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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.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I want it now!!...

There was another argument in my house this morning. It’s not a new issue. We don’t seem to have any NEW issues anymore, just the same ones over and over again.

Each morning we sit at my desk and have discussions on how things should go for the day, what we should spend money on, what needs to be done, and/or what groceries to buy. Today Riley told me that he needs some clothing – socks, underwear, jeans. That’s not a problem. I know he needs some clothes and I’m happy to get them for him. I’m even happy to take him to get them.

Except – there was one more thing Riley wanted. This one thing that he wants is always illogical, unsafe, and even the simple request turns me into a screamy meany. Nevertheless, he asks and an argument ensues. Riley wants his car registered in North Carolina. And here we go again…

I’ve never had his car registered in this state since we moved from California. When we moved here the car was still legally registered in California. But, the registration ran out and I bought the van. Riley’s car is not a sleek sports car that’s all pretty with fresh paint and comfy interior. No. Riley drives a 1987 Toyota Tercel that has seats that show the cushions under springs. The paint is faded and there is some rust. In spite of its appearance it really is a great running little car. That doesn’t mean I think Riley should be the one running it. The longer I procrastinated in registering the car the longer I would not have to worry about the lives of all the other drivers on the road.

Yesterday I went to do some shopping. On my way out the door, Riley asked me to bring him back some cash. I asked what he needed the cash for since he never goes anywhere that would require him to have any money. His response was that he just wanted to have it in his wallet – just in case. Just in case?? Just in case of what?? Maybe a travelling vodka sales man will come to our door and he’ll have the cash to pay for it?? I pressed him for a better answer, but the only thing he could say was “I just want it.” I was bewildered and a bit irritated, but I complied. What harm could it do?

This morning his insistence of wanting the car registered generated a discussion that included the statement “I just want it.” Images of Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory came immediately into my mind. The song kept running through my head as Riley sat looking at me after making his profound announcement. 

As quickly as the words left his mouth, I responded with some insane thing like “Does that mean you are going to detox and commit to sobriety? Because you can’t drive if you’re not sober.” His response was NO! Why is it that I know the answer to that question even before it is asked? I could see all my logical practical words that came from my mouth and entered a word balloon over my head. I knew those words would just hang there in the air and never really reach Riley’s brain. I knew it and I did it anyway. At that moment I felt I must be the one who is insane by expecting to reach his sense of right or wrong and making him understand why I cannot allow him to drive.

Riley says he will stop drinking for 24 hours so he can drive. I tell him it takes longer than 24 hours for him to be sober. He tells me to get a breathalyzer. I tell him that it’s not an issue of his being sober and driving when I know he’s going out. The issue is much deeper than that.

Active alcoholics are liars. It’s what they do to protect themselves because to tell the truth would mean accepting that they have a problem. They lie even when the truth would serve them better. So I know that when Riley promises that he will never take the car out if I’m not aware of it – he is lying. I can tell he’s lying because his lips are moving.

This is how I see things going down if I get Riley’s car registered. I will be gone for the weekend for some reason – writers’ conference, visiting the grandbabies, sewing expo – it really doesn’t matter where I am but I will not be home. Riley will decide he wants something from town. It could be booze, pizza, breakfast, it doesn’t matter what -- he just knows that he wants it. I’m not there to monitor if he has been drinking over the past 24 hours and so he gets in the car and drives to town. Then he has an accident and injuries an innocent person. I come home and will be devastated to learn that harm has come to someone else because of Riley’s ability to drive the car while intoxicated.

When I recite the scenario to Riley, his response is that he promises that he won’t drive the car without my knowledge. Did I mention that alcoholics are liars??

For some reason Riley believes that because he is simply drinking beer that he can sober up in 24 hours. I know that is not the case. I know that he may appear to be sober, but he really is not. It’s that saturated frontal lobe thing that I talk about so often.

My solution to end this madness will be to get the car registered. However, I will have the only set of keys. I’m not even sure if the car will start, but I won’t make ANY effort to make sure it does.

10 comments:

ADDY said...

I sound like a needle stuck in a groove, but ........... I have heard all this before. Greg even once used the excuse that he was a better driver drunk than other people were sober. Can you imagine? Yes,alcoholics are liars. They will do anything they can to get what they want and that is alcohol! If there is only one set of keys, hang on to them when you go away, but on the other hand, he could probably get another set cut! I used to feel just the same as you,...... that I could not have someone's death on my conscience.... but at the end of the day, you can only resist so much (or you'll go insane) and the ultimate responsibility has to lie with him.

Ann said...

Does he know how to hotwire it? While you will not make the effort to make sure it DOES start, you may want to consider making sure it doesn't.

I love the line about knowing he's lying because his lips are moving. I may use that one, it is surely apt in my situation.

Kitty said...

this is going to sound devious, but can you register it and then somehow disable it? dead battery, flat tire, something that he'd have to fix or get fixed. You could just "never have time" to get it fixed for him and he would probably never do it himself.

Michele Rosen said...

Love the "travelling vodka saleman!"

jo said...

lol. i had to smile at this . im sure my day is coming about my husband driving. i dont stop him now..it would have to be on his own consequence cause mine is so mean when told no.

i would disable it , one of my friends used to pull a plug wire out of hers. riley is def plotting. its so easy to tell when they are.

and talking to one...doesnt that just drive you crazy? nothing you say matters, they have answers for everything..and i do like what addy said...in her comment. its on him. and it would kill your car insurance when he gets a dui or a wreck.

Beth said...

I love the traveling vodka salesman too Linda, it made me laugh out loud....I thank you for that. I can so relate to everything you said....I do have to say that I'm surprised that it even matters to him that the car isn't registered, but I'm glad that it does. The whole money thing made me laugh too, been there done that although mine usually comes up with some "good reason", but I know what the money is really for. Thanks for giving us your time Linda and keep fighting the good fight.

Syd said...

It doesn't sound as if he needs to be driving.

Linda (the Immortal Alkys Wife) said...

Riley is NOT auto-mechanaically inclined. In fact, in the far distant past, I used to do all the oil changes on our little Vega. He watched and said he would "spot" me as I disappeared under the car which was up on RAMPS and not jacks. That car wasn't going anywhere. He knows how to use jumper cables and that's about it. Besides, his brain damage would make it impossible for him to figure out what to do under the hood.

We live so far out in the country that he could not get to a locksmith to get a new set of keys. And I don't think any would come right away even if he found one that would make house calls.

If he does manage to get the car running and leave the driveway, the minute I discover it, I will call the State Troopers. And -- Oh, by the way -- I have never and will never bail him out of jail.

Thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate all of my readers!

Linda (Immortal Alkys Wife) said...

Kitty -- We are taught from childhood that being devious is not a good thing. But, when caretaking an end-stage, being devious may just be a ticket to sanity. I think we must use selective devious-ness and manipulative-ness in order to protect and control the direction of our own lives. I never feel guilty for being devious if it allows me to keep my bank accounts in the black or protect my grandchildren from alcoholic insanity.

I'm talking about practical matters and NOT ways of getting the alcoholic to detox or rehab. That's not up to us -- it's up to him.

Shana said...

It's interesting where we draw the line, isn't it? Me, I'd have considered the plea to keep the hound dog, but my answer to the request to register the car would have been a simple no, repeated as many times as necessary. So hard, trying to let them be as autonomous as possible, but recognizing that we must make some decisions as they are not competent to.
But I was wondering, why are you making your adult daughter's decisions for her? That sounds a little codependent.