The alcoholic roundabout

When you grow up having to take up the role of parent as a child, it instils this belief that you always have to care for others and forget about your own needs. But also, being emotionally neglected you have this gaping hole inside you that needs to be filled with love. Anything will do.

As you only have an abusive mother and a largely absent father who doesn’t defend his children against her as a role-model, this is who you will look for in a partner as an adult. My father basically was my mother’s enabler. He made sure by backing her that she could continue to abuse my sister and neglect me.

And low and behold, this is exactly what happened when I started to become a woman. I was attracted to alcoholics, drug addicts and aggressive, emotionally unavailable manipulative men. The three longest lasting and substantial relationships I had all ticked at least one of those boxes and my ex-husband ticked them all.

But going back to those significant relationships, I wanted to explicitly talk about the alcoholic roundabout. When you have an alcoholic, you also have in his or her vicinity an enabler. This person can be anyone who essentially is used by the alcoholic to keep drinking and to cover up any consequences of the drinking. So the roundabout works like this:

Alcoholic spends all his/her money on alcohol. So he needs more and asks the enabler and lies about what he needs the money for. The enabler gives in to his pleas because she worries he’ll leave if she doesn’t. He becomes so drunk he misses work repeatedly and starts to come to work drunk. He hides his bottles everywhere so he can have a drink in peace and people don’t notice it at first. He denies no matter what that he is drunk or has been drinking. His enabler starts getting upset because the alcoholic doesn’t turn up for appointments and important occasions, or he turns up absolutely shitfaced, and he lies about everything. At work he doesn’t turn up, or is late and he gets suspended. His enabler talks to his boss and makes up excuses. He can come back.

So this is the roundabout of alcoholics, and the enabler is trapped in this vicious cycle of helping him stay addicted and making excuses for him so everything can stay the way it is, and most importantly, he won’t leave. The enabler is becoming more and more dependent on the alcoholic, it is a co-dependent relationship. She is terrified he will leave if she doesn’t give in to what he wants, and he needs her to cover up the consequences of his drinking and supplying the means to keep drinking.

Because the alcoholic lies about everything and always denies his drinking he turns it around to the enabler, so she starts thinking it is her fault, she is the reason he drinks and all the situations that are consequences of his drinking are her fault also. Her confidence disappears. She thinks she’s going mad, and eventually she does.

If you recognise yourself or someone you know in this, please look for help. An organisation which did help me was Alanon, for family and friends of alcoholics. They adopt the same program to recovery as the AA does for alcoholics.

As a permanent reminder of alcohol abuse I got this tattoo. The banner reads ‘luctor et emergo’ which is latin for ‘struggle and arise from the sea’, which also is the motto of the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands because of the 1954 floods. The anchor stands for hope and also as a reminder of my sailing days. When I was a boatman I got so drunk one time that I fell 2m down on deck, on my elbow, which is why the blade of the anchor ‘cuts’ through my skin where a big scar is left from that incident. Then lastly the bottle is my favourite beer brand, empty with a drunken devil in the bottom, and a message sticking out as in ‘message in a bottle’ to remind me of the disastrous consequences of alcohol.

By Gif-Art

Follow androgynous blogger, poet, artist, Criminology & Psychology scholar and revolutionary socialist Kahlo on their journey of self expression, transitioning and development. They write about Criminology & Psychology subjects in a socialist context, rehabilitation and recovery of childhood trauma, domestic and sexual abuse and the mental health conditions as a result. Woven through is a strong sense of social justice, accountability and self-determination.

View all of Gif-Art's posts.

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