Progression of a Disease

Facts: Alcoholism is a progressive disease. I did not cause it, I cannot control it, and I cannot cure it. The true alcoholic must actively combat the disease to stop progression.

Watching this progression scares me.

My husband started AA, and I, Al-Anon, in August 2016. He’s attended as many meetings as he can, and he reads the literature and listens to speakers, but he’s still had relapses. I don’t pretend to know what is going on in his head. I do know he is always fighting something I can’t see.

Over the past two months in particular, I’ve watched changes for the worse. In particular, he has started hurting himself. In one ugly fight, he started this prolonged, wild yell and then accused me of equating him with the devil (I never have. The equation was his own) while punching a household appliance as hard as he could. The other night we had another fight in which I employed as much program as I could to not escalate my part. He still ended up banging his head repeatedly on the dining room oak table, where he was sitting. I have never seen that from anyone, anywhere.

He knows, as do I, that it isn’t him when he bashes his own head atop the table. He knows he needs more help and that I am not the person to provide it. In weak moments, I have reminded and pushed him about needing a sponsor, and working the steps with that guidance. He has said numerous times now he will find one. I told him last night that I was scared about what it might take for this to happen. He told me he was scared, too, and that he knew it was getting worse. He repeated that he’d find a sponsor.

He said, “It’s so hard, having part of my brain logical and functional, and then there’s this other part that goes against EVERYTHING I’m trying to do.” I can’t imagine it, to know the healthy path and to continually thwart myself while going in the opposite direction. But this isn’t like a diet where you eat things you’re not supposed to: for true alcoholics, this is life and death. This is him one night possibly deciding to hurt himself so he doesn’t hurt anymore.

I know I can’t push for what he needs because I would be pushing my own agenda, my skewed perception of how things need to be fixed. My program needs to be stronger for me to be able to stand beside him. Close friends have suggested that I leave the relationship. If I felt I was in physical danger, or if I knew he wasn’t going to try to get better, I’d contemplate it. Hell, I’ve contemplated divorce numerous times before, but what it comes down to is I love him and committed to him in sickness and in health. He’s sick. Unless he becomes a threat to my life or to our children’s life, I will stay and work alongside him. I will do things to keep myself healthy and pray that he and his higher power find ways to mend his sickness. That is what can be done for today.

Please keep him in your prayers, if you pray, or send good energy. Thank you.

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Vodka, 1. Santa, 0.

Alcohol won tonight over family night and Christmas lights. Somewhere between helping out a friend the first half of the day and attending a Christmas celebration tonight, my husband decided to ditch recovery. “I’m going to get some chapstick from the car,” he said, while we sat and waited our turn for a Santa picture. My daughter wanted to walk around outside instead of waiting, so we followed shortly after him. He had the trunk open and was digging through his storage bin with his infamous stainless steel mug in front of him. I’d wondered what happened to that mug.

“Having a drink?” I asked somewhat casually. His immediate reaction was to sheepishly say, “No, no I’m not drinking.” Hello, liar. Even caught in the act, alcohol makes him lie. I hate that part. Will he ever be able to admit it?

We headed home early. There was no fighting, nor was there conversation. When we got home, he dropped us off and said he was heading back out to find a meeting. Who knows if he’ll make it to the meeting or stop and tend to the vodka hiding in his trunk. I am thankful to my program to not be obsessing over that part, which I have absolutely no control over.

What I do think about is how I know I cannot stay with an active alcoholic. I equate active alcoholism with nonstop lies, instability, and complete assholishness. Yes, I have my program, and I have choices. I love my husband. I love how hardworking he is, and how hot he is. I love how he makes so much effort for us. I choose him for as long as he is committed to recovery. I do not choose the active alcoholic and the liar.

Having trouble understanding what this all is. Is it considered a relapse if he’s been drinking on the sly for awhile? Is it still considered recovery? And I know these are all ultimately words, and figuring it out is not a step. I hate this disease. Tired.

Listening to the Little Voice

I don’t always equate the little voice to my higher power, premonition, or to conscience, but a mixture of the three. It’s an underlying sense of balance or the lack thereof. I’ve been thinking about my little voice and when it’s come into play.

The first time I really paid attention to my little voice was before we understood we were dealing with alcoholism. We had gotten into one of many horrible fights, and I was crying in bed, feeling hopeless. I do not recall consciously thinking it so much as hearing it: “You are made of stronger stuff. Get up.” It wasn’t even in line with my thoughts at the time, which were full of self-pity.

This past Labor Day weekend, we were out camping, having a good time. There were a few signs leading up to relapse, but when I saw my husband’s vehicle return to camp one day after a visit to the grocery store, I heard clearly, “He drank.” In the bustle that was happening at camp, I promptly forgot the voice and was later baffled over how we got into a huge fight later that night. The next morning he knew something had gone wrong but couldn’t remember anything except that he had downed nearly a whole bottle of vodka after buying groceries and before coming back to camp.

Most recently the voice has told me to hush at times when I wanted to be an ass (because I perceived that he was being an ass first, of course) and rock the boat. I’m relieved that I’ve listened more often than not, and I want to make a conscious effort to pay better attention to it. It has not misguided me, and I wonder how many times I’ve been too bull-headed or emotional to hear it above my own selfishness.

What has your little voice told you? What is that source of voice to you?