Saturday, April 19, 2014

What if...

Guest post by Sandy James...

When you are married to an alcoholic it always – sooner or later but always – comes down to this one question: Why don't you leave?  Family and friends ask it of us; we ask it of ourselves.

Why don't you leave?

It is asked with such ease, as if the asker has absolutely n o knowledge or awareness as to the complexity of the question.

Why don't you leave?

Why don't you grab a cup of coffee?  Why don't you take down your Christmas lights?  Why don't you see that new movie?  Why don't you tear apart everything you thought your life was going to be when you took your marriage vows?  Why don't you rip the foundation of your children's lives right out from under them and set them up in a different home with a different school and different friends and even a different (i.e. lack of) financial security?  Why don't you leave this man who is the father of your children, who was pall bearer at  your father's funeral, who stood over you, his hands shaking with such fear he could barely work his phone, as you laid in the driveway hemorrhaging from a late-term miscarriage?

Why don't you “kick his ass” to the curb?

Alcoholism is viciously ugly.  It destroys its victims both physically and mentally.  It can be diabolically humiliating and there tends to be no in-betweens.  An alcoholic is either seeking treatment and sobriety or he is getting worse.  As I often say, there is no status quo for an alcoholic.
My husband's drinking and the accompanying behavior is manageable right now.  I have taught myself to avoid his traps, to not take the bait and to even be able to disarm him to some degree.  I don't feel like I am walking on egg shells as much as I feel I have gotten smarter about my own behavior and my reactions to his behavior.  This is not to say there aren't nights when his very presence creates a sickening tight knot in my stomach.  It's not to say I don't relish road trips with just me and the kids or I don't blissfully enjoy the nights he has to work late.  But, for the most part, the biggest issue for now with my husband's drinking and our marriage is all beneath-the-surface stuff.  Stuff no one else sees and only I feel.

Stuff like the lack of a true partner.  Stuff like no real support for me or any interest in who I am.  Stuff like never closing the kitchen cabinet doors or picking up after himself.  Stuff like being unable to communicate or even hear my efforts at communication.  Stuff like feeling lonely though not alone.  Stuff like resenting past actions and behaviors that he has never even acknowledged, much less apologized for. 

Stuff that could actually be a problem in a marriage that didn't even involve an alcoholic. 

So, what if...

What if my husband's behavior was not due to alcoholism?  What if his behavior was “just” who he had become over the years?  What if we had “just” drifted apart in that way that happens sometimes and no one person is really at fault?

What if I was simply unhappy with my husband; if the man I had wanted when I was 25 was no longer the man I want at 45?  Then would people ask with such ease, “why don't you leave?”  Would it seem completely reasonable to turn my back on my wedding vows, to disrupt my children's lives simply because marriage hadn't turned out to be what I expected or dreamed?

Of what if my husband was hit by a bus one morning as he crossed the street on his way to work?  In the blink of an eye the man he had been is gone, lost to a brain injury that would render him permanently disabled and functioning on the level of a 12 year old.

What if he got Parkinson's?  Or Lou Gehrig's disease?  What if my husband had a different mental illness?  One that is moving, albeit it slowly but still faster than addiction, out of the dark ages of condemnation and disdain.  What if he was bipolar or clinically depressed?  Could I kick his “lethargic ass” to the curb?

When a horrible tragedy befalls a husband, be it an accident or debilitating illness, his caretaker-wife becomes a saint, a woman revered for her commitment and dedication to her husband and family.  She is seen as an icon for all that a marriage vow is supposed to be.  There is sympathy.  Empathy.  Respect.  And no one suggests, whispers or even secretly wonders, as she weeps for the man her husband once was and her new role as caretaker to someone confined to a wheelchair with the mental capacity of a boy, “why don't you leave?”

And yet that seems to be the question on the tip of everyone's tongue where an alcoholic husband is concerned.  Of course the argument could be made that no one chooses to get Parkinson's or be hit by a bus whereas the alcoholic chooses to drink.  Yes;  and No.  It's not so much the alcoholic chooses to drink as he has a condition that makes it nearly impossible for him to choose not to drink.  I'm not absolving the alcoholic of personal responsibility and indeed, the debate goes round and round as to how much is in the alcoholic's control and how much is beyond it.  But regardless of the wiggly line between choice and disease, the bottom line is addiction is a perversely complicated mental illness that cannot simply be written off as a lack of personal responsibility.  And yet, as the wife of an alcoholic, people seem justified in “advising” me to “kick his ass to the curb,” as if alcoholism voids my marriage vows.  Like there, beside the sickness part is an asterisk; *except in cases of alcoholism.

I am not arguing for staying in an alcoholic marriage.  I am not arguing for leaving it.  What I am arguing against is the careless and cavalier manner in which people feel entitled to ask, “Why don't you leave?”  To me it conveys not just an ignorance about and lack of understanding for addiction but also a sense of moral and intellectual superiority.  As if us wives of alcoholics, us stupid, naive, dumb, gullible, ignorant wives, never considered the obvious. That clearly we are “weak” or we would have left our drunken husbands.  Or we must stay out of fear.  Or need because we could never support ourselves and our children.  Or we have our own mental instability.  Or we are “co-dependent,” subconsciously enjoying the dysfunction and drama of our alcoholic husbands.  The question isn't really, “Why don't you leave?”  The real question is “What's wrong with you?  Why do you stay?”  No one ever seems to realize that we are smart, strong, deeply caring women for whom the question “Why don't you leave” is not a static question but rather a fluid one that we are weighing and considering on a near-daily basis.

Here's why I stay right now:  because it's the better thing for my children.  If that sounds mercenary, then I am unapologetic.  People certainly believe a woman should leave her alcoholic husband if it's better for her children so why isn't it justifiable to stay if it's better for her children?  My children would not understand (nor are they supposed to) any ramblings on my part about being unseen or not heard or feeling lonely while not alone.  They couldn't fathom what I was saying if I rattled on about unfinished projects or dreams unsupported.  And they would look at me as if I had just sprouted a second head if I said we were leaving their home and father because he doesn't close the kitchen cabinet doors or pick up his laundry.

And, I am not ready to give up on my marriage, my family or my life.  It's hard -- very, very hard.  There are days when I think I can't possible do this, that I am failing myself and my children and that I just have to get out.  But then there are other days when I think, “I can do this.”  I can keep my family together, weather my husband's mental illness and provide my children with what they need.  I can be the wind, the sails, the ballast and the captain all together.  I can keep this boat afloat.

Other women stay for other reasons but no one should ever believe we stay out of weakness.  Or, that the reason we stay today is the same reason we may be staying tomorrow.  End stage alcoholics can't live alone.  What happens when you look up and 25 years have passed and your husband, who's drinking and behavior was once manageable, is now an end stage alcoholic who sleeps all day, pisses himself and spreads feces around the walls?  Because let's not mince words here; that is what end stage alcoholism can look like.

Now do you leave?  And when you can't because you are absolutely the only person on the face of this entire planet who will keep this wretchedly tragic and disgusting human being relatively safe, is it because you are weak?  Is it your own fault because you were too ignorant to leave “sooner?”

My mother and I once had a conversation about what if you were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Would you want to kill yourself?  We both concluded the problem would be that when you were still capable of making that sort of rational decision, you wouldn't yet want to.  That you would want to wring every last minute of healthy living out of your life before ending it.  But in waiting until you were sick enough to want to commit suicide you would paradoxically be too sick to make such a rational decision.

The question of “if” and “when” to leave an alcoholic husband can be kind of like that. In the early stages of the disease, it seems premature or even unnecessary.  And in the end, it can feel too late or morally impossible.

Sandy James is follower of this blog. She also has a blog where you can read more of her life as the wife of an alcoholic. You can find her at

Monday, April 14, 2014

Random thoughts...

Since I’ve been back at doing more alcoholism related work, I’ve been going back over comments on this blog and on other places where I have postings. (I’ll supply the links at the end of this post.) There are a few things that stand out to me and I thought it would be good to review a few things today. These are just random subjects that may seem to be “all over the place.”

It seems so simple – just stop getting the alcohol for the alcoholic and everything will get better. That’s just not the reality. There comes a time in the process of alcoholism that not providing alcohol can be just as deadly as providing it. For end-stage drinkers, the only safe detox is one that is medically supervised and without the continuous flow of alcohol into the body, detox begins immediately.

It also seems simple to put the alcoholic out on the street – “kick him/her to curb”. Most of my blog readers are at the place where putting the alcoholic out would be something resembling putting a hospice patient out for them to die somewhere that is not in your line of vision. My moral compass doesn’t allow me to do that. Many of my readers’ moral compasses are pointed in the same direction.

That doesn’t mean that my readers should always stay in a relationship with the alcoholic person in their life. Circumstances must be weighed and considered. What is good for one person is not always good for another. It’s a decision that can only be made by the person living the life.

My personal belief is that no one person should be judged or criticized by another for their way of handling their life circumstance. The only way to truly know what is best for another is to actually live inside the person’s life. It’s OK to have an opinion, but not to believe that your opinion is the cure to anyone else’s situation. As I was reading comments on other websites, I was dismayed at the level of judgment that seemed to be running rampant.

Alcoholism is a heart-breaking, insidious, all-encompassing addiction which reaches far beyond just the person who is drinking. It takes over lives and leaves a path of destruction. As caretakers we must find a way to prevent us from losing our sanity while doing whatever it is that we feel is best for our situation. If we lose ourselves while taking care of others who have already lost it – the alcoholism wins. I won’t let alcohol win by claiming my life.

If you feel you would like some non-judgmental, non-critical support, please feel free to join the OARS website to get some much-needed support. The invitation link is:

We will all be happy to see you there!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

It's Spring -- time for tornadoes and Oz

I've posted this before and got such a great response that I really think it deserves to be re-posted. It's Spring and for us in the south that means tornado season. It also means Wizard of Oz will be showing up on television.

Tornado warning… (5/3/2011)

When the Emergency Broadcast came over the television announcing that we were under a Tornado Warning, I gathered my stuff – blankets, pillows, laptop, water, etc – and put it in a secure place in my bathroom. I was ready.

Riley was in his rocking chair watching his usual NCIS. I told him we needed to get his bathroom ready in case the worst came about. He just said – “Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.” And being the good little caretaker that I am – I stocked his bathroom. Both the bathrooms are small and there is really only room for one person in each.

As the night wore on, I settled in and listened. Wind, rain, hail, more rain, quiet, wind and more wind – but there was no rumble. I was waiting for the rumble sound of an oncoming train. It never happened – and I was thankful.

As I was waiting, I could feel the house swaying with the wind. We have a brick rancher – solid as possibly could be – but the wind was so strong it was moving the house. I thought of the three little pigs who built their last house of bricks. What a smart thing to do.

In spite of the three little pigs’ wise decision to use brick in the construction – some lyrics kept running through my head -- but they weren’t verses about the pigs’ quest for a secure dwelling. Instead, I was hearing in my head the lyrics to a song from The Wizard of Oz.

The wind began to switch – the house to pitch and suddenly the hinges started to unhitch.

Life with an alcoholic is much the same as a house in the middle of a tornado. This first verse could well define what it is like to watch the beginning of an alcoholic downfall. Things are unsettled, the family never feels secure and things start to fall apart.

Just then the Witch – to satisfy an itch went flying on her broomstick, thumbing for a hitch.

The alcoholic (the Witch) needs to satisfy the craving for alcohol and so he/she seeks it out. Sometimes they ask others to help them obtain the alcohol – as in hitching a ride to the liquor store.

And oh, what happened then was rich.

I think if we substitute the word “sad” for the word “rich,” this would be exactly correct. Because what happens after the alcoholic gets the booze is rich with sadness.

The house began to pitch. The kitchen took a slitch.

Things become increasingly upsetting in the alcoholic household as the drinking continues.

It landed on the Wicked Witch in the middle of a ditch, which was not a healthy situation for the Wicked Witch.

The consequences of the alcoholic’s actions cause him/her to land in unpleasant situations. Eventually the health of the alcoholic deteriorates and puts the alcoholic’s life in danger.

Who began to twitch and was reduced to just a stitch of what was once the Wicked Witch.

The person who was once a vital, productive, happy member of the community is reduced to becoming a mere servant of alcohol. At that point, the entire family is not in Kansas anymore, but rather in some uninhabitable place – like Antarctica. No matter how many times you click your heels, those ruby red slippers are not going to help you now.

I’m told by fellow country dwellers that this is unusual weather for this time of year. Funny, in Linda and Riley World – living in a tornado is a way of life.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Everyone is eligible...

I’m so very excited about this television series on alcoholism. I’ve been given an awesome opportunity to help produce and I’ve been able to locate several people who are courageous enough to allow their stories to be shown on this major television network. Thank you to all of you who have consented.

We are still looking for more stories and would love to hear from you if you think you might be interested in sharing your struggles and making a real difference in someone else’s life. You may think that you are not interesting enough. You may be hesitant to show your face on television and to the world – it’s extremely public. You may think that because you are drinking, you would not be a good candidate for being interviewed.  The fact is, you may be just the person, story, situation that would be excellent for this project.
If you are drinking and feel that there is just no way for you to stop. We need your story.

If you think you are not interesting enough, not photogenic enough, not young enough, not old enough, not enough, not enough, not enough. You are very wrong. We need you. We don’t care that you aren’t going to win any beauty pageants or be the next GQ Man of the Hour. We don’t care how old you are.

This is what we need – if you struggle between sobriety and drinking, we want to hear from you. That’s it. That’s all there is too it.

One of the producers of the project as sent this message to all my readers:  

Dear Friends of the Immortal Alcoholic,
Chances are if you are reading the Immortal Alcoholic- you have a loved one or friend who has a problem with alcohol- or perhaps you yourself struggle with alcohol. Most likely- these relationships are complex and challenging. We are producing a documentary for a major cable network about people’s relationships with alcohol. Alcohol use is often depicted as black or white and yet the realities of these relationships are typically far more complex. We are trying to tell a different kind of story about people who fall into the more subtle and complex grey zone of alcohol use. Our goal is to feature about eight different people whose stories collectively illustrate the broad spectrum of modern day alcohol use.
If you are comfortable sharing your story- then please feel free to call or write.   We can be reached by email, at or by phone at 212 512-1843 (your messages and our conversations are completely confidential). There is absolutely no pressure, nor obligation—we would love to explore the possibility of bringing your story, your perspective, to our audience.

Let me emphasis – this is NOT an intervention. This is just telling your story. No pressure to go to a treatment or rehab facility.

I’ve been writing this blog for four years and feel that all my readers are a part of a special family. I’m asking that special family to help make a difference in someone else’s life. I’m asking you to dig deep and help make this project a success.

If you want to talk to me before talking to the producers, just send an e-mail to and include your phone number. I’ll call you and we can chat a bit before going further.

Thank you so very much for your consideration.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Channel 81 NOT 106!

The radio station for the broadcast is 81 and not 106 as I thought! Please tune in!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Radio and TV

Tomorrow Channel 106 of Sirius XM Radio hosted by Perri Peltz of HBO. Her guest will be Dr. Joe Nowinski and I've been asked to call in to tell a bit about the Immortal Alcoholic. Call the program with questions or comments.  877- 698-3627.

Sirius Radio
Channel 106
Topic: Heavy Drinker vs. Alcoholic
3 p.m. - 4 p.m. Eastern Time
Hosted by Perri Peltz, HBO
Guest: Dr. Joe Nowinski, author "Almost Alcoholic"
Call line: 877-698-3627 Phone calls from you are what will make this program great!

Hope to hear you there!!

ALSO (A note from Perri Peltz):

Chances are if you are reading the Immortal Alcoholic- you have a loved one or friend who has a problem with alcohol- or perhaps you yourself struggle with alcohol. Most likely- these relationships are complex and challenging. We are producing a documentary for a major cable network about people's  relationships with alcohol. Alcohol use if often depicted as black or white and yet the reality of these relationships are typically far more complex. We are trying to tell a different kind of story about people who fall into the more subtle and complex grey zone of alcohol use. Our goal is to feature about eight different people whose stories collectively illustrate the broad spectrum of modern day alcohol use.

If you are comfortable sharing your story- then please feel free to call or write.   We can be reached by email, at or by phone at 212 512-1843 (your messages and our conversations are completely confidential). There is absolutely no pressure, nor obligation—we would love to explore the possibility of bringing your story, your perspective, to our audience.

Fat lady singing...

Many people believe that once an alcoholic has stopped drinking that the worst is over. People also believe that going to rehab for 90 days means there are only sunny days ahead. The reality is a far different picture from what many people believe.

When detox begins in a medically supervised arena, the brain begins to divest itself of the accumulated toxins that have been stored in the frontal lobe. It is a slow process to get rid of all that poison. In fact it takes FOUR years for the brain to be toxin-free. Even if there is zero alcohol in the blood stream, the alcoholic will be under the influence (even if minimally) for the next four years. So that means, while the person may be able to go back to work, repair broken relationships, find peace and in general return to a somewhat “normal” life – there is always the pull back to the bottle or vestiges of the alcoholic personality on a daily basis.

If a person goes to rehab for 90 days and then immediately goes back to drinking, it may be because that pull from the brain is over-riding any logical thinking process. Alcoholism is an addiction and it is difficult enough to break the addiction even if there were no left-over toxins interfering with logic, reason and emotion.

After the 90 days in treatment there must be a continuation of treatment for the alcoholic to ignore those pulls away from rationality. Most people continue their journey in a 12-step program, but there are other programs – Smart Recovery is just one example. In my opinion, support groups are great, but there needs to be that one-on-one counseling in order to keep working on the more intimate issues. The therapy must dig deep to find factors that may have encouraged the drinking in the first place. Was there a traumatic incident? Was there some PTSD, child abuse, or any other major life change around the time the drinking stepped up in pace? What are some of the triggers that may put the alcoholic into a tenuous situation? Usually many of these issues are not uncovered in a group atmosphere because they can be too personal, too painful to discuss openly. There is often not enough time inside the rehab center of other support groups. When things do start to become clear, it will take a lot of work to resolve the discovered issues in order to reach full recovery.

It doesn’t happen overnight; within a month, year, or more. It’s long and hard. It could take four years. The good news is that once these issues are uncovered it will then be possible for the alcoholic to start to truly recover. Dr. Phil says, “You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge.” No truer words have been spoken – in my opinion. I always say “Knowledge is power.”

Usually when a person comes out of rehab the family feels like they are on top of the world. There is hope; there is a promise of a normal life. It’s a “honeymoon” period where everything is sweet, loving and light. But for the family there is also the edginess of waiting for the other shoe to drop. They are cautious in their happiness. And that’s as it should be because it takes four years; it takes support groups; it takes counseling; it takes patience; it takes understanding; and sometimes it feels impossible.

In my case, Riley was once sober for just about five years – so what happened? He had gone over the four years so he should have been toxin-free. Rile was extremely active in AA. He had sober friends and attended booze-free activities. What Riley did not have was the one-on-one counseling. He did not ever reach a place where he could be completely honest about anything that may have contributed to his alcoholism. To this day, he will tell you the only reason he became an alcoholic was because he liked being drunk rather than sober. He did not care about destroying anyone else’s life – wife, kids, friends – and he openly admits this as the truth. But, he cannot tell you “why” he is this way. To top it off, he uses counseling sessions to convince himself that he is “not that bad.” He also thinks of his appointments as social events. As a result he is missing one of the key elements, in my opinion, to achieving life-long sobriety. It really isn’t over until the fat lady sings and for Riley, the fat lady is on stage without a microphone or a band – she’s not singing anytime soon.

Just a reminder – most of my posts are my opinion and based on my experience combined with research on the subject matter. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, therapist, or any other “professional”. I’m a survivor and that’s all I ever claim to be.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Help others by telling your story...

This was sent to me about an upcoming series that addresses the various stages of alcoholism. If you would like to participate in this program, please send a bit about your story to the below e-mail address. They are looking for people in all the various stages.

Our relationships with alcohol are complex and no longer fit the traditional black and white model of use and abuse. While many documentaries exist about alcohol abuse - we feel few reflect the realities that many of us face when it comes to our relationships with alcohol use.  Most of our stories are not black or white- but fall in the more subtle and complex grey zone. Our goal is to feature about eight different people whose stories are different but collectively illustrate the broad spectrum of modern day alcohol use.

We are three women working together on this documentary and we would love to hear from you. There is absolutely no pressure, nor obligation—we would love to explore the possibility of bringing your story, your perspective, to our audience.

We can be reached by email, at or by phone at 212 512-1843. Please feel free to leave a confidential message.

I really like it that they recognize that traditional solutions may not be the answer. Your participation in this program will could help someone get the help they need. They are seeking both alcoholics and loved ones of alcoholics. This is not your typical TNT "Addiction" program.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Comments wanted...

Back in April 2012, I had a guest poster, Dr. Joseph Nowinski. He wrote about being “almost an alcoholic”. It was an exceptional post with many great comments. I want to thank my readers for being willing to share their thoughts with the rest of the world.

I’m going to ask you all to share bits of your life once again. Please review the guest post (the link is here):

After reviewing the post, please comment on how you think your life would have been different if you had read or had access to the book Almost Alcoholic back when the alcoholic in your life would have been considered a “heavy drinker” rather than an “alcoholic.” Would the book have made a difference?

Do you feel that reading the book now in conjunction with counseling from a qualified therapist / medical professional could change your life at the present time and/or possibly avoid full-blown alcoholism?

Dr. Nowinski is an internationally recognized clinical psychologist and author. He has blogs on the and websites. For more information on Almost Alcoholic visit Dr. Nowinski’s website is

Thank you for participating in this survey. Your opinions and input are always very important to me. As always your privacy will be respected.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Who will win?...

I’ve been trying to write a post for some time now. Each time I add one to the blog I vow to myself not to go so long between postings, but time gets away from me and I find I’m always playing “catch-up.” Things were always bad when Riley was drinking constantly, consistently and predictably. Now that his body is not-so-functional from all the years of abuse, I find my life to be even more complicated than ever.

One of the medical professionals has told me that Riley’s dementia level is rated at 50% and another tells me he is more than that. I’m not sure what all the percentages mean, but I do know that living with him sober yet not rational is tiring.

He looks like a normal guy. He talks like a normal guy for short conversations. He can remember yesterday’s world news. He can even offer pros and cons when trying to make decisions. BUT… and there’s a big BUT… He often forgets entire days and within a couple hours will lose track of things I told him at breakfast. He talks about TV characters as though they are real people and respects the characters viewpoint often using it to make his own point about some situation or idea.

He falls often and each fall is immediately followed with “I’m OK.” He is stubborn refusing to use the cane or walker any more often than absolutely necessary and instead uses the furniture to maintain an upright stance. It’s probably why he falls so often. We have both tile and hardwood floors which mean falling can lead to a broken hip or injury to his head. He’s always OK and then a couple hours later he complains that his side hurts or his leg or his arm. I should not say the word “complain” because according to Riley he NEVER complains -- like it’s a sign of weakness or a lack of control. Instead he says he just states the facts.

He also never gets angry. At least he says he doesn’t get angry because anger is a waste of time and he is stronger than anyone who ever gets angry. Instead of coming out and staying that I infuriate him, he will be passive aggressive and do things like throw something of mine away.

I believe he is extremely angry with me and the entire world. He is angry because he is no longer in control of Riley World. He doesn’t get alcohol because I will not buy it. He can’t go to bars and clubs because I will not allow him to drive the car. He has no intimate contact with a female because I won’t find him a girlfriend. His drinking has caused any female relationships he has had to run far away from him. He still has faithful friends even though he does not want to communicate with them. Most of them are people he met when he was active in the AA program. They are still concerned and caring. But they are not the friends he wants. He wants his old friends – Aristocrat and Budweiser.  He has no computer access. His days are spent watching reruns of programs like Castle, Bones, NCIS, etc. Those are his friends now.

I do not feel sorry for him. He was warned so many times that he was destroying his body.  He always seemed to think it would never happen to him. He always claimed that he would live to 100 and be shot by a jealous husband. And he was so very proud that he would die in that manner. Now his dreams of that jealous husband are long gone. He is reaping what he has sowed. It didn’t have to be this way, but his choices have led him to be forced to live with a woman he does not like; in a place he does not like; and in a manner he does not like.

And yet – there are people who remark that it’s such a shame that this has happened to him. I agree. It is a shame that he never cared enough about his life to truly have a desire to save it. I want to scream that this didn’t just “happen” to him. Riley decided to take the risk and play that roulette wheel. He played and he lost. Of course, he didn’t want to lose in this manner. He wanted to lose with more finality. He wanted to die from drinking. He did not want to be crippled from it.

 And, according to Riley, his being alive is clearly my fault. This is the one thing he openly states causes him to be angry. Any chaos or problems he causes are things that I deserve because I didn’t let him die. Well… I’d love to say that I won’t make that mistake again but I’m not sure I can stand by those words. Instead I’ll just say that I hope he goes quietly and peacefully so I won’t notice and thus not feel obligated to call for help.

A reader asked how I was doing. Hmmm… I don’t think about that too much anymore. Outwardly, I’m OK. Inside I’m angry, tired, frustrated, and just want all this to be over. I try to be a good caretaker, but keeping someone alive is not an easy thing when life is not what is wanted if it doesn’t include alcohol. I’m surviving every day sometimes just hour by hour. The only way to I can make sense of all this is to make sure I stay healthy and outlive Riley. It would be a shame for my end to come simply from the exhaustion of being his caretaker. I actually WANT my life and have many things planned for my Riley-free days.

I have considered letting Riley have small amounts of alcohol at specific times. It was even suggested by a therapist that I give it to him much the same as a medication. It might solve some of the anger issues and give him enough of a buzz to keep him more complacent. It is a thought, but I’m not going there just yet. I’m already his warden and not sure if I want to take on the role of bartender. It would be one more thing added to my “to do” list for each day. My list is full right now and I don’t see room for one more thing.

How I am doing seems to not be so relevant to Riley’s medical personnel. Most people are more concerned for him than they are for me. So I want to thank you for asking. I appreciate the concern and hope that your situation is a bit easier than mine at this time. I also hope that if you can find help and support in your journey through this alcoholism hell. If you have the opportunity, try to get hospice involved to relieve you from having to make the hard decisions. If you qualify, get in touch with the Veterans Administration, especially if there is a disability compensation connection. Protect yourself – always be aware and compliant to your own needs.

Above all else, remember that if you die before the alcoholic  – alcoholism wins.