Weight Loss Is the Same as Living With An Alcoholic

I’m overweight. I have been for about 15 years. I used to be thin and flexible, and a couple of months ago I realised I couldn’t touch my toes.

Dealing with my weight issue is how I used to deal with my alcoholic husband.

When I walk by a full length mirror or glass window and catch my reflection I look in disgust and think what a shame or get angry at myself for not doing anything about it. I used to look at my husband the same way.

I think to myself – I have to loose weight because it will make me feel better, my quality of life will improve because I will feel more confident. I will be proud of myself, I’ll be able to go to places, socialise and enjoy myself better because people won’t be judging me. I used to feel the same effects would happen if my husband would give up drink.

I see my weight as being the thing that is stopping me from living the life I expected – being fit and healthy, hiking, being able to run, acting like I used to. The same way I blamed my husband for years.

It takes up all my head space, everything I do or look at reminds me of it somehow. I give out about it to those who listen, it’s like my weight is not part of me, instead I loath it and hate it.

I used to do the same about my husband.

Every now and then I get determined to do something about it – I am determined that things are going to be different – I do something huge I join a gym, do crash dieting, this lasts two weeks or maybe until the next meal.

I buy books about how to get skinny in 10 days. I read them while eating a chocolate bar usually. My last one of course because I will do it tomorrow. Tomorrow comes and I have another excuse why I am not taking action to achieve the results I want. Living the norm, even thought I didn’t like the way it was making me feel, is so much easier than doing something about it, right? Determination takes energy, and sometimes I just don’t feel I have the energy to follow through so I go on the way I am – overweight and unhappy about it.

A month ago I found a track near where I live. Seven laps is 5 km. I decided it was now or never – My aim was to jog the 5km within 8 weeks and by that time I would have lost lots of weight.

The first day I did three laps, walking – I was breathless, sweating but it was a start, I felt positive. The second time I did 6 laps – the following day I was sore all over. My body was rebelling, but I was determined. The third time (in week one), I did the seven laps and even jogged a bit of it. I felt that was progress. The scales went down two strokes (-2 lbs = Progress). “Ha ha body take that!”.

The second week I went out four times to the track – each day took effort to go, but I stayed focus – my end goal to loose weight. The same way I used to do things to get my husband sober because if he got sober my life would be perfect.

By the end of the second week – I was jogging 2 sides of the track each lap. I was making progress. At the end of the second week I stood on the scales – I was UP 4 lbs – what the f***k?

I was so upset – all this effort and nothing, no progress, it was like I was worse off than when I started. What was the point in continuing? I might as well just sit down and accept my lot – I was a fat and it was something I just had to live with.

But then I thought about it – I had gone from being breathless and sore after 2km. To jogging part of 5 km without being breathless. The time out away from the house gave me time to think or not think! It gave me, me time! And I could touch my toes again! So even though the end result wasn’t happening (yet) the journey to the result was having positive side effects – I was feeling healthier and stronger and better in myself.

It was the same when I stopped trying to control and change my husband. I started working on what I wanted by taking different routes.

I wanted my kids to have a good childhood, so I started to take them out to places at the weekend and do things with them.

I wanted to have a social life, so I would arrange for my kids to have a sleep over with friends and I would go out for a night with my friends.

I wanted to see a movie, I’d go to the movies without my husband.

I did all these things without my husband because he was too drunk or too untrustworthy to partake but I stopped letting his actions stop me taking actions.

Yes I wanted him to get sober, but I realised this was not the only way to my life being fulfilled and happy. It would help of course! But it was not the only solution. I needed to take responsibility for my quality of life. When he saw what he was missing and compared the quality of his life to mine, he became sick of being sick and did something about it. He took action because he saw me taking action. It didn’t happen over night but I eventually got the end result by taking little steps.

The same way loosing 20 lbs is not going to happen overnight. By taking little steps forward it will happen but in the mean time I am going to enjoy the side effects!

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9 thoughts on “Weight Loss Is the Same as Living With An Alcoholic”

  1. I love this . Super-encouraging. Good for you, all around. I love your healthy mindset – about your progress, journey, husband, all of the above. Being healthy inside first is so important to being healthy outside. :)

  2. Wow. We are a month away from 30 years together. Minus the 4 I left after hitting my bottom of misery. I came back 11 years ago and am so sad and disappointed. He cannot help it. I have lost myself again worrying about him. Now I clearly see.
    Thank you for this blog.

    1. Hi, Thanks for writing. I’m glad you found it helpful. Once you step away from trying to control the other person, things become clearer. I hope life is a bit easier for you now.

  3. Thank you. I stumbled across this blog as I sit hear facing a grim reality; my husband has relapsed and my life is about to face the horrendous ups and downs that come with watching someone you love risk everything for alcohol. It is nice to know that others have faced the same torment (misery loves company!). I plan on taking your advice…I need to see this as his problem and not as something I have to control. My children are my first priority and I need to focus on creating wonderful childhood memories…with or without him. We have a two week disney vacation planned in four weeks time (something we have dreamed of for years) and I have been agonizing over having to cancel since he fell off the wagon three weeks ago…..but tonight I decided that I will go alone if need be. My kids don’t really understand their dad’s problem. He is a closet drinker who lies and denies and manages to fool most people (our friends and family were stunned when they recently found out.) Sometimes the kids notice he “acts funny”. Luckily he isn’t abusive when he drinks, but he does get behind the wheel, which is terrifying. That is what keeps me from leaving…..if he lives here I can prevent that to an extent. I know it is his responsibility/problem, but I would never live with myself if he hurt himself or another. How did you deal with that aspect?

    1. Hi Kerri,

      I think the issue of drink driving is the second biggest cause of stress and anxiety for partners and spouses of alcoholics. The first being the threat of physical or sexual violence/abuse. Thankfully, like you, this was something I did not have to contend with. As you may know my sister was an alcoholic too. She lived on her own and when she was on a binge, our dad would go up and put a big lock and chain on the stirring wheel of her car – she’d call a locksmith and get it cut off. He’d let the air out of her tyres – she’d call a garage and get them come out and inflate her tyres again. He’d lock her into her house, she’d climb out the window. Her husband used to report her, but the police would take their time or not bother looking for her it was probably a call from a spiteful spouse in their opinion. So the threat of reporting her to police had no affect. Basically, if an alcoholic wants to drive after they drink there is nothing or no one that will stop them.

      I used to hide the car keys on my husband and just act as if I didn’t know where they were ‘did you check your pockets?’ and pretend to look for them (don’t forget to hide the spare too!).

      My husband did drink and drive at times and I remember the stomach churning anxiety I’d feel. I’d pace the floor waiting for him to get home.

      You say your husband has relapsed which suggests that he has previously acknowledged his problem. You know you can’t control people places or things. We usually make a good effort to but at the end of the day he is responsible for the results of his actions. My best advice would be to grab an opportune sober moment and calmly address the issue in a practical way. Being practical rather than angry or aggressive. ‘Your drinking is causing problems which means you have a drink problem, I can’t stop you drinking but what I will ask you to do is not to drink and drive.’ Be practical about it, that usually knocks them off guard. ‘I’m only asking because if you loose your licence it will be a pain in the ass because you need it for work.’ Or something like that. If you say the reason you don’t want them to drink and drive is about killing someone or themselves, their mind will dismiss what you are saying because it’s too dramatic.

      Sometimes it’s better to say nothing, hide the keys and act the innocent.

      It’s great that you didn’t cancel your vacation and that you know going on your own with the kids is an option – it’s not how you imagined family holidays to be but not having a drunk-in-tow can be a big relief! However, on a positive note – a lot of sobering up can be done in 24 hours never mind 3 weeks, so there is still hope that he’ll cop on. Also on a positive – if he drinks while you are on vacation, Disneyland is somewhere you can get around without a car, if he is unconcious in the hotel you can still go out and have fun with the kids. If this happens don’t focus on being angry at him for messing up, instead focus on enjoying your kids. If you do go without him, an empty house may be a wake up call for him. Don’t call, instead have a family member of his or a friend drop by occasionally to try and talk some sense into him.

      Stay in touch.

  4. Thanks for the reply. It really is refreshing to share with someone who has ‘been there’. Yes, my husband is an admitted alcoholic. He finally admitted it six months ago and spent ten days in detox/rehab after his sister’s death. We had ten blissful weeks. He slipped about three weeks ago, and was navigating a tricky slope when his mother became gravely ill one week ago. Needless to say it has been a quick decline since. Yesterday was the worst episode to date….he went for a run and came home two hours later blind drunk, stumbling through the neighbourhood after emerging from a wooded path. He thinks he lost his keys and bank card….they are in my sock drawer. ;). Today was a good day…praying for more of those. I will let you know how the trip goes…thanks for the advice!

  5. I just commented elsewhere that Been There’s book has a very compelling description of the mental illness that is alcoholism. You should read it if you have not done so. I have been married for 26 years and known my husband for 30. I’ve watched a pretty decent person go through a continuous slog of greater and greater alcohol abuse to the point where I really don’t even know him anymore. Her description fits him to a tee and clarified a lot about the disease to me. It’s given me a lot to think about.

  6. Your blog has been a godsend. I’m in my late twenties and currently in a relationship with a man who I love, but who I think is an alcoholic.
    He doesn’t drink during the week, and is extremely successful and respected at work and socially. But a lot of the warning signs I’ve read online – changes in personality, anger, rage, physical violence leading to the police being called, black outs, disappearances, trips to the hospital – they’ve been present since the beginning, I just chose to ignore them until recently. He also has a parent who was an alcoholic for much of his childhood and teen years.
    I’ve realised that I need help, I’m not the most patient person and I have a fiery temper that doesn’t help. I’ve decided to visit the Al Anon group in my area this week, and I hope it will help me find some support in my desperation and sadness.

    In many ways, I do respect, admire and love him. I want to be with him, and the good times are great. But the anxiety, upset and chaos of living with him is sometimes too much. We aren’t married, and I’m young. Should I leave him? He doesn’t drink every day, so am I just being overly judgemental in labelling him an alcoholic? I’m confused and I need help. Thanks for writing and making me feel less alone.

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