They say that love is blind ...
In my case, to be fair, drunkenness was not something easy to ignore. When someone sways around, slurs his speech, throws up and then falls into a drunken stupor even an idiot would have to admit that perhaps things aren’t quite what they should be.
Before I go on I do want to say that I am a great believer in healthy hope and positivity. A positive focus is really helpful in most circumstances and sometimes turning away from a challenging situation and viewing it through a different lens can be the key to change.
This though was different. This was the love that believed all things, endured all things, hope that did not fade in the face of what was mounting up to a mountain of irrefutable evidence that something was going wrong.
Suspicion was the friend I kept meaning to get in touch with but never got round to calling; and at the beginning it was the odd incident here, the odd party binge there, a huge hug and apology if I complained and enough love between us to keep our contented world turning.
I was introduced to the terms, discount and minimization, fairly near the end of our marriage but I recognized them immediately because you could categorize much of our relationship under these two headings.
Discount. My husband loves me and I can trust him to do right by me (even though he came home two hours late last night because he met an old friend in the pub.)
Minimization. My husband just loves to party and enjoys a drink like everyone else. A real alcoholic is Uncle Jack who has been in rehab three times.
Being Positive. I've tackled my husband about how much he seems to drink of an evening and he agrees completely that we should set limits on what we buy from the supermarket. Put what we don’t spend towards that holiday we would like to have.
Going to drop into the travel agents when I’m next in town and pick up a few brochures.
Oh, those heady few moments of joy and relief when we suddenly believe that everything is going to be alright. (No, seriously! I know he heard me and really meant it this time) And the fury and frustration when our drinker hauls us kicking and screaming into the cold light of reality.
So, the cycle begins again. It gets better, it gets worse again. They drink nothing, they drink far far too much again.
They promise to drop into AA just to see what it’s like and the next day swear blind that I'm just imagining things and making a big fuss about nothing. And the killer! — I'm a control freak and my manipulation and nagging is poisoning the relationship.
This is the dance of denial. He denies everything so that he can keep drinking and I deny everything because I want to stay sane and hang onto a thread of normality.
And then I start having lapses. My carefully constructed world where everything has a happy ending suddenly starts turning into a detective agency where everything comes under the microscope.
How much is he consuming? Why does he look drunk when to the best of my knowledge he has only had two beers. Why is the credit card maxed out? What is the definition of an alcoholic?
Why did Maggie say she hadn’t seen him for ages when he said he dropped into his sisters on the way home from work last week? Is that alcohol I can smell on his breath? Surely he’s not a real alcoholic?
Oh no. A real alcoholic is Uncle Jack who went into rehab three times. My husband holds down a job, does chores round the house, doesn’t have affairs and is really understanding when I lose my cool. Everything is FINE. Talk to the hand.
And then one day it starts to change. The Quest has truly begun. You're looking for answers. Real answers. Somebody out there must be able to tell me what is going on and what I can do about it.
It has taken a while to get to the point where you are engaged, and believe you me, you'll kick in and out of the whole process from time to time. Hope springs eternal and all that.
I've written this particular diary entry to connect with the roller coaster ride that is living with a problem drinker and daring to come out of denial to face the irrefutable truth. THE DRINKING HABITS OF THE PERSON YOU LOVE IS CAUSING A REAL PROBLEM!!
Please read what John says next week. He is the expert and he can give you facts and figures. However; please please believe me when I say that if your loved ones’ drinking habits are causing you difficulties then your partner IS a problem drinker. You don’t need a PhD to work out when something is anti-social, disruptive or inappropriate; but having some insightful information and feedback will help confirm that you DO have a point and you are NOT going crazy.
Make a decision today to take a good look at your circumstances and take stock. Thankfully, things don’t have to stay as they are.
There are people who understand what you are going through and if you want it, you can even join a supportive community of people who know exactly what you’re going through Because it is their journey too
Come out from beneath the shadows. You don’t have to stay in denial. His denial may take a little longer; but that’s another story for another time.