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How to Live with a RAH

Old 01-03-2012, 07:09 AM
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How to Live with a RAH

Been lurking and reading SR the last couple of weeks, looking for gems of wisdom that may or may not apply to my situation. After over a year of trying to to it his own way and coming up short, my AH went to a rehab in MN through October and came home with a great attitude towards his recovery. He's active in recovery, has a great sponsor, attended IOP and volunteered after coming home, turned the volunteer work into a job opportunity. He's plugged in with the kids, optimistic about starting a new career, etc etc. I was skeptical at first, but he is doing pretty well. Although he's been trying to quit drinking for over a year, and has been sober for the majority of that time, he had a hard time *staying* sober because he wasn't working a program. He has now accrued over 90 near-painless days without a drink and is very active in the local recovery community.

But my heart's not in it.

Maybe I've been disappointed too many times over the course of our marriage, maybe I've been jaded by the lies and the manipulations, maybe I don't respect or trust him anymore. Maybe... I don't know what. I just know that whatever there is between us -- and it isn't much right now -- isn't enough for me. I used to see a really dynamic guy, to whom I was wildly attracted, my best friend -- and now I look at him and see all the annoying habits, the immaturity, the lack of priorities, I see his path to self-destruction, and if not, to mediocrity. I look at him, at our kids, our stuff, my life, and I think that if I knew then what I know now that I never would have stuck through this. I wouldn't have married him at all.

Is that mean? It feels mean. On the one hand I feel like I should "be supportive" of his recovery, on the other hand, I feel like he should be plugged in to his recovery regardless of how I feel about it. Someone told me on these boards (anvilhead?) that these early days of recovery are so fragile that the RA can't make a lot of demands on him- or herself that are outside of the recovery sphere. So right now I'm trying to hold on to myself and my feelings-bombs and give him enough time to get his feet on the ground, emotionally and career-wise (his new job starts tomorrow and WE NEED THE MONEY) before I start making demands regarding marital counseling.

But I feel empty towards him. No, not quite empty -- maybe so resentful that I can't stand to be around him. I want to reconnect with him and I do see his love for me even though it's falling short for me right now. I want a relationship with an equal, I want a sex life, I want affection, I don't want to feel alone when I'm laying next to him at night, I want to be with someone who is responsible for his bills and his car and et cetera -- DON'T GET ME WRONG, he's made leaps and bounds in his recovery and living with him today is peaceful in comparison -- but it's not enough. Damn it, I'm young and still hot and I've got a lot that I want to do with my life, and while I'd like for us to figure it out and revive the love we once had in a healthier way, I am not convinced that it's possible.

One of the things that's really bothering me today is the immaturity. It's a truism that As stop their emotional development when they start using because their answer to every stressor is drug and alcohol abuse. This is something that I've mulled over for a long while. So I see him parked on the couch, making jokes about Beavis and Butthead (damn whoever brought back that show), asking me for money to go buy a coke at the gas station (I took over the bank account exclusively), or whatever, and I want to kick him in the butt and tell him to find a new mom.

I don't know what I'm looking for by posting this. Someone to complain with me? When is it reasonable to start asking for more in my marriage? Are my expectations too low? Maybe a RA can give me some thoughts about what it's like to be living in this early recovery time. Or a FFA can tell me about what it was like for them while living with their RA.
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Old 01-03-2012, 07:48 AM
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(((Florence))) - I don't think you're being unreasonable at all. Some relationships can survive addiction and recovery, for others, by the time recovery is started, it's "too little too late" and the damage has been done.

As far as him being fragile, well sort of. Yes, we do tend to focus on our recovery and it is the most important thing in our life. However, there are many of us RAs that were faced with getting back into life, doing the responsible thing right away. I know ((Freedom)) got out of rehab, and immediately was faced with being a single mom of 2 - it was up to her to feed and house her family. I came back from a relapse and was looking for a job within days - helped my dad out in HIS job until I got one, about 3 weeks later.

Life didn't stop for me to recover. It was kind of like when my mom died - I wanted everything to STOP so I could grieve - life just isn't that way. I was a nurse, was pulled to the cardiac floor one night, dealing with patients just like my mom and I was ANGRY that medical science didn't cure HER.

I was also angry, for a while in recovery. The bills didn't stop, I had to rebuild trust and it was hard...but entirely do-able. I brought it on myself, and it was up to ME to make it right.

I don't know if you go to al-anon, but that might help. Resentments are not a good thing, and we have to learn to work through them or they will eat us alive. SR has helped me work through most of them, but some f2f help is always a good thing.

As far as when it's reasonable to ask more from your marriage? I think there's no day like today. He has the tools for recovery - IMO, he's got to learn how to use them when things are rough. For me, real recovery began when my world was falling apart and I had to USE those tools and not pick up.

You have needs and dreams, and these are just as important.

Hugs and prayers,

Amy
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Old 01-03-2012, 07:54 AM
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Florence,

Thank you for posting your thoughts about your situation. While my situation is different and I no longer live with my RA, I have struggled recently with my expectations.

Originally Posted by Florence View Post
Are my expectations too low?
My A and I live states away from each other and have been no contact for several months to help us focus on our own recoveries. As he advances through his recovery, Iíve started to develop silent expectations regarding my RA -- dangerous new territory because for a long time I simply had to give up having any expectations that involved him when he was in the throes of active alcoholism and spiraling closer and closer to death. I sometimes think ďmaybe now he is capable of ______.Ē My latest expectation came over the holidays, after I sent his family a holiday card (heís now living at home with his parents), with a short but heartfelt, albeit generic note inside. As the letter fell from my hand and into the darkness of the mailbox, I told myself that I had no expectations. I did not expect him to contact me or reciprocate holiday wishes. Well, the holidays came and went and I didnít hear from him and I realized that I had this small expectation that MAYBE he would reach out to me, send a text, or something. He didnít and I was hurt.

In the last week Iíve realized that just because he is an RA in early recovery, doesnít make it safe for me to have any expectations with him.

But the biggest lesson this taught me was that I need not be concerned with expectations regarding him Ė what he might do or not do. Instead, this provided a not so gentle reminder that I need to focus on the expectations I keep for myself in keeping on track with MY recovery. What are you doing right now to make yourself comfortable during this challenging time?

Thank you for posting this as I, too, am interested in what others have to say.

Hugs to you!
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:00 AM
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I think there's no day like today. He has the tools for recovery - IMO, he's got to learn how to use them when things are rough. For me, real recovery began when my world was falling apart and I had to USE those tools and not pick up.
This is what I was thinking. I'm having a hard time with this since I don't have an Al-Anon meeting available to me and everyone else in our lives are supreme enablers.

My first marital demand will be for him to stop filling up the Netflix queue with horror movies. (Kidding! I kid. )
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Florence View Post
One of the things that's really bothering me today is the immaturity. It's a truism that As stop their emotional development when they start using because their answer to every stressor is drug and alcohol abuse. This is something that I've mulled over for a long while. So I see him parked on the couch, making jokes about Beavis and Butthead (damn whoever brought back that show), asking me for money to go buy a coke at the gas station (I took over the bank account exclusively), or whatever, and I want to kick him in the butt and tell him to find a new mom.
OMG! That explains it! I have always wondered how come my 40+ husband was/is stuck in his early 20s! And maybe a week ago, when I was nagging, my AH accidentally called me "MOM"! And that little episode was my trigger. I started working on myself. WOW, I can't believe it. And my AH loves Beavis and Butthead too!
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:05 AM
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Let me reiterate how irritated I am that "Beavis and Butthead" is back.
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Impurrfect View Post
(((Florence))) - I don't think you're being unreasonable at all. Some relationships can survive addiction and recovery, for others, by the time recovery is started, it's "too little too late" and the damage has been done.
This resonated with me. Especially as I face one year of sobriety with my RAH and nothing has changed except that he isn't drinking. Behavior remains inconsistent, resentments are still firmly in place, and I am another year older.

Florence, I can relate to the feeling of frustration...and I am at the point of wondering just how fair this is to HIM, much less ME, to continue to be so vastly different with our needs and expectations for a marriage.

Just something I am pondering. It takes time to grow up. How much time do you have to give to that process? I don't think I have any more time left.

TWWALTR,
~T
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:39 AM
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I often wondered why my now deceased ABF was so emotionally immature but now I realize he never really developed any coping skills or developed any emotional maturity as he had started drinking at a very young age. He never learned how to cope with anything without alcohol.
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Old 01-03-2012, 09:30 AM
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Someone posted a link here a few weeks ago to a medical journal, an article that talked about how alcoholism breaks down the frontal lobe, where decision-making, consequence analysis, and judgment resides.

Eventually, those connections can be rebuilt. But it doesn't happen in 90 days. I'm of the opinion that you're never responsible for another adult. So if this isn't working for you, leave. You didn't sign up to be his mother.
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Old 01-03-2012, 10:43 AM
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I started out wanting marriage counseling with my AH. He wasn't into it so I ended up going on my own for about a year. Best thing I ever did. Have you considered individual counseling to help you sort out what you want and don't want? Especially since you don't have Alanon available?

L
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Old 01-03-2012, 11:05 AM
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Have you considered individual counseling to help you sort out what you want and don't want? Especially since you don't have Alanon available?
Just called up my old therapist today, actually. After posting this I realized I could be working through some of this with a professional.
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Old 01-03-2012, 12:15 PM
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wow florence, your post really resonates with me. i have only been married to my AH for about ayear and a half. before that we dated and we both drank and had fun without many consequences b/c i slowly started taking over all of his responsibilities.

we have been separated for a month now and have been seeing eachother once a week for a "date" of sorts. (usually an AA meeting and then dinner/movie after). I have been feeling really great on my own, living alone, detaching from our chaotic life together etc... however i am finding that whenever i hang out with him, my symptoms seem to flare up again. I try to let go of resentments, but its so hard when hes around. when hes not, i can think positive thoughts about him and think about the love i feel for him... however on our dates, i cant help but think aboutall of these questions that i dont need to be asking ... "will he ever get a better job?" "will he ever take care of me? will he ever be father material? will he really stay sober? when will he drink again? are his bills paid? can he even afford this dinner/movie?"

as ive been going to Al Anon, i understand that all of the above is MY OWN disease acting up. but i wonder, does he just aggravate the symptoms? can being around him, sober or drinking, somehow make serenity harder to attain?

i truly admire the women in al anon who seem to work the program and find serenity LIVING with their AH's .... but im finding it very difficult lately to be around him. : /

to leave on a positive note, i know that i need to remember to let go and let god.... and ill be attending an al anon meeting tonight.
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Old 01-03-2012, 01:51 PM
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...but in the grand scheme is it THAT bad? he's laughing right? without being hammered? just for me i found with hank that sometimes i was a bit too uptight and hoity toity (just me, not saying YOU are) and i remember being such a snob about the movie Jackass...you'd never catch ME watching that....til one day we ended up watching it together, and while intermittently disgusting, i LMAO! it wasn't THAT BAD...i enjoyed laughing out loud at some brainless humor.
Ha! I'm just being a jerk. Believe you me, if anyone analyzed my television habits they'd have a gross image of who I am (Real Housewives of Idaho? Real Housewives of Tuscaloosa, anyone? *cough cough* Real Housewives of... let's be real, if it's on TV I'm watching it).

I'm having a hard time figuring out what it is I'm feeling, actually. He is doing well enough, but the fact that my basic relationship needs aren't being met is a problem. I want to renegotiate these things, like, we need $XXX per month to make ends meet, or I need you to make an effort to say something nice to/about me every day (hell, once a week would make me happy), or file your unemployment without me reminding you because we need the money damn it buy a planner, but when I bring them up to him "it isn't time" or "it's too stressful" or the ball is in his court but he never picks it up. My tank is empty, he needs to put something in it if he wants this car to run.

I guess the real question is whether it's too early in his recovery to expect him to be able to negotiate these kinds of normal relationship things or whether we are laboring under unnecessarily low expectations for him. I want to give him -- and us -- a fair shake. But I can't let my own needs go indefinitely while he figures out how to live life sober. I guess I'm looking for a plausible middle ground. Thoughts, anyone?
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Old 01-03-2012, 02:22 PM
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The most profound thing I ever learned about expectations is this:

It's okay to have expectations around a role. Expectations regarding an individual person lead to disappointment and suffering.

Applied to your situation, that means your expectations are not unreasonable for a husband. But, they may very well be unreasonable for this particular person at this particular time. It is entirely up to you whether you want to change your expectations of the husband role (even if only temporarily) or if you feel you need to "uncast" him from that role. Trying to get him to play the role your way if he is unwilling will only hurt you (and him).

L
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Old 01-03-2012, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by LaTeeDa View Post
The most profound thing I ever learned about expectations is this:

It's okay to have expectations around a role. Expectations regarding an individual person lead to disappointment and suffering.

Applied to your situation, that means your expectations are not unreasonable for a husband. But, they may very well be unreasonable for this particular person at this particular time. It is entirely up to you whether you want to change your expectations of the husband role (even if only temporarily) or if you feel you need to "uncast" him from that role. Trying to get him to play the role your way if he is unwilling will only hurt you (and him).

L
That was brilliantly described. I needed that - thanks!
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Old 01-03-2012, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by anvilhead View Post

yes alcoholics can be complete neanderthals,


Men can be complete neanderthals.

B&B is right up there with South Park and Family Guy in the category of typical "guy shows". Watching them isn't really a sign of immaturity because they're not children's shows lol.

Besides, once he starts working he won't have as much time to watch TV.
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Old 01-03-2012, 09:13 PM
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My wife's been in recovery for 21 months. I've been in Al-Anon for almost that long. Early on, I embraced the concept that my wife was sick. I also accepted that I was sick and needed healing. I didn't know how I was sick, exactly, but I accepted the concept and went from there.
As part of my program, I found a local group that taught meditation (Buddhist based). During the introductory meeting the teacher expressed the idea that we spend our lives trying to be happy by chasing things. More money, a bigger house, a newer car, a more successful husband. But that even when we achieve those things, happiness eludes us.
What I've come to believe is that I'm responsible for my own happiness (whether my wife is drinking or not). And my happiness doesn't come from the outside, it comes from the inside. It comes from my attitudes. I can, literally, choose to be happy.
When my wife went into rehab I was angry, tired, worn down, and certainly not in love. Over the past year and a half, my attitudes have changed and my relationship with my wife has changed (for the better). I couldn't have imagined the life I have now, based on the way I felt then.
So I guess my advice is this: Your husband is working on himself. You need to work on yourself. Marriage counseling may be part of that (it was for us), but you need to work on yourself. Your husband's job isn't to make you happy...you need to take responsibility for that.
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Old 01-04-2012, 04:46 AM
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I woke up still thinking about this. First, it's not my business to try and tell you what you should do. For that I apologize. Usually I try to share my story, and hope that maybe someone can find something in it that helps them...just as I have benefited from the experience, strength and hope of others.
When I first went into Al-Anon, I briefly met a guy who was the spouse of one of the ladies in rehab with my wife. He was a recovering alcoholic, working his own program of recovery. There was something about him though...to me it seemed like he just radiated something. Something spiritual was going on with him. I was an abused kid who grew up with a father that was a minister...and I became an atheist at an early age. I thought that God had either forgotten me, or he was seriously twisted. I gave up on God for decades. But I met this guy and saw something in him that I wanted. I found that I had a thirst for my own sense of spirituality, and until that point in time I didn't even realize that something was missing in my life.
So besides coming to Al-Anon to support my wife's recovery, I made a personal commitment to take a spiritual journey.
One of the first things I heard in Al-Anon was the concept that I wasn't there to "fix" the alcoholic, I was there for myself. I had to accept that on faith because I didn't think I was broken. I thought what a lot of people think: "She's the alcoholic, why do I need to change!?" All I know for sure is that with time, I have changed and I really credit the program. Funny how coincidences work, but I read this line in an Al-Anon Forum magazine this morning: "Nothing changed; I changed, and everything changed."
One of the things I've learned in Al-Anon is that I can't control other people. I can't make them do what I want. But what I've seen first hand is that the changes I make in myself, are reflected in my relationships.
One final thought: As I sat in those Al-Anon rooms, I often heard people describe themselves as "a grateful member of Al-Anon." I had no idea what they were talking about or what they had to be grateful for. All I can say is that now, having experienced the love and fellowship of Al-Anon, having experienced the positive changes in my life, and having recognized that I'm on a path where the growth I can experience in the future is unlimited...all I can say is that I am a grateful member of Al-Anon.
I wish you the best of luck on your own journey.
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Old 01-04-2012, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by anvilhead View Post
i wish i could sketch out a game plan for you! i kow for you it's been FOR-freaking-EVER but this recovery stuff takes time....time for the lingering effects of the abuse to wear off, time to learn how to get thru days, weeks, events without reaching for a drink, time to get the pattern of meetings and putting sobriety first down. it's "only" been 90 days...most addicts/alcoholics making their first real attempt at sobriety don't GET to 90 days.
Exactly. This is how I'm struggling. I can be extremely ambitious and demand that others pull themselves up by their bootstraps, put their big girl panties on and get on with their lives (like I do! damn it!), but I think in a situation like this, that attitude is insensitive and unrealistic.

however, he is not some fragile Fabrege Egg. and i think it's ok to have the conversation about the budget and bills and finances. and an entirely different separate conversation about your interactions as a couple. IMHO those are both very important yet very distinct topics. i think also tho, if you want him to again be more involved with the finances you have to be ready to have some trust. and maybe, sadly, it starts with $20 a week or whatever, so he can buy his own soda pop, or twizzlers or whatever. i don't think RIGHT NOW is the time to open up the bank account. might have to be a staged gradual thing. maybe the more empowered he feels, as a breadwinner, etc, the more MAN like he'll feel? the more of a contributor?
He does have access to some money. He keeps a portion of his unemployment for smokes, gas, and incidentals, which is why I'm thinking if he spent his money how he wanted, it's not my fault.

I'm not inhuman, I have resentments, and one of them is that I have so little to show for all the work I've done. I've never been out of work, I've worked two or more jobs at a time for the last decade, I've always made a decent income, but today I have no savings, no retirement, no credit, nada. My RAH frittered most of it away on booze, bars, and short-lived professional exploits, five dollars there, ten dollars there, a trip to the grocery store four days a week at $30 a pop. This behavior has not changed since he's been sober (except for the booze/bars, now he's spending on food and entertainment). Money doesn't actually grow on trees, someone is working for it (me), and my parents are helping us pay the bills because we can't on what I make alone. We can't actually afford his iTunes/cell phone/pop/candy/steak lifestyle. When I try to negotiate a budget, he nods his head yes and then spends what he wants to anyway. I thought this was a booze thing, but it's not. It's extremely compulsive. I'm chalking it up to an immaturity thing or an early recovery thing -- it reminds me of the way a teenager uses his parents. Money gone, need more, must have lunch money, why are you denying meeeeeeeee.

We're going to have to have some kind of financial conversation now that he will be getting his own paycheck. I am unable to pay all of our bills and keep the lights on, gas in the tank, and the kids fed. His income, while it will help, is seasonal and will not actually alleviate this issue -- we still won't have enough to get by year-round. There is a good chance I will default on my student loans after having them in deferment for 5+ years. I will not feel safe until we have cash savings in the bank and can pay all of our monthly bills without asking family for money.

I will probably ask him to hand over his paycheck to me so we can maintain a budget and start saving what we can to cover the bills in the lean months. It's not going to be pretty. I think he's expecting that I will open up the account to him again, like this was all punishment for unemployment or something. Sigh.
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Old 01-04-2012, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Florence View Post
Exactly. This is how I'm struggling. I can be extremely ambitious and demand that others pull themselves up by their bootstraps, put their big girl panties on and get on with their lives (like I do! damn it!), but I think in a situation like this, that attitude is insensitive and unrealistic.
Why is it insensitive? I left my EXAH when I got out of rehab. I relocated to the town where I went through rehab. I found myself the single parent of an 8-year-old daughter, and I was temporarily staying with my rehab counselor and her RA. There was no time to sit around, to "adjust" to outside life. My counselor and her AH expected me to get out there and start getting on my feet. I will be forever grateful for that.

I had no car and hit the pavement the day after I was released from rehab, putting applications in anywhere that I could think of. Within a week I landed a full-time job as a CNA at a nursing home.

I walked to and from work every day for 3 months, and it was a long walk. Things worked out that after a month my counselor and her AH found a rental they liked better, and went with me to talk to their current landlord about me continuing to rent from him after they moved. He agreed.

There I was, a single parent, on my own, and with bills to pay. I did it, despite being clean/sober less than 60 days when I became the renter on that house.

Was early recovery hard? You bet. However I was not excused from being a responsible, productive, self-supporting member of society.

I don't buy into the crap that one should wait a year before making major decisions. That came out of treatment centers. My life post-rehab was a lot of major decisions, including everything I talked about above. I did a 180 from the life I led while actively drinking/using.

If someone truly wants recovery, there isn't a thing life can throw at them that will deter them from recovery. Believe me, I've been through it all...divorce, deaths, and having my youngest daughter run away at 15, only to be taken into custody by the state and put in foster care. Those are just a few.

Just my two cents.
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