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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.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Riley Life vs Linda Life

Riley’s life is sad. It has been centered in a bottle rather than what’s in his life. He doesn’t really know his children, his grandchildren or his great-grandchildren. He can no longer make decisions for himself. He is forced to live with a woman that he emotionally abused for years. Out of hundreds of women he would never choose to spend the rest of his life with me. Now that’s irony. That’s worth smiling about. (Refer to rule #7)
My life is full and happy. When I look at my grandchildren I’m down right joyous. It’s impossible to feel sadness when those little arms are reaching up to you for a hug. The richest part of my life is my family because without them I am poverty stricken. My greatest fear is to lose one of them – any of them.
I’m a mother. And that’s not a hyphenated word. I’m so much a mother that youngsters that share no DNA with me call me Momma Linda. According to my nephew, the title Aunt is synonymous with Mom. That’s pretty darn special.
True to my title – I’m fierce at protecting all those who call me Mom.

I think I must add here… two years ago my son died from an alcohol related illness. It was a sudden and shocking event. I have not yet recovered from the loss. If there is anything sad about my life – it is the loss of my son. Nothing can top that sadness. I could not protect him because I had limited knowledge of the situation. That has been the one big failure in my life. I cannot allow history to repeat itself.
The life I have now with Riley is one I have chosen to protect my children. I’m not doing anything unique. I’m just like any other Mom who wants the best for her children. My daughter and I have lived this life in the presence of drunkenness for so long that it is something that we know how to do and we still maintain our sanity. I haven’t checked the sanity meter lately, but I think it’s still registering us as sane…  well maybe borderline…
The sheer absurdity of it all is funny. How can anyone think it isn’t funny watching a man try to put on a jacket when he doesn’t realize it is upside down. It is funny when he puts the produce in the trash and the trash in the produce keeper. It is funny when he looks in the oven and can’t find the milk. It is funny when he asks if he should consider buying life insurance.
For me, Riley is just something I work my life around. But under no circumstances would I consider my life to be sad. His life is sad, but mine, although it may be frustrating, irritating, and confusing, it is also uniquely interesting and filled with joyful wonder. As in the song..  I am a  willow I can bend…


Anonymous said...

wow... I couldn't have said it better!

jo said...

i know you feel you shoulda done "something" for your son. its how we are wired as a mom. and im so sorry for your loss. my stepson was killed on his motorcycle when he was 18/ he loved that bike. what can ya do?

i pray you get past this point and see you could do nothing to stop it. my daughter went thru several yrs of drugs,and i have no idea how she survived. she just did. i tried..and of course could do nothing about it. just prayed a LOT. and came to the conclusion it wasnt up to me any more. not sure why it has taken me longer with my husband..

dear linda. i pray you can let go of the idea you could have prevented this. you know, in your mind, you couldnt. his choice, his karma, for whatever reason.

i grieve with you...hugs....he would not want you to blame yourself. we give birth, we raise them best we can and we must let go and let them fly...


Anonymous said...

I know the post is two years old...but I just found your site.'
I have been living with my alcoholic husband for 32 years, and he has been working his way toward suicide here for the last several months. He very rarely eats anything or drinks anything (but alcohol), falls frequently, and has lost a lot of weight and muscle tone. He has no strength and looks like hell. His skin is colorless except for the redness in his face.
He has always been verbally abusive and occasionally physically abusive. But now, it is like living with a demon. His thinking is so psychotic, that it would be funny if it didn’t make me so angry. He has nothing good or nice to say about anyone or anything. He constantly swears (even in his sleep) and calls people nasty names (including me). I've dealt with all of this because he has no one else or nowhere else to go.
While I think I’m still sane (miraculously enough), I’m intrigued by your ability to separate the madness from the joy. I am a Mother and /Grandmother of one…and I love them no end. But I am really struggling right now with finding any time away from the torture…to experience the joy.
I think I will be doing a lot of reading here and some occasional commenting. I have found what I was looking for in your writing…and that is the permission to say aloud that it will be a blessing when it’s over. I only worry that once he is gone, the “good times” memories will make me wish I had done more to save him. But I don’t believe there could ever be “wellness” or “good times” again. It’s gone too far…and he still won’t even admit that the booze has anything to do with it. He blames the doctors for not finding what is wrong with him. At this point I take pride in the fact that I haven’t yet tried to “hurry it along”. Trust me…I’ve thought about it. Although I have slipped him a tranquillizer a couple of times to knock his mean ass out (please excuse the language). I still make his favorite foods, hoping he will eat something. But when he doesn’t, I tell myself it’s his doing and that if he wants to die…maybe I can start living.
So I guess maybe that’s why I feel my life is so sad. I haven’t seen the person lately that I used to be. I can think of so many things I would have liked to have done in the last couple of decades…but for the attachment to him.
I need my independence. Yes….I looked ahead at the most recent post. But I’m glad I did. It gives me hope. For now…I feel a little less guilty for wishing his life away and glad that there is someone who can understand that.

Anonymous said...

As learned by physicians and counselors for over 80 years, AA is the only thing that truly works---- IF the alcoholic will embrace it.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for over a year now, and somehow I missed this post. The person who commented on this blog on July 9, 2012 could have been me writing. I did send a couple emails earlier when I first discovered the blog. My daughter-in-law told me about it. She told me I would probably be interested in it because my husband reminds her a lot of Riley.
I have a lot of the same characteristics of the caretaker, Linda, also. I didn't even recognize I was living with an alcoholic, or see anything wrong with the verbal and emotional abuse. I just dealt with it the best I could while raising our 3 children. I never wanted to leave him, and leave a legacy of divorce for our children. In some ways that has worked out to be the best for my personal situation. I also have a youngest daughter who is very close to her dad, the alcoholic. When I finally did leave for personal safety, she immediately stepped in and took over everything I was doing. Her dad is extremely functional, and some people would never realize he is an alcoholic.
He is not as close to the end stage as some alcoholics, but I'm sure the abuse on his body has started to affect him in some ways. He has quite a bit of redness in his face, and a very deep red color under his eyes. Sometimes his head seems as though it has puffed up and is larger than usual. Then it seems to go back to normal again. The redness in his face which used to only show up on occasion,now seems to be more permanent.
I am now back with him after only a short time away, where he promised he would never drink again, and that I am more important to him than alcohol. Within a day of me returning I sensed he was drinking, but I didn't think he would lie to me. I found his bottle hidden in the driveway and he denied he had put it there recently. That it must have been sitting there for months.
I have to say the only way I have found sanity is from going to regular, monthly visits to a licensed social worker, Alanon, and a lot of research about alcohol, such as this blog site. Again, I thank you so much for giving me and others a place to go and find that we are not alone in what we are dealing with.

Sherry said...

Wow. I just found this blog and it just may save my life. I have been living with my alcoholic for 32 years. My father was an alcoholic so I was used to the drill. My husband has been a "functional drunk" until the last year and it has escalated downhill fast. He has been in and out of two rehabs and recently lost his job. We have been separted for 6 months. Each stint in rehab gets my hopes up but then he drinks the very evening he gets out. He is never sober for even a day now. We have no children and I can support myself and am coming to the realization that I don't want to waste the rest of my life taking care of him. He tell me that I married him for better or worse and he will kill himself if I divorce. How do you handle somthing like that? Don't know if I could live with that on my concience.

Anonymous said...

After reading the comments by KimLoree, I cried. I am guessing she is around 60 years old. I cried because she sounded a lot like me except about twenty years older. Her sadness was so real and I am glad that she realizes that her feelings are normal. Virtually everyone married to an alcoholic has had the same thought--yes when someone physically and emotionally hurts you on a regular basis you do wish he would go away forever.

Alice in Wonderland said...

To Sherry's post of July 8 2013

I do so hope life is better for you. These are things that have helped me help myself:

1. ACA Adult Children of Alcoholics
2. Al-Anon
3. Realizing some things:
The alcoholic is already committing suicide, it just hasn't ended yet.
The single best thing I can do for the alcoholic is to be as healthy and happy as I can be. This means making quiet, gentle, firm boundaries between myself and everything unhealthy, including alcoholic behavior. Google "loving detachment."
4. Forgive, forgive, forgive, and meditate on these great "anti-false guilt" thoughts: Matthew 10:14; Matthew 18:15 - 17.