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My RAH survived Christmas Eve. . . I don't think I did.

Old 12-26-2010, 11:05 AM
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My RAH survived Christmas Eve. . . I don't think I did.

This is the first Christmas my RAH is sober since I've known him (15 years). He has been doing well. I have come to dread Christmas/New Year's. Last year, we were no contact and my husband was drinking himself as if he were on a suicide mission. We are still separated (live apart) but are working on moving back together.

I did not want to go to my extended family's annual Christmas Eve get-together. It's the same old-same old. The men are outside drinking every possible type of alcohol (beer, hard liquor, etc.). The women are inside sitting and talking. The little kids (cousins) are all running around playing, fighting, enjoying themselves as the adults do their thing. My husband's sibling, his immediate nieces/nephews do not drink at all (like me) so when my husband, his sister and her adult children/boyfriends/girlfriends get together, it's really nice (no alcohol!). My husband grew up with men (uncles, cousins, etc.) who abuse alcohol (and various substances like cigarettes, marijuana, etc.). Grandfathers, fathers, son. . . the "tradition" is being passed on! No one calls themselves alcoholics because during the week, everyone works hard. (They only label the uncles who drink all day long with no job, stumbling/slurring all day long as "alcoholics.") On the weekends, every single baby shower, birthday party (kids), sweet sixteens, etc., there is alcohol, alcohol, and more alcohol. Who cares if it's a 2-year-old kid's birthday party, the men are huddled in their spot drinking.

My mother-in-law invited us. She too doesn't drink but she is really big on the "family" thing. I was set on not going. I preferred that my husband, daughter and I not go. Our daughter heard the invitation and wanted to go and see her little cousins. (I have this thing growing up in a dry alcoholic home and with my husband active in his alcoholism for our daughter's first 3 years) that once we promise something to our daughter about doing something or going places, we *must* follow through. I don't want our daughter growing up with uncertainty, unpredictability, etc. (It's my big thing).

My husband was going to take our daughter to this "bash" and just stay for a few hours. Then, my mind started working. "What IF" he relapses? After all, this is a toxic environment. For a recovering A, it's like walking around with a loaded gun while everyone is trying to pull the trigger for you. So I went (we took separate cars even, so I could leave if I felt like it with our daughter).

When I used to go to this annual event, I would try to just accept my husband hanging out with his male relatives drinking to oblivion (and sneaking around probably to smoke a joint or cigarettes). I would have to detach. Some years I managed to. Other years, I was miserable. This year? I was probably the most miserable I had been! Every guy that walked through the door, brought beer and more beer! I felt an out-of-body experience watching these drunk men and the women who just seemed to be going about their thing (in separate parts of the house/yard).

All these years I had prayed for my husband's sobriety. Here my husband was sober and yet I was so ancy, nervous --felt like a hawk! I was being so judgemental (as you can probably sense from my tone at times) of his extended family members. I felt "ugly" inside making all of these judgements about the women and men at the gathering. I wanted to pull my daughter out and yell "WHAT IS WRONG WITH EVERYONE HERE? THIS IS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE ENVIRONMENT FOR OUR CHILDREN! What kind of people celebrate a spiritual occasion with so much booze?" from the top of my lungs. (I remember thinking this way at all of their gatherings. My husband sober or not. I was *still* feeling the same anxieties, fears and discomfort.)

Everytime my husband was not in sight ("my old worries" returning), I started panicking. Was he off sneaking a drink? Was he outside with the rest of the drunks? Was someone ticking him off with their attitudes which would then tempt him take a drink? I kept thinking how it must be taking every ounce of strength my husband has to avoid alcohol. But the truth is, *I* was the one who needed every bit of strength (or serenity, rather) to just accept the situation we were in (an extended family Christmas Eve with lots & lots of alcohol). Though at times I could see a little strain in his facial expression, my husband hung out with the little kids or one of his disabled cousins who doesn't drink. He kept himself occupied and away from the men who were drinking. I really hated how I was feeling. I am sure I seem "stuck up" and "self-rightenous." I was feeling angry, disgusted, sad, hopeless, out of control, and emotionally unmanageable).

I knew it wasn't them. It was ME! My husband, my daughter and I ended up staying until around 1:30 a.m. and though we took separate cars, we left together. So many triggers and too many opportunities there for my husband, yet he stayed on course with his sobriety/recovery. I, on the other hand, was a mess. I knew the next morning (Christmas Day) I had to go to an Alanon meeting to work on myself a bit. This Alanon meeting was at a church. It was funny (and some other members pointed this out) that most of us there didn't think we'd be at church on Christmas! It was really nice to be there and to hear so much gratitude, experience, strength & hope. I really needed to go and check myself!

I prayed for 15 years that my husband stop drinking/using marijuana. Now that he has (& in recovery), I would think I'd be on Cloud 9 this holiday season. . . Instead, I was the wreck! I have soooooo much work to do on myself. So, I guess my husband was completely sober from his addictions and I was not emotionally sober at all! I am admitting again how powerless I am over other people's drinking and how I really need to humble myself over and over in accepting that it is *I* who needs recovery work! Before I point the fingers at "the drunks" or anyone else, I REALLY need to look at myself.
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Old 12-26-2010, 12:07 PM
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yorkiegirl,

I understand your train of thought......I've been there with my extended in-laws. It's to bad that you felt obligated to attend your in-laws' Christmas gathering.

You wrote "I knew it wasn't them. It was ME!" I don't feel you were wrong about having your feelings at your in-laws' Christmas gathering. It's just that you, your husband, and daughter have lived through it......and seem to have survived it! You just don't receive any benefits being among drunks......in fact, it provides negative emotions for you.

Just my personal opinion. Take what you like and leave the rest.

Love and Peace,

Phoenix

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Old 12-26-2010, 12:21 PM
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Thank you, Phoenix! Big hugs!
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Old 12-26-2010, 01:02 PM
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hi yorkiegirl-

i don't know if i find your reaction inapproapriate, actually. perhaps you would have done well to go with your first impulse, which was to not attend. sounds like a loaded situation and i agree, perhaps not one that's appropriate for children.

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Old 12-26-2010, 03:40 PM
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I certainly get that needing to follow through on promises for children, structure is important, following through on promises is important. BUT we also need to look after ourselves. I am trying to hold off promising anything to the kids until I am sure I've thought it through properly, but also giving myself permission to change my mind; I am not continually "forgetting" promises that I make, or making up BS reasons why I don't follow through. I am a reliable parent, but sometimes I am sick and can't honour the promise, or circumstances change etc. The kids will be dissapointed but they will survive as long as it's not my normal pattern and I try to deny it to save my own self-image.

I am a parent, all parents make promises that they later think better of, and it is your call on each of those whether to go through with it or not.

Feelings are feelings, neither good nor bad, appropriate nor innapropriate and their presence has been precipitated by past events, they haven't come from no-where. so maybe give yourself a break?
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Old 12-26-2010, 04:33 PM
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I am a recovered drunk. I DO NOT like to be around other drunks. Hell, back when I WAS drunk, I couldn't tolerate anyone "drunker" than ME. I don't feel comfortable around drunks, I spent my whole growing up years around different drunks, and they scared me.

Today, I have made a promise to myself, no more drunks in my life. So now, I get to chose not to attend drunkfests.

Millions of families have the exact celebrations as you described, doesn't make it right. I think it promotes generations of alcoholism by showing little kids, "this is how we do family get togethers". There's a difference between "self righteous" and "right". And I'm RIGHT, damnit. Ha!

Thanks and God bless us all,
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