He May Get Sober (But Probably Not)
What a way to ring in the new year, right? A doom and gloom post about eternal alcoholism.
My apologies but on occasion, I will get a review on one of my books that reads something like,
"Not all situations are the same."
" She offers no hope."
"She implies that no one ever gets sober."
Well, of course it is true that not all situations are the same - though my mantra is "all alcoholic marriages are the same, just in different ways."
And no, I don't pin any (ANY!) hope on living your life from the stand point of hoping and waiting for him to get sober.
And while it's not that NO ONE ever gets sober, it's that the VAST MAJORITY in deed, sadly, tragically do not achiever sustained sobriety.
So my books are about how to live in the shit-storm of an alcoholic marriage but still keep yourself clean.
I know some alcoholics can achieve sobriety.
I know a few.
But the thing I find interesting about these sorts of reviews is there is always an air of defensiveness to them. I would be thrilled to see a review that read something like,
"While Wren paints a rather bleak picture of life with an alcoholic, I will tell you my husband abused alcoholic for X years but has now been sober for (a lot ) of years."
I'm not saying those who write the negative reviews are in hopeless situations but I will say defensiveness comes with hopelessness.
I wish I could write the book that says,
"My husband was an alcoholic for 20 years. Here's how hopeless and dark and toxic I felt. But he got sober and he's been sober for ten years now. Don't give up hope."
But my husband probably won't ever get sober. He's in his late 50's. Will he find his way to sobriety?
The problem is, it becomes a matter of literal brain damage.
Say as a toddler a human being started walking by dragging his foot along on its side for some unknown but not physical reason. A psychological reason. Eventually that psychological problem becomes a physical problem because now the child's bones and ligaments and tendons and muscles and even neurological pathways are physically shaped to support this tragic foot-dragging gait.
It's the same with an alcoholic.
The alcohol is poisoning and damaging and re-shaping his brain. Think of something relatively innocuous you have become habituated to.
Coffee in the morning.
McDonald's drive thru for breakfast on the way to work.
Chocolate kisses on "Stella-in-accounting's" desk.
Binge watching Netflix on Friday night.
I call these things "addiction lite" because while they are not as powerful as drugs and alcohol, they can be rather difficult to give up. Initially anyway and that's because of the neurological pathways repeated behavior creates.
So yeah, after living with an alcoholic for over 20 years, my message is prepare for the long term.
Imagine two sailors came back from long voyages across the ocean and one (miraculously!) saw no storms, no bad weather, no angry sea thrashing and crashing upon her vessel while the other enjoyed smooth waters but also endured the worst the tempest of the ocean had to offer. As you are preparing for your voyage, the one sailor is admonishing the other for all her cautionary tales and advice about the harsh potential of sailing out into the the sea.
Maybe he'll get sober this year.
But I am actually not trying to offer support for if and when someone's husband achieves sobriety.
(I know nothing about that journey anyway and that is a whole different journey with its own challenges.)
I'm trying to offer support for those of us who are in the middle of the raging sea of his alcoholism.