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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, May 29, 2014

Answers from Riley...

In order to film Riley, I had to use my hand-held camera so the quality is not that great. But, you will see him and hear his answers. In the interest of keeping him focused, I had to cut some of the questions down into more manageable segments. The written transcript is below.

Addy –
Do you realize that you have hurt yourself and the family by excessive drinking?
Yes. More, I think my family and those around me rather than myself.

If you could go back and change things, would you?

HyperCryptical –
When did you know alcohol had become your master?
I don't think it has ever become my master.

Gerry –
Do you consider yourself mentally impaired?
Yes, but not because of the alcohol.

Did Linda’s devotion to you ever motivate you to quit drinking?
Yes, when I was in the service, early on, but not so much later.

Do you think you might ever be capable of quitting drinking completely?
No, not at this point.

Angry Alcoholics –
What kind of person do you think you would have been if you had never tasted alcohol?
Very dull.

What would you have done with your life?
Something dull, probably not spend 25 years on submarines. I would be very much like my father.

What would you be doing now?
I have no idea, but I would probably be dead now.

What were your dreams?
Mine? I think there is no burden greater than a great expectation. I didn't have any dreams for myself as I was expected to.

What advice would you give to a man who feels he is not an alcoholic, but who is drinking three quarters of a bottle of gen a day, starting every morning and sipping throughout the day?
Try to quit.

How would you wake up his family that he’s in trouble?
It is very difficult to wake up the family as quoted by you. I'm not sure that I could. The family and associates have a tendency to tip toe around the elephant in the room.

Kendra –
What makes you feel grounded?
Now -- this house and Linda.

What makes you feel at peace with yourself and your God or creator?
I seldom do.

Do you feel a sense of accomplishment about your time on this earth?
No I don't.

Mike –
Do you realize that you have a drinking problem?
My joking response to that is: Yes, that I don't get enough. I don't think that I have a problem with it.

Why did you begin to drink?
It was the thing to do.

Why do you want to continue when you realize it is killing you?
Because it was the thing to do.

Trisha E –
Was there something painful that made you turn to alcohol for relief?
No, not initially.

Were you ever able to work thru the circumstance at the heart of the alcoholism in any of your rehab, counseling or AA sessions?
No, not really.

Zowie –
Without alcohol in the picture, what gives your life the most meaning?

Little or nothing right now.

What are your greatest joys?
Waking up every morning.


Anonymous said...

Linda, you did a great job sticking with just the questions that readers had submitted. I wanted follow-up questions, but you can't do that in the situation that you had created. I am guessing that the follow-up questions I would have wanted would have ended up in a combative conversation, so I was really impressed with how you conducted it.
Thank you for posting.

Anonymous said...

My husband no longer has joy in life and I think that most alcoholics no longer experience joy . I personally think that Riley has lost his also! It is not the fault of the caregiver or the family. We are always hoping and praying that they will once again be the person that we once loved, adored and relied on. The truth is that they rely on the caregiver to do everything from take care of all household responsibilities to cleaning up after them when they have accidents. As far as keeping a supply of alcohol, I am to the point that I do keep a supply because I do not want to take a chance on my husband driving under the influence and hurting, maiming or killing an innocent person. He is going to drink whether I supply it or not!! After driving with alcohol in his system, flipping his truck multiple times, almost dying more than once before getting to the hospital, he still does not realize that he cannot drive while intoxicated! Alcohol rules with him! Is he end stage? Unsure, he quits for weeks and then drinks 24/7! As his caretaker, I am struggling to retain my sanity . As Linda has expressed, caretakers must take care of themselves! It is such a difficult situation that we caretakers never signed up for!

Kendra said...

Thank you Linda and Riley,

What a brave thing for the both of you to do! I felt like Riley was being totally honest with his answers. Being vulnerable and open is so hard, especially for those who are suffering with an addiction. Thank you both for sharing with all of us these very personal thoughts. It's a bumpy road for both sides, isn't it? God Bless

Concerned said...

Linda....I am a recovering alcoholic as well. But during my detox period in Feb 2014, I met a friend who was going through the same detox. On April 11, 2014.....we thought we were strong enough and had a few drinks...I pulled myself out of it.....but...He's been drunk ever since. Your blog has been the most informative about end stage alcoholism I have read. Thank you...as I have never met a person in this situation.....Riley is a mirror of my friend. I hope I'm able to help my friend....and of course myself.

Anonymous said...

Linda and Riley, WOW. Riley was being quite lucid, and you were being very even handed. One would like to engage more on his cryptic answers. There is actually likely a fair amount going on in his head. Do not give up. The longer he is alcohol free the better the chance he will put things together. Really surprising...and hopeful!

Zowie said...

Greatest joy - "Waking up every morning". Even end stage alcoholics have the will to survive. Linda, thank you for posting this.

Anonymous said...

this makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up

Jan said...

Wow. That was incredibly revealing as to the extent that denial is the backbone of alcoholic thinking. It gave me great humility in the face of my husband's drinking - he's been through only a fraction of what Riley has -- no rehab, no hospitalizations, no heart attacks -- yet. And everything BUT the drinking is responsible for the health problems, falls, incontinence, etc., etc., etc.

Very powerful message. Thank you to Riley for agreeing to speak to us, and to you, Linda, for posting this.


Lakesidelady said...

My DH is now 3 months sober after his first detox in the emergency room and the " lock down"ward. I am now his official caregiver according to the disability system. He still has some joy for now, but who knows what each stage will bring. Thank you Linda for having Riley answer the questions. It helps to know what may be going to happen. What our own loved ones might be like. This sure isn't what I sighpned up for over 30 years ago.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Tis true that denial is the backbone of alcoholic thinking and Riley betrays this in some of his responses.
I have great respect for you both Linda - for you for your fortitude, wisdom and help offered to families of alcoholics - and Riley for his willingness to be interviewed and his honesty in responses.
Anna :o]

ADDY said...

Thank you Linda and Riley. It was nice to see you both in person as opposed to the written word on a page. I wonder whether his answers were useful to you too or whether they only raised more questions. He seems very resigned to his situation, but I also get the impression he does not fully understand how bad it is either.

Anonymous said...

What a freak show. The devil in person.

Angry Alcoholics said...

Thank you so much for asking Riley these questions! I was quite surprised that he had no dreams. Wow! It's as though alcohol is the only thing he thought about "obtaining" (instead of "attaining") in his life.

It shows how gripping the addiction is.

I agree with Addy: it was good to see you both in person.

Chingster23 said...


I thought this was a very brave thing for you to both do. Like most of the other people commenting I would have preferred to have seen the lines of enquiry extended somewhat. I think some of the questions that the viewers posed were the problem, because they weren't very open questions, and therefore got the responses they deserved.

But that's a minor quibble, and perhaps some feedback you can take on board, if you choose to do this sort of Q&A again - which I hope you do by the way.

Keep up the good work.

Lee Davy

Linda (The Immortal Alcholic's Wife) said...

Chingster23 -- Riley is unable to answer questions that involve a shifting of thoughts or a connection /stream of thoughts. The viewers asked very good questions that were far more extended than the ones I asked. I had to shorten them down so he could easily find the words to answer. Longer questions would have left him rather lost with me having to repeat them several times.

He has agreed to do another video but I'm not sure when it will happen. If you have specific questions, send them to me and I will try to use them.

Gerry -- I appreciate that you want to see us interact as a couple. However, Riley and I are not a couple anywhere except inside his head. I'm opposed to feeding into his fantasy. However, I may be able to set it up. I'll have to decide on how to do that.

Thank you everyone for your support in everything I do. I appreciate you very much.


Momma said...

Thank you for your pragmatic practical solutions, Linda. I've decided to be the caretaker of my alcoholic husband simply so I will inherit his retirement account, life insurance, benefits etc. This might sound harsh, but I've detached and have my own life.

Esperanza said...

Hi Linda, I just found your website. I've been looking through different websites trying to find one that I could relate to and yours is the first one. Riley's interview really got to me because of the denial. That really frustrates me and I applaud you for being able to keep calm. I am 35 and I have an alcoholic father who, even after being told by doctors in the emergency room that he had to stop drinking, drinks every single day and continues to deny that he has any problem. And although I do keep calm when he denies any problem, inside I am full of questions and frustration. My frustration is what led my to start a journal about my story with him. Recently I decided to blog every post I've written on my journal because I realized I am not alone in this. And your blog shows me I was right, thank you for sharing your story.

Esperanza said...

I forgot to mention, my mom is my dad's "caretaker."
My feeling of frustration and helplessness is doubled because of this. My mom was diagnosed with diabetes and also suffers from extreme stress which puts her in danger of suffering a stroke. Seeing your parents go through something so difficult is very hard and the feeling of helplessness is very strong.
So again thank you for sharing, it helps me see my mom's perspective.
by the way my blog is esperanzabeltran.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Thank you for creating this blog. I will probably be living it when my old man retires. He's still functional.....has had same job for 27 years, but when that is gone will have no reason to ever be sober again. As it is, the weekends are a 48 hour drunk. My story has a twist though; I'm in recovery with 5 years of sobriety. I can only pray for him and everyone else that has to deal with the fallout from alcoholism. Thankfully, I got pulled over and received a d.u.i. that landed me in treatment. I had my wakeup call. I wish that everyone could have that moment and see it as a blessing not a hindrance to the next blackout. Keep up your good work Linda.

Anonymous said...

In the early 80's I was married for a short time to an alcoholic. He is now 56 years old,been married and divorced 5 times and a train wreck of a life. I follow his criminal activities and trouble with the law on line. A few months ago he got 6 months of probation and 500 hours of community service and fines over $4000 for felony charges of Burglary and Tampering with Evidence with Intent to Impair. Possible maximum jail time is up to 10 years prison. For a bit I really thought maybe he got it together and sobered up. WRONG! I looked up online again today and found out that they extended probation for another year and then a few months later made a motion to revoke it all. Appears that he has failed to keep the terms of the supervision, payments, etc. (which of course includes no drinking) and the case is now open again. Maybe this time for a change he will get locked up. Good riddance. I'm sure by now his brain is pickled from 40 years of drinking and he is truly insane. Maybe it's payback time!

Anonymous said...

He is drinking here. Can't anyone see that? He has gin in the silver mug.

Linda (The Immortal Alcholic's Wife) said...

Anonymous -- There is no alcohol in this house. Certainly NO Gin. He hasn't had anything to drink since May 20, 2012 when he had his heart attack. What you see is the results of someone who spent about 40 years drinking, drinking, drinking. If you don't think it catches up to you -- just look at this video. Actually, this was a good day for him. Usually he is far less focused.

Anonymous said...

I read the transcription and then watched the video and I was interested to see that I had a different reaction to each of these mediums. As to the question as to alcohol being his master, I felt Riley answered it aptly in the video. Contrary to 12-step philosophy, I believe that once someone agrees that alcohol actually IS their master, what hope is there of any healing? All the power to both of you: Riley, for hanging on to your dignity under the onslaught of alcoholism (which comes not just from alcohol, but also from a convoluted societal understanding of it), and Linda, for bravely showing the world what you have gone through as a result of society's blindness to the overall effects of alcohol.