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My First Post - Out of the Blue....

Old 10-20-2010, 09:36 AM
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My First Post - Out of the Blue....

I have been poking around some posts here and have found many of them very cathartic. So much so – that I wanted to put my own story out here.

My story is a recent one. Three weeks ago I thought I had the perfect marriage, but I have come to the harsh reality that my wife has a drinking problem. We’ve been married for three years and together for seven. It started about six months ago when I found her for the first time drinking a beer at 9 AM in the morning and hiding it from me. Obviously, I thought something was up, but I moved on and never really addressed the issue. Three weeks ago, I stumbled in on her again having a beer at 9 AM in the morning.

Both times I caught her it was obvious that there is a sense of shame that I had caught her. Now, my “senses” were up in a thought I would be more diligent about keeping an eye on her drinking. The very next week, unbeknownst to her, I watched the level of wine in two bottles go down on both Saturday and Sunday morning. She put away about a half bottle each morning.

On Monday evening I confronted her about her drinking and she completely denied the fact that she had been drinking wine on Saturday and Sunday morning. The denial was humbling. I never thought my wife would lie directly to my face. I had a complete emotional breakdown and could barely keep it together. The next Monday (two days ago) I wrote her a letter addressing everything I wanted to say previously (before I melted down). She read the letter and basically dismissed it as me overreacting – being “dramatic”.

From what I've gathered my wife is a “functional alcoholic”. She’s not a party girl and to be honest, I don't think she really likes to get wasted. I think she drinks just enough to numb the pain. She's had a very difficult childhood, and I know she has some self-esteem issues. I also know that it will not get better. With time her drinking will progress.

All she wants is for things to go back to ”normal”, but I told her that I cannot be in denial about her drinking. I know she is sick. I know that there is nothing I can do to stop her from drinking, but is still doesn't help the fact that I'm scared, confused, and angry. My emotions, and her denial, have created an intense tension in our household that we have never experienced together.

Last night, when she came home from work, I was feeling angry and resentful. I'm not good at hiding my feelings and she obviously knew that something was up. When she asked me “what’s wrong” I nearly blew up. Again, it's the denial. I thought – how could she not have a clue as to “what’s wrong”?

The tension progressed that evening, and I told her that I was going to go to Al-Anon meeting, which I did and found to be helpful. She asked “why are you doing this to me?”. I told her that I am having a difficult time coming to terms with her drinking problem and that I was going to the Al-Anon meeting for myself. In the end, she packed a bag and left the house (she manages a local inn and got a room there). She says she feels like a stranger in her own house, and that she doesn't know if she can be married to someone who makes her feel this way.

Keep in mind, three weeks ago, the idea of ever being separated from my wife was not a possibility. To me, if we were to get separated, than the “cat is out of the bag”. Our separation would be a total shock amongst our friends and family. As far as everyone is concerned, we are a model couple, and I have no idea how she would go about explaining a separation. She is intensely private person, and I have not mentioned this to anyone, but if people were to ask me I would tell them the truth.

One note, we currently do not have children. But, I'm 36 years and would like to have some soon. One of my major concerns (and thoughts that I cannot get rid of) is that I cannot consciously have a child with her now knowing that she is in denial about her drinking. This would not be fair to our future children. She knows that I would like to have kids, and is open to the idea, but she is scared of the changes and responsibilities that come with having them. Now, I realize one of the changes is likely the fact that she would need to stop drinking while being pregnant.

Okay… If you're still with me, here's the crux of my issue. I feel like the tension in the household and her need to leave last night is a direct consequence of her denial of her drinking problem. I’m fine with that. I didn’t chase her down, plead her not to leave, or call her late at night. On the other hand, the tension (the only consequence she’s likely ever faced) is directly caused by my feelings and emotions, which is not healthy or sustainable. I feel like it’s a Catch-22. What to do??? If I mitigate my feelings than there’s not more tension. No more tension means no more consequences. No more consequences means it’s back to normal. Back to normal means she’s sneaking drinks. Sneaking drinks means no children. No children means why am I in this relationship???

More than once I have told people that I love being married and that I love my wife. We are extremely affectionate and our love for each other has been undeniable. Our relationship has been a beautiful one, and I feel like alcohol has taken a big dump on it.
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Old 10-20-2010, 09:55 AM
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I'm relatively new here, so I can't offer any great advice. I can tell you that my wife started drinking many years ago, and seemed to control it fairly well until about two years ago. She started with beer, and for a long time, that was all she ever drank. It didn't really seem to affect her that badly. At some point she started buying hard liquor, and was drinking it two or three times a week. Unlike the beer, the hard stuff turns her into a zombie. She gets to the point that she can't walk, and falls frequently.

Her drinking has accelerated this year to the point that she's drunk three or four nights a week. Two weeks ago, she fell and broke her ankle while drunk.

With any luck, your wife will be able to control her drinking. However, from what I've read, drinking in the morning and hiding it are both signs of a problem.

I hope you guys can work it out.

Welcome to the forum.
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Old 10-20-2010, 10:02 AM
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Hi PacApps and to SR. I'm glad you found this place and that you posted your story.

I'm also glad to see you're going to Al-Anon. I found the best support there. I strongly encourage you to keep going to get the support you need.

If you've been to Al-Anon, you know the 3 C's of addiction:
You didn't CAUSE it
You can't CURE it
You can't CONTROL it

As hard as it is to step way back, you simply have to. Nothing you do or say can convince your wife to stop drinking. Heck, she doesn't even think it's a problem really. The only thing you can do is focus on yourself.

You said things very clearly and honestly in your post: you want children but don't want a child with an alcoholic active in her addiction. It seems like it's time to reassess whether or not this relationship is right or healthy for you. I applaud you for thinking ahead about any possible children and not just jumping in, thinking that a pregnancy will magically solve your problems. I know I thought being preggo would make my XAH stop drinking....heheh, right.

I think that at this point, you need to tell your wife clearly where you stand and what your next step will be. Any "ultimatum" will no doubt result in more explosions between you two.

Keep posting! SR is always open.
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Old 10-20-2010, 10:17 AM
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Sorry to here of your shock, Pac. Welcome to SR. Lots of useful stickies at the top of the forum.

You know that if you have kids, your wife will need to kick the problem drinking into touch permanently, rather than just for the pregnancy. Unless you are planning for them never to be alone with her and to save up for the therapy in their teens?

Keep going with posting here and with al-anon. If you put the work in on your own thoughts and info gathering, you'll make the best decision.
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Old 10-20-2010, 10:50 AM
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Denial + lies to cover up are a major symptom of addiction.
Keep going to alanon.
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Old 10-20-2010, 10:59 AM
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Thanks everyone for your replies. I will keep going to alanon. After my Dad died I went to therapy for awhile and found it helpful. I've contacted my old therapist and will also be seeking counsel from them as well.

I want to stick around and give her time, but the current tension is difficult (obviously). My ultimate goal will be to find a way to be at peace with her, but at the same time not be in denial about her illness. I pray that she sees the light, but also understand the repercussions if she does not. Only time will tell. Again... thank you all.
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Old 10-20-2010, 11:07 AM
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Something else... she does admit that she has some pent up issues in regards to her parents and her childhood. I won't go into the details, but Mom is 10 years into recovery and her Dad (who lives in South Africa) still has a drinking problem.

She did say she was open to the idea of speaking to a therapist about coming to terms with her past, but that any discussion of alcohol would be off the table. I guess this would be a start?
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Old 10-20-2010, 11:42 AM
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No, to me, that's just her bargaining with her "seedy past" so she doesn't have to have light shined on the addiction, which we all know thrives best in the dark and unknown to others.

I know you're just at the beginning of your journey and that you're probably willing to accept this "offer" to go to counselling, but I hope we can all save you some heartache by warning you right off the bat. Ask yourself WHY she won't discuss her drinking. If there wasn't a problem, she wouldn't have an issue with discussing it.
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Old 10-20-2010, 12:01 PM
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Welcome to SR, I am glad you found us. Keep reading and posting, and going to Al Anon.

I see a therapist too, and I've found it helpful, however, I must say that not all therapists have a good enough understanding and/or experience dealing with alcoholism, so Alanon and Sober Recovery have been so incredibly helpful.

My ex ABF saw a therapist, went to AA, did all these things to keep me in the relationship. But really he just got better at hiding his drinking. He was drinking the morning too. I was amazed. We had been so in love and so happy. Alcoholism sucks. But I have learned that they will lie and sneak and do anything to protect the addiction. It only gets worse. And most of us stay too long hoping that things will get better.

My prayers are with you. Continue to take care of yourself. Don't bargain with an active alcoholic. "Trying to reason with an active alcoholic is like trying to tell a schizophrenic not to hear voices." Cannot be done. Take Care Of You.
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Old 10-20-2010, 12:13 PM
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Interesting posts. I was thinking about the tension we've had in the house and my feelings of resentment and anger. I think the resentment is tied to the fact that I don't feel like my feelings have been validated. I'm trying to rationalize the fact that my relationship as I've known it has turned completely upside down and she's pretending that it never happened.

I wonder if there's a way for us to just agree to disagree. I think she has a drinking problem - she does not. Even if she disagrees with the premise I would feel much better if I knew she had some compassion for what I'm going through.
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Old 10-20-2010, 12:22 PM
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Said gently: I think you need to prepare yourself for the fact that you may never get the validation you are currently seeking, and that if you do get it, you will not be able to take it at face value (not for very long anyway).

I also did the whole "agree to disagree" thing; it never worked, because I was constantly suspicious of my XAH, wondering if he was drinking and getting insulted/hurt by the fact that he obviously still was.

I'm sorry you're having to go through this.
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Old 10-20-2010, 12:29 PM
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I found it helpful to read the AA Big Book on line. I needed to learn and understand about this disease and what it does...to everyone involved.

Agreeing to disagree may seem like it could work, but I found that I had to be true to what I knew I could or could not live with. For me and my ex, it became impossible to be close emotionally with this disease between us.

You don't have to decide anything...but read and learn, and think hard about what you will and will not tolerate in your life. My ex and I made all kind of deals about his drinking...no vodka, wine and beer only, no drinking in the morning... on and on it went. None of it mattered. He just hid it better, and I almost went insane with the tension, and the hurt of betrayal. There could be no truce in my home with regard to the alcohol.
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Old 10-20-2010, 12:35 PM
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I also did the whole "agree to disagree" thing; it never worked
I think that was the approach I was trying to take... some would say I was in denial. Could be. I thought that I could detach and coexist with my AW and just ride it out.

I was only kidding myself. She now has an alcohol-related injury that has temporarily incapacitated her. Now I'm being forced to deal with her... physically and financially.

It's like my HP...or Karma...has grabbed me by the ear and said, "You can't ignore this".
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Old 10-20-2010, 12:46 PM
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hi and welcome-

for myself, the thing i couldn't deal with were the lies. it broke the trust. i could have handle overt drinking even. but the lies made me suspicious. and then i became someone else. i started snooping and even more lies were uncovered. i had no idea that he lied so much. and it wasn't just about drinking. the more i snooped, the more i uncovered, the more i requested validation, the more i didn't get it, the crazier and more determined i became.

the lying and the hiding breaks down the very fabric of a relationship. a normal drinker wouldn't have a probelm discussing their drinking with a therapist. not a good sign that this one particular subject is off-limits, yet it is the very thing which is breaking you down.

another thing i learned is that drunks are very selfish. they think of themselves. they don't care that they are hurting you. they don't care that you are suffering along with them in their drinking. they will deny, deny, deny until you begin to question your very sanity.

do yourself a favor. nip this in the bud. determine what your boundaries are, communicate them and stick to them. boundaries are not about controlling the other person; they are about protecting yourself.

i would render a guess that you haven't even discovered how much she is drinking yet. this is all new to you but from what you have described, it's pretty classical.

one tool that i found very useful to breaking out of my own denial, was to journal every day. i noted things like what money was spent on, what drink i though he had drank, any inconsistencies....after a few months, the true picture started to emerge.

glad you are going to alanon and reconnecting with your therapist. focus on yourself and what you want. you can't control her.

as for the tension in the house, i think that is because she refuses to admit there is a problem yet you are suffering daily from it. take your own space as you require...i moved into the guest room of our home...that helped me have a space i could retreat to...

keep posting, keep talking, keep reading. we are here to help 'cause we've been there.

naive x
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Old 10-20-2010, 12:49 PM
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Old 10-20-2010, 03:56 PM
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Really great feedback everyone. I appreciate it.

The one crazy thing for me is that if I never walked in on her drinking I never would have known! Most people (the very limited I've been able to connect with to date) seem to have had significant others that get wasted at home and be openly drunk. This has not been the case for me. Our life has been relative bliss to date. Just another layer of complexity I'm having a hard time rationalizing.

I think one of the reasons the tension is so palpable is that the realization (at least for myself) is so fresh. Truth be known - after my father passed away I dealt with panic attacks and anxiety issues for a few years. In going to therapy I have learned to "not sweat the small stuff" and there's not much that gets me rattled these days. She knows this about me, and the fact that she's seen me as upset as I have been and is still in denial really hurts.

I've been listing to a book on tape - "Codependent No More". I related to a lot that was said. The one thing that I did not connect with is how a codependent can have a low sense of self-esteem and self-worth. I think that we have lived in bliss together and I didn't know she was drinking has helped me maintain my sense of self-worth.

The one thing therapy taught me was to love myself. I have a successful business, good friends, make good money, and I feel that I have a lot to offer.

A fear that I have is that I will not have the patience to tolerate the denial. I almost feel like in order for me to tolerate it I need to be in denial myself. Again, this is something I can not do. It is very difficult for me to suppress feelings or pretend like everything is all OK. I don't know - it's all happened so soon. Part of me feels like I'm being cold, but another part of me says I don't deserve this.
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Old 10-20-2010, 04:56 PM
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Hey Pac,

I’m a little farther down the line than you are....if you follow suit you'll soon be looking for bottles, questioning your own sanity as well as your ability to judge people.

Best advice I can offer is what I’ve already done, hang tight and watch, pay attention to what she says as well as what she does.
Once you have a grip on the reality of the situation then you need to decide what you will put up with (folks here say "boundaries") and what you won't.

You’ve said you don't have kids so really all you need to worry about is yourself.....just know that it's normal to love her even if you can't put up with her behavior.


It’s been said already but you can't fix her you can only work on making yourself and your life better.
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Old 10-20-2010, 05:08 PM
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Was going to post but Naive said so well, I will just say to heed her post.

By the way, trying to make agreements with active A's is the quickest way to the looney bin......for the sober partner.

"Agreement!! What agreement? I never agreed to anything. You are nuts, it's all in your mind. What is wrong with you?"

Anybody heard those words before?
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Old 10-20-2010, 05:15 PM
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I just balled my eyes out for 15 minutes. Thinking about how this is the love of my life. How I was expecting to spend the rest of my life with her. How I wanted to have children with her.

Now... I don't even know how we are going to live together.

I'm going on a run. Need to unwind.
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Old 10-20-2010, 05:21 PM
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A run is a wonderful healthy thing to do. Good for you. Sorry you are going through this. It sucks, I know.
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