Just tell me what to do and I'll do it.

Old 08-26-2010, 11:29 AM
  # 21 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Toronto, Canada
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Yesterday after a long conversation with my sponsor, she mentioned that in her own experience (her A is her dad but she passed all her unhealthiness to her H) she held her husband to very high expectations and was very critical and judgemental of him and didn't accept him the way he was. She never gave him a break. As she put it, she realized that she was not a 'soft place for him to fall'. I think about all these similar things that I've done to my AH and how, as a spouse, I have not been a soft place to fall for him. And by that, I mean that, despite his drinking, I too hurt him. So often he'd ask what he had to do, how he could never make me happy, and I thought the whole solution was for him to get sober. And now I realize that it's also for me to be healthy. And when I'm healthy I can be a better partner for him, which in turn can cause a more positive effect on him. So it's not about telling him how to fix things, it's about fixing myself and to begin changing all the negative unhealthy dynamics.

When I was younger, I remember sometimes when my mom would be sitting on the couch and my dad would kneel down in front of her and put his head in her lap. It was his way of expressing a need for love (man of few words and quite stoic) and she would stroke his head and hair. I realize that my AH's drinking has caused me to fall into bad reactions which became my new basis for interacting with him, but I am not, nor have I been for years a gentle lap that he can rest, in his home, with the person he is most intimate with. A healthier partner could have earlier separated the person from the disease, but instead I became a [email protected] that demanded change, threatened, berated for being unable to control drinking.

Over the last few weeks my eyes have been opening quite a bit, and this new stuff was quite a revelation. Acknowledging my part has been difficult because it's easier to look outward at others than inward (their issue too when they look to you to fix everything). And it clicked about all the times he did try to tell me what he needed, and I hardened because I was so angry and resentful about all his bad habits.
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Old 08-26-2010, 11:36 AM
  # 22 (permalink)  
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Hi seekingcalm,

Your name speaks well of you and your desires, for calm and serenity is hard won at times.

It is not my intention to hijack this thread, but I would like to share a couple thoughts regarding your reply.
First off, thank you for your warm and considerate comments. They made my day, by letting me know I helped someone along the way today.

Secondly, my experience with alcoholism had taught me so many things, and one is that I need help in overcoming this addiction in my life. I need help today and I ask for it, for myself. I'm not married, never had children and maintain a healthy distance from my family of origin, so I seek recovery today in order to change as a person, from the inside out. It's taken me 50+ years to get to this point, and I struggle and fall just like many others on this path toward serenity.

One thing I have to learn is that I know nothing about healthy relationships with women. The models I saw when younger were the basis upon which I tried to maintain relationships and they were shallow attempts at best. It pains me today to watch others deal with life as I did for so many years because I know the results I found by doing so, and the end was not pretty. I found myself totally alone and this was the result of my efforts for many years. I gradually began to realize that the common denominator in all these broken relationships was me, and it hurt to admit that, but it was true. After speaking with a few guys in recovery, I discovered that they too were lost in being fully intimate in relationships, being fully open and honest, being fully involved as much as a guy can be. I also believe that there remains a fundamental difference between the sexes, and that some men are just incapable of handling the complexities of true commitment, so we escape into addictions to drown our frustrations and numb our feelings, so as to not have to deal with this undesirable reality. However, the emotions do not go away, they lie dormant, and once the alcohol or doc is removed they come out of the abyss demanding attention and reckoning. Then comes the choice of whether we want to deal with these unresolved emotions or continue to drown them out. I tried drowning them for a lifetime, only now to have them resurface like a tidal wave upon my soul. Running no longer works, thus my only option is to work through these pent-up emotions and stay the course of recovery with hopes of becoming a healthier and more content person. Easier said than done. As a man, I have always fought having to deal with all this, and still do somedays, but the alternative of active addiction has taught me that it's easier to deal than to continue along the path of destruction that was my life for so many years. Many other men never stop to sort it out, as I refused to for many years. We just don't have a clue.
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Old 08-26-2010, 01:22 PM
  # 23 (permalink)  
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No matter what the topic he will always manages to say

I bust my a** working 12 hours a day and you never appreciate me....

Just working everyday should earn him applause and massive amounts of stroking. So typical.

I'll stroke him - with my 10lb dumbbell.

I'm feeling a little bitter - ya' have to excuse me..
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Old 08-26-2010, 02:03 PM
  # 24 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by BklynGrl View Post
"just tell me what to do and I'll do it." Which is then usually followed by I don't know how to make you happy anymore.
I would say...... "Poppi (inserting fake name) I don't know what you have to do to make me happy. I can only do that for myself."


"Poppi......I'm not sure anymore." "Let me know when you figure it out."

And things that make you happy without depending on him to do that for you. You could always write a list of the things I'm sure you have told him over a hundred times and put it on the fridge and if he dares ask again it would be as simple as saying:

"'s on the fridge."
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Old 08-26-2010, 04:00 PM
  # 25 (permalink)  
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I just had what I think is a great idea!
Give him a copy of the book "The Love Dare"
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Old 08-26-2010, 05:57 PM
  # 26 (permalink)  
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My AH often told me he felt attacked, and comments like yours says serve to deflect him having to think or figure anything out. Just tell him the answer; he's defeated beneath all your words and just wants this conversation to finish!

If this sounds anything like your situation, then the most helpful thing is to assess your motives for the conversation before you open your mouth. If anything you say is meant to try and get him to see the light, or convince him of his issues or anything like that, it is better left unsaid because you are stepping into things that are not your mental and spiritual territory. Instead, focus that energy on you, and let him be and figure his own things out.

If he does anything because you tell him and not because he's come to it on his own; it will likely always be a bandaid solution. Even further and what happened to us, is that I'd tell him "what to do" and he might do it to get me off his back and then he just built resentment and then escaped by drinking.

So first, examine your motives before you speak, maybe it's a convo that doesn't really need to be had (and you deal with your desire to express in other ways like journaling, meditating, going to an Al Anon meeting), otherwise if a conversation still gets that way, simply bring it back to him with a gentle 'you do what is best for you' and leave it at that. The more he engages you to fix his problems with these statements; to me that is more reason to disengage with a neutral remark and not play in.
Thank you for saying this Silk. People have said this so many times here before - but I'll say again - what a miracle how the right words come at the right time.
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