Penny's Story


I met my husband in a pub, whilst I was out with my sister and her husband. They were friends with him and a few days after meeting him he asked my sister to give me his number to call him. I was 37 at the time, my first husband had left me for a younger model 18 months prior, so it had just been me and my 12 year old son. I was hesitant but I called him, at first he didn’t answer but I was so desperate to have someone back in my life that I kept on trying. Eventually he answered and we arranged to meet up. It didn’t take long for me to realise that he drank a lot, but I didn’t know much about alcoholism so I tried to not let it bother me.

He told me that he wouldn’t drink if he had someone to come home to everyday and I believed him. In April 2001 he moved in with me and my son. About six months later, he proposed. He was so lovely when he wasn't drinking, and I thought that his drinking habits would eventually change so we married in June 2002. It was just me, him and three friends. I didn’t tell my family that we were getting married, as none of them liked him because of his drinking behaviour.

After we got married his drinking didn’t stop, he just drank indoors instead. He wasn’t a nasty drunk, generally he just went to sleep. All I wanted to do was to stop him from drinking. I cried, threw the alcohol down the sink, pleaded with him to stop and tried to make him feel guilty about what he was doing. I even used his daughters against him, telling him that he would lose them and me if he didn’t stop.

It took a little while, but eventually he decided to give Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) a try. He attended 90 meetings in 90 days. I thought my life was going to get better, but it didn’t. It only lasted about four months before he started to drink again. This carried on for years; he would go to AA for a while and then start drinking again.

I became so frustrated and hurt that the temper I had had while growing up reared its ugly head. One day I was so angry that I hit him over the head with the bottom of the pint glass. Straight away a lump appeared but because the glass didn’t smash, I hit him again. Straight after, I was horrified that I could do that to someone I loved. I had never been violent before.

I justified my behaviour by saying to myself that because he was hurting me mentally, the only way I could hurt him was physically. My violence got worse. I gave him a black eye one evening because he was saying hurtful things about my son. When he wouldn’t go to a doctor’s appointment I threw a cup at him which gave him a cut on his head. I have punched and kicked him on numerous occasions, but he never retaliated. He never confronted me or tried to stop me. He always said when he was sober that he could understand why I had done the things I did as he wouldn't be able to live with somebody like his drunken self. Each time I told myself that I wouldn’t do it again. My family warned me that if I continued, I would do something that I would regret and end up in prison.

My husband asked me to go to Al-Anon meetings to understand about the illness of alcoholism. I attended my first meeting thinking that they would have the answers to stop him from drinking. It was suggested that I attended six meetings before I decided if Al-Anon was for me. 

I can say now that it changed my life; I was able to change my attitude towards my husband and instead of my life being unmanageable it became manageable. I could keep my temper in check even though my husband was still drinking on and off.

We moved to Norfolk as I got a job transfer and rented a property that was seven miles from the nearest shop. I thought this would stop my husband from being able to buy alcohol easily.

I found out that there was an Al-Anon meeting in town which I attended, but it wasn’t the same as my previous meeting so I stopped going.

It didn’t take long for my old behaviour and temper to return. I can clearly remember the last time I was violent towards him; we were having another argument standing in the kitchen, he turned his back on me, I picked up a knife and threw it at him. I couldn’t believe what I had done. I was shocked and scared, so I packed a bag and left for a few days. I didn’t even stop to see if I had hurt him. When I plucked up the courage to return, I noticed the blood on the bedsheets. I felt sick at the realisation that I had hurt him. I asked him to show me what I had done, to my horror he had a very nasty cut in his shoulder where the knife had hit him. At that point, I knew that things had to change and that I needed to go back to Al-Anon to work on my recovery.

Every night I lay in bed looking at the scars I had given him, but with the help of Al-Anon I thankfully didn’t add to them.

Our relationship changed when I started attending Al-Anon meetings. I started talking to him as an equal rather than looking down on him. I no longer argued with him, I stopped trying to get him to admit that he had been drinking and I stopped going to the local shop to buy him alcohol. I stopped doing the things he could do for himself, like phoning in sick when he was drunk and booking appointments.

Sadly, in 2015 my husband died from high blood pressure caused by his drinking. He never held my violence towards him against me, and I know regardless of what I had done he loved me.

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