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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.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Longing for the good old days

I watched Riley check out what was on his dinner plate. I said each item aloud. But there was not a glimmer of recognition of what this plate represented. Back in the day – before there was a baby and before Miss Vodka encroached upon our lives – we were just a struggling couple trying to make ends meet. When Riley landed a new job with a great salary, I wanted to celebrate by fixing him a special dinner. I only had a couple of dollars in my pocket so I got creative.

A while back, our neighbor had given us a can of pink salmon because she had no idea what it was or how to prepare it. I gladly took the can and knew exactly what it would become. I check the panty and found some saltines, green onions and the usual seasonings. I had everything I needed to create Salmon Patties.

Also in the pantry was a box of Kraft mac and cheese. It was the old fashioned kind that barely even resembled “real” mac & cheese. I had a bit of cheddar in the fridge so kick up the cheesy-ness a touch.

There was a community market next to our apartment building. I picked out a fresh tomatoes and a can of green beans. That was it for the ingredients of our special dinner. The end result was Salmon Patties, sliced fresh tomatoes, mac & cheese, and green beans. The plate was bright and festive which was the first thing Riley noticed when we sat down to eat.

That was the last night that we had to scrape around to get a balanced dinner. Riley’s new job provided for us well for a couple of years. We were happy. He hadn’t yet walked down the road to the bottle. I remember those days and I smile.

When ever we had something good happen to us, I would cook that same dinner. As the kids grew older and were able to voice their dislike for the patties, we had the dinner less often.

Now, after years of alcohol abuse, he is no where near the man who shared Salmon Patties with me. When he looked at the recent dinner I had prepared, there was no sign that the meal was special. We had nothing to really celebrate that night. I just felt like doing something special that might please him.

Alcoholism is a thief. It has stolen the man who laughed with me over the plastic mac & cheese and replaced him with a body without a memory. Alcoholism kidnapped him, tortured him and return a person who looks like my husband, but really isn’t.

During his drinking days he would tell me over and over again that the known complications of alcoholism would not affect him. He said he was different than other drunks. He said he know how to be an alcoholic and have his actions affect only him. He also lived in a world of denial and self-indulgence.

Today he denies that being bedridden has anything to do with his past drinking. He denies that alcohol hurt him in anyway. Instead, he believes that he had a stroke and after the stroke I would not let him exercise or use his legs. In RileyWorld, I am the fault for his current condition.

I had hoped that seeing his Salmon Patty dinner would spark a little smile or jog his memory to a better time. He ate quietly, as he always does, and then asked if I would make that for him again. He liked the “new” recipe and asked if I got it off a cooking show. After that he ordered me, as he always does, to remove his plate and get him some dessert. As I always do, I obliged.

As I tucked him in for the night, I felt a twinge of longing for the good old days when we survived by working together as a team. I know we would have had an awesome life – if Miss Vodka had not seduced and kidnapped him.


Anonymous said...

I, too, remember the good old days. Although my ah is not an end-stage alcoholic, still a functional one, the memories of our first years are what I miss the most on this journey. Thanks for reminding me that there once was a time when we were happy, albeit I was also very naive and had no clue what living with an alcoholic would entail. My eyes are opening wider and I'm finally beginning to grasp where my life is heading if I stay with him much longer. I don't want to, nor do I think I can, handle the life you're living as his caretaker. Need to find me and my life now. I'm glad your meal brought you a glimmer of happiness reminiscing, but sad that he couldn't share with you

Anonymous said...

This post resonates with me as well as I sometimes long for those days as well. We were a team. Alcohol definitely kidnapped my husband as well. There are glimpses of him coming back here and there but then it fades into the oblivion. My AH also believes that none of his health problems are related to alcohol. He has recently become unsteady even when not drunk- I sure from the muscle loss from alcoholism. He also thinks that his drinking affects nobody except himself. So sad and not easy to see your spouse fade away from the damage alcohol has caused over the years. Standing you strength- thank you for posting. Always makes me know that even if we feel like it- we are not alone. xo