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she's sober - now what?

Old 01-23-2011, 10:57 AM
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she's sober - now what?

Been married for 24 years, the last 10 I have known about my AW's drinking problems. She is a secret drinker, hiding the booze and sneaking drinks (somehow thinking I will not notice, kind of hard when she can barely converse, and passes out on the couch at 8:30pm). Anyway, after 10 years of her on-again off-again, AA meetings for a while, counseling, etc., then "I'm ok", months, even two years at one point of sobriety only to relapse --- well last year she had a bit of a scare (passing out while walking through the house after sneaking a big belt), I told her that was it, I could no longer live like this, she had one chance to sober up for good, the next time we are done. She agreed, and got serious with AA, actually started talking in the meetings, making some friends there, says she is working the steps. Long story short, she has now been sober for a little over a year.

So why don't I feel any better? We have had long talks about how her drinking has affected me, we've been to a marriage-help weekend, but still - I just feel nothing. I don't worry about whether she is drinking, at this point I almost don't care. She says she still loves me and wants to stay together. The last couple years, I have lived on the commitment to the marriage, hoping that she could get sober, but now that she is, what do we have left? We went on a vacation last fall to get away together, and while we had some good times, overall I wished I had stayed home, I was irritable and really had trouble with the constant togetherness.

She just spent a couple weeks visiting her mother in another state, and she called a couple times and talked about how she misses me and can't wait to get home, and I am speechless, I can't say I have missed her. Honestly, she could have stayed for months and that would have been fine with me.

I do get out with friends, have a good time, I still pursue my hobbies, and when I get all of this off my mind, I still do enjoy my life. But when I am around her, I tend to just shut down, and sometimes feel overwhelmed with sadness, like I am grieving for a marriage that maybe I never really had. She says she still loves me, but I don't feel loved. And I feel incapable of loving her (or really, anyone). I know she is working the steps, and puts a lot of energy into her recovery - I do appreciate how difficult this has been for her. But I also can't help feeling an underlying resentment that somehow, it is still all about her. I am just supposed to bounce back as if the last 10 years never happened? And I feel worse that I can't respond with joy to her progress.

Is it false hope that I can somehow overcome this? Friends, counselors have asked me - do you still love her? And I can't respond, I don't know how to answer. They say think back to the times when you were happy together - and had warm feelings for each other - and while I know that existed, I just can't seem to connect with those emotions. I just feel utterly spent, like my life force has been drained. When she walks into the house coming home from work, my heart sinks. I feel utterly incapable of "loving" her, or anyone, whatever that might mean. Thinking about divorcing sends me deeper into depression and despair. I don't see how that solves any of my problems, and seems somehow like running away from, rather than confronting and solving them. The trouble is, I don't know what to do instead.
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Old 01-23-2011, 11:06 AM
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Hi there, and welcome.

I'm not surprised you are worn out and fed up. Living with a disease like this is crazy-making.

My suggestion is that first thing, you try Al-Anon. The people there will totally "get" where you're coming from--especially those who have had spouses or partners in recovery. (The ones who haven't had that experience may wonder what you're complaining about--a lot of people assume that sobriety "fixes" everything.)

Only you can decide whether to stay in your marriage. But before you decide that, you might want to get some insight into why you are feeling the way you are and how you can start taking actions based on what is good for YOU.

Keep reading and posting here.
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Old 01-23-2011, 11:14 AM
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Dont be too hard on yourself ...seems to me like the stuffing has just been knocked out of you, so to speak. I understand , I have been there too. With me, the damage seems irreversible. Not through lack of trying, and I relate to you saying you felt resentment because yes the actions do affect us too. More than they realise. Sometimes its just as simple as when some things that were once there have now gone..they have just...gone. On the other hand, if its what you both truly want, and want it enough then you will both find a way to make it work
Take it easy & dont beat yourself up>>you are not made of stone

NT
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Old 01-23-2011, 11:42 AM
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Hi there.
When my AH went to rehab in Feb last year, honestly I was just done with the marriage by then. I was so happy that he went to rehab but during the 5 weeks he was gone, I had such a sense of peace and relief, that it almost affirmed that I wanted to be apart.
I thought maybe I would feel differently when he got back and we would see how it went - but I never got the chance to find out because he was back drinking again within a week or 2 of his return.
So I left and I was happy to leave.
Some people cannot understand - they think that because you complained for years about the alcoholism and now they are sober what are you complaining about now?
Metaphorically speaking, I see a partner's alcoholism as just a big massive hurricane that destroyed your house. and when the hurricane is gone and all is left is rubble, sometimes you just dont want to rebuild and start again. You just want to get the hell outta there and move somewhere else and start over.
And I think thats ok. Sometimes the damage that has been done is just irreparable.
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Old 01-23-2011, 11:51 AM
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MG, love your hurricane metaphor! It's how I feel. Want to get out of Dodge. I dream of being able to financially afford to just get in my car, and drive far, far away and start my life over somewhere else where no one knows me. Ahh, anywhere but here.
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Old 01-23-2011, 11:53 AM
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Unfortunately, by the time they really "get it," it's sometimes just too late. I agree that only you can decide whether or not to continue with the marriage. People stay married for many different reasons, some of which have nothing to do with true love.
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Old 01-23-2011, 11:56 AM
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I like the hurricane metaphor - I've used tornado before because it comes straight from the big book (AA). It is what it feels like for us - flattened and wrecked, looking around at the piles of damage and wondering what the heck to do now!

She does love you. And yes, recovery is all about her. It has to be, and that's the hardest thing to wrap ones head around (my own included).

I moved out - someone here called is "stepping away from the insanity for a bit". Today I have no intention of divorcing. But today I've also been browsing the real estate ads and dreaming of buying my own house. Tomorrow I may feel differently. Who knows?

Moving away from my RAH - about 70 days into AA and sober (so he says) - allowed me to become a lot more clearheaded. Seems as if the distance didn't work for you. I agree that Al-Anon may help, along with books on the topic. And reading others' posts here. I like to read the posts left by folks in the alcoholism forum - it helps me better understand what looked like pure selfishness and mental illness. Now I understand it is a disease. I hate the disease and the situation it put me in, but I no longer hate my husband. I actually reconnected with my emotions and am ok with saying I love him very much and I hope he kicks this but I won't live with an active alcoholic or a dry drunk. Ever again.

You've had years of numbness - that's a great coping mechanism. But now its time to take a step forward and reconnect with your feelings. Al-Anon is great at working the steps that alcoholics work; and those steps help us reconnect with our feelings like it does the alcoholic. I recommend it highly!

Take good care.
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Old 01-23-2011, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by suki44883 View Post
...... People stay married for many different reasons, some of which have nothing to do with true love.
Aint that the truth!!!!
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Old 01-23-2011, 12:07 PM
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Where the he!! is Cryanoak?

You sound like you've got a little touch of PTSD, I am not a doctor, but if you are triggered by your wife walking into the house, IDK.

Al-Anon is a recovery program for US, Cryanoak might say to try at least 6 meetings, some different, in a short time span, before you decide if it's NOT for you. I've been attending for 4+ years and will continue. It's kind of a blueprint for living a more peaceful and "serenity" filled life. It's helped me be more successful at relationships, not just with alcoholics.

It will help you either get better and save your marriage, or get better and leave it. Either way, your pain WILL be lessened. I will personally give you a "money back guarantee" on that, right here in writing. I was advised against making any major life changing decisions for 1 year. Based on the fact that in a year you will be in a much "better" place to make a "good for YOU" decision.

I would also add, that if you have seen a counselor and haven't been helped, fire them. Lots don't have a clue about the challenges in alcoholic marriages. Seek out a counselor specializing in substance abuse.

Read the stickies at the top of this page, lots of good information, also a great book is "Codependent No More" by M. Beatty, our library has it, or Amazon for around a penny plus shipping. Ha, a district attorney leaned in and whispered "Have you read 'Codependent No More'" in my ear as he was escorting me to the "bench" in a CPS hearing.

I ended up giving him a "man hug" with tears in my eyes, a year later for being instrumental in my getting sole custody of my 5yo little girl.

Thanks and God bless us all,
Coyote
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Old 01-23-2011, 12:43 PM
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AL-anon. Not feeling is the way get through. This time will pass. Get help by going to Al-Anon.
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Old 01-23-2011, 01:08 PM
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The words of a very good friend of mine (a GP of 30 odd years) come to mind.

Before he even knew my wife was an alcoholic we were loosely talking about pressuring a spouse to quitting drinking (mine).

He cautioned to watch what I wish for as he said in his experience couples mostly don’t stay together after the drinker finds sobriety. Not a scientific study, but seem to be consistent.

I probably don’t know enough about al-anon, but can it bring you back to love your partner when that has all been washed away?
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Old 01-23-2011, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by reefbreakbda View Post
I probably donít know enough about al-anon, but can it bring you back to love your partner when that has all been washed away?
No, but it can help you to figure out whether there is still love there underneath all the pain and insanity you've been through.

It can help you to understand that a lot of what you went through was a product of the disease, and not that your partner hated you and wanted you to suffer. It can help you to see your own complicity in some of your suffering, too.

There's a lot of garbage to be cleaned up on both sides of a relationship. When that's done, you're in a better position to see clearly whether you still love your partner and whether you are willing to continue the relationship. The answer will be different for each person.
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Old 01-23-2011, 08:56 PM
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Thanks to all for your suggestions and kind words. I've read CDM. I've been to a few Al-Anon meetings that were not particularly helpful - in fact, they kinda creeped me out. I suppose I could go back and try yet another time. If that's all I have left, though, I gotta admit, I'm having a hard time feeling very optimistic.
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Old 01-23-2011, 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by jmartin View Post
Thanks to all for your suggestions and kind words. I've read CDM. I've been to a few Al-Anon meetings that were not particularly helpful - in fact, they kinda creeped me out. I suppose I could go back and try yet another time. If that's all I have left, though, I gotta admit, I'm having a hard time feeling very optimistic.
There is hope.

I've survived being married to an abusive psychotic alcoholic/addict (now deceased), have a 32 year old daughter in active addiction, and a 22 year old daughter who's enmeshed with an abusive alcoholic.

Alanon saved my life in more ways than one.

Today I can live a full and reasonably happy life in spite of what others, including my grown daughters, are/aren't doing.

Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Some Alanon groups are better than others.

The group I attended over 20 years ago was dominated by a pushy woman who would rather discuss how to fry fish. Ugh.

I didn't let that deter me from finding my own program of recovery via Alanon.
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Old 01-23-2011, 09:47 PM
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Alanon is a

Originally Posted by coyote21 View Post
kind of a blueprint for living a more peaceful and "serenity" filled life. It's helped me be more successful at relationships, not just with alcoholics.Coyote
Thanks Coyote ... a great definition of alanon ...
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Old 01-24-2011, 04:58 AM
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Perhaps some individual counseling would help. A counselor that specializes in addictions is worth their weight in gold. Not all counselors area good fit so if you have one, or didn't have good luck with one, try a different one. I think the important thing would be to figure out why you are feeling this way. You can't act in your best interest until then. A good counselor would help, especially if al-anon is a not a good fit.
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Old 01-24-2011, 08:57 AM
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I can relate to most of what you said, your not alone.

My A walks in the door and I tense up, not knowing what his mood will bring. Not knowing weather he is going to try and hug/kiss me or yell at me for spending money..on groceries.

My parents have even mentioned it to me that I don't act myself around him.

It's not easy to work through the resentments and I really like the 'hurricane' statement
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Old 01-24-2011, 01:32 PM
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Welcome to my world...

...or welcome me to yours, as my wife who was drunk from 1999 until June of 2010 is now also in a sustained period of sobriety and active 12-Step Recovery in which I'm finding things harder than when she was drinking.

I could go on ad nauseum about it, but I truly believe it's because, despite the fact that I've been in Al-Anon for many years, I've never buckled down and really worked the steps with a sponsor.

I've been doing what she did as she was experimenting with AA but still relapsing, just doing the easy part and hoping that would be enough. Well, it was enough while she was still "the problem."

It's not enough now.

I gladly go to Al-Anon meetings on Tuesdays, Fridays, and sometimes Thursdays, but I came to the realization just this weekend in an Open AA meeting I go to on Saturday mornings, that if I really want to find recovery I'm going to have to work the steps with my sponsor, and not try to bend the program to my will.

For me, this will be very difficult. I've spent the last two days trying to get the stones to tell my sponsor I'm ready to do it his way, on his schedule. I'm pretty scared about it, especially the fourth step, but I'm feeling a sort of excitement and anticipation as well.

More will be revealed.

Take care my friend,

Cyranoak

P.s. It's awesome you've given Al-Anon a chance. You experimented with it the right way. Many people don't, and it is my personal opinion that all excuses to not engage in Al-Anon, especially the "it's like a cult," or the "I went to one meeting and didn't like it," excuses are usually BS, and are really excuses not to go to Al-Anon for people who just aren't ready.

The only time I'll personally buy that it isn't working for you (whomever "you" are) is if it is literally impossible for you to attend an in-person meeting, or you've attended six or more meetings, some different, with an open mind and still don't like it. Then, it's all good-- we all find recovery, or not, in our own ways, but you have to give it a chance.

With all due respect to people of faith who I believe are very lucky people, I say the above as somebody who does not believe in God, thinks all religions are a gnat's hair away from being cults (if they aren't, in fact, all cults), and is never short on excuses to not do what I should do.
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Old 01-24-2011, 02:43 PM
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I didn't stick around to experience my spouse's sobriety. For me, there was too much pain and hurt, and I also knew (having worked with many alcoholics throughout my career, active and recovering) that sobriety=a fresh hell of its own.

One good A friend almost lost everything -- but is 25 years post-rehab still happily married to the same woman he almost lost. Or, as she would tell it, "happily married again"...

I don't know how many times I went to Al-Anon sporadically before I committed. I remember thinking that those people weren't like me (some of them are bona fide crazy, you know) and that maybe they had problems, but my only problem was that drunk I was married to. And they weren't helping me to make him quit drinking! But once I committed... well, the stories started making sense. Started feeling familiar. And for the longest time, I didn't even care about "the steps" or any such thing -- it just felt like a cool shower on a hot day to step into that room where you could say "I love my husband more than anything else on earth, and I want him to DIE!" and people would start laughing... I mean, clearly, that's NOT a normal reaction -- but in that room, it is a completely normal thing to say... and everyone needs at least one place where people "get" you.

And if not Al-Anon (it's like an old childhood friend to me -- I love it and get mad about every other time), you could choose to find a counselor. Because now, you're in the situation where everyone's giving your wife kudos for just doing what you've been doing all along (which it's easy to start resenting), namely being sober, and she has her support group, and all you have is... this feeling that "wait a minute -- how come SHE's happy and I'm miserable???"
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