Posted by : Sherri Cornelius Thursday, June 30, 2011

There is a secret I carry, and I’ve decided to remove this secret of its power over my life by bringing it into the light. I’ve told myself over the years that it’s not my secret to tell, and telling would be disloyal to my husband. I accepted his denial as my own, and looking back I think I was actually brainwashed in a way, as substance abuse distorts everything through a lens of deception and insanity and makes you doubt your own observations and wisdom.

So that’s my secret, sneaked into that previous sentence because I’m too much of a coward to say it outright. It still feels disloyal to say my husband is an alcoholic, even though I realized a couple of days ago that it is every bit as much my problem as it is his—and probably even more so, since I’m left scrambling to pick up the pieces of our life together as he lets them slip through his fingers. I’m no different than any other woman married to a substance abuser. I’m trying to keep the problems from touching my kids, and trying to love and support him into getting help, just trying to do the right thing in general.

This secret peeks out every now and then in my writings, like when I allude to my challenging marriage or problems I can’t talk about. But I can talk about them, and I think I need to talk about them. But of course the substance abuse is a much greedier and needier animal than I, and I catered to it for far too long. I don’t have to talk about the substance abuse itself because that actually is my husband’s domain, but I can talk about the way this substance abuse has affected me. And so I shall.

I might start a new blog for this topic, if I find I have a lot to say about it. Or I might use one of my old wordpress URLs for it. I might chicken out and delete this post and never speak of it again. But if I do that, I think the act of writing it down and putting it out there will still be beneficial. And at least the people who care about me most, my regular readers, will know what’s going on.

So here’s where I am right now. Since the beginning of May I’ve been camped out on the futon in the den, which contains the washer and dryer, our second (and awful) tv, and the kids’ computer. There’s no door to this space, and the futon is so hard it takes an hour to work out the morning stiffness in my joints. I’ve given up on convincing him to go for treatment, or even the simple hope for a meaningful conversation about it. The only thing left to do is withdraw from the source and save myself. I fear the changes this will undoubtedly bring, yet I’m convinced the fear of the unknown was what kept me here all this time--15 years, total. I can’t afford to be afraid anymore. It killed my spirit a long time ago, and now it’s causing physical problems.

My feelings are all in a jumble, but one thought has carried me onward, and it’s this one: Shouldn’t I care for myself at least as much as I have cared for this illness? For that’s what I’ve been doing, caring for the illness, catering to it and enabling it so that we can seem “normal” and give my kids a chance. Divorce ripped me apart as a child, so I’ve seen it as the thing to avoid at all cost. I just don’t know what to do. So I wait until it becomes clear, as I feel it will soon.

Hitting publish…

{ 5 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. My heart goes out to you. I've seen this happen to numerous other friends of mine and it never ends in a positive way. the cases where they've taken the step to leave their alcoholid/drug addicted spouses, it tends to change their lives for the better (even though the change may prove to be more difficult in the short term). It's also better for children to be removed from such a bad environment so they understand that it is a sickness that can be treated, and doesn't have to be blindly accepted as "that's just the way things are."

    I hope things work out for you. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help.

  2. What Ian said: my heart goes out to you. If I could give you a hug I would. Well what ever happens, whatever you decide to do, those of us who are happy to know you will support you and be there in whatever way we can, for you.

    Also, I believe that you have the strength to do what you decide you need to do.

  3. You are awesome and brave and deserve many good things. It is very hard to say things that most need saying.

    I wondered what might be wrong, catching hints from time to time. I'm sorry. Some choices are hard, and many hard choices are impossible or others to imagine. It seems unlikely your children don't know more than you want them to. Kids usually do.

    Divorce is terrible. Living with an alcoholic is terrible. But by putting this out there you've taken a step towards deciding. I don't even know what to say to help for even a few minutes, but you are loved and cared about by many.

    Best thoughts to you through this.

  4. A friend of mine up here is going through similar things. I don't think she's thinking of divorce and her kids are older, but I hear echoes of her pain in your post. Alcoholism is so destructive and sadly, the ones causing the destruction seem to be least aware of it.

    There are groups - you can probably find support groups like Al-Anon for the families of alcoholics - to help you. (check online or in your yellow pages) They can listen and understand, feel exactly what you're feeling. They would probably be able to offer potential solutions to some of the things you've been facing.

    At the very least, it's good not to go through things alone, and there are people who can help you. It's a brave thing to do, to ask for help. So good for you. :) I will pray for you hon. *hug*

  5. Wow, Sherri, I'm glad you asked for someone to check and see if they could access your website. Somehow I've missed your blog, and I'm sorry about that. I grew up keeping secrets. My grandfather was a functioning alcoholic. He clocked in at the Air Force base on time steadily enough to retire after 35 years employment. He was a good man, a kind man, even sort've a happy and funny drunk. Except when he wasn't. I grew up begging him to stop drinking. My mother was a prescription drug abuser for years, and I married an alcoholic, too. No big surprise there. I left him 20 years ago and never looked back. But before I left, I spent a year on the sofa. We built a new house, and I never even slept in the master bedroom. Even when he was out of town for work. Hang in there, Brave Girl. You're moving in the right direction.


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