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Old 07-06-2010, 10:34 AM
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What now?

I'm a veteran of Al-Alanon; having a father and brother and uncle (and more) who were/are alcoholics. Now I find myself married to an alcoholic. I'd like to say I didn't know he was when I met him, but I can't do so honestly. I was/am in love and his drinking just didn't seem "so bad" since he never became mean or ugly or hurtful.

Knowing "the drill" of loving an alcoholic, I never asked him to stop drinking. I manage my anger. I live my own life. I don't let his problem become mine. I know how it works. I detach with love and go on with my life, my work, my family. But what do I do with the residual pain? Yeah, I know the deal about not being a victim. I have even less a reason to feel like a victim, since I married him knowing he was an alcoholic. I chose this. I thought I could deal with it. I thought I loved the rest of him enough to just detach from the rest... but now I find that the more I fall in love with him, the more painful it is when he "disappears." The closer I get to his sober self, the more angry I get when he's "gone." Which, now, is every evening. Last evening, I couldn't bare to interact with him drunk once again and locked myself in another room just to escape. But at some point, I woke up at 3 am and I was so angry I threw pieces of scrap wood at the garage door for a half hour. It helped release the anger... but the trouble with managing anger is that even after the anger is gone, the pain remains. And the pain is intense. I wasn't even angry at him. I was angry at myself and angry at the fact that it seems as if there's nothing too cherished or too loved to be destroyed by this drug.

I feel like Al Anon is to coping with alcoholism what "pain management" is to chronic back pain (or any other chronic, painful medical condition rendered incurable). It can teach you how to function with the pain. It can help you get your every day life back and become a functional, otherwise healthy human being once again. It can give you ways to try to lesson your suffering... it can give you some temporary relief... but still, at the end of the day, your heart is still broken and you still miss the person and it still hurts... it still hurts lot. And it never stops hurting.
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Old 07-06-2010, 10:44 AM
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" I was angry at myself and angry at the fact that it seems as if there's nothing too cherished or too loved to be destroyed by this drug. "

I feel that this sentence alone captures why it's impossible to be in a relationship with an alcoholic.

Seriously, how can you live with someone who continually puts you second in his life to a drug, and not be traumatized by this?

I tried.

I tried for 3 yrs.

My x and I broke up. Got bk together. Broke up. Got bk together. Always when getting back together, were the promises. Never a promise to stop drinking, but always promises not to do cocaine anymore. Not to get drunk. To curb the bar-going. To not hang out with the other alcoholics and losers he typically ran with.

None of these promises meant jack.

It got to the point where my self-esteem started sliding, because I was living with someone who walked all over my boundaries, and I was ok with it. It's like living with someone who abuses you-eventually you really do start thinking you're not worth more.

Not to mention the verbal manipulations and head games! After a while, you start to believe his lies even though they make NO sense whatsoever.

Soon you don't know which end is up and you feel like a crazy person.

I'm out of this madness, thankfully, but the after-effects remain-it's only been 3 months.

I'm so done with any guys who drink. I don't even want to be with a "social drinker." Because there's too much danger I will end up with someone who once again is putting me second.

Don't you think you deserve better? Like, someone who is going to value you enough to make you his top priority? I do!!!!

Originally Posted by Evey2010 View Post
I'm a veteran of Al-Alanon; having a father and brother and uncle (and more) who were/are alcoholics. Now I find myself married to an alcoholic. I'd like to say I didn't know he was when I met him, but I can't do so honestly. I was/am in love and his drinking just didn't seem "so bad" since he never became mean or ugly or hurtful.

Knowing "the drill" of loving an alcoholic, I never asked him to stop drinking. I manage my anger. I live my own life. I don't let his problem become mine. I know how it works. I detach with love and go on with my life, my work, my family. But what do I do with the residual pain? Yeah, I know the deal about not being a victim. I have even less a reason to feel like a victim, since I married him knowing he was an alcoholic. I chose this. I thought I could deal with it. I thought I loved the rest of him enough to just detach from the rest... but now I find that the more I fall in love with him, the more painful it is when he "disappears." The closer I get to his sober self, the more angry I get when he's "gone." Which, now, is every evening. Last evening, I couldn't bare to interact with him drunk once again and locked myself in another room just to escape. But at some point, I woke up at 3 am and I was so angry I threw pieces of scrap wood at the garage door for a half hour. It helped release the anger... but the trouble with managing anger is that even after the anger is gone, the pain remains. And the pain is intense. I wasn't even angry at him. I was angry at myself and angry at the fact that it seems as if there's nothing too cherished or too loved to be destroyed by this drug.

I feel like Al Anon is to coping with alcoholism what "pain management" is to chronic back pain (or any other chronic, painful medical condition rendered incurable). It can teach you how to function with the pain. It can help you get your every day life back and become a functional, otherwise healthy human being once again. It can give you ways to try to lesson your suffering... it can give you some temporary relief... but still, at the end of the day, your heart is still broken and you still miss the person and it still hurts... it still hurts lot. And it never stops hurting.
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Old 07-06-2010, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by anvilhead View Post
you can unchoose it too. marriage isn't supposed to be a death sentence....nor is it supposed to full of misery and deception. there's a really big elephant in your living room and tossing a tablecloth over it doesn't make it end table!!!
Very true. It can cause a great deal of guilt to "unchoose", to turn around and say "This isn't for me, sorry", but in the end, it can be so incredibly self-affirming to do so.
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Old 07-06-2010, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Evey2010 View Post
I feel like Al Anon is to coping with alcoholism what "pain management" is to chronic back pain (or any other chronic, painful medical condition rendered incurable). It can teach you how to function with the pain. It can help you get your every day life back and become a functional, otherwise healthy human being once again. It can give you ways to try to lesson your suffering... it can give you some temporary relief... but still, at the end of the day, your heart is still broken and you still miss the person and it still hurts... it still hurts lot. And it never stops hurting.
My personal experience is that Alanon is a lot more.

Alanon doesn't imply in any way, shape, or form, that I have to take a front row seat to anyone's alcoholism, including my 32 year old AD.

Alanon does give me a better way to live in all areas of my life.

Alanon gave me the strength to make some decisions that were initially painful, but eventually I moved to a place of emotional peace and wellness.

I no longer live with the chronic pain of watching an alcoholic die of the disease.
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Old 07-06-2010, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by sandrawg View Post
Don't you think you deserve better? Like, someone who is going to value you enough to make you his top priority? I do!!!!

It's not quite like most situations with most alcoholics. He never lies to me. He's never mean to me. He does everything for me (cooks, cleans, etc.) He's functional and responsible. He doesn't manipulate. And I think that's what made me always feel "comfortable." I mean... aside from the very fact that he gets drunk every night, he really doesn't do anything else to hurt me. In fact, he's kinder and more thoughtful than most any man I know who doesn't drink. But the fact remains that when he drinks, he's not the same person... his eyes glaze over, he gets goofy and wierd and there's no connecting with him the way we do when he's sober. He's definitely NOT your stereotypical alcoholic. He's quite sweet, sensitive, attentive... at least for now.

He did used to have a disconcerting lack of apprehension against drinking and driving... which I worry will eventually get him a DUI, which could result in him losing his job and maybe even some custody of his son. But at least with this he has become much more careful and responsible about this.
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Old 07-06-2010, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Freedom1990 View Post
I no longer live with the chronic pain of watching an alcoholic die of the disease.
Sure... but my thought is that, while Al-Anon really helps a person become a healthier, happier person in general... your 32 year old AD is still dying and that has to still hurt, regardless of how healthy you've now become.

I don't mean to say that Al-Anon doesn't work or that it's not a life-saver for a lot of people (myself included). I'm just saying that, you know, ultimately, it still all sucks... Al Anon might make it suck less, but it still sucks.
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Old 07-06-2010, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Evey2010 View Post
It's not quite like most situations with most alcoholics. He never lies to me. He's never mean to me. He does everything for me (cooks, cleans, etc.) He's functional and responsible.
I like what LTD has said before. Functional is a stage of alcoholism, not a type of alcoholic.

Regardless of what the alcoholic is like, we are like the rocky pier jutting out into the ocean. Day after day the waves beat against the pier, wearing the rocks down imperceptibly to the human eye, just as living with active alcoholism chips away at our soul.

You still perceive this marriage as working for you on many levels.

That is your choice.

My choice is to not allow someone to chip away at my soul ever again.
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Old 07-06-2010, 11:07 AM
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Yes it sucks, but she couldn't keep her AD from dying while she was with her.

So...it's not like staying with the alcoholic, keeps them from dying or suffering the physical health of alcohol.

In fact, if everyone in the A's life pulled away from them, like she is doing, I think the A would be forced to face the consequences of their drinking and hit bottom.

The problem is that, like with a friend of mine whose bf is a hardcore alcoholic, other people are around who continue to enable him.

She kicked him out, but he has other places he can go. Other people he can crash with, who will tolerate his drinking, at least for a while. Thing is, his behavior is so extreme, there is a limited amount of time people can put up with it. Other people have kicked him out and what does he do? He comes around to her door again.

That is when we as codependents need to recognize our disease and just say NO.

Your A may be a nice guy when he's drunk, but alcoholism is progressive. Do you think things will get better, so long as he is drinking? Also, do you ever ask yourself what physical effects his drinking could be causing, even if he's a pleasant person to be around right now?

Alcohol is a toxin. Excessive, repeated use has a myriad of health consequences. At some point, your A will be forced to deal with these consequences. It may be a liver problem. It may be high blood pressure. Kidney problems. Who knows?

Something to think about.

Originally Posted by Evey2010 View Post
Sure... but my thought is that, while Al-Anon really helps a person become a healthier, happier person in general... your 32 year old AD is still dying and that has to still hurt, regardless of how healthy you've now become.

I don't mean to say that Al-Anon doesn't work or that it's not a life-saver for a lot of people (myself included). I'm just saying that, you know, ultimately, it still all sucks... Al Anon might make it suck less, but it still sucks.
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Old 07-06-2010, 11:24 AM
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Just "for the record"... Al-Anon doesn't actually recommend people up and leave thier spouses/partners. It's silent on this point (as far as I've known). So... just to clarify for the people who might not know much about Al Anon... it doesn't dictate that the non-alcoholic leave the alcoholic. It doesn't give instructions like that (either way).

I thinks it's a valid position to have... I just don't want anyone to get the wrong idea from your post. :-)
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Old 07-06-2010, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Evey2010 View Post
Just "for the record"... Al-Anon doesn't actually recommend people up and leave thier spouses/partners. It's silent on this point (as far as I've known). So... just to clarify for the people who might not know much about Al Anon... it doesn't dictate that the non-alcoholic leave the alcoholic. It doesn't give instructions like that (either way).

I thinks it's a valid position to have... I just don't want anyone to get the wrong idea from your post. :-)

Are you addressing my post?
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Old 07-06-2010, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by anvilhead View Post
He's definitely NOT your stereotypical alcoholic.

he drinks, daily now, gets drunk, gets weird. that is about as stereotypical as it gets....it's either a problem for you......or its not. one thing is certain, the bloom is off the rose and it will get worse. the disease of alcoholism is progressive...if he's drinking every day he's never really sober.....his kindness and sweetness is more akin to be contrite and wanting to make you think it's not so bad......
Oh that is so true...I remember my STBEXAH would get up after a heavy night, he wouldnt know who he had offended or much else and would not want to talk about anything..he would work like a trojan round the house..he wasnt helping out, he was contrite...making himself useful, trying to run away from the demons, normalising as far as he could... I hadnt thought about that for a long time, but he did it all the time.... Lilly
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Old 07-06-2010, 01:17 PM
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This is the thing - I look at being in a romantic relationship w/an alcoholic as kind of, being in a haze. I mean, you find yourself accepting behaviors and situations that someone in a less dysfunctional relationship would be appalled at.

At some point, it became perfectly fine for me to get blathering phone calls and text messages from by xabf at the bar. Never mind that it made me worry he'd get behind the wheel of a car, or that he'd do something impulsive, like hook up with another girl. No, he was just having fun...taking his boys night out...(insert rationalization here.)

We humans are amazing at our powers of rationalization. "It's not THAT bad...could be worse"...while someone else from the outside looking in thinks we're nuts for putting up with these things.

And once we get away from the relationship and our head is clear, no longer muddled by the influence of the A's denial, we start to realize how much our standards of normalcy slid.

Originally Posted by Lilly Burn View Post
Oh that is so true...I remember my STBEXAH would get up after a heavy night, he wouldnt know who he had offended or much else and would not want to talk about anything..he would work like a trojan round the house..he wasnt helping out, he was contrite...making himself useful, trying to run away from the demons, normalising as far as he could... I hadnt thought about that for a long time, but he did it all the time.... Lilly
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Old 07-06-2010, 01:55 PM
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The closer I get to his sober self, the more angry I get when he's "gone." ... at the end of the day, your heart is still broken and you still miss the person and it still hurts... it still hurts lot. And it never stops hurting.
It DOES stop hurting. You can choose to stop the hurt. You can't control what HE does but you CAN control your anger.

I detach with love and go on with my life, my work, my family. But what do I do with the residual pain? ... I thought I loved the rest of him enough to just detach from the rest... but now I find that the more I fall in love with him, the more painful it is when he "disappears."
Stop falling more in love with him. You can choose to stop this. You only have to change your mind about it. You change your mind about it by finding a new way of perceiving the situation.

I think also you may need to do some more or different work on Detachment.

Many people here talk about PHYSICAL detachment to fix their problem of an alcoholic in their life. For me personally, physical detachment is also my preference for "romantic" or "love" relationships I involve myself in with alcoholics or addicts. However, my Dad is alcoholic so my chosen type of detachment there is different. It is much more of an EMOTIONAL detachment. It is difficult to emotionally detach from a parent, but it is not impossible. Lots of people have done it. I think it is quite possible for you to achieve that in a romantic relationship also.

Emotional detachment can start with Acceptance. Which it sounds like you have already accepted his limitations. So, YOU ARE ALREADY ONE STEP AHEAD OF THE GAME!!! You should feel good about that Next, you can work on lowering your Expectations. Where are your expectations of him perhaps too high? Do you have him on a pedestal? Do you ADMIRE him or look up to him for who he is or what he does when he is sober? Do you expect him to "save" you or take care of you? Do some reading on Magical Thinking. How much of your desire for "romance" and "love" in this relationship is just Magical Thinking? How practical a person are you? Where can you adjust the way you perceive him?

I personally never thought that a "love" relationship with a man where I was fully emotionally detached would even be worth it. But after eight attempts at what I thought was the ideal relationship where I was fully emotionally involved, I have finally found a relationship where I am able to be fully emotionally detached. It is VERY weird, but it is WORKING. For me, emotional detachment means that I am FINALLY able to maintain my personal boundaries (not ENTIRELY, but in large part--still practicing It means also that I do, for the most part, what I need to do to maintain my peace and serenity at all times. (I look out for me and I do not expect ANYone else to do that job FOR me). It means also that if this person ever starts to behave in ways that compromise my peace and serenity, I will be ABLE to detach from him PHYSICALLY 100% in order to protect my peace and serenity.

I hope something I've shared here is helpful to you.
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Old 07-06-2010, 03:17 PM
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Well, you know, I guess my situation is just different. His kindness and thoughtfulness are not trite and all his gestures are quite sincere. And I don't get blathering phone calls or any of this other such bad behavior. It really is all limited to the fact that, every night, he drinks just enough to no longer be quite himself... not falling over drunk or ever completely sloshed... but just enough to not be himself anymore (about a bottle of wine a night). I do imagine it will get worse and so on and so forth, but for right now and today, the most I have to complain about is that he gets a little goofy and silly. It hurts because I miss the "real" him when this happens and it hurts because I know how the story eventually ends.

That said, I already know I'm not going to leave him at this point. We're expecting a child in a few months and it's really not worthwhile to leave him at this point. He's always been a good and attentive father to his son from a previous marriage. I suppose if things ever get bad enough, I will leave... but for right now, I'm just going to keep throwing things against the garage door whenever the hurt and anger get to that point.
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Old 07-06-2010, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Evey2010 View Post
having a father and brother and uncle (and more) who were/are alcoholics. Now I find myself married to an alcoholic...

...We're expecting a child in a few months and it's really not worthwhile to leave him at this point. He's always been a good and attentive father to his son from a previous marriage.
It is the disease that keeps on giving from generation to generation to generation until someone breaks the chain, isn't it?
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Old 07-07-2010, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by anvilhead View Post
at one time we all thought/hoped that our situation was the exception.....tell me this has he always been a daily drinker? or is this a progression from previous behavior? besides work, is there anything else he devotes as much time on a daily basis to doing?

what will bad enough look like? missing work? suddenly not being such a nice guy? tripping while carrying the baby? hitting the bars and not making it home?
Oddly enough, these comments are actually starting to make me feel like maybe I am over-reacting. He has always been a daily drinker. He never drinks in the morning or even in the early afternoon. In his perspective, he admits to having a dependency on it as a sleep aid. After work, I'd say he spends the next most amount of time with his son, after his son, it would be cooking, cleaning, maintaining the house/yard, etc. I've never seen him trip, ever. He's never not made it home from a bar. The closest to that he's come is falling asleep in a chair at a friend's house and not waking up till midnight... which was annoying, but only a one-time event.

My experience tells me that it will eventually get worse... but maybe that's not fair either. Maybe it is unfair to project so much baggage onto another person who actually hasn't given me any reason to.
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Old 07-07-2010, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Freedom1990 View Post
My personal experience is that Alanon is a lot more.

Alanon doesn't imply in any way, shape, or form, that I have to take a front row seat to anyone's alcoholism, including my 32 year old AD.

Alanon does give me a better way to live in all areas of my life.

Alanon gave me the strength to make some decisions that were initially painful, but eventually I moved to a place of emotional peace and wellness.

I no longer live with the chronic pain of watching an alcoholic die of the disease.
I regard AA as a "design for living," and pretty much see Al-anon in the same light. As such, I believe that a codependent is no safer "testing" him/herself in a relationship with an alcoholic than an alcoholic is in testing him/herself with old associations, hanging out in bars or having just one drink. I had to not only stop drinking, but learn a new way of seeing things, a new way of living, and that required me to give up my old ideas absolutely. I can't believe it's any different for an adrenaline addicted codependent.

blessings
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Old 07-07-2010, 06:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Evey2010 View Post
Oddly enough, these comments are actually starting to make me feel like maybe I am over-reacting. He has always been a daily drinker. He never drinks in the morning or even in the early afternoon. In his perspective, he admits to having a dependency on it as a sleep aid. After work, I'd say he spends the next most amount of time with his son, after his son, it would be cooking, cleaning, maintaining the house/yard, etc. I've never seen him trip, ever. He's never not made it home from a bar. The closest to that he's come is falling asleep in a chair at a friend's house and not waking up till midnight... which was annoying, but only a one-time event.

My experience tells me that it will eventually get worse... but maybe that's not fair either. Maybe it is unfair to project so much baggage onto another person who actually hasn't given me any reason to.
My own experience and long time observations in recovery have shown me that one of the more powerful....and common....rationalizations we use is stuff like "maybe I'm needlessly alarmed." "I don't drink in the morning, so I must not be an alcoholic." "I haven't lost my job, family, etc., so I'm probably ok." "I know I can stop drinking anytime I really want to...I just don't want to right now...it helps me relax, sleep,, socialize with others, etc."

I equate codependency absolutely with addiction, and don't believe one even needs to be in a relationship to be codependent. It is a chemical dependency on adrenaline (rescuing, crisis management, drama), and just as powerfully mind altering and damaging as any other dependency. I know this is a controversial POV, but it's based on lots of personal and anecdotal experience. IOW...just as I believe that a person who thinks they may be an alcoholic probably is (because those who aren't usually never question it)...so it is with codependents. I am convinced that I am always moving either in the direction of recovery....or relapse, and often the only way I become aware of it is through the loving input from those around me.

If I think I might have a dependency problem....I probably do.

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Old 07-07-2010, 07:32 AM
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Wow, all good questions and answers, i seem to be in the same boat, married him, knew he was an A, but recovered and life was going so well, until 3 years ago, when he started again and i have seen how progressive it has become, and as Evey said, it just hurts to see someone you love, just not there anymore. I would agree with Anvil that they are just permanently drunk, which is so sad, as mine drinks from when he wakes up, the whole day through, (well i suspect this) no actual proof, i think he drinks half a 750ml bottle of brandy a day. and then when he isnt able to have it, I see how his temper flies, he is just such an angry person and yet when he drinks he is a total turn around. As Anvil stated marriage doesnt have to be a death sentence because we can choose, well we did, now things are not going quite according to plan we have to bail, unfortunately i married for better or worse and i do have FAITH that HP will bring healing and AH will recover again, he did before (not to say i actually have no means or transport to go anywhere anyway) and he barely makes enough to support us. So our situation just suxs. Devon i ddo think we can break the chain, my D was an A they only had me and I am not one at all. Unfortunately my H family both A and both kids turned out to be A, no chain was broken there, I thought we had a chance after he was 8 years sober, but now??
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Old 07-07-2010, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Evey2010 View Post
Oddly enough, these comments are actually starting to make me feel like maybe I am over-reacting. He has always been a daily drinker. He never drinks in the morning or even in the early afternoon. In his perspective, he admits to having a dependency on it as a sleep aid. After work, I'd say he spends the next most amount of time with his son, after his son, it would be cooking, cleaning, maintaining the house/yard, etc. I've never seen him trip, ever. He's never not made it home from a bar. The closest to that he's come is falling asleep in a chair at a friend's house and not waking up till midnight... which was annoying, but only a one-time event.

My experience tells me that it will eventually get worse... but maybe that's not fair either. Maybe it is unfair to project so much baggage onto another person who actually hasn't given me any reason to.
You just described the first 12 or so years of my marriage. It did get worse in my case. But it was gradual. Almost imperceptibly so. Little by little he got less functional. And little by little, I accepted more and more unacceptable behavior. I slowly lost myself. My children grew up thinking that 6-12 beers a night was normal. The "one-time events" became regular occurrences. I took on more and more responsibility as he became less responsible. It was like sticking my fingers in the cracks of a crumbling dam. Pretty soon, you run out of fingers....

L
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