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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.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Five year journey to end-stage

On October 19, 2010 I began a blog about life with an alcoholic who seemed to defy all logically anticipated end-of-life expectations. I wrote humorous little stories detailing the absurdity of the things he did. I wrote about the past and the present, the good and the bad, the laughter and the tears. As time went on and months turned into years, I continued to write. I can’t believe that I’ve been writing for five years.

As the years past, the posts changed. I did more and more research and shared my learned knowledge with anyone who visited my pages. I thought to myself “this is good, useful stuff and should be shared in an easy to understand, easy to find format…” so I wrote the Workbook.

A few months into writing the blog, my e-mail in-box began straining at the seams
until it was over-flowing with readers trying to contact me for some one-on-one interaction. I tried. I really, really tried to answer each and every one. But, my time was also becoming strained and I could not help everyone who reached out to me. So I started the support group on Facebook and eventually one on a private website. My thought was that these people could help each other. That worked and even though the private website group is no longer in existence, we know have the Forum on my Linda’s Front Porch website. The feedback I receive is extremely positive.

It was never my intention to help the alcoholics. My main concern was with the families who found themselves boiling in a pot of frog soup. It was those frustrated, lost souls, who searched for someone to just listen and understand.  But, apparently, I have helped the source of their frustrations. Many alcoholics have written to tell me that I changed their life with my blatant honesty. I’m thankful for that because helping the alcoholic also helps those who love the alcoholic.

It hasn’t all been accolades and flowers. My life has been threatened several times. I’ve been called names and accused of being a fraud. And yet, I keep on writing. I keep on trying to make a difference or to just provide some acknowledgement to those who have walked in my path. If I had not felt in my heart that all of this was worthwhile, I would have quit a long time ago.

When I read back over the five years of posts, I can see that my attitude has changed. I now have trouble finding a lot of humor. There really isn’t much laughter when you are watching the life slowly slip from the body of a person who was once so physically active. Changing the underwear of a man who screams in pain each time you try to wash the feces from his bottom, does not conjure up any comedic scenes in my head. When I enter his room and he thinks I’m his mother or his dead son, I do not feel amused.

I could tell you about how he thinks his trip to the nursing home for respite was a trip to the White House where he was assigned a special Secret Service Agent for his protection. I could tell you about his believing that a White House chef now prepares all his meals. I could tell you that he doesn’t understand why I am allowed on board his submarine because wives are not supposed to live on board. I could tell you about all the crazy hallucinations that have become a part of our “normal” life. But, it would just be nonsensical rantings of a woman driven crazy by living in the absence of sanity.

This is end-stage. This is what it is like to “see it through” to the very end. It’s not fun. There is no humor except in the mind of the person requiring the caretaking. I’m told he could rally and live another year, but will not regain his mental capacity. Or, he would be gone to his great submarine mooring in the sky within six months. There is just really no way of knowing. It’s a one-day-at-a-time situation.

If you are an alcoholic (or even suspect that you might be), take a long, hard look at how things have changed for Riley over the past five years. Do you want that for yourself? Do you want that for those who love you? And, if you think that it would never be that way for you – do you really believe you will have the ability to control your bowels or your mind when it turns to a gooey mass surrounded by your cranial skull? Think again. No one is immune.

If you are the caretaker, know what is ahead. Plan for ways to garner as much support from family and friends as you can. Do it know before you find yourself trying to hold logical conversations with someone who doesn’t know which planet he is inhabiting. Do your paperwork. Put your (his/her) affairs in order.

That’s what I’m doing this week. I’m doing all those little things that will make the end easier when it is actually here. I’m making preparations for his body. I’m filling out the papers for his burial at sea. I’m making arrangements for what would be appropriate for a memorial service.

I’ve been told that I have the ability to find humor in the most serious of situations. I truly hope I will be able to put that back into action over the next few months. I seem to have lost that lately.


Leah Doherty said...

Having been down that road, rest assured that your sense of humor will return as you mourn without the burden of caring for him. This is just another step in the journey. Thank you for keeping it real!!

A well Loved Home said...

I wish there was some way for all of us that you have helped, to help you. Without finding you, I could never had made sense or come to peace with my 35 year old son's death from alcoholism. I wish that I had had the patience and unconditional love for him through his illness that I watch you have. Linda, you have been a remarkable light in this dark alcoholic world many of us live in. Like Leah said, you shall recapture your joy. The best is yet to be for you, my dear angel. Sending love and hope your way.

Grace said...

Linda, I ran across your site late one night a few years ago when I was feeling desperate because I was in an awful, alcoholic marriage. You helped me see what could happen if I didn't get out. Not too long after, I got the courage to get an attorney and file for divorce. After a few months, he finally moved out and we divorced shortly thereafter. I've since remarried a great guy and am enjoying a beautiful life with him and our young children. My new life is not without stress and challenges, but my life now does not revolve around someone else living for the next drink and affecting everyone around him. It's been nice keeping up with you these last few years and I feel you will soon find your purpose and your humor again. You are an inspiration and have changed many lives for the better. Thank you, Linda.

Graham Hunt said...


Thanks for this. It reminds me of what could happen to me if I forget the value of sobriety.

Your writings to continue to help this alcoholic. Thank you

Anonymous said...

Your candor and experience in this dark world of alcoholism has given me, and I am sure many others, the strength needed to stay sane in an insane world. Your stories have helped me as I have been witness to my own "immortal" alcoholic. I have recommended your blog to those who deal with this daily, professional counselors. Thank you for your giving to those of us who have learned that we are not alone. You will never truly know how much you have helped me and I am grateful for you.

Anonymous said...

Linda...as I sit here on what would gave been my husband's 62nd birthday, I think as I do everyday , of his tragic death from alcohol at 59. I survive w humor and love of my kids. You gave helped me so much also..I would like to assure you, your humor and you yourself ,will be back, stronger than before..it will take some time..but it WILL HAPPEN.. thanks to you from many many you gave helped, more than you will ever know.

Rose Maria said...

Does this mean I'm an alcoholic?
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Bunny said...

My immortal alcoholic is in the hospital after almost dying three days ago. Today his mind is so far gone. We'll see what tomorrow brings. What a roller coaster of emotions.

Jacqueline Moss said...

Prayers for you and your family! God bless!

Rose Maria said...

My mother is an alcoholic And i Want to help her to get rid of from that... what should I do ????
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Chris Karl said...

Second to one alcoholic helping another, It's invaluable to realize the effects we, as alcoholics in active use, have on those we love or associate with. Addiction blinds us from all that keeping us trapped in this selfish and isolated bubble. In my experience, I truly only believed I was hurting myself - that their were no ripple effects extending out to my wife, kids, family members, friends, or even colleagues. As I've been retracing the last several years of my alcoholism, and in going through a fourth step, I can see in all reality the impact my substance abuse really had. I look forward to reading through more of your blog and gaining insight and understanding from an opposite perspective. Thanks again for sharing your experience. I've decided to share my story as well, at ChristopherKarl.com

Sharlo Leonard said...

Oh Linda! That took me back! They are like brothers and sisters, all of the end staggers! After Niles passed, I physically was so much better for the first year and then the second year came, almost to the day, and my whole body turned against me. I won't bore you with the litany of invasions, but it took me down. Looking back, I think the Lord let me have a year to get my life on track and then......I hope this is near closure for you and that you, too, will have a year following before your body fall apart.Think of you often. Wishing you the best holiday you can have!!