Hell. No other word is adequate to describe what it is like living with someone who is an alcoholic, intent on destroying themselves. Add mental illness to the mix and boom! There is reams written about mental illness and addiction, though scant support for the partner. I had no family support, either to turn to or go home to. I called him at 3.30pm, and he said he would be leaving work shortly. I was pleased, as I had invited a friend over for dinner. 8.30pm came and went and he was a no-show. I called, and he said he had met some boys from a construction company he had previously worked for, and they were having a drink together. I didn’t like the sound of it, nor how the plans had changed without consultation. He said he would be home in an hour. At ten pm I rang and he was slurring. “I am in Marrickville.” Our friend left and I called again at 11pm. “I have only had three beers, relax!” I was made to feel that I was being unreasonable, and a nag, despite not knowing where he was, with whom, when he was coming home and whether he had cleaned out his bank account.
I received the following texts throughout the endless night… “See you tomorrow night, lots of love.” “I don’t know why this has happened but see you soon. Please don’t worry I am fine!” I tried calling, but his phone was switched off. I begged him via text to let me know he was okay at 6am, and said I would be in touch with the police if he didn’t answer. No answer… Our daughter woke up, and found me in the shower, sobbing. I wiped my tears, smiled, and gave her breakfast, my arms shaking. I wanted to keep things as normal as possible, despite not knowing whether her father was dead or alive. I called close friends and asked them to pray. One said she had bumped into my husband near her work, and he looked depressed. He had called her a few times the past week, worried about money. I thought he may have suicided at that point. I phone the police assistance line, and the lady was full of grace and compassion. I explained that my daughter had a class for two hours and I would be home after taking her. She said the police would call in, as it was a worrying situation. I dropped my daughter and her little friend at art class, smiled and chatted to the art teacher, and drove home to await my visitors. I received a brief text, stating “I am at work, battery flat, see you this arvo.” I had to ring the police and cancel the visit, and the dear lady said she was glad he was safe. The thing is, he is not safe. We aren’t safe. If you find this behaviour normal and acceptable, then you aren’t in a safe place inside your mind.
I have to keep being strong even though I am collapsing into myself. My body can’t hold this exhausted spirit up any longer. My daughter and I were going at one pm to see a show with friends. My schedule; pick my daughter and her friend up. Let them have a playdate, then head to the local theatre. Smile through my exhaustion. Face my destructive husband when I get home. Change and take my daughter to the local carnival, as I had promised to get her a show bag for the tremendous work she has put in at school. I don’t want him to come. I can’t play happy families, not tonight. The people we will run into, some of them were praying alongside me this morning. It can’t be business as usual. My nerves feel as though they have been put through a mincer. I met a generous compatriot and her family, and the situation is briefly explained. We hang out with them at the carnival, my silent contemplation accepted, my exhaustion understood. As we walk around, I wonder where my husband has gone, and how he has come to be in the dark place he resides in, alone. I have Natalie Merchant’s ‘Carnival’ song spinning around my head. I am looking forward to sleeping tonight. The trip home with an excited, chattering little girl was five minutes of pure angst for me. I don’t know what to say. I had left the information I had written out for the police, alongside a recent photo of him on the dining table, hoping he will understand the gravity of what he put me through. I tuck myself and my daughter into bed, and we fall asleep in each other’s arms, whilst he prowls the house, unable to stop moving. It will be another long night, but I haven’t the stamina to participate, other than in my disjointed dreams.