As long as I don’t pick up a shift, Sundays are usually our lazy day. Yes, we can get a tonne of errands and cleaning done. But we like to sleep in, laze around a bit, and just plop down in front of the tv at the end of the night to watch so old Bar Rescue reruns.
And, there’s alcohol.
This past Sunday we had to go visit the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend’s father, about a 45-minute drive from here. So he got up a bit earlier than me and had a few sips of whiskey and a beer for breakfast. When I hopped in the shower a little bit after noon, he was sipping on a Snapple cooler. And just before we left, he finished the last half shot of whiskey.
Then we had to stop and buy more booze.
After driving for 45 minutes, we pulled up in the driveway…….. and he pulled a cooler out of the bag in the back seat to “slam back a quick one” before heading inside. Another cooler while we sat around and chit-chatted. Then it was off to dinner. We beat his dad to the restaurant, which meant he had time to sit in the parking lot and slam back a radler. Then there was a pint with dinner.
When we got home afterwards, my shoes were barely off before he was cracking open another drink.
And this all leads to more intense discussions and fights about his drinking. Some of the fights are long, drawn-out duels of stubborn quiet and harsh looks. Others are loud and frightening, ending with me bawling my eyes out and him sleeping in the other room. And sometimes, like last night, it just takes one or two comments to set a timer in him, waiting for me to do one thing just slightly not the way he wants it so he can explode.
Last night, I heard music coming from our room after he went to bed. I poked my head in the door, expecting to find that Bowser Kitten had hopped up on my desk and turned on Spotify with the keyboard again. He seems to have a thing for Talk Talk and Violent Femmes. Instead, I found AAB laying in bed watching a video on his phone. Then, I walked away to go get ready for bed.
When I came back, AAB was in a mood. He accused me of being “uppity”, meaning I wasn’t acting the way he wanted me to so I must have some sort of attitude problem. I told him I was just trying to pull some blankets out from under me, and flipped. Grabbed his pillows and half-yelled something at me about being “uppity” when I saw him laying in our bed because I apparently didn’t want him there. Then he stormed into the other room. I had to go in there a few minutes later and tell him I was just checking to see if my computer was on, and was surprised to see him still awake. His mood did a complete 180 and he crawled back into bed with me.
And this was a pretty normal weekend for us.
I will be perfectly honest with you: life with an alcoholic is anything but easy. It’s frustrating, maddening, depressing, and makes you doubt everything you ever thought about yourself.
Between my college and university friends, my line of work, and my family and friends outside of that, I have known a startling amount of people with alcohol issues in my life. You would think that I, of all people, would know better than to get romantically involved with someone with an alcohol problem. It wasn’t even like his problem was a secret: I worked at the store he came into twice a day to buy his booze. That’s how we met.
Alcoholics are not bad people. They’re just people who are not able to control their cravings and need for alcohol, to the point that it changes their mindset and their behaviour. Many people can have issues with alcohol, get help, and go on to live very normal lives. Some people have to abstain from alcohol altogether for life, while others can have a few drinks every now and then without relapsing completely. But being with someone who is in the deepest throes of their addictions, someone who is not in control, can really take a toll on both you and your relationship. Before you get involved with someone with an alcohol problem, consider a few things that I’ve learned in the 2 1/2 years that AAB and I have been together so far.
1) They will lie to you about almost anything.
“I swear, I didn’t have anything to drink before we got to the restaurant. I just didn’t eat today, so those two drinks hit me really hard.”
“I only hit the beer store today. I didn’t stop at the liquor store because I didn’t want any hard liquor.”
“I’m not day drinking. I just had a quick drink with Harry after our shift, that’s what you can smell.”
“I’m putting money aside so we can take a vacation together this year. It’s all coming out of my former drinking money! Aren’t you proud?”
Over time, an alcoholic becomes an expert had lying and hiding things from loved one. They’ve had years, maybe decades, to practice their excuses. They’ve gotten away with things to some extent for so long that they think no one can see through their wall of bullshit. With this mindset, it takes more effort to tell the truth than to lie to someone’s face, no matter how much they love them.
No matter how supportive of them you are, they will lie to you. No matter how much they say they won’t lie to you, they will lie to you. You will reach a point where you have to question every single thing that comes out of their mouth, and question what isn’t coming out of their mouth.
2) You better like guilt trips
I’m pretty sure I hear the words “I just can’t win with you” more than “I love you” these days. AAB will tell me something that he knows will upset me, but try to frame it in a way that makes he sound like he was trying really hard to be good. When I’m still upset, he makes it sound like there is absolutely nothing he can do right in my eyes.
I’ve known alcoholics who guilt their friends and loved ones over anything. It’s a way of deflecting negativity away from them. If they can make someone else feel bad for the way they treated them, then maybe they won’t notice their addiction.
Also, AAB has made sure I can never leave him because of the ultimate guilt trip. While his drinking is still really bad, it’s better than it was before. Instead of a 60oz bottle of vodka and a few beers a day, he has a bunch of coolers and maybe a mickey of whisky. And he’s made it known that if I ever try to leave him, that’s all it will take for him to snap and go back to his old ways. He’ll wind up drunk and be living on the streets, all because I couldn’t just be supportive of his struggle and put up with his “bad habit”. He’ll be a drunk on the street and it will all be my fault.
3) You are constantly doing too much and too little for them, even if you’re doing exactly what they said they want you to do
I once knew someone who drank themselves into a ridiculous amount of debt. They maxed out credit cards and took out payday loans that they just never paid back. When they got into a relationship, they told their partner to take complete control of the finances. Together they drew up a budget, settled on an “allowance”, and even looked into starting to pay off debts.
This lasted almost 4 days.
Then the yelling started. “You’re too controlling. You’re such a nag. Why can’t you just treat me like a real man and let me live my life?” All their partner had done was do exactly what they were told to do, and apparently, that was all wrong.
I go through this with AAB quite a bit. He’ll tell me to hold him accountable for his drinking and the things he says and does while drinking. Of course, the second I actually do that I’m suddenly “uppity” and “a nag”.
These plans they make are made with good intentions. That’s as far as they’ll ever go through, usually. The second any of this interferes with their ability to drink at will, it all goes out the window. And the second you try to stick to the plan that goes against them being able to drink at will, you are the enemy.
4) When you think about everything you’ll miss out on because of your partner’s drinking, you’ll start resenting them, even if you love them. Especially if you love them.
My friend I mentioned above will never be able to buy a house with their current partner. They can never get married because that would mean legally joining their finances which would ruin his credit score because of his partner’s ignored debts. He’ll never be able to take a vacation, or buy a new car, or enjoy pretty much any of the nicer things in life that he had hoped for. Instead of joining finances towards a common goal, he has to keep a tight eye on his finances while his partner squanders away his own paychecks on booze each week.
And I’m in that same damn boat.
There were things I wanted in life that I know I will never have as long as AAB and I are together. He’s in the same drunken debt hell as my friend’s partner. Even the little things in life that I had wanted, I know I’ll never be able to have. Like I always wanted a little mini bar in my home. I had the beginnings of one when AAB and I met, and he drank his way through that. I can’t even keep booze in the house for myself without hiding it.
Speaking of that…..
5) You’ll start hiding things.
The last time I left a full, unopened bottle of my favourite whisky (which I have to go across town to find) on top of the fridge, AAB drank it and then hid the bottle behind other bottles so I wouldn’t notice it was empty. I’ve lost count of the number of bottles of liquor he’s stolen from me. He once even stole a Christmas gift I got for my dad and drank it.
Now, I have a collection of little make-up bags full of mini liquor bottles hidden in my sock and underwear drawers so he doesn’t drink them. I have my good booze hidden in my closet and my knitting bag. I have my emergency cash hidden in envelopes taped to the bottoms of drawers because he’s taken money from me. And I know I’m not the only one who does this.
I’ve known people to hide alcohol, money, prescription medications, even cold medicine from their addicted loved one. It’s not because any of us want to hide things from them. It’s because if we don’t hide things like these, they’ll get stolen. The money would be taken for booze, booze would be drunk, cold meds are taken when booze isn’t available.
And it really sucks, knowing that you have to do this.
6) They’re probably going to get pretty damn mean
After a bit too much whisky, AAB gets mean. He flat out admits that he’ll say things to me that he knows are hurtful, just because he knows they’ll hurt me. When he’s drinking and I do even the slightest thing wrong, he’ll want to mentally and emotionally hurt me as bad as possible.
A few of my very close coworkers (my work family) know a bit about this. They’ve seen it in him, and have seen it affect me. They also know that I’m very accident prone, and have been showing up to work with random cuts and bruises since long before I met AAB. Still, Sugar has pulled me aside multiple times to make sure I know that she’s there for me if any of those injuries are from him. All it takes is one bad night for him to go from screaming to slapping someday.
And that scares the hell out of me because I’ve seen it happen way too many times.
I have nightmares about the day he finally snaps, and this seems to be a common thing among some of the people I talk to in online groups for loved ones of alcoholics. I know people who won’t leave their loved one home alone with their kids, or even their pets because they don’t know how they’ll treat them once they’ve had a few drinks. Me, I have nightmares that he finally snaps and hurts me real bad. The worst dreams are the ones where he hurts me and the tiny adorable Bowser Kitten too.
7) You’re going to worry all the damn time
A lot of the alcoholics I know drink during the day, even when they have to work. Quite a few of them drive vehicles. A bunch of them work jobs involving heavy machinery. One even worked in medical settings at one point and was responsible for distributing medication to patients. Can you imagine knowing your husband or wife is going to be half-drunk, behind the counter in a pharmacy-like setting, and their job requires incredible focus and accuracy to make sure they don’t give out the wrong meds and kill someone?
I worry when AAB gets behind the wheel of our van because I never know what he’s had to drink beforehand. I worry when he’s at work, whether he drinks there or not. I know other alcoholics work there because they were customers of mine too. I worry when he shows me pictures on his company’s website of the machines they use because there could be a drunk person on that machine right this very second while he’s working with it. Sometimes when he passes out in the afternoon on the weekends, I worry that his body is just going to give up on him after a decade of heavy abuse and he’s just going to die right there in front of me.
Don’t get me wrong, AAB is a great guy….. sometimes. If he wasn’t, I would’ve walked out on the first date. He’s smart, sweet, artistic, caring, and generous. But alcohol destroys all of that and leaves him a tired, cranky, mean shell of the person he was before.
I don’t know what will happen with the two of us. I have dreams of leaving him, of starting over again, but I can’t do that to him. He’s already said that would drive him to drink more. I feel like I’m trapped; like there’s no use in trying to figure out my feelings for him because I’m stuck with him no matter what.
If you’re with someone who has a drinking problem, or any addiction problem at all, know that you’re not alone. A quick Google search can pull up support groups and hotlines for your area, where you can turn to deal with how their drinking is affecting your life. And if you’re not ready to reach out like that publically, I’m always here. You guys can all reach me at TheFailedGrownUp@gmail.com anytime you need to vent, need to cry, or just need to know that you’re not alone out there.
Until next time, Sunshine.