Two lovers were married for all eternity and promised to stay together til’ death do us part and true to word, they died within 2 years of each other. The grandad went first, bedridden and battling cancer, while the grandma became his carer, changing his dressings and attending to her husband with love in her eyes. When he died she was heartbroken and within a year deteriorated until she was bedridden herself. This proud, independent but giving woman had spent all her life caring for the man that she had loved and when he died she had no chance to live out the rest of her days with happiness in her heart. Instead, two years later she too died of (bowel) cancer and had regressed into forgetting the people around her and hardly had the energy to talk. They are buried in the same cemetery but not together like she wanted, but maybe that’s for the best.
You see the man she had married was an abusive alcoholic, who drank day and night and treated the woman he ‘promised to treat right’ like s**t. He would beat her senseless and beat the animals that they had in their care too. The kittens would be tortured and tormented, until they died too. But they lived on a quiet sleepy island, where women were abused by their alcoholic partners, and the neighbors would turn a blind eye. You would hear abandoned pets mewling and barking into the deep of night and feel the anguish in their howls, as they too became a victim of violence and neglect. There was no such thing as ‘animal rights’ nor were women (or men) who were victims of domestic violence that was fueled by alcohol addiction, given any support and guidance. The grandma, being the traditionalist that she was didn’t believe in divorce and her religious convictions meant that she stood by her husbands side no matter what. No one ever saw her cry or show that she was in pain but the people knew. They knew that their marriage housed a dark secret and the Granddad was turning to drink to cope with his mental health issues.
The Granddad never divulged that he was battling his inner demons and that drink was a coping mechanism for the pain he had inside but everyone knew. They implored him to stop but his addiction to alcohol was incessant and controlling. Without drink he was the kind,merry if gruff man that she had married but under the influence, he became a different person and his children would beg him to put the drink down.But he couldn’t stop,alcohol was his drug and besides there were no facilities or Alcohol Treatment Centres, that could help him come to terms with his alcohol addiction issues. He thought that if he sought help, people would think that he was crazy and besides his own son ‘ had mental health issues’ and that had caused enough of a scandal in an island where speaking out about your struggles with mental health would make the villagers label you as a ‘freak’ and he didn’t want that. Oh no, not at all.
Instead he kept on drinking, until one day, there was never a moment when he wasn’t drunk. No one knew what had happened in his past and he kept his abuse of his wife a secret. No one knew but the kids and they too kept their mouths shut. The grandma had been hurt enough and God knows how much worse he beat her when their children were not around. They cried into the empty silences of the night, too afraid to speak up, hot salty tears plopping onto their bed. If only there was something they could do, they would cry. In those days seeking help just wasn’t an option and there had been enough of a scandal where their son had been sectioned, to let the same thing happen to their father. So instead they watched on, praying that one day society would listen to their pleas and give their mother the happiness that she truly deserved.
She was a kind woman and looked on sadly as the children around her also entered abusive marriages. There was the daughter who married a man who beat her, only to escape, get pregnant and find her next partner cheating on her, before the child had even been born. There was the son who was married and had a disabled son, only to be abused by his own wife and later divorced much to the horror of the family. And there was the grandchildren, all but one who had escaped the ‘abusive curse’, a little girl who was her step mums unwanted child, punished for being ‘alive’. But what could the grandma do, she was in another country and even as more facilities began being built and the island she had lived in become more established, she stayed put in an abusive marriage because she would do anything for love and she loved her husband more than she ever loved herself.
In her twilight years she wondered what would become of her, would they die together, still entwined until the very end or would she die alone, her husband cold in the ground before she took her final steps into death. When her husband was placed in the ground, she wept, it was an end of an era but among the sad tears she guiltily felt relief. For the first time since they were married, she was free from abuse and she did not know what to do with herself. She placed a portrait of them in the drawer for her granddaughter to keep and sorted through old courting letters. Whatever happened to the kind man that she had married. Where did he go?
But then she realized something with sharp clarity. She realized that it was not her fault that he had abused her, like she once thought. Nor was it because she was a bad wife and did not do her duty, like the bible told her she must do. Instead it was his alcohol addiction that made him change and she struggled to remember the good heart that lay at the core. When people had found out about the abuse they were shocked but not once did she say a bad word about him. Despite the blows, the kicks and punches she remained faithful to her husband and his memory because she loved him, until her dying breath.
The grandchild looked on from afar, where she lived the Grandad would have been given help a long time ago. He would have received counselling and sent to a treatment centre. He would have received a tailored detoxification programme and learned life skills and tools that would complete his recovery. He might have been a changed man and begged his wives forgiveness. He would have been imprisoned for his prolonged domestic abuse of his wife and charged for neglect and abuse of the animals in his care. But most of all he would have been given help and shown how he could be ‘away from the bottle’ and be placed on an abstinence programme that would become the platform that he needed to aid his recovery process. But instead they both died in pain. He never felt remorse for his actions and died still attached to the bottle, while his wife who was forced to tend to the man who had beat her, died from the cancer that had claimed her. Truth is she had been dead a long time ago. She became numb to pain, after all when the man who she loved could treat her so horrendously, how could anything hurt her as much as he did? Even cancer was no match. She died knowing that happiness was fleeting but even in her dying days she would mutter over and over again that it ‘was not his fault’. She never said anything else, her speech had deteriorated in her last moments on earth but she would beg the children to understand that it ‘was not his fault’ and the children understood. They would never excuse his actions and deplored the man he had become, but deep down they knew that the alcohol had taken over and ruined their marriage.
An uncle stood in the shadows, he had turned to drink after his divorce and saw alcohol as an escape from his mental health. He didn’t like that his neighbors called him crazy. They didn’t understand him, didn’t give him the help that he needed. No one begged him to stop, the alcohol made him feel normal again. But when his mother died and he lived in her house all alone. he could feel her watching over him like his guardian angel and he knew that he needed help. He didn’t want to be like his father, but he struggled with learning how to cope with his mental health issues, especially when he would be detained in a mental asylum for ‘acting out’.People would encourage him to drink, it was the villagers mentality, said it made him one of them. But he didn’t want to belong if it meant it would hurt others, so day by day he cut down on his alcohol consumption until one day, like his mother had been for most of her life, he was sober and didn’t touch a drop of drink again. He spoke to the local council and got them to build ‘treatment facilities’ and he raised awareness of what it is like to live with alcohol addiction. The people, like he had predicted turned against him and it was lonely at first but he felt good. He had sought the help he needed and had the strength to keep on fighting. There are days when he walks into the village and watches others drink, looks at the sauce that comes out the bottle and licks his lips. When the villagers offer him beer he struggles to say no but then he remembers his mother, smiles and says no thank you.
And where is this uncle now?
A collaborative post with Ana Treatment Centres. For privacy reasons I have not divulged any locations or identifiable features of the people mentioned but the narrative is based on a true story. Domestic abuse is never ok and if you think that someone you know is going through this please speak out. If someone is addicted to alcohol do not turn a blind eye, instead give them the help and support that they need and most of all seek professional help. This narrative was written to show a ‘real insight into the effects of alcohol addiction’ on loved ones but it goes without saying that each case is different.
Domestic Violence Helplines & Information Sources In The UK
http://www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk/ & a 24 hour Freephone National Domestic Violence Helpline :0808 2000 247- For Women
Womens Aid Helpline open 24/7 : 0808 2000 247 24 & https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support/helpline/
For Men Who Are Being Abused By Their Partners
Mankind- For men who are experiencing domestic violence or abuse by their partner http://new.mankind.org.uk/
Mankind Helpline: 01823 334244
Mens Advice Line: http://www.mensadviceline.org.uk/ & the free landline number to call is 0808 801 0327
Please call 999 if you are in the UK and in immediate danger and 911 in the US
Alcohol Addiction Helplines (UK)
Talk to FRANK: Freephone: 0300 123 6600 & talktofrank.com
Drinkline Helpline: 0300 123 1110
Helplines for children who are being affected by their families drinking addiction
NACOA (National Association for Children of Alcoholics):Helpline: 0800 358 3456 & nacoa.org.uk