Over the past 18 months I’ve been working with a blogger by the name of Graham Wilson, once a student of mine and now a great friend. Graham is an alcoholic, but now 4 years sober he writes about his experiences in the hope of helping both those struggling with addiction and their loved ones. To say I’m full of admiration for Graham is an understatement, his commitment to brutal honesty, even when detrimental to his own name, is something that should be applauded. Having read his work with great curiosity I caught up with Graham to gain a full understanding of how and why alcoholism has impacted his relationship over the years.
When did you first notice your drinking was affecting your relationship? I didn’t realise until the very day I stopped drinking, that was the day Mrs W told me that she’d had enough and was thinking of leaving me. I remember looking at her and for the first time ever I noticed the pain in her face, like really noticed it. She’d been struggling for a long time and I just never saw it.
Do the effects of alcoholism make you forget what it means to be a good partner? Definitely, in my head the only relationship that was benefiting me was the relationship I had with alcohol. I’d forgotten what it means to love someone and equally forgot what it felt like to be loved. The truth is I was loved immensely but couldn’t see it due to being so wrapped up in myself and my drinking.
What was your worst behaviour towards your partner whilst under the influence? I had to ask Mrs W this question because I honestly believed I wasn’t doing anything wrong. Mrs W says it was the humiliation of me wanting to be the centre of attention all the time at any expense. I would just leave her on her own on nights out whether she knew anyone or not. There were also a fair few incidents involving Christmas and birthday presents.
Was she understanding that this wasn’t the real you, this was the alcoholic you? Yes, she knew there was a good person behind the mask of alcoholism, it was just about how long was it going to take for him to resurface and would she be able to wait that long. There was also a genuine fear that I would die before the real Graham came back.
Were you ever scared you’d pushed her too far? Again this was at the very end of my drinking and this is a difficult thing for me to admit but I honestly believed I wasn’t doing anything wrong. When I look back now, however, I’m struggling to remember anything I actually did right during those boozing days.
You’re now 4 years sober which is an unbelievable achievement, do you feel like you’ve now earned her forgiveness for your past behaviour? No, I put Mrs W through a good 10 years of hell and I know it’s had a lasting effect on her and I don’t think I’ll ever truly forgive myself for my past behaviour. If you ask Mrs W she would probably say yes I have earned her forgiveness but forgiving myself is a different altogether. I feel like I can’t forgive myself yet as I still see her struggling with situations today that I believe have been brought on by my alcoholism.
How are things now and what does the future hold? Amazing! We’ve just moved into a new house. Our relationship is what I would describe as normal now, we have great times and we have not so great times. What has really changed is the honesty and trust that exists in the relationship that was missing for so many years. Mrs W believes what I tell her now and doesn’t need to question or second guess me all of the time. In the future we hope to have a family, my alcoholism prevented this in the past but we’re hopeful that it’s not too late. Probably most of all though we’re just focused on making up for lost time and creating some truly happy memories that will last forever.