This isn't going to be easy for me to write but I really need help.
My wife is an alcoholic and has an eating disorder. It started shortly after I proposed, we had been dating for 3 years at that point. Now married about 9 months, together almost 5 years. it is very clear to both of us the problem started around November 2009. That's the year we went to her family for thanksgiving.
Since then she has totaled a car, very narrowly avoided a DUI, been hospitalized because of drinking 3 separate times, did about half of a 10 week outpatient program before getting too frustrated and angered to continue with it, and on Thursday she will be getting out of a 2 week inpatient detox and rehab program at a different hospital.
First, I'm very scared because the last week or so has been lonely but at least calm. No worrying about what I'm going to come home to. No "What the f**k!?!? moments" as we call them. The wednesday before last was my breaking point. She had the day off, and I expected it to be a good day. She told me she wanted dinner and a movie at home that night. I get home, she's obviously drunk. I collect myself and do what I had to do. Got her in the car and drove 30 minutes across town to the hospital that has a special center. She gets there, several hours after the drinking stopped, they test her BAC. She was at .341. In case you don't know, in many people that level is fatal.
Last hospitalization, at least 5 hours after she stopped drinking, was .26. She is also a small person, about 5 ft. and about 110 lbs. When I first found her she couldn't even stand up.
The time since November 2009 has been sheer hell for both of us. I think the trip to rehab has been very hard for her, but I really want to believe that it helped, and that change is coming. I can call her there, but when I do she breaks down crying over just about anything. She now knows that she was being completely selfish and destructive, and I really want to believe that the tears are real. But alcoholics lie through their teeth, right? As much as I want to believe this terrible destructive cycle has been broken...I just don't know. The rehab correctly got to the root of the problem (severe anxiety about her family stemming from sexual and emotional abuse) and they aren't letting her go without an extended plan for the time ahead. She's wired in with AA, a sponsor in AA, a therapist, a psychiatrist, and another group specifically for young people with addictions (she's 25.) But she promised me she would keep doing things that did work for her, like DBT and individual therapy, after the eating disorder clinic and she never really did. I feel that I am understandably skeptical, or cautiously optimistic at best.
I told her when I had to take her to rehab that it was either one of two things: get the help you need and get well or we are getting a divorce. That night she was furious with me, and it wasn't until the next day when I reminded her that even the doctor said she had to get help or she was going to be dead at this rate. I want to go with the mentality that she's taking in a lot, and it is hard for her, but that she really does want to change. She admits that she handled herself and her problems extremely poorly, she says she is so sorry and regretful for all the damage she has done in between sobs, she tells me she wants to bury this terrible period in her life.
She's in so much pain, I want to believe her so badly, but I just don't know. I've been burned too badly too many times by her. She knows this without me even saying it, which only makes her sob more.
I need some help/advice/guidance from some people who have survived being married to an alcoholic. It didn't fester for years before it was out in the open at least, but come on... a .341 is pretty hard to disguise.
One other thing - yesterday she told me she fainted at the clinic, which was basically just an embarrassment for her. I'm pretty sure it wasn't alcohol because they would very likely have kicked her out if it was. She suffers from hypoglycemia (very low blood sugar bouts) and I think it was caused by simply not eating enough...that good ol' eating disorder. The suggested pedialite and ensure when she gets out.
Can you feel why I'm going crazy with all this though?
Just posting to myself until responses come in so take this for what it's worth...
Seems like there's a lot of gender bias with alcohol abuse. The man is not always the problem. I do not drunk much at all, in fact I'm usually the one saying "Not tonight" or longer ago "OK, but only one and done." She gets into trouble when she goes out drinking by herself because she just doesn't stop. I'm not complaining, but as a man it is hard to read a lot of the male bashing out there. It's 50/50 believe me...just as many women alcoholics as men. I've been to detox to see my wife and it was hardly a male only club.
Also, I wanted to be perfectly clear, even though this is in another thread. Our sex life is the one thing that works really well, even with some porn mixed in. There's also a lot of male bashing on that too. What are you supposed to do when your wife is in rehab, for example? What's worse...porn or actual cheating? Ya know what else? I like looking at my wife, that's why the hottest porn is the porn we make ourselves. Seems like there are a lot of prudes on here who think they have a monopoly on their man's libido. How would you feel if it were the other way around? Sexual repression sucks, regardless of gender. Porn isn't cheating unless it prevents you from actually having sex with your SO/wife.
Gotta go to bed, hope to see more than my own talking to myself soon.
We had to go down the suicidal path as well. I'm a recreational gun owner and had to remove all my guns from our house, they are locked up in a storage facility nearby. I too have often felt she is suicidal.
Her childhood had abuse, but it did have love as well. Particularly from her grandmother, but even there she still gets upset from time to time because the grandmother let the abuse happen. They are also poor and unmotivated, and this causes her a lot of shame.
I think they addressed suicidal tendencies in rehab...they don't seem like they really missed anything else. I just have to hope she has the tools now to handle that better than getting wasted and expecting me to think it's ice cream.
I don't mean to sound horrible, but she has really put me through hell too. Yeah, marriage is work, but this has been unreasonably tough. I don't have a drinking problem, I don't cheat, I do love my wife...and I get all this back in return. Suicide doesn't elicit the automatic sympathy most people expect in me anymore. I hope she gets better...but it's on her. I have nothing else to give, and if she can't save herself no one can.
What kind of help are you looking for? Your wife is a full blown alcoholic. Without any progress at this point, she will either die of her condition or die as a result of being intoxicated. It's that simple.
Runs like Dog, I need help dealing with the post-rehab life for her, because she's still very fragile.
You ain't kidding she needs help, but if you read my post she will be getting out of a two week inpatient rehab program this Thursday. She could die? Well no kidding! .341 is enough to kill most people! I think I already knew that when I had to take her to the hospital, but even if I didn't the doctor and nurse both told her anyway.
There is no post rehab life. There's detox, there's inpatient, then there's a life of struggling to maintain sobriety. Part of it involves you and a great deal of it does not. She may periodically fall off the wagon and the both of you have to start over. 2 weeks is barely more than detox. She's going to need extensive treatment. Upwards of months and years. 90 days inpatient isn't uncommon. If that's not possible then monitored outpatient almost daily is necessary. Plus whatever AA type program daily. But like everyone says you can't be the enabler you want to be. That doesn't work. All you're doing is helping her kill herself slowly.
You need as much therapy as she does. You've got to understand that.
OK, the program she joined is a two week program, unless they need to keep you longer. From what I've seen, unless you're a trouble maker (sneaking off to use) they don't keep you longer than 2 weeks. I'd like 90 days just for my own sanity, but it would drive her bonkers. And I don't think that is abnormal...rehab isn't easy.
Her difficulty is her emotional frailty. She used to be a social drinker when we met and stayed that way for over 3 years...but her emotional trauma came back and then the alcohol problem started up. I think she's a little different in this regard. Or is this me being manipulated by the alcoholism? I guess what I'm unaware of is why alcoholics drink, but I don't think it is always the same answer.
I fight hard to not be an enabler. Many times I say I would rather not drink even together. Also, I can't watch her 24/7 when she is by herself. I do not like drinking with her anymore...too many bad memories so it isn't hard for me to say no. It's hard when she is miserable, I can see it, but I can't help it.
She will be going to AA many times a week, if not daily. I'm not sure of the logistics yet (she's not even out yet.) She is also going to have therapists and doctors checking in on her. I constantly ride her about following through, so much that I'm sure she gets sick of hearing it, but again, its because of past failures.
I don't understand why I need as much therapy as she does. She's the one with the addiction. I was seeing an individual therapist of my own but she wasn't productive so just before the trip to rehab I broke that off. Pretty much all she told me was to get her the help she needs and let that work and to take time for myself. Thanks lady...NEVER would have figured that out.
I guess I find a lot of truth to Homemaker_Numero_Uno...I think she is more suicidal than a typical alcoholic. You can't treat the two things in the same way. She has confessed to me two times that she feels suicidal (after the first one, the guns left.) She often says that she doesn't feel like a good enough person to be my wife. She even told me, while sobbing, in rehab that she often drank so I would send her away so she wouldn't have to hurt me anymore. Alcohol IS a problem...everyone knows that. But the ROOT problem is her recurring thoughts of suicide. She's wired in now with actual people who want to help, and I have to just hope that works I guess. Alcoholics lose control and drink out of a variety of reasons, but I don't think most alcoholics want to commit suicide...but I think my wife does. It's a different beast, I think, but no less ugly of one.
Because you are the enabler. You have to be willing to burn that bridge. You have to be willing to let them crash and burn. And if you make a promise you have to carry it out. You have to be willing to hang up the phone the next time she's arrested and needs bail.
To answer your questions Homemaker, yes, at the beginning of our dating she was rock solid. Had a job, had decent credit, had only a few friends but still had friends, and shortly after we started dating she started college and was very enthusiastic about it. Now, she works as a waitress (she was on a career track) her credit is still decent at least, but she has very few friends, and loathes college (she's a senior now and it might just be sickness of all the BS and bureaucracy though, because she does still seem to appreciate it, just not the BS.)
Yes, we talked about kids very early on. We don't want kids for a while yet. Partly because we have enough on our plates, partly because we want to be DINKs for a little bit, but also because we want to do what is best for US not our families, who haven't exactly offered us much anyway. Sometimes she seems to really dislike kids, which I find very troubling. But other times she has told me that she really would like to have a kid with me. I go back and forth too, so I didn't think much of it. But sometimes she seems actually repulsed by other people's kids, and I wonder if there is some pent up anger there. I secretly wonder if it is because she would have to go from the receiver to the giver of care, and if she can really do that with her background.
I think you are spot on, I don't think she got enough care as a child. One family member of hers who is particularly wicked has called her spoiled and ungrateful, but she definitely hasn't lived a pampered life. But that person, her aunt, strongly hates her and will speak badly of her at any chance...probably because she's bitter that she had to raise my wife for about 5 years as a child. My wife was bounced around a lot, which makes 2 things very clear - she didn't get enough love as a kid, and her aunt is a very very MEAN person who, frankly, I wish would never contact either one of us again.
Runs_like_Dog, I am not here to contradict, so please just roll with this.
When I had to take her to rehab, I told her she had a choice...get help and get well or WE GET A DIVORCE. I also told her that many times when she was sober. That's a big line in the sand to draw, but I drew it. And she knows that I have a lawyer I can call TODAY to do it, plus I have enough money to actually file.
I also told her that her health and her LIFE must be priority number one. Case closed. The relationship is priority number two until then, but that I'd still be here as long as she continues to get help. When the totality of that set it, she cried a lot (realizing you're suicidal is pretty heavy I'm sure), but then accepted it.
And in my mind, I've made peace as well. It won't be easy to divorce her, but if it means my sanity and my health, I am prepared to pull that trigger.
There is a bridge-gap to bringing her directly home from rehab, and that is a sober-living house/facility. The counselors and specialists at her current rehab could give you any number of sober-living houses she could stay in to rebuild her life. She would have responsbilities, have to attend A.A. and counseling, and she would be living with other A's who work at supporting (and keeping) one another sober.
Coming back out to face life on life's terms is a living hell for so many A's. They don't have the tools necessary to cope, even after a stint in rehab.
As for you ... suggest an interim living setup to see how she feels about it. You need to get help for yourself too. As you well know, alcoholism has negative effects on the sober partner. Living with the insanity of addiction destroys everyone in its path.
Another thing to ponder: she has an "eating disorder"? Perhaps not. When an A begins living on booze, the cells adapt to living on a carbohydrate-only diet, which comes from the sugars in the alcohol. My husband's weight dropped to 120 pounds. His body was nothing more than skin hanging on the bones. He would go on horrific benders and eat nothing, but his body took what it could get from the alcohol to survive.
Case closed. The relationship is priority number two until then, but that I'd still be here as long as she continues to get help. When the totality of that set it, she cried a lot (realizing you're suicidal is pretty heavy I'm sure), but then accepted it.
And in my mind, I've made peace as well. It won't be easy to divorce her, but if it means my sanity and my health, I am prepared to pull that trigger.
That's the way to do it. Be firm. I would also discuss the possibility of setting up a medical power of attorney for her. It's like a proxy but proxies are static and hard to modify. What you need is a document which gives you total power over her medical care if she is unable to. You don't want to find that that's the time all kinds of relatives come out of the woodwork.
First, she does indeed have an eating disorder. She went to a specific clinic for eating disorders and was diagnosed as both anorexic and bulimic. Being super skinny does NOT imply an eating disorder alone. It is a mental impairment where the person uses food as a comfort/sedative/crutch much like an alcoholic uses alcohol. Substance abuse (alcohol, cocaine, etc) often go together with an ED. Thankfully she has never touched cocaine. At least simply being in possession of alcohol isn't a felony!
She will be in heavy therapy, including AA on her exit. Her psychiatrist said, while I was present, that since she has that plus AA, plus the other group specifically for young addicts that he was OK with her plan. They do recommend people go to their intensive outpatient program, but it is just 8am-5pm of the same things she is doing now. She doesn't like many of the other patients in rehab, for good reason. First, one of them stole her purse. Second, several have simply walked out. Others are in rehab but still using. There are some good people there, but a lot of them are honestly a bit off. Even if they mean well, they've done too many drugs and are kinda crazy. She isn't a theif, she is staying in the program, she isn't using while there and she is still happy to be there and getting help even after someone stole her purse. But telling her to stay in that kind of environment is also unhealthy, I feel. Strangely enough, the people she gets along well with are all the older men. The younger ones generally have the problems.
I'll talk to my attorney about medical power of attorney for her, I know he can do that for her. Her relatives are mostly out of state, and she keeps in touch with few of them...but I bet you're right...sure as sh!t once something happens the crazy aunt who hates her so much suddenly turns nice and decides to control everything. Good advice there, thanks man.
Wow, OK, where to begin with this? First, now I feel bad for all my "kinda" and bad punctuation I'm sure has littered my posts. I can write, I too am educated, but on the Internet I tend to revert to 4th grade style, because 99% of the time that's the best you can expect in return.
First, this will flip you out, the crazy aunt is also a nurse! And what's even scarier is that she works at the NICU at the hospital in our neck of the woods! When/If we have kids, we're not going to that hospital, because she is a total psycho.
I try to be as kind as I can possibly be to my wife, and she acknowledges that. She knows I've cared for her probably more than anyone else ever has combined, plus I have the money to actually do something about it. (Not bragging, but her family is poor mine kinda isn't.) When I proposed in Jamaica, that was the first time she had left America, and she has been so grateful for everything. That's why she sobs so much. She has a hard time answering why she did all the things she has done. But I think I know, like you said, she was probably suicidal. It's hard to swallow that kind of shame and hurt, especially when it came at the cost of someone who loves you.
Her other family members are a bit right wing, which is why she doesn't care much for church or their politics. But she isn't fierce about it, she just doesn't pay any of it much respect, and I get that completely. Politicians are liars anyway. But for our wedding present her other aunt sent her some needlepoint thing about how a marriage wouldn't work unless there were three, the two of us plus "the lord." I joked that it was justification for a threesome, and we laughed about all of it. (Obviously I wasn't serious!) But the undue right wing influence is definitely there, and totally unwelcome. My own family is so fragmented that it's easy to keep them separated. For example, my dad left when I was about two, and I think I've spent a total of maybe 3 weeks in my entire life with him. But it's also a lot easier to break away from that kind of situation than one like hers.
We are both young; mid 20s is still young right? We wouldn't want kids now anyway. And you are right, she needs time to take care of herself first. We go back and forth on kids. We live in an area that has a lot of spoiled upper middle class brats, to be blunt about it. We take turns being offended and kind of talk each other down. We both had to work hard for what we have (I had a paper route too when I was a kid!) and find the entitlement of the kids that surround us to be quite disgusting. We will get to it on our own, in our own time, as I tell her.
I find it strange you casually mentioned baton twirling and a sparkly outfit, here's why. She was 'encouraged' to be in beauty pageants as a child. Yeah, that's a messed up culture. She never took it too seriously, but I think that's what started her eating disorder. She works a regular job now and never had any aspirations of the beauty queen life in the duration of time I've known her, but like all childhood experiences, they can affect you long after they're gone.
We were both basically abandoned by our families as kids, and we share that between us. I just had an easier time separating, and a little less cruelty. My family acted like they didn't know me and tried to make up for the offense with money, hers was just as offensive, only they made up for it with heartlessness. Her grandmother came the closest, but not close enough. I think that's why she's had such a hard time. Having never known someone to actually care, she's still waiting for the bottom to fall out. I spoke with her today, and she is in good spirits I think. She seems to understand that I wasn't pushing her away when I took her to rehab, I was trying to get her back.
She has always related to men far better than women. No, she isn't sleeping around! But she has a good point, a lot of women, especially in our generation, are vile and demented. She doesn't relate because she doesn't want to be a kept wife, or a baby factory, or a ****. The old men buy her diet soda and encourage her to eat right in addition to exercise. The women ask if she wants pot - in REHAB.
One final serious thing, her uncle sexually abused her as a child. While in rehab, she called him and dismissed him, with the assistance of her counselor. She doesn't speak much about it and I know not to pry, so I can't say how far it went, but obviously it went far enough if it still disturbs her to this day. I think that was a major turning point for her. The rest of her family is pissed she would have the audacity to do such a thing, but now she is confident enough to tell them all to fcuk off and move on with her life. Today she told me she got the riot act from her other aunt and grandmother, but she was confident because she stood up for herself and she was in the right. And she knew it.
Thanks very much for your replies, they were most helpful!! Honestly, I was going to make this a temporary thing and contribute while I'm here but not stay long. But I now feel strong enough to come back and check in with you from time to time, if you're still here also. (If you're planning on a short stay as well, I won't be heartbroken. I know how it goes.) I'll save your replies, because they really actually helped. You did more in your posts than my own therapist did in 5 months. She was a quack anyway.
Rural NH...I'm guessing Dartmouth? You don't have to answer that. My lawyer went to Dartmouth way back in the 50s. I've spent time at a lot of universities myself, some Ivy, some not, some I left with a degree, others I left with experience. It's about learning, not branding IMHO. My wife is wrapping up her studies at the local large state school in the city, and she definitely deserves better than that, but she's happy to get what she receives. Just going to college was a declaration of independence from her family, because they told her she couldn't. They told her she wasn't smart enough and that she should stick to "female occupations." Then I came along and set fire to all that (it still takes work to get into her school, but bureaucratic crap is all. She was an honors graduate from high school.) You're right, you can't let people push your buttons, and I feel like I've shown her that in very meaningful ways. Although buying her thoughtful things doesn't hurt either, so I do that too.