Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
Your life is going well. And then suddenly, WHAM, along comes some gut-wrenching news that rocks you to the core.
Recently, my world is well and truly 'WHAMmed'. I receive a call to say my ex is ill in hospital. Seriously ill. The news is not entirely unexpected. He was a train wreck waiting to happen - I knew his life would crash around him, it was just a matter of when. The fallout from his train wreck is now slumped in a hospital bed, broken, mumbling, incoherent and confused. In the beds around him there are others, mumbling, incoherent - their families confused. They lie in parallel lines, like so many cracked empty shells, potential spilt and wasted, hope evaporated.
It may not look, act or sound like one, but alcoholism is a disease, and these patients are very sick indeed. And the hospital staff are doing their best, trying to piece them back together.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.
As I observe him lying in urine-stained sheets, waves of pity, resentment, anger and frustration flood back. The whole gamut of emotions. I swallow hard and walk out of the ward so he cannot see my tears. I think he must feel bad enough without the ignominy of having his ex looking on pityingly - no matter what has transpired between us.
But then he probably doesn't know I am here.
As many partners of alcoholics will know, alcoholism is a malevolent beguiling lover who undermines her prey. She leaves little room in a relationship for the partner. In my relationship I was never going to be the victor. Booze won, hands down. There is no point in nagging or cajoling, because you are arguing with a disease.
Alcoholism is like an oh-so-subtle earworm. A niggling, gnawing tune insidiously repeating itself in your head. Remember those advertising jingles you begged others not to hum? Imagine, if you can, swinging your legs over the side of the bed in grey dawn light, the jingle playing in your head. Imagine retiring to the comfort of your bed at day's end, praying for peace, but in the darkness it is there, resolutely demanding your attention. On a dazzling sunny day, playing with your children, like an evil spectre perched on your shoulder chanting in your ear, there is its unrelenting drone.
At first the song can be quieted with a drink or two, but then it takes a few more, and then just another - and another for the road.
Together for 22 years, my partner and I listened to and sang our different tunes, until the deafening insistence of his earworm drowned out all other melody. He listened because he had no choice. Some say that alcoholics are wired differently. For many, alcoholism is an inherited predisposition, a mental obsession, but it can also be triggered by factors such as stress and depression. The irony is that those suffering from depression can turn to alcohol for relief - to dig them out of their black hole. But alcohol is a depressant, which only digs the sufferer deeper into the quagmire. Alcohol is a sneaky, underhand bastard like that.
All names have been changed for privacy reasons. This article was first published in The Weekend Australian.
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