Alcohol’s Legacy

19 Mar

Letterbalm Closed Woman's FistDear LetterBalm: I’m living with painful memories that haunt me to this day. My wife and I were in a good marriage for almost 15 years until she started drinking. Her drunken rages took the form of violence against me. She threw boiling water at me, hit me with a cast-iron frypan and tried to stab me with a knife more than once. It was a nightmare: I’d try to hold her back from her hitting, biting and scratching, and she’d develop bruises on her arms and legs, which friends and other parents thought I did. She successfully kept everything from them, and the police didn’t believe me when I went to them. Finally, ten years ago, I divorced her. She died from alcohol poisoning a few years later. Our two grown children still resent me for the divorce and their mother’s death. I need to reach out to them, but I don’t want to dishonor the memory of their mother. What can I say and do?

–Battered and Heartbroken

More than a third of domestic violence sufferers are men, but the system is predisposed to recognizing female victims. Men may be reluctant to step forward, fearing that society will regard them as less manly. You are battered and heartbroken, indeed. Ms. L.B. hopes you have sought counseling to deal with your pain and guilt and recognize that your wife’s alcoholism was a devastating illness that ruined her life and yours and harmed your children. Only she could have decided to stop drinking. Please don’t continue to protect her; the truth has to come out, if for nothing else than to help your healing. You might consider writing a letter to your kids thusly, understanding that they may get angry and still refuse to believe you:

My dear children,

For many years you have blamed me for divorcing your mother. You have said the divorce drove your mother to her death. You are old enough now to know the truth. But before I tell you, I want you to know that I loved your mother more than anyone in the world, and I tried valiantly to save our marriage and protect you. I still live with the loss of her every day.

What you never knew is that your mother started drinking heavily when both of you were in grammar school. Unfortunately, her drinking escalated into physical violence towards me. Do you remember the times I took you last-minute to Aunt Esther’s and we stayed overnight? Do you remember the mornings your mom was too tired to take you to school and I did? She was sleeping off the remnants of drinking the night before. All the loud arguments you heard from your beds were your mom’s drunken anger and my attempts to calm her. I don’t know what drove her to drink. And, when she was sober, she apologized and said it wasn’t my fault. I took her to doctors, to experts, but she never wanted help.

I hope you believe what I’m writing here. It is the God’s honest truth. Alcohol destroyed your mother, it destroyed our marriage, and it harmed you. With all my heart, I wish she had never taken the first drink and that she had summoned the strength to quit. She was a beautiful, wonderful woman, and I want you to remember her that way always.

I love you both very much. I hope this letter opens a conversation – I’m here if you want to talk.

Love always,


One Response to “Alcohol’s Legacy”

  1. tradisionalpenis 03/19/2014 at 3:29 am #

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