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Calling Time

I’m Calling Time.

AS this is my very first post on my very first blog, you will excuse the presentation (I have no idea what I’m doing!).

This is an idea I have been toying with recently, after searching for other people’s stories and experiences on this subject and finding none (again, I have no idea what I’m doing!). Therefore, I have decided to write own and one day someone else may come across it and find it helpful.

And so I begin.

I am married to a man who has a drink problem.

I’ll refer to him as J.

I would like to say he is an alcoholic but I’m not sure-the lines are blurry.  When does someone who drinks too much become classed as an alcoholic? How much does someone have to drink each day to be classed as an alcoholic?  How often does someone have to drink to excess to be classed as an alcoholic?

It’s early evening. He is out cold on the sofa, still dressed in his interview suit. He walked in less than an hour ago smelling of booze but firmly denied having had anything to drink.

Our kids just carry on with their business around him, one watching TV and one on social media. This is nothing new to them, it’s just how things are in our family.

At this point it is essential to add that he is not a violent man, he loves them dearly and would never intentionally harm them. Unintentionally-well that’s another story for another time.

We are all tired, we were woken past midnight when my husband’s friend called to me from hour hallway having carried him home from the pub.  As I went downstairs   I could see blood trickling down J’s cheek from below his ear. He was clinging to the end of the bannister, swaying and trying to stay upright.

Not unusual for a boys night out you might say-but his friend was almost in tears and clearly shocked at the state of J, swearing they’d only had three pints.

I love his friend to bits but I was glad he had finally seen the reality of J’s problem and I could see he was horrified.  I know the tricks, the hidden drinking, the masked breath, the acting sober. I’m hoping the friend will now understand why I’m divorcing J.

This blog is about moving forward, putting an end to this life of not being able to  control what comes through the door and what trouble may follow it.

I’m Calling Time.

 

Confirmation

In the few weeks since my last post I’ve been preparing for the final stages of divorce. Chasing down pension details, calculating assets and liabilities. It’s been admittedly quite overwhelming, but a necessary task.  Apart from one or two small details I’m ready to go.

I asked J to be available this evening to discuss the fine details of our settlement, in the long run saving time and costly court appearances and he begrudgingly agreed. In essence he is happy with the offer I have made him and I think I’ve been very fair and generous but I wanted him to really acknowledge what I have suggested. However, he is still trying to stretch proceedings out for as long as possible-in the hope that I will change my mind (I won’t) and because I think he is afraid of being on his own.

It not the single life which bothers him I think, rather having to handle adult responsibilities  which I have always taken care of.

Anyway, on arriving home from work I found him slumped on the bed, out cold and two bottles of wine down out of a trio. And still he sleeps. In the meantime I am preparing the forms and figures we need to discuss before I wake him and sit him down to thrash this thing out.

Yet another confirmation that I am doing the right thing in cutting him loose.

I’m Calling Time.

Words

I chose the title “Calling Time” because it is symbolic of where I currently stand in my life’s journey.

For those unfamiliar with the term, it refers to the end of the night in a pub or club when “Time at the Bar” is called to announce no more drinks will be served.

When I looked it up in the online dictionary it was defined as

“Finish drinking and leave.”

It’s exactly what I want to express.

When I came clean to family and friends the question I have mostly been asked is “How long has this been going on for?”

i tried and tried to pinpoint when it began but after a lot of searching for the answer I realise that it didn’t begin. It was always there. There was no start.

I met J in a club, he was drunk and admittedly I would have been if I’d not been ill that week.  We were both in our late teens and it was the youth culture then, (as it is now), to spend our time socialising in bars and clubs. With no ties or responsibilities we were free to enjoy this lifestyle and did so with many happy memories to reminisce about with friends (almost) three decades later.

I have no issue with that, I don’t mind anyone having a drink and enjoy drinking myself on nights out with my oldest friends, making new memories which will bring laughter in another three decades.

But eventually you have to grow up. Those free and easy days pass and you change from teen to adult and become wife/husband  and mother/father with new things to enjoy and different memories to make. Most people embrace this transition and adapt their lives accordingly-some don’t so easily.

Looking back, I realise I have been a single parent throughout my married life. Because of the nature of J’s work, I was in charge of all things domestic and of child rearing and I did my best. He went out to work and brought home the money.

And he did work hard, I don’t dispute that, working long and unsociable hours he rose through the ranks and was paid well.

However, as much as he loved his children, he never really got his hands dirty.  He liked the prestige of fatherhood but not any of the toil which went with it. Always reluctant to do any form of childcare he would make sure he wasn’t available when the need arose.  If the question was ever raised he was always sure he was rota’d to work, even before he found out when he was needed.  19 years later this continues.

Yes, we got married and had a family but I believe that in his mind he never changed from that teenage lad.  Selfish and self centred, he has carried on with a lifestyle free of responsibility-and I am partly to blame for allowing him to do so- seeing nothing wrong with his drinking habits and how these have affected our family.

He would be horrified if  it was ever suggested that he would hurt our children and I have said before that he would never intentionally do so.  However, when our eldest was 2 years old, I went to an open evening at the local pre school to apply for a place for her.

Before I left I bathed her and put her to bed. J had to do nothing     but be there to care for her if she woke.

On returning home (no more than 2 hours later) I could hear her sobs as I opened the door.  I found her sitting on the bedroom floor, red faced and breathless from crying. Goodness knows how long she had been in distress but for some time from the state she was in.  Goodness knows the danger she could have been in had she not just sat there and cried.

Where was her father?

On the sofa, snoring, sleeping off the beer.  To drunk to know his child’s had woken up and needed a parent to comfort her and soothe her back to sleep. To drunk to be of any use had she got herself into difficulty.

Reliving  and writing  down these stories helps me to see that there was no start to this behaviour, it was always there.

But there will be an end.

I’m Calling Time.

 

Ebb and flow

So he’s been doing ok for the last few days, now he’s back in work.

That’s how it goes, it ebbs and flows.

I don’t doubt he’s had a drink but he’s not coming home in a state and he seems to like the job so that should balance his state of mind keeping him on the straight and narrow.  For a while anyway.

Any mood can set him off: happy-on the day our daughter got her amazing exam results he was comatose on the garden bench by the time we got home from school at 10am; upset-being sacked from jobs for stealing alcohol from the business  or for being drunk on duty; pressured-often driving home drunk from a stressful day.

Even when things were going well for him he hit the bottle. He was once in a prestigious, well paid and well respected position in hospitality before his rapid decline on this downhill spiral.

Every Friday night, on his way home, he would ring and say he was 10 minutes away and to put his meal on to warm.

Every Friday night I would set off, 2 hours later, to go scrape him out of the front seat of his car so drunk he needed help to walk.

Every Friday night.

Looking back, I knew. I knew. But every week I fell for it.  He parked his car round the corner where I couldn’t see it, downed wine by the bottlfull intending-I’m sure-to come home straight after but always passing out before he managed that.

It’s easy to look back now and say why didn’t I go wait for him, why didn’t I go out sooner?  Every Friday night I trusted his word. I got on with the usual mum stuff: feeding the kids, bath time, bedtime and the evening passed quickly before I got the usual sinking feeling and put on my coat and shoes.

We’ve moved house away from there now but the same pattern continued, even though  he is not in such a privileged position and is more frequently out of work than in it. Still hiding around the neighbourhood drinking in his car, he tended to park close to home before drinking  to excess, then driving the short distance home on roads where children-our children-play.

He thought I didn’t know but it was easy to spot the signs, always driving home from the same direction and mints masking the smell of his breath.  I know these streets like the back of my hand and know all the places you could hide in a car if you wanted too.

Also, I’m well known here and people tell me things.

I was told when my husband was (unknowingly) parking outside the home of a family friend, drinking obscene amounts of spirits, throwing the bottle out of the window then starting the car and driving the short distance home.

I was told when my husband was “setting off for work”,  parking unseen down the street until I’d gone then going back home. He’d go out again just before the kids and I arrived back at teatime and come home “from work” later in the evening.

So many lies, so many deceptions.

Thankfully he was caught drink driving and has received a year’s ban. That’s up in June. I don’t think he’s learnt anything. It’s not his first drink driving conviction, I really hope it’s his last but that remains to be seen.

And still he thinks it’s not him-it’s me.

I’m Calling Time.

 

To the rescue.

He went through a good patch since Christmas where he kept a job going and, although still drinking in secret, managed to function and maintain a respectable appearance.

Rewind a couple of weeks ago when he fell quite spectacularly off the wagon.

I’d just stepped out of the shower at 8.00am when the phone rang. Entering his room and noting he’d not been home all night I answered it to the sound of him crying and begging for help.

He’d spent the night out in the open, unconscious,  and was in a sorry state. His face was scabbed-affected by the harsh frost, his hands blue and his body shaking uncontrollably with cold.

Strewn around him were three empty wine bottles.

I sent him off to A&E in a taxi so I could get to work (vital now he had lost yet another job) and I was disappointed later to find he redirected it straight to Tesco where he bought another three bottles of wine.  After I poured those three down the sink  he went out and bought three more,  which I found hidden under the clothes in his wardrobe.

Yet still, he doesn’t think he has a drink problem.

It’s not him, it’s me-I’m just a nag.

I’m Calling Time.