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.