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Weekly update- I would be delighted if you comment!

Old 11-15-2010, 09:47 AM
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Weekly update- I would be delighted if you comment!

Hi all!
First, I'd like to acknowledge the recent commotion regarding sensitivity/criticism/advice. I am not going to comment, just wanted to acknowledge it. I invite your suggestions- I will take what I want, and leave the rest! I can be sensitive, and I really am trying to work on it. So, lay it on me!!

OK, here's my update:

Per my last thread, I did go to an Alanon meeting last Wednesday. Lovely folks. I plan to go again this Wednesday. It just so happens that there was also an Alanon/AA Workshop on Saturday, and the folks at the Wed meeting suggested that I attend. So, I did! One word: AWESOME! In fact, the first 10 minutes were the most valuable to me, as I spent them talking to an Alanon gal who is living with her AH of 20+ years and a guy who is an AA'er of 20+ years who just got divorced. The conversation was amazing- we just talked about our own experiences and, man, it was so great to be able to converse about this sometimes confusing/complicated/'hard to explain' subject with two folks who have very different backgrounds from my own. Incredible!

ABF and I were supposed to talk again this Sunday, but we cancelled b/c he had his kids this weekend, and I was not comfortable having a conversation with his kids in the house. So, we're going to meet on Tuesday. In preparation for this talk I am trying to put together a clear message regarding what I must have in a relationship, here goes:

I now realize that I must have a partner who is self-aware and not afraid to take an honest inventory of his flaws. As I have told you many times before, I am very concerned about your drinking. As far as I can tell, you have done nothing to address the issue. I want you to go to a therapist so that you can begin the process of understanding why you drink the way you do. I will not be in a relationship with someone who chooses not to investigate his weaknesses and flaws via professional help or a recovery program of a substantial length of time- at least 6 months to a year.

That’s pretty much the plan! I’m having trouble with the ‘and then what…’. I am really trying to focus on myself, and not try to ‘get in his head’. So, should I just communicate this message and then let him respond? He sent me a message last night saying that he missed me. It made me mad! I was thinking ‘What?!?!? You shouldn’t be missing me- you should be working on your crap!!!!

DEEP BREATH… ahhhh, I feel better now. One minute at a time!

Thanks, friends!!

craven
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Old 11-15-2010, 09:55 AM
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Craven,

I do not have any advice regarding the message, other than to keep examining yourself to see what it is you are trying to accomplish with it. What feelings do you have that you are trying to have fulfilled? Also, see if there is anything that you are trying to control in order to make your life easier or happier. And, what potentials of your own might require more of your energies?

I am so glad you are going to Al-Anon.
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Old 11-15-2010, 09:57 AM
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Hi craven!

Glad to hear Al-Anon was awesome for you. It's so nice to feel..."understood" isn't it? I did the online thing for a while but once I got to an actual Al-Anon meeting I was floored at how...welcomed I felt.

I wanted to speak to a portion of the conversation you plan on having with your ABF. This is JMO, but I feel that this section will come across as being controlling and is likely not to yield any positive results:

I want you to go to a therapist so that you can begin the process of understanding why you drink the way you do.

However your ABF chooses to recover or IF he chooses to recover is his business and his business alone.

IMO you need to just keep the "conversation" short and sweet. The last sentence you proposed was the one that spoke to me the most as an expression of your personal boundary:

I will not be in a relationship with someone who chooses not to investigate his weaknesses and flaws via professional help or a recovery program of a substantial length of time- at least 6 months to a year.

Heck, the whole conversation could just be that single sentence.

Also, I'm wondering what you think your conversation will achieve. Do you expect him to react? Be moved by your words? Again, (and said gently) this is an attempt at control, whether overt or not.

Establish your boundary, once, and then walk away. There will be bluster, denial, accusations, etc. If he needs more detail, you can simply state that you won't even consider reconciliation until he's had a year of recovery. Then you step faaaaaaar away from the alkie, and "let go and let God".
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by craven View Post

I now realize that I must have a partner who is self-aware and not afraid to take an honest inventory of his flaws. As I have told you many times before, I am very concerned about your drinking. As far as I can tell, you have done nothing to address the issue. I want you to go to a therapist so that you can begin the process of understanding why you drink the way you do. I will not be in a relationship with someone who chooses not to investigate his weaknesses and flaws via professional help or a recovery program of a substantial length of time- at least 6 months to a year.
Did I write this or did you??!?

My take is you are on the right track.
A question: do you get to send him to therapy? You can want him to go, but that is YOU wanting HIM to do something. YOU want HIM to understand why he drinks the way he does.
There is no cheese down that tunnel. Maybe he doesn't want to understand why. Maybe he doesn't want to go to therapy.
I know my AH doesn't! I said I wouldn't have kids if he didn't address the drinking. Nope. No kids. No therapy. Stalemate. But, he has every right to decline to do what I want.

But saying "I will not be in a relationship with someone that..." is gold. You can set whatever limits you want (which are there anyway, so you might as well listen to yourself) and then follow through. That's good stuff.

I don't know if you're like me, but I feel like I could DEAL with it - smoking, drinking, shopping addiction, porn - even cheating (which hasn't been a problem for us) if he would just LOOK AT IT and try to work on it! AHHHHHH!
LOL! I had a moment, there.
And we can't get them to if they don't want to.
And I can say it is a deal breaker.
And I can love him even as I leave.

Hugs,
peace
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:34 AM
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Learn2, noday, and FindingPeace-

THANK YOU!! You all pointed out some really, really good points. And I want to address them, because I feel like it will help ME clarify what I want, what I am feeling, etc.

I'm going to print out your replies and really dig into them. Expect a response before 5pm-ish.

Thanks again!
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:38 AM
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You are doing fantastically in my opinion...

Hi Craven,

I see some good posts in this thread, and I personally believe you are taking all of the right steps in terms of Al-Anon and recovery to improve your own life. When I read posts they always make me feel a certain way about the person posting them and this one made me feel glad.

I'm not going to make a value judgement on your dialog I've quoted below, other than to say in retrospect that I believe this may only have been effective for me and my wife, and maybe not even then, if I changed it very slightly to read like this: "I now realize that I must have a partner who is self-aware and not afraid to take an honest inventory of his flaws. I am very concerned about your drinking. As far as I can tell, you have done nothing to address the issue. I want you to go to a therapist or AA for a substantial length of time so that you can begin the process of understanding why you drink the way you do. I cannot be in a relationship with you if you choose not to do this."

I believe had a I put a time limit or specific duration on it for my wife her middle finger would have come up so fast it might have put my eye out. My only choice was to give myself a time limit and duration in terms of what I would put up with, and how long I would do so. It had to be for me, not her. Had I asked her to see a therapist I think I would have gotten that same middle finger.

We are doing good today but it truly is one day at a time. And, it is difficult for me to admit this, but if we did not have our daughter I'm certain I would have been long gone. My love for her wasn't enough to make me stay. My love for her and my daughter was-- I literally couldn't leave when every fiber of my being was saying run, run!

Lastly, the only successes I've ever had in recovery have been when I've kept my focus on me. If I do that, I find I'm a far better husband, father, son, brother, and friend.

Take what you want and leave the rest.

Cyranoak

Originally Posted by craven View Post
I now realize that I must have a partner who is self-aware and not afraid to take an honest inventory of his flaws. As I have told you many times before, I am very concerned about your drinking. As far as I can tell, you have done nothing to address the issue. I want you to go to a therapist so that you can begin the process of understanding why you drink the way you do. I will not be in a relationship with someone who chooses not to investigate his weaknesses and flaws via professional help or a recovery program of a substantial length of time- at least 6 months to a year.
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:40 AM
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I have to agree that your statement sounds like rules instead of boundaries. Maybe something like...

I cannot and will not be in a relationship with someone who is actively drinking or not in an on-going recovery program of some kind. The choice of whether or not to drink is, of course, entirely yours to make; however, I'm just letting you know what I can and cannot accept for my own life.

Of course, you would choose your own words, but I think it wouldn't sound so much like trying to control him if you mention that his choices are his to make. Just something to think about.
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:41 AM
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My 32-year-old knows my boundaries.

She is no longer allowed in my home until she has two years of solid recovery.

I did not define recovery for her when I set that boundary.

She's a big girl and can figure that out on her own.

With an active alcoholic and/or addict, the simpler the better.
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Old 11-15-2010, 11:21 AM
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My input is to take him out of the statement altogether. It is about you after all...

I'd say something like:
I can't be with anyone who drinks and isn't willing to do anything bout it. It isn't what I need in a relationship. I need someone who takes action about a serious issue affecting their life. It upsets me to see you do this to yourself so I am telling you that I need to do what is best for me.

Putting the focus on the other person when we are the ones who are having the difficulty is problematic with or without a drinking problem. It makes the other party dig their heels in and get defensive. It comes across as an attack no matter how delicately it is worded by the one needing the break. That is why you can only use "I" statements. "I need", "I want", etc.

My two bits! And power too you cuz your strength does come across.. Stay strong!
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Old 11-15-2010, 12:03 PM
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Craven I'm at the point you are. I, too, have been living in a troubled marriage for more years than what I want to count. However, the last few months have felt it was getting worse, then I finally had an AAHHAA! moment. My AH wants me to talk to him about everything I do. I feel like he just basically wants to control everything. He keeps telling me just to talk to him. I have tried to talk with him, but he's NOT listening. I have asked him to do things which really are in his best interests. However, IF he is hearing me, he's NOT listening! He expects me to do what he wants me to do, but refuses to do what he should be doing. Marriage is is a two-way street, but if only one side is working on the relationship, it won't work!

There's an adage that states "if you can complain about the same problem three times, then you'd better be in the solution. If you have to talk more than three times about the same problem, you don't want a result, you want attention."

Craven you wrote "I’m having trouble with the ‘and then what…’. I am really trying to focus on myself, and not try to ‘get in his head’."...... Then it's time to "Let Go and Let God"! and HOPE......

When all about you is black with gloom,
And all you feel is pending doom.
When your bones are racked with grim despair -
When every breath is a gasp for air.
Keep on going, though you need to grope,
For around the bend is a ray of hope.

A ray of hope is perhaps all that's left,
As your will to live has been bereft.
You've lost it all, it's just no use!
You can end it all, you need no excuse.
But throw away that piece of rope,
And give yourself a chance of hope.

Just give yourself another day,
Brushing aside what your thoughts may say.
This is your life and you can make a new start,
By ignoring the brain - just follow the heart.
Taking baby steps in order to cope,
And minute by minute you'll build on your hope.

Build on your hope,. one day at a time,
Though the road be steep and hard to climb.
The hurts of the past - they should be dead.
The fears of the future are all in your head.
Just live in the present and refuse to mope
Your life will sparkle for you're living in hope.

by Brian Quinn
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Old 11-15-2010, 12:27 PM
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Cyranoak, suki, Freedom, Babyblue-

Your input is so valuable- thank you! I have printed out your responses too- I am going to start wallpapering my office with all of this wisdom!!

I am going to take some time tonight to read everyone's responses and just let it all sink in. This is helping me so much!

craven
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Old 11-15-2010, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by craven View Post

I now realize that I must have a partner who is self-aware and not afraid to take an honest inventory of his flaws. As I have told you many times before, I am very concerned about your drinking. As far as I can tell, you have done nothing to address the issue. I want you to go to a therapist so that you can begin the process of understanding why you drink the way you do. I will not be in a relationship with someone who chooses not to investigate his weaknesses and flaws via professional help or a recovery program of a substantial length of time- at least 6 months to a year.

I'm trying to play this conversation out in my head. I really just can't envision a very satisfying ending. I'm sorry. I envision a response steeped in denial, blame shifting, and probably a good bit of somewhat justified indignation. So much of this is your opinion of him and what he should do.

Maybe keep thinking about what you want until you can write a statement about what you need, and what actions *you* intend on taking and leave the rest out of it.

My process looked kind of like this.

I need a partner that is sober. I need a partner that is financially responsible by working with me on a budget and *working*. I need a partner that works as a team when we parent. I need a partner that keeps his word. I need a partner I can trust. I need....blah blah blah. Everyone's list will be a little different and I'm finding they change.

My counselor had me do that and it was a good exercise for me even though I didn't even share it with my xah. I had a hard time doing it to be honest.

I could look at my list and determine if he was those things, or if he was not. If he was not - my job was to decide what *I* would do about it - not what I could manipulate to change him. This was a pretty big step for me. I felt *responsible* for manipulating things to get him to change because I was convinced that I knew best. That if only I could find the right words or tactic, the light would come on and everything would fall into place - he would reach awareness and change to meet my idea of who he should be.

Going through that exercise also made me live in reality instead of the land of potential, hope, and dreams of what could be if only he.........would do as I say Reality is who he is. Today.
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Old 11-15-2010, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Thumper View Post
Going through that exercise also made me live in reality instead of the land of potential, hope, and dreams of what could be if only he.........would do as I say Reality is who he is. Today.
Thank you, Thumper!
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Old 11-15-2010, 05:01 PM
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To Craven and Phoenix:

I want to WELCOME you two "newbies" to the Sober Recovery Community!

Please feel safe here, to post whatever and whenever you want. It is healing in progress.
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Old 11-15-2010, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Thumper View Post
I'm trying to play this conversation out in my head.
It's a really good suggestion that I've read elsewhere on SR to "play the tape all the way through." Pretending to hold the conversation I hoped to have with STBXAH helped me see what my expectations were. I found quite often that my hopes were to 'help him see’ why he needed to stop drinking or to stop behaving towards me a in certain way. Even though I knew nothing I said would change his decisions, I kept trying the same thing over and over, just re-worded, until I started playing the tapes through.

After running through what I expected the conversations to sound like, I realized that I needed to simply state my boundaries and what I would do if those boundaries were not respected. He was not and is not going to hear my reasons or pleas. Honestly, saying the boundaries out loud to him probably only helped me, because nothing seems to make it through the filters of his addictions and his own desires. The boundaries are for me, not him – and when he trod roughshod over the lines, I had to make the decision to follow through.

Best wishes
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Old 11-16-2010, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by theuncertainty View Post
Even though I knew nothing I said would change his decisions, I kept trying the same thing over and over, just re-worded, until I started playing the tapes through.
This feels like where I am right now with my ABF. I just want to say what I have to say, and then (in my perfect world), he'll say 'OK, I understand, let's break up'. I am so scared that by simply stating my boundaries and what I will do if they are not respected, that I will hurt him. I know that I am not responsible for his feelings, but I still get really upset when I think that my actions could cause him pain. I know what I have to do in order to be happy, but DAMN!!, I'd rather just rip off the bandaid!! I'm rambling!

We are having a talk tonight and I am freaking out. I want to make the right decision for me.

Originally Posted by theuncertainty View Post
After running through what I expected the conversations to sound like, I realized that I needed to simply state my boundaries and what I would do if those boundaries were not respected. He was not and is not going to hear my reasons or pleas. Honestly, saying the boundaries out loud to him probably only helped me, because nothing seems to make it through the filters of his addictions and his own desires. The boundaries are for me, not him – and when he trod roughshod over the lines, I had to make the decision to follow through.
This makes so much sense to me!! But, theuncertainty, how do imagine you will finally, officially, break up? If STBXA is, like mine, unable to really hear me b/c of his addiction, then how do you make it clear to them that you are breaking up? It seems utterly dreadful to have to explain why I want to break up to a 41 YEAR OLD PERSON!!
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Old 11-16-2010, 10:28 AM
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have to explain why I want to break up to a 41 YEAR OLD PERSON!!
LOL! Watch out for the 'have to's! Don't should on yourself.
In truth, you don't have to explain ANYTHING. You can be done with NO conversation if you wish. Certainly, be clear that your intent can be to express yourself and NOT to get him to understand. We can't do that for them, especially when they don't WANT to understand.
You do what you need to do for you. Trust the universe that he will be taken care of.
He's an adult. He can take care of himself physically and emotionally. Give him the respect to do so.
Hugs and good luck!
peace
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Old 11-16-2010, 10:28 AM
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but I still get really upset when I think that my actions could cause him pain.
craven, it could be that he already knows this and will use it, or has used it to shut down any communication. just something to consider.

have you written down what your expectations are and the boundaries?

also, if that were true (your actions cause him pain) couldnt your actions stop him from using?
no, probably not, and unless he does it for himself, by himself, it will not hold up for long.

just as his actions speak louder than words, so will yours.
if you say,
i will not tolerate or live with someone who is actively using, or i will leave.
you must do it when he uses.
it is tough stuff, this boundary and consequences.
i am just learning myself.

Last edited by wicked; 11-16-2010 at 10:35 AM. Reason: added some rambling
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Old 11-16-2010, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Learn2Live View Post
And, what potentials of your own might require more of your energies?
Hi Learn2!

I want to continue working on my recovery by going to Alanon meetings, investigating codependency (I am reading Codependent No More and Too Good to Leave Too Bad to Stay). I want to keep being honest with myself- it takes practice!! I would also like to focus on what I can do better- like being honest with myself and others, keeping in touch with my friends and family. I would also like to do some hands-on volunteer work. For the past 6 years I've been doing a lot of fundraising work for non-profits in my community, but I'm starting to think that I want to make a personal, service-oriented donation.

I figure this should give me a great place to start AND keep me busy so that I can't really focus on anyone else but myself.

craven
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Old 11-16-2010, 10:34 AM
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Oh Craven. I totally know what you are saying when you say you don't want to hurt him and don't know how to explain it to him. I had the same experience. It was hard and difficult, no doubt about that. Keep reading, keep telling yourself you must look out for you, keep reminding yourself that you are not responsible for his feelings.

I eventually got really really ticked off and I think that helped too. In the end I had to accept that my xah was just not going to understand but I couldn't be held hostage by that.
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