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Sober, Relapse, Rehab...when is it safe to break no contact??

Old 10-21-2010, 02:10 PM
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Sober, Relapse, Rehab...when is it safe to break no contact??

Hi there. I've only ever posted once or twice on here, but I've read countless threads and see the wisdom and experience so many of you have. I am hoping for some of that today.

My XAH and I have two children - boys - 16 and 7 years old. The oldest is not his biologically, but he adopted him when he was 6 and he's been the only father he's known.

I don't need to go through our whole history, but I was worried for a long time that my X had a drinking problem, and at the end of the marriage I knew he was an alcoholic. When we first split he only had the boys for short periods and he would pick them up at my place and drop them off after a couple of hours. This went on for 6 months or so, and gradually I let him take them for longer periods and then for weekends. I knew he was still drinking, but he was adamant he wouldn't drink when he had the boys and I believed him. He was always an honest person, even to this day I would say he is extremely honest...except when it comes to alcohol.

Anyway, for two years he's had visitation every other weekend and weekday visits for a couple of hours. My oldest son didn't often go though, they had many conflicts over the years and my X has problems dealing with him.

So, this past February my X sent me an email saying he was done and wanted to go to rehab. I thought....wow, finally, he's admitting he had a problem! Finally I know I was right! I know now this was not a healthy reaction, but in my mind I believed he would get better once he admitted he had a problem. Things have become much worse since that day in February. He has relapsed many times, and over the last few months I knew he wasn't doing well, but knew there was nothing more I could do. I just made sure the kids were always safe. He was supervised at all times after that first relapse.

So, I was trying really had to go NC. Of course when there are kids involved that is pretty much impossible, but I did my best. I fell several times and got sucked in, but I was getting better. Kept it to visitation and activities, finances, etc. Over the last 2 months he was almost not seeing the kids at all and then twice in one week he cancelled last minute because he was drinking in the morning (his admission). After the second cancellation he said he was in "a new recovery" so I wished him luck and then suggested he work on his recovery and when he felt stronger to email me about setting up a visitation. Left it at that.

A week later (not quite) he emailed me in the middle of the night saying he was suicidal and the ONLY reason he wasn't ending it was that he couldn't do that to our youngest son (not sure why he wouldn't be concerned about the older one too??). I know he might have been hoping for me to reply...and of course, this worked. I had a couple emails with him and found out he was missing work and drinking non stop for a week (he had done this twice before). I forwarded his emails to his friend (best man at our wedding) and asked his friend to help him. I couldn't do it again.

So, my X had to beg, but they have accepted him into a 28 in-patient treatment here in the city and he started there this week. I can officially say this is the first time he's worked harder at getting help for himself than I have. I'm very happy and relieved about this.

Now, I've been happy and relieved before....and then I was lied to. I trusted him with my children and found out he didn't put their safety first.

Here is my question....this is where I would like your opinions. When he comes out, and even while he's in there he would like to see the boys. I don't want to keep them from him - I never have wanted to. Is it unhealthy for me to let him visit the boys in my home? I had been doing that, but then when the lies started (I can tell almost right away if he's started drinking again) I decided it wasn't healthy for me. My house is a decent size, so he is able to visit in a different area of the house so I only really see him when he's coming and going. I also want to be supportive of his recovery, but part of me is afraid of going through all of this again.

If you made it through all of this (I tend to be long winded) I thank you and look forward to your thoughts.

Thanks!
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Old 10-21-2010, 02:25 PM
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okay, to heck with what he wants now....what do the boys want and how do they feel about it?
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Old 10-21-2010, 02:37 PM
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The 7 year old always wants to see his Dad. Due to him being very sporadic over the last couple months with visitation he has been asking less, but then when he sees him he wants him to stay longer and wants to see him again.

My 16 year old will see his Dad. He doesn't ask to see him, and only enjoys seeing him in small doses, but this is actually an improvement over the last few years.
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Old 10-21-2010, 02:43 PM
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I dunno..would seeing him inpatient scare the young one? It might.

What do you want, independent of what he wants?

I would say that the first week is kind of tough.

Do you actually want to drive to the city to do that?
And probably they would have to be accompanied by an adult.

You'd likely all have to show id, they hold your purse, someplaces ask you and the kids to empty the pockets and etc.

meh, I would have to say that I would need time to think about it.

It is not all about him and it's not all about his recovery.
You all have a normal life to maintain.
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Old 10-21-2010, 02:48 PM
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tough question and probably only one you yourself can answer. i guess if it was me, i would ask myself:

1. what do I want? can i handle it?
2. what do the children want, respectively.
3. the chance of relapse is high, can we all go through that again?
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Old 10-21-2010, 03:02 PM
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I don't think I'd take my son to inpatient to see his dad - especially if we were divorced. His bad choices are not my problem anymore. My job is to protect my son.

First of all, dad chose drugs and alcohol over his son. And I am not going to put my son's emotional well being out on a limb for the possibility of a relationship with a father who has proven time and again that his son comes second to drugs and alcohol. I just wouldn't risk allowing my son to be rejected again. My ex would need to prove himself for a long long long time.

Also, my opinion is that there are bad bad consequences when someone chooses drugs and alcohol over their family and not having a relationship with your children is one of those consequences.

Just because he is in rehab, doesn't mean he's going to stay in recovery. Give him some time to get his act together in the real world before you judge whether he is serious about his recovery. Time is on your side. The longer you wait the better.
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Old 10-21-2010, 03:17 PM
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i'm wondering if you post your question into the alcoholics forum, they might be able to give you some valuable insight from their perspective.
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Old 10-21-2010, 03:29 PM
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What's in the best interest of your children?

Personally, after all he's done, I'd have to see at least 6 months continuous recovery for visitation.

I would not take the boys to see him in rehab.

I had no visitors in rehab except my parents, once, and you know what? It was good for me because I got to feel the pain of knowing I had hurt so many people.

What he wants in rehab from you and those kids is irrelevant in my humble opinion.

I would also highly suggest visitation in a neutral location. Your home should be your safe haven, your safe place.
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Old 10-21-2010, 05:02 PM
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I'm not sure if this program is even called "rehab" to be honest. It's a voluntary in-patient program, however he is able to leave for short periods in the evenings to go to AA meetings and on the afternoons on the weekend. So the visits would not have to be at the treatment location, he could actually come here or meet elsewhere. He is asking to come here.

With the exception of the last two months he's had very regular visits with the kids, especially my younger one. I want to support him in recovery, but I'm afraid, with good reason. I've helped and supported him before and then ended up hearing lies and having him try (unsuccessfully since I found this site and have gone to alanon) to make me feel like I'm crazy. I'm sure you all know what I mean...looking at me like I'm nuts to think he's drinking again...telling me he'll call a lawyer (to which I said good idea-I wont be bullied) and telling me the lawyer suggested mediation (ok, great idea let's go). All just to try to get me to agree he can see the boys in an environment I'm not comfortable with.

Is it wrong to hope this was his bottom? He took himself to the hospital to try to get admitted, then went home and stopped drinking so he could get in this program. Admitted that alcohol is just the symptom..that he knows he has psychological issues that he needs to work on so that is why he wanted in this program. His biggest fear right now is losing his job (he does have a very important, stressful, well paying position), but he's taking more than a month off work to seek treatment. It infuriates me that his biggest fear is whether he keeps his job too....I know I can't control anything about him (what he thinks, feels, does), but I wish his biggest fear was losing his family. I want my kids safe, period.

I struggle a lot with where to draw the line. I want my kids safe, I want them to have a relationship with their Dad....but I don't want to risk my recovery. The easiest thing to do seems to be to let him visit here. Is that enabling?
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Old 10-21-2010, 05:42 PM
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To me, he needs to prove himself after the treatment program ....what is the hurry to subject your children to an unknown? Everyone will survive even if your children do not have contact with him for several months, it is not the end of the world.
Actions, actions and more actions, evaluate them, if they are positive then you can make your decision.
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Old 10-21-2010, 06:05 PM
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Really! There is no rush. Take your time. Consider your own boundaries with your home and your comfort and well-being.

He hasn't been availabe so why fall all over yourself and revoke your own rules now?
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Old 10-21-2010, 06:06 PM
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ps, I can hear my dad answering this in my head:

he can want in one hand and sh!t in the other and see which fills up first.

and then he just dismisses it with that statement.
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Old 10-21-2010, 06:47 PM
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I don't know what type of recovery program your XAH is in, but normally a rehab will have family counseling available. If your XAH and the father of your sons want to be involved in his sons lifes he needs to find family counseling. I would suggest this be your XAH's first step towards making amends to his sons. It sounds like there has been a lot of hurt and mistrust put on your sons by their father. I wouldn't use your house as the meeting place for your XAH and your sons. Your home needs to your sons' safe haven. I would suggest you attend Alanon meetings, and have your teenage son become involved with Ala-teen. Keep participating on SR. You are not alone, and neither are your sons.

"Serenity is not freedom from the storm but peace amid the storm."

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Old 10-21-2010, 07:10 PM
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"All just to try to get me to agree he can see the boys in an environment I'm not comfortable with."
THIS is what stands out to me. You are so used to being dragged thru the lies and manipulations he uses to get what he wants that you are trying to figure out if this was his bottom? what is he really doing? Can i trust him? Am I right? Etc etc.

Stop. Take a really deep breath. No, this is not the end of the bad behavior. You are allowing yourself to get sucked back in to his sickness and the drama. Do not allow ANYONE into your home who you do not feel comfortable having in your home. His visitation with his children is his responsibility. That is what divorce is about. That is also what detachment is about. Step away from the alcoholic. Recognize the his visitation and those children are your hook. Refuse to bite.

Hope this helps. Trust your instincts.
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Old 10-21-2010, 08:34 PM
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I admit I have generally made more of an effort than he has as far as making sure my oldest son maintains a relationship with him. I realized it was not helping about a year ago and decided to stop pushing it. Maybe I'm guilty of thinking the boys should be the most important thing in his life because they are so important to me. Only he can choose what he'll fight for and what he won't.

It's odd really....unlike so many stories on here my X never gives me any issues whatsoever about support. He pays a fairly large amount every month...the money is set up to transfer between accounts with every pay and he always agrees to the split for every extra curricular activity I suggest....Today he called me at work from the treatment centre to update me and tell me how well he's doing and how much he thinks he'll get out of it. I'm sure talking to him is probably not the right thing to do, but I really do hope he gets what he needs from this treatment. Anyway, I said that I hope he has success this time and that I sincerely hope this was his bottom (contemplating suicide). He replies by saying that losing his job would be his bottom, but agreed that his frame of mind was extreme so he got help. I'm dumbfounded. Believe me when I say I DO NOT want him to lose his job. This would affect myself and the kids as well, and I have had some concerns about that lately. However, a job is just that....a job. I was laid off in June 2009 for a few months, and while it was tough I could not imagine comparing losing my job to losing my kids...I just don't get it. I guess some people think they are measured by their job/income/status. At the end of this life I hope I'm remembered for things completely unrelated to my job. I want to be remembered as a loving caring Mother, Grandmother, Friend, Daughter, Partner.

I am guilty of wanting to make things easier for everyone. I know this is something I need to work on in my recovery. I don't ever want to feel like I kept the kids from him....but perhaps I am worrying too much about that. He's had opportunities to see them that he shrugged off to sit alone in his apartment with his bottle. I shouldn't break my boundaries for him at his first sign of getting help, and I have. I thank you for helping me see that. I'm sure I'll make more mistakes along the way.....hopefully I just keep learning as I go.
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Old 10-22-2010, 02:03 AM
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hi-

i find myself wondering why he is calling you from rehab, giving you status reports. are you sure you want the blow by blow updates during his treatment? do you want to be his emotional support system again?

since he is your X, i think it would be reasonable to say that while you wish him the best, that you do not want him calling you anymore. and (should you decide this) that you have decided against visitation while he is in rehab, as you feel it would be unsettling to the boys.
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Old 10-22-2010, 05:41 AM
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Dear 4mylittleones, ".....hopefully I just keep learning as I go."

I suggest you check out the "Patterns and Characteristics of Codependence" on the coda.org (CoDA) website. These patterns and characteristics are offered as a tool to aid in self-evaluation. We, people who have alcoholics, in our lives didn't wake up one morning and say to ourselves, "I think I'm going to become a codependent today". Our traits that make us codependents have become ingrained in us throughout our lifes. Recovery from codependency is a process that we must work on throughout the rest of our lives.

My 35 year old son has called me the glue that has held my family together. However, now that I have suffered a massive stroke in DEC 2009 that's almost too heavy (or sticky) to have that responsibility on my shoulders. You sound like you have tried to be the glue in your family.

Your XAH has been able to detach from both your previous marriage, but, unfortunately, also, from his children. As a mother who wants only the best for your sons, and that includes giving them a father. Unfortunately, their father is not emotionally available to them even when he is physically present. I believe your 17 year old son has already felt this detachment.

Feeling the Feelings by Robert Burney MA
“It is through healing our inner child, our inner children, by grieving the wounds that we suffered, that we can change our behavior patterns and clear our emotional process. We can release the grief with its pent-up rage, shame, terror, and pain from those feeling places which exist within us. That does not mean that the wound will ever be completely healed. There will always be a tender spot, a painful place within us due to the experiences that we have had. What it does mean is that we can take the power away from those wounds. By bringing them out of the darkness into the Light, by releasing the energy, we can heal them enough so that they do not have the power to dictate how we live our lives today. We can heal them enough to change the quality of our lives dramatically. We can heal them enough to Truly be happy, Joyous and free
in the moment most of the time.”

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Old 10-22-2010, 06:35 AM
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Wow, you all seem to have so much strength! I always thought I was a pretty strong woman, but I admit it is difficult for me to find the strength to end contact all together with my XAH. I think we ended our marriage but never ended our friendship until this year. I would not tolerate this treatment from any other friend of mine though, I admit that. I think I just wanted to much for my boys not to lose out on anything just because we got divorced.

I am in the process of reading "Codependent No More" and I've been to a few Alanon meetings. I need to find a meeting that I'm comfortable in that will work with my schedule. It's a little tricky being the only parent, but I'm sure many of you deal with or have dealt with that.

My younger son is turning 7 in just over a week. I had told him and his Dad that they could visit close to his Birthday. Wishing I hadn't already said that. Although, honestly my son may not notice....and his Dad has broken many promises to me, so I shouldn't really feel guilty about changing my mind. I really have to work on my feelings of guilt!
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Old 10-22-2010, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by 4mylittleones View Post
I would not tolerate this treatment from any other friend of mine though, I admit that.
So you're aware of a boundary. Good. Now how do you go about enforcing this boundary? What would you advise a friend in a similar situation?

Originally Posted by 4mylittleones View Post
I think I just wanted to much for my boys not to lose out on anything just because we got divorced.
If they are "losing out", it would be through no fault of your own. It is not your job to make up for your XAH's lack of parental involvement, and sadly, try as you might, you cannot protect your children from the consequences of their father's behaviour.

I know it will be difficult for you, but it seems to me that you need to politely cut ties with your X. His recovery is his business and as Naive so aptly said...do you really want to be involved in this now?

Originally Posted by 4mylittleones View Post
My younger son is turning 7 in just over a week. I had told him and his Dad that they could visit close to his Birthday. Wishing I hadn't already said that.
Perhaps it's time to have an age-appropriate discussion with your younger son about his father's illness and how it will affect visitations and whatnot. I know it will suck (I had a similar discussion with my then 11 year old stepson), but kids are surprisingly resilient and adaptable.

Keep posting! SR is always open
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Old 10-22-2010, 08:24 AM
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Thanks Nodaybut2day. You are all so sure of things and intelligent. I think it is easier for me to make a suggestion to a friend...but more difficult to enforce this myself. I am SO glad I posted about this and realize that if I had posted in the recent past I may not have made so many mistakes or bad choices. I always claim to want to make the best choice for my kids...but it ends up maybe that's not what is actually happening.

I have had a basic conversation with my (almost) 7 year old. I decided after the admittance by my XAH in February and the subsequent relapse that it wasn't my job to hide it from him. Things were changing drastically at that point as far as visitation went, and he needed to understand (in basic terms) that his Dad wasn't making healthy choices and that my most important job as his Mom was to keep him safe. He doesn't understand the details, but knows that his Dad has made unsafe choices.

I guess I have wanted him to get help for so long that it might be normal for me to hope that this will be it....but I've been there before. He needs to prove (over time) that he will do the work to get better and I need to focus more on making healthier choices myself as well.

Thanks everyone. All of your support and suggestions are making me take a step back and really THINK.
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