I referenced a reader who had contacted me and that message had inspired me to get back to writing. I referred to this reader-friend as a woman. But indeed this "wife" of an alcoholic was actually the husband of an alcoholic.
Sometimes I forget to remain aware of the fact that alcoholism isn't reserved just for men. And the emotional, mental, physical, spiritual and/or financial destruction isn't only shouldered by women. The pain my reader-friend, husband of an alcoholic is enduring is palatable in the words he wrote me. I read and re-read his message and thought, "what can I say? What can I offer? How is there possibly ANYTHING for me to write that could possible comfort this level of despair?"
I remember the first time the beast of my husband's drinking reared its really ugly. He spewed the most hideous, vicious and file of words at me. Never had I dreamed, imagined, even THOUGHT POSSIBLE this sort of behavior from the man I married.
It gutted me.
My husband went to bed, his burden unloaded, the beast satiated for the time being.
I went to the basement where I sat in dark silence. I honestly think I was in a form of shock. If alien time travelers had picked me up and dropped me into another dimension, I could not have been any more dazed and disoriented.
I mean what was I going to do?
Was I going to do?
What could I do?
My husband had just screamed the most vile of obscenities at me and now it was over. For him. For me, I felt a helplessness I had never known in life. Like I was falling off a cliff and clawing at the thin air. I was all alone and there was not a single person I could turn to.
So I turned where we all turn now though it's odd to think how new the whole Internet thing was just 20 years ago. I googled "alcoholic's wife" and the likes and found very little! Nothing that seemed really applicable, really relevant, really current.
I've grown numb to that original gut-wrenching feeling. I don't know that that is necessarily a good thing. I do remember it though. I remember it feeling like someone had carved the bottom out of my gut. I remember that helplessness. Mostly I remember being so utterly alone.
And so, maybe sometimes there aren't really words that we can offer. Maybe sometimes it's not even words that are needed. And so, maybe what I can be - whether it be the husband or the wife of an alcoholic who is sitting alone in the dark at 2 or 3 or 4 am. (Or 2 or 3 or 4 in the afternoon) - is that presence that allows them to feel not quite so alone.