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Lydia's Story

My husband and I have been together for almost 20 years.  With hindsight I think I always knew that he had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and this lingered at the back of my mind.

My husband and I have been together for almost 20 years.  With hindsight I think I always knew that he had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and this lingered at the back of my mind.

He drank every day. It was a constant battle of negotiating his level of drinking. Every holiday has been overshadowed by his drinking, as for him, sun, sea and sand meant an alcoholic beverage in his hand. He would reluctantly agree not to drink until noon but would literally be sipping on his first drink of the day at 12.01!

I feel terribly guilty that I chose to marry him even though I had this niggling feeling about his drinking and that this has since ruined my life. It is central to our children’s lives and they may suffer from depression and addiction issues in the future. (We discovered my in-laws have suffered from both).  I married him because I loved him but I feel as though this has come at a dreadfully high price.

By the time he hit his rock bottom almost 2 years ago our lives were a chaotic mess of drinking, lies, abusive behaviour; all whilst trying to provide our young daughter some resemblance of a normal home life. I was also heavily pregnant, working full time and totally distraught.

The primary reason my husband sort help and finally agreed to treatment was our second daughter’s pending birth and the threat that his alcoholism may cause further issues for our family now that Social Services were involved.

My husband continued to lie about his drinking and was very angry with me when I challenged him.  After a couple of failed attempts at community detox he spent 6 months attending a specialist alcohol rehabilitation centre and we owe a huge debt to this centre. During this time, I continued to work, then I was home alone looking after our newborn and toddler pretending he was at work every day.

He had been made redundant from a well paid City job and had suffered from depression. He has done little or nothing to get employment since. His help around the house and with the children is reluctant and irregular and the redundancy money is running out.

The counsellor I met through the support services for carers was a true lifeline for me.

My husband discouraged & still discourages me from telling my family or friends about his illness and this has lead to me feeling very isolated and duplicitous.  I had no one to talk to.  I know I should be open with them but I would feel disloyal if I did this knowing how strongly he feels.

Unfortunately our local authority cut the counselling service and I literally spent a year trying to find support. Thankfully my local authorities Women’s Centre eventually suggested I contact Icarus and I have received fantastic support when I had nowhere to turn. 

Through counselling, with Icarus, I have learned that it’s not my fault that my husband is an alcoholic, or that I should have somehow stopped him from drinking himself almost to death. I wasn’t a trigger (during detox he often blamed me), I am not a bad person for feeling what I’m feeling and that I’m not worthless. I feel as though I’ve been lost during all this until I got help through Icarus.

He has now been sober for almost 2 years and the recovery road is long. I constantly feel that we are at a cross-road and which direction we will travel is unknown.  Although he is sober, daily life can be difficult. He is very angry, reluctant to talk and to return to work. We are in debt due to his erratic spending when he was drinking, the cost of self-funding his rehabilitation treatment and his reluctance to accept we’re no longer a dual income household.  I feel overwhelmed with working full time, taking care of the house and being solely responsible for our young family’s finances.

I know we’ve both changed; I wonder if I will ever look at my husband and see love, happiness, warmth again instead of pain, anger and resentment.

I am unnerved by what the future holds for us. I sometimes wish I could disappear without consequence. I feel guilty that I sometimes wish he would leave me or drink again and we would separate; that I keep our children in this situation and they’ll come to harm but equally if I leave with them, that this will harm them too.  Mostly, I just miss my husband. Talking to Malcolm [the counsellor from Icarus] has helped so much.