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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.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

It's a trap...

As I was reading the comments to my last post, I realized that I had fallen into a trap much like the kind you see that has a big hole in the ground covered with brush. The prey is lured toward the covered hole and eventually falls right in.

Since Riley has only been drinking beer, his outward appearance has been less “drunken like” than it was when his drink of choice was vodka. This beer thing is new to me since he has never drank very much beer in the entire 40+ years that I’ve known him.

The trap is that he appears to be able to have a conversation. His head isn’t weaving about while he’s trying to focus and the physical appearance is that of someone who has only consumed just a couple of beers. So the brush over the trap is set by means of the first bit of conversation.

The unsuspecting non-drinker is lured into an attempt to have a deeper discussion. It may start off with just a couple of innocuous questions, like: “What are your plans for today?” and at first Riley gives understandable answers. That only deepens the hole under the trap. Before you realize it you’re right in the middle of the brush and you grasp at the walls of the hole as you fall into the dark.

Such has been my conversations with Riley lately. Thanks to my readers comments, I see that clearly now. He may only be drinking beer, but the result is the same. It just isn’t as obvious now. If he had an alcohol meter on his forehead, it would register as overfilled. What a wonderful thing that would be!! -- A little meter that the non-alcoholic could use to determine if today was a good conversation day. Of course it would NEVER be a good conversation day when a person drinks in excess every single day of his life. So why bother at all?

I think the reason we try is because we sometimes still see that person that used to live in that body. I try to connect with the reasonable, loving, responsible person that was. In the case of the end-stage alcoholic – that attempt is futile.

Riley is brain-damaged and is unable to make rational, logical decisions. He has lost touch with his feelings so he feels that he has never had any. Maybe he felt too much. Maybe he has known all along that his actions were depraved. Maybe he drinks as a means to medicate himself against feeling anything.

For me, believing that he is anesthetized is far more acceptable than the things he has been saying lately. It makes sense to me and I need logic in my life. The problem isn’t in having an overpowering love for Riley that keeps me from seeing reality. I lost that loving feeling for him a very long time ago. The problem is in my attempts to include the father of my children and housemate to be something more than a person who needs my caretaking. It appears that he doesn’t really need caretaking at the moment – but that is a faulty perception based on outward appearance only.

Reality – I must remember to live in reality. It takes four years of absolute sobriety for the brain to be alcohol free. It has been less than a year since Riley’s last detox and he has drunk beer every day since. So thinking that he is capable of reason and logic is unreasonable and illogical on my part.

I think being out here in the country with so little human interaction is getting to me. I think the loneliness is making me try to have meaningful conversations and gain a connection to whatever human is in my sight. Riley is the human that I see every single day. He has become my target for breaking the monotony. This is clearly a very huge mistake. I must not except or initiate conversations concerning feelings or anything else that is subjective to my life or my household. If I need a true listening partner I must turn to Carrot or Georgia or any other sane and sober person who truly loves and understands me.

This morning Riley and I discussed Days of Wine and Roses which lead to a discussion about how far the movie industry has come in terms of technology. We discussed actors who are capable of being both the hero and the villain. It was a good conversation. There was nothing personal about the discussion. It was just two people talking over coffee. I very much enjoyed it.

However, I will not let myself be lured into that brush covered trap of thinking that the movie conversation could lead to a deeper, more meaningful conversation. If I stick with the movies and not the feelings, I’ll avoid falling into that deep, dark hole.


Have Myelin? said...

Yes, a trap. I get what you're saying. My daughter died of alcoholism but here's the weird thing. No one knew she was an alcoholic except me. She could walk a straight line every single day but I never saw her sober. I can't figure THAT out.

My boyfriend is also an alcoholic but I didn't know that until after I met him. He's been sober over 21 years though. If he ever takes a drink, I walk. I won't go through this again.

I don't know how you do it but I admire you.

Syd said...

Alcoholics and most all of us are afraid of feelings. We can talk about superficial stuff but the deep stuff is scary. I suspect Riley is frozen in fear. But it is easier to succumb to the disease than to seek a solution. I hope that you do have others to talk to.

Ann said...

Linda! Welcome back to the land of the sane and sober!

jo said...

hey linda. good insight. it is so hard to keep on a straight path when we deal with them every day. we question our sanity, we begin to expect normal things..and mine drinks beer, and its as bad as any other alcohol.

what we wish for simply isnt gonna happen. and yes, its so hard.

hang in there. jo

jo said...

ps...mine can only have 4 beers before he begins to lose making sense. 6 and he stumbles. over 6 and he is extremely hard to handle..mean...angry,,,and totally insane.

dunno what this means unless his liver ,,,which he still is compensated...so i dunno...i only know beer is BAD.

thought i would add this. hugs...

jo said...

to have myelin...

my dad was like that. drank whiskey and every min every day after he retired. never looked or sounded drunk.

my husband can have 4 beers and walk into walls. i dont get it either.


Tammy said...

Thank you. I needed to hear this. I'm coming out of my own denial about my husband's middle-stage alcoholism. I get brief glimpses of who he was and I latch on again hoping for the deeper conversations and feelings. The result is always the same: I end up in tears because alcohol always wins. It is easy to detach during the times when he is being a real ass. It is much harder to stay detached when I see, even for a moment, the kind and loving man he once was. He averages a case of beer a day and it is often impossible for me to tell if he has been drinking unless I see it or smell it. He talks and walks normal. Though, the past few weeks I've discovered an interesting way to see the effects of alcoholism on my husband. When we try to play even a simple board game with our children, he has a difficult time understanding and following the game--even games we have played before. The rules often have to be explained several times to him. It's in those moments that I realize how much his alcoholism has consumed him.

Alcoholic Daze (ADDY) said...

I'm sorry to keep saying it, but this sounds all so familiar. I know you know what lurks in the future,as you openly acknowledge that Riley is at the end-stage. I feel for what you are going through (and will go through). It is not a good place to be.

Karen E. said...

I feel for you..Sometimes there is a light of somewhat alertness with my mom and I think Okay..shes back..she may even go a day or two without drinking much.. She has come back so many times thru the years that I find myself expecting it... it doesnt happen..she is too far gone.. she is never coming back. That inch of alertness is usually followed by a stronger bender than before..took her to her hair salon on Friday..she fell trying to get in the chair... Today she asked me to paint her toe nails..I refused and told her why..she rarely bathes, shuffles around bare foot..and frankly I DO ENOUGH ALREADY... chalked that offer up to "control" that you mentioned in a previous post! she asked again (not remembering our previous convo..she got the same answer and didnt like it any better..Oh well

Gabriele Goldstone said...

My husband had a brain injury 25 years ago. A serious, life-threatening one. I'd say the alcohol has done more injury than the greyhound bus that he slammed into ever day. Talking to him - is mostly like talking to the wall. So I've stopped. But I'm starting to think ... like why am I living like this? Because I feel sorry for him?
Is that a good enough reason?

Gabriele Goldstone said...

p.s. I understand the thing about family board games - although my husband has now stopped drinking - he doesn't get the rules.

Also, typo: s/b bus he slammed into THAT day.

I know my husband is a desperate man. But why must I be his saviour???

Colleen said...

To Have Myelin-- I am so sorry.
My Alcoholic is having a good week.
Meaning generally pleasant behavior, drinking but not getting drunk. Being NICE. So I have to be careful not to fall into my own trap, of believing that Just because today is good, doesn't mean the tomorrow will be.
The isolation, I know that all too well, and do it myself, and have to really sometimes push myself to connect with others.

Karen E. said...

To Collen: the isolation can be the worse thing of the many things we have to deal with while caring for an end stage or near end stage...Its been a year since we have invited anyone over for dinner or a swim in the pool... My husband and I took separate vacations this summer because someone had to be here to look after her..you cant ask the avg person...and all other family walked away years ago..considering hiring someone so we can get away together..but they would probably call the EMT when she has made clear she doesnt want to ever go back to hospital..but the avg human would not understand.

Anonymous said...

Linda, I only just today discovered your blog, ad thank you so much for it. I've only had time to read the most recent few posts, but your descriptions of Riley perfectly match descriptions I could give of my 77-year-old mother. She was a functional alcoholic for decades, and has been end stage for five years. She would rather die than not drink. She thinks people believe her when she says she seldom drinks. She soils herself and pretends she didn't. Yesterday when I called her at 3:00PM, she had thought it was 3:00AM.

I am glad to meet you, and will continue reading your blog. Shame has kept me from posting about my mother's terminal alcoholism. Your courage is comfort.


Karen E. said...

plumtreeblossom: My thoughts are with you. My 70 yr old mother is end stage too. I now live with her. Same symptoms..I woke up for work at 6am yesterday..She said she didnt know I was home so she went ahead and warmed up some rice and gravy for dinner...ITS 6 am hello!

Linda (Immortal Alcoholic's Wife) said...

I'm so happy to see people commenting in my blog to each other. It's great that a support system is being establihsed. It really helps to remind each other that we are not alone in end-stage.

Remember that you can go to my Facebook page and talk more directly to each other. Just "like" my page and you'll be free to post. I think this is a great tool that isn't being utilized enough.


Anonymous said...

Just found your blog and it has just saved my life. I thought I was the one that was crazy and losing my mind. Now I see it's just the end stages of my husbands addiction that is driving me insane. He too has been detoxed and several rehabs and now there is not a rehab for miles that will take him. He's ran out of the option of using rehab to "cool me down" as he calls it. I say why bother with rehab anymore, you drink the day you get out and the cost of it is taking away from the family anyway. We are 48 yrs old and have a 4yr & 5 yr old children. I have a older daughter 25 yrs old and she said something to me that made total sense. "Mom you didn't put up with crap from my dad and divorced him , so why are you putting up with it from their dad?" Husband hasn't been in the home since april when picked up for DUI (AGAIN) and wanted me to bail him out. Told him to enjoy his vacation for awhile there because i was going to enjoy mine for 21 days. AND IT WAS WONDERFUL, no contact from him (oh he tried to call collect from the jail but i refused the calls). Went to rehab when released from jail, 2 weeks in found drinking and thrown out. went another facility,more of a men's homeless shelter, hid it for awhile there then they seen he was drinking and boom he was out. thought he was coming back here but BOOM to him. He's living in a flea bag (sorry insult to the fleas) hotel. He's trying to get back into some rehabs he tried before but they have told him no the will not take him back. his primary care doctor dropped him and said he wasn't wasting his time on someone who didn't want to change and kept lying about his addiction. told him he was going to die if he continued. I told him i was not fighting for his life anymore but now going to live my life. i have 2 children and a ailing mother who depend on me. he's a grown man and he can figure out how to get his drink he could figure out how to wash his own drawers. I haven't heard from him in 2 days now and yes i wonder and worry that he's ok but I"m not calling to check on him. I figure if he's hurt the hospital will call (if he remembered to carry or hasn't lost his wallet) and if in jail i can check the website to see his mug shot. i have realized that he does not want help so i'm not wasting my life or the kids life on his addiction anymore. They shouldn't have to watch their father being taken off in an ambulance because he doesn't know who any of us are and thinks he riding a horse in the middle of the bed. (Yes i do laugh about that now).I just don't see my husband and best friend in the shell of what is called his body anymore. I"m tired of the mental and verbal abuse. He's stated that he just wants to get the bottle and drink till he's dead. So sad that a person can feel that way about themself. Yes people think you are cold hearted when you decide to walk away from it. But I tell them they are more than welcome to take him into their home and give it a try. They usually shut up after that. WHEN THEY ARE GOOD THEY ARE VERY GOOD, BUT WHEN THEY ARE BAD THEY ARE VERY VERY BAD. Thank you for letting me vent and find peace of mind from your blog.