Sticks and stones...
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Sticks & stones (by Jo)
Today I have posted a contribution by one of my followers -- Jo. Her husband is an alcoholic and she is faced with the task of caretaking. Many of you already know Jo since she is very active on the Facebook page and regularly comments on my posts. Her post here, is her point of view along with some suggestions on a subject that we are all faced with -- verbal abuse from the alcoholic. Please feel free to comment.
Sticks and stones...
Sticks and stones...
It’s Saturday and I’m a whore, again. Yep. Every time my husband drinks about four beers, he begins his litany. It usually happens six days a week or so now with the progression of his alcoholism. It’s almost exactly the same words every single time -- like clockwork. If I could choose what kind of whore I would be, I think I would be a high class one. Not a corner of the street one.
When I was honored by Linda to be asked to contribute a guest blog on abuse with end stage As (addicts/alcoholics), I was excited. I had no idea how hard or painful it would be. I’m shaking as I type this! Somehow, putting it in words seems so final, so accepting, and so real. I have tried several times to write this and I hope that this time I won’t chicken out!
I know I’m not alone. Lots of alcoholics are verbally abusive and they are all almost exactly the same as me. The thought of that mystifies me. What gets stuck in those brains? Something does. Some circuit, I guess. The real question is how to cope? For me, I find that taking things day by day is what helps me cope. Some days are easier than others. Some days it hurts a lot to listen to him. Some days I wonder if he knows what he is saying, why he says what he says, and what his point is. On bad days, I wonder if I’m the crazy one. I wonder if he is right and I really am a whore and just can’t see it. My reality gets skewed from so much stuff being spouted at me. I tend to pray a lot and lean on God.
What do we need to help us cope? As a result of counseling, I learned some important skills to help in managing the onslaught of insults from my husband.
I mentally separate myself from the abuser. I learned not to own the other persons issues. I know and understand that I’m a separate person and I do not allow my alcoholic to “make” me feel a certain way – his way. His statements are simply his ideas and his alone.
I learned self-esteem skills. By not owning the other persons issues, I am able to rebuild my self-esteem that his words tear down. I remind myself who I really am inside myself. I tell myself I am a good person.
I learned communication skills. I do not pour fuel on his fire. This means that I don’t try to change his mind and I don’t try to defend myself. I don’t argue, but instead I state how I feel without blaming him. An argument takes two people and I don’t take on the job of being his number two. I cannot change his mind and what he thinks is just how he thinks as a result of his own issues and addiction. It took me years to accept that fact. The more I stand fast in not taking on his anger or pain, the harder he will try to make me angry or hurt. No one person can MAKE another person feel one way or another. We all have the ability to choose how we feel and respond.
Always BE SAFE. If you think the alcoholic in your life might be physically dangerous, get away. Walk out if you have no car. Put your safety and the safety of others in your house above all else. If you feel threatened, call 911. I am fortunate that my alcoholic husband is not physically abusive, but I watch him constantly for signs of advance warning. After all, he isn’t all there mentally. He could be very dangerous.
We need support to cope. Family if you’re lucky… religion if you choose. Tend to yourself. Do nice things to recharge your energy. Do whatever works for you as much and as often as you can. I read a good book, eat some chocolate, take a long bath and listen to some good ole rock and roll. I am nice to myself!
We all caretakers need validation that we are not crazy or unreasonable. This is rare if you’re looking for that to come from counselors, doctors, and/or police officers. I have received very little from those sources. Society has a tendency to toss us aside, although I don’t know why. I find support from sites like FaceBook where I can relate one on one to others in my situation. This blog provides me with insight and reassurance that I’m not crazy. My choices are OK for me, but maybe not for other people. This is a complicated issue.
I have been surrounded by addicts my whole life. I have felt loss for many years and yet, I still do it day by day. I now look for, and feel ok about, asking for outside help. I face the mirror each day and accept what I see in the reflection. And I thank every single one of you who comment, post, reply, or just send hugs. You keep me going. I hope to somehow return this favor to you all, and help keep you going thru this journey also.
Next Tuesday -- Some more biology and other stuff by Linda Jane
at 8:46 AM