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Looking for thoughts and opinions from those that were married to an alcoholic...

Old 01-04-2011, 11:48 PM
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Looking for thoughts and opinions from those that were married to an alcoholic...

I was married to an alcoholic man for 10 years. During the course of that time, I had to learn to predict his actions or non actions to keep myself, our kids and everyone else safe. I lost complete sight of who I was and the sense of just being able to live in the moment. I know that that is part of the life of being with someone who is an alcoholic. After the divorce, I started to slowly remember the things which I once loved and enjoyed. I can't even tell you the last time I was this happy.

But the one thing that hasn't come back to me is the ability to just be in the moment. We have been divorced for 2 years and I still am trying to predict the outcome of everything. It doesnt matter if its work, school, home or relationships with guys. I overthink everything down to what someone means in a text or what I should text back. I don't know how to just let things be and live in the moment. Can anyone else relate to this? If so can how do you let go and give up that control?
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Old 01-05-2011, 03:29 AM
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I can relate. I find myself doing the exact same thing. I found a good article on focus a while back, it helped remind me to just enjoy the moment and forget about past worries.


In the chaos of the modern world, there is a beauty in simply doing.
We’re buffeted wildly by whatever emails, conversations, news, events, demands, that are going on around us. Our minds become a constant deluge of thoughts dwelling in the past, worries of the future, distractions pulling us in every direction.
But all of that melts away when we focus on just doing.
It doesn’t matter what the doing is: sitting, walking, writing, reading, eating, washing, talking, snuggling, playing. By focusing on the doing, we drop our worries and anxieties, jealousies and anger, grieving and distraction.
There is something profound in that simplicity. Something ultimately heart-rendingly breath-takingly gorgeous.
“When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” ~Zen proverb
You are in the middle of your day today, and you’re caught up in the sandstorm of thoughts, feelings, to-dos, meetings, readings, and communications of this day.
Pause. Breathe. Let all of that fade.
Now focus on doing one thing, right now. Just choose one thing, and clear away all other distractions. Seriously, clear it all away. Turn off your Internet. Stop reading this article (OK, read a couple more sentences, then close your browser!).
Let all thoughts about anything other than the doing also fade away. They’ll come up, but gently make note of them, and then let them go. And return to the doing.
If you’re washing a dish, do it slowly, and feel every sensation. If you’re eating a fruit, taste it, feel the textures, be mindful of your hunger or lack of it. If you’re writing something, pour your heart into that writing, become the writing, inhabit the words.
Just do.
The rest of the world becomes meaningless distraction. It’s just you, and your doing.
And you realize: this is all that matters. In this, there is everything.
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Old 01-05-2011, 06:03 AM
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Welcome to the SR family!

I understand what it is like anticipating everyone's needs and trying to control outcomes to prevent uncomfortable situations. I was exhausted from trying to save everyone and make everything have a happy ending.

I was being affected by other's behavior and trying to control them in effort to manipulate outcomes. I was codependent. Still am, and working on getting better.

A book that helped be discover my codie tendencies and offers practical steps for overcoming my codie ways is Melody Beatties book: "Codependent No More".

Here is a post from one of our sticky (permanent) posts that offers examples of codependency:

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...-part-1-a.html

Please make yourself at home by reading and posting as much as needed.
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Old 01-05-2011, 06:43 AM
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This is interesting. I had never thought of my behavior in this way before. I thought I was just a concientious and responsible person and that it was simply my nature. It's possible I suppose that being married for 25 years to an alcoholic (who is now deceased) may have predisposed me to always wondering about outcomes and trying to be safe, but then I think it may also be possible that it truly is "just my nature". There are moments when I live for the moment and then other times when I take charge of myself and feel that I need to "smarten up". Possibly too, being the eldest of 3 children, and the daughter, who took care of younger siblings, and whose mother turned to her for emotional support, from a father who returned from "the war" struggling with all that misery and having a new family. I don't know.....maybe it's just life ???? Aren't we all programmed one way or another ? I DO know that I am frequently told to "lighten up" and not "try so hard" but how on earth can that happen when....things need to be taken care of ????
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Old 01-05-2011, 06:58 AM
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Sad..........all these invisible rules we have as codies. in one sense have keep us safe...in another have really imprisoned us............
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Old 01-05-2011, 07:48 AM
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, lifewenton, to the f&f forum! My job for the last twelve months has been to learn how to take care of myself and learn how to love myself! This was no small task for me since I'm still living with my dry drunk husband, but my very life depended upon it. This is some of the things I have learned over this period of time.

The key to being in the moment is to start with a few small goals and slowly build from there. Draw upon whatever resources are available. Take things one day at a time and reward yourself for each accomplishment. The steps may seem small, but they’ll quickly add up. And for all the energy you put in to your recovery, you’ll get back much more in return.

In order to being in the moment, you have to nurture yourself. This includes making time for things you enjoy, asking for help from others, setting limits on what you’re able to do, adopting healthy habits, and scheduling fun activities into your day. Do things you enjoy (or used to) While you can’t force yourself to have fun or experience pleasure, you can choose to do things that you used to enjoy. Pick up a former hobby or a sport you used to like. Express yourself creatively through music, art, or writing. Go out with friends. Take a day trip to a museum, the mountains, or the ballpark.

Emotions are powerful, but if you are emotionally intelligent, you can harness the power of your emotions. Emotional intelligence gives you the tools for coping with difficult situations and maintaining a positive outlook. It helps you stay focused, flexible, and creative in bad times as well as good. The capacity to recognize your emotions and express them appropriately helps you avoid getting stuck in depression, anxiety, or other negative mood states. In other words, emotional intelligence makes you resilient.

Push yourself to do things, even when you don’t feel like it. You might be surprised at how much better you feel once you’re out in the world. Even if you're still unable to focus immediately, you’ll gradually feel more upbeat and energetic as you make time for fun activities.

Aim for 8 hours of sleep. Lack of focus typically involves sleep problems. Whether you’re sleeping too little or too much, your mood suffers. Get on a better sleep schedule by learning healthy sleep habits. Expose yourself to a little sunlight every day. Lack of sunlight can hinder our ability to focus. Make sure you’re getting enough.

Practice relaxation techniques. A daily relaxation practice can help improve our focus, reduce stress, and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Try yoga, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation.

What you eat has a direct impact on the way you feel. Aim for a balanced diet of protein, complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables.

Keep a “negative thought log”. Whenever you experience a negative thought, jot down the thought and what triggered it in a notebook. Review your log when you’re in a good mood. Consider if the negativity was truly warranted. Then, for each negative thought, write down something positive. Negative thinking puts a spin on everything, including the way you see yourself, the situations you encounter, and your expectations for the future. Just thinking happy thoughts or wishful thinking won’t cut it. Rather, the trick is to replace negative thoughts with more balanced thoughts.

Getting the support you need plays a big role in lifting our moods and keeping it away. On your own, it can be difficult to maintain perspective and sustain the effort required to remain focused. But the very nature of codependency makes it difficult to reach out for help. However, isolation and loneliness make our mood even worse, so maintaining close relationships and social activities are important. If you find your moods getting worse and worse, seek professional help.

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

Love and Peace,

Phoenix
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Old 01-05-2011, 07:51 AM
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hi lifewenton-

i can relate, very much. i notice in myself that even though i now live alone, i still have some anxiety throw back from living with my alcoholic.

for example, i can't just leave the house like normal people. i have to check that the oven is off, the faucets are shut, the candles blown out, and there's no clothes over the heater.

i have never ever in my life left a candle burning when not in the room nor have i thrown clothes over an electric heater or left a faucet running and depart the house.

however, my alcoholic did all of those things and many more.

for some time, i lived in kind of a panic mode, always having to check everything because of fear that he's burn the house down, cause a flood or forget he had food in the oven. he was always falling asleep with lit cigarettes in his hand, which made me a nervous wreck. i couldn't even sleep in peace.

and now that i am away from him and living alone, i have these residual habits now which don't feel healthy.
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:15 AM
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I am not an obsessive compulsive person by nature - I am just low on that spectrum. I'm a bit compulsive about keeping track of my money now though. I keep track of every dime and where it goes. I have a spreadsheet with dozens of 'line items' and I separate paper towels from groceries from cat food even if I have to go down a list for $300 worth of junk at Walmart to do it. I think that simply comes from years of scrambling and trying so hard to keep track of money to pay the bills when someone else was always sabotaging the family budget (but always the first to enthusiastically make a new budget or get excited about a new plan - my god how crazy making - words and follow through actions were so opposite). I had zero ability/success with planning anything for the future (near or far) with our money and felt so insecure because of it.
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Thumper View Post
I am not an obsessive compulsive person by nature - I am just low on that spectrum. I'm a bit compulsive about keeping track of my money now though. I keep track of every dime and where it goes. I have a spreadsheet with dozens of 'line items' and I separate paper towels from groceries from cat food even if I have to go down a list for $300 worth of junk at Walmart to do it. I think that simply comes from years of scrambling and trying so hard to keep track of money to pay the bills when someone else was always sabotaging the family budget (but always the first to enthusiastically make a new budget or get excited about a new plan - my god how crazy making - words and follow through actions were so opposite). I had zero ability/success with planning anything for the future (near or far) with our money and felt so insecure because of it.
LOL, Thumper, I'm exactly the same way!! Now that there are tools on the internet, I'm even worse, because I'll write my expenses in my DayTimer, AND record them on my Excel spreadsheet, AND log them onto my Dave Ramsey website AND then balance it all with my Mint.com account. And you're right--all that work is just the pendulum swinging as far as it can to the other side to try (futile, of course) to balance out the ridiculous mindless, wasteful spending by AH.

I LOVE ResilientFather's post--I'm going to print it out--RF, who is the author, do you know?

lifewenton: I do believe you can go back to living in the moment with practice. Maybe some meditation or yoga classes or podcasts/websites would help. I think cracking open awareness by stopping yourself from time to time and just noticing your surroundings on a regular basis throughout the day will slowly expand your ability to tap into that whenever you need it.
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:28 AM
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My family lived in the shadow of a raging alcoholic man who was my grandfather. Even when he stopped drinking in my young age (early/mid 70s?)...he was still a mean, raging, dry drunk. He remained the same man, hurting his family in innumerable ways until he died 2-3 years ago (I can't remember as I have been completely estranged for more than a decade from him). So he finally changed...he died and is free from the torment of the alcohol.

But the thing is, very few of his family have made their own changes...and this was never more clear to me than over the holidays in talking to my aunts, uncles, mom, and dad. My mom summed up their collective pain when she noted that "The worst part of the whole situation is that no one will ever get to hear that man say "I'm sorry"". These people are still hurting, still holding on to whatever they can from that situation. It was an opportunity for me to see, if not share, that there is another way. That the only solution to serenity in this situation, and really, whether the alcoholic is here, gone, alive, dead, active, dry, recovering or otherwise...is to find our OWN PEACE through working the steps of Al Anon and releasing the alcoholic to their own life. Its a choice we have to make on our own...and, more importantly, ACTIONS we have to take on our own, alongside sponsors and recovery groups as a whole.

I carry a lot of resentments for a lot of things in my life. In recovery I am learning the language of letting go, of trusting it to a higher power, in order to be able to live today in serenity.

Hope that helps.
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Thumper View Post
I am not an obsessive compulsive person by nature - I am just low on that spectrum. I'm a bit compulsive about keeping track of my money now though. I keep track of every dime and where it goes. I have a spreadsheet with dozens of 'line items' and I separate paper towels from groceries from cat food even if I have to go down a list for $300 worth of junk at Walmart to do it. I think that simply comes from years of scrambling and trying so hard to keep track of money to pay the bills when someone else was always sabotaging the family budget (but always the first to enthusiastically make a new budget or get excited about a new plan - my god how crazy making - words and follow through actions were so opposite). I had zero ability/success with planning anything for the future (near or far) with our money and felt so insecure because of it.
I do this same thing as well. I like my excel version of my checkbook! I separate each section out by payday and then list all the bills I need to pay before the next payday and then put an estimate for food and gas and then I can estimate weeks ahead. Something always happened and I wouldn't get a deposit I needed from him or he would steal money or overspend if I trusted him to go get gas/groceries and I would have to re-do the whole thing putting things on different payweeks.

I never even looked at it since he left on Dec 5th. I didn't pay any bills, nothing. Just bought what I needed at the store and a few Christmas gifts. I was so happy last night to finally go through everything and see exactly how much money I have. I got a $300 bonus in my last paycheck 2 weeks ago and never even knew because I have been too depressed to even look at my finances!

I don't see that I will ever change in this aspect, but I hope that now that I am in control of my own budget I will not obsess over it and balance it as often.
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Old 01-05-2011, 03:37 PM
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Hi, Life, and welcome to Soberrecovery!


For me, it took getting into a twelve step program
and working it like my life depended on it.

Because it did.

I learned about letting go
I learned about what I thought was living moment to moment
was actually MANIPULATING moment to moment
and that I'd never just ... been.

We don't have to do that any more.

have you considered Alanon?

I am also a recovering alcoholic
so my particular twelve steps
were those.

But the twelve steps
whether worked for alcohol
or for practically anything else
is a system that others just cannot beat

only copy.

Welcome to SR!
I hope you find the support you need
to make the changes you want
and make a few friends along the way!
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Old 01-05-2011, 04:30 PM
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I fail completely to be able to be in the moment when I am overburdened or overtired or stressed. So I need to give myself enough time to sleep and allow myself to be imperfect and do a less than exceptional job on each of my responsibilities (work, health, kids, home etc).

A couple of things seemingly opposite things have helped, the first, was getting organised spending some time planning and doing the basics of living, eating etc in advance, less fire-fighting. That frees my mind up so that I don't have 10001 things that I've got to keep track of whilst playing with the kids, being at work, enjoying a walk.

This is going to sound weird, but that all comes from joining the flylady home organising site: I don't have to think about any of that stuff; I follow their schedule, they can think of all that stuff for me; it's covered.

The other, conversely is less planning and more doing as a means of stopping my worrying. I am a classic -spend-so-much-time-making-the-perfect-revision-timetable-that-there's-no-time-left-for-revision procrastinator. Before when I used to worry about big stuff, I would make a plan about it, I would worry about the various possible outcomes and try and have contingencies for all of them. Now I try to just do one small practical thing that would make my life better right now or in a week/months time, usually completely unrelated to my worry, even if that is just throwing out the old stuff in my fridge or writing to an old friend; something simple that I can concentrate on wholly for a few minutes. If I'm still worrying, I do another thing and try and concentrate on that.

If that doesn't work and I'm still overcome with emotions and the need to try and forsee or manipulate the future, with worry, I try and practice mindfullness - a counsellor taught me the basics (and I've never got past the basics, because my mind is an unruly wanderer).

I often have to pull myself back into the now of life, I really spent none of the last week just being: two exhausted kids with completely disrupted sleep patterns, grumpy, demanding and overwhelmed completely threw me off, and I had some huge anxiety and future-tripping going on. But that's okay, cos I don't have to be perfect
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Old 01-05-2011, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by lifewenton View Post
I overthink everything down to what someone means in a text or what I should text back. I don't know how to just let things be and live in the moment. Can anyone else relate to this? If so can how do you let go and give up that control?
OMG. I can completely relate to this. It still takes me forever to write any post here at SR, or to respond to any texts...

I do the same thing, Callie, on budgeting by paycheck. (Pay this, this and this with this paycheck and this, this and this with the next.) I love that I no longer have to readjust because XAH pulled out $100, $200, $100, $300 every day or ever other day, while not depositing anything because he spent his entire check on vodka. Since I left him, I have not missed a single payment or had to decide, hmmmm pay heat or buy food this month?

Additionally, my office at work was hyper-organized. I knew exactly where each file was, I knew why it was on my desk, it moved from one section of my desk to the next when it passed a certain phase of review / draft / mailed / etc. No loose papers, no clutter. Clean desk surface at the end of the day. Now I can see that it was because I wasn't 'allowed' to clean most rooms at home. XAH got angry if I tried to clean the living room, hallway or kitchen and as a result those rooms were utter sties. They were disgusting, mainly due to him leaving dishes every where, spilling food, beer, milk, passing out and peeing there.

Now that I'm gone, my desk looks a little less like Miss OCD or Perfect Polly lives here; still organized, I still know what's going where, but not obsessively so. My co-workers say it looks more human now.
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Old 01-05-2011, 05:55 PM
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Years ago I realized that worrying and projecting was how I maintained control. Of course I didn't really, it was an illusion. It may be that you conditioned yourself to think that way and now it's automatic.

It helps to see the mind as a computer. Garbage in, garbage out. So it just goes on and on and on spewing out stuff we put there. I suggest meditation, it will get you in the habit of being in the present.
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Old 01-05-2011, 06:01 PM
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I, too, welcome you to this forum, LifeWentOn.

I can relate to what you said about the texting conundrum. Many, if not most, people I know just send a quick little text, and it sometimes will have a typo. I frickin PROOFREAD mine! I have deliberated for MINUTES over various verbiage in a text message, then stall over whether to send it.

Aargh!

Email is ten times worse.

I just picked up a book the other day entitled "Peace". I think it's a good read, written by an Eastern Monk.

The thing I remembered was that we can be happy in THIS moment, right now, and appreciate the things that are here with us this very moment.

The sun shining (smile, it feels good)
A person's smile
The world spinning.

Yes, I think I can do that, even if there are other things going on all around me.

The thing is, I think that when we do that....and then do more of it, we can look
back and find that we felt better, happier, more grounded during those times.

I'm gonna try.
Let's see if it makes a difference
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Old 01-05-2011, 06:08 PM
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I have deliberated for MINUTES over various verbiage in a text message, then stall over whether to send it.
Coffeedrinker, I LOVE this use of vee's. Yes!
Now, how shall I use it? Hmmmm, must think,

Oh yes, I do the same thing, thinking, pondering, ruminating, a comma, a semicolon, did I quote right, bold it, underline correctly and best of all use a pithy phrase.

Sigh, perfectionism and codependency, it ain't for sissies!
:day6
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Old 01-06-2011, 12:44 PM
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Consider therapy and Al-Anon...

I truly believe, and I am not a big therapy person or labeling my ills person, that, as a result of my 10 year marriage to an alcoholic, I am suffering from many of the symptoms of PTSD and Hypervigilance disorder.

What you are describing applies to me as well. It resonates with my fully and completely. I'm encouraging you to see a therapist around this.

Take care,

Cyranoak


Originally Posted by lifewenton View Post
I was married to an alcoholic man for 10 years. During the course of that time, I had to learn to predict his actions or non actions to keep myself, our kids and everyone else safe. I lost complete sight of who I was and the sense of just being able to live in the moment. I know that that is part of the life of being with someone who is an alcoholic. After the divorce, I started to slowly remember the things which I once loved and enjoyed. I can't even tell you the last time I was this happy.

But the one thing that hasn't come back to me is the ability to just be in the moment. We have been divorced for 2 years and I still am trying to predict the outcome of everything. It doesnt matter if its work, school, home or relationships with guys. I overthink everything down to what someone means in a text or what I should text back. I don't know how to just let things be and live in the moment. Can anyone else relate to this? If so can how do you let go and give up that control?
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Old 01-07-2011, 03:44 PM
  # 19 (permalink)  
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Thanks for the welcome everyone! I love all the responses. So many good points. I don't know that I was so overly contious before I was married. I just know that now in what ever situation I feel like I constantly have to weigh out the pros and cons before I can decide what I'm going to do. I just wish for once I could throw caution to the wind and do something with out thinking twice.

I love the thought of getting organized. WHen I was married the one thing that I could control was my disorganization. I knew he hated it. After the divorce, while Im nowhere near as bad I could definitely use some tiding around here. I would feel like I was doing something for myself I guess.
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Old 01-07-2011, 08:22 PM
  # 20 (permalink)  
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At two years separated you are only just starting to recover, so don't be hard on yourself for still having habits that were functional then but dysfunctional now. Remember these habits helped you survive hard times. And two years is nothing. It takes two years just to start recovering, it doesn't happen the moment you walk out the door.
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