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What exactly am I recovering from as a family member of an recoverying alcoholic??

Old 03-14-2011, 12:18 AM
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What exactly am I recovering from as a family member of an recoverying alcoholic??

As a wife of a sober alcoholic I keep being told to work on my own recovery. So what is it that I am recovering from? I am not an alcoholic, I would drink on a rare occasion in the past but since my husband has went through rehab I have decided that drinking is not something that I want to do as a part of making a sober home and lifestyle. I was not co-dependant through his drinking years, I lived my life, did not interfer with any of his consequences, did not make excuses for him. I did not do anything for him that would be apart of his drinking i.e. buying him alcohol, drinking with him, or attend events I knew he would be drinking. I could see he was a sick man who needed help. I told him 4 years before he got help that I believe he needed treatment and it took him 4 years to be ready to end up finally getting help. I support his recovery efforts as he is very involved in AA.

I don't feel that Al-Anon is for me but I am tired of hearing people say I need to work my recovery.
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Old 03-14-2011, 04:13 AM
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Who are the people that keep telling you that you "need recovery"?

Recovery means differnent things to different people but in the AA philosophy it is a spiritual quest to become a person pleasing to your creator and in doing so finding peace and tranquility with yourself, loved ones and your community. In recovery the alcoholic/addict as well as the family members learn how to deepen and grow personal relationships with eachother that are healthy and bring greater joy and happiness to the family unit.

I personally felt like I didn't need Alanon or any sort of recovery either and while I didn't "need" it I have greatly benefitted from sharing devotional times with my AH that are themed on "recovery" (we have all the Hazeldon devotionals as well as daily journaling), attending AA meetings together (one a week Big Book) and joint counseling with our psychologist/pastoral counselor.

We both can "spot" unhealthy thoughts and behaviors very quickly in ourselves and eachother because we both focus on ourselves and try to "outgive" oneanother. If each partner gives 60% the love will always overflow...

The alcohol is just a symptom of the root of the problem... my RAH introduces himself at AA this way:

"Hi I'm an alcoholic and my problem is Chris"... I don't drink but I have a lot of other issues that I need to continue to recover from and work on (co-dependency and workaholism for the short list).

I don't know anyone who cannot benefit from working the steps... but that is just me.
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Old 03-14-2011, 06:16 AM
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Just out of curiosity, how many of these would you answer yes to?
http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...self-test.html
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Old 03-14-2011, 06:41 AM
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Not everyone in an acoholic relationship is drastically affected by it. If you were very emotionally healthy to begin with and the drinking didn't have a dramatic impact on your life, you might not NEED a whole lot of recovery.

As Hopeworks pointed out, though, the Twelve Steps can be a good way of life for anyone who practices their principles, and it often is helpful for a partner to be on the same path.

Just my thoughts.
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Old 03-14-2011, 08:48 AM
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I think a lot of times, when people say this, its because alcoholism IS a family disease.
Alcoholism, and any disease, really affects not only the person directly afflicted, physically, but the people around them who experience a fallout of varying degrees.

Maybe you have been able to keep the sides of the road well defined, and have been detached enough that his alcoholism has not derailed you at any point.

BUt, speaking for me, I can say that my RAH has caused a great deal of havoc in the lives of anyone who loves him, bith while drinking, and now in recovery.

Our son, for example, has made up reasons and excuses for his fathers absence or erratic behavior. that affects me, because I have to deal with his emotional confusion and sadness, and anger.

I have had to parent our child virtually ALONE, even though RAH was physically there, and sometimes he WAS NOT physically there. Picking up his slack, picking up after his both lteral and figurative messes, means that I becaome resentful. This resentment becomes MY SICKNESS.

All addicts have chaos around them, when active and when abstaining if they are not in a true recovery, which means that they change the behaviors and patterns around the use of the substance.

That chaos affects those of us who attempt to share a life with them. We end up having to do more to cover the gaping lack of presence on their part.

Even people who work with addicts can become resentful, as they may have to take on a greater workload.

Another way that I have become "sick" with the family disease, is that I have worried, waited up for him, become less focused on my needs, my day, my joy, and at times, allowed my entire existence to revolve around him and his imbalances, trying desperately to help, to stop, to coerce him to get help. This becomes something called codependency. Codependency is when we focus more on others doing their 'work' in life than our own.

We may assume and take on the emotional stress that belongs to them...will they pay that bill? Will they lose that job? Will they do something while intoxicated sexually that puts my body in danger.

Just losing focus on my life, my progress, my moods, and using his disease and his imbalances to avoid my own is my disease.

Maybe you have successfully avoided all of this, but if you have kids, it would be nearly impossible to not become somehow affected by his disease.

I hope this helps somehow.
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Old 03-14-2011, 04:43 PM
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I was pretty emotionally healthy until I got involved with an alcoholic.Now, my recovery consists of attending Al-Anon meeting at least once a week and working the steps as I choose to work them. I do it for me, because it makes me feel better, and also because it gives me something to relate to with my RAH.

I have also learned through this process how to better handle myself in all facets of life, not just this relationship. Great practical tools for my kit that I can use in any situation. Calm, assertive energy. Acceptance, Awareness, Action. The Serenity Prayer.

Recovery is how ever you choose to make it - and if you don't feel like you need it - then don't. If you find at some point that your life is becoming unmanageable, give it a try.
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Old 03-14-2011, 07:44 PM
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Well I am not sure how anyone can live with an AS for 8 years and not be impacted. I use to think that I did not need help, but then I was aware the staying with someone for 10 years whose primary goal was drugs and alcohol was not exactly normal healthy lifestyle on my part.
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Old 03-14-2011, 07:57 PM
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May I respectfully ask why?

Why do you think Alanon isn't for you, and why are you tired of hearing people say you need to work your recovery?

The reason I ask is that normally when a lot of people are telling somebody to work on their own recovery it's because they are exhibiting one or more traits of somebody who has been affected by somebody else's drinking. These traits are not always apparent to those of us exhibiting them-- I know they weren't apparent to me when I was, and aren't always apparent to me when I manifest them today.

What I will share with you is what you said below. You support his recovery efforts as he is very involved in AA. This is a perfect example of what somebody who is not working their own recovery does and says. It's not your job to support his recovery efforts. His recovery is his job 100 percent and your job zero percent.

Your job is you.

Take care, take what you want, and leave the rest.

Cyranoak

Originally Posted by nbunderstanding View Post
I support his recovery efforts as he is very involved in AA.

I don't feel that Al-Anon is for me but I am tired of hearing people say I need to work my recovery.
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Old 03-14-2011, 08:27 PM
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I have felt much like you nbunderstanding. I have gone to al-anon meetings and for the longest time couldn't connect with it. I kept reading and reading though including on this website. I discovered part of the reason I wasn't connecting is because I was raised by two strongly spiritual and Catholic parents. I came across material that compared the 12 steps to Catholic spirituality and the light bulb turned on. Being that I took after my parents spirituality, I was practicing the 12 steps by following my faith. However, in time I found that since I am human, it is helpful to keep up on the material to be sure I don't begin to fall into any of these patterns of behavior. For the most part I didn't and don't fall into any of the areas as can be found on the quiz posted by Jazzman.

Need I add, I initially would feel agitated when asked if I go to Al-anon as if it's a requirement to being healthy.

I've had my ups and downs but it is not because I am co-dependent. It is because it isn't easy living with alcoholism.

IMO, it probably could be said that anyone living with an addict should be doing *something* so that they can know if/how they are being affected by it.
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Old 03-14-2011, 11:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Jazzman View Post
Just out of curiosity, how many of these would you answer yes to?
I went through this quiz and if I apply it to the past, when my husband was drinking I answered yes to 2 of the questions. Question 1 and 15.

At this point, my husband sobriety is new only 8 months, the answer is 1. I know there is always a chance for relapse so I do from time to time think about if my husband returned to drinking. It is on a much lower scale than I did worry about him in the past.
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Old 03-14-2011, 11:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Cyranoak View Post
What I will share with you is what you said below. You support his recovery efforts as he is very involved in AA. This is a perfect example of what somebody who is not working their own recovery does and says. It's not your job to support his recovery efforts. His recovery is his job 100 percent and your job zero percent.

Your job is you.
This is the exact reason why I cannot understand why people who are healthy and loving people would be involved with 12 step programs. It is not healthy to live soley for yourself. It is not a healthy marriage if you don't support healthy actions that your spouse is involved with.

I do support my husbands recovery efforts, that IS the right thing to do for your husband, as a wife. I did not say I took part in his recovery or forced him to do anything. I simply said I support HIS efforts. I do not hassle him when he is spending a lot of time at AA meetings and functions. I understand at this point he needs to go to meetings daily or even some days many meetings in a single day. I understand he needs to spend time working with his sponsor and working his steps. I support his effort in this.

The people who say work on your own recovery are either on this website or the staff in the rehab facility which directed that request to everyone in the family group.

What I still don't know is what I am recovering from?? My husband is recoverying from alcoholism and gambling.
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Old 03-14-2011, 11:57 PM
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The other thing I find frustrating about Al-anon is the righteous attitudes people have in those meetings. They say things that seem so arrogant, as if the steps and the rules they live by are above all else and anyone who doesn't live their way of life they are some how lesser "enlightened" than they are. All the answers to life and how to live a healthy life are not found in Al-anon.

Many times I feel Al-anon is just as extreme as co-dependency but to the other direction. There maybe some people need that to learn a new way of life. In my opinion, it is just learning new coping skills to deal with an alcoholic and repressing true feeling. For me, life is about seeking balance. Not one extreme to the next.
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Old 03-15-2011, 12:05 AM
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Understanding - There are other support groups that you can go to. Many churches have support groups. And you can always form your own.

One philosophy may work for some, but not for all. This is no reason to get discouraged. It is a lot like religion in some ways.
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Old 03-15-2011, 05:03 AM
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You say gambling and alcohol. If there ever was an issue of lots and lots of family money being blown away by gambling, that would certainly **** me off to no end, and I would need recovery just from wanting to choke my husband to death.
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Old 03-15-2011, 06:12 AM
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Originally Posted by nbunderstanding View Post
The other thing I find frustrating about Al-anon is the righteous attitudes people have in those meetings. They say things that seem so arrogant, as if the steps and the rules they live by are above all else and anyone who doesn't live their way of life they are some how lesser "enlightened" than they are. All the answers to life and how to live a healthy life are not found in Al-anon.

Many times I feel Al-anon is just as extreme as co-dependency but to the other direction. There maybe some people need that to learn a new way of life. In my opinion, it is just learning new coping skills to deal with an alcoholic and repressing true feeling. For me, life is about seeking balance. Not one extreme to the next.
Try a different Al-Anon Family Group. Seriously.
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Old 03-15-2011, 07:32 AM
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I don't feel that Al-Anon is for me but I am tired of hearing people say I need to work my recovery.[/QUOTE]

My opinion is, take it or leave it:
From what you wrote my first thoughts are sometimes people around us, that knows us, see things about us that we dont see ourselves. It sounds like someone, sees that you need some guidance...

If you dont feel that you do, then my 1st question would be: Why did you come to SR and write your feelings?

From my experiance: I was angry and in denial (along with lack of education)of his drinking problems and the effects of the diesase.

(((The effects that changed "ME"...is what I discovered!)))Yep, they changed superwoman!
Can I hide my anger around others? Thought I did...

When you soul search yourself, you will find the answers.

Wishing you the best of luck!
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Old 03-15-2011, 07:41 AM
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Your reactions to his disease

I just breezed through this quickly, as I don't have much time now to dig into this thread, but will later..

As a quick answer to your question:

I personally changed when I married my AH. My behavior changed. In an attempt, to fix him, I began to push issues. The last 4 days before I left, I was so full on hate and anger, I attacked him twice.

So alanon taught me I was now acting as ugly as he was. The object of alanon was to fix MY BEHAVIOR. The goal is recognize that no matter what he does to you, you can walk away without pouring gas on the fire.

Alanon gives you the tools to do that.

I was also filled with unreal anxiety, and my husband had convinced me I was crazy, literally.

Alanon tools helped me to step back and see what was really happening.

So what was I recovering from? My reactions to his disease.


I will elaborate more...gotta go for now...........
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Old 03-15-2011, 08:13 AM
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nb,
it sounds like you have the answers to your question already.

If it is not affecting you, then I would just politely thank folks for their concern, and leave it at that.

I dont think anyone is wanting to force you to doa nything, or be judgemental.

Good luck to you with your marriage, and to your husband in his continued recovery!
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Old 03-15-2011, 08:44 AM
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Fair enough...

...it sounds like you are giving what I like to call healthy support of your alcoholic. Often on this site we encounter people whose idea of support is to try and participate or "adjust" the recovery process for others.

That said, I hope that whatever it is that is bothering you enough that you came to this site goes away (even if all it is is people continuing to tell you to work your own recovery, and which I think is a sign of something if many different people are saying it). I also hope that if you are not already happy and healthy that you find a way to be happy and healthy.

Also, if you think the people at an Alanon meeting are righteous, that is completely the opposite of my experience at over 800 meetings since 2003 (in many different places as I live in a big city). My experience with Alanon is that it is full of flawed people in deep pain who want to find a way to be happy, and want to share those ways with others. It is also full of flawed people no longer in pain and who have found ways to be happy and want to share those ways with others.

Either way it is full of flawed people. We all are. It's the human condition.

I think it's strange that's what you took away from Alanon.

Take care,

Cyranoak

P.s. You are recovering from living with and loving an alcoholic for many years. If you truly belove you were unaffected by this I simply don't know what to tell you.



Originally Posted by nbunderstanding View Post
This is the exact reason why I cannot understand why people who are healthy and loving people would be involved with 12 step programs. It is not healthy to live soley for yourself. It is not a healthy marriage if you don't support healthy actions that your spouse is involved with.

I do support my husbands recovery efforts, that IS the right thing to do for your husband, as a wife. I did not say I took part in his recovery or forced him to do anything. I simply said I support HIS efforts. I do not hassle him when he is spending a lot of time at AA meetings and functions. I understand at this point he needs to go to meetings daily or even some days many meetings in a single day. I understand he needs to spend time working with his sponsor and working his steps. I support his effort in this.

The people who say work on your own recovery are either on this website or the staff in the rehab facility which directed that request to everyone in the family group.

What I still don't know is what I am recovering from?? My husband is recoverying from alcoholism and gambling.
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Old 03-15-2011, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by nbunderstanding View Post
I went through this quiz and if I apply it to the past, when my husband was drinking I answered yes to 2 of the questions. Question 1 and 15.

At this point, my husband sobriety is new only 8 months, the answer is 1
The reason I ask is because I would have answered yes to:
1.Do you worry about how much someone else drinks?
10.Have you been hurt or embarrassed by a drinker's behavior?
11.Are holidays and gatherings spoiled because of drinking?

The one about being depressed I relate to the end of my marriage and not from her drinking. But there are a lot of people who would answer yes to many more and have benefited greatly from support groups and therapy.

Here's one "take away" I heard through Al anon. What some one else thinks of me is none of my business. I think that applies nicely to people trying to tell me what's best for me.
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