22 May 2009

Anniversary.

My blog is one year old today.

I started writing it because Greg was drinking heavily after yet another attempt at detox and I could not get any professionals to help me stop him or slow him down. I felt I was going to blow a gasket or go mad or both. Everywhere I turned for help, I came up against a brick wall. GPs can only advise or prescribe drugs. They don't really want to get involved on a practical level. Hospital accident and emergency departments just ensure there are no serious problems, patch the alcoholic up and send them back home again without admitting them. (You cannot blame them - they are inundated with drink-related emergencies. Their eyes roll heavenwards when told the patient is an alcoholic). Professional alcohol counsellors can advise and refer for detox, but can only do so if the patient volunteers to seek help (which of course they rarely do because they don't see they have a problem in the first place!) Detox clinics have long waiting lists and (again) the alcoholic has to be the one to make the first move. Families of alcoholics are usually the ones left to deal with the problem on their own and all you can to is try to cope with it on a daily basis. Damage limitation. There is no wonder cure or magic wand.
It requires tough love. Love is really a misnomer, because love tends to sail out the window when you are coping with the problem on a daily grind. It is not the person you married and chose to spend your life with. I have always felt that if you had a partner who develops something like cancer or dementia, you would know it is not their fault and you would continue to love them unconditionally, whatever life threw at you. But with an alcoholic who hurls abuse at you and is very much wrapped up in themselves, you are left to deal with a major irritant in your life, sharing a house with a lodger - one whose references you wished you had checked out before you let them the room!

A year ago Kay was trying to revise for exams and having to deal with Greg shouting and ranting as he invariably does when he has got through a full whisky bottle in about twelve hours. Once he is inebriated, his mild temper can rise drastically to Incredible Hulk proportions if anyone dares to interrupt a TV programme he might be watching or contradict him in any way. He will shout if we go to bed leaving him asleep in front of the kitchen TV on a dining chair. He will shout if we wake him to try to transfer him to bed. He will shout over the silliest of things. A no-win situation.
Damned, if you do, and damned, if you don't! All this shouting in the evenings coincided with Kay trying to study. She is a conscientious student, but I would defy anyone to concentrate with all that noise going on. Also Greg will follow us from room to room if we try to diffuse the argument by walking away, so often the only real escape is to jump into a car and drive off for a while. But it's not the sort of thing you want to do, say at 11pm, or when you are trying to study for an A-level Chemistry test the next day. So in utter desperation, I contacted the school at least to warn them what was happening at home. They were very sympathetic, as well as helpful, and after that I found the confidence to start my blog. I was close to breaking-point.

I have found the writing of the blog very therapeutic. It is the verbal equivalent of hitting a pillow with your fists. My outpourings have probably saved me many a time from being carted off to the funny farm or dissecting Greg into a million pieces with a blunt knife! Your comments have buoyed me up more than you will ever know, even if I have not thanked you personally, and I feel as if I have made many cyber friends on here. I am so grateful for that.
Greg has not been happy for me to write the blog, but I have gone to great pains to change our names and whereabouts, so that he will not be embarrassed or found out by his friends or ex-work colleagues. I have often given him the chance to read it, as I had hoped it might be easier for him to read as a third person about the damage he was doing to himself and to his family rather than me telling him, but he has religiously avoided reading the blog at all.

A year later, so much has happened, but many things stay the same.
In September, Greg became very ill again, was rushed into hospital, came out a month later detoxed and returned to a reasonable state of health. But slowly things have deteriorated and he is back to the similar patterns of last year. Not quite as bad, but almost. He is almost back to a full 70cl bottle of whisky per day. He maintains he is in control of the alcohol and will never again revert to the states he has been in in the past, but to see him late in the evening - either angry or asleep on an upright dining chair - it is easy to see what is still in control. He came out of hospital not smoking a single cigarette any more and is now back to about 30-a-day. He has lucid, sober moments - during the mornings I can still reason with him, he will often deal with household issues, or even go out in the car to fetch more supplies of cigarettes and whisky. But already by lunchtime, I am losing him again and by supper-time, he is asleep and awake in hourly turns. Kay and I retire to bed, not knowing if he will fall asleep with a cigarette and burn the house down. It does not do much for my anxiety levels.

In that year, I have also made new friends by joining a local Al-Anon group which is there for families of the alcoholic. I am not sure if it is helping me in the way I would have hoped (ie practical solutions to deal with the alcoholism), but the programme focuses on how to repair yourself, look deep inside yourself and detach from the alcoholic. At the very least it gives me a couple of hours away from Greg each week and, as I have said, it has forged some new friendships. We all have the same in common - we live with an alcoholic husband/wife/son/daughter/mother/father - so there is no need to put on a pretence (pretence is something I am good at with neighbours or other parents at Kay's school or those friends and family who are blissfully unaware that Greg drinks). At Al-Anon we can relax and discuss our feelings openly. Usually someone weeps as they tell their story. Months and years of pent-up emotions come flooding out. The rest of the group gather round and console. The emotional support is palpable. We know only too well what that person is going through. We've been there. Correction - we ARE there.

So, it seems a strange anniversary to celebrate, but celebrate I shall. Whether I shall continue to blog depends on so many factors, most importantly of all whether I decide to stay with Greg once Kay leaves for university in September. My frail, arthritis-disabled mother sixty miles away deserves a heck of a lot more of my attention than I can give her at present and I aim to spend a lot more time helping her. Greg's problems are self-induced. Hers are not. I have no struggle with where my loyalties lie. However, I am still trying to keep an open mind and don't want to make any urgent decisions for the moment. Al-Anon advises - "One Day at a Time", so maybe I should not rush a decision, but I know which way my common-sense is pulling. Al-Anon sees alcoholism as an illness and not something we should berate the alcoholic for. I am not sure I buy into that philosophy, but now and again, it does make me feel more pity for Greg than I used to feel. However, whether I want to spend the rest of my life just watching him slowly drink himself to death (quite literally), I don't know. He sits zombie-like all day in the kitchen/diner watching TV and drinking and smoking. We don't do anything together and we don't go out anywhere together. We don't share a bedroom together. We don't even have conversations. Not much of a life to look forward to, if I stay. But I know that deep down underneath, Greg is still the wonderful man I married. Just like the extremely narrow waist I used to have........ it's there somewhere, just hidden. He was a kind, educated, caring individual. Always the first one to help someone in trouble and to understand the other person's viewpoint. He is a man who, for some strange reason, has decided since retirement five years ago to become an alcoholic and now cannot find the long way back.

27 comments:

Retiredandcrazy said...

Your blog has been an inpiration to many Rosiero and we have all been on the long journey back with you, because I am sure that you are on the way back now. You have discovered that you can't let another human being be responsible for your happiness, that can only come from within. My husband's AA sponsor once told him that if you have the right motives you can never do wrong and I sincerely believe that you have the right motives. Happy birthday.

nuttycow said...

Happy anniversary Rosiero. I'm glad this blog has been some help. My advice to you (if it's any help at all) is to keep writing for as long as *you* want to. For as long as it helps *you*.

Much love x

mythreemonthokinawadiet said...

Best wishes in the future. Never give up trying to do the right thing. I will say a prayer for you, your husband and daughter.

Millennium Housewife said...

Amazing post Rosiero, I can't believe it's been a year. Whatever you decide to do you have made genuine friends in cyber space who remain here to sit with you. MH

Wendy said...

Just wanted to send you a hug!

aims said...

It is amazing that a year has gone by dear Rosiero.

I need to email you. Off to do that.

Nechtan said...

I am so glad you did decide to start blogging and hope you continue to do so for as long as it is providing a release for you. Your strength comes through your post and is an inspiration for a little of people whether they can relate to your situation or not. It is apt that you have celebrated the first birthday because there are lots of positives to be found here.

All the best

Nechtan

Nota Bene said...

Congratulations...it must be somewhat bittersweet for you. It is always an interesting read, well written, often moving and I'm glad you find it therapeutic too.

Dave Pie-n-Mash said...

Well, Happy 1st birthday! However, I am sure you would prefer not to be in a position where your blog is about such a weighty topic.

I read your Blog because of the intense reality your writing contains. I also identify with so many of the situations you find yourself in. I was in your position a few years back and you are correct - you very quickly fall out of love with the alcoholic as that is not who you married. Unfortunately, all I learned from my 7 years in such a position was that if the alcoholic does not want to change, there is nothing you can do about it as you will never force a change for the better upon that person.

Not Waving but Drowning said...

What ever you decide to do, I really think you need a good dollop of putting YOU first.

You worry about the lovely Kay, your poor Mum and even the self destructive Greg who by now, I'd have tapped on the head with a frying pan!

Think of YOU when Kay goes off to University and do what will make YOU happy, you sure as hell deserve it,

GG

Ellen said...

I was so moved by your blog today. You have a real gift in being able to express your situation in such an honest yet so generous manner. I came across your blog last September when I was going through the most difficult few months of my life. I can relate to so much that you write about and your blog has often felt like a lifeline to me. So, thank you Rosie, and happy anniversary to your blog. I hope that you will continue to write for as long as you want to and hope that you realise how much your friends in cyberspace appreciate you and benefit from your blog.

Eliza said...

Happy anniversary, I've only just found your blog. I don't know where you get your strength from but keep on blogging.

one planet said...

thanks for the amil . and congrats ..
yes i can understand .. my dad did drank alot and some friends near me also .. i get nervous .. when s o is drunken
and ioften leave them alone

writing released the sufferungs
best for your blogs
andrea

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Dear Rosiero - congratulations on your 1st anniversary. Your blog has been an inspiration and I so admire the way you deal with your life, I'm pretty certain I would have given up on Greg long ago but as you say you know the person he once was. I agree with some of the other comments though that you should put yourself first once Kay goes off to university in September. Please keep blogging though, especially if it helps you - we consider you a friend that we would like to keep in touch with. Sending a hug - A x

Debstar said...

One whole year Rosiero! I have been reading your blog since day one and have been quiet until now.

Sometimes I have been frustrated with you and sometimes for you. Sometimes I've craved to hear more of your life and sometimes I have feared it.

Anyway on this, your first anniversary I send you love and strength. You will make the right decisions, of that I am sure.

Eddie Bluelights said...

I am so very pleased you 'stumbled' on my blog.
I have just read you deeply moving post. Natuarally, you have my deepest sympathy - as an ambulance man I have a snippet of the problem but it must be so difficult for you. I am the kind of person who wants to help but I can't. Yet there is something I can do - I will pray for your family situation and I do so as a committed Christian. I will also contact another Christian friend and she ask her to pop over as well. Watch for Janine.
I am signing up as your follower because I love your style of writing as well.
I invite you to pop round at any time - I might with my humour help to cheer you up a bit.
Finally, my daughter, was a semi-profeesional. She played pubs, clubs and cabaret plus musicals at theatre, and weddings (church and receptions). She won a number of talent competitions as well. She was 18 when she did those recordings played on local radio - but now she is 27 and foes not sing much - she is a teacher now.
God bless and my heart reaches out to you and your family ~ Eddie

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Hello, Rosiero! I am a blogging friend of Eddie Bluelights. He suggested I stop by...your post leaves me speechless...I ache...and my heart is with you. You are very courageous. I also think that your heartache has made you extremely wise, and I believe you will make the decision that is best for you. I am so glad you blog. ~Janine

Rebel Mother said...

Rosiero, you left a comment on my blog the other day, so I thought I would pop by to say hello.

Can I just say that I have been where you are and I know what you are going through, and it just breaks my heart that you & your daughter have to go through this...

An alcholic will never stop drinking unless they want to.

I hope you continue to blog, because it must be theraputic for you and also, it highlights that the families of these people go through absolute hell, which I dont think many people know.

Much love RM x

DogLover said...

Dear Rosiero - sorry I'm late in wishing you a happy birthday! I have read your blog from its inception. You have written very clearly and frankly and I'm glad it has been therapeutic for you. It has been a comfort for me and, I imagine, for many of your "readers".

"Already by lunchtime, I am losing him again ..." That touches me because I know just how it goes. The person you love fades in front of your eyes. I am so very sorry for you.

Good luck with your decision whether to leave Greg in September in order to look after your mother. It will be a hard one - which only you can take. But "Greg's problems are self-induced. Hers are not": is that right? We all drink, but only alcoholics go down the road to destruction. Greg's problems are no more self-induced than ours; we are lucky that we are not alcoholics. We aren't clever or better than an alcoholic. It's just that alcoholism hasn't chosen us. If it had, then we'd have gone down Greg's path. [I say that, having experienced alcoholism in my family and met many other alcoholics and families of alcoholics]

Best wishes

Working mum said...

I think it is worth celebrating a year of blogging your incredible, moving story. I do hope that you continue to blog and that it helps you to deal with the awful situation you and Kay are in. I have had my fingers crossed for Kay for the last two weeks since the A levels started. If anyone deserves a place at University, she does. And if anyone deserves some peace and happiness, you do.

Flowerpot said...

I'm glad that the blog has helped. Yours is a long tough journey and I wish you all the best with it all.

SILVER said...

i'm sad to hear what you and your daughter have to go through..

you're such an amazing lady. i admire your strength.

keep writing..Happy Anniversary.

~Silver

Expat mum said...

Phew, he is certainly a sick man but you have been a complete angel with him too. I just can't imagine what it must be like for you and the thousands of other people in your situation.

rosiero said...

Thank you for all your lovely comments. I really do appreciate them - every one. In particular I should like to reply to:

Dave - I agree. If the alcoholic doesn't want to change (or can't) you either have to put up with it or leave. I'm tending towards the latter, as I don't think I can put up with much more!

Ellen - I am glad my blog has helped. If you are in a similar position, you can email on alcdaz@hotmail.co.uk, if you want to let off steam!

Eddie - thanks for your kind words and the contact with Janine. I find ambulance men are divided - between those who are genuinely helpful and those who see Greg as yet another drunk time-waster. I can't blame the latter attitude _ I would have probably thought the same once upon a time.

Rebel Mother - so sorry you have been through this too - it is amazing how many of us there are. You are right, people don't realise that the alcoholism screws up the whole family not just the alcoholic. In my Al-anon group there are people who grew up with an alcoholic parent and they have NEVER recovered from it even though they are elderly now.

Doglover - I have problems seeing alcoholism as an illness the alcoholic cannot help, even though this is what Al-anon is based on. I think this is what impedes my progress in Al-anon. There are times when I try to embrace that concept but on the whole I still think Greg could stop drinking if he really wanted to. I accept though that he might be depressed and the depression may be causing him to drink to blot out the thoughts. He himself says it is just a stupid habit he has got into!

Not Waving but Drowning said...

I caught a glimpse of your life yesterday Rosiero.

I'm amazed that you've coped as well as you have.

You have my greatest admiration,

GG

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

I don't know if "Happy Blogiversary" is the appropriate thing to say, but I've seen progress in your thinking in the past year. Greg's loss is our gain. Stay strong. You'll do what you need to do in the end.

dulwich divorcee said...

Happy anniverary, Rosiero, and thanks for sharing with us xx I can't believe it's only been a year, I feel as though I've known you for ages!