things that go wrong, like running errands for the person, buying them drink to get them through a bad period, cleaning up after them, making excuses to work and friends or cancelling appointments.

When it comes to loving and caring for an alcoholic we tend to help them through their day whatever way we can so we can survive and live with hope. We adopt their responsibilities as our own. In the short term, this is helpful for the drinker, and they appreciate our help because without it life as an alcoholic would be so much more difficult.  Think about how you help your alcoholic partner.  Now start asking yourself what your help and support is actually doing for the drinker. Does your help make it easier or more difficult for the person to keep drinking? Are you enabling his bad behaviour by not letting him see what he is doing?

Think about it, if your partner’s bottles, spillages and mess are all cleaned up and tidied away by the time he sobers up he has no evidence of how bad his drinking is. His mind will tell him, ‘look around everything is fine and lovely, your drinking is in control so it’s okay for you to continue drinking.’

If he does not have to answer to people about his behavior because you have picked up the pieces, made excuses on his behalf and swam oceans to cover up for him – he doesn’t have to face up to awkward questions.

In other words he does not have to face consequences for his behavior or actions because you have already cushioned the blow or stopped it in its tracks for him.

So if he does not have to face up to the fact that his drinking is causing problems in his life, well then why should he stop drinking? He has no motivation to do so. You will continue to make sure life continues as is, solving his problems and so he can continue his life as is, ie. drinking. Why not? It isn’t causing any harm! What you are doing is, is putting off the inevitable. Things are not going to improve but only going to get worse if you continue to enable their bad behavior. So it may be better for him to face things that go wrong, so that he realizes what he is doing.

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Alcoholic Partner and Gossip

Sometimes we can become obsessed by other people’s problems and drama. By talking about it to others our own life problems seem trivial, ‘at least my life is not that bad.’ It also can give us comfort that other people’s lives are not perfect. We do this because we have a low opinion of ourselves. If you find yourself doing this stop and ask yourself and ask ‘what is going on with my life?’

When someone insults you, criticizes you or points out faults they believe you have, it can make you feel low and you can believe them. If someone tells you that you have two heads for long enough you could actually begin to believe it. If everyone you meet points out that you have two heads you should have a look in the mirror! What one person tells you may not be fact or correct, that is why it is important to reach out to others and explore the limiting beliefs one person has made you feel about yourself. By doing this we can shed these negative views we have of ourselves and start exploring the real us. When we have been treated with cruel words for years, it is easy for us to do the same to others. For a short period it can make us feel better about ourselves.

Other peoples limiting behavior does not mean we have to drop our standards. Learning to take responsibility does not only mean take responsibility for your actions but also your words. By changing this behavior you are forming another part of yourself that you can be proud of. This has a knock on effect because you start to feel good about yourself and people who feel genuinely good about themselves no longer feel the need to assault other people’s character, that includes our alcoholic partner.

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Can Alcoholism Be Cured?

This week my husband and I heard a radio interview with an Irish Comedian (Tommy Tiernan) He has been sober for 3 years and started having the odd pint now and then and is finding it ‘fine’ . He’s comfortable with it and so are his family.  It sent shivers up our spines. That was us. That was our story.

When my husband got sober the first time he attended a few AA meetings and one of the stories he told me always stuck in my head. There was a man who had been sober for 25 years. He went on holiday with his family and had a drink and he was fine. His wife was delighted cause they could enjoy family events again together. He started to have the odd drink and realised he was different to others, he was cured. Two years later and  he  had to go through the whole painful act of getting sober again. He said he suddenly got worse han he ever had been.

My husband stayed sober for 3 years – he didn’t find it difficult. He was perfectly comfortable with people drinking around him and had no cravings. We went to family functions, parties, the pub together and he would just have a non alcoholic beer. Three years on and we went on a business trip where there was the best of drink available and free. He decided one wouldn’t do any harm – it didn’t. I was delighted he could drink normally. The comedian on the radio said it was his wife too that encouraged him to have a drink because he was boring without it.

My husband drank ‘normally’ again for two years. We came to the conclusion that he wasn’t really an alcoholic, he just had an excessive personality but he could control his drinking. His normal drinking became hot ports every night and then just straight port and wine. Still, it was fine – it was how he was ‘normally’.

Then I began to become more aware of his drinking it was getting earlier each evening, every evening. I said it to him that he should maybe just leave it to the weekends or when we were out. But he was fine, sure he wasn’t causing any harm. It went on. And then after nearly three years of ‘drinking normally’ our world seemed to suddenly collapse. It was like over night he became worse than he ever was – all the horrible memories came back to me of how he used to be and why he ahd to give up the first time, because we ewre suddenly reliving them – Except this time it was worse. I wondered how I had forgotten how bad it was (like childbirth we block out the pain and pretend it was really not that bad!). He stopped breathing twice during this time, he was suicidal and insane. Luckily we managed to get back on track and he got sober again, but not after alot of pain and hurt.

They say alcoholism is a progressive mental illness. So if the alcoholic starts drinking again it is only a matter of time that it picks up where it left off and progresses rapidly. To Tommy and his wife I truly hope your story does not the same, but my advise to you would be to turn back now, why risk it?

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