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Did I do the right thing?

Old 04-22-2011, 05:55 AM
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Did I do the right thing?

I just posted my story http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...e-reading.html if anyone wants an idea of my background with ABF. To bring you up to speed in short form:
I wrote my ABF a letter a couple months ago telling him that I was having doubts about our future together (we had talked of getting engaged and marriage and children). I told him how the drinking made me feel and that I couldn't marry an active alcoholic. SO, we both stopped drinking and haven't had a drink since. We started going to couples therapy because I knew that as the alcohol was removed, we would need to protect our relationship through the changes that would happen once he was in recovery. WELL- he never exactly engaged in "recovery" at least by normal standards. I know each person has their own recovery, their own journey, their own program. But, while he was telling me "I'm working on it," in two months, I haven't seen ONE iota of action, except he's not drinking. This is ok with me, I know early sobriety is hard, he is on his own timeline... that is OK. I decided to propel myself into my own recovery to distract me from his.

What happened next was strange. I started to become resentful because I had stopped drinking to support him in his recovery (which was my choice) but once I realized that he's not really in "recovery", I got upset. I started thinking, I should be able to have a drink if i want to... why should I have to change my life for him if he's not making any changes? This may sound insensitive, but please understand, I told him I would do ANYTHING to support his recovery, stop drinking, go to AA with him if he wanted, go to therapy with him if he wanted, etc. And I will STILL do those things, if he chooses recovery. But, I finally admitted to myself that he IS NOT doing this for himself (though he has been "trying to convince himself of the pros of not drinking"). Admittedly, its more healthy, less chance for trouble, no hangovers, etc. That's all true for not drinking for me too! But, because I admitted that he wasn't doing it for himself and he IS doing it FOR ME, I decided to stop going to couples therapy. It wasn't helping, I suppose it didn't achieve the "desired effect"- convincing him that he was doing it for himself, convincing him he was an alcoholic. So here we are, both trying to change ourselves FOR the other person.

I knew before that if he was doing it for me, eventually he would begin to resent me, and would also be more likely to relapse. I didn't truly get it though until I started to resent him! So here's the issue. I told him that I want to go back to having the choice to drink if I want to, and the choice is the same for him. I am done trying to convince him of anything, and if he wants to drink its his choice. He said he knew that, but I don't think he really KNEW it and truly felt it was his choice. So, he knows how his drinking makes me feel, LOUD AND CLEAR... but the realization was that he doesn't believe he's an alcoholic. HE thinks he can control his drinking, I told him yesterday, No, I dont think you can, but if you need to try and figure that out for yourself, that thats what you need to do. I suppose I have "Let him go, and Let God!" I'm kicking myself because I'm thinking, OMG, I just gave my ABF permission to drink! But that's not really how I feel inside. I feel like I gave him permission to be who he wants to be. I also feel like if he hasn't hit bottom yet, the faster I stop trying to change him and get out of his way, the faster he will make choices that bring him to his bottom. This is scary for me, but somehow I am less afraid as I was maybe a month ago where my posts were all about the fear of letting go. I guess my recovery is moving forward after all. So tell me wise SR folks... did I do the right thing?!?!?
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Old 04-22-2011, 06:23 AM
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I cant say if it is right or wrong.

This is your life. You choose what is right for yourself. You make a decision that gives you peace.

If I have doubts about a choice I am considering, I ask myself what my motivation is.
I ask myself what I am hoping to accomplish by taking a particular action.

Then I ask myself if I am willing to live with the consequences of that action.
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Old 04-22-2011, 06:32 AM
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Ultimately it doesn't matter, there is no right or wrong, because we don't have that much power.

When I moved in with my rabf, we both stopped drinking, me to support him, and him to please me, and so I would actually move in. I made his seeking help a condition!! I had a lot to learn, and I did here and in Al-Anon and with my therapist. He went to AA but just for show. I began to realize that while I was not drinking for him, he was sneaking and lying and drinking in secret.

So, as I learned in Al-Anon, I told him that if he wanted to drink, then go right ahead, and I would too. And he did, and I moved out.

Didn't matter what I said or did, ultimately an alcoholic who is not in recovery will do whatever they want to do anyway. When they are ready, they are ready, and nothing we say or do or any bargain we make is going to make a difference. Abstinance without recovery is not the answer to a better life either.

Stay strong, and do whatever is right for YOU. As you said, let his HP take care of him. Relieve yourself of that responsibility. You don't need to go with him to meetings, or not drink, or do anything. It is all on him. He is the alcoholic.

Take care of you, keep posting and reading, boy oh boy, do we understand what you are going through.

Hugs
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Old 04-22-2011, 06:51 AM
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Originally Posted by concernednurse View Post
...I'm kicking myself because I'm thinking, OMG, I just gave my ABF permission to drink! But that's not really how I feel inside. I feel like I gave him permission to be who he wants to be.

...

So tell me wise SR folks... did I do the right thing?!?!?
It sounds like you get this CN, but I'll say it anyway: the permission was never yours to give. If he isn't conviced that he's an alcoholic, the "not drinking" would eventually collapse or simply build resentment that would ultimately have some form of release. The "permission" and your decison to drink will probably accelerate his attempting to drink in a controlled fashion. Those chips were likely going to fall eventually.

I would say you did do the right thing. An external "thou shalt not drink" edict did not seem to be the genesis of his recovery. Perhaps this will.
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Old 04-22-2011, 06:54 AM
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sc nailed it--we don't have that much power. You're still looking at this in terms of how what you do or don't do (or say or don't say) will affect his ability/inclination to choose recovery.

There are a few things we do or say that CAN make matters worse (enabling being probably the biggest one), but apart from avoiding doing those kinds of things, whether we drink or go to meetings with them or counseling with them or anything that looks like "support" really doesn't amount to a hill of beans in terms of getting someone else to the place where they are motivated to quit drinking.
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Old 04-22-2011, 07:53 AM
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I agree with the wise wisdom in this thread.
Ultimately, this decision was for you, and you feel good about it, so then yes, it was the right decision.

Just keep in mind, his decisions really are his, both his decision on whether or not to drink, and his decision on whether or not to seek recovery.
We can try and enforce our will, but that only lasts so long.
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Old 04-22-2011, 08:03 AM
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@Seekingcalm...i agree, you did hit the nail on the head...good thread....keep going to AL ANON for you...doesnt hurt...
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Old 04-22-2011, 08:43 AM
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I kind of did the same thing you did, concernednurse. It didn't work. My RAH couldn't stop drinking on his own, and when he did it for me and I for him, we were both resentful. And nothing else changed. Same old anger and animosity. And then I found out he did stop drinking, but replaced the alcohol with pot (which he hid from me) and when he did try controlled drinking, he couldn't control it at all. One glass ended up being half a bottle.

What that turned out to be was a lesson for me. This guy is an alcoholic, period. There is no such thing as controlled drinking for him. It's all or nothing. And his "quitting" meant for him switching to another mind-altering substance, so it wasn't really quitting anything. He was still emotionally unavailable and disengaged from the marriage.

He went to AA because I told him to. He spent the first two months going because of me. I finally moved out, because I knew as long as I stayed with him, I would be his motivation for going to AA and he would go back to drinking quickly. And, I was his prime target for his anger and resentment and that wasn't healthy nor satisfying for me.

It's been almost 5 months gone and he is still in AA. Is he there for him now? I don't know. We don't talk about those things. I am in Al-Anon...started there for him and am now there for me. So maybe he found what he needed in AA, like I found what I needed in Al-Anon. But that remains to be seen...more to be revealed...

~T
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Old 04-22-2011, 09:30 AM
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Everything you do "for him" is arguably wrong. Everything you do "for you" is arguably right. There is so much codependency in your post I literally can't break it all out, but I'll just pull one, "I would do anything to support him in his recovery." That pretty much says it all. Would you do anything to support your own recovery?

Your recovery is yours. Focus on it. His recovery is his (and sobriety is not recovery). Mind your own business and stay out of it.

Alanon, Alanon, Alanon.

Take care,

Cyranoak
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Old 04-22-2011, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Eddiebuckle View Post
It sounds like you get this CN, but I'll say it anyway: the permission was never yours to give. If he isn't conviced that he's an alcoholic, the "not drinking" would eventually collapse or simply build resentment that would ultimately have some form of release. The "permission" and your decison to drink will probably accelerate his attempting to drink in a controlled fashion. Those chips were likely going to fall eventually.

I would say you did do the right thing. An external "thou shalt not drink" edict did not seem to be the genesis of his recovery. Perhaps this will.
Thank you for this!! I knew that "permission" was the wrong word to use and somebody would point it out. But yes, the realization for me was simply, he is still in denial, as much as he tells me "I'm working on it." Now, the key for me is to keep going to alanon and work the program and I will pray for him that maybe one day, he will "get it." And yes, I am still sorting out my codependency, what I am doing for me and what I am doing for him... but I know I did this one for me. Being honest with myself is the only thing keeping me going...
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Old 04-22-2011, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by concernednurse View Post
I suppose I have "Let him go, and Let God!" I'm kicking myself because I'm thinking, OMG, I just gave my ABF permission to drink! But that's not really how I feel inside. I feel like I gave him permission to be who he wants to be. I also feel like if he hasn't hit bottom yet, the faster I stop trying to change him and get out of his way, the faster he will make choices that bring him to his bottom. This is scary for me, but somehow I am less afraid as I was maybe a month ago where my posts were all about the fear of letting go. I guess my recovery is moving forward after all. So tell me wise SR folks... did I do the right thing?!?!?
Hi, CN. Right for you? or for him? The two things might be mutually exclusive.... IMO, though, this is a great example of detaching. I don't see it as having given your ABF permission to drink, I see it as giving him permission to make his own choices. The rest is up to him and no fault of yours if he makes decisions that you and/or he find uncomfortable or untenable.

What jumped out at me in your post was the several times you talked about both of you changing FOR the other person. Been there, tried that, it didn't work - I don't think it would have worked even if XAH wasn't an alcoholic. I think (or I'm starting to): we are who we are; we change and grow because we want to for ourselves, any benefit to the other person is great, but shouldn't be the desired effect. Changing because some one else wants us to doesn't work. Changing to be some one we're not most definitely doesn't work. (I'm not saying that's what you were trying to do, just what I tried to do with XAH.)

That, I think is going to be my litmus test for whether I'm (ever) ready for another romantic relationship: Can I be myself around this person? Imperfect, flawed, type A organizing neat freak, goofball, math nerd, a smart, kind, giving person..... without acting on the feeling (whether self-imposed or otherwise) that I need to change, to be more serious, more quiet, more outgoing, more or less smart... or whatever.

And then, to ruin any impression you all may have that I'm working hard and succeeding well with my recovery - as must be evidenced by my great 2 paragraphs above - Thanks for the reminder that regardless of how hard XAH is working to keep his GF's rent-free roof over his head (which apparently includes going to AA when she goes with him), that just because he's doing all "this" for her doesn't mean it'll work any better than it did when he did all "this" for me, no matter how special she is.
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Old 04-22-2011, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by theuncertainty View Post
That, I think is going to be my litmus test for whether I'm (ever) ready for another romantic relationship: Can I be myself around this person? Imperfect, flawed, type A organizing neat freak, goofball, math nerd, a smart, kind, giving person..... without acting on the feeling (whether self-imposed or otherwise) that I need to change, to be more serious, more quiet, more outgoing, more or less smart... or whatever.
You know what gets me about all of this, and it speaks to someone's post recently that said... there's healthy people out there, the trick is learning how to be attracted to them, is that: if you read "My story" which I just posted early this morning, at the beginning of our relationship, I did accept him for who he was. He was just as much an alcoholic at the beginning as he is now... so why was I able to accept him as he was then, but not now? I suppose maybe at the beginning of a relationship people are on their best behavior... they say "you don't know what you don't know,"..."when you know better, you do better," and one of the hard ones, "you can't know right now." Time does reveal and heal, its fascinating. And part of my own journey is learning why I am attracted to people who are addicted, or conversely, why I'm not attracted to healthy people...
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Old 04-22-2011, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by concernednurse View Post
And part of my own journey is learning why I am attracted to people who are addicted, or conversely, why I'm not attracted to healthy people...
Yep, that's the question. Or one of the big ones, at least. It's a lot of frickin' hard work; I'm still not sure why I chose XAH and put up with the alcoholism, etc., for so many years. Nothing in how my parents raised me points to some one who would grow up to allow this. Yes, my mom is ACOA, but her mom passed away when she was very little, I never knew her. Yes, my parents divorced when us kids were in college, but Dad was never abusive (emotionally or otherwise) towards Mom or us kids... Why did I attract and work so hard on keeping this abusive Alcoholic happy? It seems a truly daunting task to figure out.

I can't say I'm looking forward to this journey, but I know it needs to be taken.
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Old 04-22-2011, 12:32 PM
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I love posts like this...

...where I can clearly see people get it. I remember when I finally figured it out. It's clear to me that you have too, CN. You've now finished the hardest part. Things do get better from here (though not friggen' fast enough IMHO).

Take care and congratulations!

Cyranoak



P.s. Keep going to Alanon, though. It'll sneak right back up on you if you let it, and then you'll have to start all over again.

Originally Posted by concernednurse View Post
You know what gets me about all of this, and it speaks to someone's post recently that said... there's healthy people out there, the trick is learning how to be attracted to them, is that: if you read "My story" which I just posted early this morning, at the beginning of our relationship, I did accept him for who he was. He was just as much an alcoholic at the beginning as he is now... so why was I able to accept him as he was then, but not now? I suppose maybe at the beginning of a relationship people are on their best behavior... they say "you don't know what you don't know,"..."when you know better, you do better," and one of the hard ones, "you can't know right now." Time does reveal and heal, its fascinating. And part of my own journey is learning why I am attracted to people who are addicted, or conversely, why I'm not attracted to healthy people...
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