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Lydia's Story

My husband and I have been together for fourteen years, married for five and we have a nine year old daughter and a four year old son. We both work and have professional jobs and on the surface everything seems fine but it is far from that.

My husband has an alcohol dependency and has done for the last few years. In fact, it is hard to know exactly when it started as he used to hide it but three or four years ago I became aware of it as his drinking increased and my evenings became very lonely as he would be passed out. Weekends were the worst and I dreaded his payday as this would lead to long periods of binge drinking. I longed for the days in between when there might be a few days were he would stop or drink little. His moods were unpredictable and often I felt like I was walking on egg-shells. It has been difficult for our children who unfortunately have seen their father in all states, in all moods and it has been especially difficult for our daughter who has been much more aware of it. I had to have conversations with her about the complexities of addictions and the behaviours it presents. It has been difficult for us all. She has often felt angry and let down and I have felt frustrated and hopeless with the situation. It has put a huge strain on our marriage and family life and often I have felt like I play the role of both mum and dad as my husband has been emotionally distant at times with the children or has been too incapacitated to do his part.

His denial over his dependency has fluctuated and some time ago he did go to the doctors about his drinking and was referred on to a service to help with his drinking. This seemed to help at the time and he was able to reduce his drinking but not stop it. I believe my husband’s drinking started as a psychological dependency and over time has manifested into a physical dependency. There are past issues that have greatly affected him and events from more recent years that have reinforced his insecurities and his low self-esteem. He was able to sustain his reduced drinking for a while but slowly it crept back up and the denial over it being a problem returned.

I can only best describe it as a roller coaster of uncertainty, never knowing whether it will change, what will change it. It is like a poison that seeps into every crevice, smothering and suffocating the goodness from something. It didn’t seem to matter for a long time how I approached my husband about his drinking nothing seemed to work. I prayed for things to change, at times feeling like I was banging my head against a brick wall. Our daughter was becoming more and more angry and upset and I was beginning to feel like a really bad mother. I needed to get support for myself, and for our daughter. I started to search for support for family members affected by addiction and that is when I came across ICARUS. I sent a message and a kind lady responded within a couple of hours. She was able to empathise and after gaining a background to my husband’s drinking she was able suggest that perhaps I spoke to one of the therapists at ICARUS. This was 5 months ago and since then I have had weekly conversations with the therapist Malcolm who has listened, guided and helped me to have a better understanding of my husband’s addiction.

Through ICARUS I was able to make helpful suggestions to my husband and for the last four months my husband has also been receiving regular support from Malcolm who he speaks to twice a week. It is a slow process and some weeks are better than others but slowly my husband is making little changes. He is recognising the need for things to change in order to have a healthier life and healthier relationships with people. We as a couple are communicating more and although there are still lots to work through he is being more honest than he has been in a long time. It has been a learning process for us both. In order to cope and deal with the anxieties and the feelings of frustration and irritation when my husband has been drinking I have had to really understand the behaviour of an addiction, separating it from the person. Not excusing it, nor tolerating unreasonable behaviour but by creating boundaries and by being able to discuss things after the event.

My weekly sessions with Malcolm are so important as I know that I can be really honest with how I am feeling but also so that I can reflect on a weekly basis how things are going. I am starting to feel that there maybe some light at the end of the tunnel and that although there is no certainty of what will happen that little changes can accumulate to big things.