Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Story So Far

Well, this is the first of many entries: my diary of what it is like to be married to an alcoholic and my journey in recovery (rather than focusing on his journey)! But to give you a picture of where he is up to: he seems to see-saw between acknowledging that he has a problem, and blaming his problem on me. "If you didn't..... I wouldn't drink," "If you didn't...... I wouldn't get angry (and shout/yell/swear at you)" He has attended Rehab twice, and the second time he seemed to make a lot of progress and became a new person. But the experience was short-lived, and soon after, the counselling and AA meetings stopped. 12 months later (almost), he relapsed, and then every two months after that. The most recent was about 3 weeks ago. He binge drinks. Prior to getting any kind of help, he drank every day. After the last binge (3 weeks ago), he was ready to acknowledge he had a problem and needed help. He came home with a list of goals he was going to implement. Among them was attending AA and getting counselling for his anxiety (one of the biggest reasons he drinks). Since then, he has attended one AA meeting two weeks ago. It's hard to know what will come of that (if anything) or whether he will continue/go back.

In the meantime, he yo-yo's between being my loving husband and best friend and really good company - with being a "little god" - demanding things to be his way, and throwing tantrums like a three year old if he doesn't get it: shouting, swearing, calling me names, saying the most hurtful possible things he can find to say, throwing things, kicking his legs, making a huge noise and drama. And then afterwards blaming me for his outbursts. This causes me to feel hurt, angry, afraid and anxious. It also makes me feel confused, not knowing who was to blame or what happened and what I am to blame for. This confusion leads to a feeling of what I would describe as condemnation - a kind of false-guilt. The kind of guilt that accuses me of being a bad person that is unworthy of something better - and unworthy of contributing something good to the world.

3 or 4 weeks ago (about the time of his last drink), it was dawning on me that I couldn't change him, and that I had adopted a role that was typical of partners of alcoholics. I was a Provoker. My hurt, frustration and anger had led to bitterness. I didn't let go of his past mistakes. I couldn't forgive the hurt he had caused me. And so little comments would come out of my mouth - often sarcastic comments - that would goad him and would send him off into a temper. And I would respond by arguing with him so that a fight would escalate into one of his temper tantrums. Or I would create an environment at home that created stress - by being demanding or highly strung: nagging at him, criticising him, pointing out his problems or faults. That level of stress would push him into a temper tantrum or to drink. Because I felt that things were out of control and unmanageable, I became controlling: trying to control him and trying to control our home life - pushing for a perfectionistic high standard that he could not live up to and continually failed, adding to his stress. What a sobering discovery all of this was!

My first step was to be aware of all of this, but then to work at stopping this and doing something else instead. So I am working at not being controlling, a nag, critical, creating a stressful environment or enforcing high standards that are ridiculous and impossible for him to live up to. Furthermore, I am working on walking away from arguments and not reacting to his outbursts - that way he doesn't have the excuse of focusing on my behaviour, but is only left with facing his own behaviour. You can imagine how hard this is. When I don't react in anger, I am left with fear and anxiety - and quite honestly, I'd prefer the sense of power that anger gives me.

My next step was to find support, so I am now attending Al-Anon, which I find to be a place of peace, comfort and strength - it is like a lifeline.

And finally, I am endeavouring to "get a life." Previously, my entire focus was my husband and his problems/behaviour/drinking/temper and so on. Having been made redundant and found myself pregnant (therefore not eligible for work since no one wants to employ a pregnant woman!), I was at home fulltime. This became isolating and depressing and miserable with my husband as my only adult company, and my world and experience based completely on his mood and behaviour.

I got involved with my local church, reconnected with my Christian God and began to use my gifts and talents to help other people. To contribute something and to do something that I enjoyed. I began to get to know other people. I began to find enjoyment in life.