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.


  1. Oh my gosh EVERYONE of you are leveling my"crazy talk". My husband is active drinking peeson. I go to alnon..therepy and church.

    I cannot put into words how all the posts are as if I am wtiting them. You all are angels..wriring as I feel at breaking point. Do I stay or go? Do I take a bath and sleeping pill to get rest for work tomorrow as I wait to see if he comes home. Drinking and driving? Do I continue to be co-deoendant? His last words were "you are obessed with my drinking and stop barading me". He says can not be in sexless marraige...Hellllllo!!!! Who can have sex with someone who keeps breaking down trust walls.

    god bless you all for postinf!

  2. I find it so hard to stop obsessing and trying to control my FA husband. I still get so angry with him. I can't help it. I'm mad because I feel like he has broken us and I wish he could just stop drinking. Thank you for writing. I look forward to seeing new blogs from you . Thanks to you I will be attending my first Al anon meeting next week. I hope it can help....

  3. I just found your blog today, while I was distracted at work thinking about my home life.
    I couldn't be more grateful to have found you. I'm so sorry for everyone dealing with this, but I'm so happy I'm not alone.

  4. Thank you for writing this blog.

    I've been with my partner for seven years and we've lived together for four of those. Three months after we moved in together I realised that he has a drink problem. It's taken me years to admit to myself that he is a functioning alcoholic and with the utter beauty of hindsight I can see that he was way before we even bought our house.

    His secret (but it's not really secret because we both know he drinks but I pretend he doesn't because oh my god the fear of us not being 'us' anymore fills me with such dread) drinking has been particularly bad of late and I have spent a lot of the weekend reading and searching for help and advice.

    Your situation is almost identical to ours. Reading your posts was very upsetting yet simultaneously comforting because I now know I'm not alone and, as much as he tries to convince me of this, I am not exaggerating or imagining the situation.

    So thank you. So much.


  5. I too am the wife of a functioning alcoholic. The thing is, he knows this. He knows he has a problem and he knows he needs to stop. He has tried several times to stop (bless him), but has always gone back to the booze. I hate it when he drinks due to the alteration of his mood. If I do or say anything that he doesn't like it becomes a long drawn out argument with him doing most of the talking and yelling. He won't seek treatment as he says he can't take time off work for it. I haven't sought treatment either.

    It all sucks!

  6. I have been reading your blogs for about 3 months now and have found many of them both interesting & thought provoking. For some reason though, this particular blog really touched me. I think a combination of the realization that so many of us are affected by alcohol in our lives, and the confirmation that we as the ‘other halves’ in our relationships are not stark raving mad. My wife is a functional alcoholic but it has taken me the best part of two years to acknowledge it and accept what that really means. The amount of times I have asked myself, ‘is it just me, maybe this is normal and I have a problem’ is infinite. When she doesn’t drink for a couple of days, I question my diagnosis and tell myself I’ve made a mistake. She only drinks 4 or 5 days a week, so she can’t be an alcoholic, right?

    I agree with your post. The realization that your partner is an alcoholic is a relief; at least it confirms that we are not mad. But the realization that it is a situation that isn’t going to go away and in my case, is very likely to lead to a family breakdown, fills me with a range of emotions that at times, are very difficult to deal with.

    Best wishes to you Al Anon and all the rest of you who endure this crazy twilight world.

  7. I just found your blog. I too am married to an FA. This year will be 25 years that we've been married, and 20 of them have been inside a bottle for my husband. I have 1 daughter who can describe every vacation with a drunken incident. Another who can play the "one time, when dad was drunk" game. I love my husband, can't stand to be around him when he's drunk, but adore him when he's sober. For many years I tried to change myself, thinking if I just...but that never worked. I spend hours scouring the internet, searching to see what it is exactly that will end up killing him. He has high blood pressure, lost all his teeth, type 2 diabetes, elevated cholesterol. Somehow or another his liver profile is still normal. Whatever ends up doing him in, it is his choice to drink himself into an early grave, not mine. I am no longer feeling as if his drinking is my problem. Those 2 daughters I told you about, both in college, both strong, intelligent women who survived it. Have faith

  8. I wish I had the courage to leave instead of sitting here in bed crying alone. He is downstairs on the sofa because 'I am judging him'. I really loved him and its breaking my heart but Im scared if I stay, what I do to myself. I realise this is not how I want to spend my life, we've only been married 7mths im ashamed that its failed.

    1. Lucy - I'm in the same situation. Married 8 months and wondering if I made a terrible mistake. I hear every excuse in the world and I'm already tired of hearing them.

    2. I stumbled here after exactly that search "married to an alcoholic" Here we are, 4 months into our marriage, and I can still hear those words of mine.....I can't marry an alcoholic. We had the hugest of rows on Friday, because he was drunk - he was literally screaming at me, with the worst verbal abuse you can imagine... then the long holiday weekend was fine - after profuse apologies and a pact to NDA - never drink alone!! I knew when I got in from work yesterday that he had been drinking - but was met with such denial, protestations that we had a pact and he was sticking to it....and yet, 2 empty bottles hiding in the bin...I'm numb - I don't know what to do....I'm nervous about Al Anon classes....I can't help wanting to help him and yet everything I read here suggests that it is his problem alone....This blog is amazing...I will read more and perhaps summon the courage to go to Al Anon

  9. I love your blog - especially your honesty about your feelings. I have been to alanon today and to an open AA meeting. I'm married to a man who is in complete denial, and am reeling from the argument that ensued when I said I was going to an AA meeting to learn more about the disease. But I went.
    I'm at the point right now where I'm trying to figure out if my husband is a self-absorded "man baby", an addict, or some combination of both. I feel like a cog in the wheel of his machine instead of being my own, separate machine. I'm working hard on detachment - but does that ever change the dance between us!! Does anyone else see self-absorption in their addict? Thank you for being there.

  10. Yes, it is a very selfish disease. It affects the whole family as much as he thinks he doesn't. It weighs all of us down. When needing a fix it comes first. Before our children, before our marriage or anything else. My husband will go for a week or so and do really well. He makes me question my sanity and if he really is an FA. Then, I usually find another bottle and notice he's drinking and denying it again and it reaffirms my beliefs again...

    1. My wife does the same thing she will go for a week sometimes again and then almost seems to make a scenario where she just has to have a drink. She doesn't hide it that I know. She often puts the "need" as I call it ahead of us. Me and the boys, my feelings or herself even

  11. Thank you so much for your blog. On days when I can't make it to an AlAnon meeting, your words gives me the sense that maybe my feet CAN touch the ground today, maybe I CAN think rationally today, if even just for an hour or so.

    I've been with my husband for thirteen years. He's been an alcoholic for longer than that, he finally admitted. But I've been in denial all along, until earlier this year when the The Veil of Denial was lifted. Since then, I've become obsessed. Obsessed with his drinking, obsessed about the damage my years of denial has caused us.

    He is *trying* to get sober... for me. I hope that he tries FOR HIMSELF one day... perhaps then his attempts at sobriety could last longer than 18 hours.

    Until then, I have AlAnon, and this wonderful blog. Thank you for helping me, a complete stranger to you. You mean more to me than you'll ever know.

  12. Thank you for this blog - I am one that came here with a similar search, of course. So much similarities - Al-anon saved me, husband did eventually try detox twice, and a disability leave, but continues to drink despite. And it is now this elephant in the room, as I try to focus on myself (al-anon guides), and he tries to hide his all day drinking from secret places. I try to space out my verbalizing concerns about his drinking to remind him how it effects me and our relationship. But boy is it tough trying to find your own boundaries, and communicate in a healthy way, and re-arrange your goals in life as your partner and soulmate seems to sink away and not be there with you like it had been. We both are trying to work through this, but he has a much bigger obstacle of the numbing addiction, and I get so many tests to practice, that the recovery is not balanced, for sure. Battling trust and communication with someone you love so much tough! And when it is not apparent to anyone friends and family around you, I feel so alone in the battle. I look forward to reading your posts to keep me company in this recovery. Thank you - and good luck to you too!

  13. I found this blog after a google search just like you said. Very similar to what I am dealing with. However, I find it so difficult not to say something when I suspect he's drank more than what he says. It's like I don't want him to think he's got away with hiding the drinking. Any suggestions for how I can handle this?

  14. Your blog has saved my life. I was reading it about two months ago and got mad that you were staying in such an uncomfortable relationship. I took a step back from that and realized that I should be mad instead at myself for doing the same thing, I had an annual medical checkup after that and told my doctor that I had been depressed. She recommended a counselor. It took me a lot of courage to make an appointment, and I was sick to my stomach when I went to see her. But I am so glad I did. I told her I did not have any friends in the place I am living to support me. She suggested I give myself six months to develop a support network and then be prepared to end the relationship. Instead I went home and spent the next two weeks reaching out in all directions. When I saw the counselor again, we worked out a safe way for me to break the news to my husband. He moved out, as I requested, a week ago, and it cannot believe how joyful I am and how new opportunities have opened up for me in this short time. It took tremendous courage for me to make this move. I hope you will find the courage to do the same. I so appreciate your blog giving me the insight I needed.

  15. This blog touches me so much because I've spent YEARS being told I'm wrong, "I'm doing nothing wrong, so what's your problem now?" type of scenarios. I resorted to depression meds, gaining so much weight I'm even more depressed and have health problems. Some days I feel like I can't make it -- that this life is just too hard to survive it. He has no clue the pain he causes me no matter how many times I tell him. I was (and still am) in so much pain that I resorted to infidelity to find comfort from someone else. I wanted him, our marriage, our family and he wanted the bottle more so I looked elsewhere for comfort. I'm ashamed of that, believe me. He has no shame for what he's done to our marriage. I will spend the rest of my life with the burden of my mistakes and yet he doesn't spend a second thinking about all the pain he has caused me. He thinks he's caused our daughters no pain -- and even though he hasn't yet, or so we assume, they are getting older (9 and 11) and they WILL understand. I want to leave so badly because I can't take it anymore. I feel like if I don't leave, I am not sure I can survive this life. But I love him so much, I just can't seem to go. I hate him for the pain he keeps causing us. I keep telling myself that it's not his fault, I shouldn't hate him, that he has a disease but how fair is that to those he's hurting? How fair is it to not be able to hate him for something he KNOWS he's doing to us, but he's too darn selfish to get help. He has left me with the painful thought of me leaving or staying in this hell of pain. Why is that fair to me? I haven't attended a meeting. I want to, but can't bring myself to do it. I've talked to people on the phone about it, but that's it. Friends and family know his problem, but they won't help me address it -- makes me hate them too. How can they sit there and know the pain I'm in, the pain he is causing our family and keep doing what he is doing. I left him the other day. I took the girls and left only to spend hours throwing up and doubled over in stomach pain because I felt *I* had done something wrong. I told myself if I go back he will love me enough to quit. Yeah, dumb me believed it again, only for him to continue drinking. First it was "just let me finish vacation then I'll quit". Got home the next day from vacation and viola! It's now 4 days later and he's still drinking. I confronted him only to be asked "what am I doing wrong, I'm not stumbling over drunk, I just am relaxing having a few drinks". Yeah, more than a bottle of whisky (LARGE bottle) in 4 days.....not a few drinks. Sorry for my rant. I just want to say thank you for your blog. For letting others know they are not alone.

  16. I feel like you are writing about my life. I have no-one who understands what I go through and it helps me to know there is someone going through the same things as me. Please keep blogging! Xx