It's not abuse but...(72 Posts)
I'm sure it's not good, just need some outside perspectives ... I feel completely at sea. It's v long- please bear with me...
Met DP in 2015. He's older than me, divorced and never wanted children. We were using contraception, but life being what it is, and no method being perfect, Conceived v quickly (not planned- in fact my gynae suspected I may have fertility issues and we'd talked about investigating before I got to a point of wanting a family. So shocked is an understatement) and decided after much soul searching/ arguments and me giving DP lots of space to work things out, decided to keep the baby. I told him he didn't have to be involved, I wouldn't hold it against him if he couldn't commit to us as a family, but I wouldn't let him be half heartedly in it- we were together and a family, we were separated but coparenting fully, or I was on my own. He chose to try and be a family.
Now DS is 5 months and a lovely easy and very sunny baby. I had an easy labour and postpartum didnt get the blues, let alone PND (which was expected as had antenatal depression). My recovery has been straightforward and life looking after DS is something I'm really enjoying- despite it being v different to my party / high pressure job/ half marathon training/ dance class/ more partying/ more work life before!! I feel more fulfilled looking after DS than I ever did at work. So the baby is not part of the problem.
The problem is DP.
He's always been a drinker. I realised he was an alcoholic after DS was born. I found hidden whiskey bottles a few weeks ago. When I confronted DP about it he said it wasn't a problem. Because he's never drunk and he doesn't drink in the mornings. He's in complete denial- but agreed to "cut back" on the drinking. I told him he either got sober or we were over. For a few weeks the drinking was cut down to a bottle of beer and a glass of wine in the evening- rather than 2 beers, 2/3s a bottle of wine and a couple of whiskeys.
Because of the drinking, I have never left DS alone with DP. I worry that he isn't "with it" enough to be a safe parent, and for the same reason, we sleep separately (I cosleep and can't have him in bed with us if he's bee drinking obviously).
DP also has an as yet partly undiagnosed health issue. Symptoms are generalised but include extreme pain in limbs and joints, fatigue and generally being run down. I've been to endless appointments with GPs, neurologists, and even to A&E with him (attack of neuralgia that it took morphine to dull) many times - when heavily pregnant and with DS in tow. He insists that nobody is taking him seriously about the level of pain he's in- but they are. Sadly NHS resources mean he isn't high up the list of priorities enough for carpal tunnel surgery or surgery on his spinal stenosis (which are responsible for some of the pain, though not all of his symptoms).
He has a very heavy duty though creative job which takes a lot out of him, which is why his body is knackered - yet refuses to move onto
Less strenuous projects because he likes the prestige of what he does now. (I consider this v selfish, given how his health issues are impacting on family lie)
Because he's often in pain, DP goes to bed early, leaving me with DS. He is also often too fatigued to stay awake in the afternoons on weekends. This makes me feel quite lonely.
He also has to be asked or directed to interact with or do anything m for the baby- so "here hold your son", "give him a cuddle" "tell him you love him" etc. If it's a choice between occupying the baby and doing the laundry- hell do the laundry. He'll do anything for us domestically- and more than his fair share in that sense- but very little direct interaction with DS without being instructed.
He loves his son- I'm certain - but he had a terrible childhood and clearly has no idea how to behave as a father.
We do argue occasionally but i try and keep it to a minimum as I'm v conscious the baby will pick up on stress. So it's done quietly, in another room, and less often than DPs behaviour warrants.
Yesterday felt like the last straw.
DP had gp appt in the morning. I had smear and baby vaccinations at the same surgery an hour and a half later. DP went to his appt and came home. The baby was in a bit of a state and had cried himself into a projectile vomit rage twice and I was worried we'd be late. I have a cold DS has given me, and generally exhausted from almost 5 months of basically solo parenting 24/7. So was v snappy with DP when he came home moaning that the GP didn't know what was wrong with him but had ordered tests and given him new painkillers. He was just so... Self indulgent!!! He then forgot he'd offered to come back to Drs to look after DS while I had smear and settled himself down on the sofa.
I flounced off to Drs- baby couldn't have vax because he'd had a fever in the last 7 days. I had to have v painful smear with baby on my chest (he wouldn't settle in the pram) and nurse said it was painful because I'm still not fully healed (!!!!) bleeding etc after.
Get back home and DP is DRUNK at 3pm. He says he's had one whiskey .... That he's washed his new tablets down with (!!!!!!!)
Furious and feeling shitty from the smear, I take baby into the living room, and look after him alone while DP sleeps it off in the study. He turns up in the living room at 8pm after DS is asleep, presumably because he heard dinner was in the offing. I tell him to fuck right off, hand him
The whiskey bottle and suggest he drinks himself to death (I know, I know not nice) so I can get on with Looking after DS in peace.
It escalates a bit (quietly) and he thrusts his face in mine (he does this because I grew up with an abusive father and knows it scares me)- and I tell him to get out.
He goes back to the study,, I go for a quiet cry in the bathroom away from
DS (who is still asleep in his crib in the next room) and then DP comes back to the bathroom to ask what's wrong?!?! He then denies
He was drunk, denies he acted threateningly, and says that he was just "standing up to me" (?!?!? Standing up to my telling him I was ashamed of his drinking, and ashamed of his behaviour as a father, presumably)
I just don't know what to do. He had a shitty childhood. He has a drink
problem. He's definitely on the autistic spectrum (other behaviours suggest this) and he has health issues. He is also clever, and is usually a very kind man, who loves us but has no idea how to be a family- I love him and think we could all Have a marvellous life together, but I don't want to damage my beautiful, sunny, carefree boy, trying to help his father sort his shit out.
What on earth do I do????
Personally I would suggest he moves out until he sorts himself out. . If you have spells of feeling in physical danger he needs to be gone. . You can't concentrate on being a parent with him around you both right now- and you can't not feel safe on your own home. He owes it to you all to seek help.
I would suggest you get help and support from Al-Anon.
Then I would suggest you give him an ultimatum.
The drinking will not be helping his current health issues.
He either goes to AA or he leaves the house until he can get his issues sorted out.
If he had an awful childhood I would suggest he needs some counselling.
But this is you and your life and you love him.
So what steps do YOU think you need to take?
I've had him go to a psychotherapist. That lasted 6 weeks. He won't go back.
I have given him an ultimatum re: the drinking- you take steps now, and aim to be sober by the end of my mat leave, or were over. It was going well until last night.
I've also suggested he speaks to his GP about the drinking/ needing counselling.
I've also gone to stay with my mother for a week at a time twice - not as punishment, but to give him some space to reflect on all gd big life changes recently. He's beside himself when we're away missing us, then is back to ambivalence towards DS within days...
I feel like I can't get through to him. I won't put DS through the sort of childhood both DP and I lived through- so there has to be a big change, very quickly, before he's old enough to realise
I've NCd- worried about identification
I think an ultimatum is needed. Obviously cutting back on the drinks is not an option, as the alcohol addiction has proven stronger. But I know this, no family is safe with an alcoholic member.
The 3cs re alcoholism:-
You did not cause this
You cannot control this
You cannot cure this
In answer to your last question your only real option going forward is to leave. Sorry you may not want to hear that but its true.
Counselling for your own self is essential. You allude to your own childhood and you grew up with an abusive father. That's what you learnt about relationships when growing up and its a set of very damaging lessons that have to be unlearnt. That is also why you are with him, your own dysfunctional upbringing with an abusive father played a big role in you being with this man now. Do not simply repeat the mistakes your own parents made with you by remaining with this man who is also abusive towards you as well as being an alcoholic.
This is what life with an alcoholic is like; you firefight and lurch from one crisis to another. Its a chaotic existence. His primary relationship is with drink and not you or your son. His next thoughts centre on where the next drink is going to come from.
Many people have disordered childhoods and do not turn to drink. Do not subject your son to a drunkard of a father; he will not thank you for doing that to him. Nor should you subject yourself now further to a drunkard for a partner; he is no partner to you. Even though your son is but 5 months old he is like a sponge in that he is absorbing all that is happening around him. This will certainly affect him going forward particularly if you were to stay.
The only person who can sort himself out here is your DP and he does not want to stop drinking. He likes blaming you for taking away his pleasure in life.
You're also playing the usual roles associated with partners of alcoholics; enabler and provoker (because you never forget). You are not helping either him or your own self by remaining with him at all. Do you love him or are you (more likely) confusing love with codependency. You do not know what a healthy relationship is like either really because no-one bothered to show you. Co-dependency often features in such dysfunctional relationships as well and I would think you are co-dependent. If you want to fix him and or rescue and save him it won't work.
What you have suggested and tried has unsurprisingly not worked. It won't either because its all being done at your say so rather than his. Coercion (and he does see it as this) simply does not work with alcoholics.
If you issue an ultimatum you have to be properly prepared to carry it out otherwise there is no point in issuing it. It loses all its power otherwise.
Would suggest you contact Al-anon today and at the very least read their literature if you cannot attend their meetings. Make plans for your son and you going forward to live a life separate from this individual before you are both dragged down further with him. This will also entail seeking legal advice re finances and property. This individual and you cannot and must not be together any longer.
I would not assume that he is on the ASD spectrum either; you could well be wrong there. Regardless of anything else, he is an alcoholic and there is no good future for your or your son here if you do stay with him.
Your dad likely did not know how to act as a father either did he?.
You have a choice re this man; your son does not.
Thanks atilla - I'm reading your reply carefully - thankyou
In the meantime have since you wrote your reply nc'd - worried about id - - could you please ask Mn to remove my former username? Thankyou
He's an alcoholic. The drink will always come first. You've already given him an ultimatum. You now need to divorce.
he thrusts his face in mine (he does this because I grew up with an abusive father and knows it scares me)
This is abuse.
and then DP comes back to the bathroom to ask what's wrong?!?! He then denies he was drunk, denies he acted threateningly, and says that he was just "standing up to me
This is gaslighting - it's abuse.
He's probably drinking way more than you think he is. Look up 'alcoholic neuropathy'.
You know what you need to do now x
Have asked MN to do that re name as per your request.
Ah you're not married - please exchange my terminology about for 'split up'
You should not be so much worried about names so much as living with this person. You need to make a better life for yourself and it will not be with this man. This is really not a good life for you or your son for that matter to be at all a part of. He will simply continue to drag you and in turn your son down with him.
I feel like I can't get through to him - that's right. You can't. He's an addict who doesn't want to quit alcohol. Second the suggestion for Alanon - for families of alcoholics - they're an amazing support and will help you understand alcoholism better.
It is abuse OP, and anyone drinking to those levels is a danger, especially around children; you don't have to live this shit life; he doesn't sound remotely interested in changing.
Thanks for all replies- reading and thinking. Hands full with baby so will reply properly when he naps ...
I know which way this is going - think we both do - but difficult to actually make a break. Especially as he loves DS (sadly not enough to change I fear)
I agree with the other posters who have said it's abuse. I think you need to live apart. You and your son need stability and he isn't going to let you have that. Love isn't always enough unfortunately. I'm sure deep down he's not a bad person but right now he is bad for you. Perhaps separating would be a wake up call for him.
Sometimes people with addictions have to reach rock bottom before they even realise the effects they are having on loved ones; splitting might give him the kick up the arse he needs; I mean how many times do you need to spell it out to him.
Abuse is not just physical in nature and you are in an abusive relationship now partly because of your own upbringing. He is certainly gaslighting you and making you doubt your own reality. That is abusive behaviour on his part.
You certainly want a better childhood for your son than the one you had as well. You cannot sort out this man's issues for him; he does not want your help or support. Many alcoholics are in denial and that can be an immoveable force. Also you are way too close to the situation to be of any real use to him. He does not want your help.
He loves drink more than you or your son; his primary relationship is with drink. He could well go onto lose everything and everyone around him and he could still choose to drink afterwards.
He does not know how to interact with your son, you have to tell him. Your son needs positive role models both male and female, not a man who puts drink first and foremost in his life and one who also abuses his mother.
You need to get off the merry go around that is alcoholism for your sake as well as your son's. You have a lot of stuff as well that needs to be unlearnt and I would suggest you seek counselling from BACP too as well as talking to Al-anon.
The 3 act play re alcoholism is one that is painful to read but one you should read as well. A link to it is posted below:-
You love him and 'think we could have a marvellous life together'. Unfortunately, you can't force this potential 'marvellous life'. If he didn't drink, if he didn't work so hard, if his health was better, if he knew how to deal with his son (and showed signs of wanting to)... That's a lot of 'if', and unfortunately the big one is 'if he wanted this too'.
He doesn't seem to. He doesn't see anything wrong with the way he is, and is already putting the blame onto you for problems, and this will only get worse. Separate and parent alone - if he shows signs of wanting to change to be a better parent, then you can always rethink.
He sounds just like my dad! Pretty much everything! I think you need to leave him and encourage supervised contact (by you) with him and the baby - only if he is not violent (suggest always doing it in a public place, especially as he break up might make him angry/violent etc). My mum left my dad when I was 2, but should have left him much sooner, I am 40 now and he is still an alcoholic and has been distant and unreliable throughout my life, for some periods of my life he has really messed things up for me by being absent. He does care about me, but not enough to change things. He has been very upset about us not having a close relationship but not enough to really try and deal with the alcoholism and depression. It is such a waste, so sad to care about your child but to not be capable of actually looking after them and being there for them throughout their life because you need to be drunk more. It is sad but it is a choice to a great degree - he is choosing to not fix this. I think if your Dad is an alcoholic it's good to know who he is and to see him every now and then (depending on whether he can be sober for meetings and cares enough to want to do it) as an absent father can be damaging, but ultimately all you really need is a good mum, which luckily for your little boy sounds like he has, you sound wonderful ☺️. It sounds like you know what to do and are just in the middle of it all. Sounds like you and your son have a bright future ahead.
End it and concentrate on your DS you can't fix someone who doesn't want to be fixed.
A guy from my old work hid his alcoholism very well until his girlfriend had a baby. She ended up asking him to leave and he did though that initially made him drink even more.
Now he's being followed by a psychiatrist as he also has serious abandonment issues and is following a programme to treat his addiction.
At first, he was furious with his girlfriend and made her responsible for everything, especially abandoning him (very selfish as a lot of addicts are). But...with drinking less and getting medication he came to realise that 1. She was right that he wasn't in a fit state to look after his child and could have been dangerously neglectful (my words but that's what he meant, he could've have left gas on, etc.) and 2. He loved them both so much he wanted to get better, even if she never took him back, as he at least wanted to co-parent.
I know all this as I put him up when she chucked him out as he was in a real state. But after two weeks, my then boyfriend couldn't stand it and I was exhausted as he'd come in from work every night with a carry out and keep us talking until all hours about his ex's unfair behaviour. So my ex told him I should get him to find his own place for all our sakes as he'd forget what he'd said the night before and it became unbearable.
He did and that's what pushed him to change. He's got years of therapy to do but he's at last looking after himself and sees that he was self medicating.
And I put it down to my last rescue as I've got form for co-dependency..I really recommend you read Melody Beattie.
Time to be brave op, you're not doing yourself, him or you DC any favours by staying with him. None at all.
Don't call al-anon for him, call him for you and you child, your dp has to decide himself or it won't work xx
mysinkingheart - AA meetings are for alcoholics, Al-anon meetings are for the families and friends of alcoholics. They're separate
Am reading all of this.... Still on my own with DS (obviously .....) so will reply this evening.
Thank you all for all of your support
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