This time last year…

This story was submitted to Scottish Families anonymously for Celebrating Families Week.

This time last year my life was in turmoil.

I had just lost my mum in a very long battle with kidney disease, and I felt like my world was ending. Not only that, I was also a new mum and living with a husband who was spiralling out of control with alcohol and drugs.

Looking back at last year it feels like something I’d have watched on Netflix. 

I’m not sure when I first started to notice something was wrong with him, I was so occupied being a new mother and trying to cope with the fact I was about to lose my own. My head was everywhere, and I still felt the guilt of not being able to help as much as I could, even though I was also screaming for help.

We’d never been big drinkers and only drank on certain occasions such as celebrations and getaways with friends.

My husband has had a tough and different upbringing from me and in recent years he had lost his brother. But as many men do, he hid all his fears and anxieties very well.

Then he quit his job, started to not come home some nights, would go missing, started saying some worrying things and his behaviour was so erratic. Then I noticed the constant drinking, the smell around the house and that he was hiding himself away where our child and I couldn’t see him. Then that is when money started going missing, things started not making sense and I knew something was wrong. I can admit I was very ignorant towards drugs; it was never something I had ever tried, and I was clueless about how it all worked.

Our first year as parents was the opposite of what I expected. I know becoming a parent isn’t always easy and often leads to relationship issues, but I was falling out of love with him and did not recognise him anymore. He started losing weight and I pleaded for him to get help over and over again.

I kept thinking to myself “How many people do I have to watch die this year?”

I decided I’d had enough, and I was going to make him get help (I’m sure every family member has made this mistake believing that we can solve all our loved ones’ problems).

I set up meetings with doctors and got the reply “Sorry, we can’t help much as he needs to be sober”.

I reached out for help with different addiction services “Sorry, we can’t help with the mental health side of things”.

I felt like screaming and begging for someone to please just help us.

Eventually, he agreed to do a detox, but the waiting list was so long, appointments were being cancelled, people failed to check in and this was all triggering to my husband. He’d dealt with abandonment his full life and even though everyone else had given up on him, I wouldn’t. I couldn’t.

So, I persevered, I made complaints until one time it was so close to being too late. He was in a bad way, and I had to get emergency help. This ended up being one of the biggest mistakes of my life, but I was desperate.

He agreed to go into a private rehab down in England and they admitted him the next day. From start to end it was a complete nightmare and a waste of thousands of pounds. In his time at rehab, I was gaslighted into not believing a word he said.

They’d tell me “He’s an addict remember? That’s what they do, they lie”. 

My husband went to rehab and phoned me and told me he could get access to drugs more easily at his rehab than he could at home. He was broken into by another member one night, another patient found him lying unconscious on the ground, but the staff failed to report it to me and lied about false drug tests.

It was a complete and utter mess.

I had to travel down to England and back one day to pick him up as I feared he was going to take his own life.

When we came home, he was promised a rehab stay in Scotland and nearly a year on I’m still waiting on that promised place.

It wasn’t long till he started drinking and taking drugs again, he was again waiting on the support that wasn’t coming. We did, however, get help from a place near where we lived that worked with people with drug and alcohol use.

Then someone asked me “Do you need someone to talk to?” I thought to myself “About what? It’s him that needs the help”. I went to my first session and broke my heart, letting go of a year’s worth of pain, misery and grief. The grief was not only for my mum but for my husband who I felt like I had lost along the way and for myself, I was broken and struggling to keep my head above water. Eventually, I realised that I needed to be strong for my son and myself. I started talking more, reaching out for help from friends and my dad. We shared our struggles with my family, and they came together and helped us.

My husband struggled for a few more months until I’d reached my breaking point, it was time for me and my son to escape this cycle. I told my husband I could still support him, but he had to go stay elsewhere. This broke me even more.

The day I asked him to leave was the last day he touched alcohol and drugs. He moved back in just before Christmas and has been working on himself ever since.

Every day is still difficult, small issues we have still seem a little bit bigger, we still face judgement from many people and we’re still trying to work out how to navigate life. But we’re in it together, our weekends consist of walks, outings with our son, and planning holidays.

We work on ourselves every day and are still getting individual help and help for our relationship.

I’m proud of him, proud of his choices every day and I’ve loved watching him be the father he’s always wanted to be. In the last few months, he has opened up more about his childhood, cut out toxic relationships and worked on his overall health. We’ve gone from the couple who couldn’t look at each other to the couple who go to the gym together.

But most importantly I’ve taken time to understand myself, put up boundaries and worked hard at being the mum I am today. I know now I couldn’t have done it all without my family, my friends and my beautiful boy (and lots of cuddles from our dog).

Getting help for myself was something I didn’t think of at the start, but we should never be scared to admit to needing a little help and guidance.

Scottish Families Support

We are here to support you if you are affected by someone else’s alcohol or drug use. We can chat, offer listening support and information, and link you to our services or services local to you.

We have several local and national Family Support Services. Our national Family Support Services are Helpline, Bereavement Support, one-to-one Telehealth Support, and Holding On. We also have Local Support Services in Aberdeenshire, East Dunbartonshire, Fife, Forth Valley, and Inverclyde. If you live outside of these areas, we may still be able to link you to local support in your area.

You can find out more information by contacting our Helpline on 08080 10 10 11helpline@sfad.org.uk or using the webchat here on our site.

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