Friday, June 10, 2011

SSAW - A Day in the Life of a Wife

For those of us that don't have to deal with an addict, the daily realities of an alcoholic might not seem that challenging. We actually have several people in our lives that don't even believe the severity of his addiction. So I thought I'd share from my POV about what like is life for us. And I do mean US. Addiction is a "family disease." Rocky doesn't just deal with this on his own, we deal with it as a family.

BBQ's, Get Together's, and Holiday's
To a lot of people (like myself) these are just fun events. For an addict, these can be tormenting occasions. Rocky feels socially awkward - though he never appears that way. For him, just like for many others, having a drink during a social occasion is not only a bonding experience, but it also physically relaxing, and offers an out for being MIA - having to refill a drink, having to use the restroom, etc. As mentioned before, a lot of our friends and family still don't believe the severity of his addiction - even though it's been 18 mos since he originally began his walk in sobriety. They still expect to show up at events (like Houston's 1st birthday party for example) and have Rocky provide alcohol. They become shocked when they realize he's really not drinking.

The Wife Always Gets Blamed
I have already been accused of being the one to think Rocky has a problem. It's frustrating to carry that burden for both of us. Rocky has had co-workers say, "What? Your wife got tired of your drinking? Trying to be good for her?" Well yes! I did get tired of his drinking. But I also know Rocky got tired of having a drink at 6am on Saturday morning before his coffee. Or sneaking drinks in on his CAR RIDE home. Or falling asleep while playing with the kids because he couldn't physically stay awake. Or being hungover, or having the "buzz" (I love our differing opinions of the word BUZZ) fade while trying to enjoy family time. For him, being an alcoholic was a draining experience when he is expected to be a husband and father. I'm okay with being accused of being the party killer, at least I didn't allow him to be a drunk driver killer.

Danger Looms
Addiction is a roller coaster ride. There are highs and lows, and lots of uncertainty. Any kind of stressful events brings out anxiety in both of us - Rocky feels the need for his old best friend, and I fear he'll fall back into old habits. Recently when our cars were keyed I was so worried what it would mean for Rocky's sobriety. For a lot of addicts, including Rocky, addiction is about controlling emotions and feelings. The car incident was extremely angering. I was sure Rocky was going to come home drunk (and deny it!). I prepared for being disappointed. However he pulled through, this time. And yes, it is exhausting to live in that state of expectation. But I don't believe God gives us anything we can't handle.

Our Appreciation for Other's Struggles
Just like motherhood, addiction is it's own special club. Albeit, not one that any of us WANT to belong to! Hearing of other's successes in sobriety brings us BOTH to tears. We know the severity of addiction, we know how it can tear people apart. We know of our own elation in getting through it. It is a long and bumpy road that seems impossible at times.

Non-Addicts Will Never Understand
Even myself, who lives with an alcoholic, will never understand what it's like to be addicted to something, especially alcohol. I can have 1 drink and be fine. In fact I can open a drink and forget I ever opened it. Drinking is just not that important to me. Life is different for an addict though. They think about their vice majority of the day: how they can get it, where they can hide it, lies to tell, stories to misconstrue, cover-ups to find. Most of us can never understand that state of mind - I can only attribute it to being a parent? Somewhere in an addicts brain, the wires have become crossed and satisfying a driven need becomes as important as air and water.

Sobriety For Two Please
My job is to be supportive of my husband. Alcoholics tend to think too far into the future. "I don't know if I can live 20 years without a drink!" Can you live 20 years without chocolate? It seems impossible! Rocky didn't ask me stop drinking because I never had a problem to begin with. If I couldn't have chocolate though, and he could, I would be angry. I would be jealous at Halloween. I would be tempted on Valentine's day. Let's not even talk about what the Easter Bunny would be leaving me in the form of a chocolate egg that had ooey gooey goodness inside (oh Cadbury where art thou?). So unprompted, I committed to my husband to not drink. EVER.

He Will Never Be Recovered
Rocky will always BE an alcoholic, just like he will always BE a father, or always BE a sheet metal worker. Even if he were fired from his occupation, he still is a sheet metal worker, right? 

I'm not some special person that is putting up with the impossible. Nor is Rocky a monster or a pathetic sap. We are just two people surviving in this world. Even before we started attending church on a regular basis, I always believed God placed Rocky into my life with purpose - even if that purpose meant trying to keep him alive. Dark and dreary, I know - and I'm really putting MYSELF out here (so please be kind! LOL). But there have been times (especially in the 1st several years of our relationship) when I didn't know if Rocky knew how to keep himself alive - whether by accident or by his own trigger finger. He had a lot of baggage, probably more than I was willing to admit, but I stuck through it with him - even when it was ugly and hard. We have shared other's judgements, we have endured through people's expecations of a divorce, and we are pretty sure our drama has been the topic of coversation at other's dinner table's. Yet here we are, stronger than ever, sharing a belief in a greater good, and finally feeling the flow of an enduring marriage.

Just a little insight into my secret life as an alcoholic's wife. Now go out and do something great today!!

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  1. Hang in there. You are doing a great job. I love your blog by the way. I just found you today and liked the first post so well, that I went back and read many of your posts.

    I'll definitely be back.


  2. yeah addiction is hard to deal with and maybe even harder to understand. I think the social functions have to be the worst for an alcoholic but Rocky did do a great job as sober host at H's 1st bday party- and really who needs alcohol at a kids party? At a park? Well my husband for one (we know he has a problem with alcohol too but as it is not yet too severe we deal with one addiction at a time!) Praying for Rocky as it is not an easy path (and you too) but with god's grace it can (and will!) be done.