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When to help and when to detach?

Old 11-27-2011, 06:37 AM
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When to help and when to detach?

So since my exAH was arrested Friday night with a DUI and a 14 year old boy who is a friend of my son's in the car who he was taking home, I have spoken to exAH mother on the phone. She is in denial but coming out of it. She thought last night she could get her son to an AA meeting today and asked me the question what did YOU do in the last few years to try to help exah get the help he needs. I told her I did everything I could do, I did ask him to stop, but the way he spoke to me when we discussed his drinking was that he just stopped me from talking and basically made me feel like it was my fault. So eventually I just stopped. I withdrew and eventually he moved out a year ago.

But, even though she doesn't get it, it started me thinking about the following: "with love all things are possible" and did I do enough. Of course I know intellectually that he needs to reach his bottom point and decide himself and that anything I say or do will not have an effect. I didn't think I loved him anymore, but I wanted to go over to his house last night and give him a hug and console him. I also want to smack him on the head and tell him to wake up, he is an irresponsible jerk, but to hit someone when they are down is never helping them feel better about themselves. I just finished teaching a unit on Alcoholism to my 7th and 8th grade class and we have had many discussions. I tell them how an addict does not have the tools to deal with life's problems and has difficulty with emotional issues so they realize it is not their fault if someone they love drinks to excess.

I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be in my life through my HP. But should I go over and talk to him and share with him how Al-Alon has helped me, that I believe in him and that I want him to get better? I was never strong enough before or had the tools/knowledge to communicate with him about his drinking. He just basically bullied me when I would try so I gave up.

His mother doesn't understand why I need my own lawyer (we just started finalizing our marriage and exAh wanted me to use his family lawyer so we could share the costs and I said no way) and she was questioning me on what my plans were regarding our son and parenting and I just told her "it is in God's hands now" but I will protect my son because that is my job as his mother. She said exAH has a lot on his shoulders and she is worried about him, I said I have a lot on my shoulders too, but I didn't drink and drive with a 14year old in my car. While the conversation got me all worked up, now I am only feeling compassion. She wants to continue communicating with me but I don't have the energy and is it my job? I just need to decide on what my boundaries are and communicate them to her. While I feel the need to help (she asked the difference between al-anon and AA and wanted to know where the next meeting was) I told her to google it for times and information.

It's funny how I was frustrated with his family who didn't know everything, but I always felt it was not my place to tell them, like how he was arrested in July for cultivating marijuana, but should I have so they could help him? I mean really, if family shows they care about him, might that help in his recovery? I know, probably not. I need to read more to help me understand, anyone have any suggestions on books?

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Old 11-27-2011, 07:33 AM
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"I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be in my life through my HP. But should I go over and talk to him and share with him how Al-Alon has helped me, that I believe in him and that I want him to get better? I was never strong enough before or had the tools/knowledge to communicate with him about his drinking. He just basically bullied me when I would try so I gave up."

1. going over and talking to him will probably yield zero results. you have tried this many times and it went badly.
what has changed?

2. he won't hear you that you believe in him. he hears the voices in his own head more loudly.
this is classic codependent "love him enough" thinking. it is based in fantasy, not reality.

3. if he bullied you before, he will probably do so again. as soon as we touch that which they want to protect, the gloves come off
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Old 11-27-2011, 08:09 AM
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First, a hug. I am so glad your son and his friend are
ok and I'm sorry you are dealing with this.

Yes, through love all things are possible. But he doesn't love himself.

Only he can save himself. But you can and must save your child.
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Old 11-27-2011, 08:40 AM
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She thought last night she could get her son to an AA meeting today and asked me the question what did YOU do in the last few years to try to help exah get the help he needs. I told her I did everything I could do, I did ask him to stop, but the way he spoke to me when we discussed his drinking was that he just stopped me from talking and basically made me feel like it was my fault. So eventually I just stopped. I withdrew and eventually he moved out a year ago.
It is not your job to help him. Period. And for you to allow someone to drag you into a pi$$ing match on who helped whom more (which really is a pi$$ing match to determine who is to blame) creates sickness for you; is causing you to doubt yourself, which is how getting sucked into it starts. If she wants to take him to an AA meeting, that's her problem.

But, even though she doesn't get it, it started me thinking about the following: "with love all things are possible" and did I do enough.
Yes, of course it got you thinking this way, doubting yourself, thinking you should have done more, because that is what that kind of sick thinking does to us. Yes you did enough, more than enough. "With love all things are possible" is total bull$hit. GOD is love and therefore it is up to GOD to make things possible, not YOU and not ME. The man needs to get a Higher Power and let HIS Higher Power love him and make all things possible. STEP TWO: Came to believe a power higher than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

I didn't think I loved him anymore, but I wanted to go over to his house last night and give him a hug and console him. I also want to smack him on the head and tell him to wake up, he is an irresponsible jerk, but to hit someone when they are down is never helping them feel better about themselves.
These are two opposite extremes. I used to think this way and discovered it is called "Black and White Thinking." What I've learned is, it dishonors someone to feel sorry for them. He is a grown man, not a baby. He does not need to be hugged or consoled by anyone. And of course he does not need to be smacked on the head, though I totally understand what you're saying.

I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be in my life through my HP. But should I go over and talk to him and share with him how Al-Alon has helped me, that I believe in him and that I want him to get better?
I would do this only if it was for ME. I would not expect to get anything back, or even to be understood. If it makes you feel better, then do it, but don't be surprised if you are not well-received.

I was never strong enough before or had the tools/knowledge to communicate with him about his drinking. He just basically bullied me when I would try so I gave up.
I avoid bullies.

His mother doesn't understand why I need my own lawyer
His mother does not need to understand why you do anything you do. It is not her business and you do not have to justify to her or anyone else why or in what manner you are taking care of yourself.

She wants to continue communicating with me but I don't have the energy and is it my job? I just need to decide on what my boundaries are and communicate them to her. While I feel the need to help (she asked the difference between al-anon and AA and wanted to know where the next meeting was) I told her to google it for times and information.
You need ALL your energy for YOU and YOUR SON. She is a grown adult who needs to take care of herself. If she doesn't look it up, or do whatever she needs to do to feel better about this situation, that is not your responsibility. That's HERS. Good for you for telling her to Google it! I can't tell you how many times I had to shut my eyes, plug my ears, and chant, "Not my problem, Not my problem."

It's funny how I was frustrated with his family who didn't know everything, but I always felt it was not my place to tell them, like how he was arrested in July for cultivating marijuana, but should I have so they could help him?
No, it is not your job to tell them anything. You cannot manage HIS relationship with THEM, or anyone else for that matter. You have all of your OWN relationships with others to manage. I've learned that if associating with ANY person who enters my life requires me to keep secrets, or causes me to have to ASK someone else whether or not "this seems normal," is NOT HEALTHY for me and I eliminate them from my life. Because I only have enough energy for handling MY life, not theirs too. And all those kind of people do is MAKE ME SICK (literally).

I mean really, if family shows they care about him, might that help in his recovery?
No. In fact, it's been my personal experience that it was not until my ENTIRE family stopped "showing we cared about him" that he finally got clean and sober.

I need to read more to help me understand, anyone have any suggestions on books?
Beattie, "Codependent No More"
Al-Anon short "Just for Today" (EVERY day) until you can recite it in your sleep
Abraham Twerski, "Addictive Thinking"
Harville Hendrix
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Old 11-27-2011, 08:48 AM
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You need to accept that you didn't have the power to change your husband and having the knowledge you are gaining now in your own recovery does not give us special powers either.

Knowledge is not enough ... it is the surrender that the alcoholic has to find within himself and the willingness to seek help by any means. Surely he already knows that you are going to alanon and what AA is and how to dial a phone?

It sounds mean but if you push him towards AA he might very well go through the motions in order to manipulate you and others including the court system. I can't advise you what is right in YOUR situation because every person is different and there are million variables and the paths are not identical.

In my case I pray and meditate and try to elimiate my own desires and hear from my HP and unless there is clear direction to get involved in something. Remember that yoru HP set the stars in place and can well take care of your A with a burning bush, an audible voice or just a simple divine appointment with another A on the street! 3rd party validation is usually a lot more attention getting with an A then the ex-wife who sounds just like the teacher in Peanuts to him : "waaah, waaah, waaah, waaah"!

Pray for a miracle... divine appointments or a clear peace as to WHAT you should do in this matter would be my suggestion... your compassion and desire to be a light is commendable.

Alanon would be a great place for his mom!
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Old 11-27-2011, 09:59 AM
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Thank you all for your time and effort typing today!

I feel more peaceful listening to your advice, I am still holding on to the fact that he can change with my help. Even though I have detached somewhat over the year and my sanity had returned until this episode occurred and I became so emotionally charged. I can feel compassion and care for him without seeing him. I can pray for him, I can detach lovingly without anger.

I am going to print out your responses and keep them in my pocket for a while. I just needed more practice. Sometimes when I go to my al-anon meetings I do get a lot from them, but this site is soooo much better on so many levels. I listen to what you all say and take what I want and leave the rest, but I use what gives me peace of mind and gives me that intuitive balance that has served me right.
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Old 11-27-2011, 10:56 AM
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Block this woman's phone, seriously.

You're dealing with an instance in which your son was nearly killed. And she telephones you and tries to convince you it's all your fault?

She's not just a moron, she's evil.

This is a time to surround yourself with cool, smart people who will support you in what you're going through and help you make the right choices.
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Old 11-27-2011, 10:59 AM
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I found a book on Amazon called Just for Today by Narcotics anonymous, is this that book? there are others too...or is this a book I get through my local al-anon store?
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Old 11-27-2011, 11:02 AM
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It was my son's friend in the car. I think she just wants to know what is going on with me, she feels alienated from me and we don't talk and she wants to be like a mom to me since my mom died 4 years ago. I don't think she is evil, she just longs for connection since her daughters are not close to her. This does not mean I condone her behavior, I am just giving you some background info. thanks!!! I think I will stop talking to her, I feel yuck afterwards..... a sign from my HP...
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Old 11-27-2011, 11:22 AM
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Yeah, I think it's a sign too. And her daughters aren't close to her, you say? Shocker!

You have enough on your plate. She's not your mom, she's your ex-MIL and she's being a creep. You don't owe her the time of day.
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Old 11-27-2011, 11:56 AM
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I am divorced one year, separated for 3. It was really hard for me, I had a really hard time detaching. I wanted validation. I'll never get that, so I had to leave it. I wanted to be right.

For now, just leave things alone, do not keep talking to mil. It will just keep you involved. Just take care of your children, anyway that you can. Don't make his problems, "your problems". You can fix your own, but not someone else's.

I still wish I could "fix" the problem, but I can't.
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Old 11-27-2011, 07:17 PM
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Oh, no, I'm sorry, I did not mean that book, I meant this. I hope you like it. (((hugs))) You're doing great, keep going back, it works if you work it!

JUST FOR TODAY I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle all my problems at once.* I can do something for twelve hours that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime.

Just for today I will be happy.* This assumes to be true what Abraham Lincoln said, that "Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be."

Just for today I will adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires.* I will take my "luck" as it comes, and fit myself to it.

Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind.* I will study.* I will learn something useful.* I will not be a mental loafer.* I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.

Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways: I will do somebody a good turn, and not get found out; if anybody knows of it, it will not count.* I will do at least two things I don't want to do - just for exercise.* I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt; they may be hurt, but today I will not show it.

Just for today I will be agreeable.* I will look as well as I can, dress becomingly, keep my voice low, be courteous, criticize not one bit.* I won't find fault with anything, nor try to improve or regulate anybody but myself.

Just for today I will have a program.* I may not follow it exactly but I will have it.* I will save myself from two pests: hurry and indecision.

Just for today I will have a quiet half hour all by myself and relax.* During this half hour, sometime, I will try to get a better perspective on my life.

Just for today I will be unafraid.* Especially I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful, and to believe that as I give to the world, so the world will give to me.

These materials are adapted and reprinted with permission of Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA
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Old 11-27-2011, 07:32 PM
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How do the parents of the 14-year-old who was in the car feel about this?
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Old 11-27-2011, 07:40 PM
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I haven't spoken to them myself, but exah did and he said the father who he spoke to, said he understood.....not sure what he meant by that. I plan to talk to them, just haven't been able to mentally yet.
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Old 11-27-2011, 08:33 PM
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I don't see any reason for you to talk to the father of your sons friend. It's none of your business. You weren't driving the car and it wasn't YOUR child in the car. Stay out of it.

I have often had a hard time respecting other peoples boundaries. I used to stink my nose in stuff I had no business getting involved in. But I did it because my codependency had me wanting to fix other peoples problems... And because I felt I knew best for them. All that did was make my life unmanageable. I ended up getting in the middle of situations... And then found myself getting blamed! Yikers... But I was just trying to help!!

So today, I focus on the things that are my business, the things I can control/change ( that's just me), and let every else go so they are free to live their own lives. And when I do that, life is good.

I too have had the thoughts of, "did I do enough? Was there something more I should have done (or not done!)?". But again, it was never my job to fix my husbands drinking. And now that we are divorcing... It's none of my business that his family is swooping in to save/enable him. All that matters to me is that I stay focused on MY recovery. I set my boundaries and stop enabling him. That's it. That's my job.

Thanks for letting me share,
Shannon
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Old 11-28-2011, 07:16 AM
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I have often had a hard time respecting other peoples boundaries. I used to stink my nose in stuff I had no business getting involved in. But I did it because my codependency had me wanting to fix other peoples problems... And because I felt I knew best for them. All that did was make my life unmanageable. I ended up getting in the middle of situations... And then found myself getting blamed! Yikers... But I was just trying to help!!
Thanks for the reminder GettingBy. You are so right. I had forgotten my practice of noticing when I am "trying to help," and telling myself to mind my own damn business. Whenever I'm trying to help, I'm likely neglecting my own side of the street.
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Old 12-02-2011, 06:40 PM
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I took 1/2 day off from work to support my exAH at his arraignment and it was yesterday. I am feeling sad, ex does not want me to meet with him face to face because he told his mom I would just cry. I still care, but I need to let go and let God. I am going to an Al-Anon meeting in the morning. Not sure why I am posting.....
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Old 12-02-2011, 06:47 PM
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I'd double up on the meetings, you just do not seem to understand the concept of letting go. Are you in therapy? If not you may want to consider it.
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Old 12-02-2011, 08:56 PM
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It's hard to let go when you love someone so much, huh? I understand. That's part of what brought me to SR in the first place a few years ago. I was trying to help someone I had known all my life, who I loved very much, someone who had been very kind to me but who, in quite a few years, had utterly WRECKED himself. It was heartbreaking but I did my best to help him get back on his feet and start taking better care of himself physically. I introduced him to Recovery, AA, and a few other resources. It did not "work;" I did not get a great BF out of my efforts, but I did what I felt I had to do; I followed my heart as far as it would take me. I realized, at a certain point, that to continue to allow him in my life was actually hurting him. I could see very clearly what he was in denial about, and what strange "reality" he had conjured up in his mind in order that he could continue drinking and drugging. And I could see very clearly the part I played in his "reality." Just by speaking to him, and allowing him to spin his stories to me, and remaining silent because you cannot argue with another person's reality, just reinforced that "reality" in his mind. It is sad to know that some people will literally not have a single soul left in the end. But I cannot remain to watch that happen, and I cannot allow that much sickness in my life. I hope something I've shared here is helpful to you. Thanks for listening
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