Greetings to all readers in this new year!
This is a time when we reflect on what has gone before and what is yet to come. I have occasion to do both as I write this blog on the eve of my return to work after the Christmas break.
At the beginning of every new year since my husband became ill with alcoholism, we have held each other close, felt sad for the past and consistently hoped for better in the future. Why better? My husband couldn’t have tried any harder over the years to defeat this terrible affliction that blights his life, so I can’t ask for better than that.
What has needed – AND STILL NEEDS – to be better is the treatment offered to sufferers of this dreadful disease, and society’s lazy, discriminatory attitude towards them. If my husband had cancer, or MS, or indeed any other illness that is not related to alcohol or drug abuse, people (professionals, friends, family, society in general) would not punish him for it! They would not (I hope) virtually ignore him and dismiss his serious illness because they choose to believe that it is self-inflicted. What nonsense! People who become addicted to alcohol do not do so through choice, nor do they remain addicted through choice……..who would choose this?
Another fashionable misconception is that alcoholics derive ‘pleasure’ from drinking alcohol. Fortunate are those of us who can still derive any pleasure from a glass of our chosen tipple – once addicted, there is no pleasure. Life for my husband became a sheer relentless, exhausting hell of slavish obedience to the bottle, desperation for the next drink, often to the point where he would even have hurt me, the person he loves most in the world, to get to the drink that would satisfy the terrible, relentless craving. THIS is alcoholism. This is addiction. There is no pleasure in it – only the relief experienced when the driving need in your brain is satisfied.
But we (mostly) all drink, and so we all think we know best. After all, WE can handle our drink……….yeah! How are we superior (morally or otherwise) because our genetic make-up has not helped turn a habit into an addiction?
Here is a taster of the ‘wisdom’ and advice I have received from various quarters, in person, on the phone and online over the years to date:
Alcoholism isn’t an illness or a disease – it’s a choice – I know now that addiction, by its very nature, REMOVES choice
‘Alcoholics’ are weak-willed – If only these judgemental people could have witnessed my husband’s strength of both will and character throughout these dreadful years!
He cannot fix this himself and must surrender to a ‘Higher Power’ – No! He needs medication!
He is feckless – No! He’s ill. Would you say this if he had cancer?
You deserve better than this – I deserve better than a husband who is ill?
You are not to blame – how do they know? I might be – and am grown-up enough to admit it if I am!
There is no cure for alcoholism – once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic – wrong! This may have been true before The Sinclair Method was developed, but hasn’t been since
Save yourself, divorce him – but I love him….and he’s ill!
Your husband is worthless and morally corrupt – always implied, often by people who don’t even know my wonderful husband, and who are often (I have to say) not exactly paragons of virtue themselves!
I should point out at this stage that:
a) I have not always felt like this – at first I believed all the rubbish myself and blamed my husband, even though it was not his fault
b) I was in the fortunate position of being able to make a choice about staying with my ill husband. We never wanted children, so that wasn’t an issue, and my husband is a gentle, loving man who doesn’t change (much) when he drinks. I can’t, and don’t, speak for those readers whose partners may be violent, or who may have children that need to be removed from the situation. You have to make your own decisions.
HOWEVER, I would just ask this. Think for yourself. Don’t let others mislead you into believing the ‘accepted wisdom’ about alcoholism. You married/fell in love with/decided to live with your partner for good reason. Remember that person – he/she is the same person, but is now ill.
The same applies to those who have a relative who is ill. Your brother or sister, or son or daughter, still loves you, no matter how badly the addiction makes them behave towards you. THIS PERSON IS ILL AND NEEDS HELP!
NOT the kind of help listed above.
My husband and I are going into this new year with the first REAL hope we’ve had in many, many years – The Sinclair Method. Science. Sense.
Remember this –