Hi, Apologies in advance about the length of this post. I’ve previously described what’s happening for me and my husband who has a problem with alcoholism.
In brief, my husband has had a problem with alcohol for years. But prior to my son’s arrival in October and then Christmas 2018, his drinking escalated. We had our newborn son, he was running a large job (he’s a carpenter) and winding down for Christmas - he then completely crashed. He didn’t come home at times, making no contact about where he was / is. He drank and made dumb and risky decisions including driving behind the wheel. He couldn’t look after himself let alone me or his son. - basically sleeping off his hang overs and depression (what ever comes first). I eventually said to him I couldn’t do it (our relationship and the drinking anymore) but he said he would change (for the 100th time) - but he didn’t. It happened a couple more times and then I’d had enough. He ended up at a friends place and told them this crazy story about someone who tried to commit suicide. Turns out he was talking about himself. He hadn’t attempted suicide but was basically trying to say he was unsafe. After a long chat and hard decision, my son and I went to stay with my mum for a week, there were so many tears. I felt like I had to make a decision to stay or go. I ended up deciding to go home as I didn’t feel ready to give it up - we’ve been together for 16 years, and ultimately I love him and our life we’ve built together. He went and sought help - started antidepressants, started to see a counsellor, was under mental health services and even began crossfit - it was awesome. Just a few weeks ago, he was the best he’d ever been. It was great to be around him. As soon as he acknowledged how well he was feeling he seemed to drop the ball. Slowly all of this ceased and hes back to drinking most days again (often secretly), stopped his medication, as well as his crossfit, his counselling and seeing the mental health team. He’s hiding bottles and cans, coming home late etc. He loves his job and does a good job (from what I hear) but it takes every bit of his energy - so drinks to unwind, drinks to destress and to function - to feel upbeat and happy. It’s just a downward spiral and I’m watching him lie to himself and to me. I don’t know how else to bring it up with him. I feel we’ve exhausted everything to get him to stay in recovery.
When he sought help at the beginning of the year, I went and got help as well. I am having counselling every week and its been amazing. I am discovering my truth, who I want to be, how I want to feel. Deep down know that the way we are living isn’t sustainable. Living from problem to problem. The ups and downs in our relationship. This week, he said to me he feels he hasn’t been enough for me for such a long time which I think is untrue but I guess whenever he drinks (which is most days) I want little to do with him. When he’s sober I make more effort to connect with him. But when ever I step back he steps back too and causes him (and I) to feel more lonely and old habits come back.
Through my counselling, I have discovered my part in his addiction and have been taking responsibility for the harm I have caused even though it was never my intention - trying to control and manage every aspect of his life to avoid situations where he drank and ended in a state or would be unable to meet his obligations - work, caring for our son etc. I enabled him for YEARS. I feel I have been codependent. He has said he feels the last 2 years have been so hard as I’ve blamed him for his drinking causing our problems. He says that if I had never banned alcohol from the house that he wouldn’t have ended up with the issues he developed. If we treated alcohol as being “normal” that there wouldn’t be a problem.
But the issue is his drinking has been a constant factor in all the years we’ve been together - it’s his crutch for everything - he drinks alone, drinks to be social / to be liked, drinks to stay awake, drinks to feel OK. I don’t like the person he becomes - he’s obnoxious and hurtful. He only talks about himself and talks with a chip on his shoulder. When he drinks, I withdraw to protect myself which he says makes him feel more alone and worse so gets pushed into drinking. There are moments usually after a big night that he will take responsibility for his behaviour and acknowledges his drinking problem to the extent that it is. I have tried to be light hearted about it, detach with love, look after myself, to listen to be there for him.
I think I love his potential, I even love the person that comes out when he’s crashed after a binge or whatever - someone who wants more for himself and us, someone who wants to make our life better, someone who wants to be sober - I think I literally live for this - the crash cause I know everything will be OK even for a brief time. But I can’t stand the fact that he drinks, even if he doesn’t drink as much these days, he’s still not addressing his part in the problem. If he could drink and still live his life I think it would be OK. It’s not just about being sober, it’s addressing the underlying issues including his personality. He literally lives from nap to nap - he just wants to sleep All. The. Time. and if he isn’t asleep, he just talks about how tired he is and that he can’t wait to sleep. I swear this is what causes him to drink half the time.
Since the beginning of the year, things have slightly changed in that he is more aware of what’s happening. If he drinks, he usually lets me know where he is and when he will be home which is good - but often doesn’t come home when he says he will. He mostly doesn’t drink drive anymore which is great except for when he does. I guess, what’s annoying is that since I have taken some of the responsibility for how I react to his drinking, it’s as if I’m not allowed to have a problem with it anymore. If I am not happy with the state he is in, he tells me not to make a issue out of it, that it doesn’t need to be a problem, that I’m making it one. Am I? I mean if he didn’t have a problem he would be able to keep him his responsibilities at work and at home, he wouldn’t need to sleep for hours.
I am currently writing him a letter with my experiences in my life which have shaped me to be who I am in hope he will understand why it causes so much angst. I realise I have no control of what he will do / how he will respond but I guess I can only tell him my perspective and why I want him to receive help.
And YET despite all that I’ve said, I don’t think he will ever change, being with me I don’t think he will or can change. I don’t know what else I can do to help him. To help us be the family I want us to be. I have been looking after myself - doing things to build myself up, to feel stronger, to be the best mum I can be yet I feel like I’m failing as a wife / a person. I’m not living the full life I can. I don’t want to blame him as I now believe I am in control of my own happiness. The more I move towards what I want the more I become unclear if I can live with him as he is right now. Our life is complicated by that we have a huge mortgage, a baby and 2 beautiful dogs. I don’t want to lose this. I don’t want to lose our future yet right now I don’t know if we have one.
I’m sorry for the novel - any advice or direction anyone can give me would be so appreciated. What should I do? Should I leave him? Should I stay? What else can I do?