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One Last Chance - can anyone help?

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 00:28
by homeluvinman
That sounds like a cry for help - and it is. I am sitting writing this with the usual stomach churning, head buzzing, worried sick feeling and don't know what to do next.
My wife and I met 4 years ago and got to know each other in the usual 'dating' way - dinner, a few drinks, meeting each others friends for dinner, drinks, etc. Looking back, I can see that we actually drank rather a lot - maybe a couple of bottles of wine each time we met up but I didn't place any significance on that as I could either take drink or leave it (Don't ask me to stop smoking though!!!). We married a year later and everything was perfect. After the honeymoon period (about 18 months) my wife confessed to having an alcohol problem and after a lot of talking, we decided we would go to the doc and get some good advice and a check up to see what, if any, damage had been done. Fortunately, no damage was done.

Nothing really more was said about it and our happy life was restored. I hadn't noticed that her drinking was steadily increasing until last Christmas. A stressful time for most, ours was no different with a houseful of friends and family. I hadn't noticed that her drinking that day had started around 11am. The result of the following 13 hours binge was a huge argument leading to her storming out of the room, not before walking into two walls, the wardrobe and banging her head on the corner of the door. Not surprisingly, she looked like she had gone 3 rounds with Tyson. I was accused of beating her up and things went from bad to worse, while the drinking continued, and then from worse to nightmare proportions.

After a few days (with me having moved out) we spoke on the phone about the happenings and she said she needed my help to dry out. I went home to find a very scared, still drunk, and uncontrolable person that I didn't recognise. She kept saying she was going to kill herself to make it all stop. She ended up in A&E as I didn't have a clue what else to do for the best. She was prescribed Vallium and I took the decision to spoonfeed her them to help her 'climb down' as she sobered up. This scared the life out of her, as well as me, and after another couple of visits to the docs, she joined AA. this really helped her as she was very flat and had nothing to look forward to as the alcohol was the only way she knew to stop things from hurting.

Although she started drinking again after a few weeks, it was not as bad as that Christmas but every two months she would binge out for 2 or 3 days threatening to kill herself and every 2 months I would get more vallium and help her sober up. And every time, a little bit more of me died. If it was just the two of us, I think I could cope better but her/our 3 kids see it and live with it too. She would never harm them phyisically but I can't get my head round her being drunk around them most of the time.

When I find the empty vodka bottles arround the house, I try to remain calm and ask her how she is feeling and does she not think that she needs to get some help? This is not accepted well as I am apparantly always frowning in a disaproving way. She loves me (I know that) and can't bear hurting or disapointing me, but nothing is changing. There is a past that cannot be reconciled in her head and the pain of it is causing her to drink - to numb it.

She is the love of my life, but the Jekel and Hyde changes in her scare me so much that she will , one day, finally kill herself - either with drink or by her own hand. I can't stand by and watch this happen, but neither have I the control over her life and can do nothing to stop it. Being a support just isn't working.

So what do I do? She has to want to quit for it to work and nothing I can say will make that happen. Do I sit on the sidelines and wait for something to give? I would if I thought the result would be something positive but my fears of having lived with it over the last year makes me think the unthinkable. She wasn't like this before I came on the scene - she was a strong and confident woman who was the bread winner and decision maker. Have I taken that role away from her and allowed these ghosts of her past to live? Is it best for me to leave forcing her to focus on living today and not reliving the past?

I am at my wits end and don't know what is the right thing to do. Alanon is a good support but it doesn't help with the living through it. I have also read from other people here who have had experienced much worse and over a far greater time than my one year and that makes me feel like I am trying to find an excuse to bail out. I don't ever want to wake up and find I don't love her anymore but I think that is where I am heading.

Help please.

Re: One Last Chance - can anyone help?

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 04:57
by Rachel
I don't think I can offer any objective advice because I am afraid I am the wife and my husband is certainly thinking the same thing right now about me as you are thinking about your wife. The reason I am saying anything at all is because your post is making me try to put my self in his shoes as opposed to just telling myself, yes he is suffering etc. etc. but if I really admit it dwelling on my own suffering.
It is almost certainly not your fault that your wife drinks, and she would probably not be better off without you unless things have become very acrimonious, but you still have to think about yourself as she does about herself.
As I am finding out it can take a long time to come to terms with one's alcoholism. Some people just get it straight away and stop drinking. For others, like me, it's a slow learning curve. If you can bear it you made need to give her more time.
Joint counselling might help. One of the biggest problems I have with my husband is that he doesn't seem to trust anything I say. Not surprising after all the duplicitous activity I have indulged in, perhaps.
I am rambling.
She may need time, but action is also required. It won't sort itself out.
I am sorry if this unhelpful and I am making any unwarranted assumptions about your situation.
I am sure someone else on here can come up with something better. But thanks for your post. It has given me a lot to think about.

Re: One Last Chance - can anyone help?

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 06:44
by Grendelslip
The situation you are in is all too familiar, but one thing stands out in my mind. I have never read of anybody in your position who has shown such a level of understanding of their partner’s problems as you have and for that you are to be commended.

I can empathise with your situation as, although I’m the one with the drink problem, since I’ve cleaned up my act I’ve realised that my wife is heading down the same road. I have the advantage (ha!) of seeing life, if you can call it that, from the other side.

It is difficult, at times impossible, to make sense of what is going on inside the head of an alcoholic but you have probably learned, presumably through Al-anon, as much as you can about it.

Your wife has reached the stage where she realises she cannot go on living as she is and wants to make it stop. That's the first major hurdle out of the way - good! The only positive way to do this is to stop drinking – either for good, or for a period of time with a view to reintroducing alcohol in a controlled manner. There is of course the other way. She has threatened to end it all. Most likely these threats are cries for help, but need to be taken seriously as even if she has no intention of taking her life when sober, there is no telling what she might do when drunk or sobering up – when she will be racked with feelings of guilt, remorse and very low self-esteem.

You already know that you cannot make her give up drinking: that is something she has to decide to do for herself. But you can provide support in continuing to help her find the assistance she needs to quit drinking. She has already shown willingness to do this in going to the doctor and attending AA meetings.

Is she still attending AA? If not, do you know why she stopped? I have not been to AA, simply because face-to-face counselling/support is not for me, but they undoubtedly have a good track record in helping people recover from their addiction. Having said that, it does not suit everybody. Also, some people who benefit from AA need something more. Many of my fellow members here attend AA meetings and derive great benefit from them but they also get a lot of additional support from being on this forum. Sometimes it’s easier to open up to people who you will never meet but nevertheless become true friends in adversity.

Would your wife be willing to have a look at this forum? Even if she is not interested in joining us, or another such forum, it may help her to read about other people who have been where she is now and have managed to get on the road to recovery. It will show her that, although she stopped drinking before but then started again, that is not the end of it. Unfortunately, most recovering alcoholics will lapse and relapse. In fact some say that relapses are a normal, essential even, part of the recovery process. Seeing how others have fared may encourage her if her attempt to quit falters. You say that she gave up drinking for a few weeks after joining AA but then went back to the bottle again. This may have led her to believe that she cannot quit and AA didn’t work. That is not true! In ‘battling the booze’ defeats will occur and we have to try, try, try again – never give up giving up. If you look at the First 7 Days thread (under General Recovery, Sobriety Challenges) you will find hundreds of people who have done/are doing this. I know – I’m one of them.

Just be aware that she may come across this thread and may recognise you from your post – especially if she knows you have already come here for help. You can always edit your post, remove all text if necessary, or lie outright and claim you’ve found somebody else in the same situation. It would also be possible to ask one of our moderators to remove this thread completely if you feel it necessary. Having said that, she probably won’t find this thread on a first visit as the information she needs is in the General Recovery area.

In all of this you have also to look after your own well being and going to Al-anon is obviously a good thing to do. If it were not for the suicide threats I would suggest that you stick it out as long as you can then, however hard it is, leave her for your own sake. It’s those threats which complicate things and I’m afraid I have no experience of this so can offer no advice. Perhaps others here can help, or maybe you can discuss this specific aspect with Al-anon.

Be assured of one thing. The woman you fell in love with and married is still in there. She has been taken over by alcohol and the person you deal with day-to-day is not the true her. If she can stop drinking her true self will emerge quite quickly, but be prepared for a difficult few days as she will be in turmoil – fighting the cravings for a drink and trying to cope with feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment, anxiety and so on. And at that point you can tell her from me: there is no need to feel guilty or ashamed. She didn’t set out to become dependent on drink. Alcohol can creep up on you and slowly take control. By the time you realise there is a problem and want to do something about it, it’s already got you in its grip.

I hope this is of some use. Take hope from the fact that many, many other couples have been in this situation and have pulled through, hard though it is. You are already doing as much as you can and I can only suggest that you continue to search for support for your wife for as long as you can.


Re: One Last Chance - can anyone help?

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 08:44
by Grendelslip
Thanks Winker - there's so much going on in homeluvinman's life I completely forgot to respond to the issue of the children :roll: and you're absolutely right: their well-being is paramount.

Homeluvinman - if you haven't done so yet, is there any mileage in appealing to your wife's maternal instincts when she's threatening to end it all i.e. 'think of the children - they need you'? Just a thought.


Re: One Last Chance - can anyone help?

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 09:52
by Grendelslip
Hello again homeluvinman.

I’ve just found this thread on the forum ... ?f=5&t=160" onclick=";return false;

The first post on the thread may be helpful to you.

(Thank you Ragnar for bumping the thread up.)

Re: One Last Chance - can anyone help?

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 09:54
by homeluvinman
Thank you REMF, Grendelslip and Winker for your honesty and frankness. Of course the Children are the priority. They are my wifes children but, as 'step-dad' they are also mine; more so during these episodes as I need to protect everyone in the house, not just my wife. When all this came out into the open, and she talked of ending it all, she did say she could never do it ecause of the kids. But of late, this has changed to a resignation that actually, they would be better off without her and that they would 'get over it'. Naturally, I do all I can to re-inforce the childrens love and need for her and that she is talking b*ll*cks without actually saying it!

I think I agree with the 'enabling' comment, Winker. But then, as I have no control over the when, where and how much, is it enabling witnessing it happening? What I have learned from my experience is that if I put my foot down and say that I will not tolerate this anymore (and believe me, I have said it) this is taken in one of two ways. Either, justification for continued drinking because 'he does not control me - who does he think he is?' or 'Oh God, I've done it again' followed by more guilt, despair and anxiety which leads to more drink to dull the pain. So I let her know, as firmly but as gently as I can, that I know about the bottles, about her pain and her battle and try to get her thinking of life tomorrow and what there is to look forward to. In her mind, though, life tomorrow without drink, is no life. She must be so scared.

Thanks again.

Re: One Last Chance - can anyone help?

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 22:21
by homeluvinman
Hi Winker
I read you reply this morning and have spent all day mulling it over and can see the benefits of involving professional services but something is stopping me from making that call. I am no stranger to confrontation but not for confrontations sake. I managed to write down to the usual pro's and con's about taking this step and they were fairly even. I even weighted them in importance and risk but still they remain even. Logically, it is a no brainer and could bring a lot of benefits but there is a major doubt that is stopping me and I can't pinpoint it enough to decide if it valid or not. Talk about bleeding brain!!!!!
The kids are not nor will they ever be allowed to be at risk; I have put enough contingencies in place through her family, who know most of what is happening. As for my wife, no matter who gets involved, the risk is always there that if she decides enough is enough and there is little I can do to stop this - can't be there 24/7' can I?
However, I love this time of night when my wife is upstairs fast asleep, safe and knowing that nothing can harm her for a few hours.
Thanks for your thoughts- it makes me feel very humble that there are good people out there who want to help and believe me, you are all helping.

Re: One Last Chance - can anyone help?

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 23:02
by Madmax
I am no expert on the matter. Those who are have already advised you appropriately, with empathy. I may come across as rather insensitive and brutish but I feel that you may be too good a person for her. If there were no kids involved, I would have said leave her now. But with kids, I feel it may be worthwhile getting her to see her GP for a referral to a NHS Cognitive Behavioural Therapy service. Unfortunately there is a big waiting list for this. Going privately for this is another option. I understand there is one based in Oxford. She has already tried the AA and it has not worked. If after that she continues, then you may have to seriously consider leaving her, making sure that the kids are well looked after. After all, you have to look after yourself. I sincerely hope it all works out for you.
I used to binge drink about 12 to 15 units every week. Now in retrospect, I do not know what I was achieving with this. It was a lousy habit I had picked up when I was here on my own before my family joined me. It was intensely annoying to my wife, who used to nag me next day, which used to add to the existing post binge depression. Ultimately, she made a very strong passionate plea for me to stop. I realised she was hurting as a result of my action [which was not really damaging anyone; my kids are grown up and flown the nest]. What really opened my eye was when she said, 'I can never have a sensible conversation when you are like this and you do not realise how much you are hurting me'. Something clicked inside me when I saw how hurt she was with this behaviour. I then came on to this forum and had a session with Tobin and interacted with all the good people here. It helped me tremendously.
I am not sure how inclined your wife is towards reading books, but I bought a couple of books from Amazon on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. One of them written by a British psychologist. It is a self help book with practical step by step guide on self-analysis. If your wife could read at least this one book she could start the process, while arrangements are made for a proper CBT session. It is easy enough to find on the Amazon website.

Re: One Last Chance - can anyone help?

Posted: 08 Nov 2011 05:52
by Grendelslip

I'd just like to emphasise Winke'rs point of going to see the GP toegether if possible. Luckily for me I had enough wits about me to realise that I might, perhaps unintentionally, withold information from the GP and invited my daughter to sit in on the session to ensure I was honest and fully disclosed the extent of the problem. She's very bright - as you obviously are - and a 'head' person, so can detach her emotions and be objective, unlike my wife who is emotionally driven. In the event, she didn't have to say anthing! Having her there was beneficial. You might like to consider selling the idea of a joint session with the GP as one of providing support to your wife. She may even welome the idea as it can be daunting talking to an outsider when in the depths of a post-binge 'depression'.


Re: One Last Chance - can anyone help?

Posted: 08 Nov 2011 06:45
by mkj
Theres some very good responses on this one and i thoght i would add my tuppence worth.
Firstly the children, we as adults have a moral duty to protect children whoever they belong to , if we were aware of children in another family undergoing the turmoil that goes on in the life or household of a drinker would we overlook that ?---- i wouldnt, as kids we have to make their choices for them, as older children we need to find the help to let them make their own choices, no one that is not old enough to make their own choices deserves to live in the house of a drinker where there is no attempt at recovery , bit harsh, my opinion.
The Lady concerned has obviously admitted her problem, outside intervention seems necessary to deal with this, its usually the case when things go so low, my opinion. Speaking from my own drinking days and looking at the situation here the cry for help is there, what for your Wife probably doesnt know, it tends to become crisis management rather than crisis prevention when thoughts of losing your partner/kids/friends etc. occur, its a bit of a kneejerk reaction to realising that this could be the reality of things, its a positive in some ways but in others its a reason to drink.
It may be that your Wife does need to have a short period of time away from those things She holds dear in life, its a better choice than the one She is considering, the problem is that when you hear these things close to home you never really hear them.
You take care

Re: One Last Chance - can anyone help?

Posted: 08 Nov 2011 08:56
by homeluvinman
Dear All
Once again, thanks for all you support and encouragement, as well as giving me new triggers to think about. The good news is my wife has decided to go to see a CBT as soon as an appointment can be made (maybe tonight!!!). This is a huge step forward and the momentum now needs to be maintained before the little demons talk her out of it.

I have thought of asking her to come on here, just to browse through threads and let it sink in but I think that this would be too quick as I am still finding my feet (only been a couple of days) and facing up to my own prejudices when it comes to how I behave when my wife is drinking or is drunk. I feel much more relaxed today and am begining to feel a bit more detatched from her issues (thanks, in part, to what I have read here) and have been a bit less reactive to her emotions and more in tune with the rest of the family.

Please be assured that the children are safe and they are my first priority in all of this. I am constantly aware of their wellbeing but also aware not to inflame any situation that could 'add fuel to the fire' just in case that the suicide threats are a cry for help and nothing else. But there is always the alternative and that these feelings are real at the time but they are not a daily occurance and I seem to be always about when the 'crash' happens. Is there a link there- that she only ever gets into this uncontrolable state when she feels it is safe to do so??????? Hmmmmm, another point to ponder. ()o


Re: One Last Chance - can anyone help?

Posted: 08 Nov 2011 11:32
by Madmax
homeluvinman wrote:Dear All
But there is always the alternative and that these feelings are real at the time but they are not a daily occurance and I seem to be always about when the 'crash' happens. Is there a link there- that she only ever gets into this uncontrolable state when she feels it is safe to do so??????? Hmmmmm, another point to ponder. ()o

Interesting point. I wonder how many of us would drink or relapse if Bill Gates were to offer a million pounds for remaining dry permanently!!!! :lol:

Re: One Last Chance - can anyone help?

Posted: 08 Nov 2011 13:37
by lils
Hi HLM, I've just read through this thread and there's so much good advice.

Just don't forget about YOU in all of this, you are trying to support your wife and the children. The children must come first but second to them is YOU, don't lose sight of your own emotions and needs. Living with an alcohol can mean you become entrenched in their needs and can suck the life out of you, especially when there is a circle of promises, hope and then disappointment. Alcoholics can be incredibly selfish people.

You are a lovely man for caring for her so much but please do take care of yourself.


Re: One Last Chance - can anyone help?

Posted: 08 Nov 2011 22:11
by homeluvinman
Hi Lils
Thank you so much for your kindness, you have no idea how good it felt to read your words. I would never had imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be in this dark place but here I am and now, by luck, I found BE and so much support, advice and encouragement.

Madman - I wonder, I wonder. A million? I think most would start with determination but I also suspect that, eventually, even a million is not enough to dull pain, forget pasts, block out worries or whatever. But then again, it could be could BE Bill Gates!!!!!

To all that have suggested GP. Yes, we have been ( should have mentioned that before) many times. citalopram was increased to 40mg/ day and Diazipram for me to give as and when to offset DTs, despair etc. nothing much else was offered. We have also been to Psychiatrist who wandered through her life, with my tuppence worth thrown in for good measure, and he couldn't pinpoint either depression or any single reason for this unhealthy relationship with alcohol. He suggested the CBT and I hope that a longer term delve into her present/past will give her a better understanding of who she is and where she comes from and, most of all, that she is not a bad person or a failure. Just a bit mixed up.

Time to stop thinking for a few hours!!!!

Thanks again everyone.