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I handled it badly.

Old 02-16-2009, 08:27 AM
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I handled it badly.

Hi everyone,

Well valentines day was a bust. During the day he offered some thoughts on his recovery. He said that he doesn't like his group, that he thinks the members are all worse off than he is so he doesn't feel like he belongs. Said he'd try another group. Then he said that although he understands it may not happen, he holds out hope he can one day be a 'normal' drinker. This stuff bothered me but I said nothing and let it be his own. Well fast forward to the evening where I didn't handle it so well.

He'd made reservations and invited me out to dinner. As we were looking over the menu he asked if I was going to have a glass of wine, then said he wouldn't mind one with dinner. I just looked at him sharply, and he said something about it being 6 weeks with no drinking so he could probably handle it, then said he wouldn't and apologized. But of course my whole mood changed. He finally brought up that I was quiet and I told him his comments bothered me, and then of course it all went downhill from there. I tried being neutral and focussing on me, i.e. how I fear his relapse, how I'm not sure how I feel about him anymore, and of course he didn't take it well. He says I'm overanalytical and that he just wants us to be happy and that he had a moment of weakness but was trying.

I don't think I handled it well. What does a person do in that situation like this where he wants a drink and sort of, asks me if it's ok? I gave him a death look but said he should do what he wants. But even though he didn't drink, I couldn't manage my feelings and it ruined my night. I told him next day that I'd lied, that although I've stopped expecting anything of him, that I still held a BIG expectation - that he wouldn't drink. And as soon as that bubble was under threat of being burst, I fell apart. I feel like I've taken 10 steps back.
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:50 AM
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((silk))

New sobriety is a learning experience for everyone - You as well as him.

Not sure if you could have handled it differently or not - but if you were comfortable with the way you acted then seek for guidance, comfort and peace in what to do the next time.

As much as I wish I could say there won't be a next time, in reality there probably will - maybe you and your HP, thru reading literature, journaling, etc. - you could prepare yourself for what you would like to say and how you would like to say it. That way you won't be taken off guard.

Remember it's Progress not Perfection - Keep taking care of YOU - You deserve it!!

HUGS (hope, unity, gratitude and serenity)
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:58 AM
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Easy does it, silkspin.

I feel as though you reacted VERY humanly.
Not perfectly, sure, but I've found perfection to be an incredibly frustrating goal.

My STBXAH has gone through several cycles of recovery/relapse/active alcoholism. Admission of the problem and the initial request for help or support does not = long-term recovery. It is very easy to slip back into the "I'm not as bad as they are" way of thinking about AA. My husband did it, too. Those same words.

He would also ask my permission to have a beer or a glass of wine.
It always made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

The back and forth of:
"I'm an alcoholic",
"No I'm not",
"This is a HUGE problem",
"It's no big deal",
"I'll never drink again",
"What's wrong with one glass of wine?"

Is crazy-making.

So go easy on yourself. Of course you don't want an alcoholic to drink in front of you. That's fine. That's normal.

If my STBXAH chooses to drink, I choose to leave. I am uncomfortable around an addict with his drug.

Gentle hugs to you today. Go easy on yourself - I think you're doing great!
-TC
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:59 AM
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I would've said, looking up at him bluntly, "Feel free to have a drink. But if you do, I'm leaving. It's entirely your choice."

I'm the A in my relationship (1 yr sober) and I think that statement would be perfectly appropriate. It's taking responsibility for you, not him. It lets him make his own choice.

If he's serious about sobriety and recovery, he should know that just because he made six weeks doesn't mean he can drink again. That's stupid. (But it is a common way that A's justify a relapse.) Hopefully he's in AA and has some guidance there.
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Old 02-16-2009, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by mle-sober View Post
I would've said, looking up at him bluntly, "Feel free to have a drink. But if you do, I'm leaving. It's entirely your choice."

I'm the A in my relationship (1 yr sober) and I think that statement would be perfectly appropriate. It's taking responsibility for you, not him. It lets him make his own choice.

If he's serious about sobriety and recovery, he should know that just because he made six weeks doesn't mean he can drink again. That's stupid. (But it is a common way that A's justify a relapse.) Hopefully he's in AA and has some guidance there.
ALL of my thoughts, exactly. Many a night recently I've been in bed thinking that if he drinks now around me, I'd excuse myself. But of course when push came to shove, I didn't. But it was just the 2 of us so it felt weird. But I felt he put me on the spot, looking to me for validation - and I too thought 'how stupid' but it was the A in him talking. Before he was sober, that was a precursor to an inevitable night of drunkenness - I think I can handle a little bit.
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Old 02-16-2009, 09:46 AM
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I agree with ToughChoices. You reacted very humanely.

He was digging for an opportunity to drink (even one glass) and was looking for your approval to boot. I'm sure your mind was instantly spinning with what would have happened had you said, "sure, why not?" It's crazy-making because he put you in a position to be responsible for his choices. No wonder it triggered such intense feelings.

mle-sober said it best: "Feel free to have a drink. But if you do, I'm leaving. It's entirely your choice."

Don't forget to maintain your boundaries in all aspects of alcoholism and sobriety, silkspin. They're there to protect your feelings.
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Old 02-16-2009, 10:02 AM
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Silkspin,

I agree with dothi, he was trying to get you to give him permission and make his drinking your responsibility. My RAH used to do this, he'd almost always look to me for how many was OK, especially if we were out. It's not my place to tell him if it's OK to drink or not, he can decide for himself and I'll decide what to do with myself based on the situation as it unfolds. It was always just a way to make me painfully obvious of my own desire to control his behavior anyway, I don't think he was ever sincerely asking if I thought it was OK or not, because there were times he wouldn't ask and he'd either drink a little or a lot with no concern for my feelings on it. It's one of the games I've decided I'll not play if he doesn't stay sober.

I only hope that if the situation ever presents itself I'll feel stronger about it than right now, lol, cuz right now I think I'd either act like it was all OK and just be devastated inside or cause a big scene about it. Guess I need to work on detaching more.

:ghug3
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Old 02-16-2009, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by ToughChoices View Post
If my STBXAH chooses to drink, I choose to leave.
I was thinking this as well. Boundaries are about what YOU will do. T hey are not about controlling him. It is up to him to choose whether to drink or not and he does not need your permission. It is up to you to decide what you will do if he chooses to drink in your presence. What will your boundary be about this?
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Old 02-16-2009, 10:58 AM
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I think he did it to help him resolve his own bad feelings, and see if it could be done without hurting me. Needless to say, my reaction made him change his mind but I was resentful that he placed me in that position.
My boundary was that if I'm around and he drinks, I will remove myself from the situation. And I failed my first test miserably. I'm trying to be gentle with myself and forgive because it's the first time, but it was compounded by all his other comments that led me to believe he's not fully committed to recovery, but once again trying to 'do the right thing' because of how much it's hurt our relationship (and not because he's truly seen the light)
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Old 02-16-2009, 12:53 PM
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And I failed my first test miserably.
hey silk easy does it!
where is the failure?
your boundary was: if he drinks I remove myself.

he didn't drink and so you didn't remove yourself.
he threw you for a loop - now you have a better plan for if that comes up in that way again- but plz give yourself a break-- you are using new tools - they feel awkward and hard to handle at first- but keep trying, keep finding a good fit, and you will get very handy with these tools!

it was compounded by all his other comments that led me to believe he's not fully committed to recovery, but once again trying to 'do the right thing' because of how much it's hurt our relationship (and not because he's truly seen the light)
You can let all this go. Just try to let it go. How or why he is in recovery at any given minute of any given day is his alone to own and handle. 100%. Do not trouble your mind with trying to figure out why he does what he does.

I think you did well---baby steps will still get you where you want to go!
peace,
b
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Old 02-16-2009, 01:42 PM
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Silk,
I feel for you. That was a tough situation and thankfully not one that has played out in my life but one that has happpened over and over to a good friend of mine and her husband,with dire consequenses. Unfortunately, my friend is an enabler, so the only one suffering is her. He feels that he can weigh his desire to drink against the aftermath which willl include a fight, some silent treatment and eventuallly an apology from him and an acceptance from her. The relationship is built like a house of cards. No foundation of trust or respect at all.

However, it doesn't sound like that's what is going on with you two.You need to make sure you feel like his drinking, or sobriety rather, is a subject you can talk about openly, not shamefully. When your SO brought up his anger regarding his group and it triggered in you a warning-you should have felt free to ask about what was going on with him. By not having him tell you what he was experiencing, you were left with your interpretations and fears. You had no choice but take them to dinner with you.

Believe it or not, I feel when he asked you if you were going to have a glass of wine, he was asking if you would support him with his sobriety. If I had been in that situation, I would have given my guy a look like "You're messing with me-Goof!" and I would have reached for his hand,(it was Valentine's Day!), and said, "Of course I'm not going to have a glass...I would never do that to you. I know this has to be difficult for you, but you know I am here to support you with your sobriety". Then if I hadn't talked about the earlier stuff with his group, etc, I would have led into a nonjudgemental discussion along the lines of,"What's going on with your group that's pissing you off? Anything in particular or are you just feeling discouraged"?

I don't want this to sound like I'm blaming you or telling you what you could have done better. I'm not, by any means. I think you handled the situation very well. No scene, no drama... I just think alot can be gained by talking about things that we feel are taboo.Relationships can be strengthened and trust can be forged.

I am a recovering alcoholic, 7 years sober. My husband was not alcoholic but joined me full force in my sobriety and never drank around me after I stopped. He also read up on alcoholism and started attending Al-Anon meetings. There was no aspect of the disease that was off limits for either of us. I can't tell you how much that helped me throughout my sobriety,especially the beginning. I needed to talk about it, vent about it, mourn it. I would have felt lost if I'd had a spouse I couldn't share all that with.

You are off to a really good start with him and I would say it sounds like he's doing well, too-6 months!! Keep with it. Know that until you can meet in the middle, you two are walking very lonely paths.

Good Luck and Good Strength!
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Old 02-16-2009, 02:08 PM
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I agree with others that you did not fail this test miserably.

Number one, it wasn't a test. No one is grading you or seeing if you do it right. All it is is a learning and growing experience. You learned from it. That's so important.

Number two, your actions were fine. There was no failure there! What if you'd said, "Umm, go ahead, just one, if you want, to celebrate." And then seethed and worried inside and blamed yourself for his drinking. You were so far from that.

I agree with Bernadetter that the reason(s) behind his sobriety are his own business. In AA, and in my rehab, everyone is fond of saying: "You have to get sober for yourself. It won't last if you're doing it for anyone else." I think that's bull. The ONLY way I could get sober was for my husband. I hated myself. And although I loved my children, my sobriety seemed irrelevant to them from my sick perspective. I got sober initially because I couldn't stand the look of disdain and disappointment in my husband's eyes.

Eventually, I found recovery. That came about slowly after initial sobriety, through listening to others stories and input, working the steps and going to therapy. And then, it really was for me.

But if your partner needs to initially do it for you and for your respect, that's his business. And, if he's like I was, it's just lucky that he has something he's willing to live for.

In terms of why he asked you about having a drink at dinner - again, try not to make that important. He did it because he's an alcoholic. (I used to prepare my spouse ahead of time by informing him I was planning on having a drink or two. It was because I knew I shouldn't and he knew I shouldn't and I wanted to get the big scene out of the way so I could enjoy my drink when it was time. In other words - it was bull-sh!t.)

He's in very early sobriety still. He's probably still trying to find ways in his imagination that he can continue to drink. It's a shock to his world. He's still floundering. Hopefully, he'll stay moving in the right direction. The most important thing for you is that YOU stay moving in the right direction: away from seeing your life as dependant on his sobriety, away from feeling responsible, away from putting up with unacceptable behavior, toward your own recovery.

I want to thank you for posting this experience. Because it does resonate with me and remind me how far I've come. And how much I put my husband through. It makes me very grateful.
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Old 02-17-2009, 06:51 AM
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Thanks everyone! Really insightful comments, they really helped me get through my feelings. Bernadette, you're right - I continue to have expectations even if I say I don't, which is why I was so upset. He can be sober for whatever reason he likes, and I shouldn't impose my thoughts or feelings.
Ajax - your post was very helpful, although I don't think that's why he asked. He used to do it all the time when he was drinking too - to test how I'd feel about it so he could feel ok, as mle-sober put it "finding ways in his imagination that he can continue to drink". It's hard for him to deal with his own feelings, always has been, so he looks to me for validation. But that said, I think I would have LOVED to have that response - in my clouded mind such a thing didn't even occur to me. Likely would have broken all the tension and would have allowed a better night! And although I've had a rare glass of wine in the last while (and never when it's just the 2 of us), I'm not a big drinker so am participating with him in his sobriety as much as I can.
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