Something my mother said made me see her, through a glass darkly. The reason she is chronically depressed is not just because of my father’s alcoholism generally, but most specifically because she wants to leave and does not feel she can. The reason she does not feel she can is not that he supports her but that she does not feel she should abandon him.
Meanwhile it is his alcoholism that makes her so lonely. It is her feeling she must stand by him, not an unwillingness to work or be on her own, that makes her feel so trapped. That is why she feels suicide would be her most graceful exit. Unwillingness to work or be on her own are ways she has of covering up for my father – that is, if she said she was staying because she felt bound to do so, it would dishonor them both, so she says it is her unwillingness to work.
It is easier to say that she is unwilling to work and that she wants to commit suicide than it is to say she wants to leave. Suicide is a metaphor for the death she suffers in the marriage and also the social or identity death, or transformation, she would have to suffer if she left it.
I am a reproduction of her although I do not play this dynamic out primarily with alcoholics or in the realm of marriage. I play it out elsewhere. One place I do play it out is with hostile workplaces.