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Taking the plunge

Old 07-22-2010, 12:31 PM
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Taking the plunge

I've been lurking here since September after a dinnertime rant from AH that finally jerked me out of my denial. We've been married 18 years and have two incredible boys, ages 7 and 12.

The SR community has taught me so much. I'm amazed at how I've seen so many of you grow and take back your lives. I want to do the same.

I've accepted that AH will drink no matter what I or anyone else says, does, or feels. His choice. He's at the functional stage, with 35 years of heavy drinking under his belt. I don't expect the functional stage to last forever. I know I can't stay with him forever. I'm not quite ready to leave yet.

I've been taking small steps to improve my well-being. I avoid him when he starts to drink, I don't count the cans and wine bottles, I don't nag. When necessary, I talk to him about specific issues related to his drinking without caring that he will quack. I do things with the boys for fun. I exercise, garden, and I have a good job that I try to do well. I have my own bank accounts and credit cards.

Detached? Yes. With love? Not so much. I am more emotionally connected to the cat than to AH.

There is still too much secrecy about how his drinking affects our lives, and that is impeding my progress. I don't know how to talk to the kids about AH's drinking. What's age-appropriate? How do I talk to them rationally without bashing AH?

Since September, he mostly saves his heavy drinking for after the kids and I are asleep. This means they don't see him passed out in his chair, which is good. But it also removes some of the teaching moments--like instead of saying that Dad is tired, I could truthfully tell the kids that he fell asleep at 7:30 because of the beer.

Tonight, I will attend my first meeting, though the thought terrifies me right now. I told AH I'm going, and I'll be open with the kids about it.

Wish me luck.
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Old 07-22-2010, 01:27 PM
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Good luck! And welcome! I think you should ask the question about what to tell the kids at your meeting and then come back and let us know what kind of ESH you get. The question comes up a lot here. I'm thinking there is no one right answer... but there are good ways and less good ways to broach the subject.



I am more emotionally connected to the cat than to AH.
meow!
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Old 07-22-2010, 02:46 PM
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hi small steps-

that's the way...small steps...

in the beginning, i found it helpful to remind myself "i am powerless over alcohol" about 20 times a day. it helped when i found myself doing something to help him instead of helping me.

it is a progressive disease, as you know, and he might not remain functional.

for myself, it was a gradual process of coming out of my own denial. then it was "hands off his drinking". i learned to not speak about drinking anymore and began to simply get on with my own life.

there was no way i could remain with my alcoholic, living together. it took a while to come up with an exit plan but everyone here really helped me every step of the way.

i can't help you with the children question, as i don't have any but i am sure someone will be along with help.

have you tried therapy? i find it very helpful. interestingly, my therapist is not interested one bit in xABF, says he's a side-effect of my own tendencies. was rather surprised at that but after a year now, i see she is absolutely correct to not use up our time together analysing him.

welcome to sr and glad you finally decided to post.
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Old 07-22-2010, 04:00 PM
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Welcome to SR! Glad you found us. Your post is amazing!

I've no words of advice, but wanted to give you hugs. I'm also trying to determine what to tell my 5 yo son about alcoholism. Currently, I've just left it at "Daddy is sick" or "Daddy has a sickness".
Good luck and welcome!
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Old 07-22-2010, 04:05 PM
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I'm glad you decided to post, smallsteps.

I really like all of the things you have started doing for self-care. Having your finances separate is a wise decision too on your part.

As for the kids, I would talk with others at the meeting and see what their personal experiences are.

My 22 year old daughter's dad was next to non-present in her life, and the man has been in AA and not drinking since '75.

It's been hard for her over the years, and what I have told her is it has nothing to do with her, and everything to do with him.

I've told her that not everyone in AA is well, and for whatever reason, he made the choice to not be an active parent.

Let us know how the meeting goes, and keep taking those small steps!
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Old 07-22-2010, 05:10 PM
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I wish you all that you need to cope with your problem, and oh how I saw my ex asleep in his chair, drink still in hand... as I read your post. I never told my kids what it was really like so they freaked out when I walked after 27 years.....soon found out for themselves and still can't understand how I kept quiet and left them in the dark.

Middle daughter's answer to me telling them, "you loved him so much, I didn't want to upset you and wreck that", "we still loved him, even when we felt like strangling him".
Then my girls were in their 20's when this happened, so what the result would be with younger kids, I don't know.

God bless
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Old 07-23-2010, 07:29 AM
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Thanks so much to all of you for your kind welcome.

I did attend the Al-Anon meeting last night. It seems like a nice group. I ended up listening to everyone instead of sharing myself, as I surely would have bawled my eyes out and been incoherent if I'd tried to tell my story. Maybe next time I'll be able to do that. If I speak up early, I will hopefully get some insight about talking to the kids, so that's some motivation right there.

I told the kids I was going to "a meeting," but they didn't ask for details. It didn't feel right to start explaining Al-Anon to them out of the blue and close to bedtime, so I am saving that conversation for the near future.

The whole Dad-is-an-alcoholic thing is awkward, because he doesn't think he has a drinking problem. He just likes the taste of beer. And wine. Plus, he doesn't drink every day, or get wasted every time he drinks, or beat me. And he has a job and does the laundry and mows the lawn. So he must be OK.

Ugh.

Jadmack, did you really stay with your AH for 27 years? Ugh again--this will be me if I don't keep taking those small steps.

I've not tried therapy as I'm not yet ready to fully confront the years of crap stored in my brain. Just going to the meeting and introducing myself here is enough change for the moment.

Again, thanks to all of you who posted here. I want to become a participant here instead of a lurker, so I will certainly be back.
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Old 07-23-2010, 07:58 AM
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My goodness - you are good for us!!

I didn't get a stitch of self pity from your post at all.

Your knowledge and strength is commendable!!

Your children are so lucky and probably very perceptive. It's possible they know more than you think.

Through it I taught my kids - first of course don't drink or do drugs, the obvious.

But then there is no shame in having this disease - the shame is in allowing it continue untreated.

So sad AH doesn't see that truth. It's going to cost him.

Please come back and let us know how you are doing.
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Old 07-23-2010, 08:15 AM
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LOL, Chrrist! You should have seen the unsightly mess I was last fall, before I saw the light (largely thanks to SR). And I still have miles to go.
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Old 07-23-2010, 08:32 AM
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My advice for discussions with the kids: Just the facts ma'am. Meaning, try not to tell them how you FEEL about the whole thing, the alcoholism, their Dad. My mother limited it to: (1) Suggestions on how to deal with my Dad (stay away from him, go to your room if he is bothering you, avoid him, go out and play, go to a friend's house), (2) He has a disease, (3) Treat your father with respect, no matter HOW he behaves.

She never complained about him or bad-mouthed him, she never denied there was a problem, she avoided getting emotional about any of it in front of us, she lived her own life, with her own friends and activities, and she always stayed busy (and still does in her 70s). He is STILL sitting in that chair, drinking drinking drinking. She does not have a relationship to bring her what a nice partner would bring her. She has no partner, just a burden and someone to make life more difficult. It's sad. I am glad you are here on SR and I am glad you are going to Al-Anon.
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Old 07-23-2010, 09:32 AM
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LOL, Chrrist! You should have seen the unsightly mess I was last fall, before I saw the light (largely thanks to SR). And I still have miles to go.
Well who cares about last fall - you're awesome now!

Ya know about the kids, L2L has some good advise, I think.

Starting some conversation may be good now. Maybe start with your 12 year old first.

My fear is that they may have feelings and thoughts THEY need to talk about. They have to know something is very wrong.

My kids are around the same age as yours and they just wanted to cry and tell me they were scared and then I was able to give them the comfort they needed.

There was a lot of emotion there that's for sure. We all felt better once it was out in the open.

just my thought.
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Old 07-23-2010, 02:08 PM
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Smallsteps, I was the same way with my AW. I was your classic enabler. I used to confront her then I just stopped. I would pour her drinks out, leaving the empty bottles in the recycles so she could see I poured them out. I would find her hidden bottles and empty those too. I avoided her and focused on me and our two kids. Letting her wallow in her drunkeness.

In time I got fed up and when she called our daugther a liar when she told me of her hidding liquor I told her it was the last step. We were through. The next day she tried to kill herself. Even as loveless as our marriage was at that point I was the one person who always told her she could get better and I gave up on her.

She survived the attempt, we seperated, she did inpatient and is now 10 months sober. We got back together after 6 months of being separated. I think it was more out of fear on my part of being alone and single. I do love her but I trust her, even sober. I think constantly of the affiar she had with my best friend and how she took me for granted for years. I struggle with finding my own self worth, I seem to be sucked up in her well being and not my own.

Listen to what your therapist says. I wish mine had said the same. I spent so much time and energy worrying about her I never looked out for the most important person in my life, ME.

I am open and honest with my kids about her drinking. I tell my 13 year old everything. I want her to see how low addiction can take someone. My 9 year old doesn't know about the affair or suicide attempt. He's too young for that but we talk openly about addiction and what it did to our family.

One thing I wish I had done back then was set ground rules. Tell her I would not tolerate her being drunk at home where the kids could see it. If she wanted to do that then she could get out. if she wanted to get help i would have been there for her. Instead, I enabled her by turning my head and pretending it didn't exist to avoid conflict.
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Old 07-23-2010, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Smallsteps View Post
The whole Dad-is-an-alcoholic thing is awkward, because he doesn't think he has a drinking problem. He just likes the taste of beer. And wine. Plus, he doesn't drink every day, or get wasted every time he drinks, or beat me. And he has a job and does the laundry and mows the lawn. So he must be OK.
.
My wife was the same way. A functioning alcoholic. I rationalized her drinking in my head because she wasn't full blown. She got up in the morning. She had a good job. She didn't drink at work.

i asked her once why work was more important to her than me and the kids. It's ok to pass out on us, bounce off walls in front of the kids friends. Yet, you would never consider a drink at work. How special does that make us feel?

Once she became sober she said she knew deep down we loved her and would not leave. Drinking at work meant getting fired and there was no enabling being done there.

it doesn't matter if it's a little addiction or a big one. It's still an addiction. Something I wish I understood better back then.
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