... You never know what’s around the corner.
Looking back, I can see now that all the anger, frustration and general bad feeling I experienced during the divorce proceedings were caused by having to go through a divorce. If that makes sense. Yes, I was upset and angry with Neil for not tackling his alcoholism, for not making an effort to hang on to his family, for not stepping up and doing the right thing for his sons; I was too close to the situation to see it, react to it any other way.
Once he moved out, in October last year, all that ill feeling very slowly started to simmer down. I was concerned that he didn’t have anywhere to live, it didn’t matter that he had made no effort trying to find himself a place. I hated that he was living in a hotel so helped him try to find somewhere to buy. It soon became clear that was going nowhere fast so I stepped back as I was finding it too painful. I saw him a few times, and still spoke to him over the phone.
I can’t remember exactly when I last saw him; he was supposed to come and pick up his mail, but hadn’t been feeling well so told him to call me when he felt better. Next thing we know, boys and I find out he’s in hospital. As to how we found out, it was such a ridiculous state of affairs, I can’t be bothered going into it. I phoned Neil and he confirmed that he was in hospital. Not long into the call, I realised he was very confused; he was making no sense whatsoever. That was around 21:00 Friday night, 3 weeks ago today.
I went to see him the next day, and Liam came too. Both boys are worried about their dad, but Gordon isn’t ready to see him. Neil knew who we were but seemed to be living in a mix of the past and present. When I spoke to the nurse, we only then discovered that he’d been in hospital for a week!! A week of the boys not knowing – as far as I’m concerned, the only people who have the right to know what’s happening with their father – and a week of Neil being in hospital with no visitors!
Long story short, he was in with a chest infection, which has cleared. He’s detoxed, not having had any alcohol for almost a month. And his confusion is alcohol-related dementia. I could either cry – he’s only in his mid-fifties – or I could find the positive in it, which is, thank heavens he still knows who the boys and I are.
I’ve been going to visit him twice a week, and for the most part it’s ok, although there are times I find it upsetting, listening to him talk about things that ‘aren’t there’. But I haven’t seen him since last Thursday as the ward has been shut due to the norovirus bug. He was down with it, and has been in isolation. I’ve been calling the ward daily for updates; he’s doing much better.
The next thing is for social services to work out what’s best for him as he cannot live on his own, it’s just not safe. I’ve spoken to the social worker in charge of Neil’s case and he’s happy for my input, which I am thankful for; I only want what’s best for Neil. All that bad feeling I mentioned earlier, that’s all just gone now.
The boys and I have had a couple of long chats about Neil and how things are now; Liam wants to see him but only when he’s out of hospital. It’s taking Gordon more time to come around but, at least, he listens to what I have to say. I can only hope and pray that he will see Neil again, for his own sake, if nothing else.
I don’t know why Neil’s drinking escalated like it did. I asked him, as did his doctor, more than once, if there was something upsetting him, causing him pain. He implied that there was but didn’t know how to articulate it. I guess the drinking was his way of self-medicating. And, somewhere along the way, he lost control of it.
At the end of the day, I’ve known this man nearly 30 years. The thing that came between us was the alcohol; if it hadn’t been for that, we’d still be together. I still care for him, I want him to be ok. There are some who still think, I believe, that just because I am the one who started divorce proceedings must mean I do not care for him; how wrong they are. That’s another ‘funny’ thing – how quickly and easily people judge when they have no idea what it’s like living with an alcoholic, watching the man you loved, the one you chose to marry and have children with, spiral down into someone sad and unrecognisable and there’s nothing you can do about it.