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Old 11-07-2011, 08:31 AM
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Exclamation Why am I still here?

AH is home from rehab. He went to The Fancy MN Rehab and for the first time really made *some* progress. The Fancy MN Rehab wanted him to go to another place in AZ for six months after discharge, but it was completely out of pocket and just not feasible. At the time I suggested that he look into some of the men's halfway houses in our area -- some of which have pretty good reputations -- so he could adjust to life outside of rehab without getting thrown directly from the fishbowl back into the ocean.

It has been one week today since he's been home. I wasn't sure if I wanted him home -- and I'm still not sure if I want him home -- but he's home. Our parents, both sets (both sets being extreme codependents), really pressured me to take him back in with open arms. Although I had reservations, I allowed him to be dropped off from the airport and he's living in the house now. The programs they wanted him involved in from discharge have not yet started, so he's basically tooling around the house all day, and probably will for another week. This alone is a major anxiety inducer for me.

I have been completely on edge since he has been back. This morning I was ready to throw in the towel altogether, not because he'd done anything, but because I'm ready to crawl out of my skin with nervous energy and apprehension.

I'm just near miserable today. A couple of things are really setting me off:

1) While he was in rehab, his counselor asked me to write him a letter letting him know how his alcoholism has affected me. I gladly did so, because this was the first time anyone has solicited my input on this whole situation. I wrote a long, four-page letter detailing my thoughts on his alcoholism and recovery to date, and my feelings of love, hope, disappointment, fear, you name it.

Not to brag, but I'm a pretty good writer. I've been published and I'm relatively well-known for some of the writing I've done in the past, so this was a concise and detailed letter that was meant as much for my AH's counselor as it was for AH. It turns out this letter was circulated around the unit so that all of the guys could read it and see a typical, articulate rendering of what loved ones go through with an addict. So, I know that not only did AH read the letter, but that it was shared and discussed umpteen times with other counselors, fellow RAs, etc., but not once has he discussed it with me. I've tried to bring it up a dozen times in the last 2 1/2 weeks since he got it, and it's conveniently not been the time or place for a conversation about how I feel. All he's told me is, literally, "Great letter."

2) I'm beginning to believe I am having some magical thinking about recovery, that he would come home from rehab and be appreciative, affectionate, stop sleeping on the couch, stop having excuses about his lack of ambition or organization, etc. Also, his counselor had some pretty explicit requirements for him to fill after leaving rehab, such as being out of the house and accountable for his time for about eight hours a day, filling me in on where he's supposed to be and what he's doing to rebuild trust, keeping track of all of his time every day. Since his aftercare programs haven't been in place yet, he's been procrastinating on finding volunteer work (like she suggested) to fill his time, or on finding a therapist (like she suggested). I've asked him what he's doing or how he's keeping track of what he's supposed to be doing, like making phone calls, etc., and I'm given a stock answer that says everything is fine, don't worry.

And guys, "everything is fine, don't worry," left the building a long time ago.

Since he's been home, I've been increasingly frustrated by these little things, which to me are reading as AH being a selfish jerk and on the path to relapse. Paired with the lack of discussion about my feelings about any/all of this, I'm back to feeling used. It just feels so one-sided, that he gets to seek self-actualization at a lazy pace while I'm working my ass off and trying to figure out how to makes dollars from dimes, and while my family helps pay our bills (and his family, man, they're rich but they've offered nothing -- them's another post altogether).

Point being, my tank is empty on a marital level and on the sobriety support system level. He has to give an inch somewhere on any level (affection, a compliment, some gratitude, some money, a morning to sleep in, some communication about his sobriety plans in action, ANYTHING, people) for me to feel like giving him the time and space to seek a good sober life while in my home on my dime is worthwhile. I tried to bring this up to him yesterday and lay out my cards, and he told me I was just picking a fight. It made me want to throw punches/cry in a pillow/crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head forever. I can't think of anything more dismissive than to beg to have a conversation about where I and my physical and emotional labor fit into this marriage or his recovery plans and be told that I'm picking a fight.

I'm aware that I'm probably being hypervigilant, but he's living with us after putting our kids in danger and he isn't contributing anything to the household but some cooking and household chores. I can do without both the danger and the maid work. I'm at a point where I don't want him present without making a verbal commitment to some ground rules for our home and our relationship, and I feel like he's completely avoidant of having these conversations or making any compromises. And I'm wondering whether it isn't true that not only do I not like who he is drunk, but I may not like who he is sober either.

So my biggest question is this: I know I have the right to leave this relationship at any time for any reason, but I feel like I need to give him time to adjust to "life on the outside" if you will. Do I? Am I nuts to keep at this? Can anyone with a spouse that has been through rehab and was supposedly REFORMED!!!11! share what life was like once they were home?

I don't know where I am. I'll take any ESH you guys can throw at me today. And remember, there's only one Al-Anon meeting in my area and it's in the middle of the day when I can't make it. You guys are all I have right now!

Last edited by Florence; 11-07-2011 at 08:38 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 11-07-2011, 08:37 AM
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And when I say:

I'm aware that I'm probably being hypervigilant, but he's living with us after putting our kids in danger and he isn't contributing anything to the household but some cooking and household chores. I can do without both the danger and the maid work. I'm at a point where I don't want him present without making a verbal commitment to some ground rules for our home and our relationship, and I feel like he's completely avoidant of having these conversations or making any compromises.
I've had the opportunity to tell him exactly what I feel a couple of times, but he literally has nothing to say in return. Just silence. Yesterday I realized that I think he's scared of me. He tries to communicate but comes back with statements like, "I'm sorry you feel that way," which again, feels so dismissive and invalidating.

Am I expecting to get water from an empty well?
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Old 11-07-2011, 09:30 AM
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Recovery aside, you have every right to expect a partner to contribute financially to the marriage. It may not happen instantaneously, but I think it's okay and necessary to discuss a plan of how to get there.

If I remember correctly, you have a young baby? If so, your request for a morning to sleep in is also not only okay, but necessary.

You may have to rebuild your marriage one tiny step at a time, but that doesn't mean it can't happen because he is fresh out of recovery. Dealing with life on life's terms is what recovery is all about, no?

Lastly, can you get an individual counselor just for you? I've always thought it rather unbalanced that the addict gets all the professional support and guidance, not to mention time away from real life to sort things out, while the rest of us must carry on and keep things afloat all while trying to heal as well. You deserve help and support as much as he does. And yes, I believe you need to look elsewhere (other than him) for that emotional support at this point.

L
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Old 11-07-2011, 09:46 AM
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I found with my AH that he just simply doesn't know what to say to me. The best communication I've received from him is in letter form. He writes the best when he is in rehab. I am still getting them after he's been discharged and subsequently relapsed after two days out. Could that be something you ask or initiate? It might actually give him something to do.

I warn you though...there isn't much I have ever heard from my AH that made me feel "better" and I think that's common. What could he say that he hasn't already? What could you say back that would make you feel better? I have yet to hear or say anything that really makes me feel better and I've said it all. Including crying, screaming, you name it. I think its all an elaborate dance around our inability to let go. I'm not saying he wont recover and stay recovered but as we all know, this is a very selfish disease. He is still in a very early phase and from experience, the only thing that will make you feel better is YOU.

BTW: I soooo understand the parents expecting you to just accept him and continue to give him the benefit of the doubt and eternal love. Struggled with that for years. I think they need to be strung up by their toenails for insisting you do anything with YOUR life that relieves their guilt in the situation.
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Old 11-07-2011, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by wavygreensea View Post
BTW: I soooo understand the parents expecting you to just accept him and continue to give him the benefit of the doubt and eternal love. Struggled with that for years. I think they need to be strung up by their toenails for insisting you do anything with YOUR life that relieves their guilt in the situation.
Word to that!

LTD: I had my own counselor for awhile but stopped going because the money just isn't there. The counselor even had us on a sliding scale fee per session, but since the baby is born and I'm paying for daycare, some things had to go. My mental health really shouldn't be one of the things to go, however.

AH is planning to get a job after IOP ends, which is probably around the first of the year. He is trying to get his unemployment reinstated, but it could be three weeks before that happens. We are, quite literally, one day at a time financially. I don't think that's how that saying is supposed to work.

So on this front, he is doing what he can do. I am frustrated with the timing and all that, which is adding to my anxiety.

WGS: This is what I'm struggling with. I can't tell if what I really need is some reassurance from him, or whether I just need to concentrate on my side of the street. What I feel, though, is that when I backed off and trusted him to do what was right last time, I really, really got burned. I feel like I can only give him the space and distance he needs in these early days if he can own some of the lies and manipulations, the unfinished pre-rehab business, and reassure me that all that is over for now.

That. Is that unreasonable? This is where I fear my codependent tendencies are coming into effect.
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Old 11-07-2011, 10:33 AM
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I understand that. I have lots of letters and emails from my AH saying he is sorry and even ones where he says he wont make promises, just going to show me, etc. Those actually did seem to help a little now that I think of it. It sure sounded good anyway...but, alas, it never held out or stayed consistent. I have just learned to expect that if given the chance or opportunity, no matter what the situation (2 days out of his 3rd rehab for example) that he WILL drink. If something else happens, I am pleasantly surprised. But, its only happened once and for a very short time. Then I felt guilty for doubting him and possibly contributing to his relapse which I know isn't right either. Ugh. I think I just have to take baby steps and/or crawl through this one day at a time. So sorry for the financial worry, that takes its own hard toll (pardon the pun) and I know all too well how that feels. More (((hugs)))
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Old 11-07-2011, 12:10 PM
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My husband went to rehab and when he came out I let him right back as well. We are now pretty much where we started. I think I also expected this new person. He didn't drink but also seemed so out of all aspects of life. I did not do a lot of research or work on my self. Now, we are seperated again by my choice because he started acting like an A again even though he claims he was not drinking. I wish I had done my research the first time. Reac codependency books, asked questions on this site, and attended Alanon. I think I did expect too much out of him at first. I forget that he was still in that stage of just figuring out what to do not to drink and really was not ready for all the healing I was trying to do to our marriage.
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Old 11-07-2011, 02:10 PM
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My AW has done rehab 6 times, each time coming home with energy and talk of a plan -- and the drinking would be back between 2 months and 2 years later. Every single time. It's crazy!
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Old 11-07-2011, 05:37 PM
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Sending hugs, Florence. I wish I had anything beyond that, or beyond completely agreeing with wavygreensea on this:

Originally Posted by wavygreensea View Post
BTW: I soooo understand the parents expecting you to just accept him and continue to give him the benefit of the doubt and eternal love. Struggled with that for years. I think they need to be strung up by their toenails for insisting you do anything with YOUR life that relieves their guilt in the situation.
Don't forget to take pamper yourself a bit - to recharge. I know locking the bathroom door and taking a long hot shower or taking a bubble bath went/goes a long way for me; or hiking, or drawing...

Hugs.
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Old 11-09-2011, 06:58 AM
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I decided I'm going to get my old ugly tattoo on my arm fixed. Right now it's a giant black blob and it's kept me in long sleeves for the last seven years, whether rain, snow, or 100 degree weather. I found an artist I like and it turns out he's confident that he can cover the blob and do it very (VERY) cheaply (seriously, this kid is undercharging). This is something I've wanted to do for myself for a long time and believe it or not it's been an obstacle to participating in some social and professional situations. I'm also picking up my old gold buying hobby, hoping it will give me some stories to tell and some extra cash in the bank.

Whatever I do, I have to get out of the cycle of working, sleeping, caring for baby, and stewing about my AH. I'm ready for some progress and I don't care where he is in his recovery. I need this.
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Old 11-09-2011, 07:02 AM
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Originally Posted by anvilhead View Post
my point is, i guess, there is no reason on god's green earth why he CAN'T be a FULL participant in all manners and means. he COULD be looking for work and let them know his start will be Jan whatever. he should be fully engaged every day to the best of his ability. this is the real world pal. man up.
Right? I joke about being comfortable with mediocrity, but it's just a joke. Him, however...

Meh, I keep having to remind myself: it's his journey. I'm on mine. I can't do anything about how he arranges his life, but I don't have to participate in it if I decide I'm truly done. I'm trying to be understanding, but basically he's living there and doing his thing and helping me out when he's home and he's otherwise on my "Ignore List". That's okay for the time being.
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Old 11-09-2011, 07:22 AM
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Hi Florence -

I was reading a bunch of my old posts from 6 years ago... back when I started my first recovery journey. I noticed something interesting about my path back then...

I remember vividly learning how MY expectations of my AH were making me angry with him (hence leading to MY resentments). I got it - I saw how my happiness was MY responsibility not his. I heard many people saying that I had unrealistic expectations for my AH. Got it - I'm expecting something from somebody who can do it.

What happened next is very typical co-dependent behavior.

Instead of saying, "My expectations are not unreasonable for me, just my AH."... I lowered my expectations to meet AH's ability. I continually bent myself to adjust to whatever it was he could give me. Instead of fighting over the garbage getting taken out, I just took it out. I thought that my being "accomodating" (being the "good wife") was going to help make our marriage better - or at the very least, take the pressure of my AH so that he would somehow magically become the prince charming that I just *knew* he could be!! So I spent the previous 6 years, accepting less than what I deserved... taking on more than my share... and all that did was enable my husband.


Today, in my second round of recovery, I still see that my expectations of my AH are unreasonable for him... but they are not unreasonable FOR ME. It is not unreasonable to ask for my life partner to share equally in chores/responsibilities - for them to be there for me emotionally, physically, and spiritually. If I am not getting what I need out of this relationship, I need to change what I can (communicate clearing as to what I expect - give the other person a chance to respond)... and if the relationship still doesn't work for me, then I need to be honest with myself about WHAT IS.


One of my favorite expressions is...

When you sober up a horse thief, you still have a horse thief.

Sobriety is not some magic cure-all.


Thanks for letting me share!
Shannon
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Old 11-09-2011, 07:57 AM
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Instead of saying, "My expectations are not unreasonable for me, just my AH."... I lowered my expectations to meet AH's ability. I continually bent myself to adjust to whatever it was he could give me. Instead of fighting over the garbage getting taken out, I just took it out. I thought that my being "accomodating" (being the "good wife") was going to help make our marriage better - or at the very least, take the pressure of my AH so that he would somehow magically become the prince charming that I just *knew* he could be!! So I spent the previous 6 years, accepting less than what I deserved... taking on more than my share... and all that did was enable my husband.
I hear you. This is what I'm struggling with. I'm not accommodating about the house or the kids or any of the outside stuff, it's the ME stuff that I let slide. I don't have any designs that I can reform him or anything. ... Of course I'm getting the opposite message from family. They think I can LOVE him into sobriety -- but if that worked, so many of us would just magically *BE* sober. I keep setting deadlines -- one month, another month, another month -- to make a decision about what to do next.

It's just that this time he actually got some real quality help. I want to give me/this/him a fair shake -- with the understanding laid out that there are no more One Last Chances, this is it, pal -- but I don't like the balance where it is now, where I get the ****-end of the stick because I'm too nice. So I'm being a little less nice. I called yesterday and said, "I need these two nights to myself every week for whatever, so rearrange your stuff around that. M'kay?" And to his credit, it wasn't a problem. I did what I wanted yesterday and came home a smidge more relaxed.

He did start volunteering this week to be out of the house, so that's something. I could keep going like this indefinitely if he was working, but since he's not because of IOP I've got another deadline imagined in my head sometime after the first of the year.
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Old 11-09-2011, 08:52 AM
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Shannon, I saw on another thread where you're still living with your AH while you sort out the divorce... How are you able to get through the day with the tension and his abuse? What do you do to stay sane?
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Old 11-09-2011, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Florence View Post
Shannon, I saw on another thread where you're still living with your AH while you sort out the divorce... How are you able to get through the day with the tension and his abuse? What do you do to stay sane?
Al-anon - lots of meetings, calls to my sponsor!! Learning how to detach from my AH and his behavior has lead me to making better choices that have significantly reduced how much abuse I receive. I no longer stay present when he's in a pissy mood. I don't talk to him unless I absolutely have to which really limits my opportunities to get sucked into the dance.

It's not easy - at all - to cohabitate. There are days that I find myself frustrated and mad at the whole process. Yesterday I was angry - wanting to get the process over and done with already. I was mad that AH was dragging his feet. So, I found myself spinning - trying to figure out how to get it moving, how to make him submit his paperwork... I was scheming on how I could just move out early.

I felt completely out of control - because I was. I called my sponsor, who very gently got me back to Step One. I am powerless over the timeframe of this divorce, house sale, etc. My tendency is to want to control - to live my will and when I do that - all hell breaks loose! So, I am letting go, and accepting that life is going on God's time, not Shannon's. I need to keep suiting up and showing - do what I need to do, and then let go of the outcome. I spoke with my attorney who also reminded me - "No moves yet. I will tell you when it's time."

One thing that I need to definetely do more of is self-care. I need to do a better job of delineating Shannon Time. It seems that I spend all my free time as Mommy Time, which I don't mind because I feel like a much better parent now than ever before... but I still need a break. I need to be gentle with myself or I will get run-down and then melt-down.


Someone once told me that the right decision is not always the easy decision. And that's so true in my case. The right decision is to stay put until the legal agreements are in place. It's hard, hard, hard - but it IS the right thing to do. The easy thing would be for me to force the situation - pack up the kids and move out leaving AH standing in my cloud of dust. But, while it would be easy NOW, it would absolutely cause more work later. Running out the door would be me reacting... and lord knows I've already done enough of that in my life! Through recovery I'm learning to not react, but to take time to sit with my discomfort so I can figure out the right/best decisions for me/the kids.

Hope that helps. In no way is this a happy, joyous and free life I'm in right now... but it is part of the journey towards my new life.

-Shannon
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Old 11-09-2011, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Florence View Post
Shannon, I saw on another thread where you're still living with your AH while you sort out the divorce... How are you able to get through the day with the tension and his abuse? What do you do to stay sane?
I won't speak for Shannon, but I will share what I see in her and what I've done myself. Shannon is working a strong recovery program herself, staying on her side of the street, having no expectations of her AH except for what she already has experienced (drinking, blame, etc). She focuses on herself and what she can change, leaving behind the things she can't. It's been awesome to watch from the outside looking in.

My ES&H: well, first of all, take a giant step back away from him. Maybe he isn't ready to talk about the letter. That's ok. He got it, he read it, and it probably caused great shame and remorse, especially having it circulated through the recovery center. Ouch! Could you imagine if you were him under that circumstance? He was the one writing that letter? Sometimes we, on our side, forget in the midst of our own issues, what it must be to be on that side of the street.

:Sorry you feel that way" is a big first step for men in early recovery. It is the first step to acknowledging someone else's feelings outside of your own. Dismissive to someone so articulate and aware of her emotions - YES! So let that answer be ok - for now. He isn't where you are at. It make take him a long time to be where you are at. It may never happen. These things take time.

Heck, change takes time. His first and foremost priority right now is staying sober. There is a reason recovery program say not to have a relationship in the first year...it adds too much stress and situations where there are no effective coping skills in place yet. He may need to "avoid" you to stay away from situations that he doesn't know how to handle yet. That's ok, too.

Florence, if you want this to work, you have to be prepared for a long time of bumpy stops and starts, and you'll need to have your own support around you to help you achieve your own serenity throughout this process. Maybe find a counselor you can work with during this time? Al-Anon is great, as usual, but to each our own preferences!

Patience and empathy are key - and I know for me those were the two hardest things to put into place. I had to literally give up my own expectations of what my marriage should look like and what I thought was a successful recovery and stand back...let him figure this out on his own, on his own time, in his own way. WOW that has been hard for a controlling type-A woman that I am! ; )

Focus on yourself - your own recovery, your life, your family, what you can control (you) and what you can't (everyone else).

Stay strong!
~T
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Old 11-09-2011, 11:27 AM
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""BTW: I soooo understand the parents expecting you to just accept him and continue to give him the benefit of the doubt and eternal love. Struggled with that for years. I think they need to be strung up by their toenails for insisting you do anything with YOUR life that relieves their guilt in the situation.""

OH MY .. do I understand the expectation that an A's parents have to think we should keep accepting the A's mistakes and to keep welcoming them back to further destroy our lives. After some pondering I have come to the conclusion that it is easier for us to take care of the A than his/her parents. They don't REALLY want to do it and so they put it on us. They know what a pain in the arse these A's are, but their unconditional love will not allow them to accept the fact that the A has to face their own consequences and dance to their own music.
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Old 11-09-2011, 11:36 AM
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Florence, thanks for writing such an accurate description of my own feelings and the issues I struggle with in dealing with my own A relationship. I can so relate to feeling like you don't know if you like A sober or drunk.

I think we have to ask ourselves, what does a healthy relationship consist of? Surely reciprocity, emotional support, trust and honesty, and acceptance are all part of the equation. I don't think my ABF has any of these qualities, towards me anyways. He never really has.

I have been asking myself, of late, why did I accept so little for myself in a relationship. My 13 year marriage that ended by me leaving was so different than this one and included all of the above. I know what a healthy relationship can be like and so why was it acceptable for me to be used and trampled upon. I have to take responsibility for allowing this kind of treatment. I think if we can look deep within and truly examine how we are and how we deserve to be treated, answers will come in abundance.
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