Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Happy anniversary (Part One)...
I began this blog a year ago. I thought I would just write some stuff down to get it off my chest. I had almost no support system and Al-Anon just didn’t seem to fit. I planned on being my own support group. I didn’t ever expect I would be having 7,000 hits a month or that I would be getting more than 20 e-mails in a day. October 19th will mark the first anniversary of The Immortal Alcoholic. In recognition, I am writing three posts concerning my life and journey with Riley. One is early history up to our move to
. The second is since we arrived in North Carolina . And the third (which will be posted October 19th) is life in the country and what I see for the future. North Carolina
Riley and I had been married for more than 22 years when I left him. His drunken behavior had become intolerable. The womanizing, lying, and over-spending was too much for me to handle. Riley had retired from the Navy and although the plan was for him to work in the civilian world until our house was paid off, he decided working would cut too far into his drinking time. The house was foreclosed on and our two cars were repo’d. Although I was working 3 jobs to make ends meet, I was happier without him. I did not want a divorce because I would lose my military benefits.
I made a good life for myself. I went back to school. My career was going great. My children were doing well and I occasionally communicated with Riley who was living in a different state.
Riley decided he wanted to move back to
and would share a house with my brother. But, by the time he got there, my brother was diagnosed with leukemia and I had moved in to his house to oversee his care. Riley rented a small cottage close to my daughter. My brother died just 3 months after being diagnosed. California
Riley was asked to leave the cottage because the owners were concerned about the safety of both Riley and their cottage. Riley was often found passed out in the driveway and forgot to turn the burners off on his stove. He had no place to go. My daughter was living in a very small apartment with her husband and son and they had no place for him. She asked if he could move into my brother’s house with me. It was OK with me because I was looking for my own place. Riley could stay there with my nephews.
When the landlord of my brother’s house decided to put the house on the market, Riley was again left with no where to go. I told him he could move with me to my new house if he first went into rehab. I knew it was a long shot since he had been through many rehabs before, but I felt it was necessary to give it another try. He had been through a near fatal detox once before, but my daughter and I believed it was the only way he could share my home.
This detox was worse than the one before. We were told he would not survive. My son flew in from overseas. My family gathered as we waited for his passing. We watched and held his hand as he sunk deeper into a place that we could not go. He became violent. We observed this normally peaceful man being bound to his bed as he tried to assault the nursing staff. He didn’t know who we were and we certainly didn’t know who he was.
Then one day, we walked in and found him sitting up and eating lunch. Shock and confusion were the immediate reactions. That’s when we sat down with the doctors and became educated about detox’s pros and cons. We couldn’t believe what we were hearing, but knew we were being told the truth. We also didn’t know why we were hearing this now instead of before he was admitted.
We didn’t expect Riley to go into the rehab center, but he did. He was sober for more than four years. After the first year of sobriety, he decided he wanted to live on his own. I was happy for him and encouraged his move. He was very active in AA and had a strong support group.
He had been on his own for just about three years when he went to visit our daughter who lived in
. He made a startling confession to her. He said he didn’t want to go to the liquor store to buy vodka, but that he was drinking Listerine as a substitute. Somehow, in his mind, this was better. My daughter told him that Listerine was not intended to be consumed and that he should re-think his logic. They went to several AA meetings during the visit. When he returned home, he came to my house and said that he didn’t want to be sober. He said he would rather be drunk than sober. He didn’t ask to come back to my house. He just wanted me to know. He waited a few more months before he began drinking vodka again. He went rapidly down hill from there. North Carolina
I moved to SoCal to further my career. Almost two years later, my son died of an alcohol-related death. It was devastating. My daughter was inconsolable. She begged me to move to
. I agreed. North Carolina
At about the same time I received a phone call from Riley’s roommates. They were going to have him committed as being a danger to himself and others. As Riley’s legal spouse, they wanted to know if I wanted to come get him instead. I thought – “Hell no. Let them do with him whatever.” But, when my daughter found out, she started making plans for him to live with her and her husband. I stepped in, moved him to my house and prepared for our move to
. North Carolina
A few months before the move, Riley became much worse. I got a doctor and he ordered hospice. Riley was dying and had less than a few weeks to live. Even with detox, the consensus was that he would not survive. A visiting nurse told me to not be too hasty calling the paramedics and make the call when Riley was unconscious. I couldn’t stand watching him suffer with vomiting blood, incontience, loss of bowel control and oozing of his open sores, so I made the call.
Riley was hospitalized and I listened once again that he would not make it through the detox process. This time I was alone. I watched and waited. Just as before, when I walked into his room, I found a bright, cheerful man rather a yellowish lump of flesh. He went to a skilled nursing facility to regain his strength. He refused to go to rehab and made it clear that once he returned home, he would resume drinking. He was true to his word. I refused to buy it for him so he walked to the store each day to get his supply. By the time we boarded the airplane for our move, he was drinking almost a handle (the largest bottle) of vodka a day.
at 11:47 AM