When I look back now, I realise how naive I was. Throughout 37 years of marriage to an alcoholic, I really believed that I could change him and make him well. I would hide the alcohol, cut up the credit cards, cry, shout, plead and threaten. He did try to get help and was in and out of rehab several times, but his heart wasn’t really in it and he kept ‘falling’.
My breakthrough was a friend’s advice: “you can’t help him, you can only help yourself.” She told me about Blenheim’s CASA Families, Partners and Friends service. They impressed me from the start, showing real understanding of and empathy with my situation. I decided against one-to-one counselling as I was afraid that I would be encouraged to leave my husband (I now know that you have to make your own decisions) and I didn’t want to. Instead I joined a support group. It felt very safe and I learned quickly that I needed to create some distance from my husband. In my doing just that, he started to really look at himself. My CASA group sessions, and the fact that my husband was too ill to get out of the house to get his alcohol, finally broke a pattern of nearly 40 years of dependency.
He is still sober, three years on. He has rebuilt a relationship with his adult children and we go out together, to the cinema and to visit friends. I am now a Blenheim volunteer and I cannot thank them enough for showing me that you cannot change anyone apart from yourself, and for helping me to make those changes.