Detaching from Alcoholic Wife

Old 12-07-2010, 04:23 PM
  # 41 (permalink)  
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I am a recovering alcoholic. I chose to stop drinking and address my issues. My family did not need to "support" me in my Recovery; that is MY job. I have dark secrets (abuse) in my past too. What is anyone else to do about my issues?

I say keep strong in your decision, and don't let others sway you. You have to do what is healthy for you
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Old 12-07-2010, 04:53 PM
  # 42 (permalink)  
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Do you think a pastor would be the best support after brain surgery? No, the trained ICU nursing staff, in the ICU recovery room, is the better bet. It is their realm, and where they have deep experience.

Likewise, counter-intuitive as it feels, family is not the primary support system for an alcoholic wanting sobriety. For the alcoholic wanting sobriety, the best support for them is others in their realm who have deep experience - this means other alcoholics who have deep and lasting recovery. THOSE are the people who are most important to support an alcoholic entering recovery. They are also the folks who will easily see and call BS and not tolerate manipulation, because they know it from the other side, having once been there.

It's not unusual for an alcoholic to try to lay this burden of "support" on the family, but it is erroneously, and often manipulatively done. Early recovery requires a total dedication, an immersion in a peer group of recovering alcoholics, and a willingness to do "whatever it takes" to achieve sobriety and the long-lasting thinking and behavioral changes to maintain it for BOTH the alcoholic AND the family. This is actually often done BEST APART, so old patterns aren't re-activated.

Recovery is serious business, and is much more likely to "stick" if a total "re-boot" of the system is done. For the alkie side, they say "change people, places, and things" away from those previous ones that were associated with drinking and habits that triggered it.

Sober living facilities exist because they are staffed by other successfully recovering alcoholics and because they provide a buffering zone, away from the alcoholic's previous life and patterns and triggers.

Buffer zone is good, in recovery.

And, get the right people to do the job. HER recovery, and its support is not YOUR job. It is HER job, and the job of other recovering alcoholics in her recovery support network.

YOUR job is your recovery, keeping your children safe, and finding your own support from YOUR support network.

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Old 12-08-2010, 06:38 AM
  # 43 (permalink)  
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Her family want me to take her back with an agreed treatment plan, and I guess that's a possibility
redbaron, if you do this, you will turn into the booze police. you will drive yourself nuts trying to monitor her drinking and keep the children safe.

catlovermi is right. you are not the right person to help her right now. think about it, has anything you've done in the past worked? the best people to help her are those who have conquered alcoholism themselves. they understand what she has been through and what she is currently going through.

you did not cause this and you can not cure it. consider praying to your HP for strength, courage and endurance to do the right thing. your job right now is to keep your family safe and sound. from what you have shared, they are not safe with her. this is not your fault.

as for the childhood abuse, i was physically abused as a child and i am not an alcoholic. people are alcoholics because they have a body chemistsry which processes alcohol differently than a normal drinker. they also have a mental obsession with alcohol.

i am sure it is very difficult for you to not run in and rescue your wife. i know to listen to her sobbing and broken is difficult too. if you can't handle it and do your job, then you might want to not speak with her for awhile. do whatever you need to do to keep your ship afloat. she is where she needs to be, with professionals who can help her. i hope you can take some comfort in that, redbaron.

please take care of yourself, redbaron. now is the time to pull in the gangplank and keep those children and yourself out of harm's way. she is in no state of mind to co-parent right now and i personally feel that decisions regarding the children's welfare rest solely on your shoulders. if it was me, i would communicate that to her. in the last analysis, we do not do them any favors by shielding them from the consequences of their drinking; in fact, we enable the disease to further progress.

i'm rooting for you, redbaron and i hope you can get some face-to-face support with a therapist or an alanon group.

as for her family, well, you can't control them but you can encourage them to educate themselves on this disease, as you have done. if they want to take her in and monitor her, that's out of your hands.

hang in there. holding your ground could very well be the wake up call that saves your wife. regardless of that, it will save your family from going down with her.

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Old 12-08-2010, 08:41 AM
  # 44 (permalink)  
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You have my support and prayers.

I haven't seen this expressed here yet so i'll give it a go. Your wife is sick.

Her ideas, manipulations, demands, tears are all stemming from her sickness. Here is the rub, if she were healthy(sober) she would see that her demands for reinstatement into your home with your children are dangerous to them and to herself. Her blindness to that fact highlights her sickness.

IMHO - SHE has proven that her behavior has put your children in danger, SHE has to show that this will not happen again. When she truly is sober, SHE will do whatever it takes to gain your trust. Not demand that you give it to HER without earning it back.

SHE may at some time be ever so grateful that YOU were able to stand up for your children and that includes standing up to her sicknss. Or SHE may not....but YOU will be.

Sending you positive energy for strength, courage and wisdom.

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Old 12-08-2010, 08:56 AM
  # 45 (permalink)  
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The above three posts are so full of wisdom. I only wanted to share some imagery that helped me during a similar stage. It is often said that us spouses have to let go or be dragged. I used the drowning analogy. My husband and I were swimming in a see of alcohol. His addiction was a ten ton brink on his ankle and only he could reach down and unlock it. I was treading water like a mad woman but he was still sinking - and he was taking me down with him. He wasn't going to unlock the addiction, and he wasn't going to let go of me. The only way to keep from drowning myself was to let go of him. I pictured my four little boys on the shore, watching with desperation, and I let go and I swam.

I prayed (and still do) that my now xah reaches down and turns the lock so he can swim to shore too. But I can't do it and I won't drown.

Thinking of you in this painful time. Keep swimming to shore. If you aim for the shore, you'll make the right decisions.
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Old 12-08-2010, 11:34 AM
  # 46 (permalink)  
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thanks for that visualization, thumper.

i think it is very useful to see it in such a way. sometimes, we can't see the big picture with our beloved alcoholic. we are too much in the little things, grasping onto crumbs, like oh, they only drank 3 today, that's good.

if we can step back and take in the overall view, as you have helped us do with this post, we can see the overall wreckage over the long term.
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Old 12-08-2010, 12:04 PM
  # 47 (permalink)  
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As hard is it to think clearly through all these dramatic phone calls and outside pressure from her family to do x,y,z, let's break this down to one simple question:

What's best for the children?

A short stint in rehab does not a recovery make. The children will. not. benefit. from being cared for, or in the presence of, an alcoholic mother whose judgment is cannot be trusted at the moment.

Your account of her family makes me think that they are still caught in the enabling loop. They are attempting to lay the blame on someone (or themselves, for not being "supportive enough") or some event (such as "abuse", for causing all this to happen)...and by doing this, they are *robbing* her from the opportunity to find her bottom HERSELF.

(and as a side note, I was raped by my physiotherapist as a teenager, and I do not use the experience as a justification for ...anything).

Now that you have told your AW the news about her not coming home, I would limit your conversation to the bare necessities. No, she doesn't get to choose the nanny. Yes, she can talk to the kids. That's it, that's all.

Focus on yourself and your kids. If you can't make it to Al-Anon, like I couldn't when my DD was still nursing, try an online meeting. It's not the same, but it's at least something.

Keep posting!!!
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Old 12-08-2010, 12:13 PM
  # 48 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by RedBaron View Post
I hate having to be the bad guy who is forcing all this to happen. This sucks.
Hi, RedBaron. I was just going back and re-reading the thread and today, this really jumped out at me. I hope you know you are not the bad guy. You are an amazing father dealing with a very difficult situation. AW's alcoholism, drinking and related behavior is forcing all of this to happen - not you. You're taking the steps you need to protect your children and yourself.

Wishing you peace and continued strength.
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Old 12-08-2010, 12:52 PM
  # 49 (permalink)  
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Another alcoholic (wife and mother) chiming in to say that you're doing the right thing and to reach out and get as much support as you can. Your wife is not behaving in a healthy way, consciously or unconsciously and I don't know that her family is doing you guys any favors either. Of COURSE what everyone wants is for her to be home with her kids baking cookies but simply placing her there and slapping on an apron does not a Norman Rockwell painting make. I think you know that and I'm sorry that they don't seem to know it too.

Where is she, recovery wise? Do you think she's on the right track?

It's so hard because I can say that even when my husband was pleading with me to quit or at least get a grip I was just NOT in the zone where it was going to happen. I can see now that he had no power.

I really hope that your wife comes to understand that the power is all hers.

Please keep us posted.
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Old 12-08-2010, 02:43 PM
  # 50 (permalink)  
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Hey Red,

Her family doesn't see how sick she is if they are still thinking that they could have changed her. It takes some distance to see the dynamic and how unhealthy it is. Whatever you chose, put your kids first.

Take Care
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Old 12-09-2010, 08:48 AM
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I was meant to have a phone call this morning with my wife and her councillor to discuss extending her stay, but it got cancelled as my wife has got herself into a terrible state about hating the place and the fact that the rest of the crowd there is too young, immature and constantly uses bad language. I am torn between saying she should stay there, or saying okay, you come home now for Christmas with the kids, but before doing so, you arrange for a month of in-patient care at your last facility in January and somewhere else to live after that until you're well. Any sign of screwing up in those few weeks, and you're gone for good. My hope is that she's stay straight for that time, or that I could arrange for people to cover her, and that we'd break the impasse we're in. But I'm worried that (a) I'll be giving in to her; and (b) that she has said that this place had a much better treatment program for her and that she felt much better about was they had planned than the previous place she was in, and that going back to that place for a month would be a step backwards. The kids would obviously benefit from having their mom home at Christmas, but am I taking the easy way out here? I just don't know... (One additional point: My wife's counsillor is strongly of the opinion that my wife is sabotaging her treatment with her objections, and so from that I conclude that I would be helping that sabotage if I was to enable her to leave there early. I hate this!!!!)
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:12 AM
  # 52 (permalink)  
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My wife's counsillor is strongly of the opinion that my wife is sabotaging her treatment with her objections, and so from that I conclude that I would be helping that sabotage if I was to enable her to leave there early.
I agree. I've heard it all before about rehab too. Likely we all have.

My take? If SHE wants to leave rehab, let her leave rehab, but don't play a part in it. No matter what words she speaks, no matter what comes out of her mouth, her thinking is messed up. Allowing yourself to play a part in that whole scenario is just cowtowing to the addiction. I don't want to sound harsh here but this really is a life or death situation. Take a deeper look into the rationale for allowing her to come home for Christmas. Is Christmas really more important? Or is her recovery more important?

(((hugs))) Sorry you're going through this.
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:13 AM
  # 53 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by RedBaron View Post
Just got off the phone with her. She's in tears, and completely ripped up about not being able to come home. It breaks my heart, and I so want to just say, forget it, move back in, but I know I can't. I keep wanting this problem to just go away, and letting her move back would be the easiest way to do that -- but I know that wouldn't last, and that it wouldn't be right for me or the kids. But I hate hearing her like that, and I hate having to be the bad guy who is forcing all this to happen. This sucks.
As an ACOA, if I were writing a letter to you (as my DAD) from me (as one of your children), I'd say, "You're the GOOD guy--thanks, Dad. Thanks for sparing us of the impossible roller coaster. Thanks for insisting on a semblance of normalcy. Thanks for being a rock. I love you, Dad"

Yep, that's what I'd write, if I were one of your kids.
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:16 AM
  # 54 (permalink)  
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Hi redbaron,

I can see a major problem with the idea of bringing your wife home for'd be pinning your hopes of a nice holiday on her "good behaviour", which you obviously can't guarantee. IMO, you're setting yourself and others up to be on "High Booze Alert" the entire holiday period, which sounds really sucky.

Wouldn't it be possible to just have her over for the Christmas dinner and that's it? That way, the kids would get to see her but you would also protect the serenity of the home for a potential disaster.
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:17 AM
  # 55 (permalink)  
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My wife's counsillor is strongly of the opinion that my wife is sabotaging her treatment with her objections
she certainly isn't focused on her recovery, sounds like she's just using one tactic after the other to manipulate your emotions.

i would weigh heavily what her counselor is communicating: that she is not serious about her recovery.

if she doesn't want to stay where she is, then why not enroll her in the other facilty right now? why does she have to come home?

and i doubt very much that the children will benefit if she comes home. the whole family will be walking on eggshells and in all liklihood, she'll start drinking again, only this time she'll hide it better. there is a good chance christmas would be a disaster!

and once she is home again, there is no guarantee she will leave for the other facility, is there? you would have to get her sectioned probably, which in my opinion would be a lot harder on the whole family.

so, why don't you have her transferred to either the other facility or a sober house, rather than coming home.

if she comes home, you will be in a position to police her again and really, what can you do if she drinks? it's not against the law to drink yourself silly.

i think she's quacking.

i also think that since you are having a hard time when you speak to her, that it would be a good idea to limit your conversations to ones with her counselors and don't speak to her anymore.

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Old 12-09-2010, 09:20 AM
  # 56 (permalink)  
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I can share that I had originally told my husband that he needed to get a place of his own when his treatment had ended. My gut was telling me that we needed time apart. That I needed some space. His incessant talking, blaming, button pushing mixed with my complete confusion, worry, second guessing (all the things I'm sure you are feeling to) resulted in me back pedaling and allowing him to come home. Things became crazy in a way they were never crazy before. He was now desperate. He new things were very very precarious. My kids will have awful memories that they did not have before he left for treatment. There were long nights of him ranting, raving, crying, blaming, accusing, throwing things and tearing things up - endlessly - for hours and hours. that stuff did not happen before. He would not leave me alone despite the fact that I did not respond at all. His drinking *increased* - and he embraced treatment and said he learned a lot. He had his 30 day chip when he came home. He was unstable and told them all kinds of crap about me and things meant to get sympathy from his small children. It was awful and I regret it with every fiber of my being. It was not good for my kids. It was harmful to them. I wish I would have seen that then.

She must manage this situation on her own. It is the only way anything will be successful. You can not do it. My advice would be to hold firm on your decision to get space in your living situation and then let her figure out what she wants to do about her treatment. It has been my experience that any 'conditions' I have made are just ignored. Always.

Best of luck. This is a hard time of year. I have three messages on my phone this morning from my xah wanting to come stay with me a week for Christmas. My answer has to be no. He is active in his addiction and he has no where else to go. If he comes down here and spends one night much less a week it will a) create enormous amounts of stress and anxiety for me and the kids because he is unwell and b) he'll never leave. He has no where else to go. I'm gearing up to call him and it isn't easy but I know it is right. He has options, he just only wants one, for me to allow him to live with me while he drinks. He's still chasing that down and we've been apart for a year and divorced since January.

And then I will look at the heartbreak and anger in my kids' eyes when they find out he won't be here. They do not understand now but I know it is best and so I will do it, just like I know it is best to do other things they don't like or understand and I do it anyway. I have to let go of the outcome and trust that the next right thing is all I need to focus on.
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:22 AM
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I don't think her coming home for Christmas is a good idea.

The crowd is too young, immature and uses bad language? Come on now. I feel terrible that she's in that place (that emotional place) but I too have felt that kind of desperate, frantic it'salbetternowiswear kind of thing. I didn't think I was lying but I wasn't close to recovery, either.

I can only share my own experience but I've heard it from others too. Once I was REALLY done drinking, I was silent. I didn't even tell my husband I had quit for a while. It's such an intensely personal and kind of studious event. I don't know. Being 'in an awful state' worries me and makes me think that Christmas would be a disaster if you let her come home.

Strength to you
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Old 12-09-2010, 11:21 AM
  # 58 (permalink)  
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RB & Everyone,
This thread has been so helpful to me. Thank You!

RB- Hang in there. You have made your decision & set your boundary. Stick to it.
IMO She needs to deal with the consiquences of her actions, or lack there of.

I know it sucks right now, but things will get better

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Old 12-09-2010, 03:00 PM
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First off rb, I admire your strength. I know it's not easy. I've been through it and yeah, IT SUCKS!!!!

But, why do you keep referring to yourself as the "bad guy" for protecting your children and your sanity??? Why are you a "bad guy" for not allowing yourself to be your wife's enabler? Do you see how illogical this is? Are you looking into help for yourself and your kids right now or are you singularly focused on your wifes issues? I can't tell from your posts if you are getting any other support except for this website.

Is there a problem sticking with your boundary and going no contact for now? I know it is difficult but usually I find that the RIGHT decision isn't always the easiest decision.

I also find that with my addict ex (my son's father), if I act COUNTERINTUITIVELY to the way I feel - if I act on fact and not on emotion - I can be confident that I'm making the right decision.

Taking your focus off your wife and all her manipulation tactics and put it on you and your children. They need you more than her. They are just little ones. You are the only sane person they have to protect them from the antics of a manipulative alcoholic who is in the throws of her alcoholism right now. She may be sober, but she's NOT focused on recovery. Don't sacrifice your babies to appease her psychosis.
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Old 12-16-2010, 03:41 AM
  # 60 (permalink)  
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So here’s where we’re at now: I had two counseling sessions with my wife last week, one with a guy who focused on marriage issues, and one with her primary counselor. During the first session she back pedaled on a lot of the things she’d previously said about admitting to be a danger to the kids, saying that she was forced into saying those things (how???) and that she didn’t want them to be used against her in any court hearings. The second session was rather different, in that the “listening” mode of the marriage guy was replaced by a more aggressive (to her) approach from the counselor, challenging her about her minimizing her drinking, and her failure to engage in the therapy process. My wife was incredible hostile through the whole process, both to the counselor, and especially to me. She’s since extended her stay there, but it very curt with me in any dealings, and is clearly very angry. One thing she said was that she considered my keeping her away from the kids to be a punishment I was imposing rather than anything for their benefit, which just breaks my heart. She seems now to be going through with treatment, but it feels forced and half-hearted. I guess my biggest fear right now is that she’ll somehow drag herself through it and get sober for a short while, but that her anger will still be there such that she’ll divorce me and use her sober status to take the kids. It seems that again I am being put in the role of the one forcing all this to happen, and am being portrayed as the bad guy. I want her back and I want her sober, but I’m so worried that she’s focused on her anger rather than the long term, and that she’ll end up just doing what she needs to do to “fight back” rather than because she really wants to get well.
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