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Does someone's drinking bother you?

Old 08-11-2011, 03:20 AM
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Does someone's drinking bother you?

I still remember when I heard or read the words, "Does someone's drinking bother you? If so. . ." (And I think some more questions followed and I was pretty much able to answer every question with an astounding, "Yes!") Wow, that's my life! (Perhaps, this is a post for the ACOA section as well).

"Someone else's drinking" and everything surrounding "someone else's drinking" (including the reactions of those around the drinker/drinking, even after the drinker had stopped drinking) have bothered me my entire life as far as my conscious memory can recall. No one around me drinks anymore (Most of the A's in my family --my grandfather, my father, my uncles-- had been sober by the time I was conscious enough to understand the ways of the world. My husband who was the last active alcoholic in our close circle of family has finally committed to sobriety), yet "I'm bothered" --the lasting effects of alcohol addiction. I never thought my husband was capable of sobriety (not for half a day). I thought he was a different kind of alcoholic than the men in my family because they eventually quit on their own. Since I don't have any recollection of my father, grandfathers or uncles during their active alcoholism (just stories of resentment, sadness, pain, anger, endurance, and gratitude), I don't know them as active alcoholics as I experienced hopelessly day-to-day with my husband for years. Yet, it turns out I've repeated the family pattern. If my husband continues on this path of sobriety/recovery (I hope and pray that he does), our daughter will have a similar experience to mine --though I hope it will be qualitatively different (better and less alcoholically impactful). She will not have a conscious memory of her daddy as an active alcoholic, but the effects will still be there. Lately, I've been thinking about all of this, coming here to this forum, reading everyone's posts and putting my own life situation into the larger context of alcohol addiction (and its tremendous significance in just about all aspects of my life).

I am still "bothered" even though the drinking/active alcoholism has stopped. I have to fight being irritable. I used to hate how irritable my non-alcoholic mother would become --how she didn't seem to have a sense of humor and how she would fly off the handle, something my sober alcoholic father did not do. Because of this, I was much more drawn to my father (which I came to resent at one time because it helped to shape the "soft spot" I had in my heart for A's and helped to shape my co-dependence). I try hard not to duplicate some of these learned behaviors, but if I don't keep myself in check, it's easy to fall into those familiar ways, letting little things bother me or get to me, becoming self-righteous about the world, needing to save or help the under-dog, seeing the world in rigid black v. white terms, rushing through life (hurry, hurry, hurry!), etc. Both my family of origin and my family now are charming, despite our problems, our dysfunctions, our illness. We have a pretty great facade we can keep up most of the time (especially with sober alcoholism, it's much easier to maintain), being such a perfect, happy, successful, super-special family. (People who are aware or familiar with these issues probably spotted our facade right away and I probably cut them off and dismissed them right away too). Active alcoholism kills the facade pretty quickly but sober alcoholism can keep the mask on much, much longer). I learned to cut people off and retreat all of sudden, leaving people wondering, "What just happened?" I think this was to protect the "normal" or even "super special" facade and to hide the effects of multi-generational alcoholism (in our family's case what becomes "eventual sober alcoholism"). That's part of why, regardless of whether the A's in my life are drinking or not, it's helpful to be here reading and learning from everyone and to attend Alanon meetings. They help remind me of how I've been affected by alcohol addiction and how I must work on myself constantly. Alanon also gives me a space to breathe, meditate, work on my serenity, and practice "living in the moment." I also find it important to keep myself in check so I can do everything I can to break the pattern for my daughter and just to be a decent, good, ethical human being. Because the choices I have made, she too is an ACOA (like me and like my parents) I'm hoping the choices I make here on out in my life will change the course of our family's future, our daughter's future. . . so she will not have to feel bothered and irritated by someone's drinking or sobriety.

I love my parents very much. I love my husband very much. I am not angry with them (anymore). They can definitely push my buttons in their own very special way, but when I think of them as having been in my shoes (or that I have been in their shoes), I feel a lot of compassion for them (my parents, my husband). Both of my parents are also ACOAs. There are active and sober alcoholics in my husband's extended family as well. Someone else's drinking and/or sobriety has bothered them too.

I am no longer bothered by someone else's drinking, but I am still bothered often by life as someone who has been deeply affected by alcoholism.
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Old 08-11-2011, 04:05 AM
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What an interesting and thoughtful post.

I'm curious did your family talk about alcoholism and sobriety when you were a child?

If not when/how did you figure out about the family's alcoholism pattern?

How old is your daughter? Does she know about her father? grandfather?

Will you send her to Alateen?

I know I'm not a perfect mom but I can already see that I have altered some of the family patterns. I have one teen with whom I occasionally read The Language of Letting Go - something i still couldn't do with my own mother.
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Old 08-11-2011, 04:40 AM
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yorkiegirl, thank you so much for your post. I relate to so much of it. It is hard to keep all those behaviors in check. Your post was so moving to me. I think it has spurred me on to committing to al-anon again. It is such a long drive for me, and it is hard to make it happen in my work day, but it is important.
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Old 08-11-2011, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by gowest View Post
What an interesting and thoughtful post.
Originally Posted by gowest View Post

Thank you for your supportive reply and great questions!

I'm curious did your family talk about alcoholism and sobriety when you were a child?

Yes, we did. It wasn't consistent or soul-searchingly honest all of the time, but it was verbally and clearly expressed that "Dad had a drinking problem" (as did his father and brothers) and that "Dad can't drink." There was denial, craziness, chaos, drama, inappropriate sharing, shame, embarrassment, etc. but nevertheless, among the family, there were a few moments of honesty and clarity that broke through the fog of alcoholism. "Alcoholism" was not used but I did get that "drinking problem" meant "alcoholism."

If not when/how did you figure out about the family's alcoholism pattern?

It has taken years and years (decades) of reading, studying, talking about it with family members, making the same mistakes over and over in relationships & friendships, watching lots of Oprah and Dr. Phil, choosing a profession that addresses issues like these, dealing with my husband's active alcoholism, having our daughter, etc. I've gone through being arrogant, self-righteous, higher-than-thou, humbled, devastated, defeated, etc. in dealing with and understanding alcohol addictions impact on who I am and who I have become.

I knew about Alanon. I went to my first meeting when I started dating my husband (about 16 years ago), but walked out before the meeting ended. I knew my relationship with my husband (then-active addict/alcoholic boyfriend) was unhealthy and toxic, but I still chose to go forward with what was unhealthy opposed to what was healthy (i.e. break-up, go to Alanon, etc.) I reluctantly accepted Alanon once my husband went into recovery a year and a half ago. I'm glad I did. I needed/need it more than ever once the active alcoholism in our lives came to a halt. (The effects of alcoholism, however, are ever-present).

My husband's in-patient residential program was excellent. It focused on recovery as a family effort. So family participation was critical to recovery, which also meant the family members needed to check their own stuff. I am forever grateful to this program. All of the things I had done up to that point in understanding addiction, I was able to put together through this recovery program.

Understanding my family's alcoholism pattern has been a lifelong process.

How old is your daughter? Does she know about her father? grandfather?

She is five and a half now. When she was three and a half, I took her and left my husband. I had hit my bottom. The pain of staying with him/his active, progressing alcoholism had become far greater than leaving. He eventually hit his bottom and went into recovery. Normally, I try to prepare our daughter mentally and process events for her. However, when I left my husband, I did not prepare her. It was abrupt. I'm sure this affected her, leaving her wondering what had just happened. I ended up explaining it to her at that time that her dad and I were not getting along and needed time to live separately. When his condition rapidly declined from more and more drinking after we left, I told our daughter that her daddy was really sick right now and that we couldn't see him until he got better. I had a lot of extended family support (both from my family and his family) so we were blessed. They all rallied around our daughter. (It truly takes a village!) Once my husband went into recovery, I took her to all of the family group therapy sessions at the residential program. She knows that her daddy goes to "meetings." He doesn't go as much now and the other day, she asked me "Why doesn't daddy go to his meetings? Remember, how he used to go all the time?" (Was that a sign? Was she trying to tell us something?) We've gone to a few open AA meetings when he got his chips, which she really loved!) She doesn't know what it's all about. She doesn't know what alcohol is. She sees mommy and daddy getting along. She sees daddy healthy and well. She knows that mommy goes to meetings sometimes too.

Without going into details (and age-appropriately), I am hoping --for our daughter-- that alcoholism and recovery (both) will be dealt with openly and honestly without shame, without judgement, and without mystery (but with discretion). One day, I do hope that both alcoholism and recovery aren't topics/issues that are consuming our lives (especially hers) the way it has consumed mine pretty much my entire life.

BTW, after my husband had one year of sobriety under his belt, we moved back home. This time, I had a chance to prepare our daughter mentally and process "going back home."

Will you send her to Alateen?

I am open to it. As I said, she has been to open AA meetings. (She played with the children around her age who were waiting for their parents at the meeting). I like going as a family when possible. She enjoyed seeing her dad receive a chip. If there are Alanon meetings that I can take her with me, I may consider taking her. Right now, I usually go when she is in school. If and when the time comes, I would like to consider having her go to Alateen. (I'll see. . . )

I know I'm not a perfect mom but I can already see that I have altered some of the family patterns. I have one teen with whom I occasionally read The Language of Letting Go - something i still couldn't do with my own mother.


I would love to hear and learn from you how and what you've done to alter some of the family patterns! How does your teens deal with and cope with their situation? As a parent, I really want to minimize the negative effects of alcohol addiction (active or sober) in our lives, in our daughter's life. I'd love to hear your wisdom and experience.
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Old 08-11-2011, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Thumper View Post
yorkiegirl, thank you so much for your post. I relate to so much of it. It is hard to keep all those behaviors in check. Your post was so moving to me. I think it has spurred me on to committing to al-anon again. It is such a long drive for me, and it is hard to make it happen in my work day, but it is important.


Hi Thumper!

I don't formally work the steps or have a sponsor. I do enjoy going to Alanon to remind myself how much work I must do everyday. Some meetings aren't so great. Others are pretty awesome. I think I like going to the ACOA meetings the most. They help me a lot. I also appreciate being able to come here too!

Thank you, Thumper. All of you here help me so much!
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Old 08-11-2011, 01:47 PM
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i wish we had ACOA meetings around here. I'd love to go to one, especially since I'm no longer living with active alcoholism - or inactive. I'm divorced.
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Old 08-11-2011, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Thumper View Post
i wish we had ACOA meetings around here. I'd love to go to one, especially since I'm no longer living with active alcoholism - or inactive. I'm divorced.
Yes, I wish I could find an ACOA meeting too.

Beth
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Old 08-11-2011, 09:30 PM
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There is a website called "Guess What Normal Is" devoted to ACOAs (just another resource).
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Old 08-12-2011, 05:24 AM
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Originally Posted by yorkiegirl View Post

I would love to hear and learn from you how and what you've done to alter some of the family patterns! How does your teens deal with and cope with their situation? As a parent, I really want to minimize the negative effects of alcohol addiction (active or sober) in our lives, in our daughter's life. I'd love to hear your wisdom and experience.
Our situation is different than yours as it isn't their father who has addiction problems (other issues though).

I find that keeping the lines of communication open is important.
I say a lot - "This is what I think based on my life experieces but it is your life and ultimately you will have to live with the consequences of your decisions."

Accepting that as they get older they will make their own decisions, some of those decisions -- good or bad -- will be based on family of origin issues whatever they may be.

I feel that I have spent my entire parenthood reminding myself that my job is to love them but TO LET THEM GO and lead their own lives. It is really hard to do. You can't micromanage your children's lives (once they reach a certain age) any more than you can manage the addict's life.

My daughters so far are doing "great".
I'm sure they will hit their own bumps in the road but it looks like they may be slightly different than my bumps.

I don't believe in the "I just want my kids to be happy".
Life is complicated, hard and sometimes sadness/bad situations are unavoidable.
I try to give them the best tools that I know to deal with these issues as they crop up so they can emerge as unscathed as possible.

I also wish for them plenty of love, laughter and peace along the way.
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Old 08-12-2011, 01:05 PM
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I don't believe in the "I just want my kids to be happy".
Life is complicated, hard and sometimes sadness/bad situations are unavoidable.
I try to give them the best tools that I know to deal with these issues as they crop up so they can emerge as unscathed as possible.


I couldn't agree with you more! Sometimes I think that part of the "root" of addiction is wanting to control how we feel (or "not feel") by self-medicating. It's okay to hurt. It's okay to express that hurt. We are human. Hurting is part of being human. If we didn't hurt or become sad or experience disappointment, we wouldn't be human. . . It's how we learn to deal, cope with, address, respond to, and overcome these experiences that are important, not that we have to experience them.

I try to give them the best tools that I know to deal with these issues as they crop up so they can emerge as unscathed as possible.

I also wish for them plenty of love, laughter and peace along the way.


Thank you Gowest! I'm going to try and work on this too!
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