02 October 2008

Living the Nightmare

By May 2008, Greg was impossible to live with. He was back to all the old tricks again...not washing, dressing in clothes that were so shabby and unwashed. Sometimes he did not even bother to undress at night, but would fall into bed with his clothes on and then just get up and spend the next day or even the next week in the same old clothes, slopping food stains down the front as the week wore on. If I dared to say anything about his appearance, he just snapped at me. He walked in bare feet, out in the garden, around the house. The soles of his feet were as hard as shoe leather and black as soot. Although I had moved back into the marital bedroom after his detox, I moved back out again to the spare room. Again the dog voted to follow me. Once more, Greg spent the entire day on the dining chairs in the kitchen watching TV from breakfast till the early morning, falling in and out of sleep - whilst on the dining chair. He wanted me to administer his medicines, as he could not otherwise be bothered, yet he had diabetes, a heart condition, vascular problems in his legs, high blood pressure, ex-gastric ulcer and an increasingly ailing liver. His GP was disgusted with him and said he must try to reduce his alcohol intake or he would surely be dead soon at the rate he was going. He didn't seem to care. Nothing stopped him. Not the thought of leaving me a widow or Kay fatherless. Not even the thought of doing something with his life.

I contacted Matt at the Alcoholic Advisory Centre and asked what he could do to help. Basically his reply was not very helpful. Without Greg's agreement, they could not apply for another detox session and in any case, they could only fund one session per person per year. It seemed nobody really wanted to take control and help.

At this point Kay was beginning to prepare for her AS exams. She had already had a chemistry mock exam. The night before, Greg had been particularly difficult. He had been shouting and ranting all through the evening. No matter how much we appealed to him that Kay had an important test the next day, he shouted even louder. He had followed us from room to room, when we tried to get away from him, as he always wants the last word. It meant Kay had had no peace to study that evening and she had sat the test without having the opportunity to revise. Her grade was considerably lower than expected and the teacher had not been pleased with her. She came home really upset as Chemistry is very important to her future career choice and I could see that Greg's behaviour was not only impinging on our home life, but could adversely affect Kay's life and career forever. I could not allow that to happen.

A few days later, on a Saturday, he was again very agitated and shouted loudly. Very manic. His whole behaviour was totally unacceptable and Kay and I decided to leave the house mid-morning to get a bit of peace. We ended up going to the nearest shopping centre to do a bit of retail therapy. When we came home again after lunchtime, he picked up where he had left off, as if we had not been away. Our heads were spinning and our chests vibrating with the noise. I could stand it no longer. This was unreasonable behaviour. We could not be expected to put up with this on a continuing basis. People get divorces for "unreasonable behaviour", don't they? I reached for the phone and dialled the number for the emergency doctor. I explained the situation and said that I had reason to believe he was on the verge of insanity. The telephonist said the doctor would call me back. When he did, he asked me if my husband was aware I had phoned. If not, I should tell him, as it was only fair not to surprise him when the doctor arrived. Fair point. Except, when I told Greg, he flew off the handle even more at my "stupidity". How
dare I call out a doctor. To make matters worse, the doctor took two hours to arrive, by which time Greg had deliberately sobered a little and had time to stew on what I had done. The doctor was a little man in stature and evidently not sure what to do. He came into the kitchen and sat at the dining table alongside Greg, while I sat opposite. Surprisingly he did not have much of an air of authority about him, but just sat quietly looking from one to the other of us, expecting us to lead the conversation. I began that I had called him out because my husband was an alcoholic and had been shouting and shrieking so much,my daughter was trying to study, we were unable to appeal to his good nature to be quiet, surely this was unreasonable etc etc. Greg discounted this, summoning up every ounce of sweet reason that he could. He said he was so sorry the poor doctor had been dragged into this. God only knows, doctors were so busy and their time so precious enough, without being called in to deal with a mere domestic disagreement. The doctor sat there without saying a word, obviously wishing he could be beamed up somewhere else. I have never felt so alone in a room of people before. I might just as well not have been there.

At the end of all this, the doctor rose from his seat and headed in haste for the front door. As he did so, he threw over his shoulder the only comment he was to make during his entire visit... namely that if I had any concerns I should speak to our GP on Monday. For the meantime, there was nothing he could do. He was out of the front door as fast as his little legs would carry him and away into his car. Greg of course then poured himself a stiff whisky and preceded to rant and rave at me for having stooped so low, as to call out a doctor. He went on and on, following Kay and me around the house, as we went from room to room to get away from him. After a couple of hours of this, Kay and I could stand it no more. We ran to the car, before Greg could catch up with us, and I drove to the park. We just walked and walked around the lake for a couple of hours until it grew darker and they were closing the park gates. We felt so downhearted. There seemed to be nowhere we could turn for help. When we got home again, Greg was asleep on the dining chair. The whisky bottle was empty.

It was then that I decided we had to do something to help Kay with her studying, particularly as it was coming up to exam-time. I was going to have to tell the school. I had tried to keep this whole nightmare under wraps. Nobody outside the immediate family or my best friends knew about it, but in fairness to Kay, I could not suppress it any more. The school would need to know. I also decided to turn to blogging to relieve some of the pressure building up within me. My blog was born.


Kit Courteney said...

As an outsider - one who is gripped by your plight, and it IS a plight - I find it so terribly frustrating how little help and support you have received by 'official types', so goodness only knows how YOU must feel!

Millennium Housewife said...

I kept thinking that this blog was still way behind in the past and that by the time we got to the present Greg may have made some permanent changes.... But not to be, I'm so sorry it's so frustrating, difficult and pretty nasty to be honest. Sending hopes and care and love MH

aims said...

I'm amazed that he is still alive Roseiro. He's certainly determined and wily isn't he?

I'm really sorry that you are in a place that turns their backs on everyone. I think we have quite a support system over here. But that's over here and not much help is it.

All I can say is - I'm with you on this - having watched an alcoholic uncle drink himself to death. And what an ugly death it was.

Luckily I was removed enough I didn't have to live with it like you are doing. I don't know how you can.

Elaine Denning said...

I don't know how you can do it either. And I'm not even sure you should be doing it. I know that may sound harsh...he's your husband and all that...but YOU have a life to live, as does your daughter. And if your husband was sober and happy, he would HATE for someone else to be putting his family through this. I know it's easy for me to say this, but surely there must come a time when you have tried to help and support and stick with him and stand by him in every way you can, and you realise there's nothing left to do but save yourselves.

Hugs. xxx

DogLover said...

Interesting comment, Elaine. It's true that the more an alcoholic is supported the less he is likely to reach his "rock bottom". Till then the chances are he'll never sober up. Those around him need to look after themselves.

But we aren't up to date yet! The story has several months to go. Let's hope there's a miracle on the way!

ADDY said...

Kit - yes, it IS frustrating because there seems to be nowhere you can turn for professional help unless the alcoholic himself is willing, which is often not the case.

MH. Thank you. My everyday life with Greg is a bit like a rollercoaster with ups and downs.

Aims - he is indeed very lucky. Given his bad health generally and all the medication is on, he should by rights not be able to survive with what he is doing to himself.

elaine/ doglover. Things are getting to that point, believe me, and I shall have to make some important decisions soon.