What most people do not understand is that living with an alcoholic is like living with two people.
Living with, and loving, an alcoholic is never an easy position to be in. There is little or no support for your choice to stay with him (or her). In fact if you let people into what is happening in your life the overwhelming response is almost certainly suggestions to get out, run, dump him. Probably this is advice that is unwelcome and most certainly not what you want to hear.
What most people who have never been in the situation that you are in don’t, in fact can’t, appreciate is that you are still there because you love him. You are not blind to the problems, you live with them every day but you love him. You still see that intelligent, funny, fun to be with, thoughtful, kind and gentle man that attracted you. Yes you know that when he drinks that man goes away and this other, thoughtless, selfish, boring imposter appears. Yes you know that, you know it only too well. But that does not stop you loving him.
True there are times when you don’t like him. There may even be times when you hate him. But you continue to love, and to hope and may even pray that one day this drinking persona will disappear and your lover will return forever.
People who advise you that you need to get out don’t understand that, they can’t understand that. They look and see what this man’s drinking is doing to you and they dial up the ‘head’ solution, not realising that it is a ‘heart’ problem.
So you stop telling people about your situation, for fear that they tell you to leave him. Deep down you fear that they may be right, that the only way is to separate. You feel ashamed that your friends or family might know and you avoid them and you become increasing isolated. You are hoping that one day there will be a huge change and that everything will be back to normal, if it ever was.
You scour the internet for answers, thinking if only we knew why he drinks like he does, maybe we could solve it. If I was a better wife, mother, lover, companion, whatever then he might stay at home and be more content. And this is the dilemma, that you are living with two people, the one you know and love and the drinker who takes him over. You are desperate to spend time with one of them but are having to spend too much time with the other.
If you can identify with what is written here, and there are many who can, then read the next articles in this min-series. Also you can find information, help and support at Bottled Up.