The husband is in a detox unit at our local hospital. Back in July, after my daughter and I went away for a week, he went on a bender and scared himself sufficiently to take himself back to AA. This time, it seemed to take. For almost two idyllic months, he was sober, self-aware, working diligently on being honest and making amends. I dared to hope. Those two months were an amazing time. I’m glad I had them.

For whatever reason, last week he fell off the wagon, and he fell big-time. Apparently, after being clean and sober for 2 months, his body could not handle his alcohol toxicity. His violent tremors and sweats sent him running back to the liquor store for more and more alcohol.

This time was different though. He wasn’t lying and denying. He was an emotional mess, trying so hard to get back sobriety, but failing daily. He was begging for help from his sponsor, from me, his meetings, which he continued to attend daily. He finally gave in to all of our suggestions that he go to a hospital. Now, after finding out that our insurance will cover a 30 day inpatient rehab stay, we are making the arrangements for him to go straight from his detox.

I can’t sleep. I’m afraid. Living alone in my big house with my daughter scares me. Not knowing how I’m going to pay my bills for however long it takes him to get back to work scares me. Reading the brochures for the 3 rehab centers he has to chose from enrages me. My capability for resentment terrifies me.

I am resenting the fact that he is going to go away and get a vacation from his life in a tranquil and peaceful setting in the mountains while he learns how to live a sober life. I’ve wanted this for years; for him to be mindful, honest, aware and facing his alcoholism in truth. Now I am resentful? Such conflicting emotions. I must reach out and call my Al-Anon contacts, but instead I continue to resist. And relive all my resentments. And think of new things to fear. I need to sleep.

So, on the advice of my therapist and a few good friends, I stopped writing in this online journal almost as quickly as I had begun. Their reasoning was this: to truly let go and stop the worry and anxiety over my husband’s drinking, I needed to stop dwelling on all the daily shit. Well, I tried. I really did. 

But now my dreams are filled with doom and gloom and this morning, after another sleepless night, I decided to write. For me, writing helps me process and release the fears, anxieties and doubts that are a daily part of living with and loving an alcoholic. I feel it helps me. Yes, I do perseverate on things at times, but without releasing my thoughts, I am stuck with them and no matter how many mindful meditations I do, and how I struggle to let go during my wakeful hours, at night, it’s all still there in my brain, wreaking havoc on my sleep. 

And when I am blessed with a comment or any response to something I wrote, I feel connection to others out there, who, like me, are living with this daily trial. Connection, for me anyway, is truly helpful in living daily life with an alcoholic. 

Today, what I need to release with my writing is this: My best friend lost her beloved step-father this week. He was a wonderful man, who filled so many unfilled needs my friend had left over from an unhealthy relationship with her late biological dad. She is very sad. I really want to be there for her. I rearranged my work schedule so that I could attend his funeral today (2 hours away.) I forgot one important thing. I was planning on taking my developmentally disabled daughter with me. But she reminded me that her volunteer Big Sister had purchased tickets to take her to see a high school production of Shrek. I was hoping that the Big Sister could come to pick my daughter up, but she is working today and will only have about 40 minutes to come home, shower and get ready and was counting on me bringing me daughter to her house (about 30 minutes away.) 

Immediately, the anxiety started. I can never count on my husband to remain sober on weekends. I cannot ever count on him to transport my daughter anywhere. I began looking to my sons to see if one of them would drive her so that I could attend the funeral. Of course they lead busy lives and it is a bit of an imposition. I was relieved that my oldest son rearranged his day so he could do it. 

Yet, this overwhelming anger rose up in me. How nice it would be to have an equal partner in the care and responsibility of my ‘forever child’. Most parents look forward to the day when their children will leave the nest and they can be free to enjoy their later years. As the mother of a developmentally disabled adult daughter, I can look forward to this responsibility until death. To have her other parent share in this equally is my idea of nirvana. But, it will never happen. I have extracted promises in the past that he would not drink if I had something important to do and he needed to step up and drive her somewhere and then I’ve come home to find him shit-faced after driving with her in the car. I will not do it again.

So yes, I am angry. Mindfully and in the spirit of letting go, I do tell him how angry he makes me, but I do it calmly and without the yelling and crying and threatening that used to rule my life. I wait until I am reasonably sure he is sober, so he actually hears it. I try desperately to keep my mind from traveling back in time to all the moments I had to do it all myself with my three young children, all the times I’ve been everything to these kids of ours, while their father was otherwise occupied (with the bottle.)  But it’s hard.

It’s even harder, sometimes, to forgive myself for staying, for continuing to love this man, who continues to hold down a good paying job that is beating the hell out of his body as if the alcohol was not enough, and who, when sober, is a good, loving, and gentle man who writes songs, plays with the neighborhood kids when their own preoccupied young fathers ignore them, and whose own grown children love to death in spite of his alcoholism. 

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Release……

Ph.D candidate is completing dissertation and looking for people willing to participate in an anonymous interview for research purposes. Consider helping by visiting the link to see what it’s all about.

http://www.changestudy.org/

Although the goal was to post daily to get the thoughts on the page and out of my head, I’ve already regressed. As is the habit, after a couple of days of walking on eggshells, me simmering with rage and sadness at his increased drinking, him feeling angry that after I told him off the other night, I wasn’t validating that he did not drink for the next two days, the big blowout came on SuperBowl Sunday.

Angry words, raised voices. Him going into his normal defense mode, bringing up all my character faults which he does not complain about, me trying to remain calm and telling him he is minimizing his own traits while magnifying mine in order to not deal with the real issue, which is his alcoholism. If I’m not bringing it up, he doesn’t have to think about it, and he knows to shut me up, all he’s had to do in the past was make me feel bad enough about myself to question whether what he does is so bad, after all.

More angry words, some tears from both, then declarations of his love for me and our family, pleas to realize that he only drinks because of work stress and he has no other way to unwind. Finally, declaration that he will try harder to drink in moderation. It’s just the same old same old.

When all seems calm, he goes out to pick up a couple of things (his normal Sunday ‘errand’ run) and instead of heading downstairs to his den in the basement with his black plastic bag, he leaves it right on the kitchen counter. Not his normal choices, Malibu coconut rum and a bottle of pina colada mixer. Hmmm, I might have 10 drinks in a year’s time, and it’s always a Malibu Bay Breeze (light on the alcohol please, someone has to be responsible, you know.)

Later, before the game, he offers our daughter a virgin pina colada and asks me if I want him to make me a light one. I tell him no thanks. He whines that he specifically bought what I liked so that we could unwind together. I tell him no thank you. All 750 mL is gone by the end of the game. Yes, that was definitely better. 😦

The patterns are set in a continuous loop that plays over and over. After being pushed to the edge for what feels like the ten millionth time, I purge the thoughts and feelings that have been building to a crescendo inside my weary head, vomiting out a continuous stream of accusations, and threats and ultimatums. A few days of silence follow and tentative speech turns to excuses and explanations and then comparisons to my own bad habits and then to how ridiculous I am about him just ‘relaxing’ from his stress-filled work life. I give up the fight and he thinks all is well again. I am a beaten woman. Not physically beaten, but beaten nonetheless.

Fear. Fear of starting over at my age. Fear of being financially responsible for my daughter and myself, by myself. Fear of the unknown. Fear of guilt for whatever he will do to himself once and if I finally get the courage to go.

Happened again. Surprise! Not. He came home from work, seemingly sober and happy. I made him a snack, and he fell asleep in the chair, as he usually does after work. My younger son, who does not live home anymore, and his girlfriend had hosted my disabled daughter the night before at their house. They were staying for dinner when they brought her home. I don’t see them often and was really looking forward to sitting with them and having a nice dinner.

When they arrived, he was awakened by the dogs barking and my son and daughter’s loud voices. He was obviously impaired. And enraged by the noise. Right away he was disrespectful to my son’s girl, repeating over and over again something ridiculous and mean about the headband she wore.

While discussing some current events in the news, he shouted down everyone’s opinion of the subject. He ruined what would have been a great meal and great discussion by becoming increasingly agitated that his opinion wasn’t seen as the correct opinion. He continued making fun of my son’s girl’s headband.

How does this happen? When did he have a drink? So many times I just feel so clueless. It is an awful feeling. I become so embarrassed and just want to shrink away. Thank goodness it was only my family this time. So many times, I’ve sat at the table with friends or acquaintances, wanting to crawl under the table when he becomes riled up over the subject matter being discussed. When will this insanity end?

He is a diabetic. He has cardiomyopathy, he has insanely high cholesterol and triglycerides. He almost died six years ago. He was given a second chance. But, the better he felt, the less compliant he became with taking his meds and with abstinence from alcohol, which the cardiologist said was the number one reason for his cardiomyopathy and which would only worsen it if he continued drinking.

He asked me to make an doctor’s appointment last week because he can’t understand why he is so incredibly tired all the time. Duh. You are a fucking alcoholic with cardiomyopathy, drinking one of the sweetest, most carb and sugar-laden alcoholic beverage you could find, all the time. You go work at a stressful job and do physical, exhausting labor.

When the doctor called with blood work results, he was quite alarmed by the high blood sugar, the high C-reactive protein levels, the outrageous cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Did he tell the doctor he hasn’t been taking his meds with any kind of regularity? Of course not.

My old self would be calling the doctor, telling the doctor myself how much he is drinking, how he doesn’t take his meds, negotiating with the doctor to call my husband without him knowing I asked him to, and reading him the riot act. This time, I am abstaining. I am letting what transpires just happen. I cannot control it. Believe me, for 30 years I’ve tried and it’s gotten me nowhere. What is that about insanity? Doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result. I’ve finally learned the lesson.

Now, it’s just waiting for the inevitable. I told him last night after he seemed to have sobered up that he ruined dinner and that we need to move into a small apartment. It won’t be long until he can’t work anymore. This house is too big, the expense of it is ridiculous. No yelling, no screaming, no crying. Of course he’s furious at me. Tells me I’m just planning and awaiting his death. Tells me to just do whatever it is I need to do and he will just do the ‘yes dear, whatever you want.’ He’s been manipulating me with that line anytime I’ve gotten some self-esteem and I always fell for it before. Second guessing myself, second guessing my feelings. Feeling ridiculous and selfish. No more.

Craig Ferguson discusses making comedy of celebrity struggles with drugs and alcohol. Watching this video gives me chills at his clarity and at his honesty. I so wish my husband could come to this place of clarity and honesty with himself.

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I hate you, Bud Light Lime Lime-A-Rita. I hate that you market yourself as a light malt beverage. I hate that you come in a can containing 3 servings. I hate that your empty aluminum shells can be found all over my house and in my recycling bins. day after day after day. As Arthur Palac wrote about here: http://arthurpalac.com/bud-light-lime-a-rita/ you are a sham and a fraud.

No, my hatred for you is not because I am a social drinker looking to save calories and am being duped, big time (although if I were, I’d be really pissed off). My hatred of you is deeper.

My husband is an alcoholic. In his younger days, his drink of choice was Sambuca or real margaritas with salted rims and lots of tequila. After many years of abusing alcohol and finally falling victim to cardiomyopathy at 46 years old, he gave abstinence a try. For awhile.

Then he began sneaking (at least he thought he was sneaking) a drink here or there. He chose Vodka, so that I would be (in his mind) unable to tell that he’d started drinking again. After that short period of abstinence, his one or two at the local bar after work really affected him. He acted like more of a drunkard than I’d ever seen. He doesn’t get that I KNOW when he’s been drinking, even if I can’t smell it on him. He thinks he’s pulling the wool over my eyes. He doesn’t realize that it’s his personality and his slurring speech and his stumbling around that are the big tip offs.

After driving my daughter and her friend to a church service stinkin’ drunk, and me observing it only when I returned home from the hospital where I’d been with my sick father, my quietly uttered threat of divorce and a total departure from my regular screaming and yelling and crying over his choosing the bottle over his family’s happiness and safety put the scare into him to try again.

AA was short-lived. A ‘friend’ (female) who had found sobriety through her obsession/personal relationship with Jesus offered to help. She and her husband viewed AA as negative and because the “Higher Power” could be anything you want it to be, it was seen as inherently evil. The husband and our daughter began attending their church regularly with them. I am no longer a believer, but was happy that he seemed to make some progress. Whatever it takes. You probably know where that went.

I began therapy this past year. Suicidal ideation and a deep depression after my parent’s deaths and his infidelity with the Christian friend forced it. I processed our long-term (over 30 years) battle of wills waging over his drinking. I finally think I’ve gotten the message that I have absolutely nothing to do with his drinking, and I will have absolutely nothing to do with whether or not he stops. I cannot be the alcohol police. I do not have the power. Only he can change, when and if he is ready.

I can chose to stay and change myself and my reactions, or I can chose to go. It’s a hard decision when there have been no arrests, no DUI’s, he goes to work everyday and functions well, earns a very good living and does not become violent or mean. He has mostly been a happy drunk. But a drunk, nonetheless. Friends who have spouses who are violent, who have multiple DUI’s and arrests and who can’t hold a job view me as ridiculous because I am so crazed by his drinking.

I have learned to say what I need to say about whatever situation comes up, without threats of any sort, just stating my feelings. No more policing, no more judgment, no more ultimatums.

The new rule of the house is, no hiding alcohol. If he wants to drink, that’s up to him. I accept it. I prefer he drinks at home and not drink and drive. I prefer he stop drinking, but I have no control over this issue. So the rule, no hiding, is in place so that he does not get behind the wheel of a car and I have an idea of his state of sobriety before I ask him to drive my daughter somewhere if I am detained elsewhere. I am learning to detach lovingly, with no anger, no crying, no recriminations.

As the scotch bottles and the tequila bottles filled my recycle bins under the new rule, not hidden, but out in the open, I think he may have had a realization that yes, he drinks an awful lot. He’s never been a beer drinker, just hard liquor. I’ve watched him move toward these flavored malt beverages, and when I cock an eyebrow, he explains that they are helping him to cut down, they have less alcohol. And he believes it. I don’t tell him that he’s just as drunk after one 25 ounce can than if he’d had a couple of real margaritas, because nothing I tell him really matters. Two of the 25 ounce cans after work really does him in. Doesn’t help that they taste just like a real margarita.

I hate you, Bud Lite Lime Lime-A-Ritas. But really, if it wasn’t you, it would be another.

Got a massage today. Have felt a kinship with the massage therapist for awhile. She is sort of like a psychologist with benefits. I think our talks are just as beneficial (if not more so) than the healing massage she provides.

Today, she shared with me that her son is an alcoholic. We talked a lot about loving members of our families who are addicts. I am reassured, once again, that I am not the only one who deals with this problem, and there is no need to be ashamed.