Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Married to an Alcoholic

by Daveybot

I am not married to an alcoholic but I live with a person who is an alcoholic - no difference really. The life is completely different to what one might call "normal". I have forgotten what normal is. I have lost touch with what a normal life might have been. Jane is a binge alcoholic so the impact on one's life is different to living with a full-time alcoholic. I should say that I moved in with her knowing full well that she was a binge alcoholic. I had known her for about 10 years or more before moving in. I knew it would be a form of hell and for the first 2 year it was, But at the moment, although the she gets drunk, the long very damaging binges that took place regularly some years ago are now less severe - touch wood.

However, one of the worst aspect of living with a binge alcoholic is not knowing when the next binge will happen. It is all so unpredictable. Although there is a certain kind of pattern, the exact type of binge and its duration cannot be assessed. And in between binges Jane does drink at least a bit and sometimes more. It is always in secret so I have gotten very expert at knowing when she has had a drink and how much. As she always (well nearly always) drinks neat vodka the effect even for a certified alcoholic is fairly immediate and pretty substantial.

To a true alcoholic, alcohol comes before husband or wife, who will always play second fiddle

There is then an underlying anxiety in the victim of the alcoholic (me) about what will happen next. And it is not just about whether Jane will be drunk the next time I see her. Alcoholics are unreliable. They tend to do slightly strange or downright bizarre things. This is because they are drunk but not sufficiently drunk for us to immediately notice. And sometimes an alcoholic has other underlying "problems". Maybe they always have other underlying problems as it is these that make them alcoholics. In short, because of a bundle of reasons being married to an alcoholic is going to be unnerving and there will be a tendency towards chaos.

Most of us like reliability and predictability as these factors provide us with comfort. We seek a comfort zone. Alcoholics provide the opposite. Irrational thought, crazy moments, a kind of chaos is part and parcel of being married to an alcoholic.

What else comes to mind? There is the nihilistic destructiveness of it all. Most of us want to construct a better life. To build things. To find a better job, live in a better home and acquire some comforts. As alcoholics are concerned with one thing and one thing only, alcohol, these constructive things don't really enter their head. Often, in fact, they are thinking about the opposite. How to kill themselves or how to struggle on etc. No criticism is meant, by the way. There is no place in all this to blame the alcoholic or criticize the alcoholic. It is just the way it is. And it is awful a lot of the time. Look, don't take my word for it....

There is an association, Al Anon, specifically designed to help people who are living with or associated with or married to an alcoholic. People married to an alcoholic are a victim of an alcoholic. The alcoholic barges on indiscriminately. They get p*ss*d and the world passes them by while us, the person married to an alcoholic or living with one have to face the reality of it all; deal with it.

Of course, there is quite a large group of people who live with an alcoholic because they are alcoholics themselves. If they are not alcoholics they are damaged (aren't we all?) and that dynamic adds to the potential for problems. For full-time alcoholics the position for the partner is different. I can't speak with any authority about living with a full-time alcoholic but it must be similar.

Right now as I type this Jane is watching TV and is working tomorrow, early. She is drunk having bought booze on the way home when she bought some provisions. She will most likely fall asleep on the sofa with the TV on then wake up in the early hours and go to her bed and then all being well get up and go to work albeit tired. She will be very tired tomorrow evening and tell me so but she will have conveniently forgotten why she is tired. Update about 2 hours later: Jane is drunk as a skunk on the sofa fast asleep. She has chucked food on the floor (common occurrence). She has left drink on the floor (which I kicked over, inadvertently). More mess. Do you can get a feel for what it is like? Will she wake up tomorrow in time and get to work? She will probably wake up and make a noise at 2 am or something. More chaos.

Another thing that I am concerned about is that she may start a binge right now and/or she may miss work anyway. That may mean loss of job as she has been unreliable at getting to work. A loss of work would have consequences. This is one small example of the kind of perpetual uncertainty that you might and probably will go through if you are married to an alcoholic.

Other problems are as follows (some or all of these apply):
  • Untidiness on an epic scale. This is another form of chaos
  • Lying on an epic scale. Alcoholics learn to lie about the booze. It becomes habitual and bingo you can't trust a thing they say. What to be married to an alcoholic?
  • Loss of pay (work missed) and waste of good money on tons of vodka
  • can't go out because she gets pissed and ruins the evening
  • can't go on holiday because she binges and wastes 7 whole days of a 10 day holiday
  • can't fully relax as never sure if she will come home sober and whether she will stay sober and if she is drunk worried if she will hurt herself in an accident or by alcohol poisoning
  • constantly dealing with secondary problems such as borderline anorexia and in the past bulimia.
  • going to hospital all the time and when I don't as it becomes a routine Jane complains.
There is tons more. Want to be married to an alcoholic?! Alcoholics are married to the booze so you are not really married to an alcoholic.

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I'd like to hear the experiences of both alcoholics and the victims of alcoholics, please.