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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.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Positively negative...

My family tells me that I’m one of the most positive people they know. But then, they ARE my family – so I believe they must be a bit prejudiced. They love me. They may not always understand me and sometimes they just down-right don’t approve of some of the things I do. I always give them something (or someone) to talk about during family backyard barbecues. I really don’t mind being the fodder of their jolly. It creates conversation and makes them express their opinions. It makes them appreciate their own lives and helps them to see that they all may have different options.

When I was having a lot of dental work done, one of my nieces said to me with that little laugh… “Oh… Aunt Linda, you make having a root canal sound like something to look forward to!” Why not?? The end result would be straight teeth and the ability to chew food on both sides of my mouth. I was definitely looking forward to that. The procedure was just a stopping place in the journey to a healthy mouth. That’s a positive.

Riley’s journey through alcoholism can be looked at as both a positive and a negative. For me alcoholism is a negative. Riley doesn’t see it that way – he believes it’s the best possible way to live his life. For him being drunk is a positive. He wishes he could stay drunk without being alcoholic, but he knows that’s not reality and for him that is a negative. On the other hand, he is positively happy that I no longer try to force sobriety down his throat. There is a peace in this house because of that and that is a positive for both of us.

I am very positive that I’m fortunate that Riley is not a violent drunk. He is abusive – without a doubt – but it’s all mental abuse and I can handle that. I’ve detached from the drunken Riley and no longer take any abuse personally. I do get caught off guard and that’s when I’m vulnerable to his words. When that happens, I’m negative about being able to follow through on my commitment to stay with him until he expires.

The future for Riley does not have a positive outcome. He will die as a result of excessive alcohol abuse. I do not believe there is any hope of him miraculously deciding to become sober. Been there! Done that! In fact, I doubt I could find a rehab center that would admit him. He has a tendency to not participate in his own recovery. Anyone dealing with an end-stage alcoholic knows the frustration of having great hope as the alcoholic heads toward sobriety just to be slapped down when the drinking resumes. There is nothing positive about that – so – YES – I’m negative about Riley’s chances for sobriety.

Reality sometimes sucks. But ignoring reality is worse. I don’t live in a world where I can create my own reality which does not match the way things really are. I don’t live in Alice’s Wonderland, but instead I live above the rabbit hole. The reality of alcoholism is that there are only two ways out – sobriety or death. I’m realistic about Riley not choosing sobriety. I’m realistic that alcohol kills. I’m realistic that I must protect my own life while protecting my daughter from the destruction of alcohol.

I believe that trying to force an end-stage alcoholic into sobriety is not rational. In fact, trying and trying can make a person insane. I think Albert Einstein said it best when he said that the definition of insanity is “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  A definition of rational is “Consistent with or based on reason; logical” as shown in www.thefreedictionary.com. With those two definitions, I believe I can surmise that the thought of Riley choosing sobriety would be both irrational and therefore – insane. I have choices too – I can choose that insane way of thinking or I can be a rational realist. I choose the later.

To sum it all up – I think the best description of me is – I’m a positive person, a rational realist, who thinks negatively about Riley’s recovery while realistically accepting life as it is in the present and the probable future. That about sums it up.


Alcoholic Daze (ADDY) said...

At least you are mentally prepared for what is bound to come. I found that after Greg's death, I was able to move on much more easily than others seemed to do, because I had been so realistic about the outcome. You lost Riley to alcoholism years ago. When he finally dies, you will find life is not altogether different for you.....if anything, much calmer.

jo said...

good stuff. i agree and find myself ok until im caught off guard by a behavior. i cant seem to stop the human expectations all the time.

i am getting real tired of the pornographic stuff tho. im no prude but this stuff turns my stomach. sober he still shows the idiot reasoning,,more and more lately. i have examples if you want!

hang in there. im not sure they will ever die...i know...cold bad me! i just wish mine would shut up.

Gerry said...

I can remember my mom expressing disappointment and frustration because my dad just wasn't dying as the doctor said he would! I heard him say to her, "I am just not dying soon enough to suit you!" But my dad was a man of property and assets, some of it his from having inherited from his dad. In the meantime he had still managed to inspire enough love and dependence in us daughters that we greatly feared he would die. We did not want either of our parents to die and were upset when our mother wished him dead. When my dad was too much for me, as an adult, if I went to his home for a refuge, or as a caretaker at the end, I made plans to leave him, which is what I thought my mother should have done rather than openly expressing a wish for his death. I don't think any of us should get to that point in a relationship. My companion before my present one, Doc was also an alcoholic, and a smoker, but I ended up preparing to leave him because of infidelity (he was a bisexual) when he got lung cancer. I ended up being his caretaker until his death a year later, because he started with excruciating pain, and I did not begrudge him my efforts to ease his misery because he had been good enough to me that I felt like doing that for him. But I think if you get to the point that you can't help wishing for that person's death, you have gone beyond your capacities to be his caretaker and should recognize that fact. Wishing for a person's death is a preliminary step before murdering him. My previous companion's wife started telling everyone that nobody would blame her if she put a contract out on Pierre's life! I finally said after she said this publicly 3 times in my hearing, have you ever heard of d-i-v-o-r-c-e? She promptly divorced him. Divorce is better than murder! I thought that my mom needed to leave my dad before she did try to murder him or he tried to murder her! I hope you can stay sane until Riley's death, but if you feel yourself slipping I am sure your daughter would rather take care of him a while than see you made too miserable and unhappy caring for him too long.

Gerry said...

As a matter of fact my dad did attempt to kill my mother before she finally left him, and I am sure the feeling was mutual. She became convinced he was trying to lure her out in the desert so there would be a murder and a suicide which happens all too frequently in our society. We daughters at that point were trying desperately to get them to end this marriage. It had become extremely toxic for both, but my mother later accused me of trying to get her to divorce him so I could get more assets. She also claimed to me I had said he would probably live 15 more years, and instead of that he died two years after she left him. My mother had such an interest inheriting his assets that she accused me of trying to get them to divorce even though they were admittedly trying to kill each other!

Linda (The Immortal Alcoholic) said...

Gerry -- I would like to invite you to join me and some of my readers to my FACEBOOK page -- it's The Immortal Alcoholic. If you click on "LIKE" you can post comments. This is where you can have a dialog with others who in my exact situation. This is the link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Immortal-Alcoholic/128150943916541

I think you're missing something here -- the only reason Riley is with me is to prevent him from destroying my daughter's life. As a mother, protection of my off-spring is THE most important thing. I would have to be dead before she takes him into her home.

The idea that I'm trying to murder him is so far off base. Especially when you consider that between me and my daughter, we have pulled him from the banana peel of death at least three times.

I know you've had heart ache from alcoholism. I understand and I do have empathy for what you've been through.

Please read the post "How did I get here" from October 19, 2010. This will help you understand where I'm coming from.

I do have a suggestion for you -- you are choosing alcoholics over and over again -- maybe you should take a look at why you do that. I'm just sayin...

Deb said...

Linda, I have only found your blog in the last few days, and I am profoundly grateful for you and for your writing. As many others have said, you express the deepest thoughts and feelings for each of us who endure this abyss of sadness, heartsickness, and frustration. (for myself, mixing in some anger with a hint of bitterness.)

I think it possible that Gerry missed your main point, which from my perspective, was that Riley will never be sober, so accept that reality and move forward accordingly.

I would really like to participate on your Facebook page, but cannot figure it out. I joined Facebook last year at this
very time but usually read and not write. I will ask my
daughter for help, but any suggestions are welcomed.

Blessings on you, Linda. Each day is a struggle, yet also a gift. I will seek to follow your example and be both strong and a realist. Thank you!

Syd said...

It is a lot to detach from.

BHorton said...

My husband woke me up last night to tell me he thinks he has prostate cancer and that he doesn't have long to live. He wanted to talk to me about making his will and what he wanted done (or not done) with the house upon his death. I, of course, suggested that he see his doctor as he was in obvious pain, and he told me there was no point and that he had been fighting addiction all his life and didn't want the house to end up going to the hospital. Of course he was quite inebriated at the time of this discussion, but I understand his point and believe him when he says he doesn't want to prolong the inevitable. It just makes me so terribly sad. While my wish for him is to find sobriety the reality is that that is never going to happen and I come to believe this with all my heart. I understand that he hates himself and his life the way it is, but is powerless over alcohol and always will be. I know that many alcoholics beat it, my mother did and just celebrated 23 years of sobriety, but she was never end stage. Just a couple of years ago I still held out hope that he could beat it, but that hope is gone and I don't believe it will return. I love the man I married and am so saddened by what has become of him, but that man has been gone for such a long time. I still miss him very much and am so sad that all the dreams we had when we got married were swollowed up by alcohol. What I want most for him now is peace and if that makes me an awful person, so be it, but I know in my heart that is what he wants most also.

Thank you so much Linda for sharing yourself and your journey. I wish peace for you and Riley in whatever form that takes.

Terri said...

I, too, was married to an end stage, verbally abusive alcoholic, who I took care of for years. I disagree Gerry, wishing someone dead is not the same as/first step toward murdering someone. I don't know what you have been thru in your life, but I can tell you, dealing with my ex husband for all those years, yes, I definitely wished him dead, many times. Not because I hated him so, although at times, I have to admit it was, especially when he was at his worst mentally. And I just couldn't take it anymore. I was mentally and physically drained. Basically though, I knew he was going to die of alcoholism/liver disease and a host of other ailments alcohol had caused, and he was causing such chaos, havoc, financial and emotional drain on me, and he became a pathetic shell of a man with no mind left to even do menial tasks like tie his shoes, no physical strength, could barely walk, talk or eat, defacated in his pants, etc., that it would be a blessing to all concerned if he finally succomed to his disease, the same as if someone I loved was dying of terminal brain cancer and becoming a vegetable. I'd just wish to put him/her out of their misery. It is not easy to be a caretaker to an end stage alcoholic ... and not every end stage alcoholic is the same ... some are far worse than others. I empathize with you all.

Jennifer said...

So sad we all have this in common. My husband, too, is chronically depressed and hates himself. My situation is different because I am still in love with him, holding onto those rare moments when I catch a glimpse of the real him glimmering out of the hole he usually hides in -- when he can occasionally smile or make eye contact. The part of your article, Linda, that stands out to me is the alcohol as good/bad part. Spending all these years married to an alcoholic actually brough out strengths in me I would never otherwise have developed: if I married a stable provider, I never would have driven my carreer so adamantly as the breadwinner of the family; I have survived the mistreatment, infidelities, frustrations, and mental abuse in order to keep our family in tact and protect my children as much as it was in my power to do so (though, I wish I could have prevented the emotional pains they did still ineveitably suffer as children of an alcoholic). Though this journey has brought out the best in me (sure, I come out looking great -- the strong one, the one everyone pats on the back saying, "I don't know how you do it; you're a saint for sticking with him"), it is unfortunately at his expense. Now, his depression stems from what he never accomplished and everything he missed or did wrong (even though he doesn't even remember much of the worst of it) -- he looks at me with pained helplessness when he wants to die so I can have what he thinks is the better man I deserve. I know all the reasons I love him and don't want anyone else, but he can no longer see those in himself. The saddest thing about this later stage of alcoholism is watching the addiction turn the one I love completely against himself. This is not the life he would have chosen. There's a really good man his drunken addict's brain will never see. He is dead to himself, mourning the loss of who he once was and the father/husband he could have been. In the long run, his alcoholism brought out the best in me; but it has destroyed him.

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

One common trait I find in caretakers of end-stage alcoholics. They all end up being very strong, determined people. We find strengths from dealing with things others would never even attempt. It's unfortunate that this is the route. I don't know if I ever would have completed a book if it had not been for caretaking Riley. I've started many -- but never finished. No matter what the catalyst is for me growing and expanding my abilities -- I will welcome it. But, it's bittersweet accomplishments.