febreze fresh?

Old 03-14-2011, 01:15 PM
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febreze fresh?

I would post with a full-blown story but I don't have time right now; by way of introduction (I've been reading on the forums for a while before I became a member to post), I am the wife of an alcoholic/addict... here is what's up lately, and I would appreciate others' input and observations.

The short form: after a series of off-again, on-again alcoholic relapsing from 2007-2009, during which his disease seems to shift from a shame-based to a blame-based perspective and instead of taking it out on himself, he starts taking it out on me, blaming me for everything including his drinking, becoming passive-aggressive, aggressive, and emotionally/psychologically abusive, all the while seeing a therapist by his sponsor's suggestion for "anger management". In other words, where ten+ years ago, he was the type of alcoholic / addict who would slit his wrists and take it out on himself, now he is the type that rages at me, breaks my things, tells me he hates me for the first time in our life together, etc.

Needless to say, in the way that he is framing (read: blaming) everything to the therapist, the sponsor, and anyone else who will listen, the therapy has only served ironically to make him feel more justified in his blame, anger, etc. Everyone believes him, of course.

Last fall, during all of this, I knew he was sober but I kept saying, "it's like he's drinking but he's not drinking". It was bewildering and confusing. He would be mean and cruel enough to make me start crying, humiliated, and then he would caustically tell me to stop crying, I was damaging the children. Etc. And this was a guy who has been the polar opposite of anything I would call "abusive" for most of our relationship. It was like something started slowly shifting a few years ago, concurrent with alcohol relapses.

Then suddenly out of nowhere, really heavy, regular cologne use (and he is not normally a fragrance wearer). It would smell like he had just doused himself with it before walking in the door when he came home from work. He got more and more caustic, would mock me and laugh at me, etc (I am really relating to the "Why Does He Do That" thread). I began to wonder if he was smoking pot or something before walking in the door, just to get through the evening with us. His moods were erratic, unpredictable. He stunk so much that if he held any of our kids, their hair and clothes would stink nearly as much as him. It seemed like a cover-up for something.

His drug of choice is alcohol (vodka, mainly) but precursor is usually pot and in the past he has moved from alcohol to cocaine. I never smelled nicotine on him during this heavy cologne phase. The cologne usually smelled musky or reminded me of patchouli incense.

Fast forward to January: he has a big alcoholic relapse that I witness; next morning I tell him to live somewhere else until he can be demonstrably clean and sober; I'd had enough of the abuse. I could not do it anymore. You'd think that would be a form of consequence in a way, because the last thing he wanted at that point was to be forced out of his cozy home and situation; where he can depend on me but at the same time treat me with contempt and mock me in front of our children; I felt like a hostage.

But it was apparently no consequence. His sponsor and he decided it was a "little slip" (sponsor has been completely duped by very slick and charming functional AH) and set him up (he's a real estate agent) in a half million dollar vacant home across town, belonging to my AH's ex-sponsor, who was in another state for the winter. So suddenly, my AH is living very comfortably, doesn't have to deal with the trash and the dishes and the potties and the diapers and the children and so forth; zero accountability. He continues to drink. Burning two sponsors at the same time, basically!

When we see him, I start to notice the effects, even without witnessing the actual relapses; the way his mouth looks; sweating when we're outside in the snow; being extra thirsty; the bad tremors in his hands; occasionally the sweet sick smell of alcohol coming off his skin; the sullen, angry moods when he comes to "visit with the kids".

Fast forward to a couple of weekends recently where we had a confrontation or two, with me being put in the position of having to create boundaries that protect myself and the children. First time, he was driving the family mini-van home and had just told our oldest something very upsetting and then told her to keep it a secret, which distressed her even more than what he actually said. She was sobbing and yelling at him from the back row. Through clenched teeth, he says he is not coming home until we get back into counseling (at our joint therapist's advice and advice from Alanon and AA members, I told him that I did not believe he was staying clean and sober and felt we needed to pause therapy because of this; that it was unproductive; truth be told, it was damaging to me and it was a tool of manipulation for him so it was a big mistake to do it in the first place).

I told him calmly he wasn't welcome back home until he sobered up. He said I was the only person in the world who believed as I did; I said perhaps that's because you've fooled everyone else. I told him I cared for him and felt a lot of compassion for him, and I know that he is not staying sober right now and that is very concerning to me. I think this shocked him; he isn't used to me standing my ground on anything, out of fear of losing him/us, but since he left the house, I have grown stronger and clearer. When I said this, he revved the engine and was jerky with the wheel, showing his anger through his driving at about 50 mph. I calmly asked him to stop driving that way with the kids in the car. He said he would drive however he f---ing wants. I said no you won't, and repeated my request. He revved the engine and pulled the same stunts again, saying HE was in control, HE was behind the wheel.

That scared me, which I guess is the effect he was after. After that incident, I talked with my addictions counselor and the domestic violence hotline and was advised to call 911 if that happens again but otherwise do not let him behind the wheel of the family car again until he is maintaining sobriety; at this rate, I think he is probably keeping a blood alcohol level above limit most of the time anyway.

So the next weekend, I hopped behind the wheel before he could say anything; we were headed somewhere and he says he wants to take our oldest (the one he distressed by obliging her to keep a secret from mama) out to dinner for her birthday. I said that was sweet, but that until it was clear he was maintaining his sobriety, he was not getting behind the wheel and taking any of our kids driving anywhere. I'd be happy to drop them off somewhere though, to facilitate their spending special time together. He told me I was very, very sick. He threatened to call the sheriff if he had to. I said ditto, calmly.

Fast forward, four days past this event; I learned what is and is not possible as far as actions to take, from the addictions counselor, domestic hotline, court advocates. So I know what I might do if I had to, if he pressed about driving any of the kids anywhere. I hate to say this, but I wish he would just push me or something, so I could get a protection order and cover my kids with it and prevent him from coming around at all until he figures out what his life is worth. As it is, when he does show up to spend time with them (very little; with his addictions in full throttle, his ambivalence is evident, and confusing to the kids), I never leave them alone with him.

So he shows up this past week on three different days (Thurs, Sat and Sun) reeking and I mean REEKING like febreze or like someone threw him in a dryer full of Bounce dryer sheets or something. Way more than, golly, your shirt smells nice and fresh! Again, if he touches a kid or holds them, they reek with it in their hair and clothes. It is clearly something he has just sprayed or wiped himself down with in the car before coming to see us. Or something.

Hands still have the shakes, his hands look weird, like the skin is tighter than usual or something; maybe bloating? But other than any general thoughts, suggestions, observations from anyone who reads this, I am curious about what someone would be smoking or doing that they would smell like this, this strongly. He went from super-strong cologne (like the car would still stink like it several days later after he'd been in the car an hour) to super-strong "fresh laundry" smell. It is so strong that if I am very near him I start to get a bad headache or feel queasy.

Concurrent with the super-strong febreze smell, suddenly he has gone from belligerent and sullen and threatening to super full of energy, cleaning things, telling me how to clean things (duh, like I don't know), jumping in and "disciplining" the kids after basically being absent from their life for two months, super-chatty with me about what's in the news these days (and he isn't maintaining any sort of relationship with me AT ALL since leaving two months ago). It was weird. He was chasing the kids, doing piggy-back rides. Seemed like a strange energy going on. Couldn't tell if he was over-compensating b/c his ex-sponsor's on his way back to live in his house and my AH will be stuck at the red roof inn soon unless he can sway me to accept him back... or what. You'd think I would know a lot more than I do, being with this man for 18 years but I am pretty naive. So I come to the forum. Anyone here cover up something with super-strong laundry type scent, or know someone who did/does? If so, what's up? I know what clean and sober looks like on my AH (physically, emotionally, mentally; and he has not been working his recovery for a long time, in spite of requisite meetings and sponsor time, even during his dry times) and he isn't there but I have to say, it was almost "over the top" the way he was acting the last 2-3 times he visited, since that threatening me with the sheriff incident. I can't tell what's going on. But I know he isn't clean and he is up to something, or he wouldn't create a cloud of toxic scent as soon as he walks in the door.

Any insights appreciated...

I hate to say this, but I keep wishing he would get a DUI or something, something that would take him out of our hair for a few months or longer; I am really getting so much clearer and stronger and reclaiming parts of myself long lost; the kids are benefiting from this too. I don't want the abuse or the addictions anywhere near them, even the emotional manipulation or the instability and inconstancy have taken their toll on all of us. I don't mean to sound non-compassionate toward him or anyone who is in the addictive vice grip; I have a dear brother who has a year of sobriety whose ups and downs have given him wisdom, perspective and insight that has been really helpful to me.

Thankful for this forum, I read every day and am learning so much. Most importantly, perhaps, that I am not alone in my experiences, and that I am not crazy or imagining things.

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Old 03-14-2011, 01:33 PM
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Thanks for sharing your story and welcome to SR.
Your story is sad and we all have our own versions of it. For the sake of you and your kids, I hope you continue to work on some sort of plan which has nothing to do with your AH.

For your own sanity, I'd stop worrying so much about what he smells like. You know exactly why it's being done and thinking any further about it than that, is a waste of your time and peace.

The sudden increase of energy is most likely due to coke use. You told us that he had a history of it. Well...Sounds to me like it's back.

Keep on doing what you need to ensure your health so you can take care of your kids. That's a very toxic environment for them to be in. By all means, put in a protection order if he tries anymore shenanigans with the kids.
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Old 03-14-2011, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by emp919 View Post
Most importantly, perhaps, that I am not alone in my experiences, and that I am not crazy or imagining things.
No, you aren't crazy, and you aren't imagining things.

It also sounds like he is abusive, and escalating. Mine was not abusive in the beginning either - at least, as far as I could tell. Looking back, now that I know the signs to look for, I see that he had them.

Mine did not try to cover up the alcohol with other scents. That said, he didn't try to hide his drinking from me ever, at least until rehab. I am sure he would try now, if we were to be near each other, but at this point it does not matter because emotionally I am gone from that relationship.

That said, yours is not the first who has tried to cover up the smell.
Others have used other things - mouthwash or toothpaste seem to be favorites.
I will confess that yours is the first I have heard using laundry detergent. It is possible that he has no idea how to clean his clothing, but I would say more likely he really is trying to cover the alcohol smell (especially since you can still smell it so know he is drinking).

I am glad you are communicating with the domestic violence hotline and other DV resources. Sadly, his counseling probably will not help unless the counselor is trained in how to recognize abusive men - otherwise many of them tend to "diagnose" the victims by proxy, with such comments as "she must have xyz disorder." Even if his counselor says you need to do something to help him, this does not mean the counselor is correct - remember that, and do what feels best for you and your children.

You are not crazy, you're not alone, and you're definitely in the right place.
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Old 03-14-2011, 01:47 PM
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Thanks to both of you, I appreciate your replies. I had read of using dryer sheets for pot or even smoking cocaine, but know he has been masking things with heavy fragrance of one sort or another. He knows how to clean laundry but even with people who use scented products, the stink doesn't come off in their kids' hair just because they're wearing clean clothes (lol). So it is clearly a mask for something, especially at such a nauseating strength.

It seems like I can't do anything to keep him from spending time with the kids, unless he physically is aggressive with any of us. At least, that's the jist I got from those I called. I can technically go hide out somewhere within state lines with the kids and not be in legal trouble. He has everyone on his side, nobody believes he is using but me, so it almost seems like until something happens (DUI, work trouble, etc), it is a he said she said scenario, which might not really do much to ensure something in a divorce like only supervised visitation or nobody in the car with him behind the wheel etc. But again, I am naive on this stuff and doing a lot of research and learning and phone calls.

I sure do appreciate the posts, thank you for the welcome.

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Old 03-14-2011, 01:49 PM
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I tried to edit but there was a timer or something.

Edit: I forgot to share some of my own stuff. I know what you mean about the DUI. I've crossed a threshold with my AW. I've seen a lawyer and know exactly what I can and can't do. I know how much it would cost and I know what he'd use to balance the parenting time with my son. All that said, my wife is a binge drinker. There are times of peace and then all hell breaks loose. Recently it broke and that's when I made the step to see a lawyer. I am working on a plan to make things easier for me and my son, should I decide to file the papers. Meanwhile, my AW is back to being a good little girl which makes my choice to lawyer up seem harder. Even worse, I just wish there was a way to speed a few things up. I mean, if she won't get help or she won't seek sobriety herself, the least she could do is push the limit with me. Break my back. Force my hand. Let me divorce her. Let the hammer drop. Meanwhile, I still love the women I married and it's during these calm times that she's there.

I wish you and your kiddos the best. You're in a tough spot but we all understand what you're going through.
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Old 03-14-2011, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by emp919 View Post
...It seems like I can't do anything to keep him from spending time with the kids, unless he physically is aggressive with any of us. At least, that's the jist I got from those I called. I can technically go hide out somewhere within state lines with the kids and not be in legal trouble. He has everyone on his side, nobody believes he is using but me, so it almost seems like until something happens (DUI, work trouble, etc), it is a he said she said scenario, which might not really do much to ensure something in a divorce like only supervised visitation or nobody in the car with him behind the wheel etc. But again, I am naive on this stuff and doing a lot of research and learning and phone calls.

I sure do appreciate the posts, thank you for the welcome.

Documentation. Start doing it immediately. I've made it a habit to journal every single day. In those journals, I review previous behavior of my wife. I have details in it. How much. When. Circumstances.
Don't feel so defeated up front. There are most certainly things you can do to help your case. Get a bloody camera and record him sometime. I did it. It's hideous and something the courts will take very seriously.
You're also the Mom. Fact is, balanced parenting time is still rare and most women get the larger parenting share. Add a little documented substance abuse issues and you're looking better than most.
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Old 03-14-2011, 02:04 PM
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There's really nothing you can do for him a this point. He's using three or more drugs somewhat regularly (cocaine, crack, or meth, as well as marijuana, and alcohol for sure)-- there is no question of it no matter what he says.

You now know you can't control him or his use at all, and that you didn't cause it and can't cure it.

You can, however, do something for yourself along with the good steps you've already taken. It may not work as quickly as you'd like, but if you keep an open mind and attend regularly, I believe your life will get better. Try at least six meetings, some different, before deciding if it is for you. It's for you, not him, and it's called Alanon.

Take what you'd like and leave the rest.

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Old 03-14-2011, 05:18 PM
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I second the suggestion of Al-Anon. In addition, you need legal advice. AND I recommend you contact your local domestic violence agency--some of what he is doing sound as if it might qualify as harassment, which may entitle you to a restraining order. Physical violence isn't necessary.

I'm glad you are reaching out to get information--knowledge is power!
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Old 03-14-2011, 05:41 PM
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My AH was always to trying to hide the smell of liquor on his breath, so I know just how pitiful they become. My AH would load up on the cologne to the point where I couldn't breathe. He also constantly had mints in his mouth. My AH has only been gone not quite 2 weeks but I definitely don't miss those disguises.
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Old 03-14-2011, 06:12 PM
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I'm headed to bed momentarily but I wanted to write to say that I read your post and felt like it was me a few months ago... The masking the smell, the being told you're imagining things, the hoping he'll get a DUI or something that will make him hit bottom etc...

My H has now been arrested (for assaulting me), admitted to his "masking the smell" tactics and is in a lot of legal trouble and absolutely nothing has changed with him as far as behavior except that he's gotten more vicious and nastier.

I've taken our kids and left him. Waiting for him to "get it" was just killing me and our kids.

I am sorry that you are going through all you are and I just recently joined SR but have already been helped so much and I hope you find the same...
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