Counselling a determined and caring wife and alcoholic husband
Mahee talks about the road to recovery for her alcoholic husband
By Dr. Pradnya Jayant Ajinkya
A friend asked Mahee, ‘has something happened to you?’ She avoided this question for months until she felt safe enough to say what had been happening, but then the friend supported her to seek professional counselling help. It was the hardest but best thing that the friend could have done, Mahee stated.
As a young bride, as soon as her husband started yelling when he was drunk, she locked herself in the bedroom in the dark, crying while her husband was desperate to get to her and would be yelling and crying like a lost child. As she grew older in the marriage she would get her little children into the room, then run out of the room to help her drunken husband. She couldn’t concentrate at work. She would be bothered and worried about going home to protect her little kids from a drunken husband. One day Mahee’s parents arrived at her workplace and picked her up and asked her to fetch her kids and stay at a different house for a little while. She was scared and wanted to go home because she was afraid that her husband would find them out. The children loved their father at the same time. She felt heaps of different emotions. She was scared, angry, guilty, shameful and jealous of everyone she knew that didn’t have to go through this, but at the same time she loved both her husband and kids. Her husband took drugs and got drunk every chance he could. No matter how hard everyone tried, no one could stop him from drinking, abusing and hitting. She was too scared to leave home and too scared to stay. Mahee’s parents wanted her to get divorced. It wasn’t until Mahee opted to seek help that she realised how wrong it was to leave her husband without help and what he was doing had a name : Alcohol abuse and drug addiction.
One night her husband went off his head. He belted her and ripped the phone of the wall and broke the cell phones so she couldn’t ring her parents or relatives. Her brother who accidently visited her witnessed this and asked her parents to get her home. He felt it’s time to leave and asked her to stay at his house along with her kids and told her parents that what was happening to his sister was wrong. Though Mahee left her home she felt that nobody cared how she was feeling for her husband. She loved her life. She had friends who have gorgeous husbands and children. But she believed if she can come to the best place possible to achieving her life goal and believing life is to help and live together then life is really a good thing and worth living. She prayed to find someone from whom she could seek help and trust and encourage her husband to live a changed and devoted life for himself and his family. The people who watched him didn’t care since it didn’t feel like it right then. She felt it okay to feel the way they felt since the situation she was in was bad. They felt their trust was broken by a person they had trusted.
The purpose of this case study is to give an insight into the mind of a woman and mother who experienced what could be considered as physical, mental, financial, social assault of a drunken husband and the various steps she took to help her sick husband to recover to be himself again. Though her experience continued to affect her life all the time, she was determined to make a choice and she stood up to her husband and set aside her conflict of emotion, and the confusion of the sensation of physical assault and came beyond the boundaries of conflict with each other and made a beginning to consider and find out what is not okay with her husband. Nobody stood up with her for several days and months. They did not want to support her because they had lost their trust in this person and did not believe he would recover. She learnt to hide her pain and her suffering and wished and lived with a little secret of helping her husband recover from addiction. She admits that though she was trapped in the situation she wished to stay with her husband and wait patiently, submissively and always put a brave face and co-operated with the therapies and counselling. What Mahee learnt from her experience is re-establishing trust in this someone her (husband) and never let that trust be broken. To learn to agree and disagree in appropriate manner. To learn to lose, win and enjoy her life. To know the need to nurture, comfort, calm, care and hug. To find and meet healthy role models for all the human characteristics and attributes. Her determination to help by caring for her husband changed her life. Her kids are too happy to have a wonderful mother. She stated that she really cared for her husband. She gave him time. She did things for him and she could feel her senses. She could hear his words. He gave her time. She received his gifts. He did things for her and he too really cared. She thanks all the people including her friend and professional therapists and counsellor for listening to her. She feels she stepped out of the pain and then moved on with the help of the therapists and counsellor. Her advice to any wife or daughter is to seek the supports available for various needs. They should find supporters who encourage healthy growth and guide the next step, but not force negative thoughts. To help children to learn the boundaries of personal space, shared space, respecting others space. Help them to learn boundaries of friends and trust, levels of trust, confidence, and responsibility. Help them to learn that it’s OK to be happy, sad and all the in-between.