Denial and aggression all part of living with an alcoholic

Long time friends Cecily and Lola met through Al-Anon, which they began attending because their husbands were alcoholics.
Long time friends Cecily and Lola met through Al-Anon, which they began attending because their husbands were alcoholics. Tony Martin

THE wife of an alcoholic told herself for 15 years that things would get better.

"I knew he had a drinking problem before we were married," she said.

"I believed he drank because he was alone. I honestly believed that things were going to change when we got married and, of course, they didn't.

"Being an alcoholic, he continued to drink and things got worse."

Lola's husband was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous 43 years ago, the same year Lola became a member of Al-Anon, which is a support group for the relatives and friends of alcoholics.

"We've been able to heal together," she said.

Long time friend Cecily, who Lola met through Al-Anon, said alcoholism was a disease where "one person drinks and all the rest of us react". (Full names are not used at Al-Anon)

She spent six years happily married before she noticed her husband was drinking more and more.

Her son felt the effects of endless broken promises, and her husband became abusive.

"There's only one way with alcoholism, and that's a downhill road," Cecily said.

The family of an alcoholic feels the disease just as much as an alcoholic.

"I used to totally focus my attention on him ... to the neglect of my children and me. I became extremely ill," Lola said.

"And we never had enough money, we never had enough food."

Both women said they had feelings of extreme anger, resentment and bitterness towards their alcoholic husbands that, at times, manifested into violence.

"I thought about shooting him, but I didn't know how to use the rifle," Cecily said.

Through Al-Anon Lola learned coping mechanisms.

Now her husband had stopped drinking.

"I thought because he wasn't drinking he was going to be the person that I thought he was. And he wasn't. All he was, was the same person who didn't drink," Lola said.

To contact Al-Anon phone 4942 9168.

Topics:  alcohol alcoholics anonymous editors picks family

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