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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.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

All in the family...

Riley and I were talking – more like me reminding him that his health is failing. It diverted to him telling me that he can’t help it – it’s not his fault. He doesn’t like beer but he absolutely MUST drink it because he is an alcoholic. So why drink something you don’t even like? Why not drink vodka? He says because he has to drink the beer because he is an alcoholic. He doesn't want vodka because he will die sooner. I know and understand it’s a vicious circle. OK. Nothing new there.

The subject continues to get diverted to the people he will leave in his wake after his death. He doesn’t understand why anyone would care what he does. He feels nothing for the people who claim to be his family. He tells each of them, his daughter, grandson, and the great-grandbabies, that he loves them. But how can that be?? He tells me he has no feelings for them. I truly believe he is incapable of love. He knows he must go through the motions of loving in order to be acceptable in society – but the real feelings are just not there. I doubt he has ever truly loved anyone – ever – except MAYBE, possibly, his first wife.

I do understand that in Riley’s childhood things like the word “love” just never came up. His childhood was filled with useful, practical, essential things. Love wasn’t on the list. He learned at an early age that love wasn’t a necessity – and in fact – it was a bit of a bother.

Family – according to Riley -- his family is his brother and his oldest son (my stepson) because they share his bloodline. I guess his daughter (actually his step-daughter from before her first birthday) and grandson hold no importance to him. I understand why he doesn’t consider me as family – but the people who have looked after him, cared for him, cleaned up his vomit and poop, picked him up off the floor, provided a safe haven for him, and defended him when others put him down – those people are of little to NO importance. He has no feelings for us – except maybe contempt for trying to get him sober and, by default, keep him alive.

Riley says he has no choice but to die via alcohol, although he claims alcohol will not kill him. I tell him that’s not true. He will die of alcoholism and he does have a choice. He could try detox one more time. He could try rehab one more time. He could try sobriety one more time. He could out live all of us people that he has so much contempt for. He could possibly live long enough to repair his relationship with his oldest son. He could…. But he’s an alcoholic and can’t see past that.

He repeats that he chooses death over sobriety.

So one of the people he cares about is his brother. I like his brother very much. He is a fine man who sees clearly what Riley is doing to himself. He has grieved and suffered while watching Riley destroy his life. This man’s wife has held his hand and offered comfort and support. The big difference between Riley and his brother is that his brother truly loves his wife and children. His brother has the ability to feel emotion. I’m not sure if it was always that way for him, but his wife fits him perfectly and their marriage is strong and loving. It shows when they are together. And the love they share for their three boys is also very obvious. It makes me wonder if Riley’s brother grew up in the same house as Riley.

Riley’s oldest son stopped talking to him many, many years ago. He wants nothing to do with him and refuses any contact what so ever. This young man has been burned so many times by alcoholism – his mother – his brother – his step-brother -- all have died as a result of alcoholism. I can understand perfectly why he would not want to have anything to do with his father. Never mind the fact that his father abandoned him when he was just a young boy. He has a well-deserved axe to grind.

It is interesting that Riley denies abandoning any of his children. Well, he paid child support. Is that the same thing? Riley never played catch with any of the kids, never took them camping, never took them to the museum nor did he ever attend any functions that included the kids playing in the band or singing in the choir. Except --- Alea – she and Riley had a special bond because she was always pushing the envelope. They were each others alibi. They protected each other. He taught her to lie and sneak around. The result for me was the constant fear of what was happening to my daughter as she took those skills into her very rebellious teenage years. And now, he says he has no feelings for her. She is not really his blood therefore she is not his family.

I’m struggling.  Everyday it’s more and more of a struggle to keep in mind that my motivation was to protect my daughter from taking on a drunk who has no concern for what damage he may cause her life. The important thing for him is that he has someone to take care of him as he dives into alcoholic suicide. It really doesn’t matter who. He just needs someone to find the body.


Syd said...

I wonder just how really devoid of feelings he is. Maybe those feelings are buried so deep. Certainly, selfish and self-centeredness are the hall mark of active alcoholism. I suspect that Riley hates himself that it is hard to demonstrate or feel any love for anyone else. Sad, really.

Snapping Hound said...

You are a very very brave lady. I think unless you've lived with an alcoholic it's really hard to appreciate the warped reality and logic they have..
Both my parents died from alcohol related diseases as have have several family members and I am convinced it is a genetic abnormality which must be managed as best you can. I would also say I am probably an alcoholic who doesn't drink very much - is that a bit bonkers...? I love cooking but any recipes which call for wine are out or I buy those really small bottles of wine as I know I WILL secretly drink what is left - I clearly cannot drink in a normal way so avoid alcohol totally in the home environent and very rarely drink when I am out -it's not great but that's the way it is.
Xrespect to you brave woman

Anonymous said...

Alcoholism is a disease which takes away connectedness and compassion. It provides feelings of uselessness and self loathing. It is elegantly described in the Big Book, Riley is not unique...he has alcoholism and can still choose recovery and be amazed at the spiritual and emotional wealth it will bring him. Or not....

Colleen said...

Toxic Brain.
He can't make a decision to save his life because of brain damage. Chronic, progressive and fatal.
How can you have feelings for others when the feeling part of your brain is swimming in a pool of chronic intoxication, day after day, year after year?

jo said...

i agree that most addicts seem to be twins..i dont know which came first...the personality or the addiction.

i still dont know what is the cause exactly of mine acting so insane when he is drunk. but i do see what your doing, dear linda, and its useless.

you are talking to him like he thinks like you do, and expecting logical reasoning. it isnt gonna happen. its pointless. the best to do , if you can reach this point, is be the one there to find the body or call 911. because they are NOT gonna ever think like we do. mine also doesnt care about anyone, altho he says he does and maybe thinks he does..i dont know. but he spends no time at all with the grandkids, and gave his own sons away yrs ago. the oldest still wont have anything to do with him , either.

its almost a complete copy , each addict,,,the more i hear and read, the more they ALL are so alike.

to save us, we have to accept they simply do not think, or see life as we do and never will. tragic, yes. but trying to get him to this reality is just not gonna happen.

hugs and support to you...jo

jo said...

ps..it is prob the strangest thing i have ever lived with..this insanity, irrational, person who i no longer know. do they feel? who knows. you wont get a true answer from them.

bad of me or not,,,i quit trying with mine. yes, his health may be failing,,,altho i dont know for sure yet.

but your post struck me...i was trying that several yrs ago. it just wont work.


Gabriele Goldstone said...

The more I read of your relationship with Riley, the more I think that I will not subject myself to this future. The mind games can be torture. God, give me the strength to LEAVE! And then, as soon as I write that, I think, God, give me the strength to stay. The insanity!!
Basically, it boils down to this: I don't trust him. And once this trust is broken, it's game over. No?