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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, March 31, 2016

Show me the money for all this fun

Someone close to me has said something to the affect of “caretaking Riley really isn’t very hard.” It was inferred that I am only doing this for the money. The first thing that came to my mind was “What money?”

First of all, I’m not a nurse. I hate doing anything that even resembles nursing. That includes taking care of Riley. There isn’t enough money anywhere to make caretaking him a pleasant experience.

When I was 12 years old, I helped in the caretaking of my grandmother. I loved her dearly. She was my “go to” person and I loved spending time with her. My duties were to take her the bedpan and then empty it. Make sure she has water, snacks and anything else she needed to keep her comfortable. I didn’t mind doing it because it made her happy. But, it awakened me to the fact that I didn’t want a career in nursing. My aunt offered to pay for my entire college education if I went into nursing. I declined the offer in favor of attending fashion design school.

I’ve walked a lot of career paths over the course of my professional years. I have never had a job so taxing as that of caretaker. By the way, it isn’t even really my job. It’s my responsibility as Riley’s wife. I don’t get paid for it. I won’t even end up with a good referral reference because I’ll never do it again.

Being Riley’s caregiver includes getting him food three times a day; bathing him; helping him get in and out of bed; answering him each time he calls for me; changing his soiled underwear and cleaning him up in the process; do his laundry; manage his medications, medical appointments, and other paperwork. I’ve been told I should also make sure he participates in social activities including family functions.

In between all the duties for Riley, I’m supposed to take care of myself and have a real life of my own. I’m not sure where that fits in the time schedule of the day. Somehow I’m just need to make that happen.

Now about the money that I’m making for doing something I hate. Riley and I are a married couple and this is a community property state. In short what’s his is mine and what’s mine is his. The money that goes into the bank account pays for our joint expenses for the business of living in a decent home and have food on the table. The fact that I have control over the money doesn’t mean that it’s being “given” to me to use as I see fit. If I were a really mean woman, I would just divorce him, take half of his income, and let him figure find someone to take care of him. However, he has dementia and would never be able to figure anything out and I have a conscious that tells me I couldn’t do that.

Then I’m asked about the money I make off my books, blog, etc. As every author can tell you, if you want to get rich from writing, you will be very disappointed. I don’t make any money from anything I have done in relation to alcoholism since the blog started in 2010. I see all these ads about making a ton of money from blogging. Well, I just don’t see it and I’ve explored it all.

Let’s face it… no woman ever marries a man and hopes that he becomes an alcoholic in order to fulfill her lifelong dream of cleaning up his vomit, washing his soiled clothing; smelling his stench; or, having conversations that have nothing to do with anything except nonsense. And, unless he’s extremely, extremely wealthy, she won’t be getting any big bucks for her efforts. Trust me on this. No one wants to be married to an alcoholic.

I took Riley back into my home because I didn’t want my daughter to destroy her life by having him be with her. I know my daughter and she would not do well with cleaning up vomit or wiping poop off the walls.

So what do I say to those people who tell me that what I do is easy? I tell them to walk a mile in my shoes and then come back to me and tell me what they think. Don’t judge me or make unfounded accusations. Don’t judge ANYONE who does what I do. We all have our own reasons for doing the hard work. And those reasons really don’t have to make sense to anyone else.


Unknown said...

I agree with you 100%

Unknown said...

I agree with you 100%

Anonymous said...

So sad that you are being judged like that. I don't think most people could put up with what we have to deal with on a daily basis. No return - and I'm not just talking money. No help around the house. Where is the partnership? Where is the support? It's so one sided. The alcoholic is so selfish - his needs are all that matters. All these years of taking care of an alcoholic for the money?? Hardly!! What a joke!

I am a nurse- 30 years and 5 years as a nurse's aide before that. I have loved this career as it suits me personally - I was meant to be a nurse- but I can tell you that I don't enjoy even one minute of taking care of my drunk husband. I do it for my own reasons as well. Similar situation - I don't wZnt my two children to have to do it. He doesn't have anyone else to take care of him. For me it doesn't feel right to just walk away- although I wouldn't judge a person who does walk away.

I totally agree- nobody wants to be married to an alcoholic. Who in their right mind would chose this? It's not about money. There is not enough money to put up with this chaotic insanity!!

Stay strong and take care of you Linda- and all of you that are in a similar situation. Wishing you health, happiness and inner peace.

Anonymous said...

So true! So sad that you are being judged like that. For the money? Rediculous! Not enough money to put up with this chaotic insanity on the daily!

I am a nurse- have been for 30 years and was s nurse's aide for 5 years before that. I was meant to be a nurse. It is my calling. I enjoy taking care of patients. But I can say with all honesty that I do not enjoy taking care of my drunk husband even for a minute.

I stay for similar reasons as you. My husband has no one else to take care of him and I don't want to put that burden on my children. I don't feel as though I can just walk away right now but wouldn't judge anyone who did.

You are so very right- there is no one that wants to be married to an alcoholic. Who would chose this??

Anonymous said...

Dearest Linda, My husband has gone in the direction of approaching end stage a few times in the last few years but other health issues (possibly alcohol related) interrupted his drinking long enough to keep him sober for months at a time. He is in a sober period right now but I know it's only a matter of time before he talks himself into having just one drink. I've been fortunate that he has never been abusive to me in any way. He just likes to get blotto very quickly on a bottle or two of whiskey and then pass out in his chair or on the floor. What I really want to say to you is--Thank You. Thank You for sharing your experience with Riley, and for your views on codependency and enabling. I agree with you that by taking care of our spouse/loved one does not necessarily mean that we are enabling them to continue their substance abuse. I know for certain that my husband would have been dead many years ago if not for me. You may not be able to take as good care of yourself right now as you do for Riley, but I hope you continue to have moments throughout the day when you are at peace and can feel the love and appreciation of so many of us out here. I pray that you have many years of days on end where you are able to live your life as you envision. --Martha

JBthatsme said...

Hi Linda & Readers, I can't tell you how much this posting resonates with me. The work of being a caretaker in any realm isn't easy, but it's certainly hard to do for a loved one, harder to do for an ungrateful loved one, and still harder to do for an alcoholic / addict loved one. Whatever this lesson is, it's a heart breaking one. And I don't think anyone does envision their lives to include such demands in any capacity with any relationship. In the months since my dads passing it's been hard to remember the good times (which I pray for you and your children that you can remember). There have been a few reminders here and there that bring a smile to my face, but so many of them are pain and anger. Watching alcohol suck the life out of those we love is a cruel and brutal experience. I remember fighting with my dad about respect, he was of the "I'm your father you will respect me" days. He didn't appreciate my rebuttal "respect is something you earn, you only have so much as a given for being my parent". Watching them fall, hurt themselves, embarass themselves (not necessarily knowing that they should be embarrassed), and lose all appreciation for the things they once loved and held so dear. All in exchange for a damn bottle, a bottle of poison. How dare anyone assume you're in it for "the money" even if there is some, it's hardly a fair trade. When I think of everything we went thru with my dad, I don't think he would've done it for my mom (if roles were reversed). Do you think Riley would have taken care of you in anywhere near the capacity that you have for him? Just curious, but that's not my point. My point is something like this, we all do things for whatever reasons, and we shouldn't have to explain them. I'm really pissed off that there isn't more help out there for you, that as a veteran the government can't offer up alittle assistance. And it doesn't take a genius to figure Riley's alcoholism likely has at least something to do with being in the service. Regardless they should want to help address the issue anyway, it's a medical issue and they should be more diligent in handling it. You're a good person, partner and parent for the things you do. But please don't feel like you owe anyone an explanation. Most people wouldn't put up with a fraction of what you and many of the other readers have, but for whatever reason we do. While the alcoholics are selfish, we feel more of a need to be selfless. Blessings to you Linda, and I very much appreciate you and your very real blog!

Anonymous said...

i love you and this blog. I, too, am married to an end-stage alcholic, working full time and trying to be a caregiver in between my fits of anger. Your blog is the closest thing I can find to someone out there who knows what this is all about, and I thnk you for sharing.