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A friend of mine is a bereavement doula for pregnancy and infant loss.  She and I talk often about how callous and insensitive the world-at-large seems to be when it comes to a baby lost during pregnancy.  People seem to think because a woman’s baby was not born – and especially if and when the loss was very early in the pregnancy – that the grief is somehow not real.

“It’a not just the immediate loss of the pregnancy,” she told me once.  “It’s the entire future and life with who that baby would have been.  It’s birthdays lost.  Holidays lost.  The baby growing up and having his or her own babies that is lost.”

I think something similar can be said about the alcoholic marriage.  And perhaps why it’s so hard for women to actually leave their alcoholic husbands.

Yes, we live with the daily discord and chaos.

Yes, we live with the verbal abuse, the emotional withdraw and the clanking of empties.

Yes, we live with the empty sex or the no-sex and that glazed over look in their eyes that tells us, “we’re in for a bad one.”

And often the day to day life with an alcoholic husband is so draining, so taxing, that we don’t really notice or think about the other losses.  The deeper losses.

My husband and I don’t dream about our retirement.  We don’t fantasize and plan what we will do when the kids are grown. There is no talk of a cabin in the woods or a cottage at the beach.  No excitment at the thought of grandchildren to spoil.

And we’re not creating a history.  Not one that anyone would want to re-live anyway. We won’t one day look back fondly at the trials and tribulations of raising a family, “surviving” marriage.  We won’t laugh about the good times and shake our head at the hard times.  We won’t look at each other with hard-earned admiration and seasoned love and say, “we made it!”

When you marry an alcohoic, you lose everything you hoped and dreamed and planned life would be.

You lose memories that never get to be.