Deep concerns for my wife: Hello, Long... - British Liver Trust

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Deep concerns for my wife

Stuey34 profile image
22 Replies

Hello,

Long time reader and first time post.

My wife has had a long term unhealthy relationship with alcohol and even now, after 15 years refuses to acknowledge this. Periodically, I have discovered the odd bottle of water, filled with vodka, hidden away. I have challenged her, but it has been dismissed out of hand and there has been no way of broaching the subject.

I thought for years that I was going mad. Her behaviour, moods, speech were often unpredictable and she could fall asleep at the drop of a hat. She was adamant that she wasn’t drinking so I began to fear that it was perhaps some underlying issue and urged her to go to the doctor. To no avail.

My worries continued to haunt me and I actually began to question my own sanity. I was made to feel that it was my issue and that I was imagining things. I didn’t have anyone to speak to about this and my mental health began to deteriorate.

I made the bold choice to seek counselling and this has helped. But as we gradually came out of lockdown and began to reconnect with family (all of whom live away) some of the family began to air their concerns which they had kept to themselves for years. I can’t tell you what relief it brought me to know that they had seen glimpses of what was happening.

Working from home during COVID I had seen her behaviour become more erratic. She had not worked for 4 or so years, by choice, and had just secured a new job which I thought might help. It did anything but. Bouts of sickness plagued her in the early days and her diet and sleep patterns became quite worrying. Many times she would walk in and go straight to bed without eating. Bouts of being physically sick, shaking and sweats started to become more commonplace. This was always attributed to low blood sugar levels.

I resorted to approaching the GP Practice myself to ask them to contact her for blood tests.

Her initial Gamma Gt score was 852 in August last year. A subsequent one carried out in September 2021 , after I contacted them again, to push the issue, was 1051.

I only know this because I found the results. I also have talked with the doctor who has rightly or wrongly told me that the other markers are within range, but that she needs to stop drinking. She has also had a scan which suggests scarring of the liver. This is as much as I know and is as much as I will probably ever know because of patient confidentiality and my wife’s unwillingness to include me in this.

I am resigned to the fact that I cannot reach her and have probably only made things worse in many ways. I have begged, screamed, rationalised and implored her to seek help for years and pledged my support for her. But, for the last year it has mostly been the shouting and screaming. I became consumed by it all and it dominates my thoughts as well as phone conversations with those few family members I can talk to about it.

I don’t imagine mine is a unique situation by any stretch of the imagination, but I feel I need to leave .

I am not helping someone who doesn’t want to be helped. She has been through so much in terms of family loss which is where I believe it stems from as well much other stuff besides. She has a wonderful heart, but I fear it is broken.

I am at a crossroads, racked with guilt for thinking of leaving, but mindful of my own sanity and my inability to reach her.

I know it is a decision I must reach on my own but I wondered if this rings true for anyone else out there. In all the time I have followed posts I have never seen as a high a GT score as my wife’s and it scares me to death.

I think for me it is also the fear of the unknown and what it may bring. It is this fear which finally compelled me to write this. It may not bring any response, but in many ways it has helped to just put it down in black and white.

Good luck to you all

22 Replies
HeatherAB profile image
HeatherAB

Not much help I know, but I just wanted to say how much I feel for you, having gone through something similar with my ex-husband 😕 We divorced in 2011, and since then he has remarried and divorced again - and is still drinking like a fish. To be quite honest, I’m surprised he’s still alive ☹️

But I think there comes a point where you have to put your own needs first, when you’ve repeatedly tried to help someone who flatly refuses to help themselves ☹️ Good luck.

BritishLiverTrust3 profile image
BritishLiverTrust3Administrator

Dear Stuey34

If you would find it useful to talk things over, our nurse-led helpline is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 3pm on 0800 652 7330 (excluding bank holidays)

Best wishes

British Liver Trust

Richard-Allen profile image
Richard-Allen

Hi Stuey,

Firstly may I say how sorry I am to read your story. It is so sad when this happens. I can totally empathise with your predicament. Before I go on. May I say a big thank you to you for posting this and sharing your situation? I for one know that there are many ladies out there who battle with alcohol, but many husbands either choose not to talk about it or mention it. So well done for speaking out and sharing your story.

I have twice been in a similar situation to what you now find yourself in. When the alcohol abuse gets to a point where the person now has an addiction issue, they are now drinking because they have to, not because they want to. That desire for a drink in the morning soon becomes a “must-have” craving. Nothing else matters. This is why both men and women can be downright sneaky and cunning about where they hide their alcohol. They might not remember what happened the night before, but they'll always remember where they stashed their booze.

Many years ago, my then-partner had an alcohol problem. It got to a point where I had no other course of action than to call the police and have her evicted from my flat. Some time later after she had gone, I started to find half-bottles of vodka all other the flat. Some of them were in very ingenious hiding places. A large box of soap powder for example, and one morning while using the old-style cylinder vacuum clear, it wasn’t picking up. So, thinking that the dust bag was full and in need of changing, I opened up the compartment and found another half-bottle of vodka pressing down on the dustbag. So, I can understand where your coming from.

This particular relationship didn’t last long as it was the first relationship I had after my wife died. My wife at the time had a serious drinking problem and had suffered for years with mental health issues. Sadly, she ended up taking her own life.

There often becomes a point when talking about these personal experiences that we start sharing very private and personal experiences. To that end, I shall send you a private message, if you don't mind.

Once again, many thanks for sharing this, please be assured, you are not alone.

Best Wishes

Richard

redpoint72 profile image
redpoint72

Hello stuey.

Fella don't blame yourself.....its affecting your own mental health. Unless you're other half wants to change....it ain't gonna happen fella really. Ive got cirrhosis....but being rushed in to hospital saved me,with a serious variceal bleed. That was my wake up call. Ive not drank in over 3years. I have a lovely aunt, with whom im close too. Lives quite close to me, she also has cirrhosis, in fact were under the same consultant ,at the same hospital. Recently when I went over to see her and my uncle.....she asked if i wanted a glass of prosecco!!!!!!. I said aunt what are you doing??. I flatly refused, and had a cuppa tea....while she poured herself a big glass of wine...my uncle went out of the room, and left us both talking . She looked straight at me, and said,love,my mind is made up. I will continue to drink until i die. The look on her face. She meant everyword of it. My uncle has had a battle with my aunt for over 45 years, regarding drink. Its never mentioned between them now. He is a great bloke, but gave up years ago trying to get her to give up. Every one is different, reacts differently, deals with things differently. You need to do what is right for you.....and your mind.... i understand mental health problems...have had my fair share. If it helps getting it wrote down...thats great. Just to say at my worst, my gamma gt was in the 900s...even now at last bloods its 395,that's after over 3years of not drinking !!!!. Some great folk on this blt forum . As Richard says, you are most certainly not alone fella. Not sure if it helps...ive gone on abit. Look after yourself stu.

My best Chris

Stuey34 profile image
Stuey34 in reply to redpoint72

Hi Chris,

Really appreciate you taking the time to reply and the advice. I’ve muddled through in my own fashion for so long now. It’s hard to remember a time when it wasn’t all work and worry.

I’ve admired those on this platform from afar for some time now. My own plight pales into insignificance compared to that of most, but the strength and candour of some individuals has been a shining example. An example which finally prompted me to say something. I think I’d shied away, because by saying it out loud it made it real. But the fact of the matter is that it is real and not addressing it doesn’t make it any less so.

So thanks again for taking the time to reply Chris and thanks to all out their who have shared. I’ve taken heart from all your comments and it’s finally given me the impetus to try to move forward.

Good luck to you all

Witchybizz profile image
Witchybizz

Sorry to read your story. My only advice is to leave if she won’t get help. My brother was an alcoholic and my mother enabled him by not making a stand and she allowed him to live under her roof for years. Even with the abuse he gave her. I cut him off but did make amends before he died. He died at 47 two years ago literally on the train on his way to rehab; it was too late; the damage was done. If you stay she won’t get better; you’re her crutch and enabler unfortunately. Personally I’d tell her to get help but it’s her choice and If she decides to get help you can stand by her, if she won’t tell her you can’t live like this and mention you want to leave. It’s very very hard but if your life is being impacted on and it’s all falling on deaf ears, my personal view is take back some time for yourself, you only have one life and the fact is it doesn’t have to be your problem. Sorry if this sounds harsh to others, but I’ve seen and lived it.

LemonMeringue15 profile image
LemonMeringue15

Please don't beat yourself up for wanting to leave. You've just got to the point that lots of us get to where you've realised that nothing you do will make any difference.

One thing I will say is, you haven't made things worse. Your wife drinks, no one makes her, and you trying to help, whether with kindness or with frustration, has not influenced that. You are not responsible for anyone else.

If it helps, search for my previous posts by clicking on my username and see what I went through with my ex. I'm different in that I left years ago but that was because our children were so young and I knew they deserved better. Unfortunately my ex kept drinking and he died earlier this year. I'm sure you are worrying about a similar outcome and of course I won't pretend that isn’t a possibility, but you won't be the cause of it. You must remember you deserve a shot at happiness too.

Rshc profile image
Rshc

being the partner to a person with a drink dependency is a lonely scary place, you feel the years slipping by and nothing changes, I had this overwhelming sense of wasting my life. My partner drank to deal with anxiety stemming from childhood trauma and he wasn't a nice drunk. He was mean, his relationship with our daughter was awful and at times I hated him.

2 days before Christmas last year he was rushed to hospital with jaundice, fluid on legs and stomach and sky high bilirubin and underwent a medical detox. On Christmas Day I was taken to one side and told he had end stage liver disease - no other information before the Dr walked away. Believe it or not, that low point was also a turning point. He hasn't drank since, he really is a changed man, we almost never argue, he is rebuilding his relationship with our daughter and he sees this as a chance to change his life for the better. He by stopping drinking has managed to see a huge improvement in his bloods and is currently stable however they believe his blood improvement has now stalled and he is listed for transplant. We will get through this together. Sometimes it takes a big shock for someone to wake up and see what they are doing to themselves. The worse day of my life actually changed my life for the better and I obviously do not wish cirrhosis on anyone he was killing himself and it couldn't carry on.

There were many times I wished I had the strength to leave and of course now I am so glad I didn't but no one would have blamed me if I had. You get one life and there is only so much a person can take, it could be that leaving is the wake up call your partner needs. I have found that in reading others stories it does tend to take a big event like a hospitalisation or health scare or similar to provide that wake up call. I do wish you all the best, you are not alone x

Tougholdbird profile image
Tougholdbird

Hi Stuey,

This forum is a great place to tell your story so honestly. It sounds like you are having a really difficult time and have gone through a whole range of emotions. My husband is alcohol dependent ( he refuses the label as it has so ma y negative connotations?).

He is intelligent and functions well so does not believe he has a problem. It helps me that his family and friends also know. Still he continues to drink. He is convinced he can cut down.....works for a day...back to gin " because he deserves it etc.

This is out of his control and threatening to leave makes no odds. Your wife and my husband probably suffer huge guilt, anger at themselves and frustration but cannot stop.

Only they can decide if they want to continue drinking and kill themselves and ruin relationship. Only you can decide what YOU want as a future. They are addicted. It is really hard for them. Ultimatums from me about leaving have little effect so I must decide whether I want to carry living like this or move into an unknown future which is daunting. Hard!

Forgot to mention that I have received a new life by being lucky enough to receive a donor liver. I am forever grateful to my donor as I had a few months left to live with cancer in the liver. So stay or go?

I wish you all the best. Look after yourself.

10864 profile image
10864

Hello,

I’m sorry if this reply isn’t as eloquent as others but it has touched me more than you could know.

I had to check and recheck a couple of facts before knowing for sure this hadn’t been written by my husband 18 months ago (the age of yourself, the fact that your wife didn’t have a job for four years, and the fact she’s drinking still are possibly the only statements in here that confirm this).

I’m so sorry you’re going through this - I have a good understanding now of how hard, frustrating, confusing, painful and scary this must be for you.

As I say, my husband could have written this - to a letter.

You clearly know she is an alcoholic but I don’t think you’ve used the word? She’s an alcoholic. And it sounds as if she at the stage where she is no longer choosing to drink for pleasure or even for that blackout which stops you from thinking or caring about what your doing to yourself.. she HAS to drink to function.

So that you know, if I’m right in her stage of alcoholism, she may have to drink vodka basically throughout the day, from early morning, to stop the shakes (which are not slight- she may not be able to complete fine motor skills like butttoning a shirt up or spooning coffee into a cup), to stop the sweats, and possibly to stop pain in her abdomen area. I don’t want to speak for her but please, understand, at this point she may be TOTALLY aware of what she is and what she’s pushing you toward and be so so scared for her health, wracked with shame, terrified at the thought that she (believes) she can’t stop drinking now - she’s gone too far and possibly, in more lucid hours, thinks she knows the only end is farther down the alcohol route. I and others like me are proof it is not.

for context I drank alcoholically for years - bottle of vodka Min per day plus wine for the times it was acceptable to drink on top. My GGT score was higher than your wife’s, I had a distended abdomen, grossly enlarged liver, grossly elevated lft’s and was diagnosed probable cirrhosis after initial scans.

I was at the cusp of losing my two small children, husband, house and job - my losses were “yet” to come.

I’ve gone on too long but I’ll just at I’m a professional career person who had multiple long periods of sickness due to “anxiety & depression” but in truth it was drinking that caused everything.

The ONLY and I mean ONLY thing that was able to get to me, that helped immediately, that gave me hope, understanding, comfort and the will to stop was AA. I know now always the most popular idea to some people but within 5 minutes of walking in the door I felt home. They are simply a group of people who have been in, if not exactly the same, similar situations to your wife. They will understand. They will share their own experiences, not asking anything from her, just listen. I felt so comforted knowing that in this group I could speak freely without anyone being shocked, or questioning how the hell I could have done these things, just supported, allowed the time to speak, or not!,

People who have never been to AA or have not lived through what you’re living through have a preconceived idea of AA. We are not all old men loving on park benches drinking bottles from paper bags, we are career women who once drank vodka from a lemonade bottle at work, policeman who never drank during the day but continue to drink 20 cans every night due to stress, nurses, doctors, teachers, housewives and yes, some have ended up on the street. People at AA understand, that’s all I can say.

I feel like this has ended in some sort of sermon and I sort of apologise but just so you know, I haven’t had a drink for 18 months, my life is absolutely on top form, I am present for my family, I am a trustworthy, reliable member of the family and community and continue to go to my weekly meetings every week.

We have phone lines manned by members of the fellowship who would love to chat to you and your wife and will most likely have a member in your village or town who might be able to meet up if she so wished. Pleas if you do nothing else, give them a quick call to chat to them or better still, have an open and honest discussion with your wife about it without screaming or shouting, when she seems vaguely lucid, see if she would like you to find a meeting near you- explain you won’t be allowed to go in, it’s a time for her to have her own space and you won’t know what was discussed etc…:

I hope this has helped - I don’t mean to preach or try to lay any guilt at your door- it absolutely doesn’t lie with you and if it’s a case of your mental health or wife, you obviously must make that choice, I just want to explain it’s a disease. Once you’re sober and clean, it’s only ever that first drink you need to avoid. None of the rest. Once you know how to doge that first drink, you can have your life back and more. I had scans every 4 months and the consultants were flabbergasted. I continually improved in all areas to the point that, if I’ve caused any damage at all, it f1 fibrosis only, no cirhosis. Im so so grateful to get this second chance with my children. I lost my mother and extended family in my early twenties and my children were looking down that barrel. Now they aren’t.

I wish I could chat to her but know I wish you both all the very best wishes and love to you both

HeatherAB profile image
HeatherAB in reply to 10864

What an absolutely wonderful post! Thank you so much for sharing, and I really hope that Stuey can persuade his wife to give AA a try 🤞

Rshc profile image
Rshc in reply to 10864

wow what a moving story. I am sure that your openness and honesty will help so many people going through the same or similar from either side, the person with the dependency or to give hope to the loved ones of someone going through this. I am so glad you have got your life and health back.

Stuey34 profile image
Stuey34 in reply to Rshc

thank you Rshc.

If I’m honest my motivation was to purge my soul so to speak. To capture a little of my story and get it off my chest, but if it resonates with others and helps in some small way then it’s served a dual purpose and I’m grateful. I’m grateful to yourself too, as well as to all the other people who took the time to write something back.

Thanks

Margolia profile image
Margolia in reply to 10864

This is an incredible story. That was so great you took your time to share as I am sure this will give hope to many people in similar situations. Thank you!

marknash67 profile image
marknash67

Hi. Im sorry for al he pain yr goin thru at the moment. No one can help yr wife UNTIL she makes a decision to stop drinking. Call AA. It sounds like it could be her last hope. Also you ciuld go to alanon which would helo you massively. It will understand why we alcoholics drink how wedi. Ive not drunk in over 19 months now all with the help of aa. best of luck mate. She will be in my prays .. good luck

Stuey34 profile image
Stuey34 in reply to marknash67

thanks Mark,

I’ve actually spoken to Alanon. The chap I spoke to could have been reciting my own story word for word when he explained his own situation, and you’re right it did help.

Unfortunately my wife would never entertain approaching AA. I do think some form of counselling might help.

Thanks for your reply and good luck for the future.

All the best

marknash67 profile image
marknash67 in reply to Stuey34

If she needs to talk mate let me no and if i can help i will. I honestly pray all works out for you all.

Stuey34 profile image
Stuey34 in reply to marknash67

thanks Mark

Oldbits profile image
Oldbits

Hello, your lovely post was so close to my own life last year. But it was my husband hiding the vodka in rubish bins, behind hedges, under matresses etc. He got caught drink driving and tagged, curfew etc but still would not stop drinking or admit he had a problem. It was all my fault etc i started to think he was right. We went to kings college hospital for assessment for a liver transplant and he was so good at hiding his drinking he was drunk at the assessment! I didnt notice... they called him a covert alcoholic to his face and he still woulnt accept it. His problem started from being made redundant from a good but stressful job then losing his mum. His go to was alcohol to deal with stress and he knew it was making him worse and he needed more and more to help him deal with life. Sadly you cant help them until they ask for help. He knew he was ill, so i stopped shouting, nagging crying etc and said that he could do what he wanted but i was staying until the end what ever that was. The penny dropped and he asked for help this February, had counselling for life changing illness and bereavment. He tried the AA but he is not religious so didnt go back. Our gp offered me support through 'change grow live' and he had his councelling through them. I would suggest that you go to your gp and say 'help me' they will have an idea of local support for you even if your wife doesn't want any. The problem is we love them and remember the person they were. My husband is now 9 months sober and still ill but so much easier to live with and definitely heading in the right way. His consultant very pleased with him. So there is hope and things can get better. I stuck it out with help and support though there were dark times and i felt lonely and scared of the future.

I feel for you both, good luck, you're not alone.

Stuey34 profile image
Stuey34 in reply to Oldbits

Thank you so much for your reply. I’m really pleased that things seem to be improving for you. The positive stories are the ones I tend to cling to to find solace and hope. You’re right, we tend to see them as they once were, because we love them. But where to draw the line?

The situation consumes me rather like the alcohol consumes my wife. There is a gulf between us which seems irreconcilable. I have received counselling myself and sought advice from Alanon which has helped. The trouble is this has been going on for in excess of 15 years and as someone wrote in a previous post you feel as though you are trapped, watching time March by with no light at the end of the tunnel . I only wish I had your patience and tolerance. It’s just exhausting waiting for the ‘penny to drop’ as you put it.

I wish you well and truly appreciate the time you took to reply. It means a lot.

Beauport profile image
Beauport in reply to Oldbits

I have been with Change Grow Live for three months and they have been a huge help. Most of the facilitators there are recovering addicts themselves so understand totally what addiction is all about and how it affects us in so many ways. There is so much help out there if you look for it.

Oldbits profile image
Oldbits in reply to Beauport

Yes 'change grow live' helped us a lot, my husband had acupuncture to help with his addiction aswell as councelling. It helped him deal with his anxiety over his illness. The AA wasnt for him as it seemed to be to religious for him.

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