I have written about this topic before but recently have had many people talking about what happens to the spouse of alcoholics. It is not an easy path to take. It can be a very painful one. I myself can only speak from my own experience and remembering the words that others have shared with me. Very rarely have I heard of an alcoholic home being free from verbal or physical abuse. I have sat in the rooms of AA with my husband for the past 4 years and I can tell you that all the stories you hear all have similarities, it’s just the situation and people that change. Alcoholics basically have the same stories. Verbal/emotional abuse is one of the worst things in my opinion that you can do to a person. The hurt and scars run so deep they stay with you for a lifetime. Which end up leaving you with triggers in certain situations that cause you anxiety and heartache all over again.
I wrote my book for this exact reason…….Because I felt so alone like I was the only one going through something like this and being treated this way. Like I couldn’t figure out what I was doing so wrong to make him be so mean to me! There are very few books from the spouses of alcoholics talking about life from their perspective so I thought if I shared my story, maybe I could help someone who felt as isolated and worthless as I did. My husband is now a little over 5 years sober in recovery but the 13 1/2 years of hell while he was drinking is nothing I will ever forget. As the quote to the left says……they lie, deceive, manipulate and do whatever they need too, so they can continue to drink and they don’t feel guilty because they blame you and they believe their own bullshit and lies!
My husband was so verbally cruel, he knew how to shut me down. The thing is, it wasn’t just in the moment it is something that stays with us deep inside our soul. It wasn’t just about being called nasty names, it was more about knowing things that hurt you deep down and using that to stop you dead in your tracks. Because how do you react when your heart is shattering into a million pieces right inside your chest and you feel like you are dying a slow lonely death? You can’t speak, fight back, cry, all you can do is crumble to the floor while they step over you (literally) and carry on with their addictions. Sad but so true. What I learned from my husband is while we, the sober ones remember every single detail of heartache, they only remember parts of it. The truth is, he convinced me it was somehow MY FAULT! He would say things like “if you just stop bitching about my drinking and let me do whatever I WANT we wouldn’t have a problem”. That really was not the case. Even if we were getting along he would literally start an argument and rip me apart so he would feel “justified” in his own fucked up mind to leave his wife and kids to go drink. It didn’t matter that we had kids at home. It didn’t matter if they were his children, he would leave them and I was responsible for them. Yet that is another losing battle because you can’t really parent them the way you parent your own child and yet when you do nothing at all your still the bad guy, basically it was always a loose, loose situation for me. It was very difficult to be a “parent” to children who’s father would disrespect me in front of them.
There were times that my husband would have moments of clarity and realize that his drinking was killing him and hurting us, his family. He would say “I know I’m an alcoholic and I need to stop drinking, I am hurting myself and my family”. You get so hopeful and optimistic that they are going to really change and get help. Days, weeks, even months go by and you see the person you fell in love with only for it to fall apart because they can only do it for so long before alcoholism’s grip becomes so strong and enticing they go back to the bottle once again. This pattern alone breaks your heart over and over and over again and drives you crazy because you fall for it time and time again, you want to believe so badly that “this time” it’s going to be different. Selfishness also goes hand in hand with alcoholism and any addiction. It is a ME way of thinking ALWAYS! He pulled out our entire 401-K without my knowledge, he bought himself a Harley Davidson motorcycle weeks before our girls graduated high school because HE WANTED ONE. Not thinking about the girls if they are going to college how he could help. He would go out all the time to the bars drinking and staying out till late night early morning hours. He would gamble paychecks and we wouldn’t be able to pay our mortgage or buy food, yet I was the one left to clean up his mess. He only cared about himself. It didn’t matter if anyone was home sick, it didn’t matter when I had surgery, when family members went into the hospital, he was no where to be found because drinking was more important to him than his own damn family. He wasn’t capable of being available emotionally or physically for us. As the years went by he got worse, the drinking increased, he drove home drunk more times than I can even count both car and motorcycle and the only thing I can feel grateful for is he didn’t kill someone or himself! I would pray for him to get stopped by a cop and arrested hoping that would be a wake up call for him to get help. Truth is that until a person is ready to change themselves and get help they will not be able to be strong enough to beat the demons of addiction, they have such control over your mind and you are so entwined in that mental prison you can’t see things for what they really are, they have a false sense of reality and it is a sick one full of lies and deceit.
Worst part is when they tell lies about you for their benefit. He would lie to his family and throw me under the bus so they would focus and hate me (which they do). There would be family functions that I knew nothing about and we wouldn’t go but what I didn’t know was he would blame me so that way he could go drinking. Alcoholics are the most selfish, self-entitled people I have ever met. They could careless how they make you feel, they will always blame you, somehow it is always someone else’s fault. I was such an enabler for so long, not realizing what I was actually doing. Making excuses for him, taking care of him when he poisoned himself with alcohol, I would buy his alcohol. When I stopped doing those things we started fighting more often but I stood my ground. I would say “you are an alcoholic, you are destroying our family you need help”. Of course until they themselves reach out for help they won’t stop, it has to be their choice. The destruction they leave until that day if it ever does come is just awful.
I could talk about this for days, that is why I wrote my book. This is what I know for sure……if they don’t want help nothing you do will make them seek it until they are truly ready. It is very easy to loose yourself inside someone else’s addictions. You see, while you make them a priority you stop taking care of you. They manipulate so well that you actually believe everything is your fault and you try so hard to not complain and be better, you isolate and become a liar yourself being ashamed of something that isn’t your fault, but it doesn’t matter because please hear me IT IS NOT YOU! IT IS NEVER YOUR FAULT! We are not free from any accountability though. I found that it was so easy to just put all the blame on my husband because after all he is an alcoholic. However, when I got into counseling and took a real honest look at everything there certainly are things that I am responsible for, but one thing I and no one is ever responsible for is someone else’s addiction. You made them mad, or upset, you forgot something, you did something, Etc. it is never ever anyone’s fault but the addict themselves. Addictions whether it be drinking or drugs is truly a disease of the mind. It is living in a prison inside ones mind and body unable to stop on their own but not yet willing to reach out for real help so they become dry. What we think is their bottom they don’t see it that way. What does that mean, it means that they aren’t using but they aren’t living a clean sober life either. To be in recovery means you are healing your mind and your soul. You have to do emotional cleaning from the inside out. Every person I have ever spoken with that has used, is numbing the pain or running from things in life and not facing them. The problem with that is these things never go away, they will haunt you for the rest of your life until you confront the demons that brought you to the bottle or pill in the first place. Alcohol, drugs, they just cause even more problems and before long you loose everything and everyone you love and you find yourself alone.
My husband caused serious emotional damage to our kids and myself, and other family members too. My husband lied, stole, was unfaithful, was abusive, manipulating, Etc. and until I surrendered myself and let it all go knowing I was leaving my life in the hands of the universe I wasn’t free. I was living in my own emotional prison and believe me it was pure torture! I had to forgive my husband for myself for all the horrible things that he said and did because I was the one carrying the heartache and pain of it every day. I had to stop trying to control his drinking and just let it be. I stopped fighting about it, I had to let go and it wasn’t until I did that things changed for us. My husband and I were able to save our marriage by letting go of our old life and begin a new one together. Although it isn’t as easy as it sounds but my book explains it all. We are one of the blessed ones. Many do not stay together, we have seen a lot of divorces happen and break ups. We went through alcoholism together and made it out the other side in a whole new life. We worked hard at it and continue to this day to communicate openly and work at our blessed life. We have had a lot of people walk out of our life and we are OK with that because they are toxic people and we have no place in our lives for that.
My husband got to a place where he finally realized he was just dry for almost a whole year and needed to really make changes and do some hard emotional work If he was going to live a clean life, he had to get real with himself and others. My husband tells me that because I didn’t give up on him in our darkest days and chose to show him love and stand by him is what helped him to want a new life for us and not walk away from our marriage. It is a hard life to be with an alcoholic. I honestly can’t tell you if I had to do it all over again I would want too because the pain it caused was too much. At the same time if we didn’t go through that I don’t know if we would have learned the lessons we did and help the people we have helped because of it. My deepest regret is that the kids got hurt and that our daughter suffered terrible verbal abuse from her Dad. I wish I could take away those memories because they are painful and as a Mom the only thing I want for our kids is happiness, love and joy. I know life isn’t pain free though but it hurts my heart. I don’t think we would have the deep understanding and love that we share today if we didn’t go through this. We loved one another from the moment we met we just knew, but when you have an addiction complicating things you are only able to have moments and glimpses of who the person really is. It’s like having an evil alter ego that mainly takes over your life.
If you take anything away from my jumbled blog post know that watching those we love go through addiction is painful and you can’t stop it. There is nothing worse than watching people we love kill themselves and feeling helpless. Please know it isn’t your fault. That doesn’t mean you can’t try to help but in my own opinion don’t enable them just to be part of their life, that does more harm than good. We have one of our children still struggles with addiction. The hardest thing to do was letting him go. We still reach out with no responses hoping and praying one day the call will come in for help to get clean but until then we fear the phone call of losing his life may come first. That is the harsh painful reality of alcohol and drugs, it doesn’t care about the color, age, gender, of a person, it will take anyone who is vulnerable and lie to make you feel better and in that moment of weakness you listen and you are hooked. We know we can’t enable and be part of the addiction dance. For those that feel that it is somehow your fault because your spouse, child, parents, friends, tell you it is know those are the demons that have hold of your loved ones talking. We are all accountable for our own actions and reactions. I hope you all know that you are worth so much more. No one deserves to be verbally or physically abused. Drugs and alcohol are just an excuse to behave poorly, but even they are not excused from their actions, at some point you have to choose whether you want to continue to live your life this way or walk away and start over. There is no easy answer or cure and each situation is different, yet the same. You are not alone, there are so many families and people out there who understand your pain. Addiction is still hidden and not talked about a lot, although it is being talked about more but not nearly enough. There is no shame and no reason to hide. There are so many resources now to help everyone. When you start to truly recover and live a clean life and start working through the rubble of your life and the messes you have made you learn how to take accountability, stop blaming and make amends to those you have hurt. You start to feel good and clean and you begin to see the miracles that have been waiting for your for so long. One day at a time is all we can take things.
As the wife of an alcoholic I know the pain and heartache all too well and my message is you are not alone, reach out for help, talk to others, read books. I can promise you this, we do heal and you can change your life when you surrender and let it all go. Take care of yourselves because you are worth it and you deserve to feel good in your own skin. I pray everyday for those that never made it to recovery and those still out there suffering. My hopes is you all find your way to recovery and start living the blessed life you were given, because we all have a purpose here on this earth, I hope you all find yours!
Wising you peace & Serenity, Harmony