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Dignity & Serenity

Old 08-11-2010, 03:51 PM
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Dignity & Serenity

Dear SR Friends:

You don't know me. Yet you all know me so well! For many months, I have been reading all of your wise, compassionate, warm, experienced posts. I'm so glad I found you all! I finally signed on today. I am so so grateful to all of you. Reading from this forum has been so helpful, so heartwarming, so encouraging (and yes, at times difficult and challenging). It feels like my story is being told and retold by many of you. You DO understand! I have cried and laughed and then cried some more reading your postings! I still haven't clicked w/ the Alanon meetings, even though I have found many people at the meetings to be warm and kind (and just seeking the same things I am: inner peace and serenity amidst addiction of our loved ones). This forum has helped me deal with my situation. I am a typical codie (repeats myself often and provides lots of context--kind of like what I'm doing now!). . . Sorry for how long this is!

My husband has been in recovery since March of this year (five months). A year ago, I took our then 3-year-old and left because there was no other way (I had hit my limit, my bottom) so I thought. I felt emotionally and physically beaten. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't eat. I couldn't focus on my work. I felt terrorized (even though my husband is not a violent person) by his drinking and other substance abuses. I felt a violent rage within me developing, which frightened me. A year ago today was a sad and hopeless time for me. Although over the past 10 years my husband was primarily drinking, smoking marijuana, and abusing various prescriptions when he was able to get them, in our early years of dating he was addicted to other hard drugs (to this day he has never told me what and I have never asked). When he was still drinking & smoking marijuana combined with available prescriptions, he would say, "I have kicked harder drugs than this. I can quit alcohol and pot anytime I want." of course, when he had any prescriptions, they were okay because they were "doctor-approved."

Early in our dating, I attended an Alanon meeting but it was too painful and I left never to return. . . until this year. I thought I was different. I thought I was stronger! I had accomplished so much in my personal and professional life (and have seen others overcome great challenges/odds) that how could something as "solvable" as alcohol and drug addiction stand in the way of my love for my addict? There are success stories everyday! Forget Alanon! I'm going full-speed into the arms of my addict! (I was warned by friends and family who said, "You will age. You will grow resentful. You are choosing the hard way. You deserve better." As always, I took that as a challenge. Just watch me! I'll show them.) . . . 15 years later and finally with our gift from the heavens (my child), I surrendered. Addiction was more powerful! I was wrong (and I was relieved). . .

We have been together for 15 years and separated for a year. I didn't want our then 3-year-old growing up in a home filled with unpredictability, instability, chaos, anger, resentment, the presence of my husbands' choice of drugs (I include alcohol as a drug too). If she couldn't have a healthy father, at least, I wanted our daughter to have a healthy mother. It took my husband another 6 months of near collapse and emotional/physical deterioration before he was "coaxed" into a residential program, which then started his road to recovery . .

I felt such hopelessness and despair. I was at a point where I knew there was nothing left for me to do. No amount of love. No amount of support. No amount of understanding/compassion. No amount of knowledge of addictions. No amount of anger. No amount of resentment. No amount of the silent treatment. Not even our daughter, a precious gift, we waited and waited to have! Nothing could get through to him. Did I feel guilty? Yes, of course. (I read a wonderful book on addictions, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. The author advises loved ones of addicts that guilt is not helpful but if you MUST choose between guilt and resentment, then choose guilt (but do not stay with the addict and then continue to resent him/her. Just leave and carry the guilt, if you must). I knew (very painfully) that I was not in control of his addictions. I didn't like feeling hatred, anger, and resentment. I had to admit defeat. I had to surrender. I felt ashamed. I felt weak. I felt like a failure. All I could do was remove myself and my daughter from this environment. (If I didn't have our daughter, I probably would've stayed and stuck it out with him because I could just bury myself in my work like I did before. Over the years, I advanced quickly in my career, thanks to unhealthy relationships and "denial" but I grew more and more lonely). I wanted more for my daughter. She deserved more! I didn't want her to be a caretaker, an enabler, a savior, a daughter of an alcoholic, and I wanted her to one day find a true partner with whom she could share an equal, normal relationship, not like the one her mother and father had. (I wish I could've seen that "I" too deserved more but it took my daughter for me to see the light, finally).

I felt I really understood addiction well (both intellectually and experientially) --how all-consuming and powerful it is. I had compassion for my husband for years and years (and continued to enable). As I saw our daughter grow from a baby to a toddler (a miracle), I started to want my husband to fight for me and our daughter (fight the addiction, fight for his sobriety) the way he defended his drinking or pot-smoking with such vigor and passion. When he didn't (or couldn't), I knew I had to leave. Although we hadn't had much contact the first few months after I left (he just "checked out"), I could see when we did see him, he was getting worse and worse. I was a mess too (still couldn't sleep or eat). It hurt to see him falling apart. BUT, the truth is, as his enabler for the past 15 years, I never allowed him to get to where he needed to in order to get the help he so needed. I didn't help by trying to be that "soft place for him to fall." About a month before he went into a residential program, I started to check up on him a few times per week. I was afraid that "the next time" I would find him dead. I didn't want my daughter to lose her father in such a way. Increasingly he was unable to get out of bed most days (I was scared but also relieved that he wasn't on the road). His family members would check up on him as well. (We took turns). I wanted to know what his bottom was. Did he even have a bottom? Was death going to be his bottom? Was this his bottom, finally? (Jail, law enforcement, death, etc. never phased him. He has had DUIs and legal troubles in the past. It only served to justify why life is unfair and not worth living/thriving until old age). I was looking for a sign from him (anything!) that said, "I want help." He never said, "I want help!" but he did say to me in his drunken haze and stupor, "This is not what I am about. I'm going to show you!" I took that as a cry of help and willingness to get help. It was the closest I ever heard him ask for help. I know this is not advised, but I called up rehabs and then took him to a wonderful program that allowed me to do so as long as my husband was informed and consented. I begged him to just "check it out." The counselor (a recovering addict himself) sat with me and my husband, asking all the right questions. My husband resisted, but not much. I think he was "surrendering." I think he wanted the help. I think he was tired of his life as it had become. (Of course, I could've been wrong about him wanting help, but at this point, I didn't care. I just begged him to try rehab.). We went back to get his clothes. He packed his stuff and we returned. From the moment, he got there, people (the other patients as well as those who worked there) welcomed him, helped him take his stuff in and assisted him. The night I dropped him off at a residential program and knew that he would be safe (at least JUST FOR THAT NIGHT), I was able to sleep. I thanked my HPs for that night. I tried not to think about the next day. Each day passed and he seemed to really like what he was learning and getting at the residential program. He met some good guys in there. They meet up sometimes and offer each other support, even today. His family and I went to all of the family meetings and we too got a lot out of the program. My husband stayed for almost a month (insurance wouldn't approve past a certain stay). He actually wanted to stay a a little longer. He did his 90 meetings in 90 days enthusiastically after he got out. The residential therapist told him, "If you drank everyday, you gotta go to a meeting everyday!" He did go everyday even after the 90 days were up! He goes to his AA meetings several times per week (4 to 5 times). The Marijuana's Anonymous meeting doesn't seem as developed as the AA (so there are fewer choices). He seems to really enjoy most of the meetings (which makes me very happy). It also encourages me to work on myself and my recovery! I will never forget the people at that residential program. I still think of them--all of them recovering addicts themselves (from the therapist to the counselors, etc.). When we were leaving one of the guys who works there said to me, "Your husband knows what to do!" (When I feel scared or worried, I remember those words. It's not up to me to worry. I must give him the dignity as you in this forum have taught me and to trust that he learned what he needed to learn from the residential program. That gives me solace and helps me work toward my own serenity. I don't have control.) The folks in the residential program and the work they do are making a difference! They made a difference in our lives. This is the codie-in-me talking: what I appreciated was that they didn't make me feel like, "You need to stay out! This is not your recovery!" Although they did call me out on my co-dependence and my need to focus on myself, they also allowed the family to get involved appropriately, recognizing that family support and family healing are all part of everyone's recovery (including the addict's)! I really appreciated that! There is a place for the family in recovery (and the family must recover, separately & together, simultaneously). They gave us hope where none existed!

What I have learned from all of you on this forum is how important it is for me to give my husband the dignity to address and work on his own recovery and to let the process --any process-- play itself out. It is hard sometimes. I get impatient. I want immediate results and answers. When he first came out of the residential program, I was still meddling and wanting guarantees. I wanted him to feel okay, all the time and not want to revert to substances. I wanted to be guaranteed that we are out of the woods. I want to have a "normal" relationship of mutual respect and partnership with my husband. It seems very possible now that he isn't drinking. (But I must also accept the reality that he will always be an alcoholic/addict. When it comes to addiction and its effects on our lives, my only focus must be: just for today. I can not constantly worry about my addict's addictions if I am to recover myself). I know that the possibility of "relapse" looms large at all times . . . I keep telling myself and learning from all of you that I must give him the dignity to work on his recovery. IF he relapses, that is something he has to work on with his HP. I will be on this forum, reading and learning from all of you so I can deal with whatever happens or doesn't happen! I don't really "work the steps" but I know there are people/beings that I must make amends to. . .It's not just the addict who behaves badly and irresponsibly. I am sorry to those whom I have hurt (including my husband).

In addition to my husband attending his meetings and myself reading from this forum (and attending Alanon/Families' Anonymous when I can), my husband and I will be starting counseling together. I am looking forward to that. I want a life with my husband. He is still early in his recovery. (I love my husband sober and present! We go on dates now. He can sit still and wait. Yes, he gets into a funk sometimes, but I know he is struggling. When he does, I work on my serenity (saying the serenity prayer). I'm sure it's not easy to quit something he has done daily for the past 18, 19 years). My dad hasn't had a drink in 24 years (I'm the daughter of an alcoholic as well). I know there are times it crosses my dad's mind so my husband (having been a much heavier daily drinker than my dad, coupled with other substances, w/ only 5 months of sobriety), must struggle with it daily (or possibly several times a day).

Even though it has been a year since I left (the chaos and craziness that accompany addiction), I am still not ready to move back home (I really miss my home and desperately want to go home!). I am still in process (my husband is still in process). Reading your posts has also taught me that I will know when it is time.

For now, I will give my recovering alcoholic/addict husband the dignity to work on his recovery. I will be kind to myself and others. I will work on being the best mother (and family member/friend) I can be. I will allow my HPs to guide me through my own recovery.

Thank you, my SR family (long-winded and high-context as ever in codie-style)!

yorkiegirl
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Old 08-11-2010, 03:55 PM
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Thank you for sharing your story. I hope you and your husband are able to repair your marriage, but if not, I hope that you will continue to be the strong, beautiful and wonderful person that you are.
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Old 08-11-2010, 04:08 PM
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Thank you so much for your support (and your wisdom). Hugs!
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Old 08-11-2010, 04:55 PM
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Welcome to the SR family!

Thank you for sharing your story with us. I'm happy to read that everyone in your family is in recovery! What a blessing to your daughter!

May your journey continue to bring you serenity.
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Old 08-11-2010, 05:28 PM
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Dear Pelican:

I have read your posts with such eagerness over the past couple of months. Thank you, thank you, thank you for wisdom, insight and hope. I have been getting so much from this forum. Now, I've finally signed on. I'm a long way from the kind of serene, balanced life I would like. However, I feel I'm in a better place than a year ago, thanks to those like you and Suki44338 (and the many others) who share here on the site!
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Old 08-11-2010, 05:58 PM
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Thank you for such an incredibly thoughtful, well-written post. You truly have a talent with words and I am so glad you are working on yourself!
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Old 08-11-2010, 06:34 PM
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Hi Yorkie!
Welcome - there is an old saying about AlAnon meetings- but I guess it applies to this forum as well - the only place you can walk into a room of total strangers and reminisce!

Glad you're here-- stick around--
peace-
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Old 08-11-2010, 06:35 PM
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Dear Learn2Live:

Thank you. Those like you and others on this forum are contributing to my recovery.
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Old 08-11-2010, 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by yorkiegirl View Post
I had to admit defeat. I had to surrender. I felt ashamed. I felt weak. I felt like a failure.
Your story is eerily like mine. Although it sounds like the addiction was a lot more serious and involved more types of drugs, alcohol and marijuana were regulars in my household. We too have a 3 year old girl. I intellectualized this whole thing. The codie in me, armed with a degree in psychology, rolled my sleeves up to tackle this head on. Whatever it took. When first proposed to me, I didn't go to Al Anon thinking I'll show everyone too how I could do this. My AH was sober almost 1.5 years, after I ran out of options and separated from him for a time. We've recently dealt with a relapse, and although horrible in its own right, has really taught me some important things and solidified my own recovery with Al Anon.

It' amazing how much responsibility we take for this disease. It wasn't really my fight, so although I did at the time, I no longer consider it defeat on my part. I remember when I was a kid, I'd occasionally come across an arcade game in a mall or something. I remember moving the joystick and thinking I was controlling the game, and it was just the demo playing over and over. With him, I thought I was directing, fixing and really I was just working within an illusion. It sounds like you have really taken strides in your own recovery and good for you for letting him have his. It's really what we need to do and what will ultimately bring us peace in our lives regardless of our outcomes.
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Old 08-11-2010, 06:53 PM
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My AH was sober almost 1.5 years, after I ran out of options and separated from him for a time. We've recently dealt with a relapse, and although horrible in its own right, has really taught me some important things and solidified my own recovery with Al Anon.

This is a fear I have (relapse). However, as you've said, it isn't my fight (his addiction). He may relapse. He may not. It's his fight. His recovery. I have to give it over to him and his relationship to his HP. I love hearing this over and over from those like you how have experienced it. Thank you so much, Silkspin!

I am struggling with moving back home. I want to, but I know we aren't ready (both of us), but mostly I am not ready yet. (My daughter is now four and a half). Are you living with your AH again? When did you know or decide you could live together again, establish boundaries, and work together (and separately) on your respective recoveries?

It' amazing how much responsibility we take for this disease. It wasn't really my fight, so although I did at the time, I no longer consider it defeat on my part. I remember when I was a kid, I'd occasionally come across an arcade game in a mall or something. I remember moving the joystick and thinking I was controlling the game, and it was just the demo playing over and over. With him, I thought I was directing, fixing and really I was just working within an illusion. It sounds like you have really taken strides in your own recovery and good for you for letting him have his. It's really what we need to do and what will ultimately bring us peace in our lives regardless of our outcomes.[/QUOTE]

Hear-hear! It isn't a defeat, but it felt like it at the time. It actually feels liberating to let it go. The joystick analogy (the illusion) is so true.

I will work on my recovery "regardless of our outcomes." I need to repeat that over and over.

Thank you, Silkspin.
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Old 08-11-2010, 06:55 PM
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Oops, still not familiar with how to quote others.
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Old 08-12-2010, 06:54 AM
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Our situation was quite complicated. We had decided to move back to my home city right at the time that things came to an end for me. We were trying to sell our house, while he was in my home city, living with my parents as she started his new job. We were back in our place over the holidays when a final incident put me over the edge and I said I wanted to separate. But because we were financially stuck between 2 cities, I told him that when I moved there to my parents where we'd temporarily setup, he could go to the basement. I told him that as soon as the house was sold he needs to move out. He told me he'd change things before then, and stopped drinking and went to AA. 5 months later after house was sold and we went back to pack up the rest of our things, I decided to let him back into my bedroom and my life. The test was to be home in his old haunts and with his old friends and not drink, and he didn't.

A few months later, when I started a course the same night as his usual AA meeting, he stopped going (didn't change nights - there are tons of meetings, and when my course was up he also didn't return to that meeting). Was still sober but talked a lot about how AA wasn't really for him and that he still can't imagine that sobriety is forever. Had issues with walking by patios in the summertime without being depressed. We'd go occasionally to an AA/ Al Anon couples meeting which he didn't close the door on, but went no further in his own recovery.

This summer, he joined a softball league. Team members usually have a few beers after the game. It became too difficult for him not to, seeing as how he wanted so badly to be like everyone else. So a few turned into coming home and having a few more, then smoking up which always put him over the edge into a mess. You can read on my other thread (I think you can look up by my name) about how it's going right now, but we're ships in the night.

My parents ended up moving to another city to a retirement home and we bought their house. So now owning the house, I'm a bit more tied in than where I was if I'd stayed separated after we sold our house and was living with my folks. So now it would be more complicated to leave - breaking mortgage and such (we already just did that and paid hefty penalties). Not that it would stop me, but if I took a first step now, it would be to ask him to move back to the basement or leave, then figure out from there.

He's returned to AA and got a sponsor, but since we're not really speaking I can't gauge how serious this attempt will be. What weighs most heavily is that I don't know how many times we will go through this cycle if I stay. Last night my daughter woke in the night with a croupy cough, crying. I was up for about an hour. Not a peep from his end, not sure if he was sleeping that heavily or just didn't want to bother. When I got back to bed, I imagined this fantasy of having a man next to me that rolled over and put an arm around me and asked if the baby was ok, and we'd fall asleep spooning. Instead I just had a lot of grunting. This is what I'm asking myself these days - do I want to always imagine scenarios of a present, loving, communicative, mature partner, or do I want what I currently have which is a man I did love, but a boy in many ways that is still selfish, immature, emotionally void. It's agonizing because he may never be that, even when sober.
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Old 08-12-2010, 10:18 AM
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Thank you so much. I will look for your other threads. It is helpful for me to get reality checks. Even though I have started my own recovery, I wonder happiness is still contigent upon my RAH. Because he is in recovery (taking baby steps), I find myself able to focus on mine. That isn't how it should be. Regardless of where he is at, I should be working on myself! I have to question myself on this.

I really feel what you are saying about having a mature partner with whom to have a healthy, mutual friendship and partnership--one who can put his family's needs, wants and desires above his own sometimes because it is the mature honorable adult thing to do. I have no idea what that is supposed to look and feel like! Now that my husband is sober, I applaud him for showing up on time, offering to pay for our lunch, calling me before he goes to sleep, and being engaged when we are spending time together. I realize for him, these are huge strides. It's not easy. Then I think to myself, I am applauding my RAH for things he should be doing period. I accepted so much while he was actively in the throws of his addiction.

Our finances are still tangled too. I was working toward filing for divorce. Then, he went into recovery. Here we are. I appreciate hearing your story. I have to take off the rosey-colored glasses and see the reality of having (or not having) a life with an A whether he chooses to remain in recovery or not.

I don't want to be leaving and coming back and disrupting my daughter's life. Again, I am getting ahead of myself, but I thank you so much for sharing. It helps so much!

My dad told me about "Sober League" softball. I don't know if there is a league in your area. Yes, I realize that when an A decides to step off the wagon, it doesn't matter if there are unharmful options.

Ships passing in the night. . .it's very lonely to be married to an A!
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