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Why do I relapse so easily?

Old 01-20-2011, 10:53 PM
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Why do I relapse so easily?

It's a rhetorical question, really. It just never ceases to amaze me how quickly I lose composure over little tiny things my wife does or doesn't do.
  1. If she misspells a text.
  2. If she's late home from work.
  3. If she stays up too late.
  4. If she's in the bathroom "too long."
  5. If she doesn't answer her phone.
  6. If I don't know where she is.
  7. If she sleeps in.

These are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of things that normal people do that completely freak me out when she does them. Six months without a single sign of relapse, not even a hint of it, and even one of these things elevates my heart rate and I start mind-f'ing myself.

Now I understand what all the oldtimers were saying when they said that sometimes they are tougher to live with sober. Except for one thing-- she isn't tougher to live with; I am.

She didn't do "it" my way when she was drunk, and she doesn't do it my way in recovery either. God damn it.

Cyranoak
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Old 01-20-2011, 10:57 PM
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Well, six months isn't so long on the scale of undoing years of conditioning, is it? Maybe you should give yourself a break.

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Old 01-20-2011, 11:28 PM
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yes, give yourself a break and get to al-anon meetings (or whatever works to keep the focus on you instead of her).

My AH is 2 months sober. I am taking each day one day at a time, trying to wrap my head around the realization that relapse is forever in my future. It is my understanding that if we accept that the alcoholic is always an alcoholic, even in recovery, and relapse is always a possibility, we can begin to enjoy the sobriety instead of being focused on what may or may not happen.

Maybe try to enjoy and celebrate your wife each day she remains sober, and don't focus so much on "what might be's".
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Old 01-20-2011, 11:58 PM
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Sounds like you're in hypervigilance mode, which is understandable as a result of living with an active A. As everyone has said so far, take it easy on yourself. In time, you may find you relax a little more even knowing there's a possiblility your wife may fall off the wagon. When my exADFH was not drinking, but not in recovery, I went into that mode. It was when I relaxed and finally felt like we were doing well that he hit the grog again. As I said, he didn't do any recovery. Different story for you though in that your wife is actively seeking her recovery and will hopefully continue down that path. 'One day at a time' and 'easy does it' came to mind when I read your post....
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Old 01-21-2011, 01:58 AM
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Got news for you ........................... she's NEVER GOING TO DO IT 'YOUR WAY.' No matter what 'your way' is.

So, maybe the issue for you is to start looking at your 'control issues.'

My mom was that way with my dad and my sister and I. The jobs got done, but if it wasn't 'her way' the chit still hit the fan.

As an adult I started to 'mimic' her, especially after I found recovery from Alcoholism. By the time I hit AlAnon at 3 years sober I was starting to realize that 'my way' wasn't necessarily the only way and I WAS DRIVING MYSELF INSANE. So I had to look at me, what did it matter if an employee didn't do it 'my way' but the job got done. What did it matter if my husband didn't do a repair or a chore 'my way' but the job got done. etc

I had to learn to delegate and then let go. When hubby was layed off and collecting unemployment he took over some of the household chores, like laundry, vacuuming, etc Didn't do it 'my way' but the clothes were clean, and the dust was gone, so ............... I bit my tongue and looked within me and learned to say 'thank you.'

It takes practice, practice, practice like any other habit I want to change.

Oh and btw, as I slowly learned to change me, others actions and reactions toward me also changed.

Hope that helps a bit.

Love and hugs,

ps The return of trust also takes time, and as trust returns I believe 'your way' will not matter so much, as your AW figures out the best system for her to function sober and clean.
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Old 01-21-2011, 03:19 AM
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These are obviously behaviours that used to signal to you that your wife was drinking: your brain picking up on the subtleties of her behaviour and preparing you for what might come.

That was a good and protective thing that your brain was doing for you. Six months of sober isn't enough time for your brain to decide that these trigger behaviours no longer mean what they used to mean, however you can notice that your brain still "prepares" when one of these things happen and then let it go. Perhaps journal it? explore on paper what is making you anxious, and where that comes from.

I don't think it is about control, it is the hangover (sorry!) of your brain/body's protective mechanisms learned over time in a difficult situation.

One of my "triggers" for massive anxiety is people keeping their coats on in the house: ludicrous, right? I got really anxious and tried to make them take their coats off, asking nicely, then again, then pushing them to take their coats off - behaving like a complete lunatic.

I had to sit down and examine why I get anxious with this behaviour. EXAH keeping his coat on inside was a signal of a certain level of drunk that was particularly unpredictable, my brain subconsiously realised that this was a signal behaviour, was letting me know things weren't good and was preparing my body for action. Because it happened so often, my brain created a short-cut: coat on in the house: get the adrenaline pumping.

Of course this doesn't apply to my children or friends, and once I realised what my body/brain were doing, and understood where it came from I could let it go instantly as it appeared.

This short-cut isn't a sign of me relapsing into control-freakery, or an underlying personality issue, maligned spirit or sickness, it is a sign that my brain and body are working exactly as they are supposed to in order to protect me.

But I don't need it any more so I can decide conciously to remove it.
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Old 01-21-2011, 06:28 AM
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Yeah, "high alert" is a crappy way to live. Have you tried Al-Anon?

One thing I heard some where long ago in another life was "If you walk into a forest for 10 miles, it takes you 10 miles to walk out". And that's assuming you are actually going the right direction the whole time.

I remember pondering that when I was trying to decide whether or not to try one more "chance". I started calculating the time in years it took axw and I to get to where we were, and I gotta tell you, I didn't have it in me. I glad it turned out the way it has.

I'm a classic Al-Anon, I'm a world class, blue ribbon winning, worrier (80% better than before, but still), and for me waiting for the other shoe to drop would be worst than it actually dropping. Eff that.

Keep coming back.

Thanks and God bless us all,
Coyote

ETA. That control thing is all about our fears and trying to control our environment to minimize the fear IMHO. I got a touch of that.
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Old 01-21-2011, 06:57 AM
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I feel the same way. My R?ABF says he's recovering. I have witnessed more moments of sobriety from him. I had a dream last night that he was hiding his bottles in yet another place. I woke up a little mad about that. I'm over it now.

But I know. We have taken steps to mend our little family, and if R?ABF comes back home to stay even one night, I fear myself looking for all those things you listed. I don't think I'm ready for him to come back yet. I want to move forward, but I'm trying to find the steps that will be comfortable for me, and then for the family.

I'm walking right beside you on this one. Maybe we'll find that one right step that will open the door for us to be set free.
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Old 01-21-2011, 07:34 AM
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You'll find the answer to your questions in the first step. You will have to look a little deeper for it, however. Acknowledging the first step, and accepting the first step, are two different things. Acknowledging step one is just that....we are aware of it as a concept. We don't verbally reject it. We also don't believe it to be a fact. For sure. For me, anyways. Maybe some of you dimwits. So step one becomes "most of you are powerless". Most of "you" have manageability. I, however, am unique. I will, however, go along to humor you, and to show that I'm "one of you". In some circles its called lip service.

Acceptance of step one differs in that the person who has come to grips with their powerlessness, and recognizes their unmanageability, will self confront and safeguard against further control freak activities. They recognize that the weight of acting as owner and director of everything and everyone in their small little world is sinking their ship. For real. And their desire to survive outweighs their control freak tendencies. In order to keep their boat afloat, they safe guard against the further loading of rocks in their boat. We can't wish these tendencies away. They are a part of who and what we are. It takes effort and constant awareness. And practice. Support helps. Nobody else can do this for us, and that is not the purpose of the support network. The network supports us in the change. When we try to make an end run, try to slide one last shot at directing the play, the support network calls us on it. Discusses and plans methods that don't promote unmanageability. That doesn't inflict harm on ourselves and others.

Acceptance of step one has evidence. It becomes obvious when the unmanageability dries up. Frustration, anger, fear of loss of control, [you know, when you get those rapid heartbeats when you aren't in control], and the hatred directed at you for seizing control of another's life lessens. That's evidence that there is acceptance.
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Old 01-21-2011, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Lushwell View Post
You'll find the answer to your questions in the first step. You will have to look a little deeper for it, however. Acknowledging the first step, and accepting the first step, are two different things. Acknowledging step one is just that....we are aware of it as a concept. We don't verbally reject it. We also don't believe it to be a fact. For sure. For me, anyways. Maybe some of you dimwits. So step one becomes "most of you are powerless". Most of "you" have manageability. I, however, am unique. I will, however, go along to humor you, and to show that I'm "one of you". In some circles its called lip service.

Acceptance of step one differs in that the person who has come to grips with their powerlessness, and recognizes their unmanageability, will self confront and safeguard against further control freak activities. They recognize that the weight of acting as owner and director of everything and everyone in their small little world is sinking their ship. For real. And their desire to survive outweighs their control freak tendencies. In order to keep their boat afloat, they safe guard against the further loading of rocks in their boat. We can't wish these tendencies away. They are a part of who and what we are. It takes effort and constant awareness. And practice. Support helps. Nobody else can do this for us, and that is not the purpose of the support network. The network supports us in the change. When we try to make an end run, try to slide one last shot at directing the play, the support network calls us on it. Discusses and plans methods that don't promote unmanageability. That doesn't inflict harm on ourselves and others.

Acceptance of step one has evidence. It becomes obvious when the unmanageability dries up. Frustration, anger, fear of loss of control, [you know, when you get those rapid heartbeats when you aren't in control], and the hatred directed at you for seizing control of another's life lessens. That's evidence that there is acceptance.
It took me 8 months to acknowledge, 6 months to gather the courage to give my AH the ultimatum, 1 day to walk out, and still working on acceptance. It's the acceptance that seems to be the hardest part, but the one I know is most important. I can't have a relationship with my AH in any way until I accept my reality; today and for the future. 3 weeks into a separation and I am finally relaxing on those symptoms of unmanageability listed in the quote above. Each day is a new day, though. And the person I am being easiest on is myself. After two years of chaos, I think I deserve it!

But acceptance, forgiveness, and control are hard things to rationalize and overcome when its been the pattern for so long. I understand that now. You'll get there - but it will take time for you as it seems to take for the rest of us out there. I want things to change RIGHT NOW in my heart; but I hear my head telling me to relax and take it one day at a time.
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Old 01-21-2011, 09:24 AM
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Cyranoak, I'm right there with you, only it's my alcoholic son and he's NOT in recovery. I scan texts and fb looking for signs of drunkiness. I ask my 22 y.o. what he sounded like when they spoke. He's not talking to me cause I tossed him out of the house, but that doesn't stop me. I'm running the 3 C's in my head over and over and reviewing MY 12 steps.

This monitoring is mentally exhausting. The worry is exhausting. So my goal for today is to enjoy the day using my 3C's. And my son can enjoy his day however he sees fit.
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Old 01-21-2011, 09:39 AM
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Old 01-21-2011, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Tuffgirl View Post
It took me 8 months to acknowledge, 6 months to gather the courage to give my AH the ultimatum, 1 day to walk out, and still working on acceptance. It's the acceptance that seems to be the hardest part, but the one I know is most important. I can't have a relationship with my AH in any way until I accept my reality; today and for the future. 3 weeks into a separation and I am finally relaxing on those symptoms of unmanageability listed in the quote above. Each day is a new day, though. And the person I am being easiest on is myself. After two years of chaos, I think I deserve it!

But acceptance, forgiveness, and control are hard things to rationalize and overcome when its been the pattern for so long. I understand that now. You'll get there - but it will take time for you as it seems to take for the rest of us out there. I want things to change RIGHT NOW in my heart; but I hear my head telling me to relax and take it one day at a time.
I agree that the acceptance, forgiveness and release of control are all a process. Our timetable is established by the amount and frequency of consequences we are willing to continue paying. Pain, and the vivid recollection of it, makes one hell of a motivator. Your insights are admirable.
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Old 01-21-2011, 10:22 AM
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I think we are so conditioned to be right for so long that it feels inconsistent when we expect the behavior and they DON'T come through. Not that we WANT to go back to that, but it just doesn't feel consistent.
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Old 01-21-2011, 10:33 AM
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I am not sure but it seems that we wait for the crazy behavior and almost crave it because we are codependent. Craziness and controlling the craziness is our focus as codependents. It gives us purpose. We are forever in "survival mode" and I think that is incredibly hard to shut off. As others have posted here, it took us a long time to get where we are and it will take a long time to "re-program" ourselves. Plus, I think we look for the trigger and get frustrated when it isn't there.

I for one have absolutely no clue yet how I will be able to shut off my survival mode and my addiction to craziness of alcoholics. All I know is that I must do it so I can lead a more peaceful life.
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Old 01-21-2011, 10:57 AM
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Cyranoak,
I hear what you're saying. I realized that I was and to a degree, still do the exact things you've described.

After reading Codependent no More by Melodie Beattie, I realized that 1 of the things a codie does is try and control everything. For me, I like things done a certain way and if my AW didn't do it that way, sober or not, I would get upset. So, I've been working pretty hard at skimming over those small things that can and will turn into bigger things if I let them.

There's so much more you could be doing with your energy than getting fired up because she isn't doing things the way you want them done. I'm learning that they need to learn how to be a sober human. Giving up that need to control your AW could be part of your recovery.
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Old 01-21-2011, 11:01 AM
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Oh sorry, I realize I somehow didn't put the english translation.
"The perfect is the enemy of the good."
Or "Perfectionism is the enemy of good."
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Old 01-21-2011, 11:15 AM
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Cut yourself some slack. I agree with JenT. I see it as triggers. Her typo's are not part of her recovery program. Logically you know that and know that it isn't a matter of control (for either of you). They are just triggering your fear.

In the short term maybe come up with some things you can do that will help with the physical reaction that these triggers cause. How can you bring your heart rate down, how can you relax your mind a bit.

In the long term maybe your al-anon sponsor has some ideas about how to address the fear you are carrying around. I've not been in your shoes but it must be really difficult at times. I can't imagine.

Give yourself some time. You've spent years depending on those clues as a way of managing. 6 months isn't all that long to un-learn them all.
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Old 01-21-2011, 01:03 PM
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This made me laugh though -

because it reminded me of an old game show

and Tony Randall was all flustered because he didn't win.

(I think it was 20,000 dollar pyramid)

and he just blurts out -

"This world would be such a better place
if everybody would just SHUT UP and do what I say!"

LOL!

Free will is a toughie.
I used to think I was being so magnamous
when I 'allowed' someone their own choice.

We all grow.

HANG IN Cyranoak!
and get thee to a meetin!

thanks for the laugh
even if it is a typical Barb Dwyer 'left field' thing.
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