1st Family Therapy Session...Did Not Go Well.

Old 05-30-2008, 02:33 PM
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Unhappy 1st Family Therapy Session...Did Not Go Well.

Well as some of you know, my husband is in rehab for alcohol. Yesterday we had a family therapy session via telephone. Needless to say, it did not go well. It just ended up in a big fight. And the end of the hour, his therapist recommended that we write each other a letter. But how can I write any kind of positive letter, when there has only been negative for so long. I know that I have to let the past go, but there are so many times he wasn't home on the weekends, and I don't know where he was, or what he was doing. How do I let things go if I don't have any resolution to them! Do I just say fine, whatever you did, you did and it doesn't matter anymore. Wheres the accountability in that? & what do I write in a letter to him? I can't even figure out how to start it! ~Any advice?
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Old 05-30-2008, 02:56 PM
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You could tell him what you just said to us, that you're confused. Tell him that you don't know how to move forward without closure, and in order to help/support him you'll need honesty past and present. If you didn't love him you wouldn't be there trying to work it out, so let him know that. If he thinks you're holding some malicious grudge rather than trying to understand him better he may feel some latent shame and become defensive, or just act adversarial.

I think full openness helps.
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Old 05-30-2008, 03:20 PM
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Your bravery should be noted in this. It is not easy for anyone to work through such pain.... but I can tell you from my point of view... the relationship can be so much stronger and deep if you are able to work through it all.

I had to work through this with my Mother, Sister and most currently my Boyfriend.

What worked best for me (and I must say was the very hardest thing in the world) was to tell the truth. I started with "I" statements. I was so hurt because I was so scared, I felt all alone and was so hurt because I was afraid.... I felt like that little unwanted 7 year old again. Im afraid of the rejection and all those old feelings of not being good enough and afraid I really did deserve the bad things....

funny even with my daughter .... when I talk from the heart of how Im really feeling and not acusing them of what they did or taking their inventory is when somehow the walls started to crumble.

Maybe just write a letter to yourself, being honest about how it really felt and how scarry it really was/is.... and give him a PS would help. That is just my experience...
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Old 05-30-2008, 09:31 PM
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It is sooooooo difficult isn't it? I was able to let go of the past and move forward only when I was ready......

And it took several very very heavy and difficult counselling sessions with my AH and I.....however it is so worth it as we are on a much happier road now and I am so glad we got there.

It took alot of honesty and really looking at myself and it was very difficult - work through it and you may also find you really can put it where it belongs and move forward.

I wish you the very best - kindest Phiz
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Old 05-31-2008, 08:35 AM
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In my experience with my A son while he was in inpatient treatment, our first family meeting didn't go too well either. It took a while for us to see progress.

We were asked to write a letter as well. My letter explained how I felt when ______ happened. I also exposed the behaviors that I had that enabled him and explained that I wasn't going to continue those behaviors.

I will share some exerpts from my "family effects letter". I can't share the entire thing because it is VERY long. But perhaps it will give you some ideas.

Dear "S"

This letter is to let you know how your addiction has affected me. There have been so many years of worry and fear of losing you that it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few specific incidents…..but I’ll try.

The fear that kept me awake at night was a painful, obsessive, irrational fear—I was afraid of the telephone. When I knew you were out drinking or drugging, I would lay there awake for hours fearing the phone would ring and the most awful words a mother could hear would be spoken “Your son is dead.” Or “Your son has been in an accident and has killed someone.” Or “Your son has been arrested.” The unbearable and irrational fear would cause me to lose sleep or toss and turn or have terrible nightmares. I knew that you were getting behind the wheel of a car totally intoxicated and I was so afraid that something bad would happen. When you moved in with "GF", I found relief because I wouldn’t know when you were out doing those things. I passed that fear baton to her. Even though I was finally sleeping, I soon realized that "GF" was being plagued by those same fears.

I feel betrayed, angry, disappointed, unloved and foolish when you lie to me. You have become such an accomplished liar and I WANT TO BELIEVE YOU SO BADLY. I will ask you stupid questions that I already know the answer to. I do this because, in my heart, I want the answer to be different. You graciously oblige and give me the answer (lie) that I want to hear. But since I already KNOW the truth and I KNOW that you are lying, it makes me feel even worse.

I fear that someday you’ll wake up and realize that drugs and alcohol robbed you of your life with your son. I worry that you have already missed the first wonder-filled year of his life. I guess that’s why they call it “getting wasted” when a person drinks or gets high. They are wasting time—important time. The most precious gift you could give your son is to model sobriety and respect his mother. When you do those things FIRST, the things you so anxiously want will come naturally—without a battle.

I have done so many things to enable this disease. My denial has been to call it “rescuing”. That’s a nice word, isn’t it? It makes me feel better about what I have done to aid this disease in its progression. I have been a very active and ignorant participant. When you scream out in emotional pain and tell me that ________(fill in the blank) will make the pain stop. I have bent over backwards and ignored all of my own responsibilities to make _________ happen. I would alienate or neglect the other members of the family by making __________happen. I would spend HOUR UPON HOUR, sometimes DAY UPON DAY totally focused on making _________ happen and abandon all of the other people who love me or need me--just to make the pain stop. Then we would move on to the next thing causing you pain and do it all over ….time and time again. The ___________ could be any number of things….buy you something; get you out of trouble; give you money; pay for your gas; talk to "GF" for you; get your car out of the tow yard; give you a job; attempt to bail you out of jail; look for jobs for you and present you with a pile of possibilities; drive three hours to a distant town after you got arrested; talked with attorneys for you; you name it—I’ve done it. I’ve protected you from the natural consequences of your actions.

The list goes on. I have tried to control your environment by lying to your drinking & drugging buddies to try to keep them away from you. I’ve gotten involved in aspects of your life that I have no business being involved in. I’ve ransacked your room and searched your car. I’ve played the “victim” in the relationship struggle between you and Dad and now find myself doing it again between you and "GF" and your son. I’ve listened to the irrational rants and have tried to reason with you when your brain and body are poisoned by drugs or alcohol. I’ve woken you up to ensure that you got to wherever you needed to be rather than let you be late. I never let you learn that motivation needs to come from you. I’ve hunted for keys or whatever item was currently missing that was making you rant and rave and scream and throw things (did you ever notice how often things seem to get lost when you smoke pot?) just to make the tension caused by your tantrum STOP. I have tried to enlist other people to help me enable your addiction—your sister, your dad, your girlfriend. I would constantly rescue you from the crisis du jour and would not allow you to feel the confidence that you could handle things on your own. I’ve listened to your lies and believed them. I have tried the ostrich approach and ignored that a problem existed.

I am so very sorry, "S". I did these things because I love you. Perhaps it is possible to love someone too much. Just like too much water can kill a plant, too much “unhealthy love” can enable the progression of this disease. Now that I recognize this, I can do something about it. Please forgive me for the past and let’s work toward recovery together.

I know that I didn’t cause this disease, I can’t cure it and I can’t control it…..but I CAN stop enabling it. I will attend Al-anon meetings to help with my own recovery. If you come to me with a problem that is better dealt with elsewhere, I will suggest that you take the issue to your AA group or counselor or doctor or lawyer or sponsor. I will detach myself from the emotional strings and not allow you to manipulate me. If you threaten suicide, I will do what I should have been doing all along. I will call the police so that you can be taken to a safe place where you can get professional help. If you try to get me to act as a messenger between you and "GF", I will refuse—your relationship with "GF" and your son is YOUR relationship. It’s not my place to fix it. My relationship with them is separate and I desire to keep it healthy. I will not argue with the disease any longer. If you are talking irrationally, that will be my cue to exit. I cannot reason with statements that are not based in reality. I will not bail you out of trouble or jail.

"S", I love you so very much. I know it was so very hard for you to go to treatment. Dad and I have seen some changes in you over the last week or two--glimpses of the man that you can be—when you’re sober. We have so much healing, learning, and changing to do. All of us. We are all in recovery WITH you. Please be patient and kind. We will all recover and heal at our own pace—it can’t be rushed or forced or commanded to happen. This disease did not damage the relationships with the people who love you over night and none of us can expect to recover in a week, or a month, or even a year. Recovery is a process—not a destination. Be patient with yourself and with those of us who love you. You have our support, love, and encouragement and we hope that you will work hard to stay in recovery with us.

Love always,

I hope that seeing how the "I" statements work will help you write your letter. Honesty is important. Attacks are unnecessary and are not helpful. Stating your truth quietly and from your heart is what is important. Explain your boundaries. Explain how you are willing to change too.

gentle hugs
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Old 06-01-2008, 03:00 PM
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that is one AMAZING letter and you are one AMAZING example of recovery. thank you so much for sharing it. i think anyone who is willing can gain something from its wisdom, regardless of their relationship to the A or whether they are in rehab, program or active disease.

truly a gift today.

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Old 06-01-2008, 03:10 PM
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When my A was in rehab they sent me a questionnaire.

How has it affected you?
Your family?
Has he lost jobs because of his drinking?
How have you had to cover up for his drinking?
When did you become aware of the drinking being a problem?

There were loads more but it didn't seem so confrontational as there was the out that the treatment centre had requested the information. I wish I'd kept a copy now.

Many of the answers were statements of fact that couldn't be refuted. I don't know if you could structure a letter in a similar way
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Old 06-01-2008, 08:47 PM
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get it, give it, grow in it
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What do you want moving forward ?
For now forget about the past, it is gone and you can't change it.
Your A is in recovery trying to be different today. Stay in the NOW.
How do you feel about the hope of his recovery, what you want your relationship to be upon his return, what you are willing to do as your part. You can only control your own part. Compassion and forgiveness go a long way toward healing.
If you want to stay in the relationship be forward thinking.
Addicts lie, cheat, steal, disappear, blow money, are irresponsible, selfish, etc.
In recovery they learn to see themselves as they are, they see their character defects and they make amends, they learn to live a different way. Hopefully, you Husband is working hard to recover. Are you will to give him a chance to learn to be a good man, husband, father, etc. ??
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