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Need Advice for How to Handle Telling Friends AH and I Separated



Need Advice for How to Handle Telling Friends AH and I Separated

Old 08-31-2011, 02:33 PM
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Need Advice for How to Handle Telling Friends AH and I Separated

I'd be interested in knowing what has worked for others in dealing with telling friends that you have separated from your ASpouse. A little background is that as of today my AH has a court order prohibiting him from contacting me or causing me any harm for 1 year and we are also in the process of legally separating. We have many mutual friends, some of which were my friends first, some of which were his first. After his last alcoholic episode in our home, where AH became abusive to me, friends of ours (who knew me first) noticed my bruises and I, being in my weak emotional state, told them what happened. They are trustworthy and are keeping this information to themselves, and are gravely concerned about both myself and even more so my AH, as he is in serious denial about his issues. However, my friends did tell me that had they not seen my bruises and also some of the damage incurred by AH to our home, they would not have believed me. I think this is partly because AH has been viewed by many as a "heavy drinker" when we are out socially. Many of our friends could be classified in the "heavy drinker" category too. Also, AH never told a soul about his DUI this past January. He moved into his brother's house this past winter because of the problems we were having (which I can now clearly see were because of his drinking which he continued but hid from me, which caused me to react with anger at times).

AH blames me for everything, and told a few of his closest friends that he had moved out temporarily because I was being a b*tch, driving him crazy, etc. and I have heard that is what they believe to be true. Beyond that, I am not sure who knows, and now that we cannot legally physically be in the same place at the same time due to the court order, our friends will definitely find out what is going on. I tried to make plans with one couple today, but they sent back a very, very short email and made no offer to make plans at another time which is unlike them. This leads me to believe my AH may have been talking to people already.

I would like to handle this with the utmost respect to my AH, as I do not feel his alcoholism is my story to tell. My therapist recommended I start reaching out to friends and try to make plans with them for dinner, etc. And when asked about my AH, her recommendation is to say,"We're not together right now." and if pressed about why say "It wasn't working out." and leave it at that. Therapist also said if I hear anything that is not true about the situation that defames me, I could say "Believe what you want to believe." because if I try to defend myself it will only appear that I am doing just that. What do you recommend? What has worked for you in this situation? Thanks in advance for any advice you might provide.
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Old 08-31-2011, 03:27 PM
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For the nosy casual acquaintance:

"We certainly do not know each other well enough for me to disclose the details at this time.
(I actually used this it and it worked ,shut them right up!!!)

You can share with people as much or as little information that you choose. Personally I would keep it brief, and change the subject.

One of the best sayings I have ever read on this board, it has got me thru some sticky situations after the break-up. (some folks insist on being so judgemental)

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Old 09-01-2011, 06:50 AM
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I agree with having your responses practiced and ready.

To the person that invites us to an event:
No thank you.

To the person that invites us to an event (digging for info):
No thank you, I have plans.

To the person that invites us to an event that I want to attend (not likely to happen since "our" friends were heavy drinkers):
I would love to come, but I can not answer for spouse as we are seperated currently.

To the well intentioned (read busy body and gossip) friend that wants to save your marriage and says "why didn't you let me know - I could have helped you both" followed by more badgering:
I actually said: "Because I did not trust you with this information"

My Alanon meetings helped me to understand that I did not owe an explanation for my personal choices to anyone. They were my choices and I shared the reasons with only a select few that would respect my decisions. I found most of those trusted people at my Alanon meetings and here at SR.

Unfortunately, the circle of people I socialized with were active drinkers, or active prescription drug abusers, or deeply religious and their personal views prevented them from supporting my decisions. I believe there was only a handful of people out of my circle of friends that truly supported me during that time.

So not only was I grieving the loss of my relationship, I was grieving the loss of friendships. The good news is that I came to understand that my HP was helping me remove unhealthy relationships from many areas of my life.
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Old 09-01-2011, 07:15 AM
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I seem to have taken a different approach. I told everyone that I separated from my wife because she is an alcoholic and I couldn't take it anymore. That kind of preempted the whole gossip thing and as for my wife, well she is an alcoholic.

Your friend,
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Old 09-01-2011, 07:38 AM
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I have very few friends; the mutual acquaintances EXAH and I had, he managed to convince that I was a horrible b*tch, etc etc, so I didn't worry about convincing them otherwise. For my closer friends, I simply stated "AH and I have separated, and I really don't want to talk about the particulars."

That stopped any further inquiry. I got a few offers for coffee "in case you want to talk" and aside from that, people just went about their business.

In a nasty separation, there's always some kind of side-taking where friends are involved. It's an opportunity for you to see who is truly your friend and who is out to stir up trouble.

Also...I got rid of a few "friends" after the split because I realized they weren't healthy or supportive to begin with. It was like a massive spring cleaning
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Old 09-01-2011, 09:20 AM
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I'm with Mike, I don't mind telling people. I need all the extra prayers and hugs I can get. I continue to be amazed at how many of them were not surprised. Rarely though do I go into detail, most people are satisfied with the basics and dont pry.

good luck
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Old 09-01-2011, 09:34 AM
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I guess I was lucky in that there was no negative response. When I said we had broken up most of the people we would spend time with said about time. He was (is) a really mean drunk and I did not realize how much our friends disliked him for it. I also realized people were more aware that I thought they were.
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Old 09-01-2011, 10:15 AM
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I am with Mike too! I tell people "I left him, he is an A". Plain, simple, and the truth. What he says is none of my business and of course it is my fault, he is an A, nothing is his fault!
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Old 09-01-2011, 10:56 AM
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In my case, I simply mentioned that we are no longer together, and only elaborate if I feel it is appropriate for the audience.

My parents do not understand things many times, and want to lecture, so when my mother pushed I merely stated, "He suddenly turned into an alcoholic, and I didn't want that in my life." As anyone reading this will know, that is about the understatement of the year, nothing sudden about it, and it took me forever to decide I was done. But that is the language my parents will understand without pushing me, so that's what I shared.

At work, XABF didn't want anyone to know we were seeing each other. Not that it was against any of the rules, but he wanted it to stay private. So in those cases, most of them I haven't said anything at all about us "not being together" because they weren't supposed to know we were "together" in the first place. It's easy to pass that part off as "My statement of work changed, so I don't work on any projects with him anymore."

I have not sought out the few mutual friends we had. The ones that I have more regular contact with, I have said something to them. One is simply a friend, and was surprised I didn't tell him sooner - I told him I didn't feel it was that important, and that I didn't want to hurt his feelings by not telling him, but that I simply didn't feel ready to share with anyone at work, and he understood that. One had an abusive alcoholic ex-husband, and is now going through that with her son, and only viewed XABF as a "friendly acquaintance" even though they've known each other for 20+ years. Two are in AA, one vocally so and one a little more "low key" (meaning he has the logo tattooed on his leg and wears it on a chair around his neck, but doesn't talk about it, so only people familiar with AA who recognize the logo can tell he's in it), so I can tell them anything I want to, and I relied upon them heavily in the beginning of my grieving process.

I have a few very close friends, and slowly I've been telling them the truth about it. We lost touch since before I was with XABF, though, in many cases, so there's lots to catch up on from both sides, and no pressure on which bits I decide to tell first about my own life in the last 8 years, which is nice.

I have been careful in some respects. The alcoholism part is his story to tell, not mine. The effects of alcoholism on me, however, are my story to tell, and I can't tell that without stating that I was dating an alcoholic. So it's tricky for me sometimes. But basically, I go off their degree of relationship with me, and the closer we are, the more of the truth I reveal. Many of my friends have no idea what alcoholism even means on any real level, but the ones who have a very good idea of who I am understand enough to understand what they need to understand. The others don't really matter.
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Old 09-01-2011, 11:10 AM
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Whew - this is a hard one ~
For me this is what I said to our mutual close friends

"There is always two sides to every story, my side & my ex's side and the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Our relationship came to a place where it was unhealthy and unsafe for me to stay. I'm not asking you to play favorites, just to respect my decisions."

Now those "friends" that really just were asking to add to the gossip already floating around . . .

"It was an abusive situation and it's too tramatic to discuss. I appreciate you respecting my privacy."

My ex was not treating me with dignity or respect - but that didn't mean that I had to resort to the same thing. Oh it was very tempting but in the long run - I was better off just letting the rumors go and doing what was healthy for me.

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Old 09-01-2011, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by m1k3 View Post
I seem to have taken a different approach. I told everyone that I separated from my wife because she is an alcoholic and I couldn't take it anymore.
This is what I've done with closer friends. I'm tired of keeping secrets.

With acquaintances, I don't say anything unless they ask, and then I simply say "we very sadly separated" and leave it at that.
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