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Tied to AH-in-denial with two small children

Old 03-18-2011, 03:20 PM
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Tied to AH-in-denial with two small children

I've read the stickies and I already love you guys, and need some emotional support. Is it okay to ask for that? I'm sure I'm a codie and that my husband is an alcoholic, and I'm worried for my health and the future lives of my 7yo daughter and 3yo son, who idolize and adore their father.

I'm separated from my AH, and in marriage counseling presumably to save our marriage. I doubt it would be worth saving were it not for our kids. I have it clear in my mind that I don't want them to be without their father, but that they are going to need to see a good, strong example in me in order to deal with this situation as they grow older.

My AH doesn't consider himself an alcoholic, and swears he has quit drinking in the months (8) since we separated. The two times I caught him buying or drinking were his "only" slip-ups. Just this last weekend when he finally warmed up to me after a week of coldness, he hugged me and I smelled that sour "yellow" smell coming out of his skin. My heart plummeted and I've been having anxiety attacks for a week. I wrote a note telling my kids I loved them in case my heart exploded in my sleep. It was racing; I could feel my pulse throughout my body, thumping against the sheets.

He claims I bash him over the head with everything he's ever done wrong, and that I hold all the power in our relationship. He gets angry when I accuse him of drinking because of course he hasn't been. He says I blame everything on him, think I'm perfect, and deflect any topic about something I do wrong back to him. He makes me want to throw up.

I realize through your experiences that I cannot change him, cannot cure him, cannot even convince him. How do I detach? How do I cut the ties that bind him to me, without harming my children? How do I stop hoping, and stop this turmoil, these roller coaster rides of agony?

What good is marriage counseling? The therapist asks me if I can sit quietly in the dark and listen to him talk without trying to read his emotions, and I think "What"? You mean walk right into the cage he's trying to lock me in? My sixth sense about him has been dead on, so you want me to turn it off now and just succumb to insanity.

Why do I feel empathy for him when he has none for me? Why do I care if I hurt him?

Thank you for any help you can give, if even it's just a shout out from this side of reality. Remind me that the world is top side up.

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Old 03-18-2011, 03:28 PM
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Hi and welcome!

Who knows what side the world is LOL
sure as heck not me.

I'm glad you found us
and found the courage to post.

SR is a WONDERFUL tool
when used along with therapy
and other outside resources
connected to recovery.

I feel you've done the right thing by posting here.

The questions you're asking
are exactly the questions
heard in the rooms at Alanon.
Of course they're also asked here...
but when you get more than one dimension going...

things change.

Have you looked them up in your area?

These people are connected.
They are dedicated to support
and they're 3-D.

It takes more than one tool to build a vehicle.

I'm so glad you're here!

Welcome!
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Old 03-18-2011, 03:28 PM
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You feel those things because you love him. That's fine. You can love him and not allow him to make you miserable. You say you are already separated. That's one advantage you have. You don't have to live in the same house with him and can control how often you see him.

If you don't think the marriage counseling is working, then quit. It doesn't really sound to me like you are all that interested in living with the man. Your main fear appears to be your children. Let me tell you one thing. Your children will be fine. It's better to come from a broken home than to live in one. Your children want you to be happy, even if that means you and their father don't live together.

Welcome to SR! You'll find a lot of support here.
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Old 03-18-2011, 03:33 PM
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Ah, thank you so much for that, "it's better to come from a broken home than to live in one". But I know that when they get old enough to question him, and I'm not his mental-punching-bag any more, he will use my children and will blame them the way he blames me. I shudder at the thought. I do know that I need to be healed by the time that happens, so I can support them through it.

Thanks you both, oh please, guys keep it coming. You don't know how long I've been told I'm the crazy one and how it stuck to me even as I fought against it.

Btw, I'm not sure everyone has the same Al-Anon experience I did when I went to a meeting. The women were so caring, but living in absolute misery. They were all still with their AHs. I couldn't fight the frustration, and really downright anger. I left because I didn't want to hurt them with it. But my thought is.. don't tell me how to live with it, tell me to run. I'm 39. Me and my kids could still have a life. Maybe a different group?
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Old 03-18-2011, 03:36 PM
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WhoWasIthen, i can't offer much advice, as i just posted here the first time yesterday, but I can just be here for you and let you know you are not alone. It is so hard to watch someone you love, not give a shoot about themselves or anyone else. Keep reading here it helps alot, i have been glued to this site for the past 2 days. Educate yourself as much as you can about alcoholism, to better understand.

My A and i have been seperated 2 months, we have a 2yo, and i still love him very much, but he has made no effort what so ever in any way to help himself or get us back or anything. I ask the same exact questions: Why should i care when he doesn't? it is heartbreaking.
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Old 03-18-2011, 03:40 PM
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You have already done the hard part. You have separated yourself and your children from him. Yes, please try another al-anon group. They can be a tremendous help in learning to detach and take care of your own well-being and that of your children. Your husband is an adult and can take care of himself.

Don't borrow trouble. What he may or may not do in the future isn't important right now. Your kids will learn who is and who isn't there for them. Getting and keeping yourself well will go a long way in helping them do the same.
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Old 03-18-2011, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by WhoWasIThen View Post
...You don't know how long I've been told I'm the crazy one and how it stuck to me even as I fought against it.
We get it. We've been told the same thing. I started seeing a therapist because I thought I was going insane. I knew my AW was the problem. I just needed clarity.

Keep on posting and writing. There will continue to be ups and downs but we're all here to support each other.

I don't go to Al-Anon. i should. I've heard that you should try different groups until you find one that works for you and I've also heard that you should go at least 6 times before making a decision one way or the other.
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Old 03-18-2011, 04:25 PM
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Usualy when we're in relationships that are bad
we're isolated
and often we dont even know it.

I always say Alanon
because it gets the conversation going
and it's a beginning.

I think if there's a bad experience in one group
it's good to look for another one.
There's people here who go to different groups
different weeks
and that's great too.

When we're isolated
without resource
it festers what's going on
and amplifies it.

SR is a fantastic tool
but it's even better
when it's brought together
with other means of communication.
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Old 03-18-2011, 06:01 PM
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WhoWasI Welcome!

I have 2 kids (now 6 and 10). I hung on for 3 years thinking I would harm my kids if I left their Dad (they are adopted and have attachment disorder and PTSD). I was convinced I would destroy any progress I had made with them. Then their therapist told me it was a no win situation. If I stayed I was telling my kids it was OK and normal to live the way we were living. It was not. If I left I was going to lose ground--that was a given--there was no questioning that. BUT I could make up that ground in an environment that was safe and secure and where my kids could thrive.

I left and it has not always been easy. That first 6 months was he** because one child was angry (even though his dad was verbally abusive to him-why, because he had started to think that was normal-YIKES!) and one child was sad and wanted us to be a family again.

Fast forward to now. My older son--he is a changed boy. His attachment to me actually became stronger and he is now securely attached. That would never had happened if I did not leave. My now 6 year old--he still wants his family back together but he is at the age when he thinks what he sees on TV or reads in books is real--he is in the fantasy age. So when he talks about us being a family again he does not do it with sadness. It is wishful thinking. He will do that for awhile. My older son still says sometimes that he wishes we could still be a family but he really does understand why we do not live with his dad. I tell my kids that they did not lose their dad because they did not. He just does not live with us. They see him because he has partial placement (and a condition that I put in place for that placement was no alcohol or drugs when the kids are around or 12 hours before the kids are around).

I agree-staying in a broken home is not a good thing. It will take awhile for your kids to adjust and they may talk about wanting you and their dad back together but if it really is not going to happen then maybe go to therapy for YOU so you can make the right decisions for you and your kids.

We often feel compelled to do things for our alcoholics or are afraid of hurting them because we have our own things we need to work on. We are codies and we need to heal ourselves. We can't fix them but we can sure work on ourselves. Once I started to face my codependency things became much clearer for me. I worked on me and stepped away from the alcoholic. If no one has recommended it yet "Codependent No More" by Melanie Beattie is a great book.

AlAnon was a scary place for me at first. But I have found a meeting where I feel comfortable now so it's not so scary anymore.

Again Welcome. You have found an incredible group of people. I found strength and understanding here when I needed it.
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Old 03-18-2011, 07:35 PM
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Hi,
I have two kids, ages 5 and 3 and reading your post hit close to home... I have been told I beat my AH over the head with all his "sins" whenever I dare to say that how he behaves is not okay. I have been told I am the cause of all the problems in our marriage, told I am crazy, painted as the bad guy to friends and family and even though deep down I know it's not true, it's hard to believe it -- exactly as you describe.

I've only been separated from my H for 2 weeks but I have told him for several months now I will NOT go to marriage counseling until he is in treatment for alcoholism.... Every therapist I've talked to has said that until an addict is dealing with their addiction (ie: being honest about their behaviors and their thinking that gets them into those behaviors) marriage counseling is essentially a waste of time. Maybe that's not always the case but it sure made sense to me and if you're feeling like it's not working for you, that would probably be why.

I really really really know the heart sinking, devastation feeling of warming up to your spouse or having them warm up to you and then finding that they have been deceiving you (as you describe finding the smell of alcohol as he hugged you).

I am really sorry you and your kids are living this way-- it seems that there are way too many of us in very very similar boats on here...

I have not a bit of advice since I am struggling to stay afloat myself, but I can empathize and offer a virtual hug to you and your kids...

One of the things that is helping me right now is to remind myself that my kids seem a lot more peaceful and less anxious with my H and I living apart. It doesn't make it hurt less, it doesn't take away the sadness of what I wish our marriage and family was, but when I remind myself that my 2 precious girls aren't being tormented day in and out with the insanity of alcoholism now that we're separated, it makes it just a little more palatable.

I am also taking it hour by hour lately-- forget one day at a time, I am going for the hourly thing for now...

Hang in there!
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Old 03-18-2011, 09:53 PM
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scary therapy

Originally Posted by WhoWasIThen View Post
What good is marriage counseling? The therapist asks me if I can sit quietly in the dark and listen to him talk without trying to read his emotions, and I think "What"? You mean walk right into the cage he's trying to lock me in? My sixth sense about him has been dead on, so you want me to turn it off now and just succumb to insanity.

I just got here to this forum as well; I have little ones (8, 5 and 3/3 twins); your post sounds like anything I might have written about my AH. Particularly that part about the counseling, I felt like an animal that just kept getting put into a cage and returned to the lab for more torturous experimentation. My AH had a way of manipulating the therapists in minutes and suddenly everyone in the room was a threat to me. Felt exactly like walking in a trap. I can remember being in the car on the way to therapy together and seriously considering hopping out of the van at the next stoplight and running.

Thank you for posting; it helps to just know that we are not alone and I hear your concern for your children loud and clear...

~emp919
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Old 03-19-2011, 07:29 AM
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"He claims I bash him over the head with everything he's ever done wrong, and that I hold all the power in our relationship. He gets angry when I accuse him of drinking because of course he hasn't been. He says I blame everything on him, think I'm perfect, and deflect any topic about something I do wrong back to him. He makes me want to throw up."



This is common, I know you have probably been reading that here.
The single most effective action I have started trying to master with my RAH is to detach from what he blames me for and not take it personally.

I acted out of guilt and self loathing for so long, and now I am just beginning to be able to think about or hear what he says and say, "uh huh...OK..." I watch it like its a movie.

I listen like its a song he has written about a fictional character. And I just say, "OK."

Getting this detachment away from how he paints the scenario, and how he projects his stuff onto me has started to allow me to make clearer decisions...to believe myself more than his quackery.

I know its easier said than done.
Alcoholics need to project their fears, their shortcomings onto others. They also need to be victimized a lot. Woe is me, yadda yadda...Very self centered. Of course he wants you to absorb all of that crud. The responsibility for their own actions is unbearable to them, but that is not your problem.

This detached observation might be what your therapist is asking for from you. She MAY be, (and I dont know this for sure, of course),, but she may be wanting you to stop reacting to his spewing. Just be sort of be still and watch.

Keep posting!
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Old 03-19-2011, 08:57 AM
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Welcome, WhoWasIThen!!!!

Sounds like your husband is using classic, active alcoholic deflection. I think answering with lines like "Oh, I see" and "Thank you for telling me how you feel" without any emotion are quite useful in those situations.

Keep reading, keep asking questions....lots of folks with plenty of ES&H to offer (Experience, Strength & Hope).

Hugs, HG
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Old 03-19-2011, 10:50 AM
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Hugs to you!

I *just* posted on the "how to manage today" post and thought I'd share my response there with you!

Hi!
I can, in no way, speak to the legalities.

What I can say is that I can see you are very worked up.
First thing to do is put on your own oxygen mask. What I mean is, try to step back from yourself and see your anxiety. You wondered how he could cause so much emotional turmoil remotely. He ISN'T causing your emotions to rollercoaster.
You are.
He is the catalyst, to be sure. But the good news is YOU HAVE THE ABILITY to self soothe. So that is the first step.
Breathe.
Try to catch your racing thoughts and fears and let them go. Be in the moment.
Breathe.
Find your loving self parent and have her have a little talk with you, "You're okay. You are safe. The kids are safe. That's what is important."
When you catch yourself obsessing on him - if he's dead, if he's mad, if he's drunk, if he cares, try to remember THAT IS NOT YOUR JOB.
That's just extra stress you do not need.

You're okay. One step at a time.
Use this stressful situation as an opportunity to practice (1000 times a day, if necessary) to take a step back and breath. To calm yourself. To soothe yourself. To accept his wonky behavior and let it go.

All my love
peace


The other thing I will say is I forced by AH to go to counseling, but all I saw was the same crud I had seen at home (but I was paying for it).
He didn't want to go and I didn't either. I wanted to fix him.
I am happy we are done and I am moving on.

What is your "enough is enough"?
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Old 03-19-2011, 01:22 PM
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I heard in a meeting...."get off their back and out of their way..."I divorced my A but just sayin'......
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Old 03-19-2011, 04:49 PM
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WhowasIthen-
I could have written exactly what you wrote. I undrestand how hard it is to be where you are. It has taken me a LONG time to realize that I can't live that way...I can't. I tried, I tried again, and again......and finally I am healthy enough to be ok with all of that. I have 6 children *2 are his - and I have watched as we have been seperated over the last year or so, and they are SO much better....they are happier, and at ease again, and our home feels safe and secure to everyone again. Take your time, and trust your instincts!! (((Hugs)))
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Old 03-19-2011, 10:40 PM
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Throwing my hat into this ring - can totally relate...think I was in your zone a few months ago. It does get better with time. Detachment is a hard thing to wrap one's head around. I remember asking in Al-Anon, "how am I supposed to detach from my husband?" The answers I got were pretty mind blowing. First of all, I was beating him over the head with every bad thing he was doing. Secondly, I was treating him like less than the grown-up man that he is. Detachment for me was steeping out of the way and focusing on myself...what I can change and what I really can't. The whole Serenity Prayer idea...I get up and say that to myself first thing every morning nowadays.

And amazingly, with the help of Al-Anon, SR, and lots of self-reading, I can say today I have been pretty successful at detaching and it really does feel good. My life has done a complete 180...I am no longer so darn anxious and stressed...I look better...I smile more...its nice.

That said - I called marriage counseling to a halt when I realized it was simply too early to be doing this. My RAH's recovery is first and foremost. Our marriage issues can wait.

Hang in there...you are on the right path.
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Old 03-20-2011, 12:48 PM
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Great big thank yous to everyone who responded, or who has posted similar information on this site. I've been reading and re-reading and I have to say I feel freer, and happier, than I have in ..maybe years. I have a marriage counseling appt on Thursday that I am building up my courage for, because I am going to tell him that marriage counseling is not the solution. I believe I am done with this marriage. I have been holding on for the kids, and out of sheer denial that he could really avoid facing the real issue and waste our marriage. I thought I was making it clear that we would face the alcoholism together and rebuild our marriage.

Instead, on Friday night, I told him I wanted him to talk to me about the alcohol. Tell me if he had acknowledged to himself about the alcoholism. That he had chosen it over me many times, and I was worried that if he doesn't get treatment he will eventually choose it over his children too. When they get old enough to identify it, he will lay the blame at their feet the way he did at mine. He declined to have that conversation, and I think that and also the things I've read from you wonderful people, was the knot coming untied.

It is going to take a lot of courage to have this conversation. I want to have it in front of the counselor so he can't exit the way he does from the conversation. I think he saw a change in me by Saturday morning, and he is hovering, feeling me out. My skin is actually crawling at having him in the house. He seems like a stranger to me. I cannot even say I love him anymore, only that I care for the person who used to be someone I loved, and the person who is my children's father. They are so young now and they don't question him so he loves them so freely and is so involved with them, and I am grieving for the day they lose their father the way I lost my husband. God, that hurts.

But no tears. There were no tears when he told me he wouldn't be calling to talk about the alcohol. He didn't even repeat his claim that he's not drinking, I think he is letting me assume that he thinks I'm paranoid and this problem is mine. It doesn't matter as much, and I eagerly await the day I don't even think about what he's thinking.

I wanted to tell you that my daughter wrote a note to him today. She's 7. The note says "Dear Daddy, Mommy miss you so much and want you to come home. Please do the right thing." That caused some tears, but on her behalf.

I feel like I have my walking boots on the right feet this time, and I just need to navigate through the door. I hope I don't make any mistakes, like I did by asking him to talk in the first place. What was I thinking??!

I do have a dilemma though. We have "together" times scheduled. Originally they were for the kids, and I do think the kids enjoy them. Mon night (a family tradition of spaghetti night together), and pretty much all day Sunday. For some reason this Saturday he chose to stick around all afternoon and late into the evening. What do I do about these times? He's not drinking during the time, but I feel miserable with him here like it's some sort of partial marriage. It's REALLY rough if we have had a talk recently about anything real, and you can cut the tension with a knife. I have to keep the equilibrium, you know, which was just like our marriage. But do I take those times away from our kids while they can still have them? This is a tough one for me. Anyone go through anything similar?
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Old 03-20-2011, 01:05 PM
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You are separated from him. You can decide when he comes and goes. He doesn't have the right to "decide to stick around" if you don't want him there. If you want to keep the scheduled "together" times, that is your decision, but you don't have to let him just hang around.
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Old 03-20-2011, 01:14 PM
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You sound really good, like you're regaining your balance a bit.

The time with the kids is tricky. The obvious solution in a non-alcoholic situation would be for him to take them so he could spend time with them apart from you. Are you at all concerned about his not drinking if he were to show up at your house sober to take the kids out to dinner for a couple of hours? Can he exercise that much control?

If you feel it's necessary for him to spend time with the kids at your house, maybe you could put definite limits on the time he is there, from x p.m. to y p.m. Maybe have dinner late enough so he could tuck the kids in or something before leaving. I don't know--just throwing out an idea.
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