Thursday, March 20, 2014

You Are Not Alone

One of the benefits of having a blog are the nifty gadgets that come along with it, analysis sputtered out to me by Google that shows me what people search for that leads them here.  (Hello whoever is reading this!  You are welcome here.  Don't worry - I don't know who you are.)

Some examples:

"How to stay married to an alcoholic"
"How to live with a functional alcoholic husband"
"Secret drinking"
"Help my husband is an alcoholic"
"How to help keep a family functioning with alcoholism."
"Successful wife alcoholic."
"He hides his drinking"
"Alcoholic husband won't have sex with me"
"What to do I hate my alcoholic husband"
"High functional alcoholic help"
"Signs of a secret alcoholic"
"My wife is a functioning alcoholic"
"Arguing with alcoholic"
"What it's like to be married to an alcoholic"
"How to hide drinking at work"
"How to help high functioning alcoholics"
"Is my husband a functioning alcoholic how to tell"

So, if it makes you feel any better to know this - there are literally hundreds, thousands of people searching for information on being married to a "functional" alcoholic.  And these are just the people that happen to click on my humble little online rag here.  They are all over the world, too:  Norway, United Kingdom, USA, Australia, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, South Africa, China, Switzerland, Nicaragua, Belgium, Uganda (Uganda!), Russia, Ireland, Spain, India, Philippines...

There are so many of us wondering what's going on, why we are so maddened by our loved one's drinking, even though "it's not a problem."  Why we feel so alone and confused, frustrated and angry.  And it's so easy to feel alone - after all, we can't point to any outside sign as justification.  We have roofs over our head.  We have money or enough of it anyway, no DUI troubles (yet? hard to when we don't go out!), no job losses.  To the outside world things seem calm and settled, and around others perhaps our spouses even seem charming and friendly, and so we end up doubting ourselves thinking that maybe everyone else is right, maybe our alcoholic is right - there's nothing wrong.  Maybe we're just imagining things.

Swimming in my own doubts (and a little bit of denial), I wondered if I would belong when I first came into Al Anon.  Someone had told me before going, "Eventually you will hear your story in those rooms."  Sure enough my stereotypes of alcoholism were quickly shattered - the woman who handled my newcomer meeting was married to a prominent surgeon who couldn't understand why she had still felt like something was wrong.

We who live with active alcoholism know the problem as it manifests in our marriages, relationships with significant others, children or siblings.  There can be "nothing" fights, accusations, blame, isolation, provocations, distractions, drama, secrecy, a lack of intimacy.  We struggle with our want to control or fix, and our reactions to the alcoholic's behavior and our pain.  Some of us blame, lecture, scold, condescend, insult, berate, sarcastically attack.  Some of us have tried to rationalize with, inform, manipulate, scold, nag or beg them.

When I realized that yes, this is a problem, my husband could be an alcoholic and this is a contributing factor in our troubles, at first I was relieved.  But then I was heavy with the somber reality of my situation; because the hardest part for me was finding out that I cannot make my husband stop drinking or get into recovery.  I cannot make him behave or think in a way that I desire, nor is it appropriate or healthy for me to do so, because obsessing about that is a good way for me to lose myself.

Now that I have fully accepted this, it has been a tough time.  In addition to having a more realistic view of our marriage and my husband's behavior, I'm stuck looking at myself now.  I personally have my own ups and downs, my own problems to deal with on top of (and that stem from) our relationship issues.  It would be really easy to abandon all that and focus on my husband's problems - in fact I've done that for a long time.  But instead, the more I focus on how they've affected me, and how I deal with stress, pain, and my environment, I feel like I'm taking my power back a bit at a time.  It's not easy, and some days are harder than others.  But it's real, honest and true.

So, now when I attend a meeting, look at my blog stats here or talk to a program friend, I am comforted by the fact that I truly am not alone.  There are so many others in my shoes - and yours.

Hope you are all hanging in and changing the things you can.