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What do I do when she IS good AND drinks

Old 12-28-2010, 11:44 AM
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What do I do when she IS good AND drinks

Not sure if you remember me - I last posted about 10 days ago. My wife promised then to stay off the heavy stuff, and just stick to a couple bottles of wine a week. Well, as can be expected, that commitment didn't survive long.
But today she
1. Got herself a tutoring job with course material she prepared a while ago (getting out of the house is important for her)
2. Built beds for our kids from pine wood she got from the carpenter (she's a bit of an artist)
3. Prepared a 3 course delicious dinner

and while doing all that she polished a half bottle of liquor and a half bottle of wine

So - what do I do?

Tell her how great she is? Or give her a hard time about the booze?
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Old 12-28-2010, 12:00 PM
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Neither. One is enabling the other is controlling.

You go to an Al-Anon meeting. A lot of them.

Take care,

Cyranoak
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Old 12-28-2010, 12:15 PM
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Agreed with the last poster. My alcoholic sister has many great qualities--she is a fantastic writer, is smart as a whip, and has a wonderful witty sense of humor. She is fiercely loyal. She is a lovely person. But she is also an alcoholic, and I can't control that or cure that. What I can do--accept her for who she is, and decide on boundaries that are best for me when it comes to her alcoholism. When she is drinking, I cannot be around her. I have boundaries that dictate that her drinking behavior = I do not have contact with her. I love her, and I always tell her this, but for my own sake, I cannot be dragged down into her problems and her alcoholism. So I separate the two and encourage the sober sister in her, but only when she has chosen to want to get sober.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that we have choices, just like the alcoholic has choices. You can't control your wife's drinking, sadly. What you can do...is learn what you are willing to live with and learn to have a relationship with her that takes the entire person into account--a good mom, and an alcoholic. With me, I had to separate from my sister to get to the point where I could see her for who she is, disease and all. I love her, but I have boundaries and consequences when it comes to her drinking. I know you love your wife, but she will not get help and she won't stop drinking until she is ready to. But you can help yourself in the process, and learn to be supportive of her in healthy ways--setting boundaries that protect you, and encouraging her if she seeks help. You can still show her support in terms of her being a good mom and set boundaries and consequences when it comes to her drinking.
Have you thought about an outside support system like al-anon? I tried al-anon, but what has helped me is seeing a therapist regularly and posting on this forum. Everyone is different when it comes to support, but in my experience, you do need some kind of support. You cannot go at this alone.
Hope my rambling makes some sense and is of help to you!
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Old 12-28-2010, 12:16 PM
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Is having a productive active alcoholic watching your kids Ok with you? Is it ok with you if you have a productive active alcoholic as a partner? Is she any more safe?Do you think she will be able to sustain this? Seems to me like she is trying to "prove" to you that she can drink and function..so you will get off her back about the drinking.
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Old 12-28-2010, 12:31 PM
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Stay alert. And wait.

Alcoholism is progressive. At first, they are able to go to heroic lengths to continue to drink and be functional. After a while, this disintegrates, and they escalate their consumption. And then they start to slip in their functioning and behaviors. At some point, it all falls apart, in the biggest spectacular way.

The increased consumption part has already manifested (co-occuring with her broken goal of xx consumption). Next comes the slipping of function. It's just a matter of time. It WILL happen, so be ready. The timing is unknown, however. Some alcoholics can remain in a holding pattern for a LONG time, however they are preoccupied with their next drink the duration of this time, and it affects their quality of life and that of those around them, due to their underlying preoccupation with the next drink.

These are universal and global patterns of the disease, if it goes unchecked. And in the case of alcoholism, "checked" would mean total abstinence AND a broad recovery program encompassing not just drinking, but the drivers/attitudes/behaviors behind it in the person's life.

CLMI
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Old 12-28-2010, 01:26 PM
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It reminds me of what I dubbed 'buying'.

My ex(s) (and sister) would do these 'wonderful' things for me.

but it was only so I would 'license' their drunk.

If they did something 'good' for me,
in their mind
then I had no right to say (or feel) anything about their tying one on.

UltimATELY
it would wind up with them UN-doing what they'd done.
to 'show me' how ungrateful I always was.

All about the control.
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Old 12-28-2010, 01:32 PM
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This is a tough one. I think Cyranoak is right. Do nothing. And go to Alanon. Personally, I find this forum more helpful than Alanon, but I am new to both, so time will tell. I would definitely keep alert, because when it all falls apart it will be huge.
M
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Old 12-28-2010, 01:40 PM
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Sounds similar to my experience, except my AW doesn't really do much of anything constructive. We have, however, been down the road of giving up hard liquor and just drinking wine. We're in our second repeat of that pattern, and it's going pretty much as I expected. She's drinking a bottle of wine in a day now, and I'm sure it's only a matter of time before she goes back to the vodka.

I hope you find a solution, but everything I've seen and heard here indicates that full recovery is the exception.
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Old 12-28-2010, 01:57 PM
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but everything I've seen and heard here indicates that full recovery is the exception.
Not true at all. First 'full recovery' means ongoing abstinence and working on one's self. That does happen a lot, and there are many on this particular forum that are DOUBLE WINNERS myself included, and recovery times from 4 years to almost 30 years. Recovery is for those that WANT it, and unfortunately just because an individual NEEDS recovery, it does not mean they WANT it yet.

However, the individual has to reach their own 'bottom' and that 'bottom' is different for each and every one of us.

Please go to Al-Anon and/or find a counselor that is 'experienced' with addiction.

J M H O

Love and hugs,
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Old 12-28-2010, 01:59 PM
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Double winners. I like that.
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Old 12-28-2010, 02:19 PM
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I did go to an al-anon meeting. There is only one group in my area. I did'n't feel it helped me much. It seemed to be too schematic - and I didn't feel they related to MY issues.

On the other hand I do like the forum - and so, with your indulgence, I think I'l just keep on posting and be thankful for the good advice and ideas I get here.

I don't think my wife is doing good things so she'll have a license to drink. She is very creative, and to some extent, perhaps she felt the drinking helped her get inspiration in what she does. Now, obviously, she is way beyond what's healthy. And I can see how this could deteriorate further.

I can't tell if she is just not capable to break the habit, or doesn't want to. On the face of - it seems easy - just don't buy the liquor and don't have it the house - no? I mean - when she goes to get the vodka or rum or jinn bottle, she is sober. She only keeps one bottle in the house which she often finishes during the day. And the next morning she goes to the shop to buy the next. So can't she just decide not to get it?

Unlike someone trying to control their weight - it would seem that controlling drinking should be easier. We always have food around the house. But we don't have to have booze around the house. So the temptation should be easier to fight - no?
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Old 12-28-2010, 02:26 PM
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No. Not if she's an alcoholic. That's the disease.

what do you want in a relationship? What kind of a person do you want raising your children? If what you have is acceptable to you (binge drinking included in the package), than so be it. If not then you need to change yourself. Because you can't change your wife.

You only get to control your own choices in this life. Maybe don't focus on what your wife's limits SHOULD be, and focus on your own limits. What are they?
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Old 12-28-2010, 02:41 PM
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If I can be so bold, there is something very odd to me about how you talk about your wife (FTR I am an alcoholic in recovery. A mother, too). Is she much younger than you? Is there some other key thing here that you're not saying?

Anyway she's an alcoholic but also a person with ups and downs, good days and bad. As long as she's drinking the bad will, IME always outnumber the good. I don't see this ending well unless she quits.
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Old 12-28-2010, 02:51 PM
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It's unlikely to make one bit of difference either way. Whether you praise her for the good things she does, or scold her for her drinking, she will still drink until she's done drinking. It seems you are looking for just the right thing to say or do that will get her to stop. I remember looking for that, too. It doesn't exist.

I could coerce and manipulate my husband into doing what I wanted for a while. And I did it, several times. But, it never lasted. And it turned me into someone I didn't like very much.

You just aren't powerful enough to cure her addiction. I know how much that hurts, but once you accept it as the truth, you can turn your energy toward what you can control. Your life and the lives of your children. As the child of an alcoholic, I can tell you, they need you and your efforts. They need your honesty and protection. Your wife is a grown up, she will do whatever she will do. I hope you will stop wasting all your energy on trying to control her and put it toward making a better life for you and the children who are the innocent victims in all this.

L
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Old 12-28-2010, 02:52 PM
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My first thought upon hearing your description was wondering if your wife has periods of severe depression...off set possibly by periods of extreme high energy. Many people with mentall illness self medicate. It's estimated that at least 50% of alcohol and/or drug users are actually dually addicts + mentally ill...I recommend you 1) do more reading on alcoholism...try to find patterns in your wife's behavior that match some of the descriptions, and 2). Find a licensed therapist that is knowledgable about addiction. But, I agree with everyone here...greater will power is not the problem. There is a root cause, a need that drinking is filling, and until that is identified this up and down, having hope then losing hhope, feeling lost and hurt when the addicted partner returns to old and destructive patterns...it will all just keep coming back. Make sure you find a network of people you can turn to for support. Hang in there.
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Old 12-28-2010, 07:03 PM
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Dude... one meeting?

Originally Posted by Rhode View Post
I did go to an al-anon meeting. There is only one group in my area. I did'n't feel it helped me much. It seemed to be too schematic - and I didn't feel they related to MY issues.
Many people have access to only one meeting. Meetings change day to day as stories change, lives change, and/or the world changes. Thinking you know if it will be good for you after one meeting is like thinking you know a woman after one date. Try six meetings and if you still feel like they don't relate to your issues, or you just don't like it at all then fine.

Reading your posts makes it clear to me, somebody who had and has your exact issues, that Al-Anon, if you want it, let it, and work for it, can considerably improve your life.

Take what you want and leave the rest.

Cyranoak

P.s. Schematic? As it is based around the 12-Steps in AA, yes it will be somewhat schematic. If that is your reason for not going again then it is simply a reason you aren't going again. Nothing more. Same with the God thing. I don't believe in God. Al-Anon works for me anyway because I want it, let it, and work for it.
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Old 12-28-2010, 07:41 PM
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I have noticed several people rejecting Alanon recently..if your wife goes to a rehab/out patient program/Dr./therapist...they are all going to advise YOU to go to Alanon.Work the program you wish she would is the saying..
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Old 12-28-2010, 10:34 PM
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I felt the same way about my AW too Rhode. She was a good woman in the beginning but all that changed as time went on. The disease is progressive and I am a direct witness to that. Twenty years later and I finally realized she just can't stop drinking. She would if she could but she just cannot. It's the nature of the beast. Even though she slowly destroys herself and our marriage. I have decided for my own sanity to detach from her when she drinks. Only problem is she drinks all the time which means no nights out, no dinners, no vacations, no life together. I find that I go everywhere alone though I'm not lonely. It just seems like a matter of time before the marriage ends. Used to be I fought to keep us together but it seems I don't have it in me much longer. I'm starting to get over the anger I was feeling and seem more resigned to the fact that fighting someone elses alcoholism is a loosing battle. Maybe it time to just move on. Hope ur situation improves but be careful. You don't want to loose twenty years like I did
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Old 12-29-2010, 12:15 AM
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That is, in fact, exactly why she is doing good things...

...along with the guilt that goes along with her disease, but I don't know how to help you, Rhode who is just like I used to be, understand that. Rayne is 100 percent correct that just because she isn't conscious of her motivations for doing it, that doesn't mean she isn't doing it. My wife used to do the EXACT same thing.

I'm not telling you to leave her-- I didn't leave my wife--, but you are going to have to work your own recovery program to even begin to understand what is happening on her side of the fence, and probably for a long time. That said, what is happening on your side of the fence is much, much more important right now, especially because you have children.

Take care my friend. I wish you, your wife, and your children the absolute best.

Cyranoak

P.s. I also need to point out that "being good" is a term we use with children. When used to refer to our spouses or significant others, something is very, very wrong. I know when I used to use it referring to my wife, I was doing so because I didn't see her as my equal. I saw her as simply another child I had to take care of-- I regret that now. It made things worse.


Originally Posted by Rayn3dr0p View Post
"I don't think my wife is doing good things so she'll have a license to drink."

This may not be a conscious or deliberate thought process on her part, but on some subconscious level, most alcoholics find ways to "justify" feeding their addiction.

It sounds to me like even though she is being "good" now, you're still uncomfortable with the amount of alcohol she has been consuming and the fact that she broke her commitment to you. Since you cannot control her, what can you do for you to find some comfort?
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Old 12-29-2010, 04:34 AM
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Originally Posted by SSIL75 View Post
If I can be so bold, there is something very odd to me about how you talk about your wife (FTR I am an alcoholic in recovery. A mother, too). Is she much younger than you? Is there some other key thing here that you're not saying?
Not sure what you mean by odd. If what you mean is the fact I speak also positively of her - well, it's because I do feel a duality about her. If all I saw was the drunk - I would have ended the relationship - no brainer.

To give you a bit more color on us - we're both late forties. Together for about 10 years. Had other relationships before, but no kids. Kids came to us very late in life - and we had to resort to fertility doctors for that. I have a fairly intensive day job in an office. We both often do stuff that's perhaps more typical of younger people - e.g. going camping in the wild in a tent (the kids love it), or sleeping on the roof of the house in hot summer nights. We have a dog and a rabbit running around at home. My family lives within driving distance. Her's is far away.

feel free to ask anything else you'd like to know
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