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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.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bad choices...

I’ve been a bit under the weather lately. With a lot of dental work going on, I’m unable to eat the foods I love – like crunchy fresh broccoli and crisp green salads. Instead my diet has included mostly soft foods, such as mashed potatoes and soups. As a result my energy – and my tolerance – is low.

During this time I’m thankful that Riley is not drinking. He has been attentive and understanding. He offers to cook for me so that I will not quit eating all together. He even baked a peanut butter coffee cake – and it was yummy. It was his first attempt at baking from a recipe rather than a box. He’s a great baker – who knew!!  I’m hoping that his new found interest in baking will help detour his mind off the alcoholic path.

(If you want the recipe for peanut butter coffee cake -- e-mail me and I'll send it along.)

Riley tells me that alcohol is always in his brain. It’s just under the surface and never goes away. He can’t get to it right now because of being so far out in the country and not having transportation. But, if he could, he would get that bottle and get back on his hazy train.  And I wonder – whose fault is that? Who is really to blame?

Back in the day – when I was first coming to realize that there was a problem – I blamed myself. If Riley came home drunk, in my mind, it had to be because he didn’t want to come home to me or the kids. If he got drunk on the weekend, I thought I didn’t clean the house enough, cook the right foods, look sexy enough. Much like an abused spouse – I felt it was always my fault.

Now, 40 years later, I know without a doubt that I had nothing to do with Riley being an alcoholic. After more than a dozen rehab centers, I know that the only one responsible is Riley. When Riley empties that bottle down his gullet next time – he will be the only one to blame.

I’m sure I’ll get a couple of nasty comments over that statement. But, before you put your anger in writing – think about this. If a person has had four nearly fatal detox episodes and also has been to more than a dozen rehab centers – don’t you think he would know that the bottle is not his friend?? When his grandchildren refuse to let him hold his great-grandson because he is so filthy and drunk -- and now he is sober and are welcomed to be a part of that great-grandson’s life – why would you go back to the bottle?

What I believe is, within the confines of Riley World, alcoholism is a disease of bad choices. Riley has the knowledge. He has the experience and even with his brain damage he has the intelligence.   Yet, he makes it clear that if given the choice, he will choose Vodka.

Once Riley has taken that first drink, everything changes. The choice he made will take hold and will not let him choose anything else freely again until he detoxes from the first choice – the one to take that drink.

When Riley has once again made a bad choice of inviting his friend Vodka back into his life – where is my sympathy? Where is my sadness? Where is my regret? I certainly have no sympathy for Riley, nor do I feel sadness or regret for anything I’ve done with/for Riley.

My sympathy is with the family who loved him so much and tried to help him so many times. My sadness is that he has spent so many years sitting and waiting for his next drink rather than living a truly productive and interesting life. My regret is that he has destroyed relationships and his health. But those are not things I have done. Riley must take responsibility for his own actions.

Sympathy, sadness and regret are reserved for things I neglected in my own life in order to keep him alive.


Kitty said...

you'll get no harsh words here. Every time I put a bottle to my lips I know I'm taking chances and making choices. The choice is mine to stay sober or drink.
I'm trying very hard to be mindful in my life and make sure that my drinking never escalates to where Riley is/was.
Truly, if I wanted to be completely safe I would never drink again, but that is not the choice I've made yet.

Alcoholic Daze (ADDY) said...

Well said. You must put all your strength into making yourself well and repairing the damage alcohol has caused to the whole family. Thank goodness you live out in the country and Riley cannot drink himself to death. Maybe that is the answer.

AnyEdge said...

Of course it's only his fault. His choice, his fault. Unless you force him to drink at gunpoint or something, it can never be your fault.

I know.

poet said...

just wanetd to let you know i favourited your page and commented. ;) make today GREAT you are the only one who can

Syd said...

It isn't your fault. Alcoholism made me do many things trying to find a reason for my wife's drinking. I know that none of it is my fault. It is a disease. And it affected me as well as her.