When it's not just his problem
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Some of you may already know that I am married to an alcoholic. I've been attending Al Anon meetings, and he's been irregularly going to AA.
The journey to recovery has been SO difficult for us; far harder than I ever dreamed it would be. If you'd spoken to me just a month about my husband alcoholism, I would have waved you off and said "Yeah, he's an alcoholic, but he's not that bad."
Oh my, how deluded I was.
In just a few short weeks, things spiralled out of control into a mess of lying, stealing, and stress, and I found myself reeling from some realizations I didn't want anything to do with.
There has been a great deal of progress in our lives, though. He's really fighting hard to beat this, and I'm fighting alongside him. We're trying to really learn from our respective 12 step programs, and apply them to more than just his alcoholism. I told myself for a long time that his alcoholism was his problem, not mine. But anyone who is married knows, there's no such thing as a problem for just one spouse. You're a linked unit, two souls made one, and what hurts one hurts the other.
There are days I am very, very unhappy in my marriage. I contemplate the unthinkable often (divorce, since I'm not one to mince words.) But I realize that this isn't something you just throw out and start over. As long as he is willing to keep trying, I refuse to abandon him because of my selfish desires to not have to deal with it anymore.
I don't know where we'll be in 10 years, or even just 5. I'm trying to improve my life, and he is too, though I will admit that i'm an impatient woman and wish he'd try harder. Not just with the alcoholism (honestly, he's made an amazing amount of progress there) but his overall health. I'm desperately afraid he's killing himself slowly through sloth, gluttony, and neglect, and I'm honestly not entirely sure it's not on purpose. He's gained a lot of weight (he's hit 250 now, he's always been a tall, super-slender guy... a more normal weight for him would be 180-190), his activity level has plummeted (he's stopped helping around the house almost entirely) and overall, there's a lot of warning signs with regards to his health that terrify me.
But I can't make him take this journey. He has to be ready to change, and he knows that I know how to help him, when he's ready. Me nagging isn't going to improve matters.
What I have to do is what I've learned in Al Anon. I have to take care of myself, first. I can't help him if I'm in no condition to take care of myself, you know? So I focus on getting fitter, healthier, smarter, happier, and maybe he'll come along. He is making changes; he doesn't insist on white bread anymore, and he doesn't even complain when I buy him 2% milk instead of his usual whole milk. ;)
I want him to progress faster, but this isn't just my problem. It's his, too. He has to do this on his own.
And I'll keep fighting for him. With him. Because if I give up, I am going to be miserable, and so will he.