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I relapsed, not him!

Old 09-04-2011, 10:21 PM
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I relapsed, not him!

I won't repeat my story in great length, but I have been together my RAH for over 15 years (married 11 years). He has been sober for a year and half. Since embracing recovery, he has been responsible and accountable most of the time. I can count on him. He has followed through on his responsibilities and has been doing his part to be a father & partner. On the rare occasion that he doesn't follow through or makes a minor error, he does apologize. Last week he even said to me, "I have put you through a lot." It was a rare & sincere acknowledgement that I very much appreciated. He has his "dry drunk" moments every so often in which I try and practice detachment as to not be too affected.

The other day, he met me (& our daughter) at our daughter's school to take her to her extracurricular activity. We met at her school because I was going to attend a PTA meeting there and he was going to take her to her activity. We divided the tasks so at least one of us could go to the PTA meeting and one of us could tend to our child's activity. All went well. He showed up on time, took her there and dropped her off. After the PTA meeting, I went to pick our daughter up to bring her home.

At the place where I went to pick our daughter up, the studio office assistant, saw me and said, "Oh, I need to talk to you. Can you stop by the front desk before you leave?" Panic started to set in. The very first thing that crossed my mind was my RAH. Did he do something inappropriate? Could he have relapsed? Did he not show up? Did he show up wasted? Did he do something embarrassing? My mind was racing. My heart was pounding. I could feel my body chemistry changing. I started saying the serenity prayer over and over. . .

I was in major heart-pounding freak-out mode. My RAH has been responsible and accountable for a year and a half, proving to me & our daughter over and over again that he is serious about his recovery and here I was thinking, "Oh no, he's at it again!" When the office staffperson want to talk to me, the very first thing that comes to my mind is "What has my RAH done?" The truth is *he* didn't relapse. *I* relapsed!

It turned out my daughter's skill level was not yet appropriate for the class she was scheduled for and we needed to change her to a less advanced class. Luckily, I didn't call him on the phone to start checking up on him or interrogating him. Instead, I said the serenity prayer over and over again. I asked my Higher Powers to just take these feelings of fear from me. Yet, the truth is, I still panicked and started assuming "What has he done now?" I felt scared, embarrassed, shameful, worried, and all the emotions I used to feel when I would learn during my RAH's active alcoholism days when he'd show up to places under the influence.

When I got home, I didn't tell him what happened or how I panicked. I just felt crappy and ashamed. I need to go to Alanon and really work my own program. I have been so trained to expect, react and respond to "alcoholic crisis" situations (I am also as an ACOA) so I find them/expect them even when none exists! That's how I had lived for most/all of my life.

I am *really* starting to understand in a deeper way the importance of putting the focus on me. I *really* need Alanon more than ever before. When my RAH was actively in his addictions, I honestly did not want anything to do with Alanon. Now that he is sober, it is crystal clear how much work I truly need to do!

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Old 09-05-2011, 12:38 AM
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"I just felt crappy and ashamed."

Ashamed for what? It was a natural response given what he's put you through. He's let you down before, it's going to take more than eighteen months for you to count on him again. That's a normal and reasonable reaction you're having.
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Old 09-05-2011, 04:55 AM
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try to put a positive spin on this...aren't you GLAD it was nothing majorly upsetting? aren't you happy it was NOT a big screw-up on his part?

I think it's great that you are both so involved with your daughter and school. I wouldl have given my thumbs for my daughter's father to take her to activities and be involved.
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Old 09-05-2011, 05:27 AM
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While I agree that Alanon is always a positive plan of action I agree with the other poster that your fear response was conditioned (like Pavlov's famous bell ringing experiments proved) and your body and mind responded in a very normal fashion.

It is great that your A is doing well at this time but as we all know relapse is always a possibility and quite frankly are the norm for the great majority of alcoholics in recovery ... hence the saying "relapse is a part of recovery".

There is a lot of disagreement over the truth or logic of that saying and I am not suggesting that it is a part of recovery but it is a fact that most alcoholics DO relapse and those of us who love or are in permanent relationships with A's (marriage is temporary but divorce with children is forever) SHOULD consider how to handle potential relapse situations.

I would not feel guilty about the assumption that it was an A related problem as there wasn't any other logical reason you were being summoned but you are right that a goal might be to work on the "fear" response to the request.

Are you exceedingly fearful of a relapse? This used to be my MO... I was consumed with fear that my A would relapse so I spent all of my energies and time devoting myself to preventing it!

Please keep us posted... it is so good to hear positive reports and it sounds like things are going well for all of you!
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Old 09-05-2011, 06:19 AM
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I think there's a BIG difference b/w an A relapsing and those of us who've been married to A's, having to take some time to not have the PTSD reaction that we did for so many years with good reason.

I think it's awesome that you're so in touch with what you're thinking and working your program and it sounds like overall things are going well for you and your H.

Just don't beat yourself up for reacting in a way that past experience has told you is "normal". Anyone who expects that won't happen (yourself included) is being way too harsh on you. Recovering from living in chaos, unpredictability, with dishonesty, embarassment, constant surprises etc... is not something that anyone gets over quickly. My T has been talking to me a lot lately about how living with an A often results in developing the same symptoms as those with PTSD from having been through a variety of traumatic events. No one tells someone with PTSD they ought to work their program harder or better or hurry up and get over it and I hope you'll be patient and gentle with yourself!
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Old 09-05-2011, 06:40 AM
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It's so awesome that you were able to relapse and recover!!!
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Old 09-05-2011, 06:44 AM
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You are being way to hard on yourself, please just be thankful you did not jump down his throat, anyway he owes you some slack for all he has put you through over the years.
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Old 09-05-2011, 07:11 AM
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I did not want to be part of Al-anon for many years. I was working my own recovery from my own issues and I was upset that "I needed to join a group for someone else's stuff."

Then I joined. It is amazing when the focus is on me what I can accomplish. I am hearing how you have already accomplished a lot. You had a reaction, but I did not read that you were doing this daily, weekly etc.

I think I read somewhere that in part codependancy is normal reactions blown up as there are not normal circumstances that we are in.

To me it is not having a reaction that is the problem, it is not looking at it so we continue to repeat those patterns that is the issue. I did not read that anywhere in your post.

Congrats to you and your family on all of the recovery I read in your post.
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Old 09-05-2011, 10:45 AM
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Thank you for all of your kind, warm, thoughtful, supportive responses.

I hope my RAH doesn't relapse. I know the possibility is always there. During the initial stages of my RAH's recovery, I remember saying to his in-patient program on-site counselor during couples' therapy that "I understand that relapse is part of recovery." Then, he corrected me & said, "Not necessarily. Relapse does not have to be part of recovery. It is up to the addict/alcoholic."

Relapse was definitely part of my father's recovery until he completely extinguished those "falling off the wagon" moments from his drinking (now sober 25 years). . . Even though relapse is still possible for my father as well, in his own way (without any program), he has found ways to live a sober life. Would my father having embraced a recovery program made our lives better? Probably. Would my mother having embraced her own recovery program (i.e. Alanon) helped our family? Most definitely! Without the actual drinking, which really was a small part of alcoholism for my family of origin, there were still lots of chaos, drama, emotional roller coaster rides, insecurity, broken promises, unpredictability, etc. I know there were times my father felt he was still being punished by my mother even though he had not been drinking for a long, long time.

For me, the point is that *I* have to own up to my own panic moments (reactions to so-called "alcoholic crisis moments" regardless if active addiction is present or not) like the one I just had when the office assistant said she needed to speak to me. How I address and handle these situations can make a huge difference in my daughter's and our family's lives, regardless of whether my RAH relapses or not. I pray and hope that he continues on his path. The best way I can support his sobriety & recovery is to let him work on it (butt out) and to focus on my own recovery. I am tremendously grateful that he continues to put effort into remaining sober & recovering.

I shouldn't say I don't mind if relapse happens. I do mind. However, I also want to try and be understanding that people make mistakes. (Progress not perfection). *If* relapse is going to be part of recovery (like in the case of my father), then, I can accept it wholeheartedly. As an ACOA and as a wife of an RAH, I have contributed and behaved in ways that were less than ideal. As a co-dependent, I have allowed myself in the past to get sucked into the craziness of addiction. *I* am responsible for that. Part of my healing has been to realize that I am less than perfect and I am certainly no martyr. There's a lot I can do in order to make this recovery a "family recovery" especially for our daughter. It's not just up to my RAH to work his program. It's also how I continue to work on myself as a person, mother, wife, family member, work colleague, etc. My reaction and how I handle life are all definitely part of our family's recovery. I have my separate issues than my RAH with which I must struggle.

My panic was definitely a socialized response. It is an example of how addiction has affected and infected my thinking. . . I have triggers (when I start to panic, worry, feel shame/embarrassment), independent of the possibility of my RAH relapsing or not. The key for me is to recognize this and focus on me.

I'm very grateful to be able to come here, to share and to hear your comments/advice. Thank you!
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Old 09-06-2011, 12:46 PM
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I just had to add to this thread.
There are so many preconditioned responses that we have to unlearn, this is a large part of why we, too, need to recover.

I am no longer with XABF, and I still have some of these panics.

The most notable one was when a high school friend texted me just before midnight the day before her wedding. When I heard the text go off and saw who it was from, my initial reaction was, "She's calling off the wedding, and she wants me to know, so I don't drive all the way out there for something that's not happening."

What really happened was that she never sent me a paper invitation, and panicked the day before to make sure I was still coming, and knew the times and addresses.

After seeing this text, and realizing what an honor that was that the bride of the wedding was up the night before in a panic worrying, not about any of the arrangements for her big day, but about whether or not I was coming... I felt extremely ashamed about my reaction.
The truth of the matter, though, is that I had never met her (now) husband, so it was not any reflection against him, and I always held her in the highest regard, so it was not any reflection against her - it was a reflection of my "relationship" (or lack thereof, rather) with XABF, that I was still working to overcome.

This takes a toll on a person, and these conditions are why a great many relationships fail even after the alcoholic stops.
That said, in your case your emotions may have been your past experiences, but your reactions were new and healthier, and this is how you know that your recovery is working.

Sometimes I think that we judge ourselves so harshly with this. Controlling thoughts are hard. If I post, "Whatever you do, DO NOT think about elevators," I am going to bet that right now you are thinking about elevators, yes?

With the alcoholic, they may still have the urge to drink, but the ones with a good recovery don't give in to that urge, and don't take the first drink.
So in our case, we might still have some of the old thoughts, but as long as the things we do with them are healthy, and we do not revert to our old unhealthy behavior patterns but rather come up with healthy ways to recover from the old/bad/learned thinking, then we are doing well, and we are where we need to be.
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Old 09-06-2011, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by StarCat View Post
relationships fail even after the alcoholic stops.

Sometimes I think that we judge ourselves so harshly with this. Controlling thoughts are hard. If I post, "Whatever you do, DO NOT think about elevators," I am going to bet that right now you are thinking about elevators, yes?
Oh great, now I'm obsessing over elevators, of all things!!
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Old 09-07-2011, 04:30 AM
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(((yorkiegirl))) I'm happy to hear that it wasn't about your RAH, and I'm sorry to hear about the panic reaction.....been there, done that.

I guess we all just keep learning the lesson to only deal with the right here, right now issues......

Hugs, HG
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