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How did you know change was genuine?

Old 04-05-2013, 01:41 PM
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How did you know change was genuine?

My AH seems to be doing well, in some ways(not all). He has stopped drinking without a program and appears to have been successful so far(I think it's been about a month). He is going to weekly individual therapy sessions. For the most part, he's being agreeable, offering to help out with things, being available when I need to discuss general stuff about the house or our son, etc. I am doing my best to reach out and greet him with a kiss every AM, same thing at night. I am cheerful and also honest about how overwhelmed I've been with my crazy schedule. By talking about my vulnerabilities I am hoping to get a deeper conversation with him going.

The only problem I seem to be having is that he doesn't seem interested in reaching out or talking about anything on his own. I have to constantly be the one to open up the door to a talk about anything. Yet, when we're on the phone he's very gregarious and will talk my ear off. I just don't get it. In person, he's standoffish, quiet, sometimes withdrawn especially when he's glued to the TV and gives me one word answers. Yet, when we're on the phone I get his undivided attention and conversation.

Anyway, I was looking for information on how to 'know' if someone's change(or path to change) is genuine or if they're pulling the wool over your eyes again? I'm sure some folks here have been down this road, probably more than once. I have this pull inside of me to start reaching out but then my head starts talking to my heart and says, "Wait a minute. Take it slower, wait and see, etc." We haven't done much talking about the drinking but I can usually tell if he's been drinking when he's traveled for work and I didn't hear any signs of it in his voice or personality. I guess I feel conflicted. I mean, I know that he's not going to change his personality completely overnight but I do see glimmers of hope, yet there's a small little voice inside me that says: proceed with caution. Does this all sound familiar?
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Old 04-05-2013, 02:00 PM
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I'd proceed with caution. There's much more to this situation than the "is he or isn't he drinking?" of alcoholism. Start looking for patterns over a matter of months and years, instead of looking for patterns over days and weeks.

Your AH shows a long-term pattern of instability and he leans toward emotional abuse when he doesn't get his way. I wouldn't be eager to cozy up to that pattern, myself.

We get so used to one-sided relationships that we are so hungry we'll take any crumb thrown in our direction. And we'll be grateful for it, too!

Edited to add: Isn't this part of his pattern? Free on the phone but frozen and unavailable face-to-face? I seem to recall you mentioning this in the past.

I'm also reminded of the "cycle of abuse" picture we post on here sometimes. My thought is that if you're asking because you aren't sure, it's not real yet.
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Old 04-05-2013, 02:15 PM
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Hi Liz,

to be honest the only time when I knew change was genuine was when it was mine. As for anyone else I could never be sure.

Your friend,
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Old 04-05-2013, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Florence View Post
I'd proceed with caution. There's much more to this situation than the "is he or isn't he drinking?" of alcoholism. Start looking for patterns over a matter of months and years, instead of looking for patterns over days and weeks.

Your AH shows a long-term pattern of instability and he leans toward emotional abuse when he doesn't get his way. I wouldn't be eager to cozy up to that pattern, myself.

We get so used to one-sided relationships that we are so hungry we'll take any crumb thrown in our direction. And we'll be grateful for it, too!

Edited to add: Isn't this part of his pattern? Free on the phone but frozen and unavailable face-to-face? I seem to recall you mentioning this in the past.

I'm also reminded of the "cycle of abuse" picture we post on here sometimes. My thought is that if you're asking because you aren't sure, it's not real yet.
So true, and yes I'm taking crumbs at this point but I figure he's got to start somewhere. My therapist asked me this week to reach out to AH and to maybe go on a date with him, etc. She told me it's time for me to start emotionally reaching out, as well, to him and I told her I wasn't ready. She still encouraged me to do so, I think that's why I'm asking here. Trying to pick other people's brains about what their A's recovery looked like and what to expect.

For some stupid reason, I am feeling guilty and I still feel that I am the sole responsible partner for our relationship and I know it's insanity for me to continue like this. So, I get frustrated with myself for holding back. It's like those old enabling patterns are haunting me and calling me to do it, fix it, make HIM feel better, it's what you're good at, just go ahead and reach out and if he hurts you again you'll get over it, blah, blah, blah. I have to tell these voices to shut up on a daily basis. It's amazing how engrained these patterns of relating have become to me and how second nature they seem, almost subconscious and that scares the crap out of me.

Hey, did you get my PM? I have sent a few private messages to folks and never heard back from people so I want to make sure I have my settings right.
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Old 04-05-2013, 03:10 PM
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I'd stress proceeding with caution, too, Lizatola. I'd left AXH once when DS was very little. He told me everything I wanted to hear: he knows he was behaving poorly, that he had stopped drinking right after I left; that he was going to AA, that he just wants to have the family we deserve to have...

I went back, because I was so happy to hear him admit he had a problem with drinking and was going to AA. I was sure that it had to mean he was actually doing work to stop. That's when he switched to drinking vodka out of water bottles. That's when his behavior got worse. And he had a brand new excuse to use: he couldn't drink to relieve stress any more...

I know now that I should have been watching how he was acting, not just listening to what he was saying. Because his actions did not reflect any change beyond: tell theuncertainty what she wants to hear. I also now know that just because an abusive alcoholic stops drinking, it doesn't mean that they stop being abusive.

I'm not saying that your AH is pulling the same ploy my AXH pulled, just providing a cautionary tale.

Originally Posted by lizatola View Post
I am doing my best to reach out and greet him with a kiss every AM, same thing at night. I am cheerful and also honest about how overwhelmed I've been with my crazy schedule. By talking about my vulnerabilities I am hoping to get a deeper conversation with him going.

The only problem I seem to be having is that he doesn't seem interested in reaching out or talking about anything on his own. I have to constantly be the one to open up the door to a talk about anything.
It sounds like you're already reaching out to your AH. I wonder how much more work do you personally need to shoulder to make the relationship a safe and working one. Is your therapist knowledgeable in addiction and abusive behavior? Did she listen to you when you said you weren't ready? Did she offer to work with you to determine why or what would help you feel more ready to?

I'm not posing the questions to seek an answer posted, just something to ponder. I simply can't imagine my counselor ever telling me that it was my turn to 'reach out emotionally to AXH' - not unless he'd been in recovery for way more than a few months *and* actively seeking help to change his abusive behavior. In fact, the first counselor I went to to try to learn how to communicate with an alcoholic husband gently suggested that I contact DV shelter.

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Old 04-05-2013, 03:24 PM
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I think recovery is too internal to "look like" anything really.
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Old 04-05-2013, 03:59 PM
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Liz, I have heard on the forum that when dealing with an active alcoholic, listen to your head rather than your heart.

Everything you have written in this post, I have heard in the past in your other posts. I see his behavior as a certain point in the cycle of abuse (that you have frequently described).

As theuncertainly has posed---I wonder where this therapist is really getting you. She has suggested the same things in the past, also. Generally, one is advised to look for some kind of progress after a year or so when working with a therapist.

I advise to proceed with great caution---because, I suspect that that "little voice" you are hearing is your co-dependent voice lying to you. Similar to the disease voice that lies to the alcoholic.

sincerely, dandylion
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Old 04-05-2013, 04:15 PM
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Hi, his change may well be genuine at this stage, but is that the point? Your radar has said he's sober and you can normally tell, so lets say he is, and he's changed his behaviour towards you as well. But if you're not ready to reach out yet, then that's your call, not your therapist's. You may be waiting for a relapse, or for him to put in further time, or the past may not allow you to relax yet.
I will have a guess that he feels safer talking to you on the phone than face-to-face. Some men freeze up with verbal communication and lose the ability to express themselves when they're upset.
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Old 04-05-2013, 04:18 PM
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Liz, I wanted to add one more thing that I feel would be important you you to remember:

You can't change him; you can't control him; you can't fix him. He is who he is.

sincerely, dandylion
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Old 04-05-2013, 05:28 PM
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The quick answer is that you will never know for certain. My aw was once sober for 7 years. Then another time for 15 months. Every case is different. In mine i have lost all faith in her.
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Old 04-05-2013, 07:30 PM
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Lizatola your posts are great for me because they make me reflect on what's going on and where I am at. I see so much of what you bring up in what I went through or am going through with my RAH.

Please keep focusing on yourself. I went through a phase of wondering if RAH was being genuine but I didn't dwell on it and just kept focusing on myself.

When I finally felt a little more comfortable was after RAH had gone to AA on a regular basis for 6 months or so. It was then that he started relating before/after stories. Those stories helped me realize that he was aware of his addiction and the affect it had on him.

As far as initiating conversation with me he very rarely does that and is trying to more. We are going to counseling and I basically told the counselor I am just about done with being the one to take care of our relationship, drinking or no drinking. She said maybe it's time for me to just wait during this early sobriety. (This is our second round of counseling after the first one over a year ago where RAH was still actively drinking.)

Overall my RAH was always more talkative over the phone than in person. I am not sure why. He talks a lot about body language and how I am often sending him signals that make him not want to talk to me. One time I notice we were having a "discussion" and he got up and walked around behind me to continue the discussion and not look at me. What was up with that, I don't know, but we actually had some resolution in our discussion.

I just want you to know that for me even though I am still putting up with a lot in our damaged relationship and am not always happy of what's going on, I worked really hard to realize that I am ok and I am whole with or without RAH and the feeling that I get from that makes so much of the uncertainty and confusion clear up and be gone.

IMO you can still focus on yourself and make things a lot better than what they are without wondering whether or not your AH is genuine. What I mean is if you are happy to greet your AH with a kiss and a smile than do it. If you want to start a conversation, than do it. Just don't expect and/or try to control your AH response. Live and "let live".

(((HUGS)))
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Old 04-05-2013, 07:40 PM
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I believe I've said this to you before, but here goes again.

It's not about trusting *him*, it's about trusting *you*. When you get to that point, it really doesn't matter if if's genuine or not, because you will know if you can live with him--as he is--or not. The sooner you stop trying to figure out whether he's really sincere this time or not, and start figuring out what is acceptable to you and what is not, the sooner you will find the peace you seek.

L
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Old 01-02-2014, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by LaTeeDa View Post
I believe I've said this to you before, but here goes again.

It's not about trusting *him*, it's about trusting *you*. When you get to that point, it really doesn't matter if if's genuine or not, because you will know if you can live with him--as he is--or not. The sooner you stop trying to figure out whether he's really sincere this time or not, and start figuring out what is acceptable to you and what is not, the sooner you will find the peace you seek.

L
And, I had to come back to this today and read it over and over and over. Thank you LTD, as usual, for putting it into words.

I'm all over the place because AH has actually been consistent in his behaviors again. Honestly, we've been getting along very well. He's even coming hiking with us and doing things that he's never made the effort to do before. Yet, there's a part of me that is cautious, on edge, and ready for the other shoe to drop. Until that feeling subsides, I will know to proceed with caution and to put my own recovery first always! Thanks again!!!
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Old 01-02-2014, 03:28 PM
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As long as the actions match the words.
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Old 01-02-2014, 03:41 PM
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I also encourage you to enjoy yourself. I find that I have missed out on so many enjoyable moments because I was so tied up into fear of his relapse. Learn to live in the moment and enjoy the good times. Proceed with caution but do not miss out on the happy moments life does have to offer.
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Old 01-02-2014, 04:09 PM
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LIZ---Time....Time.....Time is what will tell. Either way you work it. If you actually do carry through with the separation as you said---I predict that the MR. Nice Guy stuff will evaporate.

If you revert beck to the nice sweet and meek co-dependent behaviors of the past (as is his goal), then, I predict that the Mr. Nice Guy stuff will evaporate.

One month is just a tiny blip of time. He isn't even willing to consider doing a full recovery program!!!!!

I think this would be a good time to review the thread posted by cynical one: "10 ways to tell when An Addict or Alcoholic is full of crap".

Liz--this guy knows sooo well how to manipulate you--he has been doing it to his advantage for years.

sincerely,
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Old 01-02-2014, 04:22 PM
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Yep, I agree with dandylion. If, after you get moved out, he is still being happy and consistently pleasant to be around, then it might be genuine. If he can keep it up the full year you talked about being separated, then you might have reason to consider that he might have actually changed for the better.
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Old 01-02-2014, 04:55 PM
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If I've read your initial post correctly, he's been sober for a month. Not in recovery, not working a program. Sober. A month is early early early. You are right to be cautious. It was at least 8 months with my RABF, who WAS working a strong recovery program, before I started to trust a little. I also question the advice of your therapist, and wonder if he/she has a background in addiction. I went to a couple of therapists who didn't have a background in addiction before finding one who did....world of difference. IMO, you should never be pushed to do something that isn't right for you.

Trust your instincts, listen to your gut.
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Old 01-02-2014, 06:33 PM
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liz, I know our stories and situations are quite different but what I keep coming up against in your story is how often your husband CHANGES his actions and behaviors....there is no consistency, no true HIM.

from the day I met hank til now he has at his essence been the same......funny, risqué, gentle, manly, selfish, caring. even during the dang shared crack days....ok nobody is themselves while SMOKING crack, but before, after, he never lost himself, or turned into some hostile overbearing jackass. he has never abused me in any way, thru word or deed...he has never degraded or defamed me, never beat down or humiliated me.

my point is I've never had to be SUSPECT of him ACTING nice....and what that might mean. even when 10 years ago I was seriously threatening to leave, get my own place, get away from him.....he didn't change how he treated me.....he said if that is what you need to do....can't stop ya.

you haven't left yet....he's still got time to try and woo you into staying. but even if.........is it enough?
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Old 01-02-2014, 08:23 PM
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That's funny, Anvil, because one of the arguments that came up repeatedly when we were in counseling was that he wanted to know what I wanted. I tried to keep it simple and said, "I just want consistency." I want to know that the man I see at 8 AM will be the same guy at 8 PM. His ups and downs and Jeckyl and Hyde behaviors (and my resulting inability to gain balance due to his instability) put me on guard and it's very hard to get comfortable living with someone who can change so much in one day.

He didn't understand what I meant, he truly didn't know what being consistent in behaviors and attitudes and communication even meant. I, for now, must continue working on acceptance. As I said above, he really is better than any other change I've seen in the past. Of course, I never was soooo ready to move out in the past, either, so it's hard to tell.

Dandylion mentioned 'time' and yes, that's pretty much it. In the meantime I am enjoying the peace and working on being kind and polite and grateful for the agreeable environment.
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