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Alcoholism and separation- help and advice please

(18 Posts)
potqueen Fri 14-Jan-05 03:43:29

My dh of 11 years moves out this Saturday. He is not going far, wants to see me and DD (8) regularly. We have been v unhappy for a long time and he has been the one to act first. I won't go into the whys here at the moment. But one issue for me has always been his drinking. As he becomes more unhappy he drinks more and more. I cannot remember the last Friday or Saturday night when he has not drunk himself asleep on the sofa/ computer desk etc. I have even found him asleep on the loo, trousers round ankles. Tonight, two nights before he is due to move out, he is asleep now as I write this, fully clothed, on the landing floor. I do not now how he got there- did he fall? I have been going out very rarely without him but if I do, and leave him in charge of dd, I come home to foind him snoring downstairs having put away the best part of two bottles of wine. I am sure he would not hear her if she needed him and I was not there. And now, because he loves her dearly, and misses her before he's gone, he is talking about having her to sleep over in his flat. Since they would have to share a bed she may be disturbed by his snoring which can be espescially bad after a session.Plus if there is a probelm in the flat, or she is ill, will he be able to come round from his stupor to deal with it.
I do not know what to do. Yesterday, I suggested to him that I would not be happy about her staying over with him and mentioned drink as the reason. He lost it, shouted at me, said we could forget a civilised separation, and being kind to each other. But how can I let her be put at risk?
I am aware of organisations like Al-anon who help relatives of drinkers. His sister and to a much lesser extent his mum know how bad his drinking is and I am a great relationship with both. Should I talk to them? Should I tell his best friend who he is seeing in ireland in two weeks and ask him to talk to him for me. Or is that simply putting the friend in a difficult place and not tackling the problem head on.
Please does anyone else have any ideas? I feel so desparate about this , on top of all the trauma of the separaion and the other reasons behind it. Hence a post at 3.30am by a worried mother who cannot sleep despite horlicks and sleeping tablet - given me by GP to help me get through this mess. I know you are doubtless all asleep but I hope you will have some words of comfort soon

ghosty Fri 14-Jan-05 04:20:01

I am not asleep potqueen ... I live in New Zealand!
So sorry you are having such a crap time ... what a nightmare. I have no experience in this sort of thing ... and so no real advice to give but I am sure as soon as other MNers start logging on you will get loads of useful advice.
Sending hugs across the miles {{{{{{{{}}}}}}}}
FWIW, I do think you could have a chat with your MIL and SIL ... if you have a good relationship with them and they love their son/brother then I think they will probably be your best support.
If either of my brothers were in trouble, I like to think that their wives would talk to me about it.
Much love
Ghosty xxx

potqueen Fri 14-Jan-05 06:19:21

Dear ghosty
Many thanks for your kind words- it's good to know you are thinking about me from so far away. It's my friends that are getting me through this so far. Will think about talking to SIL and MIL- only he is so private and has such a temper at times, they are both wary of tackling him about anything really difficult. Time to get sorted for school run soon, will sleep after that I hope.

gothicmama Fri 14-Jan-05 07:40:58

sorry if I hav mis read this but if she is sleeping in his bed adn he is drunk ther is a possibility he could unintentiallly squash her co-sleep if drink or drugs have been consumed is not recommendded - this is a hard situation to be in You can not let her be at risk - I think talking to sil is the best bet if you have a good relationship with her

tigermoth Fri 14-Jan-05 08:11:10

potqueen, I really feel for you.

How much have you talked to your dh's sister and mother about the separation generally? You say you have a great relationship with them. Could you, or have you, asked their views on how your ex could keep up contact with his dd? As they know he drinks a lot, they might already have stong opinions about her staying over. Any remote chance one of them could stay over too when your dh has your dd?

You also say your dh is moving very nearby you. If so, there is less of a practical reason for your dd to stay over, especially as she has no place to sleep. Your dd herself might not like the arrangement very much - what are her views on it?

I think you are very right to be worried. It may be that after your dh has moved away, your dh may change his mind and/or you canstall any sleepover arrangements.

It sounds like your dh is panicing about not seeing your dd as much. Getting you to agree to sleepovers is a way of holding onto your dd. It's also a way of getting your acceptance that his drinking isn't a problem. Can you keep vague about it while he moves out, and not make any promises to him? I think that's what I'd do.

Hope you get good advice from other mumsnetters.

Listmaker Fri 14-Jan-05 13:25:03

Sorry to hear about your problems potqueen and have no real experience of this but I would do as Tigermoth says and keep it vague until he's gone and then say no to sleepovers. You can't let your dd sleep with someone who drinks themself unconscious like that.

Thinking of you and good luck!

MeerkatsUnite Sat 15-Jan-05 08:37:56

Hi Potqueen,

I would make initial enquiries as to formalising a contact arrangement (certainly not overnight at his flat) as regards your DD with your husband once separated (are you also thinking of permanent separation i.e divorce?).
I think if its an informal verbal agreement between the two of you then there is greater potential for it to go pear shaped longer term. He will blame you again.

Blaming you is anothe rway of absolving any responsibility on your part. Its a controlling measure. It is not your fault that he is like this - alcoholism is an illness. However, you cannot go on rescuing them from themselves and you cannot save someone who may ultimately does not want to be saved. The only one who can help him is him and he has to realise that he has a problem with drink. Until he reaches that stage then nothing can be done.

Would certainly suggest you talk to Al-anon to get professional support for yourself. Talk to his sister and Mum as well (I do wonder how much they do know about his drinking; do they regard his as an alcoholic?) - however, relatives can only do so much and I think its got to the stage where you (and they for that matter) need a professional listening ear.

I also feel for your DD in all this - she has in all likelihood not had a happy time of it all either. Being a child of an alcoholic is very hard to live and deal with - I would also say that for her sake also you contact Al-anon.

I wish you and your DD well

MeerkatsUnite Sat 15-Jan-05 08:39:09

I wrote "Blaming you is another way of absolving any responsibility on your part".

Am very sorry that should say on HIS part.

Caligula Sat 15-Jan-05 09:29:13

Potqueen, I agree with everyone else that you can't possibly let your dd stay over, Tigermoth's point is spot on, it's a way for your dh to pretend his drinking isn't a problem, but I also agree that you don't need to confront it until he's actually gone.

Al-anon will help you because it will re-inforce your own feelings and give you the strength and support you need to stick to your guns if you don't get back-up from any other source.

I also agree you should talk to your SIL - you MIL might not be ready to hear about the true extent of the problem.

The other thing you could do, is tell your DH that your DD can stay over with him if he promises not to drink. If he won't guarantee that he won't drink, especially with the co-sleeping issue (VERY VERY strongly not recommended by practically every authority you can think of, to co-sleep and drink)then you can tell him straight out that as he's prioritising drinking alcohol over the safety and welfare of his DD, he's made a straight choice - nothing to do with you, Guv.

I also don't see why your DD should have to go and stay with a drunk, tbh. It's not in her best interests to have to step over a drunken body on her way to the loo, even if she wants to.

aloha Sat 15-Jan-05 10:34:17

Agree with everyone. You cannot put your daughter into a potentially dangerous, scary and lonely position like this. Yes, of course he can see her when he is sober, but if he's an alcoholic it cannot be in your daughter's interest to stay overnight with him. IMO his promises would mean nothing as he clearly is not in control of his drinking. Very sad for him, of course, but that's not your daughter's problem and neither should it be.

pabla Sat 15-Jan-05 10:35:19

Although, I don't think my dad is an alcoholic, he is not someone who handles a lot of drink very well. I can clearly remember as a child (perhaps a bit older than your dd) when he went through a phase of drinking heavily, probably after a bereavement. I could tell when he had been drinking and hated to see him looking drunk, even worse when he became verbally aggressive.

I can't imagine that your dd would feel comfortable staying with your dh on her own, unless his drinking has been so much part of her life that it seems normal to her now. I would certainly let his family know what is going on, so that they are kept in the picture, but I wouldn't expect that they can make any difference to your dh's drinking. As others have said, he needs to want to stop drinking himself for it to happen.

I know I myself wouldn't be happy to let a child of mine be alone with its father, day or night, if he was an alcoholic, but that is just my opinion. Although you may want to keep things amicable, if he won't act reasonably you will have to seriously consider formalising the contact arrangements.

potqueen Sat 15-Jan-05 15:46:04

Dear all

Thank you so much for your advice. He is moving out as we speak. He claims that it is the unhappiness in our marriage that has caused him to drink, and once he is out of the situation he will stop. All alcoholics say that don't they? He has used alcohol as his prop when stressed and unhappy for as long as I have known him. So I suspect he will find it rather hard to stop just like that

I have been meaning to contact Al-Anon for sometime, and now I will. For too many years I have kept all the anger and hurt and anxiety his drinking causes me inside, and put up with his behaviour when he's drunk/hungover.
As for the sleepover thing, I am going to try to keep it vague to start with, and suggests that if he misses his morning cuddle with his DD he will have to spend the odd night here. But once I get the printer working on my computer ( we had to get me one as he has taken the other) I intend to print off this conversation and show it to him/SIL/MIL as necessary. Plus even though we are not thinking longer term about our separation yet I am going to see a solicitor as soon as to find out where I stand if we divorce, and at the same time I will ask her about the booze, sleepovers etc.

Think of me tonight- it's the first night of our separation and I know it's going to be a tough one. But at least i won't have to pick up all the empties in the morning!

Caligula Sat 15-Jan-05 16:45:57

Potqueen, good luck.

It's very tough, but also liberating, when someone who has had such a mixed effect on your life goes.

As to making you responsible for his drinking: well, the first step to sobriety is to recognise that you, and you alone, are responsible for your drinking, no one else. If your DH hasn't got to that stage yet, he's got a long way to go to recovery, and you've made the right decision not to do that long and agonising journey with him.

Good luck.

beansprout Sat 15-Jan-05 17:21:16

As they would say at Al-Anon "one day at a time". You don't have to resolve all of these issues at once, and certainly not today. For now, if you can, try to focus on what you and DD need. Ultimately he is the only one that can sort himself out. From what you have said, he may well find that no, his desire to drink does not go once he has moved out. Alcoholics always take themselves with them wherever they go, but it can take them a while to suss that out.

I think it might be a good idea to talk to people in his family that you trust. I'm sure they will have noticed his drinking too. There is a difference between expressing concern and just bad mouthing him. However, only you know the effect he has had on you and DD and for that reason I would also urge you to contact Al-Anon for support.

I really wish you well and hope things get better for you soon. We are all here for you too. Good luck xx

beansprout Sat 15-Jan-05 17:25:28

PS as far as DD staying over with him is concerned, it really is ok for you to take that decision in her best interests, which are NOT served by a man who gets so drunk that he is not responsible. Very drunk people are not able to take responsibility for themselves, let alone children. He may well not like it and talk about his "rights" but he leaves those at the door once he is drunk. And besides, you would never forgive yourself if anything happened. It is one thing when you are there as back up and another when she is stuck with a drunk man. Sorry to feel so strongly about this! I do understand that it may not be as easy as that. Again, this is where Al-Anon could help as lots of people there will have been in a similar position.

Caligula Sat 15-Jan-05 17:27:21

I agree with Beansprout, your dd's right to be in a safe and caring environment far outweigh her df's right to have contact with her on his terms.

potqueen Sat 15-Jan-05 19:22:58

I feel very strongly about it too- and other people's concern gives me the confidence to stand up to him on this. We are going round there tomorrow so I shall maybe see if he had a rough night. Although it will take a long time before it is clear just how is drinking is when he is on his own.

Anyway it's a calmer and early night for me I think. With a glass of wine. But in my case just one.

Bye for now and thanks again for all words of wisdom and support

tigermoth Sat 15-Jan-05 20:04:39

Thinking of you this evening, potqueen, and also your dd. I think you are doing exactly the right thing in taking it day by day and not rushing into any decisions, whether it's sleepovers or divorce. I hope Al-anon and the solictor you see make things clearer for you. But most of all, I hope your dh takes responsibility for his own life.

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