Handling Remorse

How do you cope with remembering the things that were not so good during your marriage. We were married for 24 years and although we deeply loved each other and I do have some lovely happy memories, at times we fought like cat and dog. Nearly always because of her long term battle with alcohol which she lost just over a month ago.

I look back and think that if only I had been able to handle it better, that she might still be here now. As child I lived in an alcoholic family and because of it I don’t think that I was able to give the support that she needed. When I could either detect that she had been drinking or she had done something that was clearly the result of it, I would tend to either withdraw into my shell and hide from the problem or on same occasions, that I now feel deeply ashamed off, shout at her. There were occasions when I overcame my problems dealing with it and tried to help her, but she would never admit to the problem.

I have mentioned in other posts that for a number weeks before she passed away, that she has turned her life around, sadly too late. But the month before that was the worst of my entire life. I had become used to a life of working a full time job while also being here carer when she was too week to move. Not a happy life, but we had each other and I was always so gentle when attending to her. But during this month from hell she drank so such an extent that she would just lie in here own mess and expect me to clean it up. and again to my shame I was not as gentle as I should have been while helping her because I felt so angry. I am sobbing my heart out while I type this because I regret this so much. Perhaps this is too much detail for this forum but I need an outlet other than my weekly session with the counselor.

The only thing that keeps me going at the moment is that after the final spell in hospital that resulted from that month, she for the first time ever admitted to the problem and tried so hard to turn our life around. And during those weeks not a harsh word was exchanged between us. But the remorse over the not so good times claws at my heart continuously.

The only things that help are either the pills from the doctor or the too many G&Ts that I’ve had over the past few week. The last of which has to stop because I don’t want to end up the same although these have been the only alcohol drinks that I have had in the house for more years than I can remember. Without this I am continuously in tears, breaking down so many times a day that I cannot keep count.

Hi Trevor this i understand .Denise was brain damaged having been in a coma .I felt like her servant and child at times .Emotionally we had some very aggressive arguments .My way of thinking is this my nightmare is too painfull to cope with let alone having doubts or regrets of why i was at times towards Denise.My mind like yours needs some form of stabilty and i cant get that by going over and over why and how i was that way .I dont mean to insult you im trying to help .Im trying to slowly piece my life together day by day and yes at times it falls apart I dare not cry ive no family or strong support network .Here my gp is all i have .I hope ive helped Colin

Hello Trevor and I am so very sorry for what you have gone through and are now going through. Many of us have so many 'what if’s and ‘why didn’t I try harder’ moments. I met my husband when he was 18 and it was love at first sight. He was a smoker but no-one knew in those days what cigarettes could do to the human body, it was only when documentaries started on the TV about the effects of smoking that I wanted my husband to stop. He wouldn’t, we had arguments about the paint in the house being yellow because of the nicotine, the curtains and furniture, not to mention our clothes reeking of his cigarettes. Our room was like a fog and we had two young children but he never stopped smoking. As the years went by I pleaded and shouted at him to stop but he refused, I even asked him to smoke outside, not one member of our family smoked, but it soon got to the point that he came back inside again to smoke. He started to have trouble climbing the stairs when he was 60 years old so he took early retirement and went to the doctors who diagnosed Emphysema, he then stopped smoking but sadly the damage had been done, He lived another eight painful years and he described breathing as like breathing through a straw, he was on 24/7 oxygen and I was his 24/7 carer for the past 2.1/2 years of his life. The specialist told him that if it wasn’t for the smoking and the condition of his lungs, he would be a very healthy man, he did not have anything else wrong with him at all. Now I am angry because he is no longer with me all down to his smoking, we loved each other with all of our hearts and in the 50 years we were together, the only arguments we had was about his smoking. If he had not smoked he would still be here. I still cry for what we have both lost, I have lost my future without the man I love, I still love him even though he is no longer with me and he has lost his future by not seeing his son married and his grandchildren grow up. Each time we have a family get together it breaks my heart because if he had not smoked, he would still be here enjoying himself. We all have regrets but at the end of the day the only person who could have helped themselves are not here and you cannot make anyone do what they don’t want to do if they only knew the heartache they have caused and are causing us now by them not being here. Take Care Trevor, we tried but sadly they didn’t listen. Sheila.

Hi Colin, Oh how I feel for you. Severe alcohol abuse does cause changes in the brain chemistry though not what I would call damage in the traditional sense. On her better days Peggy would be my Angel and we would still get on so well regardless of the problem, but on the worse ones there is no real way of describing it, or at least not one that is appropriate now that she has passed away. Although the reasons for passing of our loved ones was so dis-similar it does sound like our experiences as both the carer and survivor have been similar.

I am lucky in that I have my son with whom I am very close, but he is a long distance away at university, and I have good friends I can call but they also live far away. Like you I do not have a large local support network for those times when a face to face conversation is what is needed. One sad side effect of alcohol problems in the family is that you quickly start to lose out on family invitations, so I have lost touch with so many people.

You have helped. I do find that mentioning the problems to strangers does help. In some ways it it easier than with closer friends. I have never fully worked how much they really knew, but I do not wish them to think badly of her. I understood the reasons that drove her down this path, and because of that I never gave up on her and I do take comfort from comments by my grief counselor that very few men would have tried as hard as I did. But I do find being unable to have moved her away from that path so very difficult.

Take care
Trevor

Hi Sheila, I can so relate to everything that you say, that fact the we tried but they didn’t listen should be a comfort but the what ifs of “could I have tried harder” or “could I have tried something different” haunt me. Similarly to you I would say that over 99% of our arguments were caused by this one problem.I say she didn’t listen, but just before the end she did, but it was just too late. It had taken eight stays in hospital before the penny dropped. She always thought that she knew better than the doctors which used to frustrate me so much.

I have never smoked in my life and had vowed never to be with a smoker, and when I met first Peggy she was a smoker but we got along so well from the first moment we met that I overlooked it. She immediately cut down from about 60 a day to 20, and she never smoked in the house but we did have the occasional harsh words about it because I was concerned for her long term health. She did eventually stop shortly after my mother died from complications following an operation to repair damage to an artery in a leg caused by years of smoking. Sadly this may have been the start of the path that led to her passing away at the age of only 60. She was too good a friend to many people and tended to act like an emotional sponge, absorbing all their pain and problems, so she tended to need something to “calm her down”. The same if she herself had a bad day for whatever reason. So alcohol replaced cigarettes as the crutch and the rest is now history. I sometimes look back and wish she had never stopped smoking. But I suppose that leaves me stuck been a rock and a hard place as they say. Either way it could have turned out badly.

Like you I am so sad about what she will never see. She would have been so proud to see our son graduate from university next year and likewise he is heart broken that she will not be there. And as you say, should he get married and we have grandchildren in the future there will be more heart break because of what she will have missed.

Take care
Trevor

Hi Trevor, it has now been just over three years since my husband died and I still miss him like crazy, we were joined at the hip, where he went, I went, we never holidayed apart, we never went out without each other for nights out. I honestly don’t think it will get any better for either of us, apart from the fact that we just have to get on with it as there is nothing else we can do. No amount of wishing and praying will bring our loved ones back and believe you me, I have tried. I hope you find peace in the coming months and years as it is a lonely path we are on. We have our children, but they have their own lives to live and are not living with the pain and emptiness every single day like we are so they get through it better than we will ever do. Take care. Sheilaxx

Trevor, I am very sorry for your loss. You went above and beyond what most people would of taken alcoholism is a horrible disease and emotionally draining it can destroy the strongest people.your heart breaks for them but unfortunately we can not change them we can only offer support and love them which you did.I am sure she knew how much you loved her. Guilt is such a terrible emotion and most important an unnecessary emotion.You could of walked away when it became hard but you made the choice to stay and take care of her because you are a great person and you loved her. You need to hold your head high and know in your heart you did all you could we are only human pray to our Heavenly Father he loves you and wants the best for you

I lost my dear partner last year and sometimes I lost all patience and sometimes said some cruel things. I then think of all the good things I did to try and help him and what I gave up as well as financially to help him which puts things into perspective. Guilt is one of the first things we do when someone dies should I have done this what if… The vicar put it into perspective and said kris there is only ONE person decides when its ones time to go…