Take Comfort – My Partner is an Alcoholic

Take Comfort - My Partner is an Alcoholic | Twin Cities Moms Blog

{Stock photo. Posed by model. FreeImages.com}

Where to begin?

Hugs! Definitely hugs.

Something drew you to this title, and for that, whatever reason it is, take a minute and envision for yourself a hug.

An enveloping soft one, like an oversized lavender and cashmere blanket;

a tight hug;

a comforting hug;

just let yourself be hugged for one more minute.

There is such comfort in knowing that someone else shares your experience, especially when you’ve been secretive about it or when that experience is shrouded in stigma and shame. It’s comforting to know that someone else has an alcoholic partner. They get it, as if anyone not an alcoholic themselves, could really “get” alcoholism.

I’m taking a hug from each of you, myself. Because I need it – comfort.

Having an alcoholic spouse feels like a complete absence of hope. The hope train has left your home. And even if it returns, you will forever wonder if it will depart again. 

Even if your spouse is not abusive, alcoholism affects your self-esteem and your sense of security. Your home; your kids; your income; everything you have worked so hard for. Will you lose it all tomorrow? It’s now all in jeopardy, and there’s nothing you can do to control it. 

My partner battled alcoholism before we had kids. The experience was lonely, depressing, hard work, isolating, and infuriating. I could go on.

“Watching other human beings slowly kill themselves with alcohol is painful. While the alcoholic doesn’t seem to be worrying about the bills, the job, the children, the condition of his or her health, people around them begin to worry. We make the mistake of covering up. We fix everything, make excuses, tell little lies to mend damaged relationships, and we worry some more. This is our anxiety.” Al-anon.

It wasn’t only hard on me. The shame of my partner’s alcoholism and the shame that he shared it with me, was excruciating for him.

After a year of being married and battling alcoholism, my partner got sober. That self-sobering process took just as long (a year), was just as lonely, and oddly, there was just as much shame.

We came through it, though, seemingly intact. We were later blessed with a couple of kids. Things seemed normal, and happy even. Finally.

In the last pregnancy, though, he relapsed for almost a year. It was too hard to envision life without being able to have a beer with buddies on occasion. But occasion to my partner is every drop of alcohol in the house until it is gone.

When it came time to birth our beautiful baby, I was really glad that my partner was sober that day, and I hoped that our beautiful new baby would be a catalyst for his sobriety. I wasn’t wrong, but it took a few more months to get there. My partner has now been sober about a year. Only our family and closest friends know.

I didn’t understand alcoholism, and I still don’t. Understanding alcoholism is unnatural; it requires you to give up rational, logical thought. 

“Even the most well-meaning people begin to count the number of drinks another person is having. We pour expensive liquor down drains, search the house for hidden bottles, listen for the sound of opening cans. All our thinking is directed at what the alcoholic is doing or not doing and how to get him or her to stop drinking. This is our obsession.” Al-anon.

Maybe I’m sugar-coating it, though.

Alcoholism is maddening and frustrating! It is the dichotomy of a confident executive suffering from low-self esteem; a woman who is otherwise an “open book,” cherishing secrecy; a newlywed, defensive and sure that his new spouse is out to screw him and make him look bad. It’s not that alcoholics don’t have willpower or don’t anticipate the consequences of their actions, it’s as if their brains have been hijacked.

And unfortunately, the madness is a cycle. The shame felt the next day fuels that same day’s binge. It’s a sad cycle to watch. But I’m sure it’s a worse cycle to experience and share with someone, like a partner.

I was fearful to tell anyone what was happening in our house because I thought surely he would pull out of it. By the time that I had an appointment with a therapist, I was clinically depressed. The counseling resources available at Blooma and others in the Twin Cities are invaluable. If they don’t provide counseling services, they provide referrals, as should your OB-GYN. More recently, we’ve been fortunate to find a couples counseling office that offers counseling by an accredited intern counselor, at a reduced rate. 

At Al-Anon, they teach you that,

“You didn’t cause it, you can’t control it and you cannot cure it.”

I won’t get preachy or tell you what to do. You only have two options: stay or go, and you are so justified in each of them. If I was married to anyone else, I would have left. Instead, I stayed, but I built a concrete, impermeable emotional wall, which I wouldn’t advise to anyone. Even so, our marriage still has scars. So I don’t judge you – whatever you’ve done or whatever you’re considering. 

Instead, I will leave you with a blessing my partner received in AA. It brought me comfort and I hope it brings the same to you:

“May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in others and yourself. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.” Mother Teresa

I know your struggle, take comfort. 

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply