Ok, so today is that famous first-day-of-the-rest-of-my-life. Today I started once again to search for help about living with an alcoholic. I have made random stabs at this over the past several years as I came to realize just how serious the problem was, but I did not get very far. I am hoping that my entries here will help me keep my resolve up and running.
First I tried to find out more about Al-Anon, figuring the people there are supposed to be the experts. Reading the website kind of scared me off. I am not a religious person; I believe more in fate than in any master plan or ship captain. The material I read was very politically correct in referring to a Higher Power, but I lost my faith a long time ago and right now I can’t face the possibility of yet another failure in my life by joining a group where I would be expected to find it again. I am not writing them off completely, but I am not yet ready to bare my soul in front of strangers at a meeting.I also did some research on alcoholism and its effects so I could deal with the issues from a more knowledgeable viewpoint. As my husband drinks more and more and eats less and less, I understand that his caloric intake is being satisfied by booze and that his appetite is suppressed; that is why whatever I put in front of him for dinner, no matter how small a portion, is always too much. When he twisted his ankle last year, it was understandable that it wasn’t just a sprain; the ankle severely shattered because alcohol blocks the absorption of the minerals needed for strong bones. When he reads books about insomnia and swallows sleep aids and still walks the house at night, I know that alcohol is at the root of his sleeplessness. His twelve-months-pregnant belly, his high blood pressure, his non-existent libido—I know what the culprit is.
I am more fortunate than some co-dependents in that my alcoholic is not physically abusive and is not usually an angry person. He is a very intelligent man with a serious problem. He starts drinking at 8 in the morning with a glass of wine—“That’s my grape juice,” he tells me. Then he nurses a small glass of vodka and tonic constantly throughout the day, repeatedly refilling it. By mid-afternoon he is shuffling his feet instead of walking, and he makes weird crooning noises, kind of like a wookie in the Star Wars movies. At dinner he is difficult to talk to because by that time he is quite addled, and then he goes to bed at 7 o’clock when the evening news is finished.
Somehow the man manages to function and run a home business, at least in the first two-thirds of his day. I cringe when he gets a business call late in the afternoon because he is overly-expansive and also slurs his words—I am embarrassed for him and worry about what his clients must think. This is one thing that I am learning that I must stop doing. His problem is out of my control. His problem is not my problem. This must become my mantra.
So if this man is so easy to live with, what’s the problem, right? I feel like a failure, for one. I CHOSE this man—how stupid could I be? My sister smugly tells me that I knew before I married him that he drank a lot, but hey—so did I. Our relationship was built on alcohol and good times. As my husband started drinking more and more, I started to drink less and less. Now I rarely have a drink—he imbibes enough for both of us.
It will sound like I am a whiner to say that the man belittles me and knows how to push my buttons to get me to lash out in anger at things he says—which makes me the irrational one. If I have a success, it must be because there wasn’t any competition. If I question something he says or does, then he turns it around and says “Fine, you take care of it your way like you always do.” He also has mood swings, so I walk on eggshells a lot so as not to offend. He is a master manipulator and knows how to use words to wound—like men who know how to make bruises where they won’t show in public.
So why do I stay? Some women whose comments I read on message boards like the one at
http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-36223.html said they are too old to start over. Maybe there’s a little of that feeling in me, but if forced to, I would walk away, and I would make a new life. That isn’t the problem. What holds me back is where we live. I won’t go into the details, but I inherited our house and land, the place my parents built and where I grew up. If my husband and I split up, the property would have to be sold because both our names are on the deed, and it would break my heart. Although the money would be more than enough to live on, I am not desperate enough to do that. Someone on the boards said to always have a Plan B when you are living with an alcoholic or addict. That is my Plan B, like a fire alarm handle to be pulled only under extreme duress.
The best advice I have found so far was at this website, http://web4health.info/en/answers/add-living-with-an-alcoholic.htm Yes, I have a problem, but this information gave me hope to find a way to live with that problem, with my husband, and with myself. I know that I have allowed myself to be a victim, but I am committed to turning things around. It is me who needs work, not my husband. His problem is out of my control. His problem is not my problem. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. This must become my mantra.