04 January 2010

New year, same old stuff

A new year always makes us feel full of expectation that things will change for the better. As you progress through the previous year and get towards the end, there is a mental and physical countdown towards the Christmas festivities: buying in food, presents, decorating the tree etc and after that another countdown to the very end of the year. Then, one minute you are at 11.59pm on 31 December, awaiting that stroke of midnight, raising glasses to the future, hugging friends and family and the next you are jettisoned into a new year and it is 00.01 am on 1 January: a whole new year ahead of you. Like a Time Lord, that minute between being at the end of one year and the beginning of the next is very disorientating and makes you feel that you ought to embrace the new year with a new you. I am sure that is why people make new year resolutions, otherwise they could surely try to give up smoking/start a diet/exercise more/donate more to charity (or whatever people resolve to do) in June or in October or on the May Day bank holiday.

I suppose I always hope that Greg is miraculously going to stop drinking overnight, which, I know, is a physical impossibilty as he is clinically dependent on drinking and cannot suddenly go without alcohol without serious medical implications. He would have to be weaned off it slowly with drugs, as has happened several times before in the past when he has been hospitalised. And so I start a new year with much looking the same, if not worse than before.

At Christmas, I tried to keep things jolly for Kay's and my Mum's sakes. Kay and I decorated the hall, the stairs, the lounge and the kitchen with tinsel and baubles and trees. Everything sparkled in the glow of the house and contrasted with the frosty, snowy weather outside. I bought copious amounts of food (estimating the feeding of the five thousand) and we chomped our way though turkey and five vegetables on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and several days thereafter. There were platters of chocolates, nuts, dates, more chocolates. We groaned and ate, ate and groaned. (I've put on a good half-stone to prove it!) We watched films on TV and tried to be jolly.


But Greg had other plans. He continued his drinking regime, seemingly not impressed that it was Chrismas or that Kay and my mother (or, God forbid, me)might want something different of him just for once. He spent most of the Christmas days, dressed in a dressing gown, his legs bare and covered in sores or yesterday's spilled tomato soup that he had heated up for himself. He made no effort to wash or comb his hair. On Christmas Day morning he opened his presents with us all in the lounge and then passed out on the sofa where he stayed until lunchtime. I meanwhile had been slaving away cooking the turkey, the five vegetables, the starter, the dessert and all the trimmings. I woke him about 20 minutes before lunch and suggested he might get freshened up (euphemism for "have a wash for once in your life") and dressed. Just as I was about to serve up the starter he sat down at the table - in his dressing gown, bare sore legs and clearly he had not washed either. I asked him to please make an effort, just for Christmas lunch and you would have thought I had asked him to recite the 17 x multiplication table naked in Trafalgar Square. He shouted and ranted that I was being unreasonable and he continued to shout and rant all though the starter and into the main course. He had no appetite and most of his meals ended up in the bin. He flaked out asleep on the sofa for most of the rest of the day, only participating to rant and rage when I asked him if he wanted any supper. Apparently I was making a fuss in asking him that simple question and he did not want a fuss. The remainder of the Christmas days followed a similar pattern, so that Kay, my mother and I tried not to engage in any conversation with him for fear of setting him off. My mother would even ostensibly steer the conversation away from any controversial subjects when she saw Greg's temper rising and sometimes it worked.

I tried to be the all-singing, all-dancing act to make things good for Kay and my mother. Kay is an owl and likes to stay up late to watch films on TV; my mother on the other hand is a lark and wakes at the crack of dawn, so I found myself forcing myself out of bed to bring my mother her early morning tea in bed (despite her entreaties for me to have a lie-in) and I stayed up long after the call of duty (on one occasion until 3am) to keep Kay company in the late evenings. One night, however,I was so exhausted, I promised myself a lie-in, took a tablet to help me sleep and withdrew at midnight to the spare bedroom with the dog. At around 6am, Snoopy nudged me awake. I groaned and told him to lie back on his bed. Thankfully, he did and I went off to sleep again. At 6.45am he nudged me awake again. Drowsily I invited him to jump up on the bed beside me. As he settled down alongside me, I was vaguely aware that he was trembling. In my half-sleep, I imagined he must be cold, so I reached for his blanket on the floor and covered him over. But still he trembled and at some point in my subconsciousnes, I realised this was not right and sat bolt upright in bed. As I went to open the bedroom door, he made a noise and ejected the entire liquid contents of his bowels onto my cream-coloured bedroom carpet. As we went down the four flights of stairs to the kitchen he offloaded another two dollops of liquid mush all over the floor and yet another lot in the garden. I was awake by that point and far from thoughts of making the first cup of tea, I was up to my armpits in disinfectant, carpet shampoo, soapy suds and kitchen towel. Not the best job to wake up to or at any other time for that matter. I was just feeling pleased with myself a good half an hour later when I had cleaned all that up, when Snoopy decided to vomit in two different places as well. Poor thing had obviously eaten something dodgy to be emptying out from both ends. I am pleased to say that, after that, he made a quick recovery and has been fine since. Not so my carpet unfortunately: I shall have to get in an industrial carpet cleaner at some stage in the next few days.

So now it is a new year - the end of a decade - twenty ten or two thousand and ten (however you prefer to say it). The expectation of new life, changes, sweep-clean. Out with the old; in with the new. My hopes soar, as always, to hope for better things, good health, wealth and success, but looking at Greg, I see an old man, wizened by the alcohol, in physical agony, too apathetic to eat, wash or take medication, on the brink of another medical crisis. His sole drive is to maintain the level of alcohol in his system for fear of withdrawal symptoms. His consumption now teeters on about 1.5 bottles a day (about a litre) of whisky despite his promises a few weeks ago to reduce from the one bottle he was on). So he is moving in the wrong direction ever further away from abstinence and from good health and ultimately from me. And somehow already on this fourth day into the new year, I just know this year is going to be tough.

23 comments:

Nechtan said...

Hi Rosiero,

I hope the time with your mother and daughter compensated in some way- or at least kept you sane. Not a good start to the year. You must be exhausted already. With the job of hostess over I hope you try to get some rest and charge those batteries again.

All the best

Nechtan

AnyEdge said...

Rosario, thank you. It is something so powerful to be reminded once again where I will be if I do not keep this program central to my heart and soul.

I hurt for you, and I thank you. By sharing this ache so publicly, you are helping to save my life. God bless you.

Elaine said...

I had a comment to make then read Any Edge's, and now I'm speechless.

Bless you. x

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Anyone with a dog AND a cream carpet must have optimism to spare! He is very ill now isn't he? (Greg not Snoopy). Perhaps you could put a TV in his room so he didn't have to negotiate the rest of the house? Happy New Year anyway Rosiero, manner of speaking; may this problem resolve itself one way or another in 2010.

aims said...

I'm with all the rest. They've all said it all.

icecold said...

My heart aches for you and Kay, Rosiero...

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Not a good start to your New Year Rosiero and I am so sorry. Poor you and poor little Snoopy. Glad to hear he, at least, is now better. I wish you all the very best and hope that 2010 sees some kind of improvement in your situation. A x

Working Mum said...

What a time you've had. I am sorry you've had so much to deal with at what should be a happy time. I imagine it is difficult to look forward thinking that things will stay the same, but you never know, there may be changes in 2010. I hope you and Kay find good times together this year.
WM x

PS I've had a carpet crisis too and a lady I met in Johnson's Cleaners recommended 'Stainbusters' - just google them for your nearest branch. Hope that solves one of your problems.

Flowerpot said...

What a hellish start to the new year, Rosiero. You spend so much time looking after everyone else and making sure that they're happy that you never have time to yourself. I do hope there is some change to your circumstances soon. Take care. Thinking of you.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I'm struggling for a comment as I just don't know what to say. You've had it hard, I'm hoping this year will be better for you, much better.

CJ xx

cheshire wife said...

I really do not know how you manage. Your Christmas would have tried my patience to the limit. I can only hope that things improve for you.

All the best for 2010, if possible.

June said...

I have had the same dog [and other] experiences, and it's awful. Awful.

It sounds as if you're truly tap dancing as fast as you can to keep everybody happy and make everything look good on the outside, hoping that will make it good on the inside.

dulwich divorcee said...

Oh dear! So, so, sorry but I am sure that Kay and your mother really appreciated your efforts. Could I just recommend Vanish carpet foam? It comes in a really lurid pink tin but it copes with anything the cat can throw (up) at it xxx

Ellen said...

So sorry that your New Year has been difficult. I am sure that you made a wonderful Christmas for your family, but you sound utterly exhausted. Try and get some rest now that Kay has gone back to Uni and your mother has gone home. I wish you a year filled with things that you enjoy. Take care.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Rosiero,

I think you are very brave for sharing this with us. I hope that it is cathartic for you. Just to let you know that you are absolutely not alone.

If you ever manage to get away for a few days...come and stay with us. We will give you lots of TLC and look after you (Kay as well. There is some good walking country around here as you know... (It cheers me up instantly when I get grumpy about mundane things.)

Take care and hugs. Hadriana xx

Gill - That British Woman said...

oh what a way to start a new year. I just hope for all your sakes it does get better.

Gill in Canada

rosiero said...

Thanks for all your comments, particularly the stain removing hints.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Hi
Life goes on. I have always drank but not massively so. I am seventy now and find I can't drink what I used to of any case. How old is Greg. You dont need me to tell you it is an addiction but all the same you wonder how long his system will keep this up. I am also physically not very big and can't stand spirits.
Something has to give bur remember there are many people rooting for you, not that thatis of great consolation. You sound strong and need to be for the girl's sake.
Good luck.

haveyouseenthisgirl said...

happy new year. I've been reading your blog for over a year but never commented before. Yours is a sad but eloquent story and I wish you strength for the coming year.

Jenny Rudd said...

I've just read your blog for the first time. What a deeply hard and hurtful situation you are in. I truly, truly hope 2010 brings about some changes so that things move on. Jenny

Nota Bene said...

Just catching up on your posts now....sorry... well not a great time...but hopefully the company of mum and daughter were helpful for you...I wish you all the very best for 2010, and sincerely hope that the new decade is better than the last.

Jay said...

I do so feel for you.

My SIL is an alcoholic and a husband beater. When she decided to leave my brother, he changed the locks, and for the first time in his married life (over twenty years) told us the truth. We wondered why he'd been so reclusive, never coming to family gatherings or inviting anyone home. I'm sorry to say it, but I'm glad she's gone.

And there is another alcoholic in my husband's family, still with us, but although he must be difficult to live with, nothing like SIL. Not violent, thank heavens, or aggressive, just ... alcoholic and therefore irresponsible in so many ways.

Sorry to hear Snoopy was ill too, but glad to hear that his indisposition was temporary!

Hang in there. Hugs to you.

Monique K. Makell said...

I just began reading your blog and I must tell you that I have been so consumed with it. Your story is powerful...thank you for sharing such tough times.