About Me

My photo

Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

First do no harm...

I have a follower who is the divorced wife of a very end-stage alcoholic. He is currently in the hospital. He had never signed a Medical Power of Attorney, so no one is legally in charge of his care. Yes, the closet living relative will be asked to take on the responsibility which would be his children. However, the children have become estranged over the years because they did not want to suffer the heart break of watching their father slowly kill himself. There are no other relatives.

As often happens in alcoholic marriages, the couple divorced because of the outfall of the alcoholic’s actions. The wife/husband will often separate themselves, so they do not have the unfortunate financial burden if the alcoholic should get himself into financial trouble. It doesn’t mean they no longer have feelings one for another. It’s often a greater act of love.

If the divorced couple do not have in place the legal paperwork that allows the sober partner to “watch over” the drunk partner, the drunk partner could fall to the mercy of the medical community. While their first obligation is to do no harm, the prime objective is to continue life for as long as the patient can draw a breath. The medical community is not as concerned about the quality of life as they are about the quantity of life.

The name of this blog, “Immortal Alcoholic”, is from the idea that an alcoholic can be so close to death and miraculously return to the living many times over and again. Unfortunately, they do not learn to stop drinking because they just had a near-death experience. Most often the alcoholic will not remember any of the trauma that brought him to, and during, the event. There is no lesson learned for the alcoholic. He will most likely NOT wake up and say “Hey, I think I should stop drinking, go to rehab, and live a full productive life.” What will probably happen is that he will want to stop at a liquor store on the way home from the hospital.

The families remember. They remember every detail, every harsh word, every derogatory name, every jump-start of the heart, every coma-like minute of the hospital stay. They are exhausted. They are a mixture of elation and disappointment. They live a life of contradiction. While happy the loved one is alive, they are disappointed that there is no end in sight. And they are angry. Through the laughter and smiles, they try to hide their anger. They know that what they have just been through over the last days or weeks, is a process that will be repeated. It’s just a matter of time.

A Medical Power of Attorney, which gives the right to make decisions for the alcoholic when they cannot make the decision on their own, over to a trusted individual. Usually it is given to the spouse but can be assigned to anyone of the alcoholic’s choosing. There should be a clear understanding of what the alcoholic would want in terms of continuing his life. The choices should be made during a time when the alcoholic is the most sober.

Riley vacillated between having a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate Order) and not having a DNR. However, he was always adamant about not wanting to be kept alive on any type of equipment. If he could not breathe on his own, he was not to be kept alive. If it appeared he would not have a quality of life that allowed him to live independently, he did not want to continue living. The biggest issue for him was that if he couldn’t continue drinking, he would rather not continue living. He would rather be dead than sober. If there was any doubt as to what his quality of life would be, he wanted to not take the chance that he would end up as a vegetable. He wanted me to “pull the plug.”

The family knows that there is more to living than just the activity of the heart and lungs. If the cycle is going to continue, which is usually does, then who does it serve to keep the alcoholic alive? The alcoholic may get a few more months of hazy, fuzzy, bliss. The family gets a few more months of worry and frustration. The hospitals and doctors get richer with each hospitalization while the insurance companies get poorer.

If you are an alcoholic – do your family a favor and get the Medical Power of Attorney and leave no doubt as to what you want. If you’re a family member, encourage or insist, that the alcoholic in your life get that simple document that allows you to make the decision to do what is right for the alcoholic. It’s a piece of paper that will insure the alcoholic gets the best and most appropriate care possible.

After all, who knows the alcoholic better than the people who are the closest to him/her? No one’s life should be left in the complete power of strangers.

Find more helpful information and support in my books. Medical information about alcohol related diseases and complications in a language the average person can understand can be found in both "Immortal Alcoholic's Wife" and "Workbook for Caretakers of End-Stage Alcoholics". Find support for yourself and regain your life in "Surviving the Chaos". To lighten your mood, try reading "Huh? The ABC's of Understanding Women" and/or "That Reminds Me." There is something for everyone. Just go to https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Linda+Bartee+Doyne

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Where, What, When, Why, How???

I got a message asking me where I was, what was I doing, and, when am I coming back. I also received a comment about how I was adjusting to single life and had I started my book tour yet.

No, I have not started the book tour. I discovered that I have a surgery that I must recover from before I start any extensive travel. I could postpone the surgery, but I’d like to leave for the tour without anything hanging over my head. Book tour is STILL on, but probably not until closer to the first part of the year. My route will depend on the weather, but everyone who has asked me to come, will see my bright shining face.

Sadly, I’m moving from my big old country farm house into my daughter’s house. The farm house is up for sale and it’s easier if I just move out now. Anyone interested in a house on eight acres of land built in 1858, send me an e-mail and I’ll put you in touch with the realtor. I do not own this house, however, my 8th & 9th grandfathers once owned a part of the land. Interesting, since I didn’t know any of my family was from this area.

What I am doing… I’m packing, purging, downsizing and preparing for the move. I was surprised at how difficult it is to go thru all of Riley’s things and decide what to keep, give away, and just get rid of. I feel that I’m invading his privacy and erasing all evidence of his previous existence. I have stacks of books on AA with duplicate copies. What I can’t find a home for, will be donated to the local library.

When am I coming back? I never really left.  I was working diligently on the upcoming presentation in Williamsburg, VA. However, with the move and surgery looming over me, I postponed the presentation for a couple of months. I’m writing the sequel to Immortal Alcoholic’s Wife and working on another non-alcohol related fun book similar to the ABC’s of Understanding Women.

Oh my goodness, what can I tell you about my single life?? I’m still in a relationship with Sam. I have visited him after not seeing him in 13 years. Our visit was as though no time had passed between us. I am happy. Sam supports what I do and respects the memories I carry (good and bad) about Riley. He has known me for more than 20 years and the best way to describe our relationship is that we are the closest of friends. It works for us.

More about single life: When Riley died I posted on Facebook that my status was “widowed”. That was a big mistake. I am inundated with friend requests from men who were almost always “catfishers”. There have been so many that I will not accept requests from men any longer unless they are a friend of one of my friends. If you have tried to send me a request and you are male, please e-mail me and tell me you are going to send the request. Under those conditions, I will accept it when I see it come through. I gladly accept friend requests from my followers for both the "Immortal Alcoholic" page and my personal page.

It took me a while to get used to this feeling of not being responsible for someone else. But, I can honestly say, that I’m enjoying the fact that I just don’t seem to be worried about very much. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen and the direction of whatever is happening is not something I can or want to control. Most days I wake up welcoming a fresh new day. Other days… well… not so much… But the “other days” happen less often now that Riley is gone. My biggest issue is making decisions about what I want to do and when I want to do it. Being able to do ANYTHING I want (within financial reason) can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. If I just sit quietly the answers will come as they always do.

I hope I’ve answered your questions. Please keep reading my blog, books (they are available on https://www.amazon.com/Books-Linda-Bartee-Doyne/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3ALinda%20Bartee%20Doyne ), and going to my Facebook pages. I’m also on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ImrtlAlkysWife), and LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/linda-doyne-21504763/ ).  

I make no promises as to when the next post will be, but I can tell you the subject matter will most likely be more alcoholism related.

That’s all there is… remember to follow Auntie Mame’s advise to “Live, Live, Live…”

Monday, April 2, 2018

A bit about Cirrhosis

Now available for public speaking on surviving the chaos of alcoholism as a spouse or family member. Also explanations of the diseases of alcoholism from an ordinary person's point of view. E-mail at LindaWrites@live.com or ImmortalAlcoholic@gmail.com.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Monday, February 19, 2018

Month of love... Redux

This post was first published on 2/19/2014. I felt it was worthy of a re-post.

I always seem to struggle through the month of February. In my mind it’s a small month that is packed with stuff – National Freedom Day, Groundhog Day, Rosa Parks Day, National Wear Red Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, Susan B Anthony Birthday, President’s Day, and let’s add Arkansas’ Daisy Gatson Bates Day. In spite of all the listed holidays, February is still known to be the month of love. Valentine’s Day seems to over-shadow all the others.

My struggle with this month of love is that I am a romantic disguised as a cynic. I make jokes about the best thing about Valentine’s Day is the day after when the candy can be bought at 75% off. I send funny cards and reserve all my goosheyness for my great-grandbabies who loved getting my little gifts declaring my love for them. If you pull back the mask and look underneath you will find that I’m not just a romantic, I am utterly and completely hopeless. I am also a realist. I suppose that means I’m a realistic hopeless romantic.

I was watching a television program about a wedding. It was beautiful. The gown was incredible with bits of shiny beads, pearls and lace. It fit her like a glove and her beautiful figure was easily recognized. Flowers were everywhere and all the guests were both smiling and crying. It would surely be a day the couple would remember for the rest of their lives.

As I watched and listened I noticed that somewhere inside me I experienced a bit of stinging when the vows were said and done and the minister pronounced them “husband and wife.” It was like the words were said in slow motion – h u s b a n d   and    w i f e. That part is always saved to the end of the ceremony, like they don’t tell you the punch line of the joke until the end. Husband and Wife. As if their names were no longer John and Mary, but rather “husband and wife.” I turned off the television and decided to put it out of my mind by baking some bread. I like to bake as a distraction from things that are disturbing.

The baking didn’t help because I kept thinking that I didn’t really know what all that meant – or maybe I did know what it meant and was uncomfortable with it. I’m sure it’s the later of the two. I am a wife and I have a husband. It’s a path I chose many years ago – more than 40 in fact. It was decision made with open eyes. As is the case with most newlyweds, I was young and inexperienced. When I think about it now I don’t understand how young couples can be expected to make such life-altering decisions at such a delicate, tender, age. It’s like saying at age 15, I’m gonna love roses my entire life and then realizing when you’re 40, that you like hydrangeas better. I suppose that’s why divorce was invented.

Strangely, I've never been a wife to a man that I felt I could have spent my entire life with. I've been married to an abuser (Peter) and to a drunk (Riley). If I have to measure, I have far more affection for Riley than I ever had for Peter which is understandable with all things considered. I am now, and have been almost forever, Riley’s wife. That means I do wifely things. I cook, clean, organize, manage, and take care of him because he cannot do these things for himself. Sometimes I do a better job than others, but I always do something for him on a daily basis. He is my husband and that means he is my responsibility.

I could have chosen to get a divorce when I realized that taking the vows meant I would be forever tied to this other person. But, I didn't. I’m a hopeless romantic. No matter how bad things got, I stayed the hopeless romantic. I believed he would leave his mistress, Ms Vodie Aristocrat, and return to me with a renewed vigor towards saving our marriage. That did not happen. When the mistress left him behind, she left a broken man who was not recognizable as the man with whom I took my vows.

People ask me how we have been able to stay together so long. They say we must have a secret to making our marriage work. I want to scream out that the only person the marriage works for is Riley. The secret for couples to have a long marriage is to marry someone who will feel a sense of responsibility and will not leave when things are unbearable. And if you split up, make sure you maintain some semblance of a bond, so the healthy one will come to the aid of the unhealthy one during bad times. My advice is to forget love and marry for loyalty. Did I mention that I’m a cynic?

I have a love-hate relationship with Valentine’s Day. I’m jealous of the people who I believe have found that true and everlasting love that will sustain them for their entire life, yet I'm happy for them. I long to have had that with the man that I believed would be a true and loving husband. I realize that will never happen. I fantasize that there is still hope for me. I believe that I have little time or energy left to really search for him. I refute the idea that a Prince Charming will ride up and save me from the beast. I would probably tell me to ride on and go save his own self anyway. I know that I want true love. I doubt that it will come to me in this lifetime.

Maybe there should be two types of marriages. First there should be the young love marriage that allows for the procreation of our species. If it lasts forever, that’s great. The second type of marriage is one based on practicalities like common interests, friendships, sexual compatibility and has nothing to do with producing offspring. This second type of marriage would happen at a later age when each individual has already been through the first type of marriage. Each individual would know themselves as their own person and would be better able to communicate wants, needs, desires, dreams, etc. In fact, the second type of marriage doesn't even have to be a licensed marriage. It could be just two people who join together with a common goal.

In my opinion, the chances of have a “first type” marriage that lasts till death do part is rare. No one is the same at age 60 as they are at age 20. If what you’re looking for is a “death do part” marriage, don’t get married until you’re already in your 50’s. It’s easier to keep the romance alive over a period of 20 or 30 years than it is 50 or 60 years.

This year on Valentine’s Day I did my usual cynical stuff. I laughed and carried on. Inside I was conflicted. Maybe just staying in bed under the covers for the entire month would have been a better way to handle things. Oh no… wait… I just realized that June will be upon is in no time. June is the wedding month… here I go again.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Forget the chick flicks

If you’ve been following my blog for a while you will know that I have a love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day. In my opinion, the best part is that on the 15th of Feb, all the Valentine candy will be half price. That’s a decent reward for enduring all the syrupy sweet advertising and romantic chick flicks.

It’s really isn’t that I’m not romantic because I truly am a romantic at heart. But, I don’t need a specific day to remember that I should be romantic to the people I love. Well… I know it’s not just about the romance; it’s really about expressing your feelings for those you love. I like to send little cards to my grandchildren and others who have a place in my heart. It’s fun for them to receive a little something in the mail.

Would I like to get a bouquet of peonies today? Well, of course I would. They are my favorite flower and I’d love to get them ANY day of the year. Although it would be nice, it is not a requirement for me to receive anything on this day. I would really rather just not look at today as anything special. However, if you want to send me peonies, please send them because you like me and not because some greeting card company has declared this as being the day dedicated to “love.”

Back in my younger day, I would be all ga-ga over whatever my man would give me or do for me on this day. In fact, Riley was an awesomely romantic guy. He would make dinner reservations and have a single red rose at my place at the table. He would send flowers to my office. Of course, as our marriage sank into that alcoholic abyss, he never even noticed it was February; let alone what day it was. Valentine’s Day lost any importance to me.

Over the years, I treated today just like any other day. I ignored the love birds swooning over one another and tried to find a direction for my eyes that didn’t include any lovers. I confess that it was difficult. But I had the kids to focus on and they were always excited for the day when they would receive little cards from school mates. For them, the best part of the day was the cupcakes and punch during their class party.

Now that Riley is gone and I’m now unmarried, I still don’t long for all the Valentine Day hoop-la. I’m still thinking, “Oh wouldn’t it be nice to get flowers,” but not really caring if I do or not. Valentine’s Day is still a day that I stay home, draw the curtains, and stay in my jammies. I won’t watch any chick flicks on TV, but will do a marathon viewing of any and all Arnold, Segal, Sylvester, and Willis movies that I can find.

I know… I know… you’re thinking that I’m jealous of all those people who are popping open that heart shaped box and inhaling the lovely aroma of chocolate. Maybe you think I’m secretly crying in my coffee because no one realizes that I’m essentially alone on this day of love. You could be right. But while I might be missing that chocolate essence and the attention from a man who cares about me, I don’t begrudge anyone else’s experience.

I suppose it’s a part of my philosophy of living until you die. If you can’t have everything you love, then love what you can have. Life is too short to sit around and mope over not having the sweet stuff of your dreams. Do what you enjoy and enjoy doing it. How productive is it, in the grand scheme of things, to wring your hands and cry buckets of tears because you can’t always have what you want?

You are probably asking… “What about Sam?” Sam and I have a very long distance relationship. We are not your typical couple. I don’t need him to fawn over me and shower me with gifts. He gives me what I need by engaging in conversations that have more to do with each of our activities, plans and interests. We don’t judge our relationship by other people’s standards and we don’t adhere to rules made up by whoever it is that makes up rules. Things are good and that’s the best Valentine’s Day gift I could have.

Valentine’s Day can be tough for those of you who are in an alcoholic relationship. My suggestion is to make yourself your own Valentine and do what feels best for you. Make yourself happy because you are the best Valentine that you’ll ever have.  

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Six words equal Survival

When I first started writing the blog, I had already done months’ worth of research in order to get answers that were written in a format that I could understand. It didn’t happen overnight. I recall how I came upon each subject for research in The Immortal Alcoholic’s Wife.

However, there was a topic that I just couldn’t get my head around. The idea of recovery for the people who care about the alcoholic seemed to escape me. In my mind the only way for a spouse to recover from all that nonsense was to just get a divorce – leave him/her – kick ‘em to the curb! But there are also parents and children and friends and partners and co-works… the list goes on. What would be the answer to recovery for everyone?

As time went on, I discovered that the families and friends may need recovery just as much as the alcoholic. That’s why Al-Anon was created. It was to provide courage, strength and hope to the families and friends of alcoholics. There are 12 steps and 12 traditions that provide the handrails up the recovery ladder. Al-Anon provides a wonderful place for those just starting out in the realization and acceptance of being involved with an alcoholic.

But for me, the concept of recovery goes far deeper. There are so many of us that cannot or will not dump the alcoholic for some reason or another. Often when the alcoholic becomes end-stage separating from the alcoholic becomes just as problematic as the drinking itself. Everyone must make their own decision on leaving, staying, or whatever. For those people – the caretakers of end-stage alcoholics – recovery is most important. Maybe even not just the end-stagers, but all-stagers remaining in the situation.

Instead of the word “recovery” I like the word “survival”. How does the family or friend SURVIVE when in this impossible, nonsensical, frustrating situation? I sum it up with several words. KNOWLEDGE. SUPPORT. HEALTH. PASSION. LAUGHTER. SMILE.

KNOWLEDGE – As the alcoholic succumbs to different illnesses and conditions through the stages of the disease, do your research and learn everything you can about the physical biology that going on inside that alcoholic body. Also, learn about your legal standing, the workings of the hospital and hospice, know absolutely everything about your health insurance. Don’t just depend on an answer from a friend of a friend who once shook hands with someone who may have drank too much at a party… Find out for yourself through internet research, the library, speaking with a professional. Knowledge is the key to survival – I’ve said it a million times. Make all decisions based on knowledge that you know to be a fact.

SUPPORT – No matter how much research you do, there’s nothing like confirmation from someone who has been in your shoes. An exchange of ideas and experiences can be a life preserver in the midst of a super storm. Don’t just stick with only one support program because there are many out there. So if one doesn’t work, check it off your list and move on. Something will fit and you will be grateful to have found it. I offer OARS F&F Group on Facebook. You must e-mail me to be sent an invitation to the group.

I offer inexpensive ($10/hour) coaching sessions via the telephone. Send an e-mail to ImmortalAlcoholic@gmail.com and I'll provide you the telephone number.

Sometimes insurance will cover a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in substance abuse.  

HEALTH – While you may be consumed with the health issues of the alcoholic, don’t forget that you may have your own health issues that need attending. You can’t take care of anyone else if you are too run down to take care of yourself. Get your check-ups. Take your medication and stay as physically fit as you possibly can. You will need all your strength to survive the chaos.

PASSION – Find your passion in life. Do you like bird-watching? Are you a writer? Is cooking your thing? Whatever it is, find it and do it. Don’t let anything the alcoholic is currently messing with stop you from enjoying the satisfaction of doing something you really want to do. While being involved in the activity you will most likely meet other people who also enjoy your passion. Having friends who are uninvolved with alcoholism is often a breath of fresh air when you feel your head is surrounded by the smog of drunkenness. Don’t deny yourself some normalcy. Those who are really – I mean REALLY – lucky can turn their passion into a new money-making venture. I’ve heard that if you make money doing what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. How awesome would that be?

LAUGHTER – Laughter truly is often the very best medicine. So you’ve been crying for days and the depression hole is so deep that you can’t even see the light from the top. STOP whatever it is you are doing and just laugh. Laugh at a comedy on TV; the squirrels playing in the yard; the crazy thought you just had; something some uninformed know-it-all said to you yesterday; the outfit you threw on this morning. It doesn’t matter what you laugh at or even if it is funny or not, just laugh anyway. Laughing fills your lungs with oxygen which makes your brain function in a clearer manner. It makes you feel physically more refreshed. It’s not just about attitude – it’s an exercise for good health.

SMILE – I have found that I smile at everyone I possibly can and I feel a bit calmer inside. I like to believe that I’m helping someone else by sharing that smile. When I wake up in the morning, no matter how I feel about another day, I always say “Gooood Morning!” and I say it with a giant smile. Even though my day may go rapidly downhill, I have started out on a good note. My mother used to tell me that if you smile, people will either think you are a happy person or wonder what you have been up to. I like both of those reactions.

I think we can all benefit from surviving whatever it is that is causing stress. Survive from being a caretaker of an alcoholic. Survive from the stress of having an alcoholic boss. And when you are on the survival road… don’t forget to smile!

There are books out there that may help. The following may be found on Amazon.com by clicking on the title:

The following titles were written by me (Linda Bartee Doyne):

     Workbook for Caretakers of End-Stage Alcoholics
     The Immortal Alcoholic's Wife
     Surviving the Chaos

You may also be interested in:

     The Alcoholic Husband Primer (Survival Tips for the Alcoholic Wife) by Wren Waters
     Living with a Functioning Alcoholic by Neill Neill
     The Adult Children of Alcoholics Syndrome by Wayne Kritsberg