Affected by the drinking of a loved one
When you are affected by the drinking of a loved one, it is very well possible that you feel isolated and ashamed. You might feel that you are the only one struggling with this.
Perhaps you are not personally affected by this, but you will almost certainly know someone who is, perhaps even without realising it. Alcohol addiction is not a popular subject and often shoved aside, yet three in every five people will, at some point in their lives, directly or indirectly, be affected by alcohol abuse.
This is, in my opinion, a problem which is not getting the attention it deserves. The focus in society often lies on the alcoholic. Documentaries, articles and the general opinion seem to suggest that the problem only concerns a relatively small group of people, who have lost everything, cannot hold down a job and are often homeless… Therefore the burden on health care organisations, and thus society, is considered to be relatively small. The large group of so-called functioning alcoholics and those who are capable of disguising their problem are ignored.
Also not considered are those affected by the alcohol abuse of a partner, a parent or a child. Shame can drive many of these people into isolation. They rather not talk about their problems afraid to be judged. Possible health issues due to stress and physical problems as a result of verbal and/or physical abuse are kept secret. When you consider that each alcoholic negatively effects the live of at least six people, you can understand how widespread this problem is.
Who am I to know this?
I too was the partner of an alcoholic for twelve surreal, intense, painful, but also strangely special years. Early on in my relationship with my alcohol addicted partner I started looking for the help that suited me. I tried several organisations, but writing about my experience was what helped me most.
What bothered me a lot was the disapproval of people close to me as they could not understand how a very independent woman would allow to let her life be overshadowed by the actions of a man with an alcohol addiction. Especially this misunderstanding made me feel compelled to dive into this so common problem that I myself and so many others suffered or still suffer from. I interviewed a large number of people from all walks of live in various countries. Parents, children, spouses, partners, friends of alcoholics, but also alcoholics themselves and people working in the addiction field.
Our Western society
Does the misunderstanding, isolation and shame have something to do with the society we live in? There certainly are two sides. You are boring if you don’t join in for a social drink and you are a loser if you don’t have enough willpower to stop drinking.
This also affects the people close to the alcoholic. Why not simply leave? Why allow yourself to be treated with disrespect and abuse? Family and friends don’t understand, so you feel it is best not to talk about it and isolate yourself. This way you don’t have to explain things or make excuses, because you know that the situation is never black or white. Yes, the alcoholic can be abusive, horrible, rude, unreliable and making you feel that it’s all your fault, but they also have this other side, the apologies, the warmth, the humour, the wonderful moments that make it hard to leave.
Why a blog about and for those affected by the actions of a loved one who is addicted.
Although I have moved on from my life with my alcohol-addicted partner, I feel passionate about the subject and I want to reach and help those who are still in that situation, or those who are in some way affected by it. Knowing that you are not alone, that you are not the only one is in itself a huge comfort. It can just give you the strength you need to take decisions that might seem impossible. I also want to bring awareness to health care workers, social workers, nurses, etc. as they often don’t really understand what it means to live with an alcoholic and how it can affect people.
I have blogged about my art and my life as an artist and writer in Spain, but blogging about what alcohol addiction can do to those close to the alcoholic is something I feel passionate about. I will be very open about my experience and you can also follow my journey on Instagram and Facebook. My blogs will be about alcohol-related facts, about situations, about hopes and dreams and about my personal story. I will also refer to my book that I wrote with the information I gathered during my interviews. This book is called ‘Cheers, the hidden voices of alcoholism’. Each month I will give away a download to one chapter from this book to subscribers of my blog. When you subscribe for the first time you will receive two chapters from Cheers as a welcome gift.
My name is Renate van Nijen. I am a Dutch born, artist and writer living in Southern Spain. On my website, www.renatevannijen.com you can find more information about my books, including about Cheers, the hidden voices of alcoholism, and my art. If you are affected by the drinking of a loved one please feel free to subscribe to my blog and you will get instant access to two chapters from Cheers!