10 June 2010

The maybe's and perhaps'es

I suppose I should have remembered that my blog had its second anniversary a couple of weeks ago. Maybe, because the whole reason for starting this blog has now disappeared, my temporary memory lapse is a sign that the blog is going nowhere right now and doesn't need to be remembered.

When I nervously published that first post on 22 May 2008, I had no idea that two years down the line, I would be a widow. I knew things were not well, I knew Greg had a lot of health problems and I knew that death was distinctly on the cards if he carried on drinking. But just as you also know lung cancer is on the cards if you carry on smoking, you always think you are going to be the lucky one. So with Greg, I hoped he might see the error of his ways, manage to come off the drink permanently and we'd both sail into the golden sunset of retirement together. After all, it was not as if he had been a heavy drinker all his life, only in the last five years. I imagined he could stop as easily as he had started. I suppose I was in denial. The brutal facts are that only 1 in 10 alcoholics ever recover totally from their addiction and even then it is a tortured existence when faced with invites to family occasions, boys' or girls' nights out, or a walk past a pub on a bad day, at a vulnerable moment. So why I thought Greg would be the one in ten to survive and rise above this awful disease, I don't know. After all, that would be the same Greg, who spent most of his whole life trying to stop smoking even when he knew it was causing vascular problems in his legs and together with his diabetes making walking more difficult. So I guess addiction was in his veins.

Still, there was always a part of me that hoped (or maybe fantasised or just wasn't thinking realistically) that he would get over this. He certainly wanted to lick alcoholism into submission, but somehow the faint determination to do it got arm-wrestled into defeat by the enormous big bully cravings to carry on. Even a few days before he ended up on what was to be the final stay in hospital he was talking about getting help...... again. The trouble is that detox alone is not enough. He had had plenty of those either in a detox clinic or on numerous occasions when he was in a hospital bed and enforced not to drink . Detoxes just get the alcohol out of your system in a reduced slow way with the help of prescription drugs so that you don't experience the withdrawal symptoms. What you then need after that is rehab - a (usually) six-month-long stay in an institution to get to the bottom of WHY you drink and how best you can avoid it.... I suppose with a lot of soul-searching. Greg always refused to go to rehab. He did not like the idea of being away from home at all, let alone sharing a room with a stranger for six months (rooms are inevitably shared to help the process), nor the idea of possibly mixing with drug addicts and hard criminals. He always turned down that lifeline. Whether ultimately rehab might have kept him on the straight and narrow I do not know, but in turning it down, simply because he did not want to be away from home, he ended up in the situation of not coming home at all - ever - except in a wooden casket.

When he was admitted to hospital, bleeding internally in several places, his last words to me, before he fell unconscious, were that he hoped they could do something to help him "if I ever get out of here." I had to leave him at that point, as the hospital were barring visitors to contain the winter vomiting bug that was doing its rounds and I was only there to visit in the first place, because Greg was on the critical list. He must have realised how low his health had sunk. Did he perhaps know this was the last chance? "If I ever get out of here" keeps going through my mind over and over again. Perhaps he already knew then he had lost the battle.


grandmamargie said...

I have an ex-husband who went to rehab (several times) and it worked for a while but the pull was too strong. Currently, I have a son in drug rehab and I'm desperately praying that it will "stick" so to speak. I'm hoping it will give him the tools to use to be independent and self-sufficient. He has been on drugs so long that he almost has not life skills except to "just survive". He's lost everything, his son included.

I hope you don't give up your blog although I understand it was an outlet for your frustrations in dealing with Greg but through this era, I believe a lot of people came to really care for you.

Nota Bene said...

There's always 'what if's' isn't there? It's just that in this case, the result could have been so different. May be he would have changed, but may be not. So long as you know, as everyone who read your blog will know, that you did your best...everything you could for the three of you...then the maybe's and perhaps'es don't matter now.

Hope you do keep writing...there is I am sure...so much to say about your future now...

AGuidingLife said...

Oh Addy, I believe in 'sliding doors' no matter which path you take the outcome is predetermined. Ifs and maybes don't really matter. Sadly I often feel like I'm about to embarque on the journey you have just completed and I don't know how to stop him going down the slippery slope. Full of "if only he didn't, if only he wouldn't, why, why..." It's an echo going around all the time but he still does. I showed him your blog after Greg died but like you say about smokers he doesn't see it could be him and so the drinking carries on. He tries not to but I know he wants to drink.. I want him not to want to drink ....oh Addy, your blog supports me in a way you couldn't imagine and I feel a little guilty that your sharing something so hard for you, helps me so much Thank you x

Furtheron said...

I went the rehab way... largely cos I was too ignorant and arrogant to do anything else, it doesn't matter it was my way and I'm glad that it happened. I'd reached the "I can't go on like this" phase and finally asked for help.

However I do know a lot of pals who have recovered with no rehab, no hospital detox etc. They have my utter admiration but also they show it is possible.

I have to take issue with the "tortured existance"... it isn't. Very rarely now I regret not being able to drink but then I think... if you were alergic to peanuts to the point you knew one peanut could react and kill you you'd never touch a peanut... the drink is my peanut.

I don't go to wet places out of choice as there is no need however if I have to be there I can be there. I met some old mates in a pub only last night. I had a lemonade laughed, shook their hands and left early to go to an AA meeting. it was all fine.

I have to avoid being vulnerable - tricky but not impossible.

I'm sorry Greg didn't get it... many of us don't. Today I'm a lucky one, I'm not drinking.

Best wishes

nuttycow said...

Oh Addy - who could have forseen what would have happened over the last 2 years. As all the other comments have noted, it's all about "what if" and "destiny". I think the important thing now is take what you have and enjoy it.

Hope that didn't sound too crass. It certainly wasn't meant to.


DogLover said...

How familiar all this is! A lot of it is a repeat of all the thoughts I went through with my partner who thought she could give up the bottle!

I think the reason why Greg didn't want to go into rehab was that he didn't want to stop drinking, not the reasons you suggest. After all, not having the comfort of a drink is the alcoholic's worst fear and it must be almost impossible to contemplate a life of complete sobriety, facing for the first time all those realities that he has been avoiding. How lucky we others are, who don't have this addiction.

He was very lucky in one respect (as well as having your and Kay's love) - his drinking and diabetes didn't lead to blindness.

Thought I don't know you, Addy, I feel a lot of affection for you and, in a small way, I share your great sadness.

ADDY said...

grandmamargie - so sorry to hear about your son. Do hope the rehab works for him. It must be such a worry for you.

NB - thank you. At the moment it is hard to see what shape that future will take, but I am plodding on, taking a day at a time until I can see more clearly.

Kellogsville - so sorry to hear you may be in the same boat. Don't worry about getting comfort from my misfortune, it helps to know you are not alone with the problems you are facing. Which makes me wonder whether you have tried Al-anon at all. It is affiliated to AA and is there for the relatives of alcoholics. You might try googling it to find a branch near you. It may not be what you think - it won't help you help the person to stop drinking, but it will help YOU become stronger to cope with it. It also gets you mixing with people who have lived with an alcoholic themselves and you can talk openly about it among "friends". It helps just to talk or listen to their stories and know you are not going mad or not alone.

Futheron - I am so glad you did the rehab route and so pleased it worked for you. I just wish Greg could have tried it once, but was stubborn about that and in the end, the drink won. Well done for not being tempted back to it. It cant be easy.

Nutty Cow - you are right. I have to try to move forward now and be strong for Kay. It's just that some days are worse than others.

Doglover - Awwww. Thank you. When you have lost someone you loved to this horrible illness, as indeed you have, you can understand fully how the non-alcoholic feels in this situation. It is bound to trigger all sorts of emotions and memories. Thank you for your support through my difficult times. I do appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Addy,

I do think some people have an addictive nature. I have one myself. Its like a torrent of obsessive repetative thoughts until you give into the urge. And I think where it involves things that are detremental to your health satisfying the present urge becomes more important than the long term damage until a crisis point brings a wake up call. But if you get through that then you revert back to type.

I can't begin to imagine how hard your situation has been in the past 5 years. There must have been a real conflict all along between feeling you had to do something and also knowing that you weren't the one who could change things. Even now that conflict is persisting. Having no experience of your situation I can only hope that fades with time.

All the best


Flowerpot said...

I agree with Nota Bene - life - and writing - is full of what ifs and we arent going to know the answers. Not that it helps you at the moment of course, but do keep writing the blog Addy. We do care about you. And I have a close friend who has been a non-drinker for 25 years now and lives life very much to the full. Being a recovered alcoholic doesnt stop her giong out or to supper with other people.

峻君 said...


aims said...

I remember that first post of yours after reading so many of your comments without a blog behind you. I was shocked and dismayed all at once.

Having watched my uncle die begging for another drink - I recognized everything Greg was going through.

There were many comments that supported your wishes and many comments that tried to show the truth and reality about alcoholics.

In the end Addy - you stood by your man no matter what.

Your courage and love taught many of us many things. We now need to learn how to adjust to being a widow - especially one like you.
(you know me Addy - I say it like it is - never any offense intended.)

Shammickite said...

Your story is a familar one. I too am a widow due to alcoholism. It's a strange feeling, never thought it would happen to me. However, life goes on, and the only way to deal with the changes is to step forward and embrace whatever is in the future. As one door closes, another one opens.
And I hope you keep writing your blog, as you seem to have many people who read your posts regularly and support you with encouragement and advice.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

I wonder if Greg avoided going to rehab exactly BECAUSE they would have tried to get to the reason why he drank. I maintain that the addiction is not to the alcohol but to the place that it takes them -- i.e. away from reality. I know people who have given up alcohol but now smoke dope, they just can't take the real world as it is with all its disappointments and pain. Those of us who can are lucky, we don't feel the pain as acutely as they do. You will get through this, Addy, your life has revolved around other people for so long you've probably forgotten how to put yourself first.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps he did, but you have the memories. You have found much support on here and that won't stop because you are now a widow. The maybe's and perhaps'es can haunt you if you let them, but the future will always be waiting.

Much love, CJ xx

Eliza said...

We never know whats round the corner for us. All you can do is take one day at a time ((((hugs))))

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