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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.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Before making judgments...

It’s so easy for people who have never experienced life with an alcoholic to make comments or judgments without all the facts. I founded a support group for caretakers of end-stage alcoholics and recently posed a question to all the members. The question is:

What is the ONE thing you would like other people to understand about living with an alcoholic?

The answers to that simple question are not at all as simple as the question. Some of the responders couldn’t answer with only ONE thing. Here are the results:
  1. good woman cannot sort him out. All the understanding, love and compassion in the world is not enough when one is in the grip of this horrible disease.
  2. When the question is “Didn’t you know he was an alcoholic when you married him?” The answer is NO!! I didn’t know he was an alcoholic. Alcoholism is a progressive disease.
  3. Alcoholics are incapable of giving back… they are takers.
  4. It IS possible to live with an alcoholic while detaching and protecting yourself. If there is no abuse, you CAN make it work. Please don’t judge me because I stay.
  5. You want me to WALK away?? Walking away from my 70 year old father is like putting a child on the freeway and walking away.
  6. When others see or interact with the alcoholic, the alcoholic is on his/her best behavior, at home they relax, drink and the crazy train gets rolling.
  7. Unless an outsider is living in it, they cannot really understand what it is like as alcoholic’s are good at putting on a show.
  8. They are master manipulators.
  9. The uncertainty of your future. You don’t know what will happen next, let alone a year, You cannot plan anything.
  10. Anyone involved with an alcoholic must light their own candle, feed their own soul, learn to meditate or the non-alcoholic will become sick as well.
  11. One great day has no guarantee on the next and vice versa. I love my alcoholic mother as I find her and I walk away when I have had enough.
  12. The hardest thing is the secrecy connected to alcoholism. Keeping the family secret of my father’s alcoholism was extremely stressful. When the secret is out, there is then the feeling of betrayal to those who wanted it to remain a secret. But, you don’t stop loving the alcoholic as a person.
  13. The alcoholic will say and do anything to get their fix. They are driven, but only toward booze and not toward anything that would take them away from the booze.
  14. In one person’s opinion, alcoholism is a form of mental illness. For many, a horrendous event may have happened to drive them to want to “not feel anything.”
  15. The almighty bottle is the most important thing in their life, even though they don’t really want to be in it. Many detrimental things can happen such as a loss of the marriage, jobs, children, friends; they may serve time in jail for DUI’s; suffer from injuries and illnesses; and they will still want to drink.
  16. It is mentally taxing on the caregiver.
  17. Even a happy drunk has an evil side that is abusive and destructive. Alcohol is a mistress who destroys everything in a slow, manipulative and steady manner. It’s a cancer. Early detection has higher percentages of recovery. But let the cancer grow and it will consume not only the alcoholic but everyone surrounding the alcoholic.
  18. One person said she wished someone had given her a clue that they had a hint of what she was dealing with in a supportive non-confrontational way. Knowing I wasn’t crazy or alone in dealing with the insanity would have been the best gift towards the healing journey.
  19. Leaving or staying is not a simple as it sounds. Before deciding for me what the outsider thinks I should do, they should know all the pros and cons of each direction.
I thought their answers were very open and honest. I also hope that anyone who wants to make a judgment about decisions made by caregivers of an alcoholic, think twice about the question that is about to be asked.

To join either of the two support groups, either the one on Facebook or the one on the independent site, please e-mail with your e-mail address to:


Please up "support group" in the subject line. Both these groups offer support and resources to family and friends of alcoholics without judgment or criticism. OARS F&F = Our Alcoholism Resource and Support (for) Families and Friends.


Janis said...

I'm not sure there's any one thing I'd want someone to know about living with an alcoholic - there's so much to deal with if you want to keep your own sanity. How can you pick just one?

I think the thing that took me most by surprise is how conniving and sneaky the alcoholism makes them. I eventually realized that my husband was leaving the office to go home and drink (we run a small software business), although he always has an excuse such as running an errand or grabbing something he "forgot" at the house (his cell phone and laptop power cord are his favorite MacGuffins), but I recently found out that he'd been sneaking vodka into the office in my canning jars. *shaking head*

I suppose no one can truly prepare you for how ugly things get when you confront them about the lengths they go to hide how much they drink, so I've just stopped saying anything. I guess he thinks he's getting away with it. It really used to irritate me that he would so blatantly lie to me, but I eventually realized the only person he's lying to is himself.

Anonymous said...

I lived with a violent alcoholic husband for fifteen years. I filed for divorce while he was in jail for physically assaulting me again. Indeed, alcoholics are master manipulators and in front of outsiders they act like angels. Once I went to a marriage therapy session with his therapist and she said, "You deserved all the beatings." I walked out and that day a seed was planted in me that I would divorce this man and I did.

tieropasvmii said...

Stopped back by to check in on you and Riley. So glad you're still writing. I found your blog during a really really rough time when my ex fiance passed away at 29, 25 days short of his 30th birthday, due to alcoholism shutting his organs down. He ruptured something and died in front of his grandma.

We had known each other for 18 years, more than half our life. We dated for 7 and planned to get married at one point. The alcoholism became VERY bad over that 7 years and I relate to a lot of what you've had to go through, watching someone you love gradually be eaten Alive by the disease. Missing out on doing things because he was always passed out. No sex life. No romance. Just work, come home, drink, pass out. Eventually the 'work' part took a back seat for him. Things got worse until I finally couldn't deal with it anymore. The person I loved was slowly dying and I had no respect for him anymore. He treated me verbally abusively, and I was too young to realize how ill he was, or how evil the disease was. I still thought he was somehow making a conscious decision of the booze over me, and it hurt terribly.

A few years passed and we ended up back in touch as friends. He had never stopped romantically living me and hoped that we would end up together. He was my first love, and while I love him with all my heart, I told him there was no way that would work unless alcohol was not a factor. We did get to be very good friends again. I even convinced him to go to his first Andy only rehab facility. That lasted 3 days.

He said his sobriety lasted a few weeks, but I doubt that was true because when I saw him again, he was drinking.

Then, chest pains and what doctors called a near heart attack. A few hospital visits later, he was dead.

Alcohol took my first love and my best friend. RIP Josh.