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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, October 29, 2016

Much ado about...


It’s been a trying week or so. I feel like a pinch hitter in the batting cage with a nerf bat trying to hit hard balls from a pitching machine stuck on the highest setting. No matter how hard I try to fend them off, those balls are coming at me at rocket speed. They have a mind of their own and they can see me, standing there, defenseless with my form bat. Do I drop the bat and run thereby forfeiting this game of… whatever it’s called? Or do I pray a lightening bolt will strike the pitching machine and end the game by an act of nature? Or do I run… run away as fast as I can?

I don’t know which course of action I will take. I’m still working on some kind of plan. I’m leaning
towards running away which doesn’t feel cowardly at all to me at this point. Sometimes you just have to know when to walk away. But, then, I always seem to zig when I should’ve zagged. I always know what I should have done, but seldom am I sure what I should do in the moment.

Is that how you sometimes feel? I think the best thing to remember is that we don’t always have the best answer to every situation. We can only see so far ahead and never to the end of whatever is going on. We can play it all out in our heads and think it through with every possible scenario. But, in the end, most of the time the right decision is just a crap shoot. You take your chances. You roll the dice. And whatever comes up, comes up.

What we end up deciding to do or course of action to take is never really the wrong answer. Making a decision unto itself is the right thing to do. Although, if you simply can’t come up with an answer then doing nothing is sometimes advisable. For example, if I can’t decide between this house or that house, maybe not choosing a house at all will eventually lead you to the right house. Same thing goes for careers or cars.

When I’m faced with a hard choice, I set up a method for deciding. I list all the pros and cons into two separate columns. I give each pro and con a number from one to ten according to how important each one is. Then I examine each one and put my findings next to each pro and each con. I number the answers as well. I do my best to put the paper away and not think about it for a day or two. Usually I can only manage a few hours, but the longer you go without looking at it the better it will be.

I pull out my sheet of pros and cons and read it thoroughly. I then make more notes as to things I may have discovered while the paper was out of my sight. If time allows, I put the sheet away again.

Now it’s decision time. I look at my sheet of paper and decide. I might just go with my gut and decide what feels best for me. Or I might go with what is the most rational on paper which is a high number for the pro or con and the answer. I don’t know if my system really works or is just a way of stalling in my decision-making. Sometimes I’m right on and the system works and other times I’m way off the mark.

There are times when you just know what is best for you to do, but you don’t really want to own the decision yet. I hate it when that happens. Falling into an inevitable decision somehow feels like I’m not in control of my own life. Here’s a news flash – none of us have as much control over our lives as we like to think we do. Sometimes we just have to give in and take the path that’s in front of us.

The only way I can get help with taking care of Riley is to move in with my daughter. The path to a solution is right in front of me. I can see it. I know it’s what I must do. I must give up my big old country house and move me and Riley into my daughter’s house. I’m going about the decision making as though I really had a decision to make. I do the pros and cons. I write down answers on slips of paper and throw them across the room with the one landing the farthest to be my answer. But, in the end… I know what the decision must be.

I just don’t like not being in control.   

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Things have been out of your control for a very long time. Now it's time to take the path of least resistance.

Trisha E. said...

I'm in a very similar situation Linda. Even though my husband died two and a half years ago I have been unable to achieve financial stability and it looks like I may have to give up my much loved home in the near future. We had only a little life insurance at the time of his death and many expensive repairs had to be made to the house shortly afterward. Where we had had his pension and social security plus my social security I now had only I social security check. I took over his business which had been hurt greatly by the economic collapse of the construction industry in 2009 and have been getting a bit of income from that with the intention of selling it to two of his former employees, a couple who seemed to want it badly but they have not made the hoped for progress toward purchasing it. My daughter and her husband have tried to help, but they are at the end of their ability to do so. My credit was destroyed in the economic collapse so I cannot buy another house. I am trying daily to find ways to pay the bills. I am past retirement age and would be happy to work but have had no luck getting hired due to the age factor.

Nancy said...

Why can't he go into a nursing home since he is at the late stages of his life? (and needs 24/7 care) Thousands of people are in nursing homes paid by medicaid. I truly do not understand why you feel you have to be the one that provides the care. It has consumed your life. Perhaps you would feel lost if you were not the one taking responsibility. Perhaps you are scared of what you will do without him. How could it possibly be the right thing to put that stress in your daughter's home? Why is he more important than you? Why is he more important than your daughter?

Your blog has helped so many people. You have shown/taught us how to have compassion for the alcoholic and the alcoholic's loved ones. However it seems like the message you are sending now is that one must sacrifice everything for the alcoholic to the extent of losing one's home, one's physical health, and one's mental well-being.

Immortal Alcoholic's Wife said...

Nancy -- Thank you for commenting. We make too much money to qualify for medicaid. The VA is dragging their feet on his PTSD claim. There is no one else to care for him. The whole point of me taking him in to my home years ago was to prevent my daughter from becoming his caregiver. My daughter IS more important to me than Riley. If there was a way to put him in a facility, I would save both mine and my daughter's life by doing so.

My whole point to my recent blog posts and to my next book is to NOT sacrifice everything for the alcoholic. Maintain your own life even if you do have to take care of the alcoholic. Don't do as I did, learn from my mistakes, don't just survive but thrive in spite of it all. I am a work in progress and predict that I will come thru this almost sane and somewhat healthy.

Anonymous said...

My family is in a similar situation. My mother in law is the caregiver for my father in law. She makes too much money for him to get on Medicaid, but even so, he refuses to go. She tried to put him in a nursing home last year. He called a cab and left. He's not a prisoner. As long as he knows the President's name, there's nothing you can do to "force" him to stay there. (And even last year when he thought the President was Ronald Reagan, we still had a hard time keeping him there. The only reason we were successful for a short time was that when he called the cab, he couldn't remember where he lived.) The alcoholic is an autonomous person even in their worst state. Believe me the bar for having him qualified as incompetent in his own medical care is REALLY hard to meet.

My father in law is also a vet, and I suggested a VA nursing home. When I talked to a social worker at the VA, she told me that to qualify for that, a VA physician has to evaluate him and determine how much of his disability is caused by his service. If it's less than 70%, the vet is financial responsible for a percentage (or all) of the cost of his nursing care. My father in law of course refused to go to the VA, and again, we can't force him. I think part of the reason is that he lied about his service in Vietnam. In fact I'm positive of it because I filed a FOIA request. That's one thing I'm working on in Al Anon. My sponsor always says, "Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?"

I totally understand the nursing home problem. I wish there was a better way.

Anonymous said...

Also, my mother in law is in a similar situation in that if she cannot convince him to go willingly to a nursing home the only other options are him living with us (which I think she would never do to us, but moreover he would never come willingly.) or kicking him out onto the street and letting him be a homeless person. She would never do that either because my husband would of course be heartbroken. Also the alcoholic hasn't worked in decades, but his name is on the deed to the house, and like you, he's married (even though it's really just on paper). If my mother in law were to file for divorce, she'd have to sell her house and give him half, even though he hasn't paid a dime for it. She can't afford to do that since she has taken out a second mortgage and a home equity line of credit to pay for his medical care and physical therapy and house repairs and such. Sometimes I feel so hopeless. She often calls us and "jokes" that she is going to move in with us and leave him there in the house alone to fend for himself. It's all so sad and hopeless. There are no solutions other than waiting for him to die. I honestly thought he'd be dead by now. That's how I came across this blog- I was googling to see how long it takes an end stage alcoholic to die. Like you, I often feel he's immortal. He's only 72. He could live another 20 years or more. I used to think that was impossible, but it's obviously not.

Jan Eisenloeffel said...

A PTSD diagnosis is a 50% disability which will not qualify a veteran for long term care.