Welcome back to Alice, and so sorry that you have been having domestic issues. It is very brave of you to bare your soul about your husband as I guess for many years you have been trying to keep this family secret quiet from your friends and family. I can quite understand where your 11 year old daughter is coming from as my own father was an alcoholic for the whole of my childhood and perhaps it would help if I explain how it is to grow up in a household with an alcoholic parent. As a child you do not want to stick out, you want to blend in, be the same as all of your friends and this situation certainly breaks all the rules of how a parent should be according to a child. I think it is the unpredictability of alcoholism that children find so unsettling. I could never bring friends home as I was so scared they would see my father drunk and you and I both know that an alcoholic is not a happy drunk! This meant that nothing could be planned, well it could but inevitably it had to be changed as my mother could not leave my father alone in the house. In those days connecting with friends could only be done by going to their house and whilst I suppose that was possible I couldn’t reciprocate. Gradually you build up such strong friendships that you can share this secret with them and other children are very pragmatic and accepting probably because they have no knowledge of what an alcoholic is like. However you don’t know this until you take the first step and reveal what you believe is a terrible reflection on yourself. Your 11 year old just wants life to be normal and, as she believes, the way all her friends are experiencing. It might be helpful for you to talk about other children’s problems that they are having to deal with or find a book that has been written by the child of an alcoholic because at the moment she does not know anyone in the same position and she has nothing to compare with. Kids, particularly girls, love to chat and share secrets and she probably feels she cannot fully commit to any friendship with this big secret hanging over her. The good news is that with a lot of help from Alcoholics Anonymous my father reformed and we had a good relationship for the last 25 years of his life. Also as you have discovered a problem shared is a problem halved and if your friends are real friends they will not get bored of listening to your problems. I recommend the following book, Elephant in the Living Room – the Children’s Book as it might help all of your children.
On a lighter note I have discovered that I need to go back to school and study the world map because when I was looking at the Olympic medal table I was horrified to see that Kazakhstan, a country that I thought was an invention by Sacha Baron Cohen for his character Borat, is 8th on the table whilst Team GB is 11th. However clearly my Maths also needs a brush up as the former has won 3 golds whilst we have 2 golds, 3 silver and 4 bronze – surely 3 silver and 4 bronze are better than 1 gold. Is Borat the person doing the arithmetic? I am finding the games so stressful as for some unknown reason it has completely captivated me, maybe it is the exceptional BBC coverage which, whilst obviously very supportive of our team is also able to recognise the brilliance of other competitors and points it all out to us including interviews with their families, but also the perseverance of the GB competitors when they accept defeat so humbly but vow to carry on! I have to admit that 12 hours a day of TV is too much for me and I have to leave my family and go into my own space and read a good book which luckily I have found with The Thread by Victoria Hislop. (Click on the link to see my full review).
P.S. My advice to Grace is get the OM (Old Man) some Pilates sessions as my Pilates teacher, Deborah Richardson, is the only person, together with her reformer machines, who keeps my body and soul together as I have three prolapsed discs but honestly I can do so much more now having had a few sessions with her. At the moment we are on a hunt for my Glutes as apparently & upsettingly “they are only a flutter”!!
Off to watch the Olympics whilst remaining calm and not upsetting the dogs with my screaming at the TV!! Annabel xx