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DH is in denial

(39 Posts)
Baroozer Sat 22-Mar-14 20:15:03

I've been with my DH for 10 years. 3 DC, 5,4 and 2. He's always liked a drink and until four years ago he was an ok drunk - bit loud, but not abusive or nasty.

It all changed. He has depression. He's been going downhill for years and his drinking increased as he got more and more depressed. It went up to at least two bottles a day, the most was a box of wine and half a bottle of whiskey. I said that I didn't think it was ok to drink that much, that maybe he should talk to someone about how he was feeling, but he ignored me, and he was still able to work well in his job, so no one else knew how bad it was.

Four months ago, he hit bottom. With his depression. Not with his drinking. He still hasn't told anyone about his drinking. He refuses to admit it is a problem. But it is. For me and for the kids. Because he is desperate for alcohol, his temper is short. But it gets worse when he has a drink. After his latest binge, two weeks ago, I told him I was worried that he was an alcoholic, and he immediately went off at the deep end. He was abusive to me, swearing, screaming, breaking furniture, getting in my face and scaring me shitless.

After that, he promised he would stay dry, although he denies that he has ever been an alcoholic. It was all my fault for calling him one, he said, that would upset anyone.

We had an argument half an hour ago and he stormed out of the house. I think he is going to buy wine and if he does I can't stay here. So part of me, the part that thinks that I don't love him any more and I shouldn't stay for my own sanity, wants him to buy that bottle so that I have a cast-iron reason to leave. For myself. And the other part, that says how horrible it would be to leave someone when they are struggling with depression, wants him to be strong enough to come back without any alcohol so that I don't have to be the bad guy.

I suppose I'm posting here to find out how I can leave, if he goes down that road again. And also how I can stay, if he doesn't.

AliceDoesntLiveHereAnymore Sat 22-Mar-14 20:57:31

You already have a "cast-iron reason" to leave.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 22-Mar-14 21:43:56

What do you get out of this relationship now?.

The 3cs re alcoholism are ones you would do well to remember:-

You did not cause this
You cannot control this
You cannot cure this

"He's always liked a drink" you write - that's the first red flag here you minimised to your cost.

You've had 10 years of him and there are now also three children to consider. These three have heard and seen way more than you perhaps care to realise in their young lives. Sound travels, they've heard all the rows. What do you want to teach them about relationships here, what is their dad teaching them about relationships here.

You have played your part in this as well by being both the provoker and enabler to him; your only way forward is to now get off the merry go around of alcoholism and stop playing this game altogether by detaching.

Why are you looking at him now potentially buying a bottle of wine this evening as a cast iron reason to leave?. You've already had more than enough reasons to get him out. His recent behaviour two weeks ago within the home is classed as domestic violence. Did he leave then and if not why not?. If anyone is leaving the marital home here, it should be him!.

Your H has likely self medicated his moods with alcohol over the years and also alcohol acts as a depressant (you were likely not aware of that). It has not helped him and you cannot help anyone who does not want to be helped. You're too close to the situation to be of any help to him anyway, besides which he does not want your help!.

You can and should now employ legal measures to get him out of your home and day to day lives. Life with an alcoholic is never anything other than a nightmare. Alcohol too is a cruel mistress.

Alcoholism does not just affect the alcoholic; its affected you and your children to boot. You owe yourself and them a better future.

At the very least do talk to Al-anon and Womens Aid about your situation.

Baroozer Sun 23-Mar-14 09:43:40

Thanks for that reply, Attila.

I should probably clear a few things up. I didn't know how much space I would have to post. When I said he's always liked a drink, I don't mean he has always been an alcoholic. He drank socially when we were out with friends, not alone in the house, but he has always said that he liked the taste of wine.

Something bad happened to him four years ago which is what started his spiral into depression and self-medicating with alcohol. I didn't notice how bad it was getting because I was dealing with two babies.

We don't argue very much, maybe twice a year, and until two weeks ago none of those arguments were about his drinking. His reaction the day after his binge was one of horror, that he had allowed it to get so bad and that he had said such terrible things to me. He had never been like that before and we agreed that he would not bring alcohol into the house again.

My reason for not leaving him is that he is sick. It's not just the drinking, he is depressed and he is being treated for that. His depression has meant that he has isolated himself from his friends and family, so that I am his only support. His medical team knows this and have said it me several times that he is lucky to have someone on his side. One of the side effects of his medication is mood swings, including increased anger, and I wouldn't leave someone who had cancer because they lashed out once in fury at their condition so I don't think I can leave him until he is better. Does that make sense?

It is his denial that he has a problem which has me so frustrated and confused. When he is feeling stressed or upset, he says he needs a drink. Needs, not wants. To me that sounds like he is at least alcohol dependent, if not a full-blown alcoholic. To him, if I call him on it, it just means that he'd like a drink.

I wouldn't stay in this house if we did split up. It's rented using his salary and we are planning to move across the country later this year with his job where we will be closer to family so if we separated I would move sooner.

I am going to an Al-Anon meeting on Tuesday so will ask for help and guidance there.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 23-Mar-14 09:53:03

Alcohol is a depressant. You can't cure his alcoholism and you can't cure his depression. He needs doctors, therapists and he needs some personal motivation if he has a chance to get better. I get what you're saying..... you think that if you leave him because he's depressed & lashing out it makes you a bad person. It isn't being a bad person to want peace of mind & a calm environment for your DCs rather than enduring being someone's Aunt Sally. If anything, hitting rock bottom and losing everything might just give him the motivation he currently lacks.

Blueuggboots Sun 23-Mar-14 09:56:58

functioning alcoholic article

Please put aside your images of an "alcoholic". Your husband most definitely is one. You and your children will always take second place to the drink. You may have better times when you think it is all ok.
You need to leave him. You cannot stay because his "illness" makes him like this.
Sorry. shock

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 23-Mar-14 10:06:31

What Cogito wrote as well as the comments made by Blueuggboots.

Re your comment:-

"It's not just the drinking, he is depressed and he is being treated for that. His depression has meant that he has isolated himself from his friends and family, so that I am his only support. His medical team knows this and have said it me several times that he is lucky to have someone on his side."

What came first; the depression or the drinking?. These likely started at the same time and are both feeding off each other; alcohol is a depressant and your H has been self medicating with alcohol. Its numbs his pain for a bit but the problems remain.

You are also moving into a codependent type of relationship where you put your own needs well and truly last.

A word about the professional helping him as well, the third paragraph here is particularly pertinent. They also do not have to deal with the day to day realities of him being at home, you after all live with him and this day to day.

The first person to appear is one we might call the Enabler, a "helpful" Mr Clean who may be impelled, by this own anxiety and guilt, to rescue his friend the alcoholic from his predicament. He wants to save the alcoholic from the immediate crisis and relieve him of the unbearable tension created by the situation.

In reality, this person may be meeting a need of his own, rather than that of the alcoholic, although he does not realize this himself. The Enabler may be a male outside the family, perhaps a relative; occasionally a woman plays this role.

It is also played by the so-called "helping professions" - clergymen, doctors, lawyers, social workers. Many have had little, if any, of the scientific instruction alcohol and alcoholism which is essential in such specialized counseling. Lacking this knowledge, they handle the situation in the same manner as the non-professional Enabler. This denies the alcoholic the process of learning by correcting his own mistakes, and conditions him to believe there will always be a protector who will come to his rescue, even though the Enablers insist they will never again rescue him. They always have and the alcoholic believes they always will. Such rescue operations can be just as compulsive as drinking.

Baroozer Sun 23-Mar-14 10:29:40

If he stops drinking, will DC and I still come second?

He didn't buy wine last night. He didn't buy anything except some Lemsip for me and pancakes for DC. But he did say he really wanted to buy some wine. I don't think he lacks motivation. I think he decided two weeks ago, when he realised what he had done, that he was going to deal with it in his own way. And so far no alcohol. But it's only been two weeks. I am wary of putting too much hope in this.

I can't see any outside enabler in DH's life at the moment. He has a medical team dealing with his depression, five separate people, so I don't think it's one of them. He hasn't told them about his drinking anyway.

Logg1e Sun 23-Mar-14 10:35:05

What do you want from this thread. People are telling you that you can't fix this. You appear to want advice on how to fix this.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 23-Mar-14 10:45:18

I lived with an alcoholic for years. He was from a large family of alcoholics. They were all chronically miserable - 'depressed' in the non-clinical sense of the word - and belligerent. The one thing they were all fabulous at doing was 'the grand gesture'. The big promises, the pouring of the whisky down the sink, the swearing on a stack of bibles... you name it, I've seen it.

When they weren't drinking they were thinking about drinking or talking about drinking or telling me how many days it had been since they had given up drinking. My personal alcoholic, my DH, would quit drinking in one of these grand gestures and then tell me resentfully that he'd only done it for me because I was a killjoy - not because he had a problem with the stuff. hmm

With only three exceptions they all still drink. The exceptions are that two are now dead and one, because his wife left him for quite a long period of time, is teetotal.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 23-Mar-14 10:46:10

Should amend the above 'DH' to 'exH'. Ironically, he left me for someone who ... and I quote.... 'didn't have a problem with how much I drink'. smile

Baroozer Sun 23-Mar-14 10:51:08

I don't know exactly what I want from this thread. Bit of advice on how to handle things, bit of support, to be able to organise my own thoughts.

What I want most is to be able to talk to him about it without getting stone-walled and if anyone has any ideas on how to broach the subject. I don't know if anyone on the thread can help with that. I want someone to tell me how to get through one day at a time without worrying about the future if he does start drinking again. I'm pretty sure no one can help me with that.

I've started seeing the last four years of my life through a very different filter and it's scary to realise that it has got like this without me noticing. Right now I do want to fix him so that I can find out if I still do love him, the him that he was, not the one who's drowning and dragging us down with him. I'm sure it's the wrong way to feel, but for now it's what I do feel.

Logg1e Sun 23-Mar-14 11:12:11

You can't make him not stonewall you, can you? That's the point of stonewalling.

I'm just thinking that this thread might go round and round in circles, with you discounting advice and making excuses for him. I think you're already minimising a violent attack on you.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 23-Mar-14 11:30:26

The way I got through one day at a time was by creating emotional distance and telling myself his behaviour didn't affect me. Denial and not healthy. I also told myself that, if I could fix him, support him, make him happy... it would all be OK. I lived for the good times when he wasn't miserable, belligerent or laying guilt-trips on me but that wasn't healthy either. Just kept me trapped in misplaced optimism

As I said before, I never had the courage to walk away but ended up being dragged further and further down before the ultimate insult of being replaced. Having never encountered alcoholism prior to my exH, I actually wish I'd had something like MN at the time telling me that his behaviour was as predictable as it was unacceptable.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 23-Mar-14 11:36:35

"Right now I do want to fix him so that I can find out if I still do love him, the him that he was, not the one who's drowning and dragging us down with him. I'm sure it's the wrong way to feel, but for now it's what I do feel"

The him that he was is likely never coming back, it was a mirage. You are currently with someone who at the present time is basically dragging you all down with him into his pit.

You will emotionally destroy yourself trying to fix the unworkable and where will you, not to just say your children, be then?.

This is why I mention co-dependency; you've basically walked into this without realising. Co-dependent relationships can often happen where alcohol is an ongoing problem within the relationship. Also you want to fix him which is another problem also associated with co-dependency and wanting to rescue and or save someone who does not want either to be rescued and or saved. These are learnt behaviours; you learnt that somewhere.

Also your man is being dishonest with his medical team as he has not told them about his drinking problem.

You can only help your own self ultimately. You cannot fix someone else's life for them.

outtheothersidefinally Sun 23-Mar-14 12:00:05

I'm so sorry you are going through this. I do know what it's like and what eceri

AliceDoesntLiveHereAnymore Sun 23-Mar-14 12:00:41

You really do need to accept that you cannot fix him. No matter what you do - it's only about management and damage control from you. And always standing at that cliff edge wondering if today is the day he goes over and drinks again. You cannot fix him. The "him" that you know is no longer there. This "new him" will always have a problem with alcohol - and only he can put a lid on it. And only if he wants it - you wanting it is not enough.

outtheothersidefinally Sun 23-Mar-14 12:05:13

Sorry, posted too soon!
I know what it's like and what others are saying above is spot on.
Likely becoming a father has triggered something about jus own childhood.
Al-anon will help YOU. Not him. Please go, and go for yourself (and your children).

CerealMom Sun 23-Mar-14 12:26:26

Do you know which doctors/HCPs/clinics he attends?

They won't share details with you but you could write to them and inform them of the duration, quantities and types of alcohol he's been drinking and the effects this is having on his moods/temper etc...

* They would need this information with regards to his prescribed medication.
* Perhaps they would stop guilt tripping you about "being on his side".

Definitely go to AA. The help and advice from the councillors and attendees will be invaluable to you and your family.

AliceDoesntLiveHereAnymore Sun 23-Mar-14 13:50:06

CerealMom The problem I see with this is that HE needs to own and deal with this problem. The moment she starts writing letters to surgery and getting involved in this stuff, he will quite literally dump all responsibility on her to police him and fix him and then, when she can't fix him because it's not possible for her to fix him, he will blame HER.

mummytime Sun 23-Mar-14 14:06:55

I think you need to go to Alanon.
He probably needs AA, but that has to come from him not you.

All you can deal with is yourself, so commit to going to Alanon. I think this will start you on the process of sorting out what to do.

Isetan Sun 23-Mar-14 15:11:44

The futile belief/hope that something you say or could do would be the catalyst for him to stop drinking, thats how you got here. The sad thing about this type of thinking is that it actually takes you further, not closer, to your stated goal. If compassion was all it took to 'fix' an alcoholic, alcoholism wouldn't be the problem that it is.

Focus on your babies and your boundaries, call Al-Anon.

Logg1e Sun 23-Mar-14 16:08:45

Why are you telling the OP to go to AA when she's already arranged to do that??

Tilpil Sun 23-Mar-14 16:16:02

Sometimes they can do it if something happens and they realise I was an alcoholic and it took me getting pregnant to admit I was even though doctors etc had all told me I wouldn't change a thing as I am tee total now and have a gorgeous boy after speaking to others it has taken something they can't deny to make them look at their drinking unfortunatly

Baroozer Thu 27-Mar-14 00:20:36

I couldn't get to Al-Anon yesterday, but it doesn't matter anyway. You were all right. I need to leave.

He bought wine tonight. In fact, he started an argument so he could have a reason to buy it.

I hate him.

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