Friday, March 19, 2010

The Other Side

A note from Robin: As hard as I try, there is one perspective I will forever be shut out from completely getting, and that is the perspective of the non-addicted person who loves an addicted person. While a healthy person may one day develop a problem, an addict will always be an addict. But both can be in recovery, and that's worth everything.  As an addict I feel a strong need to hear the stories of those who have cared for us; it helps me get as close to their truth as I can be. I am grateful that people like Natasha are willing to share.

One Monday morning as we were getting ready for work, my husband turned to me and said, "I probably won't be home tonight, I am going to the hospital today."

He had been acting strangely for about a week; he called his brother one morning and took the phone outside to talk.  He had called his parents the day before and again took the phone outside where I could not hear.  That same day, we went to the baseball game and he didn't have anything to drink.  My daughter told me that he said to her that he was trying to quit drinking, but he never said anything to me.

My husband has always drunk a lot. When we first met (at a bar) he would drink himself to sleep every night. At times it was less, but over the years it was steadily more.  I pointed it out occasionally, even going so far as, after he had poured the whiskey in his glass for his nightly "one-of-only-two" drinks, picking up that glass and dumping the whiskey into a measuring cup. It measured a full cup, 8 ounces of whiskey in each drink. "Do you realize you drink a full pint every day?" I asked him, "That is not two drinks, it's sixteen." He was very angry with me for that.

A few years ago, his drinking began to affect his health. Gout came after our last visit to his parents' house on the east coast, where he drank beer for breakfast and we ate seafood every day. Before that the acid reflux problems had begun, and others as well. We went to have an upper-GI scope done, and afterwards the doctor came in and sat down with us. He reported that there was no real serious damage yet. Then, he looked my husband in the eye and told him that every one of his health problems would be cured if he would stop drinking. He told my husband that even though he wrote on the pre-op paperwork that he only has "two drinks a day" they knew it was way more than that because it took an unusually large dose of anesthesia to knock him out.  When we left the hospital, he went straight to the liquor store.

On that Monday morning last July, he went to work and asked for leave  He told his boss everything, and went to the local hospital and checked himself into an in-patient detox program. A co-worker dropped me off at the hospital to get his car, so I could drive it home. On the passenger seat was a tupperware container half-full of koolaid and vodka. I took the car home, and told our kids where he was. We talked for a while, about being supportive, and how good it was that he was getting help. They had seen him every night, falling asleep in his chair by 7 pm, the erratic behavior and the mood swings affected all of us.

He told our family doctor that I had no idea how bad it had gotten. My family told me they had no idea he was "that bad." I knew; I just never told anyone  When my brother asked how I was, I surprised both of us by telling him I was angry. I hadn't really thought about it, but I was angry. He had ruined our vacation plans (we were supposed to be going camping that Wednesday), he announced it on Twitter before I could even tell our kids, and he obviously talked to everyone else in his life about it but he wouldn't talk to me. He wouldn't tell me, the person with whom he pledged to share everything.

He came home three days later, and was signed up for an outpatient program that required him to be back at the hospital every day from 5 pm to 9 pm, and every Sunday morning for an hour. He drank that Sunday at the baseball game. He went to that outpatient program for two weeks, then switched to a one-on-one counselor at a different hospital. He did that for a month. His last visit was August. He went to a different physician who prescribed a medication that is very expensive (Suboxone), and I'm not sure what it is for. When I asked him, he said he didn't want to go into all the ins and outs, but it helps. He is on an antidepressant, the drinking medicine, the reflux medicine, a mild antibiotic for his acne and now a medication for high blood pressure.

He's still drinking.  He still won't talk to me about any of it. 

And I'm still angry.


  1. Oh Natasha... I am so sorry. I don't know what else to say. But thank you for sharing.

  2. Suboxone is a drug prescribed for people to detox from opiates. If he's drinking while taking it, then it probably puts him to sleep. The big risk is that the combo depresses the respiratory system, making it very easy to stop breathing. The odd thing is, it is not generally prescribed for alcoholics. Makes me wonder if he was also having issues with opiates...or if he got the Subox because he likes how it mixes with alcohol. Either way, he's playing with fire.

    Thank you for sharing. I often wonder how and why my husband tolerates my alcoholism. I can't begin to understand it.

  3. Wow ... thank you so much for sharing this. For showing what the other side is like.

  4. It is hard to read this, coming from the alcoholic's perspective (thankfully in recovery now, over two years) but SO important. I need to remember how my drinking hurt everyone around me. I don't need to carry the shame of this every day anymore - I'm a sober woman of dignity and honor - but it is key to remember. Like that expression: "look back, but don't stare". I can be reminded without dwelling on it, or losing myself in guilt and shame.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I appreciate it.

  5. Natasha..We are all behind you. Suboxone is a
    drug is drug that is prescribed for people to
    detox from opiates. My beautiful daughter was
    a herion addict, well, since I don't know
    when. She relapsed twiced and Suboxone was
    always used in detox.
    The good news is, she has been clean for 22
    months, as have I. When you have a member of
    your family who an addict, you are one too.
    Your family lives and breaths addiction.
    We treat each day with love, hope of promise
    you will too. Hang in there.

  6. Thanks for sharing your story.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this story. I watched my dad drink and experienced all of his erratic behavior, the manipulation, the moodswings, that went along with his alcoholism. Now I am a recovering alcoholic myself (sober 3 months) and am truly grateful for people who share such close to the heart stories like you did.

    Thank you so very much. My thoughts are with you and your family.


  8. Thank for for sharing your story. Like many others I'm grateful to hear your side. I'm 19 days sober today, and I'm so sorry for what I've put my own family through. I hope that your husband finds his way. I can't imagine how frustrating it must be for you, but commend you for your commitment and compassion. I wish you both the best. Stay strong.

  9. I'm thinking that it's tough love time. Some limits, some ultimatums, an intervention. He has to get sober. Is he driving your children in the car when he drinks? Is he driving at all when he drinks? If you are the kind of person who has the temerity to point out that your husband is having sixteen drinks a day, which I thought was great, then you are the kind of person who can assemble an intervention, make a plan to protect yourself and the children, and follow through.

  10. Thank you all for the kind comments.

    The reason that I come here, the reason that I read all of your stories is they give me hope. Also, since he won't talk to me about it, I have no idea how to help him. Listening to you all makes me feel better, although I may not comment a lot.

    I was worried when I sent this to Ellie, because my intention was not to make any one feel bad, so I am glad you can take it in the way it was intended.

    I have more stories to tell, as long as you don't mind hearing them.

  11. I'm glad you told your story here. It's an important perspective. I wish you well.

  12. Hi, maybe sharing a bit of my story could help you. I have quit drinking now for about 60 days. I have not told my husband. Actually, I never told him I was drinking and he never knew. I was having three to four glasses of wine a night -- not the sixteen your husband is having -- but alot, for a mom with two young kids. I don't know if I will ever share my struggle with him, though I love him dearly.


    I married him, for one reason, because he does not drink. I thought he could be an external control that could keep my relationship with alcohol normal. We've been married 10 years and I am back to my bad drinking patterns. In a deep place inside me, I know that if I share my struggle with him, it will forever re-define our relationship. I will be the struggling drinker who needs help and he will be the superior one. I will somehow be beneath him, not the equals we pledged to be when we married. Even if I never take another drink, this would be the lasting legacy of including him in my world. Part of this is that he has a moralistic and judgemental streak. Will he judge me, or have compassion? Most likely judge. Will he understand? He had a father who died an alcoholic's death. That's his picture of alcoholism. Is alcoholism his attractive, successful wife? He'd never believe it. And what if I fail in my sobriety, or decide down the road to try and glass of wine with dinner. I"ll be treated like a child with no self control.

    I want to be his rock. I want his respect. If I let him into these darkest parts of my world, he will forever view me differently. It will forever shift the balance of our relationship from equals to not-quite-so-equals. And right now, I can't take that.

    I don't know the particular circumstances of why your husband wont share. But I can tell you from the other side, that there can be many reasons he doesn't want to let you in, and he can still love you dearly.

    I wish you luck on your journey.


  13. Natasha, I keep coming back to your post and rereading it.

    I've been and am on both sides of this: as one who loves a past addict (husband, something else) and one who is an active addict (me - alcohol). Your post made me realize something, but I'm not sure I can articulate it.

    My husband makes me feel that my strengths are stronger and my weaknesses are less. To lay myself open, to say "Jesus Christ, help me, watch me," feels like too much of an admission of need. I can understand why your husband finds it easier to talk to ANYONE else about it.

    We often lean upon but share the least with our strongest allies. We don't want to admit weakness and risk being diminished in their eyes.

    All the best to you and your husband.