I asked my partner Sharon to write her experiences of living with a high functioning alcoholic...
LIVING WITH AN ADDICT
I look at myself and see a human being who lost her light, a light that dimmed over the years without me noticing. Looking in the mirror I asked myself 'who am I without the addict' and I really couldn't answer myself.
I think its fair to say that I built an illusion that I presented to others which was far from the reality that I experienced.
I opened my front door every day with the pretence that my life was without its problems when in fact Matt was struggling with his inner demons that could make life unbearable at times.
Little moments like cuddling each other as we went to sleep was stripped away by his PTSD which left me fearful that if I accidentally scared him in his sleep that he may actually kill me in the heat of the moment.
Enjoying a meal in a restaurant may trigger his paranoia to a point where he would usher me out in a frenzy before the food came, while onlookers sniggered at his behaviour not knowing that his PTSD had surfaced.
Weekends became a time that I dreaded as I knew the binge drinking would start and often resulting in arguments where the hurtful words chipped at my very being and damaged the confidence I had in myself.
Family & friend gatherings became less and less as I wanted to hide the reality that Matt could not control his drinking. When he drank his demons surfaced and different person emerged.
It became routine on weekends to start drinking after the kids went to bed, argue all night and then apologize the following day.
Addicts blame and hide behind their substance for their behaviour and never truly take responsibility for their actions, which have lasting effects on the person who has to endure the environment that they find themselves in. Forgiveness became a large part of our relationship but forgetting is not as easy.
As the years went on I isolated myself, became depressed and disconnected from my true self. I didn't trust anyone enough to open up to them or seek help, mainly because I didn't want anyone to look at Matt differently to the person that they know and love.
I knew deep down that he was unable to satisfy the demons that swirled inside his head and turning to alcohol eased his pain, in turn, I ended up sacrificing my own well-being and became a person I didn't recognise anymore.
Matt had many personalities over the years and it felt like I was in a new relationship every few years, the Hippy, the vegetarian, the squaddie, the fitness freak, the Shaman to mention but a few, but one thing was consistent... alcohol.
I had to adjust myself to suit each character, love each character and understand his need to change himself to mask his pain. The hungry ghost that couldn't see what value he had in his life at the present moment. Always wanting something better, an illusion created to satisfy himself for a short period.
This left me an outsider always feeling like I wasn't good enough... why wasn't I good enough, why can't he just stop drinking, what can I do to make him happy... these are questions we ask ourselves as we think the problem lay with ourselves rather than the addict.
Why didn't I leave.... is the question many ask, the answer isn't as black and white as many think. Matt is 30% dickhead and the other 70% is a good man and a good father who will do anything for his family. His light far outshone the 30% of darkness that he has buried within his soul.
It's easy for people to say that you should leave, but how can you walk out on a person you love who has endured so much in their life and their only downfall is not being able to reach out and get the help that they need?
No one can ever understand the turmoil we have within ourselves about the decisions we make unless you have drowned on the same ship.
2020 was a hard year for most, but for me, was a year of self-reflection and being forced to find myself again. At the beginning of the year, I tried to think back to when last I was truly happy, when did I last feel safe, loved and have inner peace.
This took me to a time when I was spiritually connected to my spirit helpers, when I believed that I was worthy of being loved and worthy of being happy.
A time when I put myself first and had self-love. I started asking the universe to take me back to that happy place, I yearned to rewind time and find that Sharon again.
Overnight Matt made the decision to move out and we went into Lockdown, I found myself alone, a single mum and being trapped with no-one but myself for company.
I remember thinking FFS.... this isn't exactly what I asked the universe for but I have to trust that this is what I needed. Matt was on his own journey and I had to move forward with mine.
I took little steps to re-find my connection to my spirit helpers and dug out my 'Healing with Fairies' Cards and took the advice I was being given. It wasn't easy at first as I had to give my trust back to the universe and allow them to burn my life to the ground.
One of the first cards I drew indicated I needed a vacation lol yeah right I thought, lockdown is going to allow me a holiday, but upon reflection, I realised my mind needed a holiday, a break from worrying about how to make others happy.
A clear mind was needed away from worries about being alone, employment, finances, lockdown and what was happening in the world around me so I used my Yoga sessions to find silence and quieten my mind from the rush of worries that clouded my days.
The second card which stood out to me was 'being honest' with myself and people around me. This card was very significant to the changes I made in my life today.
As I started opening up to my friends it became apparent that they listened without judgement and they were more supportive than I would ever imagined.
The burden I carried was instantly taken away.
I don't want to go to much into detail about my beliefs as many follow a different path but no matter what your beliefs are, the message you must take is that you need to look after yourself, love yourself and take steps to heal yourself.
Healing yourself will allow you to help others. If you have a hole in your lifeboat, you can not help anyone else as you will end up Drowning yourself and the people you try to help.
Do little things each day for yourself, look at yourself in the mirror each morning and tell yourself that you deserve happiness and believe that the universe will bring that for you, don't think about how it will be brought to you, just trust with your whole heart that it will.
I have a little ritual that I do for myself, I go into a quiet place, close my eyes and talk about all the things that don't bring me happiness, I image these problems in my hands and then I throw them into the universe. I ask the universe to take care of them as I do not want to think about it anymore.
Trust and belief that you deserve better will attract new opportunities into life which will bring healing.
Healing doesn't happen overnight, and it isn't always brought to you the way you want, sometimes lighting a match and watching everything you know burn to the ground is what it takes for something new to grow.
Listen to your gut and trust that the universe has your back.
I no longer think... am I good enough?.... of course I am good enough lol I have lived through some of the most difficult times and I am still standing, stronger than I ever was.
You are the magician and within your grasp are the amazing forces of earth and spirit.
You are the Alchemist of your life and able to transform your difficulties into great blessings.
Reclaim your power and embrace your intentions in your heart and in your daily life.
Looking back over the last decade of my life,I have come to realise that I am stronger than I thought.