I have been living with my alcoholic fiance for 5 years.
It's been really tough. A little background:
I am a very patient person, my friends would say too patient. I am also very naturally affectionate and soft. I've tried everything from showering him with love and affection to trying to be stronger, stopping myself from being an enabler. I always feel like I'm doing it wrong, and I know I am far from perfect, but I've put absolutely everything I could into trying to help support him through this.
I wouldn't call him abusive. He's not an aggressive type and on our good days we are like best friends. I know a lot of people have gone through much worse. But it has been a slow mental torture. There may not be one singular action of his that I could pull out as particularly shocking, but rather it has been a series of selfish and cruel smaller behaviours several times a day.
During the last few months particularly, it's been much worse. A typical example of a daily pattern would be:
• Feeling lonely and disconnected, I would plan a day for us to spend together to try to reconnect (like going for a walk, or a dinner).
• He would go to the pub first for 3-5 hours, then drag his feet to lunch, eat in silence while I desperately try to spark his interest with different conversation topics or making jokes.
• After a rushed lunch, he would suggest immediately going home. However when I get up to get off the bus, he would spring it on me that he's staying on for a stop to go to the pub. Other times he would just disappear to the pub without saying anything. I was never invited.
• He would usually stay in the pub until after 1am. I would spend the entire afternoon and evening alone.
• The next day, I would try to softly approach him to explain that I am upset and try to get him to understand.
• He would become incredibly defensive and avoidant. He gets angry or irritable about the fact that i'm upset. He tries to invalidate my being upset or he projects his drinking onto me "If you were happier I would want to spend more time with you" "I spend all day in the pub because they are nicer than you".
This obviously hurts me even more, sometimes brings me to tears, then he's even more defensive "Why are you even crying?" "this is hard for me too, you know" and then he would leave the house whilst I'm mid-sentence trying to talk to him and go to the pub. If I text him about the fight, he would just ignore it and not respond. The next day, or later that evening, he would want to pretend like everything was fine. That would be hard for me (but sometimes I did try) and then he would get upset with me for not being really happy, and go to the pub to be around people who are "less negative".
The above would happen daily. But there were, of course, a lot of one-off things that happened between us that were much larger betrayals. Things that, without the alcoholism, wold definitely be reasons to leave the relationship. I don't feel comfortable listing all of them, but to give you an idea: Lying about drinking, Lying to me to get money for food then spending it on alcohol and weed and asking for more, not getting up in the morning to say happy birthday, getting drunk on his own all day on a day that I had found out about a close family member's death (I sat in our apartment alone grieving all day whilst he drank alone in the park in the sun), sending dirty text messages to an ex girlfriend ("I was so drunk I don't even remember doing it") .
One time, I had a panic attack whilst we were out for dinner and asked if we could sit by the river together until I come out of it, after a couple of minutes he started getting really restless trying to get me to get up and go to a jazz bar with him. I explained that I couldn't, that I was having a panic attack and needed some time. He said that he was going to go without me. It was about 10pm in the middle of Amsterdam. I asked him not to, and desperately begged him to stay with me. He told me that I was being boring and went to the bar without me. I sat there having a panic attack alone for a while, then walked home alone. He didn't get back home until the early hours of the morning and didn't acknowledge our fight, but wanted to tell me all about his fun evening.
There's a lot more, but you get the idea. Alcohol makes people self-centred and little-by-little I felt less and less important to the person who had previously showered me with love and affection.
He has gone through a home detox this week, is now alcohol-free and is doing brilliantly.
I am so proud of him. He's really embraced this and (being his third detox) I can see a huge mindset shift. He never wants to drink again and he really does seem happy in himself. He's eating again, doing housework, being social and taking care of himself. It's amazing to see.
But there has been a couple of moments during his detox that have hurt me. I won't get into the details, but essentially it's like he has completely forgotten the impact the last few years have had on me.
This week, he criticised me about a room I had set up for him to work in (long story but the room was a dump and I spent about a week clearing it out and bringing in new furniture to create a shared office for us to be ready for when he was sober). A couple of days ago, he came upstairs and was upset with me for not doing it the way he wanted. (At the time, he was drunk and unable to help with any of it, I had checked with him on several different occasions to make sure he was okay with what I was doing.).
That one piece of criticism hit me so hard.
Because it's not just about this one room that I have cleaned. It completely ignores the hard work and effort that I put in each and every day to try to give him a better life whilst he, at the time, was being cruel and dismissive of me every day.
When I told him the comment was upsetting, he got angry with me. He said that he wanted to move on now and that we shouldn't linger in the past. That it's not nice being around someone who is negative all the time when he's trying to look forward.
I get it. I want to look forward too.
But I have 5 years of pain from him that I might never have closure for.
Is it selfish to want an apology from him?
I don't want to bring him down or make him feel guilty, I just want to know that he understands what I went through for him. I want reassurance that he loves and respects what I did for him, that he SEES what I did. It's like he resents me for the way that his alcoholism has affected me, and he can't see that I've been here for years fighting through it with him, trying to do everything I can to support him.
Now he's treating me like a boring sad old lady that he doesn't really enjoy hanging out with, but I need support now. His demons have gone now that he's not drinking anymore, but mine haven't. I think I need reassurance and affection from him right now and perhaps some extra love and appreciation. I don't mean grand gestures or gifts, but just a little more effort into reassuring me that he's here for me now. I don't know how to ask him for that or even if it's the right time in his detox journey but he seems so strong and happy now and I feel so weak and unstable and I don't know how to handle it.