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Serious Physical Reaction to Confrontation

Old 10-18-2010, 10:38 AM
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Angry Serious Physical Reaction to Confrontation

Just putting this out there so see if anyone else has encountered this.

Realized about 6 months ago that DW was drinking a bottle of wine each night and sometimes more than that. I would cringe when I heard her pour that third, fourth and fifth glass.

When she drinks she becomes confrontational and argumentative. She'll accuse me of having an affair or that nobody cares how much she does for everyone... Maybe she does this because she knows at some level that I'm codependent and will always back down or let her turn the situation around on me so that it's my issue.

I'm now realizing that she's always been like this when she drinks.

I've been to two Al Anon meetings and am reading 'Getting Them Sober' and have been trying to practice detachment. We haven't had "The Talk" yet about how her drinking is becoming a problem for me. I just want to have more tools at my disposal because I know it will probably get ugly.

I've kept my distance in the evenings when she drinks and don't take the bait when she seems to want to start an argument. It's hard for me because she can be so wonderful when she's sober and I can't stand her when she drinks. Maybe she's seeing glimpses of that or maybe she's feeling something because I'm trying hard not to be baited.

Today she asked if something was wrong. That I seemed like I was mad at her. I glossed over it (I know, manipulative) but I wasn't ready to have that conversation with her.

As soon as she said those words, I felt a tingling all down my body, my heart started pounding out of my chest, I found it difficult to move and my vision started to get contrasty like I was about to pass out. I really hated myself then. I felt like a weak wuss. I can see that because of this type of reaction, I'll always back down just to protect myself.

I really want to deal with this with her from a place of love but the physical sensations are so unpleasant that my instinct is to do whatever I must to make them go away.

I really hate this and still think that I'm crazy at times.

OK, I could go on but you all probably get the point! Any comments or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
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Old 10-18-2010, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by SteppingUp View Post

I would cringe when I heard her pour that third, fourth and fifth glass.

I cringe when I hear the ice in the glass.


When she drinks she becomes confrontational and argumentative. She'll accuse me of having an affair or that nobody cares how much she does for everyone... Maybe she does this because she knows at some level that I'm codependent and will always back down or let her turn the situation around on me so that it's my issue.


Same thing here.


I've kept my distance in the evenings when she drinks and don't take the bait when she seems to want to start an argument. It's hard for me because she can be so wonderful when she's sober and I can't stand her when she drinks. Maybe she's seeing glimpses of that or maybe she's feeling something because I'm trying hard not to be baited.


It is very difficult. I haven't figured it out either.



As soon as she said those words, I felt a tingling all down my body, my heart started pounding out of my chest, I found it difficult to move and my vision started to get contrasty like I was about to pass out. I really hated myself then. I felt like a weak wuss. I can see that because of this type of reaction, I'll always back down just to protect myself.

I really want to deal with this with her from a place of love but the physical sensations are so unpleasant that my instinct is to do whatever I must to make them go away.


Too much anxiety.


I really hate this and still think that I'm crazy at times.


I think I'm crazy too.


Thanks!

I wish I had some advice for you. I'm new here. I'm sure others will be able to offer feedback.
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Old 10-18-2010, 11:31 AM
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I'm prone to anxiety attacks. They were a lot worse when I was with XAH, mostly because he pushed and pushed and pushed to the point where I'd have a major breakdown, and then he got to sit back smugly and call me crazy.

I took anxiolytics for a while but they only made my brain dull. Honestly, the best thing I did was consult a therapist. I was given breathing and relaxing exercises to help ease my physical symptoms. I had to practice them daily, much like I practice self-hypnosis in preparation for the birth of my daughter, which I--Big Wuss Extraordinaire, managed to do drug-free while being dosed with Pitocin, the most evil drug in the world.

Honestly though, I had to practice removing myself from whatever situation was causing the anxiety in order to breathe, verbalize my fears and reason with myself. It wasn't easy with XAH blocking the way, but I still managed to do it.

My control isn't perfect. I still get nauseous when I receive a random email from XAH...but at least I don't hyperventilate myself into unconsciousness anymore.
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Old 10-18-2010, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by SteppingUp View Post
Just putting this out there so see if anyone else has encountered this.

Realized about 6 months ago that DW was drinking a bottle of wine each night and sometimes more than that. I would cringe when I heard her pour that third, fourth and fifth glass.

I could hear a beer can open from 100 yards away, and I bet I can still tell the difference between beer and coke being opened. My butt would pucker every time she popped a new one.


When she drinks she becomes confrontational and argumentative. She'll accuse me of having an affair or that nobody cares how much she does for everyone... Maybe she does this because she knows at some level that I'm codependent and will always back down or let her turn the situation around on me so that it's my issue.

In retrospect, I believe mine did this because SHE had been unfaithful since early in our 11 year marriage. Thankfully by the time I was privy to this info, I was way past giving a damn. Thanks HP.

I'm now realizing that she's always been like this when she drinks.

I've been to two Al Anon meetings and am reading 'Getting Them Sober' and have been trying to practice detachment. We haven't had "The Talk" yet about how her drinking is becoming a problem for me. I just want to have more tools at my disposal because I know it will probably get ugly.

I've kept my distance in the evenings when she drinks and don't take the bait when she seems to want to start an argument. It's hard for me because she can be so wonderful when she's sober and I can't stand her when she drinks. Maybe she's seeing glimpses of that or maybe she's feeling something because I'm trying hard not to be baited.

I kept my Alanon meeting secret for a few months to avoid the "alcoholic wrath", mine asked me if I had a girl friend. So they definitely notice the changed dynamic.

Today she asked if something was wrong. That I seemed like I was mad at her. I glossed over it (I know, manipulative) but I wasn't ready to have that conversation with her.

As soon as she said those words, I felt a tingling all down my body, my heart started pounding out of my chest, I found it difficult to move and my vision started to get contrasty like I was about to pass out. I really hated myself then. I felt like a weak wuss. I can see that because of this type of reaction, I'll always back down just to protect myself.

Yep, that's my butt pucker, and I had a lot of shame for feeling like a wuss. As men, we have some issues that are unique to our gender behind all this alcoholism stuff.


I really want to deal with this with her from a place of love but the physical sensations are so unpleasant that my instinct is to do whatever I must to make them go away.

I really hate this and still think that I'm crazy at times.

OK, I could go on but you all probably get the point! Any comments or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
Dude, I'm 6'1", 180 and built like a boxer. I've been working on my "Clint Eastwood" squint by going without sunscreen for 40 years, and just about have it perfected. I can, and do, alpha dog 20 something college boys bigger than me with just a look, regularly.

And I still cringe at the thought of my 5'4", sickly 90lb, axw throwing a mad my way, over the phone from 4 hours away.

I have no explanation for this phenomenon, but just wanted to let you know, you are NOT the only man to be afraid of a woman. Of course, now that I think about it, mine did pull a butcher knife on me once! Ah, good times.

However, I have learned over the years, they are bullies, just like when we were kids. If you stand up to them, they crumble.

Hang in there, I can see the dynamic has already begun to change. I think you're doing great.

Thanks and God bless us all,
Coyote

BTW, I second NDB2D's therapist suggestion, no shame in that.
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Old 10-18-2010, 11:41 AM
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Oh goodness yes, exactly. The feeling of panic, sick to the stomach, cold sweats, all of it.

I think, for me, it's PTSD SteppingUp. For so long I lived in extreme stress, walking on eggshells, feelings of dread, never knowing when the next shoe would drop. I STILL can't tolerate raised voices (and my AH didn't yell) or confrontational situations, but I'm getting better at it.

I don't know why my STBXAH makes me feel that way, to this day. I don't want to look at him, much less speak or deal with him at all. I get the same physically ill feelings just thinking about it. If you get a chance to discuss this with a therapist, do let me know what they say! lol

You are not alone.
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Old 10-18-2010, 12:08 PM
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You aren't alone. Not by a long shot. I'm not sure it gets easier but you'll get stronger in your convictions and as you do, you'll find the courage to just keep going and get through it.
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Old 10-18-2010, 12:36 PM
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I absolutely get physical symptoms upon the moment of confrontation. Now, I am generally outspoken, and my job has me talking in front of people everyday, no problem. But the anticipation and stress of confronting an alcoholic is a whole other animal. It's stressful because you don't know how the A is going to react, but you can anticipate that it won't be good.

I think part of the reason that As don't get how hard their drinking is on others is that they can't SEE or FEEL the anxiety and stress that we feel. I get short of breath, rapid heartbeat, pit in my stomach and nausea just before and during a "the talk." One reason why I don't nag or complain about AH's drinking very often is that I cannot physically deal with anxiety of the confrontation on a regular basis. I have stated my concerns about and objections to AH's drinking very clearly on more than one occasion. He chooses to disregard my concerns, so there's nothing left to say.

Anyway, I think the physical reaction is very normal--it means you care deeply about your wife and her health and the health of your marriage. The only other situation in which I get those kind of sick nerves is right before I'm about to give a closing argument in a jury trial (I'm a lawyer). I always say that if you stop having trial nerves, you should pick a different profession because you've stopped caring.

I know this is difficult, and I wish you luck and peace as you decide how to approach your wife.
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Old 10-18-2010, 12:59 PM
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Thank you all so much!

It gives me strength and hope just reading your posts. It's a real comfort to know that I'm not the only one who reacts like this.

Yes I care deeply about my wife and my marriage. I guess this wouldn't be so hard if I didn't care any more. Most people professionally and personally see me as totally capable and together. I guess that's where the shame comes in. If they only knew how very fragile and human I am at times!

I'm sure one component is that my mother died (many years ago) of a debilitating disease. To cope with the pain, the doctors had put her on many strong opiates. I'm sure that in her final year or so she was an addict. She could become unpredictably irrational at the slightest provocation. I guess that's why to this day I never felt comfortable in the presence of very drunk people.

Thank you again for all of your comments.
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Old 10-18-2010, 01:09 PM
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As soon as she said those words, I felt a tingling all down my body, my heart started pounding out of my chest, I found it difficult to move and my vision started to get contrasty like I was about to pass out. I really hated myself then. I felt like a weak wuss. I can see that because of this type of reaction, I'll always back down just to protect myself.
Yep, me too. All my life, any confrontation. It's nothing to do with being a "weak wuss" so stop judging yourself. For me, it comes from growing up with an alcoholic Dad, nasty mind-bender that he is. Not the high-contrast vision thing but yes all the rest.

But let me tell ya': You know that old saying "Knowledge is power"? Well, it's TRUE. Keep doing what you are doing. Keep learning as much as you can about alcoholism and how it affects you and what you can do about it, etc and you WILL get stronger. You will learn how to maintain your composure and take control of the situation to the extent possible. As you learn the tools, PRACTICE them. It is scary as hell to practice them in real life but once you struggle through the discomfort, it gets easier and you build confidence. It's just like any other thing you practice, like a sport.

Do you know when I knew I had finally conquered it? When I sat down with my plastered, miserable, stinkin'-thinkin' dear old Dad and over the course of about an hour took EVERYthing his nasty a$$ could throw at me, and NOT ONE THING he said shook me. I KNEW walking away from that conversation that I had ARRIVED. But you know what REALLY made it worth it? My little 70-year old Mother later told me that the entire time I was talking to my Dad so confidently, she was sitting in the other room, smiling and feeling triumphant herself every time I dodged his bullets and had an answer. Priceless.
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Old 10-18-2010, 01:57 PM
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yep i too had that gut wrenching feeling alot of the time when i was with him and the panic attacks had alot of those and still i cant stand a ring been pulled on a can of beer and i actively will avoid any sort of confrontation with anyone i dont like raised voices or arguments i cringe seems they do us alot of damage whilst they are in the grips of this disease xx
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Old 10-18-2010, 02:21 PM
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I tend to dislike confrontation, as well, always have. Lately, however, I've been a little more aggressive with AW because she seems to be on a fast downward spiral. Unlike many drunks, however, AW does not get belligerent... she just gets all wobbly and catatonic.

The frustrating thing for me is that all of our conversations about her drinking have resulted in nothing. She will not admit a problem, and she has no interest in quitting. She usually ends up just staring off into space, or telling me to stop making a big deal out of it. This infuriates me, but I try to hold my tongue lately. If I show anger toward AW, our daughter gets mad at me. She seems to think AW will get better if I just show a little more affection.

When I came home the night AW broke her ankle, the first thing Daughter said to me was "Don't be mad at her".

When she's drinking, I just go upstairs to my office... and I've also learned to dread that sound of ice in the glass. I can even hear her footsteps as she stumbles to her "secret" stash and pours another one.

It's a helpless, frustrating feeling. I can totally relate.
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Old 10-18-2010, 03:37 PM
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I wish to thank everyone who has responded to this thread, but especially to all the men. I know this is going to sound very sexist but I always thought being afraid to talk to an alcoholic was my own personal problem, being a woman. I was raised in the "old school" thinking where men had their roles to play and vice versa. Even though I graduated SumaCumLaude, was a licensed therapist until my daughter completed suicide, then switched my career path and finished my working career as a contracting officer, negotiating multi-million dollar contracts on behalf of the federal government. Yet when it comes to talking or confronting my alcoholic husband I become a bowl of jelly.

A large part of my problem is that my husband refuses to listen to me, let alone do anything I want. I suggest you don't have any expectations when you do have "the talk". You need to work your program for yourself. Detachment doesn't come overnight. You wrote that she is starting to realize there is a problem by you working your program. The more you take responsibility for yourself and start changing, the more she will realize there is a problem. It's hard to say what her reactions will be. For every action there is a reaction. There will be changes. I thing some of our fear is the fear of the unknown changes!

I was always comparing my insides to someone else's outsides.

:codiepolice
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Old 10-19-2010, 08:31 PM
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That was a common feeling in my childhood, growing up with an A dad. And in my twenties with my A brothers before I really got a handle on how my A family had damaged me.

You sound like you're in a period of consciousness raising, of breaking out of denial! Scary but worth it. Hang in there, keep seeking help & knowledge - you will discover strengths and options you can't imagine in this moment....

Peace-
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Old 10-20-2010, 02:44 AM
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Well reading what you said, I almost felt envious, like God why I could have never done that. I was always completely opposite. Well maybe not completely, the feelings were pretty much the same, tingling feeling in the body, heart pounding, and the rest, but I didn't get frozen, I never felt any fear. So I reacted every single time. I confronted him, I shouted, I screamed, I poured all my anger at him (RAH). He was actually afraid of me, and always trying to avoid any kind of comfrontation as he knew I was about to turn into this fire exhaling dragon. I'd stand up to him, killing him with my eyes, being in his face, and I'm a small woman, much smaller than him, and he'd back up every time. It was crazy.
I believe the main reason for this is that I'm ACOA, who grew up with AF, and I had so much residing anger, that I could not stand any more, so it made me fearless.
I felt terrible every single time afterwards, it just blured my vision, I felt guilty. I contributed well to the whole mess our life was.
It took me years and great will power to get to the point where I can simply not react, and only talk when I completely calm down.


And, coyote that beer can opening. LOL.
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Old 10-20-2010, 03:32 AM
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My Mom tells how she is woken up very early every morning around 3 or 4 to the sound of that beer can opening. And she knows what it is so she wakes up in anger. Can you imagine the stress? What a horrible way to live. NO THANKS.
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Old 10-20-2010, 04:06 AM
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Wow...what a powerful thread for me....had the alcoholic Dad, lots of anger. In Alanon I started to learn not to engage with XAH when he was drinking. My body definitely would tell me I was stressed...he opened a beer every 7 minutes....it drove me nuts. I got to where and even now I observe my body reacting.....meditation helps too.....just observe....long walks help.....I had PTSD from the alcoholic Dad. As my husband's disease progressed and I saw I was powerless over him (like Dad's). When I seperated from XAH and he would call- even over the phone I would get bent out of shape. My therapist said "it's just a voice".....My XAH was not open to AA or treatment and we did finally divorce after about 4 years of trying to hold it together. Love was not enough. The disease won in my case. He chose alcohol over family. Your body will hold the stress. It does pass. The word emotion.....(motion)...it will move. Detach with love.
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Old 10-20-2010, 04:15 AM
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Bernadette is right, when coming out of denial, things seem WORSE-at least for me.

I'm doing this right now with my own issues. They sure seem worse and hell maybe they are, but I think I"m just coming out of denial about how screwed up I am.

It's scary-scary enough to incite those anxiety attacks your having. Classic, really. I've lived with anxiety for most of my life, and only in the past two years have put a name to it and started being proactive.

Exercise helps a great deal. Learning detachment. But the only thing that worked well enough to have a substantial impact was not living with my AH.

Welcome Stepping Up. What a wild ride you've started! It's worth it Brother. Take back your life
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Old 10-20-2010, 10:00 AM
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The support and caring of all the people here is truly amazing! It gives me a lot of strength in moving forward in with my own recovery.

Yes, I'm at the beginning of this journey. I'm still vacillating on the first step! But as my awareness grows and I learn more, I become more calm.

A suggestion that I received was to imagine the letters SSS (sick, sick, sick) on her forehead when she gets confrontational. It actually worked! So onward we ride...
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Old 10-20-2010, 10:19 AM
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.

As soon as she said those words, I felt a tingling all down my body, my heart started pounding out of my chest, I found it difficult to move and my vision started to get contrasty like I was about to pass out. I really hated myself then. I felt like a weak wuss. I can see that because of this type of reaction, I'll always back down just to protect myself.


Your not a wuss, thats sounds alot like a panic attack. I have them sometimes for no reason, or a certain situation can cause one. have you always had this problem? I get prescribed Kolotopin and its not a high it clears your mind so you can focus, if its not abused
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Old 10-20-2010, 11:36 AM
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Thanks for the reply Shegirl. Yes, I've reacted to stress this way for as long as I can remember. Next time I see my shrink, I'll ask about it.
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