Someone recently asked me what advice I could give to others in the same situation or thinking of getting into this type of situation. I can only speak as the wife of an alcoholic and I can only share from my own experiences. I have come to find that there are commonalities in every person who has an addiction problem no matter what the substance is. Which outside of alcohol and drugs can also be food, shopping, gambling, and so many other things. I can’t tell someone whether they should stay or go. We all think and feel differently. I can share some things that I learned along the way…………as the photo quote above states “I still loved him through it all”. Not everyone will make it out together!
Alcoholics can have all or some of these behaviors, manipulation, lie, play the victim, blame, twist words, be emotionally and or physically abusive, leave for days at a time, loose a lot of money, infidelity, SELFISHNESS like I have never seen, broken promises, secrets, steal, and there are so many more; but you get the point. It is so hard to separate the “alcoholism” from the person. Addiction is just pure evil! People try to escape their pain by numbing it and pretending it doesn’t exist but it follows you wherever you go, and until you confront and resolve it in some way there isn’t a drink or drug in the world that will make it go away! Alcoholism isn’t a choice, it is a sickness of the mind! It isn’t an easy life loving an alcoholic. I can tell you that no amount of begging, yelling, or crying will change the alcoholic. Until they are ready to seek help for themselves and admit they have a problem there isn’t anyone or anything that can get them to stop drinking. It is a very heartbreaking life to watch someone you love slowly kill themselves and destroy their innocent families.
So many nights you spend alone. You become their caretaker, you are responsible for everything. You are a two parent home yet only one of you actively participates in raising the children. You keep secrets from other people about your life. You make excuses for your alcoholic. You lie for your alcoholic. You live in shame due to their addictions. Somehow with as often as they blame you for everything and even though you know it isn’t your fault, you start to believe that somehow it really is YOUR FAULT! The whole family gets into this dysfunctional cycle and soon it’s like you are on a hamster wheel and the cycle repeats continuously with no way out and the entire family becomes so sick from one persons addiction. I believe the spouses and families of alcoholics suffer so much worse than the alcoholic does, in different ways. The spouses try to take the blunt of everything, they hide and protect the children and the rest of the family from their alcoholics behaviors. The spouse allows the alcoholic to beat them up with their emotional abuse to save the children. You try and make life “normal” for your family. You become an enabler and you don’t even realize that is what you are doing, sometimes they even get the children to enable their behaviors too. The family becomes just as sick as they are!
You find yourself slipping away into what feels like a black lonely hole of HELL! You feel your soul being crushed from the inside out. You feel your heart breaking everyday because no matter what you try your alcoholic doesn’t see things the way you do, they don’t have the ability to see things the way they really are. They see things through the eyes of the alcohol bottle, through a false sense of reality, to escape what is really happening due to their alcoholism. Which is why when you try and paint them a picture of what it is like from your perspective they will blame you, they will tell you that you cause your own pain. They will crush your sprit, they will emotionally cripple you and use that as an excuse to drink! They will twist your words to suit them because an alcoholic will not take responsibility or accountability for anything bad, it will always be someone else’s fault…..and it is usually the one closest to them…….their spouse!
I know by now you are saying “why in the hell did she stay with such a monster”? Because the truth is he isn’t a monster the “ISM” is. The addiction takes over their body and mind, they become a shell of the person they used to be before the disease set in. There is a person connected to the alcoholism, they are in a great deal of pain that they felt nothing in life could help cure until they got lost in the bottom of a bottle. One drink felt good enough to make him relax so three could really help numb the pain and before you know it those few drinks turned into bottles of the harder stuff. Sometimes they blackout and that is much better than dealing with what drove them to drink in the first place and the cycle quickly gets out of control because when they feel the pain they drink to stop it and before long they are drinking everyday throughout the day because their tolerance is building and one drink just isn’t enough anymore. It is too painful to face reality so they become a victim to their own circumstance as does the family.
Know you can’t ever control an alcoholics behavior and until THEY hit their own personal bottom and THEY realize for themselves that THEY want to change and THEY want to live a different life and THEY choose to get into recovery nothing will change, it will get worse! In your life together when they are actively drinking you will see them have moments of clarity and they will see themselves for a moment through your eyes and they will be apologetic for all the pain they caused you and the family and they will promise to stop and do better. And they are better for a while, but it is always short lived because the hold the addiction has on them is far greater than their strength at this point. Suddenly you have all the HOPE in the world. You believe them and just know that THIS TIME it will be different, until it’s not. I believe in those moments they are fighting the disease within themselves to get out of the prison they live in, in their own mind and that is how the alcoholism keeps them coming back.
One blog post just isn’t enough to share everything about this topic but I can tell you that it is not an easy life. It has been my journey and I chose to stand by my husband through it all. There were years of hell and serious heartache, a lot of damage. Although he is now in recovery going on 5 years in October he has to stay on top of his recovery. My husband will always be an alcoholic, but now he is a recovering one, but the disease is always within him waiting to come out and take over again. As long as he stays present in his mind and uses the tools and the program to keep his life on the right track he will be OK, we will be OK. We have rebuilt our marriage and we have to work on it everyday. Life still goes on and bad shit happens all the time. People we love die, you get behind on bills, loose jobs, family gets sick, the list can go on but I have learned that if you are not able to be grateful for what you have in your life at every moment then you are not eligible for anything more until you are! Here is an example…….if you live in an older home and the area is less than ideal and your roof leaks but you don’t have the money to fix it just yet and all you can say is “I hate it here, I hate my house, I wish I had a nicer house” well you are missing a great life lesson my friends! It’s called GRATITUDE!!
You see I learned a long time ago that you have to give more than you get. You have to pay attention to your loved ones when they are hurting. You have to find the positive in even the worst of situations (because I promise you it’s there). If you are always being negative then that is what will come back to you. We all do the best we can and other times we fall short of being the best version of ourselves. If you choose to stand by your alcoholic just know it isn’t an easy journey and it’s a lifelong one at that, BUT sometimes even in the darkest moments if you close your eyes and listen with your heart and soul the answer will come to you. Life isn’t always easy sometimes it straight up sucks, sometimes it is so painful you feel like you just can’t go on. In those moments hang on tight don’t let go, don’t give up, there is always a better way, reach out for help! There is always someone out there that needs you, that needs to hear your story, your voice. Not everyone can and will be saved, lives are lost everyday to addiction, it is truly heartbreaking. You may be the person who helps save another person, even a stranger. You may never even know the affect you have on someone and how your presence in this world changed their life, but they will know. You never know who is listening and why.
Know this…….no matter how long we are here on this earth we all have a divine purpose. I believe we all make a difference to someone. Life is a gift, and for those that are struggling with addictions, my hope for you is that you find help. That you change your life to become the best YOU that YOU were meant to be! We can’t make someone with an addiction problem get help but we can be there when they reach out for help. For those of you that chose to leave your alcoholic please know this……. you have nothing to feel guilty about. You did nothing wrong, sometimes you have to save yourself because an alcoholic will take you down with them. Please don’t take my words wrong. I am not bashing alcoholics I am the wife of one, I am simply being honest about it, and my husband would tell you the same thing. He supports everything I write because it is all true. I am not going to paint a pretty picture when it can be an ugly one. I am the friend that tells you that your outfit looks awful. Sugar coating a lie doesn’t make it easier for someone because those lies eventually all come out at some point. As hard as the truth may be to hear at times I would rather know than not know.
Although recovery is a lifelong process for both the alcoholic, spouse, and family it is possible to rebuild. It is possible to start fresh and heal. I get to see and hear miracles everyday in meetings. Not everything is rainbows and unicorns! We are all human we struggle at times, an alcoholic can fall back into old behaviors without picking up a drink. People sharing their stories and their everyday problems with others helps to create healing for all. It helps us to stay in reality and not get caught up in all the bullshit life can throw at you. Relapses can be part of an alcoholics story but they have recovered from it time and time again. Not everyone gets it their first time around but wanting it to be different and to keep showing up to try is what makes all the difference in the world. Never loose HOPE and hold onto believing that one minute, one hour, one day clean, sober and most importantly in recovery is better than a lifetime using!!
Wishing you Peace and Serenity……….Harmony