Thursday, June 23, 2011 - Drunk Daddy

Dear Private Eye:

     I am living with a man who has turned verbally and emotionally abusive.  We've been married 6 years. We have 2 children,  2 and 4 years of age. I have no family in this area,  my mother is on the other coast. We were transferred here for my husband's job. I read your blog, I do not know who else to ask because I"m afraid to tell anyone what is going on.
     My husband is my problem.  He used to be a great guy. Not anymore. He has changed into someone else. He is a horrible man, but not that bad because he has never hit me. He is sarcastic all the time and his jokes are mean. I try to laugh but I am secretly hurt. Lately he has been yelling and being more mean. He slams doors when he is mad. He is mad at me all the time for things like  not having dinner ready, or having it too overcooked, when he comes home.  But I never know when he is coming home which confuses me. He gets mad when I do not pick up after the kids. It gets worse when he drinks and that is why I am writing to you.
     He really is good man deep inside. He used to be fun, kind, loving. He paid all our bills until recently.  He was  nice to me in public but we don't go out anymore.
    When I got pregnant after many years of trying, he said to it was better for me (and I agreed) to be the one who worked. I used to be an in-home caretaker for seniors citizens. We agreed  I would stay home and take care of the children. I loved that.
     Then two months ago, he comes home and says he got laid off his job because the company was losing money and every time I ask him to file for unemployment he won't. He just yells at me or leaves the house and comes home drunk. He either turns on the tv, sleeps on the sofa or comes in yelling, which wakes the children up. He calls me vile names, yells and turns red with rage and claims to remember nothing the next day.
    Last night he did not come home at all. It wasn't until this morning he called me from jail and said  he was arrested from drunk driving at 2:00 am last night!  I went to the bank to get bail and found out there is almost no money left in our bank account! If I bail him out, how will we pay the mortgage on our house? We are already behind on that  and he never told me. I let him pay the bills.
    Now I  am wondering if maybe he was fired for his drinking and that is why he can't get unemployment?  Besides that, I am unemployed, with two small children and living with a drunk.
I need help. What do I do?


Dear  Scared,

Wow, you are in the thick of it. You have a husband who appears to be a black-out drunk, meaning he drinks and goes into a "black-out" state where he forgets everything he does under the influence. Know this: once the alcohol enters his system, the man you first loved is no longer there. Alcohol is a depressant disguised as a social lubricant. It is also addictive. Lives, bodies, marriages self destruct over the years under the influence of alcohol. The alcohol is driving your husband's brain and body and the fact that he was arrested for drunk driving is bigger than a red flag. Once he downs a drink, then two, it's is as though he strapped on a suicide vest... sooner or later his drinking or drunk driving could kill a stranger, you, or his children. Not to mention what appears to be his increasing rage and lies about money.

There is a big picture here, "Scared". The children. Their survival...and yours. Whether or not you agree with me, I suspect they are terrified and in danger when they see Daddy acting like this. They must never be allowed in the car when daddy is driving, because blackout drunks can appear sober and be many times over the legal limit. They must not be exposed to his alcohol use or booze fueled rages. They must be protected.

I am not a therapist. You need one. You also need to get your husband away from you and your kids. Under the current economic environment, it is quite possible you are "upside down" or your mortgage and your home could be in or go into foreclosure. It is time to baton down the hatches.

Were it me, I would not bail the husband out. I would clean out the bank account and use the money for two things, to file a separation... and to find a safe place to go with your two kids and keep them fed.  You mentioned your mother lives across the country. Could you go there?  Do you have a friend who might take you in?

If not, a woman's shelter, safe house, domestic abuse hotline may help you find a pathway out if no one can take in you and your children. It is when you are at a safe distance from your husband, you can lay out your demands for his return.

If you refuse or choose not to leave your home, I would still file for separation, contact the police and get a Restraining Order to show your husband you mean business. It doesn't matter to me whether someone yells, screams, or hits. It's all abuse. And just as it is disturbing to you, it is traumatizing your children.

Just know, if your husband drinks, walks in the house again, starts his screaming thing and a neighbor has had enough,  Child Protective Service will be called and may take your kids away from both of you. Just because you are not the screamer does not make you innocent.
If you do not protect the children from his rages, you are co-dependent and no help to them. We don't want you to lose your children.... you sound like a loving, caring, mama. However with a loose cannon in your house, it is too dangerous for the kids to be there when the cannon fires.

Some times life deals us a bad hand. Sounds like you've got one. However, you can find a way out of this, you must,  especially for your kids. By showing them you can stand up to and defeat a bully, even if he is their dad, you are modeling for them, in case they hit the same situation themselves later in life.
All this will come down one thing- whether your husband really is a good man who wants and will accept help; who will do everything to change, save your marriage and family.
If the alcohol, the job layoff,  have seriously messed with his head.... then the waters ahead can and will likely be dangerous for you.

I know others may disagreee with me, this is the path I would take.
Remove him from the equation, get back on your feet and get back to work so you can be financially independent. Whatever you do, do not drink, use drugs (prescription or otherwise.) You must have a clear head to deal with all this. Get a spiral notebook at the dollar store, use it to log what goes down every day, every person you talk to, every number or instruction you get. Be your own advocate and the advocate for your children. And whatever you do, do not hesitate to call 911 when he next  poses a threat to you, the kids, or others, by getting in a car drunk.

Bottom line, I'd let your guy stew in jail in his own alcoholic juices. I would take his bail money and spend on a safe place to take my kids, to make my escape. Meantime he'll live through the consequences of his actions. No income, no unemployment... he sounds like an alcoholic, blackout drunk. You got a loser who needs help. Step away from him and force him to step it up.

Do not despair. There is always hope. Many good people have made it back from very hard, dark places. It's not about being knocked down, it's about getting up. Perhaps he can get up, step it up and  get through this. However, today.... right now... you need to make a big change in your life to make a difference.  Step away from the man and be strong, for the sake of your sanity and your kids.

Your Private Eye

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