Guest Post: Alcoholism Lives at Our House

A good friend reached out to ask if I would post a reflection she wrote anonymously. I’d understand why, she said, in the first line. “My husband is an alcoholic,” it read.

Ahhh, Alcoholism. You vicious beast.

Alcoholism is isolating. It’s buried under the weight of stigma. But when we talk about the terrible things, the burden gets lighter. My deepest gratitude goes to my friend for sharing something that will cut to the soul of any reader who has been touched by addiction.


Alcoholism Lives At Our House

My husband is an alcoholic.

My husband is an alcoholic, and I am conflicted. I am resentful. I am angry. I am hateful. I am distrustful. I am mean-spirited. I am short-tempered. I am exhausted. I am terrified. I am guilty. I am drained. I am depressed. I am neurotic. I am spent. I am alone. I am powerless. I hurt.

His disease has become my disease. It has made me into a person I would not recognize. I am a pill-counter. I am a cupboard-searcher. I search hiding spaces. I smell his breath. I am a liar. I yell often. I hide knives. I have considered cutting down my laundry line. I have a heart that is constantly racing. I cannot think straight. I am in constant flight or fight mode. I don’t know how he’ll be when I get home. I don’t know if he will still be when I get home.

He struggles now with becoming sober. I’ve struggled and am still struggling to keep him going, our family going, work going, the house going, and sometimes, to keep myself going.

This is my life.

I’ve been coming to terms with this “new normal.” This disease will always color my life, my choices, my thoughts, and my fears. Everyone’s experience with alcoholism is different. Here is my story in the hopes that it helps even one person not feel so alone.

“My husband is seeking treatment for alcoholism,” I told my friend through tears. “I’m so sorry,” she replied, embracing me, “I didn’t know.” “Neither did I.”

And that, though surprising, is true. I thought he might drink too much, but he assured me he didn’t, and I really believed that he was sick when he laid in bed every weekend and evening. I googled lots of symptoms when he was having stomach pains, and dutifully took him to have his stomach scoped. Finally I just thought he might have leisure sickness since he was sick on the weekends and vacations. But, one day after a particularly bad case of illness complete with nighttime moaning, explosive vomiting, and hallucinations, he told me, “It’s alcohol withdrawal syndrome.” And so, I googled again, and found that he was what is commonly called a “high-functioning alcoholic.” He went to work and was successful. He did what was required, and still drank enough to give him daily withdrawal symptoms.

How is it that I didn’t know? My husband is a lone drinker. He drinks at night when I’m asleep. He drinks vodka so it can’t be smelt on his breath. From dinner time to 2 am, he’d manage to drink more than 6 shots. Then he’d head off to work in the morning and do it again the next day. Weekends were hard because he didn’t have work to keep his mind off the withdrawals. I just thought it was stress or some other illness.

Now I know better.

Now I know that for years I stayed up with kids, woke up early with kids, got all their meals, and kept them quiet because “Daddy is sick” because alcoholism lives at our house. Now I know that I made my own birthday cake and led the kids in singing to me while he slept because alcoholism lives at our house. Now I know that I cooked my own Mother’s Day meals and shared a bed with a Thomas the Tank Engine tent because alcoholism lives at our house. Now I am able to say, “Hey, yesterday when we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to the baby you were passed out, and with two boys jumping on you, you still wouldn’t wake up. Oh, and by the way, she started walking last night. You were drunk,” because now I know that alcoholism lives at our house.

Now that I know this, it all makes sense. Despite the understanding, it hurts. It hurts everywhere. I wonder if the last year or years were all a lie. When did I start buying the lie? When did it start?

As this all sinks in, I am learning that I need help. My recovery will take time, just as his will. He will get all the accolades for staying sober, and I will just continue on, stewing. I will stew because I hurt and I worked for years to keep it together without help, and am still trying to keep it together while he gets to take his time and get better. I am trapped in this silent cave, digging my way out, alone—alone because to take this trouble to my dearest friends can hurt the reputation of my husband in this small community, alone because alcoholism carries a horrible stigma, alone because it is easy to forget that alcoholism is a disease that wreaks havoc on a family, not just the alcoholic.

And so, I’m trying to hold it together—for the kids, for my husband who has decided that he’s going to get better at home, and for what is left of myself. I’ve gone to Al-Anon and committed myself to the recommended six meetings before I decide to stay. I’ve gotten a counselor, and I am working through the 12 Steps myself. Yes, those of us who love alcoholics need to go through them too.

My husband is an alcoholic. My husband is an alcoholic and I am conflicted. I am hopeful. I am praying. I am taking steps forward. I am exhausted, terrified, spent, resentful, distrustful, and hurt, so, so, so hurt. But, I will not let alcoholism rule my house anymore. I am taking it back, one small step at a time.


8 responses to “Guest Post: Alcoholism Lives at Our House

  1. What a beautiful, eloquent, and poignant piece! When we vow “for better or for worse,” who among us really knows what those words mean, especially the worse part? The author of this piece sounds like an incredibly strong woman, and I have no doubt that she is taking her life back, and will continue to build it anew. What a heartbreaking, devastating challenge. Sending the author abundant positive energy. Keep speaking your truth, and taking care of you.

  2. bridgetfarrell15

    Oh my what a heart wrenching piece. My heart goes out to you. From Ireland, sending you love & best wishes for strength on your road ahead. God Bless your famil.

  3. What a beautiful and sad piece. You, dear anonymous friend of Momsicle, describe the rollercoaster life with an alcoholic so vividly that I can begin to see what it must really be like behind closed doors.

    If I may, I’d like to tell you that you are strong, and brave, and a ferocious mama bear. Your kids are lucky to have you. Your husband is lucky to have you too. I hope he knows it.

    Wishing you much love and luck and grit as you move forward.

  4. As the second generation of a family in recovery, I can say that you’re giving your kids the gift of wisdom, resilience and the opportunity to make their story different. There was harm in my parent’s alcoholism, to be sure, but those scars made our family strong and wise.

    I didn’t binge drink in college (I knew alcohol could be a problem for me).
    I ask myself why I’m drinking and never drink when I’m stressed, sad or frustrated (I know alcohol could be a problem for me).
    We are not cavalier about adult drinking with our kids and we talk about all sides of it (I know alcohol could be a problem for them).
    I don’t judge people who are struggling with alcohol (I know it’s a disease and that some brains are affected differently than others).

    I wish I could give you, Anonymous Author, a hug. What you’re doing is hard. What your kids are going through is hard. I believe families can recover and find the light on the other side – that is my hope for you. Thank you for sharing your story.

  5. I applaud both you and her for putting this out to the world. I happened to check out your blog today, as I do from time to time, and this was so perfect to read because there is so much of it that is my story, too. I am a writer and have a blog and yet, I can’t write about this there because I have to respect the privacy of my loved one. And yet, it is something that must be shared because so many people deal with it. I’m trying to find a way to balance those two things.

    I would love to connect with your friend if she would be willing to as well. I am at the very, very beginning of my journey of awareness of living with an alcoholic and taking a stand for myself. There are many times when I want to crawl out of my own skin because I’m so pissed or overwhelmed or confused or frustrated or hurt. It’s so hard right now. If she wants to connect with someone else going through it, please give her my email.

    If not, I am currently reading the book Co-Dedependent No More by Melody Beattie which is helpful and I’ve been attending Codependents Anonymous meetings (as well as Al-Anon) which are also very helpful. Such supportive people out there, really. You are not alone.

  6. I could have written those words. Your friend is not alone, and thankfully, she had found Al-Anon and now knows there are so many of us in this situation. I hope she continues with meetings and working the steps. She is not alone.

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