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Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde

Old 01-01-2011, 01:19 PM
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Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde

Before I begin, let me list a few facts that I feel are important.

I have been in a relationship with the love of my life for 7 years, married for 2. We have no children yet, but this is something we both want someday. I work in finance, 7-5pm and she is a bartender 4-5 nights a week 4-2am. We see each other for a few minutes during the week, and spend time together on the weekend during the day. Her father is an alcoholic. She is admittedly an alcoholic herself. I drink, but not to escape anything in my life. My professional life is stable, and drinking is an occasional enjoyment. She had a DUI 10 years ago, but refrains from driving now when she has had drinks. We have a great relationship when she is sober. She went to school for fashion design and dropped out with a semester left. 3+ years ago. We have a large debt ($100k) that I am happy to pay down. She resents my help with finances. She is a very independent and intelligent woman. Lights up the room with her smile. I love her.

This should help set the scene for everyone. This is my first time reaching out for help. Last night I began a journal to catalog the times when my wife goes on a drinking binge. The end result is always the same, and last night's entry was no exception. My wife is either at work (last night) or out with bartender girlfriends on a day off (2 weeks ago). She is tired, depressed about not living up to her high expectations for herself. Last night her brother (and our roommate) took me to get her, and my car at 4am. She got in his car without saying anything. Several blocks from home as I followed in my car, she got out in the rain and starting walking briskly down the road. He sped off, since she had verbally abused him. I carried her kicking and screaming into the car and took her home. She wanted to sleep in the car (private garage), I gave her a blanket and went upstairs into our home.

After 10 minutes in the garage/basement, she went into a fit of rage. Meet Ms. Hyde. "I want a divorce, you can do better, just leave me, I want to kill myself." A few weeks ago the suicide talk started. On Thanksgiving after an episode, she said that she held a knife to her wrist and thought about it. "I'm too chickenshit, shes says". After sitting on the cold concrete holding my sobbing wife, telling her I love her, I got her upstairs. She began to sober a bit and we talked in the living room. For the first time she directly admitted her shortcomings. "I am an alcoholic, I drink to escape, when I drink I say and do hurtful things." At 6am we finally went to bed together, sharing a little laughter about something unrelated to the night's events. A glimpse of the person I married, Dr. Jekyll.

My wife is still sleeping, but I have been up for several hours. Unable to sleep. Not being able to sleep is a common problem for me when she isn't home. This usually happens on a Sunday before my workweek begins. It has recently caused me to miss a meeting on Monday morning. She is out with friends drinking, doesn't abide by our 2am check-in rule and I stay up all night worrying. I pick her up at a strange mansion at 4am, and meet a very friendly guy that could have been a predator had I not taken her home. She is putting herself at risk.

Ok, sorry about the long description. Here is where I am at:

I still love her, and may want kids if she can get well. Should I move out for a month to see what happens? To give her a glimpse of life without me? Me or the booze, choose? I wish she could get an non-bar job, but she needs the money to pay off the debt. I am close to supporting both of us with my paycheck, and that was the plan once we were going to start a family. On hold for now. Her job gives her some confidence, she is a very good bartender. If she quits, what does she have? She will feel like a failure. I have tried to encourage her to go back to school for journalism (something she is interested in). But no motivation. Fear of failure in school again.

Any words of wisdom from people who have had a similar situation?

Thank you,
AJ
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Old 01-01-2011, 01:41 PM
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I think she is depressed. Chemical depression is a real illness and there is lots of information about it on the net for you to read. People sometimes use alcohol as a way to self-medicate. Sometimes people lack coping tools for dealing with stress, failure, or frustration, but these emotional tools can be gained. You have to approach alcoholism as an illness and if you would not leave her if she had an illness, why would you leave her over alcoholism? That isn't to say you should put up with anything and everything she throws your way, but after you have done the counseling, medication, everything you can to unscrew the situation, you can leave with a clear conscious. For now, I would suggest you stick by her and the two of you develop a plan.

A bar is not a place for an alcoholic to work. I repeat, a bar is not a place for an alcoholic to work. How much would you pay not to be living with an alcoholic and compare that price with what she earns. If you would pay more to have her alcohol free, that the answer is clear..she should ditch the job. She must have people skills. Yes, bartending can make big money, but maybe working a 9-5 job will put her around poeple who can help her be sober. It is very unusual for someone to graduate from college and make big money. Almost all of us made **** in the beginning so there is no shame in it. Even a crappy job around nice people is a thousand times better than a higher paying job around people who tempt you into a life that drives you to suicide.
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Old 01-01-2011, 01:55 PM
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Hit the nail on the head. We both know she is depressed, although it has improved for short periods of time. We trained and completed a triathlon together last fall and she was doing really well, until just after the race. I do look at this like an illness, told my brother-in-law the exact same thing last night. I don't want to leave her, and I know the road to recovery won't be easy. I have never feared a good challenge. The things she has tried in the past to recover have not lasted. Need a new strategy. My wife has discussed trying anti-depressants, any thoughts on that? She is concerned about becoming addicted to the pills though...
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Old 01-01-2011, 02:11 PM
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Sadly, it has been my experience that given the choice, and alcoholic will choose alcohol over anything.
You can ask her to choose between you and alcohol, but I don't think you will like her answer.....
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Old 01-01-2011, 02:15 PM
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Good that she realizes she has a problem. Has she decided though that she wants to stop? There is a difference. Has she tried an AA meeting?

I sort of hear trickles of a partner who wants to aid in her recovery but as many here discover, that isn't something a partner has any control over. It is up to her.

What I'm trying to gingerly say is, you are not qualified to help in her recovery. Be supportive, yes of course but there isn't a 'plan' you or her can tailor. It is all up to her.

Drinking is one part of the problem. There is lifestyle as well. Her working in a bar will most likely work against any recovery efforts. All these things are part of the recovery process, not just stopping the drinking or going on meds.

AA would be a good start to see if she really is ready to stop.
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Old 01-01-2011, 02:17 PM
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Welcome to SR! You will find a lot of support here. Spend some time reading the stickies at the top of this forum. You'll find a lot of experience, strength and hope there. We understand what you are going through and we're here to help support you.

I agree that if your wife is an alcoholic, the last place she needs to be working is in a bar. That's just common sense. While she may be depressed, anti-depressants won't work if she is drinking. Might as well flush your money down the toilet. I know of where I speak in that regard.

While you have decisions to make regarding your relationship, the main thing is that your wife has a decision to make, and her decision will make your options more clear. She needs to decide whether or not she wants to stop drinking and live a sober life. That isn't something you can do for her, regardless of how much you enjoy a challenge. Should she choose recovery, it will be her recovery to manage.
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Old 01-01-2011, 02:32 PM
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First, welcome to SR! This is a wonderful place with great information, and many kind people with a common experience. Please keep post because no matter what the next step in your journey, there are many here who have been through it. I am sorry that you are going through this; I know it's not easy to see your spouse in a downward spiral.

As far as moving out for a month to get her to see the light, I think that's a manipulation that's unlikely to work. The 3 Cs of addictions are:
You didn't Cause it
You can't Cure it
You can't Control it
If you move out with the goal of getting her to change, that's a losing proposition because she's not going to change until she's ready. And even if she decides she's ready she is the one who will have to do the work to get, and stay, in recovery.

One of the most painful, and yet freeing, truths about alcoholism is that it's not about us (the non-drinking partners). Yes, her drinking affects you profoundly, but her reasons for drinking and depression have nothing to do with you. It's painful because it feels like she's choosing alcohol over you. In actual fact that is true. However, it's a small relief for me to know that we are not powerful enough to have caused the drinking.

When I moved out from my alcoholic husband, I did it for me, not him. I could no longer live with the madness of him and his drinking, and I chose to no longer be around it. No one else can tell you whether it's time to stay or go, but whatever you chose, know your limits and chose something you can live with.
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Old 01-01-2011, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by SashaMB View Post
As far as moving out for a month to get her to see the light, I think that's a manipulation that's unlikely to work. The 3 Cs of addictions are:
You didn't Cause it
You can't Cure it
You can't Control it
If you move out with the goal of getting her to change, that's a losing proposition because she's not going to change until she's ready. And even if she decides she's ready she is the one who will have to do the work to get, and stay, in recovery.
I have begun to notice subtle manipulations on my part, and I feel bad about it. I really appreciate your post, and I have also come to the conclusion that I can't fix this problem and can only be there to provide support. It is hard to watch someone you love making bad choices, especially when you know that you will have to deal with it later -- She is in agitated state on her way out for a night with girlfriends. What am I to do? I sit at home dreading the inevitable. I think, maybe I should get a hotel room for the night so I can sleep and not be forced into a drunken late night argument. I can't tell her not to go out, not to drink. Gave up on that over a year ago. The bizarre thing is that we can go on a week long vacation to Hawaii, have wine with dinner and everything is great. The problem only really occurs when she is at her bar or out without me...
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Old 01-01-2011, 02:59 PM
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The problem only really occurs when she is at her bar or out without me...

Just a word of caution. Please don't get it in your head that the only way she'll embrace recovery is if you stick around. Nothing could be further from the truth, and sometimes, sticking around for them only enables them to continue on the current path. Any attempt at recovery must come FROM her FOR her because she can't take another moment of the misery she is inflicting upon herself.
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Old 01-01-2011, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by HusbandwAW View Post
What am I to do? I sit at home dreading the inevitable. I think, maybe I should get a hotel room for the night so I can sleep and not be forced into a drunken late night argument.
This part really resonated with me, as one of the biggest physical affects AH's drinking had on me was that I became an insomniac. I would lie awake thinking about his drinking and what to do about it. I would intentionally stay up very late without going into the bedroom to make sure he went to sleep before I went to bed, so as to avoid late-night arguments. Lack of sleep may seem like a small thing to most, but I got to the point where the fatigue made it difficult for me to function. Even now, having been on my own for more that 2 months, I still have difficulty sleeping. I'm not sure what the answer to your situation is, but I am convinced that sleep deprivation is a key ingredient to participating in the alcoholic (lack of) rationale. The one thing that us non-alcoholics should have going over our alkie spouses is a clear head. Too much insomnia and that goes out the window. I remember when I told AH I was leaving that I just needed to be able to eat and sleep. Very basic human requirements, but when your alcoholic drives you to not be able to take care of such basic needs, it's time to focus (at least a little bit) on taking care of yourself.
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Old 01-01-2011, 03:34 PM
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Baby mentioned AA, which might be a good first step, but that also means you should go to al anon. Living with a person with alcoholism carries its own challenges, but you sound like a brave and strong person who is up for a challenge so go to al anon and see how others have traveled the path you are considering. I would also suggest that you research stress triggers, bio-feedback, and immerse yourself in research. Have you guys tracked her blood sugar? How often is she eating and what type of foods. Is she carbo loading? Alcoholics can crave sugars. They can also have dietary problems. Shop around for good counselors to help her and I doubt you will find a good one the first time out. You really have to shop around to find good ones and don't be afraid to ditch the ones that don't seem to be helping. You guys can do this! Check out in the Mayo Clinic website. Keep abreast of new treatments and developments. You also need to find new ways for her to develop her self esteem. She sounds like an amazing person and maybe by helping others (helping the spouses of military abroad get out an exercise, volunteering on local boards and committees, etc.) she will start to find value in her life. I am really impressed by your willingness and interest in helping her. You are a good man.
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Old 01-01-2011, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by HusbandwAW View Post
I still love her, and may want kids if she can get well. Should I move out for a month to see what happens? To give her a glimpse of life without me? Me or the booze, choose? I wish she could get an non-bar job, but she needs the money to pay off the debt. I am close to supporting both of us with my paycheck, and that was the plan once we were going to start a family. On hold for now. Her job gives her some confidence, she is a very good bartender. If she quits, what does she have? She will feel like a failure. I have tried to encourage her to go back to school for journalism (something she is interested in). But no motivation. Fear of failure in school again.

Thank you,
AJ
Perhaps it will help you to get feedback from a recovering alcoholic. Your wife sounds like me 19 years ago when I was active. I had a very close relationship, long term, with a wonderful man who sounds like you. He used logic to try to figure me out

The bottom line is that we alcoholics are self involved, self-centered in the extreme, we have enormous egos and low self esteem and a lot of grandiosity. The love of your life has only one real relationship and that's with the bottle. It's convenient to have a generous soul in our lives to enable our drinking, so we don't have to deal with consequences. We aren't very concerned about that person although we're expert at saying we're sorry and acting like we do.

This was me, thank God not in a long time. You have to decide if you want your life to center around an active alcoholic. I sure wouldn't.

Yes, people recover, they do have useful, meaningful lives. But no one can predict who will get sober, who won't. Please do not even think about having a child with this woman while she is active.
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Old 01-01-2011, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by NYCDoglvr View Post
Perhaps it will help you to get feedback from a recovering alcoholic. Your wife sounds like me 19 years ago when I was active. I had a very close relationship, long term, with a wonderful man who sounds like you. He used logic to try to figure me out

The bottom line is that we alcoholics are self involved, self-centered in the extreme, we have enormous egos and low self esteem and a lot of grandiosity. The love of your life has only one real relationship and that's with the bottle. It's convenient to have a generous soul in our lives to enable our drinking, so we don't have to deal with consequences. We aren't very concerned about that person although we're expert at saying we're sorry and acting like we do.This was me, thank God not in a long time. You have to decide if you want your life to center around an active alcoholic. I sure wouldn't.

Yes, people recover, they do have useful, meaningful lives. But no one can predict who will get sober, who won't. Please do not even think about having a child with this woman while she is active.
I am a recovering alcholic too. I have nothing to add to this honest post.
all that matters to her right now is alcohol. All attempts to control it by you will be thwarted and be another excuse to drink. I had so many excuses to drink. It comes downto the fact that I am an alcoholic and alcoholics drink. Simple.

Beth

Please find some support for yourself, focusing on her will be crazy if you are a logical person. There is no logic here. Just her and the alcohol.
AlAnon.


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Old 01-01-2011, 05:01 PM
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Can I marry you and give her my husband!? Sorry, bad joke. I am just kidding. Having a terrible night, I have the flu and am only not in bed because I have to watch my kids, husband came out of Hazelden this week and needs to go back in already...

May I please give you one word of advice? DO NOT have kids with her until she has been sober and working a program for a long time, unless you are okay with essentially being a single parent. An active alcoholic is too self-centered to take care of kids properly. I don't regret my marriage because we have the most beautiful sweet children (and he used to be a pretty darn good guy) but leaving is so much harder. I would have left two years ago if it weren't for the fact that my AH is a good father as far as the small children we have can tell. When he is not passed out (as he is at 7:00 nightly) he is generally sweet to them. Now though things have gotten so bad that it's beginning to be a problem for them.

At the very least, as another poster suggested, take care of yourself first. Living with an AH will totally drag you down. I am a happy and positive person but the past couple of months of going in and out of treatment, taking him to the ER twice among other issues has taken a huge toll on me. I am getting depressed and short with my kids. I am not normally like this. This is why I know I finally need to leave. I worry about what AH will do because he can't function but I just have to live my life now.

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Old 01-01-2011, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by HusbandwAW View Post
Should I move out for a month to see what happens? To give her a glimpse of life without me? Me or the booze, choose?

AJ
If this is something you're considering or have considered, then maybe you could try thinking about different reasons for doing it.

Asking her to choose between you and the booze probably won't work, she'll maybe say she chooses you, but she'll keep the booze hidden (for now) anyway.

If you were going to move out for a while you could try seeing how life treated YOU, how good it was for YOU, and seeing how different YOU felt about things from a distance, or how much better you slept!

I know you love her and you want to help her, but everyone else here loves someone too who would be stone cold sober and happy if loving them could make it that way.
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Old 01-01-2011, 10:24 PM
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welcome.

first off, what sucky, hard stuff!
I understand having a partner that isn't caring for themselves, is depressed and causing me grief!! LOL!

I'd suggest checking out Melody Beattie's book Codependent No More.
Her perspective is you can't fix your wife.
She is an adult who is fully capable of conquering her fears, getting herself into recovery and making good choices. Nothing you are doing or not doing is responsible for her choices.

The more you rescue her (from the bar, from creepy places, from herself), the deeper she can go into her addictive, irresponsible behaviors.

The general perspective most folks have here is that our job is to take care of ourselves. As one wise poster says, "put down the magnifying glass and pick up the mirror."

We can ask ourselves what is acceptable behavior for how our partner treats us?
What kind of life do we want?
Is it okay with you to be so stressed you can't sleep?
Is it okay that she doesn't come home when she says she will and may be out with strange guys?
And more questions you can ask youself.
And if some of her behaviors don't jive with you, how can you set boundaries so that YOU are taken care of and treated with respect?
Can you work on detaching enough, trusting enough that she gets to make her own choices, that you spend more time looking for YOUR serenity than stressing over HER bad choices?

As they say, you can't change her. You can't control her and you didn't cause her behavior. She is an independent person.
And so are you.
So how can you care for YOU today?

Stick around. You are warmly welcome here.

peace
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