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Bathing the children after drinking vodka

(96 Posts)
2atClaridges Sat 12-Jan-13 07:27:29

this is driving me nuts Monday I come home from work and she's necked a bottle of vodka, the kids are in the bath and she's left the hot water running. They're both at the other end of the bath screaming cos its too hot. I get them out and dry them she's stumbling around like an idiot trying to push past me and tell me she's not pissed. While I'm dealing with the kids and trying to get her off my back I lash out and elbow her in the face, for fuck sake (this is a true representation of what happened please dont focus on the elbowing she was behind me grabbing my shoulder) trying to dry and calm them. rest of the week has been... less pissed than monday but every fucking day. every fucking day some little drink inspired disaster

HardlyEverHoovers Sat 12-Jan-13 21:45:05

So sorry for the situation you are in OP. I used to work with alcoholics and their families. I'm afraid most of the time I felt the family were best to leave and not live with the alcoholic, however hard that might be. Alcoholics drag everyone else down with them. And if she decides to get help, that will come from her, not you or anyone else talking her into it.
This is not even touching upon the danger your children seem to be in. I would go the CAB and ask them to advise you on the practical issues of getting you and kids rehoused. I'm not suggesting you leave your wife in the permanent sense if that's not what you want to do, but don't let her drag the family down. The stories of children of alcoholics are not pretty ones.

2atClaridges Sun 13-Jan-13 09:55:58

Back again. I have read the above posts and have taken it on-board. So how to give some answers, because I feel that I'm being placed at fault for being in a situation I have no understanding of and have no understanding of how even to start to solve it.

I reject upping and leaving - I've run through that scenario in my head,
~covertly, I would have to pack bags for myself and my children,
~prior to that I would have had to found somewhere to live
~and then there is the money aspect.

First point, that is quite difficult to do. When I'm at not work my wife and children are at home. I don't feel there is a necessity to describe what would happen if I was to do it when my wife was around as that would turn into a miserable situation and would take a lot longer than it should and lead to discussions both passive and aggressive that would stall the process and make it, nigh on impossible to completable without "blood and tear" (that's a colloquial phrase not an actualité).

Points 2&3 go hand in hand almost. I would need additional money to afford somewhere. I do not have that. We live a hand to mouth existence. Even a bedsit for a week is untenable, add in the childcare when I'm at work. Taking to school, picking up from school and all those other issues that get thrown into this.

Point 3 Separately, I would not be able to afford to do this, we barely have enough money to get through a month, sometimes I have to dive into the pain that is a pay-day loan so I can rob Peter to pay Paul - which has a cumulative knock on effect.

Finally, a separate point, I know how my wife decent would play out if the above was done and I still care enough about her to want to try to be there help - even though I'm doing the wrong things. TO use a very trite phrase, I believe that I'm toxic-ally enabling a lot of this.

I do care about this but I don't want the authorities getting involved yet as my guestimation is similar to what I've read above, eg I'm now being the one who is cast in a bad light.

if you only going to knee jerk the one liner of "leave the bastard" please save your keystrokes.

So as Clarabel78 said I shouldn't stand by and should do something... but what should I do? what parts of not standing by is meant. I'm not a passive observer. I try very hard to limit the amount of alcohol in the house... we're dry for days on end. doesn't stopper going to the corner off licence and drinking a 200ml or 350ml between the shop and home. The day this occurred there was no alcohol in the house she left the children indoor and went out an got it. What to I do Actively micro-manage and control someone life, stand over them all day every day until she's better?

and Ihatexmas I an accurately aware of what you have described, and although done poorly, I have started to address the situation. Yet, I've rung support agencies and while I recognise that they are massively overworked with cases that come in from after the worst has happened. I have tried proactively to speak but it appears that if you ask for help prior to the worst happening your backburnered, cos (in my feeling) its not apriori as nothing has happened yet. to merit intervention as all they've had is some old bloke on the phone asking what to do but it hasn't happened yet and will your wife seek counselling etc.

Actually after writing this and reading the above. My personal feeling is that there is no preepmtive help, just lots of tuttuting, I told you so's and leave the bastard with out any concrete explanation that step one should be x. Every situation is different. It would be nice to actually hear from someone who has experienced a situation like this and resolved it to a good conclusion where the family stay together and moves forward in a health happy way

2atClaridges Sun 13-Jan-13 09:57:32

sorry by the time I finished my post Hardlyeverhoovers has moved this thrad into the direction, that I think I want. Thank you

Fairenuff Sun 13-Jan-13 10:07:40

There is one thing that you can do.

It will help both you and your wife. It will keep your children safe.

But it's a very, very difficult thing to do and you won't want to do it.

Unfortunately, it is the only way to get your wife help.

And this is it -

You have to accept that there is nothing you can do about your wife's drinking problem.

The 3 Cs of alcohol :

You did not Cause this
You can not Control this
You can not Cure this

Once you accept that you can focus on what you can do. And that is to keep those precious children safe from accidental harm.

All you need to do is arrange for childcare when you are not with them. That does not mean that you have to leave your wife, or report her or any way abandon her. But you do need to make sure that someone else looks after the children while you are not there.

Childcare centre, nurseries, childminders, grandparents, friends, relatives.

Imagine that your wife died suddenly from some tragic accident, or illness. Who would look after the children then?

AnAirOfHope Sun 13-Jan-13 10:34:47

Get alternative child care.

porridgelover Sun 13-Jan-13 10:52:22

OP I admire that you have come on here and asked for help. In spite of some of the throwaway comments, you have stuck around trying to get a solution.

First off, what fairenuff said: that is 100% true. There is nothing you can do to stop/change/prevent/encourage your wife to reduce or stop drinking. There is no threat to the children that will affect her as long as she loves alcohol more.

If you can accept that (and it's hard to really get it) then you can look at what options you have for you and your DC. Because, those are the only things that you have any control or say over. Yourself and your DC.

You are in a very stressful situation. If you take steps, it may be harder for a little while but it will get better. Continuing as you are will only get worse.

You say that you are living hand to your wife is prioritising alcohol over the financial welfare of your family also?
Take that money and use it to get childcare while you look for a solution for yourself and DC. Your wife will only get better if when she wants to.

BasicallySFB Sun 13-Jan-13 11:06:29

One thing SS can help with is alternative free childcare - particulate when there are children at risk. In my work experience, they are very supportive when asked proactively for help, by parent/s. The alternative - god forbid - would be SS becoming involved when something worse happens to the DC - then there's less control from the parents over what happens next.

Clarabell78 Sun 13-Jan-13 11:28:49

My partner made me move out until he could trust me to return. I had to go back to my parents who were less than happy to have me there die to my past drinking behavior but still loved me enough not to see me on the street. It was awful but it was the best thing that's ever happened to me. I'm now clean and sober and have a wonderful relationship with my partner - beyond my wildest dreams. I have a great job where I am trusted and relied upon and I am expecting my first child. I absolutely needed to hit rock bottom before I was willing to change and also understand how much I was damaging those around me. I understand you feel got at from others comments on here but your wife has no incentive to change at the moment. I now work with recovering alcoholics and I know from theirs and my experience that the impetus to change can only come from the alcoholic nobody else. Whilst she still has you, the kids, her home, her drink she won't change - I'm so sorry but that's the facts. I would strongly suggest you go to an al anon meeting. They will support you and share their experiences with you. Whatever you do it won't be easy but perhaps she needs to go and stay with relatives or in a women's shelter? I understand that is shocking to you and so very hard but how much damage are you willing to let her do to your children? They won't thank you when they are adults for not protecting them physically and emotionally.

Fairenuff Sun 13-Jan-13 11:33:38

Well done Clara, you have really turned your life around.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 13-Jan-13 11:38:26


Re your comment earlier:-
I try very hard to limit the amount of alcohol in the house... "

Ah the policing aspect, again a behaviour that manyenablers do. It does not work.

All that you have tried to date has not work - and will not work either. You cannot keep doing the same things in the hopes of a different outcome.

If you really want to help your wife you need to let her go and stop trying to help her. You are too close to the situation to be of any real use with regards to her alcoholism and are infact delaying any potential recovery on her part. Also she does not want your help!!. Therefore she has to leave.

You have and are falling into the same old traps; you are her codependent enabler and by being that you are also teaching your children damaging lessons.

"It would be nice to actually hear from someone who has experienced a situation like this and resolved it to a good conclusion where the family stay together and moves forward in a health happy way"

Who comes first - your wife or your children. This won't happen.
Unfortunately this is also unlikely to happen in your case as your wife clearly does not think she has a drinking problem.

Al-anon could help you; they have a helpline that operates all year around. You need to further educate yourself re her alcoholism because you are really not helping anyone here.

madonnawhore Sun 13-Jan-13 11:45:46

OP I had the childhood that your children area having. My mum was a terrible drunk for pretty much all of my life. My dad used to work abroad for long stints at a time and what went on in our house with me, my brother and my mum's drunkenness would definitely be described as neglect and abuse.

I completely understand why my dad didn't leave my mum. We were forntunate not to be living a hand to mouth existence but I don't think he could bear the thought of her rotting in some horrible bedsit somewhere. Also there was a lot of denial, apathy and normalising going on with him.

Nevertheless, I wish he'd left and taken us away from that horrid environment. The damage it did to me can never be undone. I don't think I'll ever feel 'normal'.

I was in the middle of it, I saw how hard it was for him. But I do wish he'd dug deeper and overcome all of his feelings about the situation and just got me and my brother the hell out of there.

I often wonder if that would've been the wake up call she needed. Maybe she'd have been able to kick the addiction...? I dunno. Now that she's dead I try not to think too much about it.

Good luck OP.

madonnawhore Sun 13-Jan-13 11:53:47

Also, have been there and done it all: don't bother trying to police the amount of alcohol in the house. It's totally pointless. Alcoholics a expert maniputlators and liars, they will always find a way to get a drink. We used to find bottles hidden in the garden and stuff.

My mum was hospitalised because of her alcoholism numerous times. Once she discharged herself from hospital, caught a taxi and turned up at home, still in her hosipital gown with the drip canula in her hand, having stopped off at the off license on the way to buy a litre of vodka.

There is nothing you can do to stop this, change it, or control it. All attempts are futile. Please believe me. We spent 25 years trying to get mum into rehab (they won't accept alcoholics who won't admit they have a problem because treatment would be pointless). We tried to have her sectioned (they didn't deem her enough of an immediate danger to herself).

THe ony thing you can do is get yourself and your DCs away from her and hope that she hits her rock bottom point and can find it in herself to sort it out.

After 25 years of dealing with mum's alcoholism I can honestly say that when she finally died it was a blessed relief.

I have no idea who my mum was really. All I knew was the disease. And I was glad when she died because it meant I didn't have to have alcoholism in my life any more.

I would hate for that to be your children's story.

Brideandgloom Sun 13-Jan-13 12:02:43

Hi op,

I think you've painted yourself into a corner of your own making. I'm not tutting, I'm merely pointing out that the situation has got so bad that you cant see the wood for the trees. So, practical plan for you.

1. Tell your wife she is moving out whilst she gets help. You can date/meet whilst she is living elsewhere but she must move out as she is a danger to the children and your anger with her behaviour could trigger a nasty incident. (again, I'm not tutting, I'm being practical)

2. Call work, tell them you are taking emergency leave for dependants. Everyone is entitled to do this, it will be unpaid but it means you will not be penalised for needing time off.

3. Go to citizens advice bureau during this time off and sort out benefits to make you financially stable. You should get the child benefit and tax credits.

4. Use the time off to find out about childcare whilst you work, so speak to the school about breakfast and after school club, ring local council and ask for a list of local childminders, you will get tax credit help with the childcare costs.

5. Speak to the children's school and let them know what is going on and what steps you have taken to keep the children safe. You must do this as if one of the children tells a teacher what happened with the bath for example they are obliged to make sure that there are no child protection issues. If you tell them what is going on they can support you.

If you don't take any action and one of the children talks about things like being left alone and the bath incident then sooner or later it's highly likely social services will get involved if you are prioritising your wife ("won't rat her out") over your children's safety your ability to parent them will also be questioned.

Snorbs Sun 13-Jan-13 12:32:14

2atClaridges, the bugger of the reality is that there are no easy solutions for the situation you find yourself in. Whichever path you choose is going to be bloody hard. Trying to maintain the status quo is going to be very hard because her alcohol problem is almost certainly going to get worse. The amount she drinks will increase while the ability of her body to cope with it will decrease.

I have been in your shoes. I'm a man and my (then) partner was an alcoholic. I'd go out to work, she'd stay at home looking after the kids and hitting the wine. I'd get a knot of tension deep in my stomach on my way home from work as I had no idea what I would open the door to find. Would she be relatively sober with happy kids? Would she be drunk and laughing, and I'd then spend the evening walking on eggshells for fear of her mood turning in an instant? Would she be drunk and angry with unhappy kids and I'd then have an evening of trying to keep my head down to minimise the damage? Would she have one of her piss-artist mates around with the kids running riot?

It was horrible. Downright bloody horrible. And that went on for day after day, week after week, year after year. OVer time, as she got older and her body simply wasn't able to cope with that volume of booze any more the effects got more severe. She spent the best part of a month having panic attacks. She ended one Christmas lying in bed for a couple of days with nothing but bottles of vodka for company. I vowed then that I would never expose my DCs to that kind of wretched and scary Christmas again. And I never have.

You ask for the steps you need to follow to reach a good conclusion. The simple fact is that the steps that need to be followed to reach such a good conclusion are not steps that you can take for her. It's her drink problem. She is the only person who can sort it out. And the fact is that, right now, she simply doesn't want to.

You cannot force someone to stop drinking. You cannot talk someone into stopping drinking if they don't want to. Go along to an open AA meeting. Listen to the stories people tell about what brought them there. It's vanishingly rare that you'll hear anyone say "I decided to stop drinking because everyone stood by me." Instead, you will hear lots of stories along the lines of "I lost my marriage, I lost my kids, I lost my driving license, I lost my job. I couldn't bear to lose anything more."

Put simply and in my entirely non-expert opinion, alcoholics stop drinking when they can no longer get so pissed that they can continue ignoring what a shambles their life has become. They stop drinking when they can't face losing anything else. That's what AA calls "hitting bottom", when your drinking has dragged you down so far you cannot stand the thought of things getting even worse. Your wife has lost nothing except your respect. She's likely a long way from hitting bottom.

I spent a lot of time scared of really talking to my DP about her drinking because I knew that if it came down to "It's me or the booze" I was worried that the answer would be "booze". But then I thought some more about that and realised I'm fucked if I'm going to come second place to a cheap bottle of wine. I'm worth more than that and if she's so messed up that she refuses to see that then, frankly, there's no relationship left worth trying to save.

My children live with me now. It wasn't easy getting to this point (Social Services got involved after I kicked her out) but the easy choice is not always the right choice. My ex still spends large parts of the year pissed out of her tiny mind but she gets to see the kids when she's sober. Within a few months of my kids starting to live with me full-time they emerged out of shells I'd never even seen that they had been hiding in. It was both wonderful and heart-breaking to see. They're now happy, confident and funny but I can still see the traces of the emotional damage their mother's drinking did to them. And to me, for that matter. Don't discount the damage this is causing you. Long-term stress is very bad for you.

One final point - you say you know how your wife would descend if you left. You don't know that. It might well be the impetus she needs to realise how much her drinking has cost her. And if it isn't, her drinking will get worse regardless of whether you split or stay together. I've heard a lot of anecdotes that suggest that people with drink problems can often more-or-less hold it together until they hit their forties at which point their bodies start to not be able to cope and then the descent starts getting faster. Certainly that's what happened with my ex. How old is your wife?

secretsquirrel1 Sun 13-Jan-13 12:39:45

OP, I have been in exactly the same situation as you.

Well meaning as the majority of posters are, unless you have lived with active alcoholism, because this is exactly what we're talking about here, you really really cannot have any idea of what it is like for people like the OP. So unless you have, please try and have compassion for not just the kids but for the OP & his W.

And excellent posts to support you too - you are not on your own here.

The main focus has to be on what you need to do now, and how you can do it. You need to take the focus off your wife, what she's doing etc. and put it back onto your kids and yourself.

You have a duty of care to your children. Your priority is to keep them safe by whichever means that you can. You must take some time off work to give yourself space to get something arranged - can't you have a bout of norovirus or something if they won't give you carers leave?

I had to arrange for a childminder/after school club/breakfast club/babysitters/friends/family.

This did not mean that I told all and sundry that my unemployed alcoholic H was unable to manage the childcare.....I didn't, but you'd be amazed at how many will already know what is going on.

By not actively doing something, you are colluding with your wife, and this time you were lucky, next time you might not be.

Don't be asking for a list of things to do to get her to stop drinking - She Has To Hit Her Rock Bottom before this will ever happen. You cannot force her to go to AA, you cannot force your GP to intervene here either (they will report you if they know your situation).......*you cannot cure it*; it won't work if you try to force solutions.

This is the hardest thing to do because although you don't realise it yet, you are as sick as she is. That is why your post is coming accross in the way that it has. But please please believe me when I say that I could've written that post myself 5 years ago.

Al Anon gave me and my DD back our sanity. Please please give it a try, please just listen and learn. After 6 meetings, you will be in a better position to understand why alcoholics behave the way they do and why we react to the behaviour in the way we do. They are in denial about their drinking; we are in denial about their alcoholism. You are on 'the Merry Go-Round' of Denial - your wife is an alcoholic, and there is no getting away from it.

It will get better for you and especially your DD & hopefully your changed attitude will aid your wife in finding her own recovery.

AlienReflux Sun 13-Jan-13 15:52:42

Excellent post Snorbs

Squeegle Sun 13-Jan-13 16:40:29

I too have been in this situation.
It was my DP (male). He was looking after the children while I was working.
I, like snorbs, and a lot of us I suspect, spent a lot of time with an unpleasant knot of tension in my stomach.
I only became able to change anything when I took on board that I could not change or police his drinking (and yes I did try for a long long time to take care of a person who I deemed could not take care of himself)
Needless to say it didn't work
Things changed when I truly realised he had to do it himself. That only came when I detached. Also realised how dangerous it was for the kids.

Sorry you are in this position. It is atrocious. I do get it. You won't believe the number of books I read!!! I couldn't do it for him!

Good luck. Take it seriously. It really won't change for the better unless you are able to be very strong here and recognise what you can and can't effect.

You can affect the lives of your kids. By hook or by crook. They need you to, they can't do it themselves.

Sorry it's so hard. Good luck. Please try al anon. Support does help.

PureQuintessence Sun 13-Jan-13 17:08:48

My Father in law was the Alcoholic Stay at home Parent while Mother in law was working. He would also leave their (disabled) daughter home alone and go out to buy alcohol, drop by to the pub, or look for his stash of alcohol which he kept in various places around their block of flats. The daughter was neglected terribly without mum realizing. He figured, she cannot walk, so wont come to any harm.
Mother in law started working night shifts instead, so that she was home at least some of the day and evening. Father in law died from liver damage aged 50. That is when mother in law realized how much debt he got the family into, he had drunk not only his own pension, but all their savings, and taken up loans too. He died 7 years ago. Me and my husband has been paying the debts to the tune of 2.5k per year the last 5 years. More than 10k of alcohol related debts so far. He had also given money to his drinking buddies. sad

I too know what it is like to have an alcoholic dad.

Letsmakecookies Sun 13-Jan-13 17:41:58

OP, there is nothing toxic about enabling. That is just human nature - caring. But with an alcoholic doing caring things become enabling.

My experience is, step 1 I nearly had a complete breakdown, step 2 I started therapy which helped me enormously, step 3 I started going to meetings like Al Anon. For me, my personal decision was to eventually leave the relationship, because I realised nothing would ever change and it was not something I could learn to live with. And I left with the children and close to nothing else, he had drunk everything (and he was a 'functioning' alcoholic). If you are the person looking after children on your own there is support. You can go and talk to the people at CAB to get an idea of what there is, they were very helpful and a good start for me. You can also look at and work out what help you might get.

I would recommend Al Anon, because you will get some of the answers you are asking the questions for. My experiences of Al Anon were positive. No one will tell you to leave your wife, quite the opposite IME. People there had three experiences, some left the relationships, some learned how to live with an active alcoholic reasonably happily, and some alcoholics ended up in recovery because their partners went to Al Anon and they ended up with the scenario you want.

You should not micromanage your alcoholic at all. You need to step away from doing that. I had a dry household for years, made no difference. That is enabling. I was able to limit the amount of time my alcoholic spent with our children, and you need to think about what to do in your situation as she is their main carer. Again people at Al Anon can give you advice from their experiences.

RabidCarrot Sun 13-Jan-13 17:51:34

For Gods sake you have to protect your children,
Pack her bag, put it outside, change the locks and tell her when she is clean and sober you will speak.

Do not wait till she has done something tragic that can not be undone.

HardlyEverHoovers Sun 13-Jan-13 17:57:44

OP, I'm really glad you've had some more understanding posts and hope the advice of people in similar situations has helped.
I would advise that you plan carefully before doing anything, so that you are able to see it through, but obviously this needs to be balanced with the need to make sure your kids are safe.
If you decide to leave temporarily, it will probably be the hardest thing you ever do, but you need to keep your eye on the goal and just keep going, knowing you are aiming for something better in the long run. Visualise your goal and think of it when the going gets tough.
Also, it sounds like you feel some solidarity with your wife, so while you haven't said much about it, I assume you still want to be with her? In this case, tell her that, reassure her you are not leaving her, you are just removing yourself and the kids from what she is doing at the moment. It will go in at some level even if she doesn't respond at the time.
I really hope you feel a bit more like you know where to go from here.

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