Lou describes letting go of denial to face the reality of being married to an alcoholic.
Today is the first day of the rest of my life and today I am finally coming out of denial.
I am not going to pretend everything is alright because it’s not true. My partner drinks too much. He drinks too much, too often and takes every opportunity available to make excuses as to why he does it. I’ve read some stuff and there are a lot of people out there who would define his drinking as Problem Drinking. He may even be a genuine alcoholic. (Oh I wish there was a Dr who would just come in and take a look at our family situation and write a bona fide addiction diagnosis. “Dr Helpgood has taken a look at your life and says you are definitely an Alcoholic, darling. Obviously we need to seek treatment”) However; it’s down to me to face reality and say it how it is. He won’t, so I must.
Oh the relief of not pretending anymore. With awesome clarity the mist clears and I see it all before me. The lies, the secrecy, the upsets and frustrations; the empty bottles, the broken promises, the fights and fury. I see the gradually erosion of family life and I see the agonizing breakdown of relational trust. I see the chaos and I see the culprit!!
And suddenly anxiety has me by the throat and I can’t breathe. I now know that I am scared witless. I am scared witless because I don’t quite know what to do about something that my partner won’t admit is actually happening. The anxiety of it all is crippling. It hits me in the morning when I first wake up and stalks me during the day when I’m working. It sits on the end of my bed at 2 am in the loneliness of the night and haunts me when we are having a ‘good’ day because I know it probably won’t last very long. I worry about having no money and him losing his job. I worry in case the family breaks up and I worry about the awful prospect of keeping the family together but things staying as they are or even getting worse. I worry that nobody knows what’s really going on and I worry that someone might find out how bad it is actually getting.
Denial was my friend. Denial was my coping mechanism and my champion. Denial was my tenacious hope and my boundless optimist, my pragmatic counselor and the manager of expectations. Denial kept me sane in my crazy world spinning out of control. AND I SENT HIM AWAY!!!!!
If you are coming with me on this journey and read the last diary entry about denial (and John's explanation of denial)then you may be beginning to understand why we kick in and out of denial so easily. In fact I would go so far as to say that denial itself is marginally preferable to the prospect of living an awful reality without any prospect of changing circumstances.
I have lived this walk and the anxiety can be overwhelming. And unlike some of our crazy ‘what ifs’ of life that often don’t actually materialize, these worries are most likely probabilities not possibilities. These are not mere morbid dreads; these are worrying facts. These are dreaded experiences happening over and over. No longer can you reassure yourself that things will be okay. Things are NOT okay, and have been not okay for far longer than you would like to admit on paper.
So I am not going to tell you not to worry because you will. However I am going to say that there are some things that can lower your worries and make your anxiety more bearable.
Firstly; You don’t have to do this alone.
In Bottled Up we have an on line community of people that are going through similar situations and struggles who could share this lonely journey with you, accessible 24 hours a day. If you want to take other routes and join other organizations, there will also be meetings and support groups available in your area to help share the load of this heavy burden with you. There is absolutely no glory in doing this alone (in fact keeping secret is almost colluding with the already secret world of your drinker and may actually make things worse).
Secondly; You don’t have to make this up as you go along.
In fact if you do that the chances are that you may, with the best of possible motives, make things worse rather than better. At Bottled-Up we have a huge amount of resources available for people to watch, read, hear and work through; but what is perhaps more unusual is that I, apart from having been the wife of an alcoholic, am a counselor with my own practice and John (my husband and the co-writer of the web site) can help us understand how your drinker is actually wired! He is both a Dr of Psychology but also (in his twenties and thirties) was a bad alcoholic, so we cover the topic from both sides giving you a rare insight. Knowing what may work and what definitely does not will minimize your anxiety and give you some new energy to put towards changes that will be more effective.
Lastly; this journey towards change will take some time and must be traveled a step at a time, one day at a time. For a while the scenery may look much as it always did but don’t be tempted to despair. When you have the right tools at hand a vicious circle can , with the proper intervention, become a descending spiral that may look achingly familiar and relentless to begin with but the circles of ‘same old-same old’ become smaller and smaller and in the end disappear altogether.
Change is possible. Things can get better. You need not be alone. Your distress MATTERS! And we invite you to continue with us on this journey towards the better future for your relationship and family that you truly deserve. So let us be your guides, we have walked this road before you.