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Looking for advice - my wife is an alcoholic

Old 05-04-2009, 07:47 AM
  # 21 (permalink)  
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As the wife of a recovering alcoholic my heart goes out to you.
I give you SO much credit for being able to recognize that your wife is an alcoholic. I couldn't see that with my husband, even after the third time we landed in the ER because he punched a wall and sprained/broke his fingers. I didn't see it when he came home from work drunk and continued to drink. I didn't see it when it escalated and he got physical with me and I had to call the cops. I even had trouble seeing it when he started going to AA.
When he was drinking, he would quit for 1-3 months and I would believe it would be ok. Then he would have "just one or two", then just one or two more, and more and more. Expecting an alcoholic to have just one or two, would be like telling my dog to have just one or two treats when the entire box is in front of him. He just can't do it.
Alcoholics are "allergic" to alcohol. Someone deadly allergic to peanuts wouldn't have just one or two, so neither can an alcoholic.
I wish you luck on your journey....
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Old 05-05-2009, 04:02 PM
  # 22 (permalink)  
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Hi Haddock: I am the alcoholic wife, sober today, attending AA, seeing an addiction therapist and working the 12 steps. When you described your wife in your first post, that was me to a T: boy did I recognise the 1,2,3 personalities of getting drunk.
Questions:

When she has that first drink in the evening, is she thinking about how the evening will almost certainly end, or does she believe that she will have just a few and stop? Should I say anything at this point or try to intervene while she is still sober -or is it pointless?
She is thinking she will have just a few and stop. None of us want to think that it will turn out badly, so, no, she is probably not thinking: "now I'm going to get really drunk, scream at my husband, throw up and pass out". She is probably thinking: "I'll have a couple/three drinks and have a lovely evening". That's what I always thought, but it rarely ended that way. Sure, I had okay evenings. But as the disease progressed, nice evenings became the exception.

I wouldn't try to talk to her once she has started drinking. Then you are only talking to the bottle. If you want to have a serious talk with her, wait until the next morning. She will be having plenty of remorseful thoughts dealing with a hangover and your words will ring true. The next morning is also when the alcoholic desperately wants to stop the cycle of drinking...

Is it possible to beat alcoholism and still have one or two drinks, or is recovery only possible by stopping completely?
If you can have one or two drinks and stop you are probably not an alcoholic. Recovery for most alcoholics is complete sobriety because we can't stop at one or two. Sometimes I would be able to have a couple of drinks per night, during my "control-my-drinking" stage. I would be able to keep that up for a few of days, but inevitably I found myself binging again and drinking the massive quantities again.

You can try doing a couple of things to impress on her how serious you think the problem is. First of all, I would stop drinking with her, and I would not recommend having any alcohol in the house. If she asks why, just simply say you don't like her behavior when she gets drunk. Don't mince your words either: use the word "drunk".

Don't go to bars with her. If you go to a party with her tell her you will leave if she gets drunk and give her money to take a cab home.

I would not take it for granted that she is only drinking at night. It is very possible she is drinking during the day. It is a progressive disease. And, I drove after I'd been drinking. Sure, I was careful to keep my driving excursions close to home and I drove early in the morning before I'd had too much to drink. But the fact is I was driving and drinking.
She may be doing this and I would address it if she is a driver and drives the kids around. I would ask her straight out if she drives after she has been drinking.
She'll probably say no, but it will give her a lot to think about.

As far as communication, just be objective and express your feelings. If you are really unhappy with her drinking and want her to stop, then tell her, just like that.
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Old 01-21-2014, 01:42 PM
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Well here we are 5 years on, about time for an update.
I know I've made big mistakes in not confronting or dealing with the issue properly earlier on, but at least my two daughters have had five years of relative 'normality'. Yes, on occasion, they have no doubt overheard things they shouldn't, but in the main, life has continued pretty normally for them with two functional parents.

Things continued in pretty much the same vein, although the pattern changed from time to time. The binges continued every month or so, sometimes more often sometimes less often. Basically I would just sit there and take the abuse (and it took me a long time to recognize that it was abuse). The pattern would be to say more and more hurtful things continuing on and on into the night. I would lock myself in the spare room, but was always forced out by her threatening to wake the kids. Eventually, I would have to leave the house to escape it. I would never go far as she would be in no fit state to be alone in the house with the kids. So I would therefore tend to hang around outside the house, keeping track of her movements and actions through the curtains until eventually she would crash to bed and sleep. I would then generally sleep in the car until morning. Over the following days, she would tend to not speak to me until we fell back into 'normality' a few days later. About a year ago though, the abuse stopped completely - the pattern changed again. She drank most evenings, but a lesser amount (still several bottles of wine). In some ways, this was even more difficult to live with. The bedroom would permanently reek of booze and her snoring was unbearable. I would dread going in and would often bail out to the spare room again. It all made for a very disturbed sleep pattern and it was getting completely unbearable. Often she would pass out in her chair downstairs which gave me a few hours of undisturbed sleep.

She became more and more lazy over the years. I work full time and she would lie in bed until 9 or 10am - the kids would get breakfast and get ready for school themselves. She would be taken a cup of tea (I actually did this every day before I left for work!). We had a cleaner to clean the house. She paid the kids to do all the ironing! I would say nothing, put up with it and carry on.

Now that I write this down, I can't believe that I actually did this and put up with it, on and off for about 7 years. I did succeed in completely covering up the problem. Unsurprisingly I guess, my feelings for her diminished and our physical relationship completely stopped about three years ago. We still continued the pretense that everything was fine. It turns out though, that she actually believed it.

A few months ago, I had a short relationship with someone I met at work and this came to light. I could have begged for forgiveness, but why the hell should I? the pretence was over.

Suddenly, everything came crashing down for her. Reality hit her like a bus. I became the arch-villain, the philanderer and the cad. How could I do this to her and the children? - she said. The divorce papers have been filed. The trouble is, I've done such a good job of covering it all up, that I now find myself unable to provide any proof that any of this isn't a figment of my imagination. I'm not bothered about the divorce, but I don't really deserve to be treated as the villain. Oh well - I guess that isn't the most important thing.

I know I should have done many many things differently.
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Old 01-21-2014, 01:59 PM
  # 24 (permalink)  
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I guess first off, Haddock, there was some REALLY good information from a few years back that I think was overlooked.

You likely were and are dealing with FAR more than just Alcoholism.

Originally Posted by ChangingMyself View Post
The cutting could indicate the existence of an additional problem; self-mutilation (such as cutting) is one of the criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and substance abuse is common in those suffering from BPD.

My abf exhibits many traits of BPD though not self-mutilation (in the form of cutting though his alcoholism is of course very self-destructive). Namely extreme emotional/verbal abuse and "splitting" (tendency to see things/people in black/white i.e. all good or all bad); he also has deep abandonment issues which he acknowledges.

To cope with the outfall of the abuse, the books Tears and Healing and Meaning from Madness have helped me greatly (both of these specifically address the so-called abusive personality disorders (including Borderline)). Also the Stop Walking on Eggshells book and workbook which were developed from the online support group (Welcome to Oz) for those with BPDs in their lives (these resources can be found through BPD Central - a dot-com). Tears and Healing and the author's other titles are available online from the Tears and Healing web site - also a dot-com (I am unable to post links). Tears and Healing also specifically deals with the issues involving decisions whether to leave or stay when marriage and children are involved (the author is a male who was married to a dually diagnosed BPD/alcoholic).

Though educating myself about BPD has been helpful for me in coping with my bf's behaviors, most professionals would probably agree that substance abuse must be addressed before any co-existing mental issues can be dealt with. And raising the possibility of BPD to a loved one who may be suffering from the disorder is not advised (this is explained in Stop Walking on Eggshells). The Tears and Healing series are useful for anyone suffering from the abusive behaviors caused by personality disorders and/or substance abuse/alcoholism alone (though not all alcoholics are abusive, many are); many of these behaviors (whether caused by a personality disorder or substance abuse) are similar and often impossible to distinguish.
But Here and Now -- as far as where you are. A deeper stage of a collapsing Borderline Relationship.

Yes. You will be "painted black." For a far deeper and better understanding than I can present here, maybe start with:

Borderline Personality Disorder - Support group for families and relationship partners

There is whole section for Failed Relationship, kids, etc.
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Old 01-21-2014, 03:54 PM
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Well, there are some threads around here currently about a very recent separation, there are people divorcing. It is sad, yes, but you will find a wealth of experience.
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Old 01-21-2014, 04:29 PM
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haddock....i just now read your first post - it sounded so like my wife 3 years ago. I just knew your update would be a separation.....as is my current state (4 days in!)

I dont know what help it is - but my life was VERY like yours....only my wife cheated (she felt lonely because we drifted...because she was always drunk) and thats why I'm divorcing her.....but I'm still the villain.
I know what you mean about evidence.....my wife took me and my kids to hell and back, yet the vast majority of her friends believe her to be the victim of an unreasonable husband.....they even had a sleepover with her saturday, her first night away from the home, and all brought beer!

So find a way to not worry....posting here has (almost literally) saved my life....it's wonderful to be able to talk and have people understand - as opposed to "real life" where not everyone does (doing the school run past mums that stare at me like I'm a wife basher is grim....but I know I can post here and it ceases to matter)

You are not alone.
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Old 01-21-2014, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Lewis73 View Post
haddock....i just now read your first post - it sounded so like my wife 3 years ago. I just knew your update would be a separation.....as is my current state (4 days in!)

I dont know what help it is - but my life was VERY like yours....only my wife cheated (she felt lonely because we drifted...because she was always drunk) and thats why I'm divorcing her.....but I'm still the villain.
I know what you mean about evidence.....my wife took me and my kids to hell and back, yet the vast majority of her friends believe her to be the victim of an unreasonable husband.....they even had a sleepover with her saturday, her first night away from the home, and all brought beer!

So find a way to not worry....posting here has (almost literally) saved my life....it's wonderful to be able to talk and have people understand - as opposed to "real life" where not everyone does (doing the school run past mums that stare at me like I'm a wife basher is grim....but I know I can post here and it ceases to matter)

You are not alone.
Thanks Lewis - appreciate that.
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Old 01-30-2014, 10:08 AM
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I am continuing discussions with my wife trying to persuade her to take her condition seriously. Basically, I'm not happy for her to be in charge of the kids while she is a drinking alcoholic. She has come back with a message to me today, supposedly having seen the doctor and another support group, saying they have confirmed the following to her:
I am NOT dependent on alcohol because
(i) I don’t drink every day
(ii) I don’t get drunk every time I drink and
(iii) I do not suffer from withdrawal symptoms
Does anyone think this is a likely or valid diagnosis?
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Old 01-30-2014, 10:13 AM
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Wait...this has been going on since 2008...for over 5 years?? If you haven't been able to persuade her to take her condition seriously by now, you never will. The confirmation from those doctors/support group is BS and I'll bet she's making it up. Anyone who knows anything about alcoholism knows that those three conditions don't mean a thing.

Your children are now 5 years older. How much longer are you going to allow this to continue??
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Old 01-30-2014, 10:54 AM
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It is progressive. I promise those little ears that you think don't know anything is going on late at night will know eventually if they don't already. It will change your entire perspective.

My husband usto have what I call drunken amnesia. It made me livid mad because he would be a raving nut, wake up and not remember and pretend things should be all happy. In the mean time...I was pissed and he was wondering why. It was an evil cycle.

Until she realizes she has a problem it will not have any chance of changing. You cannot force it upon her.

I sugges meetings and therapy for YOU to decide what boundaries you can set for yourself and your children.

Also...the liklihood she told the doctor the truth about the extent of her drinking is next to nill. If it is causing you enough trouble in your life to seek help and be on here posting about it...it is a problem.

Good Luck and God Bless!
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Old 01-30-2014, 10:57 AM
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Sorry just seeing that this was in 09 with a follow up!
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Old 01-30-2014, 12:44 PM
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If she is truly not dependent on alcohol she can give it up for 30 days to prove it. But really. I think after five years you have your answer, don't you?
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Old 01-30-2014, 01:22 PM
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She doesn't suffer from withdrawal symptoms because she doesn't withdraw. One day won't always bring on withdrawals. For that matter, I'd bet the farm she does drink every day, but hides it. That's what my X did....made me think I was the crazy one.
Just a possibility.
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Old 01-30-2014, 01:23 PM
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so to answer your question......No, it is NOT likely diagnosis.
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Old 02-05-2014, 08:07 AM
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Thanks all. I was perfectly well aware that her so-called diagnosis was either likely to be made up completely, or given on the basis of false information, but I was interested to hear others take on it, to be sure I wasn't missing something.

She is still playing the hurt victim and seems to be under the impression that she can dictate to me that I should move out of the family home, leaving the kids with her.

The kids are now 14 and 17 so in a few years time they will be on their way, however in the mean time I am not going to desert them. Even though she has moderated her drinking since the bust-up, I know it will return - it always does. When it does, there will be times when she will be passed out drunk at night and not able to deal with any issues that may arise for the kids as a responsible adult. This is the point that keeps me from moving out.

There is a chance that I can move into the flat next door, which has become available to buy. I would be prepared to go that far, as I would still feel close enough at hand should the kids need me. Unfortunately, I cant just do this without her agreement as the house is in joint names and it would need her agreement to extend the mortgage to buy it. She though, is not having any of this - 'I dont want you anywhere near', she says.

So basically, its up to her. If she doesn't agree to that I'll have to declare my concerns to the court. In a weird way, I feel like this would be betraying her - I guess its after years of covering up for her. However, I don't feel I have any choice.
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