Everyone couldn’t help but notice. The day wasn’t what it should have been for Joe. He was getting out of rehab after six long weeks in treatment. It should be a day of excitement and celebration. But it wasn’t. Instead it was a day of in trepidation. As he reunited with his family he couldn’t help but feel anxious. You see, his wife, of twenty five years, is an alcoholic. He gave his wife, Betsy, an embrace but the tension was there in the room. Everyone could feel it. How was Joe going to make sure he didn’t relapse and also handle his home life?
Through the help of his treatment center, Joe had taken the necessary steps in planning for recovery. He found a sponsor in his community, a list of meeting to attend, and a fellowship of men that he can call on for support. He knew these steps were necessary but not sufficient to ensure a successful recovery and stable home life.
You see addiction almost always tears families apart, as those watching their loved one struggle with the disease will bear the emotional scars long after their addiction is under control. What might have been a concern for the addict at one point in time sadly can turn to anger and resentment. It’s a kind of “Look what you’ve done to us” mentality and nobody has to say anything. You can read it immediately. The family goes down the addiction path too, playing their roles. When anyone is addicted to a drug, including alcohol, there is no room for anything else. It completely takes over the person and the only thing left is the drug. Most families can’t survive this and break apart.
A few months passed as Joe tried to reason with his wife about her drinking. He would take the opportunity to have conversations when she was sober and in a good mood. He tried many of the recommended tactics. For example, admitting that he has given her a hard time in the past, acknowledging her point of view, and trying to stay in conversation as long as he can. But he felt he wasn’t getting anywhere. Betsy just wouldn’t accept her addiction. Betsy withdrew emotionally from Joe and their son, Simon. They became strangers to each other.
Not only that but their son, unsurprisingly, picked up the parents bad habits and started drinking heavily. Joe found alcohol in his room. He confessed to drinking but in moderation. He said that he and his boyfriend drink socially but that it isn’t a problem for him. Joe was skeptical. He started seeing the same patterns in his son that his wife displayed, such as neglecting responsibilities and having trouble in relationships. Simon’s relationship with his boyfriend has been rocky for several months now. Also, he noticed that Simon’s work responsibilities were being neglected. Simon would continually leave late for work and when he did leave there was alcohol on this breath.
Joe was under a tremendous amount of pressure. He was trying desperately to save his family while also dealing with his own need to take care of himself. He didn’t know what to do and felt helpless. He knew he had to focus on his own health and well-being before he could help him family. He turned desperately to his support group that he established before leaving treatment. They gave him the understanding and courage to keep going.
Then one day Joe got a call. Simon had been arrested for driving under the influence. Panic, fear, and anger took over Joe’s body. On the way home from the police department, Joe could tell just how shaken up Simon was about his DUI. Joe knew he had to have a heart to heart talk with Simon. Well, this seemed to be the breaking point for Simon. Through tears in his eyes, Simon shared the labors of his addiction. They both opened up to each other about their own struggles. They were able to break through the hurdles of someone that is in denial. Simon even asked his dad if he could help him find treatment. Joe knows it will be important to find a treatment center that is experienced with the LGBT community.
Joe doesn’t know what is going to happen to his marriage but he is happy knowing his son is open to getting treatment. For now, Joe is taking it one step at a time.
Note: The characters in this article are fictitious.