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.