I certainly know the effects of living with an alcoholic on my life. His alcohol problems are affecting my life right now, because I still feel for him. He feels like a brother, a family member. After many difficult years together with just as many lovely, great moments as difficult moments, the latter created by his alcohol problems, I find it impossible to completely cut him out of my life.
I know that living with an alcoholic is far from easy, that is why we split up four years ago but somehow he manages to move back into my life and my home. For the second time in four years, he loses his home and I feel guilty for not taking him in. After all, he is a human being…. and so I let him stay and sleep on the sofa in the living room but only if he promises to stop drinking. Which he does, but it doesn’t last long.
His alcohol dependence is becoming worse and I find that hugely worrying. I know the score, but facts about alcohol and alcoholism are further away from my mind than I would like. I know them all, of course, but why is it then still so difficult to deal with? The truth is that the effects of his alcohol problems on my life are far greater than I like to admit.
I feel drained, upset, indecisive and lonely. Lonely, because I become increasingly ashamed to talk about this with other people. I can hear them thinking “just kick him out of your life… you have to be cruel to be kind… tough love, that is what he needs”. It’s confusing, nobody told me how to live with an alcoholic, but everybody seems to tell me how to help an alcoholic by leaving him in the s…t!
My head tells me that this is true; my heart wants to dispute it. Meanwhile, the situation is dragging me down. What makes it more difficult is that he is very clever and recognises that he has alcohol problems. He shouts: “Am I an alcoholic? Yes damned, of course I am, I am ill, I cannot stop drinking alcohol.” I cringe and he continues: “Do you want to write about alcohol abuse, about addiction, about alcoholism? You haven’t got a f…..g clue! Ask me, I’m the expert, not you!”
It is true, he knows about alcohol problems, alcohol statistics, about alcoholism facts, probably more than I do. But it has also become his excuse. He totally ignores that his alcohol problems hugely affect my life.
“It has nothing to do with you!” he continues. “I’m the one with the alcohol problems, not you…..you are so selfish and hypocritical. Pretending you understand that alcoholism is a disease and then kicking me out. I’m the homeless guy, the one who is sleeping in the street, not you! This is NOT about you!”
In a meagre attempt at a response I say: “Stop drinking alcohol, can’t you see that your alcohol abuse is creating the mess you are in?”
He doesn’t react; slams the door as he walks out, unstable on his feet. I cry. This is how his alcohol problems affect my life.