I was the perfect component needed to facilitate my husbands ability to drink with little to no consequences. That’s right, I had a master’s degree in enabling. My obsessive overbearing need to try and control my husbands drinking, and minimize the fallout from the stupid decisions he made because of alcohol, only allowed him to carry on in the same way without any reason to change. Why should he change? I made it easy for him to do whatever he wanted to do without stress. I on the hand was stressed to the breaking point.
We had a budget and my husband gave me an allowance every week. Out of my allowance I paid for school lunches, field trips, and clothes etc, for the kids. I paid for groceries and gas for my car. Of course when I bought groceries I bought cigarettes (for him – I did not smoke) and beer (for him as well), and picked up his dry cleaning. Rarely was there anything left for me. It was tight but I made it work. As his drinking got progressively worse he would come to me sometimes and tell that he may have to cut down on my allowance for that week. At the same time he still went to bars for happy hour after work and many times stayed their till late in the evening drinking. I allowed this. We had a builtin bar in our home that was always stocked but the pantry wasn’t always stocked. I tolerated unacceptable and inappropriate behavior trying to keep the peace. But in reality I was enabling.
Other craziness that I volunteered myself for was paying his fines and tickets. I made excuses for him at social gatherings. Excuses as to why he was late, why we had to leave early or why he was not their at all. I had excuses for why he was drunk or on the way to being drunk: He had a bad day at the office. He did not have a chance to eat lunch. The bartender made his drinks too strong. If I did not have a ready made excuse I would event one on the spot.
I took his drinking personal. It was my fault, I failed at marriage. He was doing it deliberately to try to hurt or embarrass me. He did not love me enough or maybe he did not love at all. Then slowly over time anger and resentment started to boil. I hated him and loved him, but I was too insecure to stand up for myself and say no to his nonsense. I could not see that my helping was not helping him or me, and that it only made things worse. The two of us took dysfunctional to a whole new level.
I showed up at my first meeting despondent and desperate. Even then I was still resistant to the whole powerless over alcohol thing. There was no way I could wrap my mind around the idea that I could be happy whether he was drinking or not. In the end I learned to be grateful that I could be happy whether he was drinking or not, because sobriety was not even on his radar screen.
I knew that alcohol was the culprit that caused many of our problems. I could see that he drank too much but I refused to believe that he was an alcoholic. That sounded so awful, so I simply began to detach from the truth. As long as I denied it it wasn’t true. But the truth would not be denied whether I admitted it or not. The negative ramifications from his drinking infiltrated every facet of both of our lives. It cost him his life at 43. It darn near cost me my sanity.
My road to recovery started when I accepted my powerlessness over his drinking and when I accepted that it was not my fault. His drinking was not because of anything that I had done or failed to do. He was an alcoholic and he did what alcoholic’s do…. he drank. When I accepted that first step it took the spotlight off of him and put it onto me. One baby step at a time I worked my way through the 12 Steps and learned how to be happy even though he was still drinking. My 12 Step journey peeled away the layers of denial and justification so that I was free to move on with my life to something better than I ever imagined it could be.