Defying the odds

Old 08-12-2011, 06:26 AM
  # 41 (permalink)  
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I realized that reading down through this thread that all the folks in my home AA group who have solid sobriety are still married to their original spouses.
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Old 08-12-2011, 12:59 PM
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I realized that reading down through this thread that all the folks in my home AA group who have solid sobriety are still married to their original spouses.

I love hearing this! Thank you!
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Old 08-12-2011, 09:58 PM
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z, you are looking at this forum section & see very few success stories and lots of alcoholic misbehavior. I think that is part of this forum section letting some of these stories out? Alcoholics recover all the time and, often times, become very caring and understanding people. When alcoholics invest the energy they used in getting drunk into something positive the results can be amazing.
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Old 08-12-2011, 11:17 PM
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About the success rate of AA. The way I see it, alot of people come and go through those doors. There are alot of alcoholics and I don't think any of them want to stay the way they are. But, if everyone who went to AA quit drinking (even half of them) you couldn't build a building big enough to hold them. The success rate is low and no I don't have the statistics. My husband goes to a group (not AA) he went yesterday afternoon and he was drinking yesterday morning. Of course there's always hope but for my sanity I don't count on anything. I don't base my future on hope for his recovery.

I think that the spouses of A's during their recovery go through the stages of grief. I'm working on acceptance right now and trying to get some compassion for my husband. Today was my birthday. My kids had a nice dinner for me and my grand-kids were there and I had a wonderful time. My husband was drunk. It was the first time ever that I wasn't stressed and to be honest I forgot he was even there. I hope he can recover but not to save our relationship - our relationship is over.

I would never attempt to rebuild this marriage. I've told him I hope he gets well and I leave links for him on the desktop. My husband has never been there for me. He's shown up but he's been drunk for every crisis and happy occasion. Those are the memories here. If someone can build a marriage with a RA after over 20 years that's great but I'm with the opening poster, it's rare. I don't have a clue what it takes to do that but I've put in way too much effort as it is and I'm not getting back on the roller coaster.

My dad was an alcoholic - he did quit drinking. I hated him when I left home. Through counselling I got to acceptance - he did the best he could with what he had. I'd hug him when I saw him and tell him I loved him and I meant it. He never hugged back - he'd be stiff as a board and never said I love you - ever. After counselling it didn't matter anymore. It was what it was. I accept but I would have never gone there to live with him and I never asked him for anything. I never held on to any hope that he'd change. It didn't matter to me anymore. If I'd hung on to hope I'd be on that roller coaster. I felt sorry for him because he missed out big time. That's reality with no anger. That's where I'm heading with my relationship with my husband. There are no expectations. Is there hope for him? Only he can answer that - either way I'll be just fine. I'm getting healthy for myself and so that my kids don't have to hear me call their father "your idiot father" anymore.

Part of letting go is letting go of hope that the A will get well - getting off of the roller coaster. Alcoholics know the statistics - I smoke and I know the statistics on successful quits for that also. If I want to quit I'll quit no matter how hard it is and I won't be thinking of the statistics because it's personal and it's about me. I don't care if anyone says that only 1 in 10 will be quit after a year (not sure of the exact # in 10) it won't stop me from trying and it won't be an excuse if I fail.

I think the OP is going through one of the stages in his recovery like we all are here. I think we're all here because we're working on ourselves.
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Old 08-13-2011, 12:07 AM
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OK, here's a story for you:
The last 5 years of my previous life were like living in a small corner of hell. I had finally recognized that my wife was an alcoholic and I truly thought there was nothing I could do about it. I had resigned myself to what Thoreau described as a life of "quiet desperation." I found things to do to fill my days, but I was profoundly unhappy.
I realized later that I felt rejected because I believed that my wife loved the bottle more than she loved me. We couldn't talk without arguing. The tiniest nudge on her part made me extremely defensive...and I knew how to push her buttons just as well as she knew how to push mine. I was not in love, I was angry, it wasn't hate exactly but definitely "dislike."
In the final year of that life, my wife began missing increasingly scary periods of work for mini drinking vacations. We both had good jobs and made a good living, but between the two of us our money management skills sucked. I was paying most of the bills, and I felt comfortable doing that...but if she lost her job I knew I was sunk.
That's what finally did it: she was on a 13 day binge (I rarely saw her awake during that period and never saw her sober). On the second to last day of my life, her alarm clock went off while I was getting ready for work and I got so angry that she was too drunk to shut it off that I almost broke it into a million pieces. I'm soooo not an angry man...but that day I was. I realized that my safe, but unhappy, life was in danger of imploding. I realized that my life had become completely unmanageable.
On the last day of that life, I finally hit that point where I was ready for change. I believed that I could make it financially and I was ready to leave...but for some reason I did something completely out of character for me: I asked for help. And then, as I say, the miracles started happening.
I called her place of employment and got her boss to refer me to Employee Assistance. The company drug abuse counselor suggested a treatment center and I happened to catch my wife sober(er) that afternoon (because I'd hidden her car keys and cut off her source of booze). I told her that "I can't live like this anymore," and "by this weekend I'm getting you into treatment."
The next morning my wife surprised me by asking me to take her to see her company counselor, by that afternoon she was in treatment, and I felt as if the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders.
In the second half of my life (which started 16 months ago), things haven't been easy. My wife worked really hard during treatment and has been very aggressive about her recovery program. At the same time, I realized that maybe I had some issues of my own, and I've been in Al-Anon since shortly after she went into rehab.
I still didn't like her when she got out of rehab, she could still drive me crazy...but over time I started to realize that I had a part in that craziness that I, and only I, could fix. When she threw a plate on the floor, I didn't have to react to that, I could take a different path and sometimes all I needed was a little serenity, sometimes I needed a little wisdom and often I needed a lot of courage.
Sixteen months later, it may not be happily ever after. A small measure of our improved relationship is demonstrated by the fact that I can buy a Valentines day card without wanting to puke. Things are not perfect, but they get better. And right now? Right at this moment? Everything is alright.
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Old 08-13-2011, 07:51 AM
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My parents have been married over 50 years. My father has been sober for 25 years (He has had long periods of sobriety prior to his 25 consecutive years of sobriety ). Even though I don't think their marriage is the poster child for "the healthiest marriage," (and I have been deeply affected by alcoholism), I do see genuine love, caring, compassion, and commitment. Many of my father's brothers are sober alcoholics. They all quit in their 30s, 40s and even 50s. I've seen my cousins start to quit as they've approached their 30s, 40's, and 50s. (A few have died from complications related to alcoholism and overdoses). Some relapsed until they finally quit like my dad and others just decide to quit and remain sober. My uncles all have marriages that have lasted over 50 years and into 60 years, all except one uncle with a second marriage that had lasted 40+ years until his passing. Again, they all have their issues and challenges (co-dependency, addict-children, etc.). However, I see genuine love, caring, and commitment. I've seen unhealthier marriages and relationships among non-alcoholics/addicts as well.

I have a large (huge) extended family with a lot of addicts/alcoholics. Addiction is passed on generation after generation (I won't say "genetically" but it is definitely passed on). I haven't seen a lot of "recovery" (or perhaps they haven't shared that with me), but I have seen a lot of "sobriety." I respect my dad and uncles for their sobriety (and maintaining it over the course of their lives, despite a family history of addiction). Their marriages have lasted and seem genuinely happy (they do "grow old" together with love). While I think they suffered (and their children/my cousins and I) have suffered in different ways and have been affected by alcoholism in many (negative) ways, their marriages survived. And by the standards of 12-step recovery, they aren't "recovered," but I think they would consider their marriages "successful."

I don't want to discount those here on this forum who say that recovery rates are low and slim. I would agree that the odds are tough. Many of us here live those tough odds with all of our bruises and scars. I too would look at it as a spectrum. There's active alcoholism at its worse (whatever that might mean I'm sure many of us can totally imagine), on one end. There is recovery at its best (whatever that might mean I'm sure most of us can not fathom but dream of) on the other end. Then, in the middle, there are shades of sobriety . I would assume (even just reading from here) that there are a variety of examples and experiences among us. On that spectrum (active alcoholism----sobriety----recovery), I would consider a large number of the alcoholics in my extended family to be on the sobriety, leaning on either sides of dry-sober alcoholism to light-recovery side. . . Addiction is a tough beast so I consider this to be pretty "successful," all things considered. (Could it be better? Do I wish full-on absolute recovery? Of course!)

I lived through my husband's nearly 15 years of active alcoholism. I lived vacillating between fearful, anxious hope and sad, defeated hopelessness. My RAH was a daily drinker, barely functional, and our lives were insane, unstable, and chaotic. ("Active alcoholism" was part of the lives of my family of origin and my extended family that I never knew since by the time I became aware, I only remember them as sober. It was always "Uncle so-and-so 'used to drink.' "). Nevertheless, I grew up with all of the effects of alcoholism without active drinking and married an active addict/alcoholic. During my husband's recovery, I met a lot of people (who are recovering addicts and alcoholics) whom I consider to be "ideal."

I wish all of our marriages would end up with "happy endings." Happy endings do result from divorce and the two people going their separate ways. (That's a great thing. Hanging on to a toxic relationship is not successful.)

There is hope. People do find sobriety. Others enter recovery. And even still others work their recovery and reach levels of recovery that would be considered truly healthy (healthier I'd say that non-addicts) and remarkable.

The important thing is that we, as friends and family of addicts/alcoholics find strength, peace and serenity no matter what our situation/our A's situation is.

This is my experience.
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Old 08-14-2011, 06:54 AM
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Well it is refreshing to continue hearing a few more success stories out there. I still maintain the overall success rate is very low.

My original statement in the first post:
"So, a long story to back up my position: They are incapable of change. Some tiny fraction can change. But that is all. The die is cast. The behavior is programmed. Perhaps it's genetic and they are going to do this from the moment they are born.

Regardless. If you think your alcoholic is that one in million who will defy the odds and behave "normal", I offer you are most likely mistaken."

is how I still feel. My position is most are incapable of change. One in a million may be a little pessimistic. I've found no real numbers and I'm not sure how we could ever capture the data.

Mine is currently on a "fresh new start" after claiming she "gets it". This after the same daughter mentioned int he first post and I had yet another difficult conversation with her last week. She managed to behave well yesterday, for the most part. But like a light switch, 10 PM rolled around and she simply had to start creating a problem. Crazy making at its finest. I did not engage, and attempted to let her run out of steam.

I confess my original post intent was to provide a strong counter point to newbies in search of answers. As a man of few regrets in this life, I regret not leaving her years ago. When choosing the path of staying with an alcoholic, one needs to understand the difficulty and the odds involved.

Today is a new day. We'll see what it brings.
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