About Me

My photo

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.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Who's life is it?

As the spouse of an end-stage alcoholic, people often have a misconception of my marriage. Many times I hear about how much I must love Riley in order to stand by him the way I do. Love is a funny word. There are all kinds of love and I do love him, but I am not a wife in a true sense of the word. I am also not in a marriage that I would really consider as traditional.

In my opinion, a traditional marriage is one where two people join together to create a partnership where they work equally towards a happy life. In a traditional marriage major decisions are made after discussions between the couple until they come to a mutually agreed upon conclusion. The responsibility for financial obligations is shared even if there is only one person working for a paycheck. Communication is open and flows freely. Each person supports the other during times of hardships or ill health. The partner/spouse will be the one person you can trust without doubt. There will be arguments, disagreements, frustrations and even heart-break. But, at the end of the day, they will always be a solid unit.
So maybe I live in a dream world. Maybe that’s how marriage is only SUPPOSED to be but in reality maybe it never is. I don’t know for sure, but if I was in a traditional marriage I think I would feel so differently than I do at this moment. I don’t feel like Riley’s wife. I am care-taker or more of a sister or mother to him or, maybe, even a type of personal manager. There is no desire for anything remotely resembling romance. There is no sharing of hopes and dreams, no working toward a jointly desired end goal. There are just two people living in the same house with absolutely opposing opinions and lifestyles.

In spite of all of that, I have a life. It doesn’t matter to me that my life is in conflict with what Riley wants. Riley made choices that have put him in the situation he is in today. That was his life to screw up or to succeed as he deemed fit. I also made choices that have changed the path of my life. They were my choices to make for my life. I own my decisions, good or bad.
I do not feel that Riley has the authority to make decisions for me. My brain is not toxin saturated and I am still reasonably sane and competent. To have him make decisions with me jointly is like asking my three-year granddaughter what dress to wear today. I might end up wearing a princess outfit, complete with wand and tiara, to a job interview. Unless I was applying for a job at Disneyworld, I doubt I would be hired. The concept is the same. Riley’s decision might seem perfectly reasonable to him, but in reality may not be appropriate.

In the quest for some kind of “traditional normalcy”, I might ask Riley his opinion and even consider putting it into action. I believe that we all want that sort of connection with our spouse. We may even strive to find it in every conversation or action. We search for something that says, “I’m the most important person in my spouse’s life.” We are grasping at straws because we know in our heart and soul that the most important thing in our alcoholic spouses life is getting and maintaining a foggy mind.
Spouses of addicted persons must stand up for themselves and remember that they are individuals and they must make decisions based on sound, reasonable, rational judgment.  That means that the alcoholic spouse doesn’t have a right to make demands or force upon us their need for the appearance of a healthy, happy marriage. Usually marriage to an alcoholic spouse is neither healthy nor happy when the non-alcoholic is constantly treating the alcoholic as though he/she had the capability of being of sound, rational mind.

Alcoholics are human beings and even though the brain may be broke. They don’t think it is. They truly believe that they are capable of the “traditional” marriage. They long for it. They need it. Or at least they need the appearance of it. I respect that it may be what they need, but I do not need a broken brained individual to decide what clothing to wear, who my friends are, or when I should go to the doctor.

Recently I heard a wife say that her husband wouldn’t LET her friends drive her to an event. The husband is an alcoholic who drives drunk. He wanted to drive her to her destination.  I wonder in what world this would be acceptable? If Riley said that to me, I would tell him to back off. I would tell him I would not allow him to drive me around the corner, let alone to an appointment. I would remind him that he is not allowed to make decisions about my life.
My life belongs to me. Although I may include Riley in discussions about decisions, the bottom line is all on my shoulders. I don’t always make the right decision. Sometimes my decisions put me in an awkward, difficult situation. But the decision was mine. I value my life and will not knowingly leave it in the hands of a drunk driver or any other person whose brain doesn’t function in reality.

I ask all my readers to please do not get into a car with a drunk driver behind the wheel. Value your own life enough to want to keep yourself safe from harm. Take control of your life and respect your own decisions. Listen to that little voice in your head that says – you are worthwhile and you can decide on your own. Let’s not any of us leave decisions to people who may love us, but can’t understand logic or live in reality.

No comments: