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Help PLEASE understanding RA behavior? The shut down? The vanishing act?

Old 04-05-2012, 09:48 AM
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Welcome Lorri. I am glad you found this forum and hope it helps you on your journey through this as it has helped me.

Vanishing act - well - not knowing your BF or you - the vanishing act often occurs when there is a binge. You say he is sober, are you sure about that? And when I ask, I mean actually sober, working a program or working through the issues that cause him to drink and act as he does.

I need a certain amount of alone time. But I don't cause my loved ones pain when I seek it.

Did the people who gave you counsel speak the truth? I have no idea. It is something to consider, though.

Taking a big step back, removing yourself temporarily from the situation that is making your life unmanageable, may help give you some clarity. Have you tried that yet? Putting the brakes on a bit? Clearing your head from the "love of my life" thinking and really looked honestly and realistically at this relationship and what it offers to you?

It's a lot of think about, and I know that feeling of being overwhelmed by it all. Backing away really helped me get my life back to the manageable stage where I could better function and make good decisions.

Keep reading and keep coming back!
~T
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Old 04-05-2012, 10:34 AM
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It would be really difficult to be with someone who disappears so frequently. Mine would disappear when he became depressed and just did not want to speak or talk to anyone. This was usually when he was sober and angry over the fact he was sober. I don't think he really liked being sober as he always talked about how the alcohol and pills motivated him and got him to feel happy. At least until he got very ill and then it was a whole different story. Your A may have other mental issues such as depression going on. It certainly is not a normal behavior and I can see where it would confuse you with the back and forth jekyl and hyde thing. I don't have any advice unfortunately other than he should probably see a mental health counselor to see what else may be going on since his vanishing is so cyclical and predictable.
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Old 04-05-2012, 10:55 AM
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Welcome to SR.

You are definitely in full-on codependency, as you probably realize.

In Al-Anon there is no cross-talk, meaning no one is to make comments on what a member shares during the meeting or to give advice to anyone during the meeting. If this happened to you in the group you went to, it is a dysfunctional group and you should seek out another one. (If the comments were made after the meeting was over, one to one, that is not a problem.)

It is unrealistic to expect your abf to go to AA and work a program and not to do the same yourself. Recovery is a 2 way street. So you will do well to find a new group you can stick with. If you stay with him, you will need to work a daily and vigorous recovery program of your own. Meetings and probably some counseling, for the duration of your union with him. We must never underestimate the effects of the disease on the addict nor on us. We are always at great risk of emotional and mental illness when the disease is present in the relationship, whether the addict is active or recovering.

Many addicts become addicts because they are unable to regulate their emotions. Many of them experienced trauma in childhood which led to shutdown of emotions. First it may have been dissociating from feelings. Then this led to substance abuse to escape feelings. Many RA's can remain sober and lead productive lives but also still suffer the inability to regulate emotions, to cope with feelings. Many RA's have a profound inability to trust in intimate relationship as they are afraid they will be overwhelmed by feelings and literally think they might not survive that. Unconsciously they may also be afraid that a failed relationship will send them back to the drink or the drug. It is a fact that many long-term sober people relapse after a failed relationship. Their partner did not cause the relapse.....the RA's inability to manage his feelings, though, did. Dr. Drew writes about this in his book "Cracked."

I also agree that he could be binge drinking when he disappears. If that is so, it will be revealed in time.

The core issue, however, is your raging codependency which has come alive the same way an addict's addiction comes alive when he takes a first drink after a long period of sobriety. You may think the disappearances are the core issue for you, but here we all know that really it is our obsession with the addict that is our problem, and our false sense of control over his disease.

I'm glad you found SR. Hope you receive the help you need.
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Old 04-05-2012, 11:22 AM
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I've been on both sides of this equation. Not sure what your man is really doing, but it doesn't sound truly sober to me. I am changing everything about me, including being totally honest in all areas of my life.

Lorri, why are you willing to go back to where you were in this relationship? This behavior would definitely be a deal breaker for me today. It doesn't sound as if he's made many changes, and maybe, just maybe, you will both be back where you had been in that former marriage.

Isn't it time to let go of this relationship? It seems to be a dysfunctionally functional dance the two of you are doing.

Try focusing you your own growth and changes that you can make for you. Take a break from this man for a few months. Focus on yourself. Then take a new look at what life has to offer you.

Prayers, love & hugs,
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Old 04-05-2012, 12:19 PM
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Alcoholism can make our thinking twisted, that's for sure.

We could sit here all day and analyze HIS behavior but that wouldn't change anything for you, would it? As Anvilhead says, it is what it is.

So the real question comes down to how you choose to handle this. Obviously you want to remain in the relationship for now. So what can you do to manage your own life at the same time? I would say learn some detachment and quickly.

His vanishing has nothing to do with you; it isn't your problem. You didn't break him, you can't fix him. But you can set some boundaries and practice detachment. We teach others how to treat us. If this is a dealbreaker, let it be. If not, then learn to find a way to accept it for as long as it lasts.

I do believe you do know the answers to your own questions... but I understand the need for validation because of the mind-trip we go through in circumstances like these.

PS I had a vanishing boyfriend. I know now he was an alcoholic who vanished when he was binging and in his own mess of shame. But it was a relationship ender for me, the last time he vanished. He left me and my kids (and his daughter) hanging on an event that we were supposed to go to. I thought that was simply too much for my taste...I wanted a man who was dependable. Now my current husband is a recovering alcoholic, and he has never played the vanishing act. So although I got other issues, I did get the dependability I was seeking.
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Old 04-05-2012, 06:00 PM
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These certainly aren't "normal" behaviors for anyone--"RA" or otherwise.

To me they sound like the antics of a person with a personality disorder.

In any case, this individual is NOT relationship material.
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:26 AM
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Hi Lorri,
I've had my share of the 'vanishing act', so can really relate to your post. My RA does it when he is angry. It hurts me to the core when he does that. I worry that something awful has happened to him first off. I run the gamut of emotions over it, make myself crazy sick. You seem to cope much better than I do in that you can accept it at that moment, compartmentalize it.

I wish I had more to offer you. My RA is not in counseling. He has a lot of deep seated issues from his childhood that he has buried. Should go. I know you said you are in counseling, but is he attending any on his own or with you?

Deep down I sometimes feel like they have standards for us....and we hold fast to them. They, on the other hand, have no standards they follow, it's whatever it is, and they just simply have the attitude, 'oh well'. Pretty all out flat emotionless response, and then it's a shut down, until the next time.

I don't know. As someone on here said, maybe you should detach for a while, really detach, and see how you feel, and give him space, see what he does. Although, truth be told, it doesn't look like this will change over time without any significant happening.

unfortunately, as we know, leopards don't change their spots. He is what he is. We as codies dont like it, can't accept it, and think we can change it if we do x y and z. If only.

I am here with you, feel your pain, struggling also. Wish I could help you more.

I hope you find some peace for yourself no matter what you decide.
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:40 AM
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I am no longer willing to sacrifice my beliefs, morals, and standards for the sake of having a partner in my life.

I lived with the "disappearing act" for five long miserable years with my EXAH.

He never did find recovery and was buried at the tender age of 47.

I am also a long-term recovering alcoholic/addict (21+ years), and I can assure you that is not normal behavior for someone sober that long IF he is truly working the program, and has sought help for mental health issues outside of AA if he has them.

Alanon has been a tremendous resource for me in learning to detach from alcoholics/addicts in my life. The book "Codependent No More" is an excellent read. I would also like to recommend "Women Who Love Too Much" by Robin Norwood for you.

Sending you hugs of support.
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Old 04-06-2012, 10:05 AM
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I also had an ex who did the leaving bit. Often alcohol was involved in some way when he left (though he was not usually drinking when he did leave....he left to get or engage with alcohol).

I also had a "rule/boundary" that he just needed to tell me that he was leaving.

That felt like an honorable request and fair.

I did not think about (until your post) if it was me trying to make something "unacceptable" to me "acceptable"

What do you need for YOU around this? That is not judgemental it is a way to figure out what you need....then the next step is if he can meet it or not. That is not up to you though. I am realizing how much I tried to fit a square peg into a round hold, reading this post.
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Old 04-06-2012, 11:12 AM
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He's doing the same thing he did 30 years ago. The pattern is well established and it's part of him, drunk or dry.

I think you either need to learn to accept him as he is, or move on.

My own AH has done the 'vanishing act' and I just got so tired of it. Mostly vanishing by withdrawing from me, not talking to me, disappearing to his office for hours on weekends. I'm done with that. Would rather be single.

You might think about exploring some of this stuff with a counselor. Maybe some better self understanding will help you figure out some of your emotions with your ex husband, both then and now.
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Old 04-06-2012, 11:34 AM
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Yes, codependency is also a progressive disease.
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Old 04-08-2012, 02:48 AM
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I'm an RA and part of my amends to my family and loved ones is never to cause them worry if there needn't be any. I call or text when I've arrived when I'm traveling for business, I call or text immediately if I'm running late or stuck in traffic when I'm due to meet them. I would never, eevvverrr "vanish" on them. That's cruel behavior even for someone who hasn't ever had a substance abuse problem but it would be unforgivable for me to do that to them.

As long as I'm sober, there is no need to disappear. I'm afraid that going periods off radar screams binge to me - I had an alcoholic boyfriend a few years back and before I knew he had a problem, this is what he would do. Puzzling, heartbreaking and ultimately, alcoholism.

This is either acceptable to you or not. You get to choose. Wouldn't matter if they were just whittling wood - anyone who would put me through that kind of worry would be a no-no these days. You might want to see if you can find some Toby Rice Drews literature - she writes a great chapter about how we never get the adrenaline rush from sober partners. People who come home on time, eat dinner with you and call when they say they will don't give us the adrenaline rollercoaster - but they don'y cause the codependent death spiral either. I'll gladly forego the adrenaline these days.

Take what you like and leave the rest,

SL.
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Old 04-08-2012, 09:28 AM
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Hi, Lorri,

Being an RN (check) and being over 50 (check) and really smart (check) does not insulate us from co-dependency. He's dependent on alcohol, you're dependent on him.

I walk the same road you do, and IT IS HARD. Ultimately, you cannot control his behavior, drunk or sober (or dry drunk for that matter). Also, not every unpleasant personality trait is due to alcoholism. Plenty of sober folks have issues too.

Good luck, I know this is painful.
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