Accepting a lifetime of her husband's drinking

I came to Al‑Anon because I was sick and tired of being the only one awake at 7 p.m. The bottle washed away all our plans for travel after the kids were grown. My husband just wanted to work, drink, and sleep. I wanted more out of life.

I came to Al‑Anon to see if there was still life in this marriage. I wanted to see if I could live with what had begun 38 years ago as a great journey together. Sure, we drank in those days.  Those were the days of parties, of strolls through Germany to stop at the various outdoor restaurants to have wine and cheese.

I became too busy with career and kids to notice that the drinking had changed for him. I would occasionally join him; but now I was in school, racing full-time through my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, along with working and raising teenagers. I stopped drinking when I began taking several medicines to treat various health conditions—he continued.

We spent the middle part of our marriage in an alcoholic merry-go-round. I’d complain, he’d promise to stop. He’d stop for six weeks, which “proved” he wasn’t an alcoholic. Then he’d begin again. Then it was only beer; whoops, only bourbon; and whoops, only wine when we went out to dinner. Around and around we went.

Now we’re in the retirement years. I’m retired; he’s scared to retire because he knows now that he is an alcoholic. So he keeps wrestling with alcohol and working, afraid of empty days, while I’m happily retired and volunteering part time at a school. 

Thanks to Al‑Anon, my life is more blessed than it has ever been. I love my husband more than ever, but have learned that alcoholism is his problem. I can’t wipe away the hold that alcoholism has on him. I can’t make life easier for him. I can only take care of myself, changing my attitudes and behavior, keeping myself healthy and happy.

I have gotten rid of expectations and bargains with my Higher Power. I live “One Day at a Time.” I have friends in the Al‑Anon fellowship who understand where I’ve been and what I’ve been through—and still love me. I have meetings to go to, books to read, service to perform, and a call list if I get hungry, angry, tired, or lonely. I have unconditional love – Al‑Anon love – and that’s enough.

By Pat B., Kentucky
The Forum, March 2012

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