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Finally reaching out -- introductory post

Old 05-19-2011, 12:29 AM
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Finally reaching out -- introductory post

I found this site about six months ago -- and for some reason I keep putting off posting, even though I know being able to talk freely about all of this junk could help. Perhaps part of it is just that when I get upset enough to feel the need for help, I'm generally too upset to write too. At any rate...deep breath, here goes.

I've been around alcoholics or recovering alcoholics my entire life, and when I finally left my mom and stepdad's home (both alcoholics) at the age of 15 I thought I was done with it. Nearly three years ago I met my (second) husband. It was a long-distance relationship to start, and maybe it should have raised flags for me that he volunteered the information that he doesn't drink...hearing it was a reassurance at the time. For the first three months we lived together everything was fine, he was looking for a job and didn't have the money to drink. After he got a job, he started bringing beer and the occasional bourbon home on the weekends. No problem, right? Uh-huh...he'd neglected to tell me he'd had alcohol problems in the past, and I didn't see a thing wrong with having a drink or two with him every now and then. Then it started getting worse.

About six months ago our daughter was born, and he lost his job two days later after yet another random UA turned up way too much alcohol in his bloodstream at the beginning of the work day. Now he's up to about a fifth of whatever cheap 80-proof he can find and a 40oz or two of beer per day, every day, regardless of what other needs there are in the household. Just in the past two years I have seen his alcohol tolerance plummet significantly and he has suffered three concussions (the last one was on Sunday...four days ago) and a cracked rib from drunken falls. In addition, he's gotten increasingly verbally abusive while drunk and has threatened physical violence, though aside from grabbing me by the throat once he has never acted on those threats. Worst of all, he has shown a number of signs suggesting decreased liver and kidney function (he often takes HUGE doses of Ibuprofen while drinking) and I am beginning to worry that he won't live many more years at this rate.

Thankfully, we're in the process of moving into a house that is set up in such a way that my craft room, office, and kids' rooms (my 5-year-old from a previous marriage and our 5-month-old daughter) are on one side of the house while the living room and master bedroom are on the other side, with the bathroom easily accessible from either side. This helps alleviate the fears I've had that his stumbling around will injure one of the kids, and also gives me my "safe space" when he's drinking and I need to refocus. My best friend also lives just upstairs so I have somewhere easily accessible if he gets too mean.

Unfortunately, while these changes may make his drinking easier to cope with, it doesn't bring me any closer to understanding it or to helping him. He doesn't want help, he's made that clear, so the latter bit probably isn't an option anyway. I guess I just wish that I could somehow understand how someone could lose two wives, at least one due to drinking, and lose contact with four kids -- and still be adamant about continuing the behavior with the third wife and two more kids. Obviously if I knew this information beforehand then I may have thought twice about getting involved, but the fact is that I love him very much and want to stay if it's possible to be healthy for me and my kids in doing so. Maybe I'm dreaming, but it is at least worth trying.

One thing I'm curious about -- does marriage to an alcoholic always end in divorce? Has anyone here ever had someone refusing help of any kind, but eventually got it and at least tried to sober up? He has admitted that it is a big problem, he drinks way too much, that it is killing him, and the other night he told me that he just couldn't stop. It completely confounds me that someone can have a beautiful young family (he treasures the time he spends with our daughter -- I don't have primary custody of my son -- and we are both stay-at-homes since I am self-employed and he has his unemployment for now), to know that the addiction is hurting both the family and yourself, and not even attempt to get help.

I want to stay with my husband, and I want to raise a family with him -- and for the first half of most days that can happen. Other days it's like he deliberately drops things in my lap and hides in the bottle so he doesn't have to act like an adult. For instance, tomorrow we were supposed to be moving the rest of the household to the new place, yet he went back to the liquor store and bought more just 10 minutes before bedtime and has enough left to keep him passed out all day.

I know some of it is very likely PTSD, some of it is what can only be described as a midlife crisis, and some of it is the unshakable belief he has that he's supposed to be able to save the world and that anything and everything is his responsibility or fault. While I've always been around alcoholism, I've never really had to actually deal with it -- I dealt with it by leaving when it was just my parents, so actually understanding and being able to co-exist with an alcoholic is a talent that seems far beyond my grasp.

At any rate -- that's probably more than enough for an introduction. I usually try to introduce myself with positive things, but I don't think there really are any that apply...and probably not something the good folks on this board really expect, I'd imagine . I'll likely be lurking around the boards quite a bit, and look forward to meeting others here who are undergoing/have undergone similar challenges.
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Old 05-19-2011, 01:24 AM
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hello wywriter and welcome -

glad you found us. and glad you are reaching out for support for yourself. this is a great place to educate yourself about alcoholism, co-dependency and also, to learn how to set effective boundaries.

the first thing which is important to understand is that you didn't cause this, you can't cure it, and you can't control it. if an alcoholic wants to drink, they will find a way. period.

all of us have tried begging, pleading, moving, threatening, withstanding with the alcoholic to absolute no avail.

what i have learned here is that while i can't change an alcoholic, i can change myself and how i respond, from the inside out.

there is an organization, called alanon, which has free meetings for people like us. it would be a good step in the right direction if you can locate one in your area and attend.

i would like to let you know that putting his hand around your throat is indeed domestic violence. perhaps there is a domestic violence organization near you that you could contact, in private, and see what services they can provide to you. many have free counseling. i've attended counseling and i found it very helpful to be able to speak with someone, rather than off-load to my friends and family, who didn't really understand what it is like to live with an alcoholic.

again, welcome.
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Old 05-19-2011, 04:55 AM
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Welcome! I want to ditto what naive said so well.

I'll also add that the stickies at the top were really helpful when I first came to SR. There is so much good information up there. I read them a lot and still read them.

This helps alleviate the fears I've had that his stumbling around will injure one of the kids, and also gives me my "safe space" when he's drinking and I need to refocus.
Gentle hugs sent your way. Your home, every inch of it, should be a physically and emotionaly safe place for you and your children, every minute of every day of your life. You deserve that
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Old 05-19-2011, 05:33 AM
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come on in, get yourself a coffee and read....this is a wonderful place to be. SR has helped me so much and i love all the stickys and all the literature to read here..i made wonderful friends that help me through it all....al anon works wonders, there is so much wisdom in those rooms for Real Life...

remember
the 3c's
you did not cause this
you can not control this
and there is no cure
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Old 05-19-2011, 05:53 AM
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I was just thinking what an articulate and cogent post you wrote, and then noticed your user name, and figure you must be a writer...

I connected with so many things you said... the running away from alcoholism in family of origin; being sideswiped in your resolve to not get involved in alcoholism, but having it happen away; witnessing the sad but inevitable physical decline; being grateful for rooms in the house that can make you feel a little more detached from the craziness; wanting a future with the "sober" half of the husband; feeling completely baffled by his choices; and looking ahead to a big ol' question mark.

You want a window to the future--you see the one path that seems hopeless and sad and another path ready to fulfill your hopes for a loving, healthy family life.

Some of us have stood on that fork in the road trying to figure it out for a LONG time. I hate to discourage you, but in some ways I'm still there after 34 years of marriage. At 58 years old, my AH is still acting like yours--I also heavily identified with having a husband for half a day. It's become a joke in our house. He won't talk about important issues before 11am because he's not a morning person (I am and always try to bring up things at the crack of dawn). But, I'll look out the window (we're both self-employed, too), and his car will be gone at 11:30, and he's off and running to drink for the rest of the day.

So, if I don't say what I have to say in this 30 minute window, I'm scr'wed. Sad, isn't it?

I am pretty happy today, because I have stopped forcing my expectations for a sober marriage. I've also finally dealt with my fear for his early death, which was hard, but I accept what I need to accept.

He's been talking rehab, after I left him for six weeks explicitly because of his drinking, and also because of a small wake-up call of three days in the hospital, but I see nothing in the way of true spiritual surrender. So I spend my time living my own life (like you, in my office/half of the house), I go to Alanon, read, exercise, and I pray for God's will for me.

So, I would say definitely go to Alanon, and keep posting here. All your questions will become clearer in time as to what you need to do for you and your little daughters.

Welcome!
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Old 05-19-2011, 08:49 AM
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Welcome, I have a few questions...

Hi WW,

I thought a lot about whether to respond to this post, and decided to when I woke up this morning. Because, like me, you have a daughter I decided to do so. Here goes:

I've been around alcoholics or recovering alcoholics my entire life, and when I finally left my mom and stepdad's home (both alcoholics) at the age of 15 I thought I was done with it. So why in the world would you want to stay with your alcoholic husband, and want to raise a family with him? Does this make sense at all?

No problem, right? Uh-huh...he'd neglected to tell me he'd had alcohol problems in the past, and I didn't see a thing wrong with having a drink or two with him every now and then. Then it started getting worse. So why in the world would you want to stay with your alcoholic husband, and want to raise a family with him? Does this make sense at all?

About six months ago our daughter was born, and he lost his job two days later after yet another random UA turned up way too much alcohol in his bloodstream at the beginning of the work day. Now he's up to about a fifth of whatever cheap 80-proof he can find and a 40oz or two of beer per day, every day, regardless of what other needs there are in the household. Just in the past two years I have seen his alcohol tolerance plummet significantly and he has suffered three concussions (the last one was on Sunday...four days ago) and a cracked rib from drunken falls. In addition, he's gotten increasingly verbally abusive while drunk and has threatened physical violence, though aside from grabbing me by the throat once he has never acted on those threats. Worst of all, he has shown a number of signs suggesting decreased liver and kidney function (he often takes HUGE doses of Ibuprofen while drinking) and I am beginning to worry that he won't live many more years at this rate. For the love of God, please reread this paragraph and then consider why in the world would you want to stay with your alcoholic husband, and want to raise a family with him? Does this make sense at all? Plus, as others have pointed out, he has acted on those threats. He grabbed you by the throat. Never means never. It doesn't mean except when he grabbed me by the throat.

Thankfully, we're in the process of moving into a house that is set up in such a way that my craft room, office, and kids' rooms (my 5-year-old from a previous marriage and our 5-month-old daughter) are on one side of the house while the living room and master bedroom are on the other side, with the bathroom easily accessible from either side. This helps alleviate the fears I've had that his stumbling around will injure one of the kids, and also gives me my "safe space" when he's drinking and I need to refocus. My best friend also lives just upstairs so I have somewhere easily accessible if he gets too mean. For the love of God, please reread this paragraph and then consider why in the world would you want to stay with your alcoholic husband, and want to raise a family with him? Does this make sense at all? You have to live in a Safehouse to live with your husband for goodness sake. How is it a good idea to be living with him at all?

Obviously if I knew this information beforehand then I may have thought twice about getting involved, but the fact is that I love him very much and want to stay if it's possible to be healthy for me and my kids in doing so. Maybe I'm dreaming, but it is at least worth trying. You know this information now. It isn't healthy for you and your kids to do so, nor is it fair to your kids. What makes you think it is realistic to think so, and what makes you think it is worth trying.

He has admitted that it is a big problem, he drinks way too much, that it is killing him, and the other night he told me that he just couldn't stop. It completely confounds me that someone can have a beautiful young family (he treasures the time he spends with our daughter -- I don't have primary custody of my son -- and we are both stay-at-homes since I am self-employed and he has his unemployment for now), to know that the addiction is hurting both the family and yourself, and not even attempt to get help.
Again, please read this paragraph. He is who he is, not who he was or who you want him to be. He is who he is. An alcoholic with young children who has anger issues and has choked his wife.

Reading the rest of your post it is clear you are self-aware at a certain level and very intelligent. It's also clear you are reaching out for help and that is truly wonderful.

You will get that here, but if at all possible also go to Alanon meetings which will help you a great deal as well. It will change your life in an amazing way:
How to find a meeting in the US/Canada/Puerto Rico

In the meantime I'd like to close with a last question. Why in the world would you want to stay with your alcoholic husband and want to raise a family with him? Does this make sense at all?

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

Cyranoak
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Old 05-19-2011, 10:31 AM
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^^^WOW...see some good wisdom HERE
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Old 05-19-2011, 12:11 PM
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Cyranoak has asked some tough, possibly painful, but important questions. Being around out-of-control alcoholism (ESPECIALLY when accompanied by verbal and/or physical abuse) is absolutely terrible for the children. Can you imagine what kind of memories they may have of their childhood someday? Listen to some of the folks here that grew up with that in their homes.
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Old 05-19-2011, 07:01 PM
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Cyranoak -- that's exactly what everyone else has been asking me too. While I have my reasons, I'm afraid they do sound a bit like excuses after a while. I know I'm struggling with some nasty co-dependency issues, and while it's getting a lot better I don't know if I'm capable of getting completely past it. At the moment one of the big things is that I know I'm not ready to leave, and thus far I'm willing to keep trying. On the same note -- LexieCat, yes, I can imagine it, I have very similar memories from my childhood. I don't yet know where my boundaries are, but I know that for my kids I have to find them.

SoloMio -- yep, I'm a writer...and I confess that while I didn't actually write an outline for my post, I had a very nice article-esque outline in my head (or...more like eBook-esque, but chopped out a lot of the purely frustrated bits). At this juncture I don't see a lot of hope for that happy family life, but I guess maybe there is a part of me that feels like this is just too early to tell. I've seen this so many times before, and for those close to me that have recovered it has never been a fast thing. My mom finally sobered up about four years ago, in her early 40s, and is now some of my support in trying to understand all this -- her husband is still an active alcoholic. My uncle has been sober a little over a year now, and I just can't imagine what it must have been like for my aunt in the last 31 years of marriage and raising three kids. I know that part of my problem with envisioning a healthy, happy family life is that I really don't know what it looks like, but I am trying to work toward it in the ways I know how. Our husbands sound so much alike, except mine is the morning person and I'm not -- I have a very bad habit of being reticent in the mornings because I know I'm not fully awake, and I also know that this may be the only good time I have with him. There are many days that he doesn't start drinking until 5:00, but then there are the times -- like now -- that he stays drunk for days at a time. When he was working he would leave at 6:30 in the morning, swing by the liquor store on the way home at 3:30, and I'd get about a half-hour with him before the alcohol took effect. Mine is 51 (yep, slight age gap), so at this point I don't hold out too much hope of him deciding to quit before he dies. At least with the age gap I knew from the beginning that unless I get hit by a truck or get pancreatic cancer or something, there will come a time when he's going to die and I will have to live without him.

That said -- thank you everybody for the welcomes, even just the reading I've done in the last few days has been giving me a clearer understanding of what I need to accomplish, as well as a few tips on getting there. I know I've seen advertisements for Al-Anon meetings, but previously was worried about him finding out I was going to them. Now I don't care if he knows, it's about me and not him and he can just butt out .

Being in a house where I feel safer (friends around, etc.) is something I'd do regardless of how he acts after my last bad relationship. My ex-husband was very psychologically abusive and spent five years systematically destroying my entire support system, and I was 150 miles from my friends and family. My sister had an even worse experience that played out overseas where she didn't even speak the same language, and the only counselors she could find couldn't understand why she was so upset about him beating her, they figured she just needed to work harder to make him happy. As soon as my ex and I split I came back to the place where my support is strongest, and I've retained sole lease rights to the house we're currently in...I'm the primary signer on the house we're moving into, but more importantly the owner lives nearby and will back me up if it comes to throwing him out. We're also moving much closer to the VA hospital, which makes me feel much better.
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Old 05-19-2011, 07:10 PM
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Hi, Writer,

I can share my experience, strength, and hope with you.

I'm an ACoA, and for the very reason that I now have a wonderful child that deserves (and 'lo and behold I found out I also deserve) a home that is safe and peaceful, I made the decision to live apart from my ABF. Now, I know you'll say, "but you weren't married, it's different". We have been together 11 years, and I have a 10 year old child.

I didn't see it coming either. In hindsight, the signs were there. It was a slow, painful progression into the disease I knew so well. And at first, because I lived it as a child, it must've fit comfortably like an old shoe.

The horror of finding out that I was subjecting the child that I love more than life itself to an unmanageable life was where my clarity arrived.

I came here.

I started attending Al-anon meetings. I got recommended reading material. I have learned the most so far from reading here and from reading in AA's Big Book. The daily devotions in "Courage to Change" has been very helpful.

The thing about the disease of alcoholism is that it does not get better. It only gets worse. Unless and until the alcoholic is willingly and purposefully active in a program of recovery.

Your 5 year old is already living in terror. How do I know this? I knew it by the time I was four years old in my home. You were able to walk away from your parents at age 15. See if you can be an advocate for your young children. They can't just walk out like you did.

In some states, a parent who willingly lives with another addicted adult can be charged with child neglect. This is not something to fool around with.

There are so many options of loving your husband without subjecting yourself and your children to an unsafe, unstable environment.

Oh, and ((((HUGS))))
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Old 05-19-2011, 07:23 PM
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Thanks, skippernlilg -- thankfully (and I never thought I'd be saying THAT) I don't have primary custody of my son, so he's not subjected to it very often. My husband drinks the most in the evenings, usually after or just before my son goes to bed. The drinking is what has kept me from appealing the custody decision (I couldn't afford a lawyer at the time it went through, talk about a train wreck).

I have worried about the legal implications of living with him, and I need to find the applicable laws because unfortunately that worry has kept me from calling emergency medical services for my husband when I probably should have. I have talked to him about staying outside of the house when he's drinking, and even done "comparison shopping" for hotels with monthly rates...there's one halfway across our (small) town that's $450 a month. I don't yet have a plan of enforcing it so maybe I shouldn't have said anything yet, but working on that bit. I love him and will gladly have him home when he's sober, but I also know that I can't ask him or expect him to quit.
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Old 05-19-2011, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by wywriter View Post
Thanks, skippernlilg -- thankfully (and I never thought I'd be saying THAT) I don't have primary custody of my son, so he's not subjected to it very often. My husband drinks the most in the evenings, usually after or just before my son goes to bed. The drinking is what has kept me from appealing the custody decision (I couldn't afford a lawyer at the time it went through, talk about a train wreck).

I have worried about the legal implications of living with him, and I need to find the applicable laws because unfortunately that worry has kept me from calling emergency medical services for my husband when I probably should have. I have talked to him about staying outside of the house when he's drinking, and even done "comparison shopping" for hotels with monthly rates...there's one halfway across our (small) town that's $450 a month. I don't yet have a plan of enforcing it so maybe I shouldn't have said anything yet, but working on that bit. I love him and will gladly have him home when he's sober, but I also know that I can't ask him or expect him to quit.
Well, *not* seeking help for a person in that condition may be considered irresponsible, neglectful, and unreasonable behavior by any court considering custody and/or visitation for your children. (let alone in general) If you think your 5 year old hasn't noticed because he's not always there, you're really kidding yourself.

I'm not trying to be harsh at all. I'm actually sharing a whole lot of my experience here. I work as a child advocate in my state, and boy was I horrified to see myself in a situation that would be deemed untenable in any child custody court. I had to make the hard decision that is advised by guardian ad litems all over the country. From my own home. It terrified me to know I *know* better and still found myself there.

What brought me to the conclusion I'm at today is that I can be a parent to a child who is actually a CHILD, but not for a grown adult. The decisions for ABF's care, whether he's passed out, going through doors, crawling along the floor, and the like are really up to him. He has the education and the resources to get better. He's not at the point to get better, and I didn't cause it, can't control it, and I certainly can't cure it.
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Old 05-19-2011, 07:49 PM
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Welcome!

Rather than rewrite my whole story, I would suggest you read my posts from March this year. I had just found my way back to SR... After 4-5 years of MY white knuckling it through my husbands alcoholism. I lived with a lot of unacceptable behavior while he was drunk....

Until he got drunk and grabbed me by my throat. That was it. Our marriage suffered it's final fracture. You can read my posts, and you'll see... My process of acceptance since then. I have learned there is only black and white when it comes to physical abuse. Right and wrong. No gray, even though my AH would beg for me to believe otherwise.

Having a hand on your throat, as you know, is Fu$&ing scary. Having the hand of your drunk and out of control husband on your throat is downright unthinkable. I realized in that moment I was no longer going to trust him. I was afraid of him. What was he going to do the next time he got drunk? And god forbid something makes him angry... Would he come after me again? And yet... He kept right on freaking drinking. Not giving two $hits that his behavior made me feel unsafe in my own home. He told me I blew it out of proportion and "it wasn't that bad". Bad news buddy... It was that bad.

And I'm outta here. I will not let my children grow up seeing this $hit and think it's normal or okay.

If not for yourself, please think about the children. Is this really what you want to teach them as "normal"? I know it's not an easy decision to make... But it's the right one. And from what I've learned from my trips around the sun... I've never regretted the right decisions I've made. I do regret the dumb and short sighted ones.

Take what you like, and leave the rest.
Shannon
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Old 05-19-2011, 11:23 PM
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Originally Posted by wywriter View Post
At the moment one of the big things is that I know I'm not ready to leave, and thus far I'm willing to keep trying. On the same note -- LexieCat, yes, I can imagine it, I have very similar memories from my childhood. I don't yet know where my boundaries are, but I know that for my kids I have to find them.
Figuring out my boundaries has been one of the hardest, and most important, things I've ever done. It is still hard for me.

You write you are willing to keep trying. Do you ever ask yourself to finish that thought? Keep trying to do what? Eventually I spent quite a bit of time pondering that question and it brought about some realizations for me so it might be something to think about.

At this juncture I don't see a lot of hope for that happy family life, but I guess maybe there is a part of me that feels like this is just too early to tell. I've seen this so many times before, and for those close to me that have recovered it has never been a fast thing.
You get what you got. How he is today is what you can count on. Not who he was yesterday, or who he might be or could be tomorrow, but exactly who he is today. This was a turning point for me. I once told my ah, who loved to bait me with this topic, that I'd rather have a sober ex-husband then a drunk husband.

I know that part of my problem with envisioning a healthy, happy family life is that I really don't know what it looks like, but I am trying to work toward it in the ways I know how.
I get this too. It is hard when we don't have a healthy point of reference. I have one person IRL that I've know forever (she is a cousin) and she has it together. I began to really watch her, and how she manages things. I also thought back to how she handled things when we were younger. How did she get to where she was? One very big realization was that she knew when to walk away. It isn't that she tried harder, hung in there longer, was a better 'catch', didn't have painful experiences/relationships, or had some magic trick up her sleave. She knew how to make difficult decisions that were in her best interest. She had boundaries and if they were crossed, she took action to protect them. My boundaries were very undefined, fluid, unprotected, and at the end of my marriage had all but disappeared. I did not walk away from anything or anyone. I have come to see this not as loyal, committed, hard working, or some of the other things I've said but as dysfunctional and unhealthy.

I also know that this may be the only good time I have with him.
There is no good time to talk to an active alcholic because they do not connect the dots like the rest of the world. Their thinking is irrational and normal discussions are a waste of time. If they are not drinking at the moment of the conversation they may be calm and agreeable but the conversation will get you no where. Conciously or subconciously they do not give a damn what comes out of our mouths. They nod their head and keep the peace and go on about their business of serving and protecting their addiction - not their family.

I'm glad you are living in an area where you have support sytsems available. That was smart.
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