What is the purpose of the F&F forum?

Old 11-10-2010, 09:43 PM
  # 1 (permalink)  
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What is the purpose of the F&F forum?

I had become very disappointed and felt insulted by the F&F Forum. I am the guilty party that started the "Are alcoholics really sociopaths?" thread. However, before I started writing my thoughts I revisited the thread and was pleasantly surprised Ann, the moderator, had closed it leaving my dignity and my reputation intact.

I wrote the thread with my best intentions, but it took on a life of its' own. I thought when I posted the following "Dear Hollyanne, you are RIGHT! I should have been more specific. There is an old adage that states I may not always agree with what you say but I will defend your rights to say it." that would stop all the negative feedback. I felt bad and insulted when the thread took on its' own life.

I guess I did have my own reasons for starting the thread. Somehow if I can view my dry drunk husband of 40 years as a sociopath than taking the necessary steps I need to take for my own safety would be easier. I don't remember having my stroke in DEC 2009. I was hospitalized from DEC 23rd until JAN 8th in the intensive care. I had suffered vascular dementia and by the Grace of God regained my consciousness. When I came back from death's door my body looked like Barney, my body a dark purple. By the time I was taken to the hospital my organs had started failing.

Now that I have stated all that, let me write what I wanted to post. The 12 step based recovery forum-(Al Anon) is for families, relatives, and friends whose lives have been affected by someone else's drinking. It's a forum where the tradition of protecting the anonymity of all codependents can have a safe place where those who have been in abusive and tumultuous relationships with alcoholics can feel okay about sharing. We have singleness of purpose just as AA does. It is a good thing to have separate fellowships.

Support is critical - No man is an island. We exist in a world of relationships. More specifically, targeted support is especially helpful. This is why twelve step programs are so useful in early recovery—they offer a concentration of other recovering codependents. The idea is, we help each other by sharing from our personal experience—who knows about alcoholism and addiction better than those who have experienced it, or have lived with it?

Another important lesson to learn is the jargon between Ala-non and AA meetings. In Ala-non we say: "Take What You Like and Leave the Rest". This sense of "taking what you need" might be more aptly described as "finding what you need," in that if we're open and inquisitive and engaged, we often find things we never knew we were looking for, but that make our lives much more interesting and enjoyable. In AA they say it a bit differently: "Take What You Need and Leave the Rest" .(AA’s version, characteristically, incorporates a bit more desperation). In AA they also say, "Take the Cotton Out of Your Ears and Put It in Your Mouth". In Ala-non we say "Listen and Learn".

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Old 11-10-2010, 10:04 PM
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When I first came to SR, I wanted validation. I wanted people to agree with me that I was "right" and he (my AH) was "wrong." At that point, I needed him to be wrong in order for me to be right. I didn't realize that it's not black and white, all or nothing.

Many people said things to me I didn't want to hear. I got offended and angry quite often.

I have come to appreciate that there isn't so much difference between alcoholics and those of us who love them. We both prefer to blame the other for our problems. We both have a very difficult time putting down the magnifying glass and picking up the mirror. We both prefer being the victim to taking responsibility for our situations.

My therapist once told me that alcoholism and codependence are just two different branches of the same tree. Her wisdom and guidance helped me regain my life.

Hearing other people's opinions (even recovering alcholics) doesn't make me feel "unsafe." It sometimes makes me uncomfortable, but I now realize that much of the pain in my life was caused by me trying to avoid discomfort.

Recovery is a process, and I know well that a stage in that process is anger at the alcoholic. There is nothing wrong with that. The only danger lies in getting stuck at that stage and never moving past it. I understand where you are in your process because I have been there. You may not understand where I am in my process because you haven't been there yet. But, you will get where you need to go.

There are many double winners on this forum, whose wisdom and insight I value highly. I do not think there should be a bright line dividing the alcoholics from the codependents. We are more alike than most of us want to admit.

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Old 11-11-2010, 01:40 AM
  # 3 (permalink)  
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Somehow if I can view my dry drunk husband of 40 years as a sociopath than taking the necessary steps I need to take for my own safety would be easier.

Is the point of the F&F forum. Through recovery, including time in face to face alanon meetings, working with my sponsor and spending time on these boards, I have learned that I don't have to demonise or diagnose anyone -before- I start looking after myself. The looking after myself and setting boundaries come first.

Support is critical acdirito, and for what it's worth, I am an alcoholic. As are many of the people on these boards whose wisdom has kept me upright in the last year. When a person is drinking, their brain is impaired to the point where expecting reasonable behavior is unreasonable. That's the part we can work on. Letting go of the idea that we can have reasonable expectations of someone in the grips of an addiction.

I can understand your feeling attacked - but please bear in mind that most of the people on here with good recovery have gotten better by taking the focus off other people and by asking questions like ... why do we need and kind of permission or validation to walk away from a situation that is harmful to us. I spent a long time trying to figure out what was wrong with my ex - his behavior towards me probably qualifies him as a narcissist, borderline, sociopath, you name it. For a while I was desperate for answers.

Took a long time for me to start asking different questions, and none of them had to do with him.

I'm not for one minute negating any of the pain or abuse you have suffered in your marriage. Being involved with someone in active addiction is a world of pain. But given that there are lots of folks in recovery in F&F, your thread was bound to raise some hackles.

Forget about your husband for a moment - how are you? What are your fears about leaving? What would you need to do to make that a reality, if it's right for you? What support do you have? How can you get some more support while you make this decision? These are the planning and action steps that I've seen so many brave souls go through on these boards in the last year. They are heroes. And the real change has come, every time, when the focus is taken off the addict and put back onto the person who is posting.

I hope that you stick around and I hope that you reach a place of peace where you feel able to do whatever it is you need to do for you to live the best life that you can.

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Old 11-11-2010, 04:26 AM
  # 4 (permalink)  
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"12 step based recovery forum-(Al Anon)- for families, relatives, and friends whose lives have been affected by someone else's drinking. If someone close to you, such as a family member, friend, co-worker, or neighbor, has or has had a drinking problem you'll find support here."

That is the mission statement posted on the home page for SR. It is the description posted under the Friends and Family Forum title.

I am sorry you felt insulted and disappointed by the previous thread.
We hope this is a safe place to share feelings and concerns.

I can offer some tips to help you with future posting:

Take a look down at the left corner of my current post. You will see a circle. Next to the circle you will see a triangle with an exclamation point inside. Please click onto the triangle anytime you feel like a thread/post requires attention from a moderator.
Clicking the triangle will open a new dialog box and you can type in your concerns.

You can choose to have a thread closed. You can choose to have your post deleted. You can choose to have your post edited after the alloted time. All options are available by clicking the triangle or by sending a Personal Message to one of the moderators. (Moderators screen names are typed in bold blue font)

You can also send a Personal Message to one of the forum Greeters (our screen names are typed in green font). Greeters can not make changes to your post, but we can direct your request and find assistance.

As a greeter, I can not determine how much feedback is acceptable to the OP (original poster). Please let us know how we can assist you in future postings.
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Old 11-11-2010, 06:38 AM
  # 5 (permalink)  
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I'm glad you decided to come back in spite of a bad experience. That takes courage. I admire that.

Your health problems sound very serious. I'm hopeful that you are doing well now. I truly believe that living with the stress that the disease of alcoholism/addiction brings, can cause serious health problems....not only to the A but to everyone around them. You and I have experienced this. I hope that you are taking good care of yourself and that your health is improving.

There are positives and negatives in participating in an forum like this. I have found that the positives far outweigh the negatives for me. So I choose the take the words "take what you need and leave the rest" to heart. And I have received a tremendous outpouring of support that have helped me through some pretty rough periods. I hope that you will to.

gentle hugs
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Old 11-11-2010, 06:57 AM
  # 6 (permalink)  
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The purpose of the Friends and Families forums is stated above. It reads very simply, but it's more complicated than that.

Each of us gets here in our own time, from our own place. A person doesn't end up at a site like SR if they have a happy, normal, healthy life.... instead, someone has been on the internet, searching for help, support, or answers to a situation that is troubling. I know I was, and thank god I found this place.

I had already been going to Al Anon for about 9 years when I found this forum. I had learned some of what I needed to learn, and I had stubbornly resisted making some of the changes I needed to make in my own life and in my own thinking. Like I said, we all get here in our own time.

I spent many a late night and early morning here, when my mind was racing and I was consumed with so much fear that it was hard to think or breathe, let alone sleep. I quickly found some people with whom I connected, and a few others who just irritated the crud out of me. At first I wanted to correct them when I thought they were wrong, but just like in real life, I figured out I didn't have to like all of them or get along with all of them. I could, as they say in the closing of an Al Anon meeting, "take what you liked and leave the rest."

AND I could use that magical IGNORE button if I just couldn't tolerate what someone else was saying.

Looking back on my own Al Anon recovery for the past years, I can laugh-gently- at myself now. I had my own personal issues growing up, that unique and odd blend of relatives and situations that help to direct my thoughts and emotions and ways of coping with what life put in front of me. I was primed and ready in my teens to be a bit of an insecure, people pleasing martry. I had to struggle through some of that and deal with some really yukky stuff as a result.

I think many of us get here, exhausted from the struggle, at our wits end. We just want that ONE thing that will take the pain out of our life. That ONE thing we haven't thought of, that one word or phrase, that one magical treatment, the book or CD or whatever it is that will make him (or her) stop doing whatever he's doing. If we could find the magic answer that would make him see the light, make some positive changes in his life, then OUR lives would be better. Plain and simple.

Sadly, it doesn't work like that. No matter how smart we are, no matter how much money we have, no matter how much we love them, it doesn't work like that. No matter how much we try, we cannot control another person's compulsion or disease. I had an AHA moment... and realized it would have been all over the news and on Oprah if there really was a way. We aren't unique, this family disease, this disease of relationships, has been around since the beginning of time.

Back to the purpose of this site. It's a place for us to come together to share our struggles, learn some new ways of thinking, support one another thru trials and successes. Because it's the internet, there's a false sense of anonymity and security here. People will share more intimate details of their thoughts and actions with online "friends" than they will in real life. It helps to remember that we really don't "Know" anyone here, we only know what they choose to share.

Some people feel so out of control in their real life. The people around them won't do what they should do, and they don't feel the least bit respected. Here they can offer their wisdom and counsel, and someone might say "thank you that was really helpful." It can boost the self esteem, or it can pour fuel on the I-know-what-is-best-for-you fire.

There are those people who will "get it" and those who won't. Some set up permanent residency here, and they spend much more time in this world than they do in their own lives. Others come here, learn some things that put them on a path of self discovery and growth. Some get the support they need from others who have gone before them, and they can listen and take action accordingly.

It's a process, and a helpful one. Time takes time, and recovery will come to those who really seek it. For others, the pain will continue until they've had enough.

Hugs and love
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Old 11-11-2010, 07:10 AM
  # 7 (permalink)  
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I used to actually think "I wish he'd hit me, or I wish he'd cheat on me." I thought that would give me a clear reason to leave. Permission to leave. I was struggling with this need for permission when I first came here and SR helped me A LOT with that. The idea that I just gave myself permission. It didn't come from him and there wasn't some grand checklist of horrible behavior I needed to use. He could quit drinking (he was just going to rehab when I came here) and I could still give myself permission to leave.

I don't really know if that resonates with you personally but when I read posts like your other one the thought always occurs to me that people are searching for something that they can point to and say 'See, things are this bad, I can leave.' A search for a way of giving ourselves permission.

Someone had written me a very meaningful post on giving myself permission that was said much better then I am saying it! If you'd like you can pm me and I'll go find it.
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Old 11-11-2010, 07:46 AM
  # 8 (permalink)  
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I have been VERY angry, frustrated, and judgmental of the A in my life.
I have labeled him, sought out sites to assess his personality as crazy in some way, chastised him, held myself in higher esteem, acted out in extremely destructive ways, snubbed him, yelled at him, sabotaged our relationship, did exactly the opposite of what he has wanted--even when reasonable--in order to get his goat and frustrate him. I've given him the silent treatment, I've thrown alcohol bottles against the wall.
And the list goes on...I've done a huge list of awful things to him.

The only thing that seems to have helped me, was to examine myself. A really hard look at me. It was one of the most painful, if not the most painful things I have ever done. It was excrucitating. It involved a whole box of tissues over days.
Alcoholics have a problem that we focus on. Do we have problems they focus on? I bet they do, in fact I know they do.
Are his imperfections worse than mine? ha. I don't think so! <---This was the most humbling and enlightening realization.

I may be able to finger-point his problem with alcohol. It was very convenient to do so. I could humiliate and shame him this way. It was much more difficult for him I'm sure to pinpoint some of my problems as something guilty and worthy of public shame, but he managed to find a few.

Alcholics are just people with one specific problem that often others focus on that one issue.
We all have issues. Alcohol is one of theirs. What are ours?
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Old 11-11-2010, 08:36 AM
  # 9 (permalink)  
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I hear a great deal of pain from your post. I do hope your medical problems abate and you can get some strength and healing on the physical level.

I learn a great deal of things by experience, and I can try to share my experience. I see so much pain all over the threads on SR. We are all people in pain, people that have gotten some relief and are healing, people that want to help other people in pain when we've found some relief. I also see us all children of our higher power and I do believe our higher power gives us exactly what we need to grow and learn.

I post on the FF of SA's because I see the flip side of what I put my family thru in my addiction to drugs. It helps me so much to get outside my own experience, I've learned so much and I think I've grown in my recovery, I also share my experience in a rehab, in my recovery and it gives hope to others that recovery is possible.
I am also a codependent, a whole batch of alcoholics in my family, one died in a sanitorium, one divorced my grandmother back in the 40's when divorce was taboo, that experience my mother lived thru as a child of an alcoholic did not end with divorce. She played out her problems onto the next generation, myself. These issues just don't stop with one generation. My dad was an alcoholic. He was remote, he never interacted with me, he spent his time at work or drunk on a golf course.
So the FF boards are where we share our experience in learning how to live. I don't believe the alcohol or the drugs are the problem, they are the symptom or outward expression of the family disease and I am so blessed to see things on these boards that help me to check myself, or have a moment, yeah I did that and I need to make an amend to my family member. The entire community has much to offer, I can learn from the alcoholics even though I'm a pill addict, and I relate to the same issues. I have learned the most though by the FF board. Because I truly think my codependency is what drove me to the substance abuse.

I know you can find relief on SR, it's a great place and many people here have been on both sides of addiction. Please keep posting how things are going for you .
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Old 11-11-2010, 03:24 PM
  # 10 (permalink)  
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I love threads that take on a life of their own because it shows that we are all coming from such different perspectives and experiences.

Honestly, I don't see a reason for you to feel bad or insulted but I can understand if you did. I think it is important for people to dissect issues and ideas because only then will we understand. Your 40 years of experience dealing with the disease is a testament to your strength in putting up with so much for so long.

I also think it is great that those who were triggered spoke up. It just shows the variability of alcoholism and its affects on people's lives. We are all going to internalize and reflect about or own experiences and see it through our own lense. Don't feel bad. Really.

The one thing that I have noticed in this forum is the incredible amount of resilience and support from those who come here.. people such as yourself. As well as the insight gained from so much pain and struggle. It is mind blowing sometimes. Helps me see life beyond my own bubble. Make it what it needs to be for yourself and please don't stop posting things just because it may be controversial or challenging to others. You have a voice, we all do and sometimes in the situations we are in, we forget that. bb
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Old 11-11-2010, 05:51 PM
  # 11 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by LaTeeDa View Post
We are more alike than most of us want to admit.
The only difference between me and the all the A's in my life, is that they use/used substances to escape themselves and I've used them/others to escape myself.
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