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AH husband just out of rehab...how do I walk the walk?

Old 09-03-2010, 08:30 AM
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AH husband just out of rehab...how do I walk the walk?

It was suggested I re-post this here, rather than on the Relationships Forum, so here goes:

I've been lurking here and found great comfort. Now I am in a place where I could really use some of your experience, strength and hope.

My AH and I have known each other for 23 years, been married for almost 4. He hit bottom spectacularly in mid-July, ended up in a homeless shelter after when I refused to rescue him from his latest fiasco, and checked himself into residential treatment, the first time he has voluntarily undergone treatment or been in an inpatient rehab.

He graduated from rehab day before yesterday, after 50 days. During that time I have been going to Al-Anon and reading everything I could find about codependency. An eye-opening and often painful experience, but also the lifeline I needed to remind me that I can have a good life if I focus on taking care of myself and living in healthier ways.

Yesterday (first full day home) he picked me up at work and it was as if he were drunk, although I'm pretty sure he wasn't. He said all the same hateful things, laid on all the old blame, was as abusive and manipulative as ever, saying he was leaving because I don't love him any more, that he would never get sober as long as I was such a crazy f**king b***, making up lies about what I said, etc. I tried to be calm and detach, but couldn't find a way to do it. He did this for a couple of hours, while I tried to stay rational, in the moment, not bring up the past, etc.

In the middle of it, he snatched the keys, stormed off to the car and went to his AA meeting. Came back much calmer, gradually worked himself back into the same state of obscene, totally irrational raging. I finally went to bed.

Got up in the morning to find him sacked out on the guestroom bed, where he spent many a night after drinking himself into a stupor. He hadn't been drinking, though, as far as I can tell. We were able to talk some, and he was able to communicate way better than before about how his feelings of pain and fear are so raw without alcohol that he can't deal with being at home or with me in any kind of thoughtful, aware way. He wept, I wept, we embraced, and I had to go to work.

Here's where I'm hung up. I am immensely grateful for the fact that he has gone to meetings, stayed sober, is trying to communicate effectively, and is self-aware enough to understanding what's going on with him, even if it's only after the fact. I am very proud of him for the effort he made during rehab and the effort he's making now. My problem is that I can't seem to detach from him enough to deflect the pain of the awful, awful things he says. I know intellectually that they're not true, and that they are an expression of his own self-hatred and feelings of inadequacy. I know that he is using personal attacks and pushing my buttons to create a chaotic environment to distract from actually dealing with his issues. I know it's just a habit that he hasn't broken yet. I just don't know how to extricate myself from the situation once he's created it. Do I say something like, "I love you, I can see you're having a hard time, but this is really painful for me and I need to go do something else."? Do I just get up and walk away?

He seems almost desperate to start a fight, to get back into our old toxic patterns, but I am absolutely committed to not going there ever again. He knows that I am working hard on my own recovery and that I am trying to steer clear of involving myself with his unless he asks. I'm comfortable letting him make his choices and face their consequences without any more intervention from me. I just want to know how to protect myself from his attempts to suck me back in as a player in his drama.

I genuinely believe that for now, anyway, he is really trying. I think this is way harder on us both than we could have really expected. I can see that the best thing I can do is disengage when he can't resist the old wife-bashing ways. I just don't know how! His words cut like knives, and I don't know how to step out of range.

Sorry this is so long. Any ideas?
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Old 09-03-2010, 09:17 AM
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He is reverting to 'old ways' because that is where he is comfortable.

Maybe y'all should look into a Sober Living House where he can live, interact with others on the same road to recovery and finally LEARN how to live sober.

That way you could continue to work on you, he could continue to work on him WITH HIS SPONSOR and hopefully through phone calls and an occasional date and you will slowly, ever so slowly start to see if this will work or not.

J M H O

Love and hugs,
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Old 09-03-2010, 09:33 AM
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"Yesterday (first full day home) he picked me up at work and it was as if he were drunk, although I'm pretty sure he wasn't. "

My XAH drank as soon as he was out of rehab (he was then my AH). I realize now that when I thought something wasn't right he was drunk. Years later he admitted it. He can function pretty well and be blitzed. I thought that he surely wouldn't drink after nearly losing his life and then going through rehab so I really didn't entertain it as a possibility. If you're not looking for something you sometimes don't see what is in front of you. Kind of like if I drive my Toyota to WalMart and walk out of the parking lot looking for my Ford then I walk right past my Toyota. Hope this makes sense. Just something to think about. Never underestimate an alcoholic.
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Old 09-03-2010, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by goodenough View Post
I just want to know how to protect myself from his attempts to suck me back in as a player in his drama.

--snip--

I can see that the best thing I can do is disengage when he can't resist the old wife-bashing ways. I just don't know how! His words cut like knives, and I don't know how to step out of range.
IMO, you stop out of range by creating physical distance between the two of you.

YES, it's great that he graduated from treatment, but he was only there 50 days. A mere drop in the bucket in the lifetime struggle of sobriety. Yes he cried and you cried and you both embraced...but AFTER he verbally abused you once again.

I don't know the particulars of your situation, but I think it would be very wise to physically remove yourself from this while things are still so NEW. You're still figuring out how to enforce your boundaries and he's still figuring out how to live sober.

The suggestion of a sober living facility is excellent.

Keep posting!
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Old 09-03-2010, 11:08 AM
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I presonally don't see how could you disengage to the point where you're not affected by what your RAH says to you.
My AH has been in recovery for over 3 months now. I know it must be hard for him, and I respect that, I'm willing to help him with anything he asks the help for, but no way I'd put up with him talking that way to me.
The way I see it it's a two way street, I'm there for him, understanding his struggles, being tolerant, not mentioning the past, doing pretty much the same things you said you're doing too, but I ask for something in return: Respect. Nothing more.
And I have made that very clear to my RAH. And he does give me that respect, because he knows it is not only me any more that is going to do all the work. I'm sorry that the things are tough for him right now, but he has to deal with them himself, and treating me like sh*t is not going to help him in any way.
I think it all comes down to healthy boundaries.
His sobriety depends on him only. Of course there are things you can do to make it easier on him, but by what you said you'll already doing them all: you'll there for him, you respect him. Letting him treat you this way is not helping anyone.

And why exactly would you want to put up with that kind of thing? Is it from the fear that if you don't he might start drinking again? If that is the case maybe you should think carefully about it.
IMHO we teach others how to treat us. If you don't stand up for yourself no one else will. He is not going to miraculously get it, unless there are consequences that will make him get it.
My RAH knows if he treats me poorly or if he stars drinking again, or starts doing any other stupid thing we are over and done with. He knows that if he wants our marriage to work he has to work it too. And most importantly he knows I'm not making idle threats and more, he knows I mean every word I say and it is making him think twice.
And it is working for us for now, and I believe it we keep giving each other respect, things will keep on getting better.
I don't know if this helps, I hope it does.
I wish you well
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Old 09-03-2010, 11:58 AM
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Welcome to the SR family!

Thank you for taking the time to introduce yourself and tell us some of your story. Please make yourself at home by reading and posting as much as needed. We are here to support you.

You seem like a smart lady. Your recovery is showing in how you did not engage with your raging AH. Good on you!

I am concerned, like the previous posters, that you are trying to do the impossible by detaching from verbal abuse. Labelling the abuse as a byproduct of years of alcoholism/immaturity is like justifying the abuse. There is no justification of verbal abuse.

You deserve to be treated with respect by your life partner. Some type of seperation may be helpful to you both as you continue to work on your recoveries.

((hugs)) and prayers for peace in your recovery!
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Old 09-03-2010, 12:20 PM
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Sesh, I think you put your finger on it. My whole life I never respected myself enough to think I deserved even to have boundaries, let alone have them treated with respect. While AH was in rehab I began figuring out what my boundaries actually are/should be, and I learned that a relationship needs healthy boundaries in order to succeed and grow. Duh. Now I guess I'm at the place where I have to spell them out and explain that I will no longer tolerate them being violated. Wish me luck...I'm scared of losing him and our marriage and the life I've worked so hard for, but I'm a lot more scared of losing myself again! I hope we will be able to work this out, but either way my job is to address my own recovery...so that the next chapter of my life won't be a bitter repetition of this one.
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Old 09-03-2010, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by goodenough View Post
I'm scared of losing him and our marriage and the life I've worked so hard for, but I'm a lot more scared of losing myself again!
I believe as long as you remember this you'll be great. It is about priorities.

I struggled with the same thing for a very long time. But once I truly understood how much I gained by finding myself again, my whole life started to change as by miracle. I can't even explain it. But is was so powerful. I've learned to say NO! Such a powerful word. It's a magic word for codies.
Also, other important things I've learned are: I can't control life, I'm not responsible for anyone but myself (and my young kids), for every relationship to work it takes two, ... and many other great things.
And it all happened when I gave myself persmission to concentrate on me, to work on me, to question me, my fears, my defense mechanism, my paradigms, and the lot.
For the first time in my life I feel free and completely happy, my happiness is internal, and depends only on me, it is a choice I'm making.
And trust me it always is, a choice, nothing more and nothing else, some choices are much harder than the others, but still we have power to make them, and make something great out of them.
IMHO life is what we make of it.

I wish you courage and honesty on you path, and many other great things. And yes, wellcome, this is a great place, it has been a life saver for me...
Take care
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Old 09-03-2010, 01:00 PM
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welcome!
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Old 09-03-2010, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by goodenough View Post
We were able to talk some, and he was able to communicate way better than before about how his feelings of pain and fear are so raw without alcohol that he can't deal with being at home or with me in any kind of thoughtful, aware way.
Welcome to SR goodenough! I am going to ditto what the other's said about sober living or some other living arrangements for your husband. If he can't "deal with being at home" or be able to treat you in "any kind of thoughtful, aware way" then maybe he shouldn't be near you until he can treat you with respect.

I knew the second that the verbal abuse started up again (after rehab) that my husband was drinking again. I'm not sure about your relationship, but my husband has never, ever sworn at me or called me names while sober.

I totally understand your predicament. I have been through this many, many times... all the doubt ~ is he drinking? not drinking? going to drink? this is how he acts when he's drinking... hmmm. I'm not sure... he says he's not drinking... it's a merry go round ride that I have decided to get off.

It no longer matters to me WHY he is mistreating me! It only matters to me if he does. And as for me, I have been called an F****** B**** for the very last time. So, I understand how hard this is and my advice is totally do as I say and not as I do (or have done, in my case). Trust your instincts!
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Old 09-04-2010, 05:00 AM
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Hi Goodenough!

My RAH is now 15 months sober, after a nice rock bottom.

And I'll tell you it is nice not to be verbally bashed on the regular. Isn't that one of the main reason why we leave in the first place? If they were all sweet and buttery while drunk there wouldn't be a problem.

Taking out his pain and fear on you is never ok.

It sounds to me that he has a long way to go before he is able to return to his life with you.

Start believing you deserve better
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Old 09-04-2010, 05:15 AM
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Do I just get up and walk away?
Hi I'm new here but reading your story brought up painful memories. My first marriage was emotionally and physically abusive. He was not a drinker. He was naturally a mean psychotical son of a bitch.

I kept thinking he always had some excuse for it, bad childhood, hardship with work etc....NO< he was just plain EVIL.

Love yourself and start a new life. You'll know when you had enough.

Best wishes to you.
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Old 09-04-2010, 05:32 AM
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Goodenough, all I can say is, relapse happens before they take that first drink again ... my AH, who was sober for almost 10 mos. just recently relapsed, and is back to the same old verbally abusive ways (you can read my post of today if you want to be filled in). His actions started changing about two weeks ago, and I swore he was drinking then, although he didn't look it or sound it. Now it is full blown again. Like Chrris said, my AH never cursed or was verbally abusive when sober, and he was sober once for over 15 years! Once my AH started this about two weeks ago, I knew if he wasn't drinking then, it was a matter of time. And I was right. I agree w/Laurie, I should have listened to her and others a long time ago, and let Kevin live in a sober house or something till well over a year sober ... if he could have lasted that long.
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Old 09-04-2010, 07:03 PM
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welcome, goodenough.

you already have a lot of wisdom on this stuff, and commitment. that's great, it will carry you far.

i understand the feeling that you want to be supportive, and celebrate the good things, the tremendous strides that have taken place. but....be careful to not minimize his bad behavior and disrespect simply because it's not as bad as it was. we can "stand by our man" for so very long - sometimes a lifetime - and then we will look back and say "and what was i waiting and hoping for?"

i think boundaries is the million dollar answer here. learn about how to set them, and then do so.

i also think that separate living would be very beneficial now. he is struggling, but you don't have to take a seat to his abusive ways. whether he is drinking or not.
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