10 June 2009

Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?

Greg looks very old all of a sudden. For decades, he was the young man I married, then (puff of smoke) he turned 60. A wand has been waved and he is grey both in hair and complexion, bags under his eyes and he looks ill. Well, he is ill. The alcohol-related illnesses over these past 5 years have taken their toll on his looks, as well as his health, which was not good before he started drinking heavily. He has diabetes, heart disease, poor circulation in his legs and feet, the possibility of early stage liver cirrhosis and (I reckon) depression, which is probably why he drinks. He can barely walk a few yards. Since he retired, he has no interest or energy to do anything, so he drinks and that gives him no energy or interest to do anything. A vicious circle.

He announces regularly that he is going to do so much around the house - mend this, fix that, decorate the other, but he never stirs from the spot where he sits watching TV all day.
Similarly there are things he wants to chase up with the household's paperwork (concerning bills, insurance claims or the mortgage) but they never get done. If pressed about them, he will say it is too hot, too cold, too wet, too soon, too late.... the excuses keep on coming. In the end, Muggins here usually does it. Sometimes the one and only job he insists on doing (because, he says, I don't do it properly) - namely loading the dishwasher - does not get done and the dishes pile high on the kitchen work surface for a few days or so. Then in desperation I even do that job, as I try to find a clear square inch to chop up some vegetables or prepare a meal! As for major work around the house, forget it - mind you, he has not done that in about ten years anyway. So in latter years painting and DIY has fallen to me. He has great hopes but they just don't materialise.

Even washing himself, cleaning his teeth, brushing his hair and changing his clothes seem too much for him - I often find him asleep on the bed in the morning fully clothed....in the same clothes he has worn all fortnight. Alcohol becomes the be-all and end-all of an alcoholic's life. Relationships and personal hygiene cease to matter. Ketchup stains on his sleeves, soup stains on his trousers, a scaly rash on his face and in his hair. Constantly reeking of whisky and stale cigarette smoke. He seldom washes or showers - usually only when he has to present himself at the doctor's for a repeat prescription, once in a blue moon. If I "nag" him to wash once in a while, it starts World War 3, so it is easier to say nothing and watch him stagger to and from his car and around the neighbourhood like a tramp. Goodness knows what the neighbours think. You tend to look at married couples as one entity (like your own parents) and don't see them as having separate personalities and separate opinions.
Do they tar me with the same brush and think I'm a slob for not keeping my husband clean and tidy? They cannot possibly realise what an uphill struggle it is for me to get him to look presentable. Or have they guessed the truth and all this pretence of a normal marriage which I put on for the outside world has been sussed?

Once upon a time I used to worry about what other people thought. If people came to visit us, it became more and more difficult to conceal the state he was in. If they did notice anything, they tactfully said nothing. If we went out anywhere, I'd feel the embarrassment crawling all over me, as soon as he and I stepped out of the front door. I'd beg Kay not to tell any of her friends, lest their parents found out and wouldn't let their children visit our home to spend time with Kay. Living with an alcoholic can be very isolating. For the last year. however, I have advised Kay to tell her friends, as she needed someone to confide in and to make them understand what was happening in her home life and why sometimes it was better for her to stay over with them, rather than for them to stay over with us. Whether their parents know, I don't know. I don't even care any more. I am running out of resolve. I just don't care any more. Let them see it. Let them judge, if they must. I cannot fight his battles any more. I cannot continue to live a lie.


mythreemonthokinawadiet said...

I want to thank you for taking the time to share your life experiences in the blogsphere.

I hope your wrting helps you as much as it helps others who deal with alcoholics or themselves are in the early stages of alcoholism.

Without awarness, guys like me could drift into your husbands state in 20 or 30 years.

best to you,


Absolutely Write said...

Yeah I echo the sentiments of MyThreeMonth above. There are a lot of people around who drink more than they should, and deny that they need to in order to feel 'normal'.

I feel terribly sorry for Greg, and your fortitude and loyalty never fails to astonish me.

p.s. I used to post as Gone Back South, it's nice to see you!

laurie said...

eliminating the secrecy is a huge gift for your daughter.

Rebel Mother said...

Rosiero - This is going to sound contraversial - but you dont have to put up with it.

People will think what they want to...they dont have a day in your shoes and dont know what it is like.

Alcoholism is very selfish and it will take everything...the house, money, job, absolutely everything.

I've seen it, lived it and watched it happen.

You have to think of you and your daughter and what is best for you.

sexy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Millennium Housewife said...

You know Rosiero, I think your neighbours would have guessed that something was up, they might even be a source of support? You've written before about what a close knit community your road is and you might find a bit of freedom in letting them in. I'm not sure and I don't presume to know your life, but it's a thought MH x

aims said...

You know how I feel dear Rosiero.

Thinking of you and waiting.

Nota Bene said...

Not living a lie is a positive thing...and you should be pleased and proud with yourself for taking that approach now; I'm sure Kay feels it is a relief.

Here for you as ever.

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

I expect your neighbours sussed the situation ages ago Rosiero. They would only need to see you and your daughter and then compare your husband's appearance to come to the obvious conclusion.

I think you are quite right to let Kay confide in her friends. I sincerely hope it helps you to "confide" in your fellow bloggers.

I don't know what else to say except stay strong - for yourself and your girl even if Greg is seemingly past caring. Thinking of you. A x

rosiescribble said...

Gosh what a dreadful way for both you and your daughter to live. You deserve better. I'm with Rebel Mother. Hope you don't mind.

All alcoholics should read your blog.

grandmamargie said...

I do feel for you. I ran into my ex the other day, the first time in about 11 years or more. Anyway, he is "now" in AA (again, he was there when I first met him in 1990) and wanted my phone number. He said in a couple months he would be "ready" to talk to me as he had made his list of people he needed to make amends to. I was not comfortable giving him my number but took his. I thought about it and decided I didn't want to hear anything he had to say and called and told him that my wounds had healed and I had moved on in my life and that he would need to deal with this on his own. Personally, I didn't want to subject myself to all that just to hear him clear his conscience. Hopefully, he'll stay sober but like Greg, doubtful. I'm sorry. My heart really does hurt for you. Hopefully soon, you will be able to make your escape from this hell and move on too.

Ellen said...

Dear Rosiero, I hope you are ok, please take heart as we are all thinking of you. All will be well.

Thank you for your lovely, helpful and supportive e-mails. I am looking forward to replying properly to these over the weekend. D

Nechtan said...

Hi Rosiero,

You are quite right in my opinion to stop protecting Greg. God knows you do enough for him at home and that is burden enough. Whatever people think doesn't matter. If they tar you with the same brush then the bad reflection is on them not you. You conduct yourself above and beyond the call of duty so should keep your head high.

What will it take for Greg to face up to the situation? Its impossible to know. My brother and sister took photos of my mum sprawled across a table in a restaurant to show her how bad she really was but she managed to get the film out of the camera the next day and destroy it. Alcoholics don't want to face up to the truth but more than that they will go to any lengths not to have it shown to them. It is a no win situation. Unfortunately if they won't help themselves then no one can but it is not nice to have to watch it happen.

You really do deserve much better than this. I really hope the balance is restored at some point in the future.

All the best


Not Waving but Drowning said...

You are so right.

Do what you need to do for you and your lovely girl.

Greg has made his choice.


mcginty said...

As I write my husband's alcoholic cousin lies in intensive care, her life in the balance. She was discovered filthy and in a coma by her father. She is 39 and lost custody of her children years ago. It is so terribly sad that loving families have to suffer so much.
Yours is not an easy path and I wish you well.

Robert said...

If I was in your situation, I would wait until Kay was settled in at uni and then walk. Or perhaps wait until she finised uni, if the financial implications of walking were to severe. I totally support how you've dealt with this so far.

In the meantime, hold your head high. You have nothing to be ashamed of. I'm sure you don't want the neighbours/your friends to think too badly of Greg; but ultimately it really doesn't matter what they think. You & Kay feeling good about yourselves - that's all thaty matters.

Eliza said...

I'm so glad you have found somewhere to express your feelings. You told your daughter to confide in her friends, I hope you have someone close you can confide in. Hugs to you

Flowerpot said...

Why should you cover up what's happening?I can quite understand why you did, but you will feel a lot less isolated if you don't. You're doing the right thing for you and Kay and if the community is that close then they will want to help you, I'm sure. Take care both.

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

Rosiero- does it help you much being able to verbalise and write it down here..getting it OUT...does it thin out a little from you mind..if you do spew forth..
I do so hope it helps some....

rosiero said...

Thank you all for your kind words when I was having a low moment.

FFF - yes, it really does help, even if I am telling it to a computer screen!

Diana said...

My first husband died of this disease at the age of thirty-six. A few months before he died I went to al-anon to learn how to cope with the situation. He would not go with. Going there gave me the strength to learn how to deal with this situation. I ended up taking my two young children ages 8 and 11 and moving out. I had no money but took out a loan and worked sometimes 12 hour days to support them. I ended up divorcing him within a few months. He wasn't going to change this I knew. The day that my 11 year old son came to me and said " mom, I can't take this anymore" is the day I went and got the loan. My ex died three months later. You cannot change them! You must decide if this is how you want to live. By the way that all happened 21 years ago. I have been very happily married to a wonderful caring man for 19 years now. And we have a 14 year old daughter together.Please remember that there are many people that care about people like us and your daughter.Good luck to you.

Stinking Billy said...

Rosiero, I was really hoping things might be better for you after my absence of nearly 20 weeks, but it is still nice to be back. x

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Psychologically, you are moving in the right direction. You are distancing yourself from him. The man you described him there is on a downward spiral and you are not going to stop him. Good luck to you Rosiero, it'll be tough, but probably nowhere near as tough as what you've been living through these past few years.

ladythinker said...

Oh dear Rosie - so much sounds so very familiar here - if you just take out all the references to alcohol it sounds like my life too.

I know what you mean about making excuses . . but am steeling myself not to do so when MyMan is unkempt or rude to someone - it's hard but saves some precious energy.
Big hug

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I guess the best thing about when people visit you is that they know who the one at fault is. I can't begin to imagine how you must feel when you wake up to this. You deserve so much better.

CJ xx

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Something will give and I suspect it will be sooner than later. You can be sure your strengths will see you through.

Saunar Buboy said...

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