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Strong vs. Merciless

Old 10-04-2012, 03:29 PM
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Strong vs. Merciless

Hey All...

I've been devouring the F&F threads for several days, and this is my first post. I'm interested in whether there's any consensus among us about how quickly to 'pull the trigger' (so to speak) on the consequences we've promised our A's if they persist in certain behaviors.

My ABF of two years just got back from 6 weeks of in-house rehab (a non-AA/12-step, CBT-based residential program) and despite completing the voluntary, freedom-model program with flying colors, lasted all of about 48 hours after he returned before going on a 3-night bender because he was 'bored.' When we talked about it afterward, I reminded him that I *get* that recovery is not a straight road, and that I don't expect perfection by any stretch. He's free to do whatever, but in order for me to stay in his life, there HAS to be honesty, and at least evidence of effort toward sobriety. He nodded, agreed, and apologized profusely - and then did it again this past weekend, about two days after our conversation, with the added charm of attempting to lie (badly) about what was going on.

I realized that my BF was an alcoholic probably 6 months after we became official - and laid out an escalating series of consequences for our relationship if he didn't get help. Though I do believe he has (at times) made a genuine effort, he has blown through those consequences one by one, until here we are. Over the last 18 months or so, the amount of time and energy I've spent pondering, worrying, reading everything I could get my hands on about addiction and treatment, etc. researching rehab options and organizing the intervention that ultimately sent him there, then driving the 9-hour round trip every weekend to visit him in treatment, is staggering to me. I realize that there is no silver bullet for addiction, and I truly don't take his behavior personally, but as I've said to him all along: if he's interested in our relationship going forward, he *has* to try, and he has to be honest with me. If he's not, that's painful, but OK - I know where I stand; the ball is now in his court.

After this past weekend, I told him I was pulling back - no more girlfriendly benefits (including sleepovers and sex), no more rescue missions, no more emotional roller-coaster for me. I will operate with the basic understanding that for him, the freedom to drink as he likes comes first, and plan my own life and activities accordingly. After a couple of days, he essentially begged me for one more shot. My own heart is pretty much shelled out at this point, and I'm at peace with the knowledge that the relationship is on bare life support, so I said sure - go ahead and have your shot. I also told him that if (though to myself I said 'when') you eff this up, there will be no further discussion - you simply won't ever see or hear from me again until such time as you can concretely demonstrate your active, engaged sobriety. (I was more specific with him about what I meant by 'eff up,' but I'll spare you guys all of that.) And I absolutely mean it. That's where it stands today.

However...so many folks posting on the F&F boards talk about spending 10, 15, 20+ years dealing with this nonsense. So my question is this: I love and adore my BF - he's a remarkable guy in so many ways - is it counterproductive for me to act so quickly and decisively when it comes to dealing with him lying to me, or being so cavalier about drinking after all the time, effort and money that's been spent on him over this? He didn't become an alcoholic in six weeks - he's been doing this for a decade, since he was in college. I refuse to mortgage my own self-respect and dignity and play second-fiddle to a f*cking BEVERAGE - but at the same time, I realize that it's about way more than just whiskey. What's you guys' take on it? Can a person's boundaries be *too* good? Can a person go nuclear over a typical alcoholic's oh-so-typical BS too quickly? There's no danger of me getting sucked into some kind of shame-spiral over 'saving' him or anything like that - I've done far, far more than anyone else in his life, and certainly more than could be reasonably expected of a relative newcomer of a girlfriend. I have nothing to prove to him or anyone else - I just want to give him the best chance possible for recovery without mortgaging my own soul to do it.

Whew...that was way longer than I intended! Thanks for reading this far, and thank you SO much in advance for any insights and wisdom you can offer.
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Old 10-04-2012, 03:39 PM
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is it counterproductive for me to act so quickly and decisively when it comes to dealing with him lying to me, or being so cavalier about drinking after all the time, effort and money that's been spent on him over this?
No.
Absolutely not.

You are doing what I wish I had done. I wish I had had my head screwed on as straight as yours.
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Old 10-04-2012, 03:41 PM
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IMO... he is playing you.

He will continue with this game as long as you allow it. I don't blame you for feeling angry, I would be livid. He wants to keep you and he wants to keep drinking. Don't be surprised if he starts hiding it.

I had promises made to me and I kept going back like a fool. As soon as my back was turned he would do whatever he wanted to anyway. I felt very much the same way as you do, I was playing second fiddle to vodka. The alcohol always came first and it was fine (in his opinion) to be too drunk to do things with me, or to have hangovers, or to be at the bar after work every day instead of spending time with his girlfriend.

I played this game with him for 3 years. You do get sick of it. You feel betrayed, worried, disgusted, angry and miserable. I think this is a good boundary for you to be sticking to. I am proud of you! Don't do what so many of us have done and give him way too many chances, it's a waste of brain cells and a pointless way to spend your life.
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Old 10-04-2012, 03:52 PM
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It may seem counterproductive, as we're always taught to stand by and support people who are suffering or in trouble, but addiction is a totally different beast. It doesn't care a lick about you and your feelings. Having hard boundaries and sticking to them is about protecting yourself, which is all you can do. However, as long as you continue to push back the boundaries to give him more chances, you'll just keep playing his game and he'll have the upper hand. The merry-go-round doesn't stop to let you off-- you have to take a leap of faith and jump while it's still moving. Sure, you'll hit the ground and roll a bit, but eventually you stand up and dust yourself off, and continue on with the life you deserve. We're here for you, so keep posting!
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Old 10-04-2012, 03:57 PM
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I should not not post as a male alkie but please take care of yourself first.
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Old 10-04-2012, 04:01 PM
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I wish I had your strength!!! Cuddos to you!!!!!!
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Old 10-04-2012, 04:02 PM
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I should not not post as a male alkie but please take care of yourself first.
Yes you should. Hearing the same perspective from someone who's been on the other side really drives the point home. I know it did when I heard recovering As say "you can't help him; help yourself."
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Old 10-04-2012, 04:03 PM
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Be true to yourself. Make choices that benefit your life, and not just bend to what he needs. As someone coming out of a marriage with someone whose drink of choice was whiskey also, it just keeps going downhill. I saw the red flags with my husband at the beginning and he was just a beer drinker then. He kept it very social at the beginning and by the time we were engaged I remember asking myself, even then, if I was sure about this but everything was already in motion for the wedding. Everyone I knew drank right?

Look just remember, at this stage he is your boyfriend not your husband. I had boyfriends that I was sure were the "Ones" before I met my husband I thought I was devastated when I broke up with them. But you get to move on. And there are so many nice men who don't have this problem.

Once someone starts on the path of alcholism it is so hard to get them turned around. Just think about what you may be in for. Is the the life you can be proud of? You only get to do this life once, make sure it is a road you will look back on and be proud of yourself for your decisions.

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Old 10-04-2012, 04:46 PM
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As one of the people who stayed for 20+ years of it, I feel like I must share this with you.

My 20yo daughter asked me for relationship advice today. She had a big long explanation of *why* her boyfriend is like he is. (BTW, this is not an addiction issue) After going into much detail about the causes behind her bf's behavior, she asked me what I thought. I told her it doesn't matter *why* he is they way he is because that is his issue to deal with. Her issue to deal with is whether she can accept him the way he is. Take all the reasons, justifications, rationalizations, and excuses away, and you are left with a person who does not meet your needs as a partner. That's the bottom line. It took me till my mid-forties to learn that lesson. I hope she learns it sooner. I hope you do, too.

Life is much too short to spend it wanting something different and waiting to get it.

L
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Old 10-04-2012, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by lillamy View Post
No.
Absolutely not.

You are doing what I wish I had done. I wish I had had my head screwed on as straight as yours.
Ditto from me.
~T
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Old 10-04-2012, 05:32 PM
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And ditto from me...

...one of the slogans we have is let go or be dragged. You, clearly, are way smarter than me because you didn't have to be dragged through 12 years of hell (and counting).

Good for you. And I mean that.


Originally Posted by Tuffgirl View Post
Ditto from me.
~T
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Old 10-04-2012, 06:39 PM
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I agree with the other posters, you are doing exactly the right thing.
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Old 10-04-2012, 06:48 PM
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Strong not merciless! I admire your strength - and agree with the others you are doing the right thing. I wish I had the strength to have made better decisions over the years.
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Old 10-05-2012, 08:27 AM
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Thanks very much for your input, everybody - none of it comes as a huge revelation, but it did me good to have my own suspicions supported by people who are or have been where I am right now.

The reason I haven't simply put a bullet in the relationship and walked away can be illustrated by my experience this morning. I went over to my BF's place last night (not to be crass, but I figure as long as he's taking his 'one last shot,' I'll go ahead and get me some while the gettin's good). This morning after he'd left for work and I was attempting to extract some toothpaste out of the beyond-empty tube that's been crumpled on his bathroom sink for two weeks, and threw the tube into the overflowing wastebasket, and then realized that he'd taken the expensive moisturizer I'd left at his place so I wouldn't have to bring it from home every time I stayed over, it struck me that the state of his home reflects the contents of his head - bits of unaddressed debris are everywhere. Laundry gets done, but never folded or put away. Items are purchased and put into use - with all the labels and tags still on them. Blinds are installed, but the pull-cords are never untangled. Dishes are rinsed, but never really washed. Moving boxes are unpacked...and then the empty box sits there for weeks.

These are all superficial things that don't *really* matter in the long run - and in an otherwise healthy 30-something person could maybe just be written off as foibles. But when you're just trying to brush your dang teeth and can't because a grown man (whom you just supported through six weeks of rehab) can't get it together enough to buy toothpaste, they seem more like sinister indicators of a deeply immature, unthinking, disconnected individual.

BUT...It also occurs to me that the half-done, half-assed state of BF's house could also be reflective of clinical depression - it may be that he can't bring himself to finish these tasks because he's just too depressed, and his drinking is a means of self-medicating. I realize it's not my job to diagnose him or be his home health aide (not only am I not interested in the positions, I'm not qualified to do either one) but the possibility of an underlying mental health issue is what introduces some doubt and prompted me to post the questions I did yesterday. If you're an immature douchebag who just can't be bothered, that's one thing - but if your brain chemistry has conspired against you, you may truly need an ally. Loyalty is one of my topmost values - so that's why I'm trying to figure out the true nature of the problem before I make my final move.

Annnnd, it's another novel-length post! So sorry, guys - I'm new here. I swear I'll wind down and be less long-winded eventually!
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Old 10-05-2012, 08:30 AM
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I'll say it again. It doesn't matter if he is an immature douchebag, or clinically depressed. It's HIS issue to deal with. Unless you are a medical professional, of course. But, if you are, you should not be sleeping with your patients, lol.

L
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Old 10-05-2012, 10:35 AM
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yeah I agree with LTD above, if he is depressed he needs professional help AND he needs to stop drinking. If your mere presence was enough to get him to get his life together, he would have done it by now. Maybe leaving him will actually be better for the both of you?

I am also fiercely loyal which is why I stuck around through all of the empty promises and half-baked efforts to change... been there, done that!
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Old 10-05-2012, 10:51 AM
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You've been with him for two years. He's been an alcoholic for 10.

Bottom line, how long do you want to endure this? You get to decide.

The only way boundaries work is if you actually stick by them. Otherwise, they are meaningless words. I have experience with boundaries both as a child of a alcoholics and as an alcoholic.

If he has an enabler, or ally as you put it, willing to spend the amount of time and energy you have spent attempting to save him .... there's really no need for him to do it himself. He knows that. I think you do too. You're obviously a wise person .... I think I am too, but then emotions start taking over and that knowledge and logic goes right out the window.
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Old 10-05-2012, 02:03 PM
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First of all, thanks for the input (and to PaperDolls for the compliment!)...it's been validating and very helpful - in a very depressing, hope-killing sort of way, but nevertheless, it's much appreciated.

I granted my BF the 'one last shot' he begged me for, and I intend to see that through to its conclusion. In the meantime, I'll likely attempt to initiate a conversation about the possibility of clinical depression. Despite all the misery of the last few weeks, he and I *do* have what I consider better-than-average communication most of the time, so it's not like I'd be nervous to broach the subject. It will probably amount to a big zero, and may even hasten the end of the relationship, but it certainly can't hurt at this point. If he makes an appointment with a therapist, that's fabulous - if not, we're still sitting here with the clock ticking and the inevitable end bearing down.

And all of it just in time for my birthday tomorrow - wooo-hah! *facepalm*
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Old 10-05-2012, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by tygertyger View Post
- bits of unaddressed debris are everywhere. Laundry gets done, but never folded or put away. Items are purchased and put into use - with all the labels and tags still on them. Blinds are installed, but the pull-cords are never untangled. Dishes are rinsed, but never really washed. Moving boxes are unpacked...and then the empty box sits there for weeks.
This struck a chord with me. My XAH has been gone now for three weeks. I've spent the last three weeks, when I'm not at work, trying to fix my house. He left bits of crap everywhere. I spent years living in a house I was ashamed of. My thinking was that if he was allowed to spend every spare moment off his face and not helping around the house, then I wasn't going to follow him around picking up the debris he left behind. Every job he started around the house was ALWAYS left unfinished or done half-assed. He would spill red wine on the carpet and do NOTHING about it. Smoke cigarettes and burn holes in the carpet, on the lounge, in his clothes.

The state he left this house in reflects the state of his mind. He was always drunk or drugged - that was his number 1. The state of the house and the walking on eggshells and the fear in me and my kids - we are collateral damage.
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Old 10-05-2012, 04:50 PM
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I don't think he hit bottom yet. He can go to rehab a thousand times but it will never work unless he wants it to. I think he knows that you want it to work, so that is why he is trying, but it won't work until HE wants it to.

That said, you have to make him hit bottom. Intervention time. I just got a restraining order on my ABF, went to court, made it final for 6 months, and then he decided he finally wanted to go to rehab. I have known the entire time we were together that I was the end of the line for him, the day we got together he quit drinking (for 3 weeks, the longest I have ever known him to quit) so he could be with me. With his ex, he never EVER stopped, he even went to detox and started drinking the day he got out.

That said, I am telling you, filing that protective order is one of the hardest things I have ever done. EVER. I knew that is where I had to go, and even he admits that he would never have went to rehab if I didn't do something so drastic. But I was done with all that drinking BS, and he had to know that. But I won't lie, making him hit bottom made me hit bottom too. I cry every day. I cried the hardest the day he left for detox. Just because I am sorry that it had to get to this point, even though I know I made the right decision.
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