Drama llamas in my family!

Old 09-05-2014, 10:25 PM
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Drama llamas in my family!

I'd posted on here a while back about dealing with my FIL (who died of complications due to alcoholism) and my wife. I'm still dealing with my wife, who got better for a short while and now is getting worse again.

I'm also having to deal with a MIL who developed a drinking problem after FIL died (and also has had a string of mentally abusive, alcoholic boyfriends), a BIL who is heavily addicted to cocaine, methadone, and god knows what else but now has apparently added heroin as well, and a SIL who has become a problem drinker since she quit her job in March. They all enable each other, down to BIL still living at home for free with mom and drug-addicted uncle.

I'm firmly of the "not my circus, not my monkeys" mindset and avoid them whenever I can but I can't escape it when my wife facilitates her family to our detriment or she lets herself get sucked into alcohol-induced family drama that I then have to listen to her complain about. She keeps telling me that I can't just ignore them for the rest of my life because they're family (wanna bet?) and even if I do, she won't. All things considered, wife's alcohol issues and family drama and all, I can't (don't want to?) put up with the crap anymore. At what point have others just thrown in the towel on the relationship? Any insight or suggestions?
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Old 09-05-2014, 11:16 PM
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You just know when you're done. This is a pretty big circus with a lot of monkeys. Your wife is choosing the dysfunction and her own drinking over you, so really, she threw in the towel first. You just held on to it and have been getting tossed around with all the family drama. There's an Al-Anon saying, "Let go or be dragged." Only you can decide which one you're going to decide to do.
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Old 09-06-2014, 05:45 AM
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Originally Posted by NWGRITS View Post
This is a pretty big circus with a lot of monkeys.......
I kinda chuckled when I read this, but it's SO true. My RAF's FOO is like this - a huge, meshed family which equates to a very large circus with a lot of monkeys, tigers & elephants. Even though my RAF was the only addict that I'm aware of in the family, the depths of how their enabling, codependency & enmeshment went were astonishing & once I really "saw" it, I couldn't un-see it. And I wasn't ready or able, at 19, having just lost my RAF to cancer, to wage war against an entire clan.

Nor did I feel like it was up to ME to judge their ways or educate them on how & why they should change. I opted out - went fully NC instead because I knew it was hurting *me* & I was at my fill point for grief & stress & exhaustion. My mom was a mess, my RAF had just gotten sober after a lifetime of addiction only to die suddenly after being diagnosed with cancer & my sister was a young teen just lost in the sea of ALL of it. As the oldest child of an A, my role had always been to protect, sacrifice, be responsible for my family first & foremost. I couldn't stop their hurting behaviors, but I could circle the wagons & stop allowing the hurts IN, in order to shield my mom & sister.

While his family had always been genuinely awful to my mother to begin with, it all got so much worse in the days following his death & I still, 20+ years later, cannot rationalize their behaviors. It is like a mob mentality, seriously. It's no joke that "one would lie & the other would swear to it" & they were like this with every single family member where "outsiders" were concerned. Internally? Very cliquey, back-stabbing, jealousy-driven antics. Invisible battle lines drawn everywhere but big, smiling faces for the rest of the world to see.

Years later & with less prompting (because I understood my boundaries better & had less trouble enforcing it earlier) I also went NC with many members of RAH's family, for equally toxic reasons. (Most notably my MIL) He himself volleys between NC, Limited Contact & Superficial Contact depending on the drama with each member of the family. They contribute absolutely ZERO positive support in our lives in ANY way so I refuse to allow them to dump their negativity on us.

I will never "force" my RAH to go NC with his own family despite their dysfunction {barring exceptional circumstances... if DD's safety was at stake or something.....}; but I do refuse to let it be my problem financially, emotionally or otherwise. I will not loan money, play into drama, etc. Pffft!! I listen when he talks about this or that having to do with them, but honestly after so long of listening to himself say the same things over & over & over & over.... he couldn't deny the merry-go-round of it all & got tired of it himself, so it isn't an ongoing issue between us any longer for the most part.
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Old 09-06-2014, 05:54 AM
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evenkeel.....I see absolutely no reason for you to ever join "the circus".

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Old 09-06-2014, 06:09 AM
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I threw in the towel too late. Way too late. Left my emotionally abusive AH, who was cross addicted to porn and gambling on the stock market, after 20 years when my credit card fraud squad called to verify the $1700 he charged to internet porn on my credit card.

I should have left 15 years earlier, when he started to drink evening cocktails again and became unbearably dominating. I should have left when his behavior started being abusive, but I didn't see it. I unknowingly and willingly sacrificed my own emotional health to staying with a husband I thought was physically ill when it was mainly the result of his alcoholism.

I guess my answer is that there is an unarticulated equation in marriages: the love and giving and enrichment must more than balance out the difficulties and grief.

We should all, married or not, be able to enjoy our own lives. It may be that you should tell your wife you are seriously going to leave unless the focus goes back on a healthy marriage and making each other happy. Perhaps it will be a wake-up call for her. If not, you only get one life to live, and it doesn't have to be focused on processing and re-processing other people's traumas.

Take care of yourself; the airplane flight attendants always say "put your own oxygen mask on first". That's not selfish. It is the truth. We can't live anyone's life except our own, and we need to give them the dignity to make their own life choices, even if we don't agree with them. As SouthWest Airlines says, "you are free to move around the country".

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Old 09-06-2014, 07:03 AM
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Thanks for the input. Nwgrits, I did a lot of pondering overnight on what you said about being dragged around and realized that's exactly what's happening. I greatly reduced my contact with her family and stopped enabling her drinking a long time ago. Now it's just this overwhelming feeling of "I can't take anymore" in regards to hearing about the insanity and getting dragged into it.

I internalized a long time ago that I can't control or change anyone else's behavior. What I've been struggling with since then is what can be or is controlling behavior on my part, from refusing to sleep in the same bed as my wife after she drinks (I can't stand the alcohol smell on her breath) to insisting that she not give SIL money for anything after SIL's spent the last six days drunk on beer she bought herself. I finally came to the conclusion that if it's something that's non-negotiable on the basis of negatively affecting me or our family then it's not so much controlling as knowing my boundaries for how much crap I'm willing to put up with. I'm not giving her ultimatums-I'm stating my opinion and reacting to her decisions. Does this sound reasonable or am I rationalizing?

I realized that I have two different issues going on, my wife's drinking and family drama, and while they sort of intertwine they are still two distinct issues. I think I got through to my wife this morning on the family stuff. I simply explained to her that I am going NC with them so as not to have to deal with her family's drama anymore, that I didn't want to hear about it either and would prefer if she didn't talk to them about the boys and I. I explained how I felt that what she was doing to "help" her family (from rushing over to her sister to comfort her as "victim" after the latest alcohol-fueled fight to giving her family money when they make horrid decisions with their own) as only making things worse on many levels. She agreed but said she didn't know how to stop it. I brought up Al-Anon and she wants to go. I'm hoping maybe it will open her eyes about her drinking issues. Maybe/probably not, but I hope it helps her with the dysfunctional family dynamic.

Unfortunately I can't just get out. I have several medical issues that are keeping me from working right now and it's getting to where I need to apply for SSDI. Until I qualify for that and start receiving it I have no way of supporting myself and the kids. This might be a good thing because it keeps me from making a hasty decision, but it means I feel pretty trapped sometimes. Thanks for giving me input and perspective to find another way to deal.
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