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In purgatory...

Old 09-23-2010, 02:41 PM
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In purgatory...

Hello... and thank you for making this forum accessible to me and the millions out there affected by the disease of alcoholism. I'm new to this blog. Reading some of your posts last night made me feel a lot better. I am grateful for that.

I've been in a loving relationship with a sober alcoholic for a year and a half and fallen deeply in love with him. We've talked about the future, allowed our individual lives to intertwine beautifully but not suffocate each other. For me, it is a wonderful balance and often the most loving relationship I've been a part of. He is approaching his 2-year anniversary and I am very proud of him for achieving that. He's been in and out of AA for 20 years and attends regular meetings, 4 to 5 a week. I've met many of his AA friends and developed a close relationship with his sponsor, although I have promised myself to respect the trust that must exist only between them. I have sought out and attended Al-Anon meetings to learn more about myself and my life with an alcoholic. For me, meetings have been eye-opening and enjoyable. I tend to go only when there is a problem and realize I should make meetings a routine to fully embrace and work the program.

While the relationship has been incredibly fulfilling, there have been 'dark periods' when he retreats saying he is overwhelmed and needs time and space. These sometimes happen after we argue, but not always. He often refers to people-pleasing and needs to focus 100% on taking care of himself. It happens every few months and typically lasts a few days up to a week. During these times, we don't communicate. He initiates contact when he is ready. When we reconnect, I try not to ask questions and realize it's better if he shares information when he's ready. Outwardly, I have been very respectful of his needs, reminding myself that he is not doing it to hurt me but because it is what he needs. I will continue to support whatever helps him stay sober. Sobriety has to come first because without sobriety, he would not be in my life. He might not even be alive.

I am busy and have a fulfilling life so I am able to fill these 'dark periods' with work and activity and friends. But I cannot deny they make me sad and do interfere with my concentration. I am trying to remove the "but" from that statement and realize that if I want him in my life, this is just something he will need from time to time. And I know I do want him in my life.

Any thoughts about overcoming those sad moments would be appreciated. Are there other things I can do to help him... or myself?
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Old 09-23-2010, 02:57 PM
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Alcoholic or not, we all need our space. Because we are in a relationship, doesn't mean we need to be joined at the hip. In fact, I don't think that is healthy.

Keep busy, enjoy your free time.
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Old 09-23-2010, 03:53 PM
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"he retreats saying he is overwhelmed and needs time and space."
This reminds me of me. Recently I have begun to see that this is something I need to do for my self, to maintain my peace and serenity. I think that the best thing you can do to "help" him is to take the best possible care of yourself you can. Go out with friends, clean the house, get your hair done, do whatever you enjoy. Take care of your needs.

And Welcome to SR.
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Old 09-23-2010, 04:05 PM
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I found my ABF doing that as well. It is part of having to have some space to find balance in their life. Too much of anything to an addict can cause unhealthy obsession which can trigger the desire to use. He explained from the beginning that it had nothing to do with me but I still took it personally. Hard not to when you really care about someone.

Unfortunately in my case, he relapsed. It is a huge learning experience when you go from a consistent and wonderful connection to dealing with someone who is suddenly very erratic and self destructing. So, what I'm trying to say is let him take ALL the time he needs; his sobriety depends upon it. If you have not been through a relapse with him, consider yourself very fortunate. When you find yourself being sad and missing him, remind yourself that it is to the benefit of the relationship that he does this. Maybe use that time to reconnect with old friends, pamper yourself, indulge in the things you love. It is about finding ways to pass time that are enriching to you.

Some time away from him isn't a dark period. A dark period is when you have no idea where he is and when you do find him he is not the same person. He is despondent, depressed and just a general mess due to the drinking. Witnessing that is truly the dark period. Enjoy what you have!

Last edited by Babyblue; 09-23-2010 at 04:07 PM. Reason: left out a point
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Old 09-23-2010, 04:14 PM
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I'm getting a different vibe from the information shared here. First, I'd question the fact that he's been in AA for 20 years, but only has 2 years of sobriety. That tells me that he's probably had plenty of relapses in those 20 years, or he'd have 20 years of sobriety, right?

Second, you say you've been dating him for 1.5 years, so with 2 years of sobriety, that means that he began a relationship with you after only 6 months of sobriety. AA strongly recommends that recovering alcoholics be sober for 1 year before entering into or changing relationships. He clearly ignored that sage advice. Maybe he's not as serious about his sobriety as he claims.

And those dark periods where he disappears and has no contact with you could very well be binges instead of "me" time. His story doesn't add up to me.

My suspicions, of course, are based on my experience with attempting to have a relationship with an alcoholic, and for a time, a recovering alcoholic. And while I initially convinced myself otherwise, he certainly was no dream partner.
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Old 09-23-2010, 04:17 PM
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Yeah, I'm with Former on this one. Seems...odd to me.
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Old 09-23-2010, 04:43 PM
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Ditto.
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Old 09-23-2010, 04:53 PM
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Any time you feel like you have to tiptoe on eggshells, something isn't right.
If you can't at least discuss things equally when you want and need to in a forthright manner then this is an unbalanced relationship.

I am someone who has always taken ALOT of time to myself, way more than most people and I am not going to change....but my partner can and should be able to address whatever they want or need to with me and I can and do tell him what is going on with me.
Trust, honesty and respect is key.

If you are uneasy, there is a reason...perhaps you don't feel that it is full and mutual with the elements I just spoke of?
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Old 09-23-2010, 04:56 PM
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uh-oh......I missed the going no contact part.

The ladies instincts above me are fined tuned and on point.
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Old 09-23-2010, 05:33 PM
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Thank you all for your thoughts, but in particular to Babyblue, for pointing out that things could be so much worse. I have not witnessed a relapse and truly hope for him that it never happens, whether I am in the picture to witness it or not.

I am pretty independent and no stranger to "me" time. Let the pampering begin!

Be well, all.
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Old 09-23-2010, 08:51 PM
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yogagal,


Please feel that this is a safe place to come to. We all have our own perspectives, which is sometimes just what the doctor ordered, and sometimes not at all what we think we need to listen to. We have a little sliver of a glimpse into the complex lives of other humans.

We are always here, and you are always welcome to post. I hope we get an update on how you are doing soon.

Might you consider regular al-anon attendance?
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Old 09-25-2010, 05:21 AM
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I attended another Al-Anon meeting last night and got a solid 8 hours of sleep. I feel refreshed and much more empowered than I did a few days ago. Realization that I like to control situations but cannot always do so has helped. A close friend also put things in perspective for me, reminding me that I needed time and space away from her a few years ago. The more she pushed me, the more I pushed her away. If wasn't because I don't love her, I just needed time to deal with feelings that didn't go away overnight.

I'm not saying I have done wrong in this relationship, but knowing what I know, I could have handled the situation that sparked this break differently, in a way that didn't make him feel like I was setting him up for failure. I am strong enough to back away and give him the time he needs because I feel it will ultimately give me more clarity about the relationship. I am hopeful that we become closer... because that's what I want. And that's all I can control. The serenity prayer must be a daily reminder of that.

Today is all about ME... a yoga workshop and dinner with good friends. The cell phone is staying at home! Tomorrow morning, I will re-visit my favorite Al-Anon group.

I wish you all a wonderful Saturday and continued strength in dealing with this disease. Again, thank you for this safe space.
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Old 09-25-2010, 06:12 AM
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Dear Yogagal,

I hope you enjoyed your yoga workshop.

You mention that you're having a "time-out" now, and am I right in assuming it's a result of an argument you guys had?

There's something about the "he initiates contact when he is ready" bit that sticks in my craw a little. And I can't shake the feeling that you're not okay with that either--otherwise why would you post? There's taking time to calm down after an argument, and then there's punishing someone with a silent treatment--is he doing the former or the latter? Because if it's the latter, that's just mean.

I assume you two aren't living together? It sounds like you're doing great taking care of yourself and trying not to fret over Mr. Me-Time. You know that Yeats poem: "She bid me take love easy..." Good advice, but easier said than done!

I hope you enjoy surfing about here.

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Old 09-25-2010, 07:07 AM
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Welcome.
What kind of yoga to you practice. I do Bikram, which I know is frowned upon by some, but I've never tried anything else and LOVE it. It heals all that ails me.
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Old 09-25-2010, 08:37 PM
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Hey, I am all for "me time"...but done in a loving, respectful way.

Butnot "me time" that is the result of an argument, where HE goes away and HE decides on when to reinitiate contact.

I think 2 people can be in a loving committed relationship where they can give each other space but both feel security and trust during those times apart.

This sounds so much like my former relationship....it got to the point that when times were "good" I was always on eggshells waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for him to start getting impatient with things, with me and then he would go MIA for a few days. Only to return later with "hello sweetie" texts.

It never seemed fair to me. If I had an issue to resolve or needed time on my own, I would talk about it, explain to him what I needed to do.

That is what healthy adults do!
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Old 09-26-2010, 05:29 AM
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Mornin' all.

Yesterday's yoga workshop was wonderful and allowed some much-needed introspective time. It included a wide variety of forms and styles of yoga as well as other group fitness opportunities. TransformMyself - I have taken a Bikram class and enjoyed it but lately I have been drawn to a much slower and more gentle practice. I don't think there is any right or wrong when it comes to yoga. By nature, it is intended to be an intensely personal journey. Keep seeking out what you enjoy and what makes YOU feel good.

One topic of a lecture during yesterday's workshop was mantras. Though it may be a term we don't all relate to, we all use mantras, or repetitive self-talk, to reinforce can-do or can't-do attitudes. Realizing that was helpful and prompted me to begin listing the self-deprecating mantras I repeat to myself, whether about my relationship or other facets of my life. The list is longer than I'd like it to be... and only I have control of that. Something to work on...

I felt sad again last night. After the workshop, I celebrated a friend's birthday. She had a party at her house. I have wonderful friends and for that, I am very blessed. They love me. We are good at rallying around one another when support is needed, although I talked very little about my relationship last night. That said, they are all social drinkers, some to excess. I've had periods in my life when I drank too much, felt horrible and regretted it. I know I am not alone in that. But I have been so fortunate that I have always been able to control it. I do not need to drink and often, I don't want to. Last night, as the hours passed and my friends drank more, I longed for my relationship and the sober friends he has brought into my world. By choice, I have changed my own drinking habits since the relationship began. He has never set expectations or asked that I not drink. I have learned to admire and enjoy a sober lifestyle and have gone for periods without drinking at all. But I have learned to associate sobriety with him. It was a lonely feeling as I walked away from the party, wanting to be hand-in-hand but realizing that the time is not right for that. As much as I love my friends and wanted to be there last night, I was wishing I had ended my day introspectively.

His sponsor reached out to me yesterday, not to break any confidence or share any insight, rather with a funny invitation. Somehow it was comforting.

I did not sleep well last night and look forward to another Al-Anon meeting today. I wish you all peace and again express my gratitude for you.
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Old 09-26-2010, 05:57 AM
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It was a lonely feeling as I walked away from the party, wanting to be hand-in-hand but realizing that the time is not right for that.
I have found that it can be difficult to find the right balance of together-time versus alone-time in relationships. Everyone seems to approach it differently. Although I do love living alone, I also enjoy companionship. Identifying and defining my needs in this respect has been difficult.

In the past, I have been very clingy and desperate in relationships. Now though, I am more secure in myself and my life, enjoy my independence and need a significant amount of quiet time. No matter what stage in my life, though, anytime a person I have been in a relationship with abruptly shifts their focus away from me, it has been difficult. One (non-addicted, non-alcoholic) BF would "dump" me on a regular basis. He would be so intense with me and then all of a sudden, nothing. This happened on a regular basis. The pain of this was excruciating. A person like that has not achieved balance, for whatever reason. When I am involved with unbalanced people, I become unbalanced.

You sound like you have a good handle on yourself and your life. You may want to consider that, if this is how he is has been for the entire course of your relationship, and you have discussed your needs with him and no change has been forthcoming, that this is likely how your relationship will be in the future. Is the relationship the way it is now enough for you?
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Old 09-26-2010, 07:06 AM
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Learn2Live - thank you! In thinking about your post, I realized something. I do consider myself balanced. I have clear interests, likes and dislikes. I decide what I want to spend my time doing and don't feel bad saying 'no'. I like and am proud of my life.

That said, I can say I have not been successful at maintaining that balance while in a loving relationship, perhaps speaking to my co-dependence. I have allowed insecurity to creep in, and consequently given up too much of myself. This relationship has been my most successful at maintaining a healthy personal balance while opening up to a partner. For that reason, I am not finished.

I truly believe this break can be a good thing for me. I am the only one with the ability, the power, to make it so.
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Old 09-26-2010, 07:26 AM
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I am a true believer that every thing life brings you is an opportunity to learn something. Sounds like you are in a similar place of peace. Keep working on it, whatever it is, and soon more will be revealed.
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