12 December 2008


There are times like today, when I feel very angry.

It is true that Greg is still trying very hard, is not drinking any alcohol and managing to ignore the daily temptations thrust down his throat by TV adverts, soaps, dramas and newspaper inserts screaming at you to buy a case of wine and get one free. Not only that, but he has reduced his cigarette consumption from 40-a-day to 8-a-day and is smoking outside in the garden instead of the house. I repeat he is trying very hard. I KNOW that. He feels Kay and I are not acknowledging that or being off-hand with his feelings. I want to be charitable. But Kay and I are finding it hard to forget and forgive. So much has gone before. Too much has been said (or shouted). Too much has been done (or not) . Too many missed opportunities and broken promises. I am consumed with anger that he put us through the past nightmares at all. That he has dashed our marriage into little pieces and stamped on them. That he may have trampled on Kay's chances to get into university, study the course she wants, pursue the career she has always dreamed of. I know of course that my anger could exacerbate the situation and drive him back to drink, but there are times when I just can't let it go and move on. Only time will tell, only time will heal.

Al-anon tells you to regard the drinking as an illness. You wouldn't get cross with someone who has cancer or a broken leg. So, you should turn the other cheek with alcoholism. But I find this a difficult concept. Someone with cancer or a broken leg will usually welcome your care and concern. They will work with you and accept your help. With an alcoholic, you receive nothing but verbal abuse and anger, rather like having a giant toddler with a terrible twos tantrum. Even when they are better, they regard it as given, that you should be grateful it has stopped. It's in the past, stop fretting.

I feel angry too about the money we have wasted. Recently we had a meeting with the bank to consolidate our loans. Over the last two years, without consulting me, Greg had taken out three hefty loans just nudging £12,000 and run up a large credit card bill - all of it to fund his bad habits. The bank had approached us (more for their own benefit to drum up a bit of business in these hard times) and had conceded that they could not do much for us but to merge the loans into one amount with a lower interest rate to reduce our monthly outgoings. It makes me so cross that we shall be paying this money back until 2016. What have we to show for this millstone around our necks? An elegant car? A new kitchen? An exotic holiday? Absolutely nothing. All gone - either literally up in smoke or down into the sewers.

Yesterday I went into our local supermarket to do my weekly shop and was confronted yet again by all the Christmas joy and cheer. Jolly Santas and reindeer, puddings and cranberries, turkeys and sprouts, nuts and biscuits, stollen and panettone, cake and mince pies, silent night and ho-ho-ho. But I could feel my anger rising again. There they were.... the pyramids of beer, wine and spirits, all giving me the come-hither to buy them. Seduced by their curvaceous forms, I thought "wouldn't it be nice to get a few bottles in for Christmas? A nice white to drink with the turkey, a nice red to drink with the pudding? A Baileys or G&T to toast in the New Year?" And then, I put my brain
into gear and realised I cannot buy a single bottle. Alcohol is now a no-no in our house. Not only is HE banned from drinking alcohol, but now so am I. How can I sit there with a drink and not him? And, of course if HE has a drink, it will start everything up again for sure, which I naturally want to avoid at all costs. So that means no more alcohol for me - ever.... unless of course I shut myself in the bathroom and have a quick slurp from a bottle hidden amongst the toilet rolls. Not quite the same, though, is it? My freedom of choice is now limited. And now I am angry again. Bloody angry.

And then I look out at him in the garden, sheltering from the rain, smoking a quick half-inch of cigarette and I feel sorry for him again. Grrrr.


Grumpy Old Ken said...

I feel for you but honestly do not know how to respond. i drink,too much but it does not affect in a bad way usually, indeed quite the opposite. I have a 'pretend' bar and a collection of beer related items. How do YOU feel re such frivolities. I give you my support, sympathy and friendship. Hope that helps in a small way.

DogLover said...

Oh, poor you, Rosiero, poor you! That's terrible. It must make you even angrier than you were when he was drinking and his alcoholism was putting you through hell. And you were hoping you would have no more troubles once he stopped!

But wasn't it "for better and for worse, in sickness and in health"?

Maybe other people have problems, too. Being confined to a wheelchair and having to be turned over in bed each night because I can't move myself. And being blind. And having no money for heating. And having a partner with Alzheimers who doesn't recognise me. All these things.

[Thank God, none of them applies to me]

You have been so strong in the past, Rosiero. Take a deep breath and be strong again. You have a lot of good things in your life, as well as bad, as we all do. Have a good honest laugh about something. Go and hug Greg and tell him you love him and that you know how hard he is trying. Time goes by, you may not have the chance to do so one day.

With affection and great admiration,

Humbly yours, Doglover

Anonymous said...

You have every right to be angry. You have had your freedom taken away from you by selfish actions of another. You have been drained from having loving feelings towards the one person you should because of inconsideration by another.

But I picked up on something through this post: Alcoholism is an illness, but it is a self-inflicted illness. Many of the other serious illnesses are not and in a lot of cases are unavoidable. Alcoholism can be avoided from the beginning. It can be stopped. Greg was and still is a grown up. He should have taken responsibility for his actions long ago but instead he chose to inflict misery on people he loves together with himself. And now, you as his loving wife, are supposed to feel sorry for him. Something just doesn't add up.

You are a beautiful person and you must never feel guilty.

Take care, CJ xx

Robert said...

Dearest Rosiero - here is how I see your situation. Feel free to disagree!

Are you aware that while Greg was addicted to alcohol and was (sometimes seriously) ill, you suppressed your feelings to cope with the situation? Then, when the pressure eased, all those feelings were free to escape. What I'm saying is that what you are feeling now is almost certainly an exaggeration of your true feelings. It will take some time - perhaps a lot of time - for these feelings to subside and things to return to near normal.

Also, in the time since Greg began his alcohol abuse, you have moved on, as a person, without him. He has also changed. You're both different people now, and your marriage may be already deceased ("for better and for worse, in sickness and in health" is not a carte blanche for your partner to make your life hell)...but this is not the time to be making life-changing decisions. You need to wait until your emotions meter, now at danger level, returns to the safe zone.

I'm going to disagree with CJ - alcoholism is rarely a self-inflicted illness. It's usually caused by a person's inability to cope with his/her world. Alcohol (or drugs) is an escape from this inescapable life, and the drunk prefers how life looks through an alcoholic daze to the stark reality of sobriety. Many experts believe that alcoholism is a mental health issue. What would worry me about Greg is that he doesn't seem to have told you what made him embark on his life of drunkenness. If he hasn't dealt with the cause, then his long-term future is uncertain.

This story isn't over yet.

Best wishes.

Kit Courteney said...

Bloody hell - I'd be angry too - about the lack of personal choice I had re drinking and anything else.

Anger's not always a bad thing, though.

Expat mum said...

Gosh I feel so sorry for you in this situation, but if you can hold on to that feeling of pity for him it might help. Try to see yourself as his protector at the moment - he sounds as if he really, really is trying and positive reactions will help him.
I'm not great at forgiving and forgetting myself, but it doesn't really get you anywhere. It eats away at you and doesn't help anyone else either.

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Can't even begin to imagine what you have been and are still going through Rosiero. I'm pretty certain I'd be feeling angry too but you are obviously a strong person so, as Doglover says take a deep breath and try to keep going. Don't let Greg's past behaviour get the better of you.

Thinking of you.

A x

Elaine said...

I'm not surprised you're angry...you have a lot to be angry about, both past and present.

I know you feel you have to protect Greg and not bring any alcohol into the house, but if he is going to live any sort of normal life, he will come across triggers and temptations all of the time in the outside world. And you can't run around hiding them all away from him. I'm sure, in time, that Greg (if he is determined) will feel comfortable with others drinking around him. Maybe not this Christmas, but one day. x

ps...My Mum's procedure was called Radio Frequency Denervation.

Flowerpot said...

I'm not surprised you're so angry - I would be. But you need an outlet for this anger. Have you considered counselling? There's so much of it you could go up in smoke if you don't do something with it all. You need someone to vent all these feelings to, I feel. If you have a branch of Relate, they are all well trained, and dont just deal with marital problems or perhaps someone could recommend a good counsellor? Good luck - you need some help now.

Fern said...

Having followed your story closely and you have conveyed all the emotional dilemmas so well, I am certain, at this point I would feel exactly the same, very angry and if I am honest, rather cornered. Robert has said it all brilliantly. I think you have moved on as a person and you will need time to work out where to go from here with or without Greg.

Nota Bene said...

You are right to be angry - after all why should you lose so much?

I suggest a small thing - you have a special Christmas celebration for you, Kay and a few close friends on a different day, at which you enjoy all those things you can't have at home on Christmas Day itself

Anonymous said...

On the one hand I can understand you well. Now that there is some opportunity to relax all the anger comes up (it's often like that). On the other hand there is really a little ray of hope. Finally, he has stopped drinking. Perhaps some more things will turn up for the better.

And perhaps you can take some time for yourself now from time to time, e.g. sit in a nice café and 'drink' something, a cocktail, a cappuccino or something, just to feel that life has got something for you, too.

laurie said...

yes, it's almost unbearably hard, and it's asking too much of you to just think of it as an illness and thus dismiss your feelings.

i suspect that advice is just meant as a coping mechanism that you can use, or not.

i was very close to someone who managed to go from being a full-blown drunk (every night for years) to cutting back to only two drinks a night. never went back to the excess. you never know. i wish you the very very best.

good luck over the holidays, the most difficult part of the year.

Millennium Housewife said...

Standing there with you Rosiero there's an award for you at mine, just writing the post now MHx

Ellen said...

I hear you loud and clear! I think Robert hit the nail on the head when he acknowledged that you now have 'time' for those suppressed feelings to surface. And boy can I sympathise with you - I just found out this weekend that my husband's bank account (that we jointly closed at the end of October was not closed after all) and he has spent the whole amount of his pension money plus also becoming over £500 overdrawn in that time. This is on top of him blowing £10,000 on various cars and enterprises this summer - his pay-off from work after being dismissed for suspected drinking at work. Our joint savings now all virtually gone. Christmas is upon us and like you I have a teenager (16year old son) and can't help but think of the selfish, bloody waste of not only money, but of love, life and a carefree upbring for our son. So YES - I 100% agree that you are entitled to your anger and frustration (at feeling concerned and sorry for your husband and controlled by his situation). Counselling is helpful for some people and perhaps it would be of use to you too Rosie. However, if you feel like screaming all your anger and frustration to the rooftops through you blog, then you go for it girl. There isn't one of us out there who wouldn't be behind you.

By the way, a great, straight from the heart blog. Take care. Dx

Laura Jane Williams said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and words are failing me.

Just... wow.

Your story has really touched me. I will be back.

Laura x

rosiero said...

As always, many thanks for all your kind comments and suggestions. In particular:

Doglover - you are so right. I am lucky in ways others are not and I should be thankful for small mercies etc. It is difficult sometimes to get things into perspective.

Crystal - I agree. It is a self-inflicted thing and that makes me think sometimes he made his bed, now he should lie on it!!

Robert - So true. Before, I was on autopilot dealing with the many crises and now they have stopped, I am reacting belatedly and getting it out of my system. I suppose eventually, I shall calm down and get to the acceptance stage.

Nota Bene - a good idea which I shall consider.

MH - Many thanks for your kind award. I shall display with humble thanks.

Ellen - so sorry to hear you have been experiencing similar problems. You sound as if you would benefit from a cathartic blog too. It does help. It is the technological way of throwing yourself prostrate on the ground and tearing your hair out, whilst ranting and raving.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

I'd be more angry about the money than not drinking. You can always nip out to a pub when he's not looking ... although if he finds out he will of course use that as an excuse to throw a tantrum, probably find some alcohol and drink it, back to square one, and it will ALL BE YOUR FAULT!!!! But everything's your fault, isn't it? He has an illness but it's not alcoholism. It's selfishness.

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

Its a double sided dilemma...the drink and social pressures will always be there...

the resentments will always be there, but will abate the longer Greg remains sober...a day at a a time.. the recovery is yours too and I sometimes thin it is way harder for the family member!! Time is a great healer and I know that sounds trite, but because it is true the day at a time business will help you too..its not everyday you will have a hand I saving a persons life!!

Breathe deeply and slowly and take care of YOURSELF..you can't help anyone else if you don't take deserved ME time...


CannedAm said...

Rosiero...first vist thanks to that british woman, but glad I found you! I come from a long line of alcoholics. Luckily, I'm not one. I could be. Sure could. So, I have to respectfully disagree with you. Alcoholism first begins with the choice to cope through a bottle. I did it for awhile. That's called "problem drinking." Another year and it would have been my only coping mechanism and I could add my name to the list of alcoholics in my family. (1 brother, 2 sisters, my father, my grandfather, various uncles, aunts, cousins, etc.) There comes a point where choice is removed and that's where the disease comes in. Up to that point, it's all choice.

When I realized I was problem drinking (had to be sober for a good while to clue in, too) I gave myself a rule: I will never, ever, drink a drop if I NEED it. Now I'm a teetotaler. I could take it or leave it. And that's a freedom I respect greatly.

I watched my father get sober when I was 18. Couldn't stand that man for a couple years. He'd coped with alcohol since he was an adolescent. Your husband must learn healthy coping skills or he will not succeed. He has to learn how to feel now. That's what my dad went through and good gawd, he was a miserable S.O.B. It took a full 7 years before I could say: that's the real man. No crutch, no BS, that's JUST HIM. And man, do I admire that man. I can't imagine learning to live an entirely foreign life after 40-odd years of something different.

I respect you for not allowing yourself alcohol. It's possible that in time, a long time, you'll be able to have a drink and it won't trigger him or cause him to fall. It's possible that won't happen. Kudos to you.

You have a million things to be angry for. I never understood how my mother hung in there for 27 years before he sobered up. I wouldn't do it. I left my first husband after 6 years. But he wouldn't even try and is still in denial. He'll probably die of cirrhosis, just like his own father.

Anger is part of the healing process...one you need to go through, too. Just find healthy outlets for it -- like this one.

Good luck to you and yours. I'll be following along and sending supportive thoughts your way.

Thank goodness, though, he's sobering up and your child will get a chance to know the real man, as I did with my father.