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Can I FORCE my AW to quit?

Old 12-15-2010, 12:58 PM
  # 41 (permalink)  
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Hi Rhode - Glad you're here!

The drinking affects her into being more irritable, more tired, less attentive to the kids, an occasional burst of anger. But she is not an abusive parent in the more typical sense of the word. And I may not be objective because they are my children – but I think they are growing well and happy and I’m proud of their achievements. They are almost always jovial and boisterous and have no behavior problems that can be attributed to their mom being an alcoholic.

I have alcohol related memories as far back as first grade - so what's that 6 or 7?

I ALWAYS knew there was something wrong in our family. And I was outwardly a very jovial, fun-loving, active and high-achieving (until adolesence) kid. I loved my father, I loved my family. Naturally.

I was also learning a whole HEAP of seriously unhealthy behaviors and thought patterns. My mother's denial did as much damage as my dad's alcoholism. I was taught a very wrong and sick dynamic as "normal" in relationships.

Be aware of denial and magical thinking, as it relates to your kids. They want to please their parents, they love their parents and they will show you outwardly what it is you want to see trying to keep the peace. OMG how many little shows did I put on trying to distract and keep the peace. Blech.

I wish there had been ONE SINGLE courageous adult in my family who had come to me and said - "what's going on in your family and causing you all this inner anxiety is called alcoholism, it affects the whole family, it is not your fault" and then guided me to some counseling or reading - some HONESTY.

A lot of energy on my mom's part was spent protecting my father. A lot. That just wasn't right.

Peace-
B
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Old 12-15-2010, 01:18 PM
  # 42 (permalink)  
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Bernadette is right. My daughter, too, seemed to be growing well and happy, and was proud of her achievements. She was almost always jovial and boisterous, and exhibited no behavior problems (she was very, very obedient).

I was so proud of what a bang up job I was doing "managing" her mom while still raising a "healthy" child.

Until she was 11. It turns out she'd been aware of, and seeing, everything since the age of 3.

One of the questions I've had to answer to her, and to my great and eternal shame, is why I didn't protect her from her mother's drinking, and why I was always protecting her mother. It is the single most awful thing to arise from her mother's alcoholism and my controlling nature and denial.

I was a willing and engaged partner in ruining my daughter's childhood, and perhaps her entire life. I'll never get over it. Ever.
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Old 12-15-2010, 02:33 PM
  # 43 (permalink)  
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Welcome. I hope you keep reading here.

I haven't been in your situation as an adult, but I will give you my opinions from an alcoholic's perspective.

I think your control/punishment approach will make things worse for both of you, as it will likely cause resentments between both of you. Her resentment toward you will give her more fear and lead to her drinking more, not less. She may get very creative to conceal her drinking from you (booze in closets, luggage, the garage, car trunk, bushes, in the suntan lotion bottle). So, at first you think things are better.

Its a highly progressive disease that, left untreated, ultimately results in a horrible death. Drinking during the day and unchecked is a very bad sign. Then comes, shaky hands, jumpiness, insomnia, irrational fear of everything, bruises with no associated injury...and worse.

If you don't want to leave her, then you have try to get her to commit quitting, now. It's likely going to be ugly. Take her to the doctor and be brutally honest about her drinking.

Its no surprise she didn't like going to AA while she is still drinking. You could offer to go to open meetings with her, go to Al-anon yourself, educate her on what happens as the disease progresses. If that does not help, then you can go the intervention route and put her in a facility, or out patient program, for detox. Harsh, but its a harsh disease. You can't force her to stop, but if/once she is willing, you can help save her life.

As far as your question about when kids notice. Well my neighbor friends had an alcoholic Mom when we were kids (similar to your situation, un- or barely-employed mom, drinking daily). I figured out there was something wrong at about age 8 and that is was alcohol maybe a year or two after that. The kids will clue into it much faster if they hear you mention anything about it.

I hope this works out.
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Old 12-16-2010, 01:06 AM
  # 44 (permalink)  
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Thank you all for your comments - they were very helpful. Lucky for me, there was no alcohol abuse in my family and none among my friends. So I don't really have anyone to ask, or personal experience to call upon - except what I read on the internet. The collective life experience and wisdom that you reflected upon my particular specific situation and dilemmas is invaluable.
I understand that what I had in mind was the wrong way to go. I will instead attempt some form of control over the cash - so as not to "enable" the drinking, by trying to choke the funding for it. I still have to figure out how exactly I'm going to do it technically and still have her be able to go the store for the mundane stuff of life.
There is a famous quote by Theodore Hesburgh who said "The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother." In my mind, my worry was about my children growing up and asking me tough questions about how did I let their loved mother fall. I am know becoming aware, that no less of a difficult question is how did I let them stay with her when she is drinking heavily.
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Old 12-16-2010, 04:24 AM
  # 45 (permalink)  
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Hi Rhodes,

If you have a grocery store that does not sell alcohol then you can get store specific gift cards. We don't. I had to go to the store etc. He had a part time job so still had his own money but always ran out and I needed my $$ to pay the bills etc.

This is hard. I guess I want to warn you, from the voice of experience, that you should not leave cards and checks at the house. You should periodically do a credit report check to see if new credit cards are opened in your names. If you have anything that is easy to be sold, protect it. If you have joint accounts open a new one in your name only. My xah actually sold his damn vehicle - which was no heirloom or anything but - ugh - we could not replace it so then there was the drama about how he got to and from work, how he could pick up the kids from school, what if he was home alone with the kids and there was an emergency etc. It eventually didn't matter because he drank before school got out, he quit his job/got fired, and I didn't leave him alone with the kids but you see my point.

Hang in there. You are doing fine. Keep posting!
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Old 12-16-2010, 05:54 AM
  # 46 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Rhode View Post
I understand that what I had in mind was the wrong way to go. I will instead attempt some form of control over the cash - so as not to "enable" the drinking, by trying to choke the funding for it.
.


Hey Rhode,

I tried exactly what you describe.

Didnít work for me.

Your wife chooses her behavior.

You choose to accept or reject her behavior.

You also choose your own behavior.

Keeping your kids safe is something both of you are responsible for, if one of you fails then it's up to the other to pick up the slack.

Only you can decide if your kids are safe.
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Old 12-16-2010, 06:00 AM
  # 47 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Rhode View Post
"The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother."

In my mind, my worry was about my children growing up and asking me tough questions about how did I let their loved mother fall.
I fully support the first sentence.
The second sentence, however, suggests that it is under your control whether she makes devastating choices, or not, and that you would own the consequences of her choices.

Ultimately, her choices are NOT under your control, and you should not take on the consequences of her choices - this distorts the system and allows the dysfunction to spread when this happens.
I believe one of the most loving things you could do - for yourself, your wife, and your children's futures - is to engage in Alanon, where you will get perspective, support, and skills to navigate this devastating disease and its PERVASIVE effects on the entire family system. There is nothing like immersing oneself among the "experts" when one is problem solving.

Great job being proactive and looking for information. There is support out here and at Alanon, and there is a healthy, happy life out there if you learn the basics how to get there! Learning the information and taking the steps now can completely change your children's whole life experience!

Sending encouragement,

CLMI
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Old 12-16-2010, 06:58 AM
  # 48 (permalink)  
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Where groceries are concerned, you could buy them online and have them delivered to your home. All bills can be paid online as well. Remove her access to any joint account, OR transfer your funds to a separate account that she doesn't have access to. Obviously, she shouldn't have access to a vehicle.

I'm warning you though; these measures will get tiresome and won't really change anything. Your AW is probably going to borrow money from friends, family or neighbors, and will continue to drink. Addicts will do what addicts will do *until* they decide, of their own accord, that they've simply had enough and want a change.

The same goes for you. You can take measures to try to protect your finances, but in the end, you may decide that you've had enough and need to take more drastic steps to protect your children.

And I do very much agree with catlovermi...someday, your children may ask you why you "let their mother fall"...an appropriate response would be that you simply do not control her actions, only she does. On a daily basis, every time she reaches for a bottle, she continues to make the choice to endanger her children and her health by downing the booze. And that is clearly not under your control.
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Old 12-16-2010, 07:25 AM
  # 49 (permalink)  
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Hi, ACOA here.

I want you to know that while your 4 and 5 year old don't probably know there's 'something' wrong with Mommy since this is all they really know about life thus far, they do know how they feel. Children know when their parents are not genuinely plugged into their lives and interests and that makes THEM feel abandoned.

I know you're concerned about your wife's feelings of abandonment, however, truly, she's an adult and she owns her feelings. You can't influence them like you can your children's. If you want to stop the cycle now, you need to focus on them.

It won't be long before your children are with other families and notice that other families have 'normal' healthy parents. And right now, you are also in the throes of the disease of alcoholism. For me, Al-anon has been my answer in my road to recovery. It has helped me heal myself and my child from this wretched disease.

Your wife cannot control her alcoholic cravings without treatment any more than I can willpower my blood pressure to go down.

It's wise not to make any huge life changing decisions (like divorce) in the throes of disease. What you can do is make that first step to recovery for yourself.

I am talking to you in this way because I wish someone had talked to my mother, the Codie, in the same way a long time ago. I resented her for a long time for not being a voice for her children and for allowing us to witness our family being shattered by alcoholism. She was the sober one, so we held her most accountable. My brothers and I had years and years of psychiatric treatment as a result of the damage caused by my bio-father's alcoholism.

Peace.
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Old 12-16-2010, 10:13 AM
  # 50 (permalink)  
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I understand the dilemma you're facing here. It's easy to view your AW as unable to control herself and rationalize that you'd be doing her a favor and being the best loving husband possible by taking control of the situation and saving her from herself. As many have already stated, this isn't a practical or feasible solution. It will not work and will create more issues. If you can't leave then you need to work on yourself and care for your kids and simply allow her to be without enabling her in any way, shape, or form (which is VERY difficult in my experiences but critical). As far as the kids are concerned, just because they seem ok doesn't mean they are not being affected. I grew up with an alcoholic father and my earliest memories are either strange or unhappy incidents that took place while he was drunk or because he was drunk. The trauma of this didn't reveal itself until my teenage years and even with counseling still haunts me to this day. I'm not trying to scare you or anything, that's just the honest truth.

However you decide to handle the situation, I wish you the best!
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Old 12-16-2010, 10:32 AM
  # 51 (permalink)  
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Hi Rhode,

Welcome to SR! I'm so sorry to read about your situation, but you are in good company here. All of us love someone who is an alcoholic. And all of us have learned or are learning (me, more the latter), that we cannot control or cure the alcoholic. It is so frustrating and sad to watch someone we love battle this disease. What we can do: learn that we didn't cause their behavior, and 2.) set boundaries for the behavior.

Your wife ultimately needs to be the one who recognizes that she needs help, but you can "help" her get to that point by making changes for yourself and your children, whether that be boundaries or other decisions.

On this forum I heard the saying "if nothing changes, nothing changes". For a long time I didn't understand what it meant, but now I think I do...if we don't change for ourselves, then the alcoholic won't change either. Although the alcoholic is ultimately the one responsible for changing, we send a message that his/her behavior is acceptable if we continue to do things for the alcoholic, don't set boundaries for his /her behavior, and or enable in other ways that helps the behavior continue. BUT: even if we choose to change and the alcoholic does not, that's okay, too. We have to decide how to protect ourselves from being sucked into the downward spiral and madness that is living with an alcoholic. Bottom line: you can't control or change her behavior. I've been there for years with my sister, and it doesn't work. All I can do is detach with love.
Wishing you good thoughts.
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Old 12-16-2010, 06:20 PM
  # 52 (permalink)  
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You know, I watched "When a Man Loves A Woman" last night. It came on late night TV just after I logged off my PC and had a quick squint of the forum. It's well worth checking out, particularly if you are a husband of an alcoholic. Anyone with kids, in fact.

I get denial. I get why you might be distracted by your partners' antics. I get why getting them sober seems like the main game in town. What I will never get is why you are so oblivious to your childrens' safety and emotional wellbeing. And I don't even have kids.

I know that is harsh. I just don't know how else to say it.

*You being a generic "you".
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Old 12-16-2010, 11:06 PM
  # 53 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Bolina View Post
I get denial. I get why you might be distracted by your partners' antics. I get why getting them sober seems like the main game in town. What I will never get is why you are so oblivious to your childrens' safety and emotional wellbeing. And I don't even have kids.

I know that is harsh. I just don't know how else to say it.

*You being a generic "you".
I can only speak from my perspective now, having been there.

Being oblivious to the children's wellbeing is part of the denial. It comes with the package. I believed that my children were better off than me when I was a child. I convinced myself that, although there were problems, they weren't as big as the problems I had when growing up. I was doing a better job than my mom did. And it was true.

I have massive regrets about the childhood my children lived. I have massive guilt about the pain that they endured. But, I did not purposely or knowingly set about to do that to them. I can see it now, only in hindsight. If I could do it all over, it would be them first, him second. But, I can't. I can only go forward from here.

I wish I would have done right by them sooner. I wish I could make everyone see what living like this does to them. I will live with that the rest of my life.

L
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Old 12-17-2010, 05:32 AM
  # 54 (permalink)  
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I think it's more important to act as soon as awareness hits. Even skipping right over acceptance and working on that later would be fine with me. LTD I remember when you joined SR and witnessed it happen for you, you acted as quickly as feasible and I remember commenting on what a model you are for other sober parents. Don't beat yourself up.
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Old 12-17-2010, 11:19 AM
  # 55 (permalink)  
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What does your wife actually want? Do you think she is at a place where she actually does want to stop drinking but is not sure how to or is she quite content with her drinking and just paying lip-service to you about quitting in order to get you off her back? It's hard to tell the difference between the two as she will be saying similar things either way, but what does your gut tell you?
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Old 12-17-2010, 01:08 PM
  # 56 (permalink)  
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Rhode, I'll share a little more experience...

...I was never, even after cutting off all money to my wife, able to keep her from getting alchohol. In fact, it got worse. The ironic thing for me was how clever she could be while stoned and/or drunk, around finding a way to get more drugs and wine.

I truly wish the best for you and your children.

Please find an Al-Anon meeting my friend. Please. Even if it is inconvenient or you have to get a babysitter or drop the kids off with reliable friends or family. Here's a hand:

How to find a meeting in the US/Canada/Puerto Rico
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Old 12-17-2010, 01:25 PM
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I have massive regrets about the childhood my children lived. I have massive guilt about the pain that they endured. But, I did not purposely or knowingly set about to do that to them. I can see it now, only in hindsight. If I could do it all over, it would be them first, him second. But, I can't. I can only go forward from here.

I wish I would have done right by them sooner. I wish I could make everyone see what living like this does to them. I will live with that the rest of my life.

L
Oh my, me too L.
But, the memory of my shame (as an alcoholic mother) is right next to my heart, and there is an actual physical sensation of dread and sorrow when I contemplate solving a problem with a substance, or even another person.

Beth
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Old 12-18-2010, 12:52 AM
  # 58 (permalink)  
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Well, we had the hard talk yesterday. We agreed that she shouldn't buy hard liquor any more at all and stick to two bottles of wine a week. To make that happen, we agreed that she will not have cash (except some emergency amount that she shouldn't touch) and only use the credit card which we'll be able to monitor. Maybe it'll also help us get a better grip on our ran amok expenses. There was crying, accusing me of past offenses, and in the end reproachment. I know I shouldn't bet my life on its actually happening exactly as planned - but you got to have some hope, no?
In the meantime she had a first sober day in a week with no drinking at all (I think). At night she got the sweats, and sipped a glass of wine. This morning she went to the gym, which is a good healthy sign.
We'll see....
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Old 12-18-2010, 03:22 AM
  # 59 (permalink)  
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hi rhode-

i think you are about to discover how resourceful an alcoholic can be.

it would be wise to take all credit cards, check books and store them at your work.

if you have any valuables, like jewelry, watches or anything that can be pawned easily, you might want to take those off-site also.

you might want to alert family and friends to not lend her money.

i would also be on the alert for credit cards taken out in your name without your knowledge.

and what's to stop her from going into the bank with id and withdrawing money from your joint account? or withdrawing money from the children's bank accounts?

i disagree with your "hope" statement. i think it is better to deal with reality. and reality is that alcoholics cannot limit their drinking to two bottles of wine a week. that only gives them the taste for more and once they get a bit of alcohol, they are off and running.

sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

naive
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Old 12-18-2010, 03:51 AM
  # 60 (permalink)  
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Rhode, I was just reading your update and wanted to share with you as a recovering alcoholic. I think its great that you and wife spoke....that she is limiting her wine consumption and had only a sip to deal wtih the shakes.

I see huge red flag and I speak from experience. The door is open and if she is an alcoholic then there is the assumption that she can moderate. Didn't work for me and led to years of continual headbanging. She needs to quit not only for her but for the children. She needs to begin recovery and to have support - more then a loving hopeful husband. AA, counseling, SMART....etc. To help her rebuild and to live life again.

I wish you well and really urge you to seek support for yourself and to take necessary steps to protect you and the children.

Maybe she can cutback.....for days...weeks....maybe months. Point is....she is still drinking and its a vicious cycle that won't leave anyone happy in the end. Progressive it is indeed.

Keep sharing your journey.
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