Source: A Friday
I can only begin to describe the emotions that I feel on an average day. I usually feel tired, isolated, suspicious, hurt and unintentionally hopeful. As much as a I try to remain indifferent, that little bit of hope usually manages to sneak its way in. Hope should be positive, it usually is. But when that hope is that someone else will change and overcome an addiction, hope is the enemy.
I had a fairly uneventful day today. I attended University and finished the last bit of lab work for my Masters project. I went to a few meetings and I submitted an assignment. I found it difficult to go in to the University though, as I’d had a horrific panic attack the day before. I’ve suffered from depression and generalised anxiety disorder for the last six years so it wasn’t completely out of the blue, but still took me a full day to recover from. Anyway, despite cancelling a lunch plan because I wasn’t up to it, I had a productive day and came home having accomplished everything that I’d wanted to. I came home and looked forward to meeting a friend for dinner and celebrating the end of term, and one of the last phases of our degrees. I cuddled my boyfriend and we played around in the way that only soppy couples do. He helped me pick out an outfit and we had a nice few hours together.
I then went to the kitchen to make a coffee and saw him acting suspiciously. He immediately closed one of the cupboards and guarded it with his body. I asked to get a biscuit from the cupboard and he made a show of getting it out for me. Even at this point, he thought he could still get away with it. I asked him to move aside and found a half-empty bottle of wine hidden behind the cereal boxes. I think there’s a misapprehension that you’re only an alcoholic if you only drink spirits. I firmly disagree with this. Unfortunately, my partner thinks there is a distinction and has only drank wine, beer and cider (that I know of) since being asked to leave his treatment programme.
He started crying and sank to the kitchen floor and I walked out.
I’m incredibly proud of this gesture. I will not be drawn into the persecutor/victim/rescuer game any longer. I briefly went back into the kitchen, to finally make my coffee, when I’d calmed down. I calmly went about my task and ignored his presence. He was playing the victim but I refused to take the role of the rescuer.
I intend to still meet my friend for dinner tonight and will try not to dwell on it. The depressing thing is that he doesn’t carry around the emotional baggage associated with drinking but I do. It’s difficult for me to not feel ashamed of the events that have happened to me or this strange double life that I lead, but I realise that it isn’t my burden to carry and somehow I need to find a way to put it down.
Relapse is the most difficult term to comprehend for the loved one of an addict. The emotional turmoil created, often without notice, can be unbearable.
In my case, relapse has occurred more times than I’d care to share. Sometimes I have an idea that it may have happened, other times I am completely blindsided. In the majority of cases I just stumble across an empty bottle in the house.
I’m trying to find a way of preserving my own emotions and supporting my boyfriend at the same time. I want to say “I don’t expect you to stop drinking, that way I’ll never be disappointed”. But this signifies to my partner that I don’t have faith in him. It’s a really difficult position to be in.
I’m trying to lower my expectations slowly because they are always too high. I now need to stop letting myself be ruined by the actions of someone else. This doesn’t mean that I’m going to leave him or stop supporting him. It is merely an act of self preservation.
I think I need to come back to this one, as I’m sure he’ll go back to alcohol.
I haven’t written in a while because something always “comes up”. My life has become completely unpredictable and, as someone who values planning, I hate this. I’ve been seeing a counsellor – I’ve tried a few actually – to try and make sense of things. She said the most useful and honest thing that I’ve ever been told:
“You’re addicted to him.”
It works on a number of levels. I’m addicted to getting him sober. I’m addicted to saving him. I’m addicted to taking responsibility for him. And, I don’t know if I can ever leave him.
At first it was easy to discount or ignore this as it didn’t fit with my view of myself. I always thought that if I didn’t do whatever needed doing he wouldn’t and we’d both suffer the consequences. Consequences are frankly terrifying. Him getting sacked (again), getting evicted, having the gas or electricity disconnected, him being thrown out of recovery groups (again) or even jail were all circling in my mind. They often still are. However, I’m slowly learning that these are his consequences, and whatever he chooses to do with them, even if it involves me, are still his choices. I’ve never poured alcohol into his mouth, that is always his choice.
I’m starting to detach a little. I know it’s not my responsibility to remind him to go to work etc. It has surprised me how difficult it is even to make such small changes but they are incredibly important. I am gaining confidence and independence almost every day. I plan to keep moving forward by trying not to lose track of who I am and what’s important to me. I’m about to complete a masters degree in biology and I am flabbergasted that I’m still on track for a first despite everything else that’s going on in my life.
I thought I had to be a carer. I now realise that I don’t have to, and it isn’t healthy for me to be one. It’s not my job to look after him. For now at least, I need to look after me.