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supportive comments that don't cross the line?

Old 12-16-2014, 05:44 AM
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supportive comments that don't cross the line?

So, he relapsed again.

He applied for his first job in two years after working on his recovery (which has had some slips along the way). He was offered a full time promotion instead as manager with truly awful hours (12 hours, 6 days a week with only 1 hour break). It was way too much and being tired, stressed and anxious about failing, he started drinking in the last few days. He's drinking much less than his last relapse and he's drinking beer not vodka, which is a first and although not OK, less dangerous and easier to withdraw from. So I am not fretting ATM.

Now, he quit his job in order to go back to meetings and is putting things in place to help him stop. We won't see each other until he has, that's always been our boundary.

However, we like to exchange a text a day so I know he is alive and kkicking and he is reminded that there is actually now someone who gives a damn whether he stops or not. It's a system that works for both of us and helps us keep our own heads straight but on separate sides of the street.

My question is this what can one say that is encouraging, shows you care but at the same time doesn't come across like advice.

For example, I sent one that simply said 'looking forward to getting you back, please don't take too long about it! Love you.'

Do you think that too close to the line? I need ideas as I am running out!

What would you do?
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Old 12-16-2014, 05:48 AM
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I think that was just a bit to much. Keep it simple.
If it is only one text a day maybe simply:
I love you
Or
Keep on keeping on.
Or
I don't know. Maybe just a quote of the day or silly slogans or tease him about his favorite teams.
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Old 12-16-2014, 05:59 AM
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He was offered a full time promotion instead as manager with truly awful hours (12 hours, 6 days a week with only 1 hour break). It was way too much and being tired, stressed and anxious about failing, he started drinking in the last few days. He's drinking much less than his last relapse and he's drinking beer not vodka, which is a first and although not OK, less dangerous and easier to withdraw from.

hmm, what I notice in the above is how much slack you are willing to cut him. after being offered a FULL TIME PROMOTION, hours aside, he says it's just too much and fearing FAILURE he does what??? DRINKS AGAIN. well that's a sure way to FAIL. and then........QUITS.

and you are able to minimize his drinking because it's just BEER.

you also feel that you might just be the only person who CARES and he needs you. in so many words.

so far, you being there and offering support hasn't been the key. he holds that key. and as it is he made giants steps backwards. he didn't HAVE to drink again. he could have sucked it up and worked those hours and and maintained gainful employment and stayed sober. as it is NOW, he's drinking and out of a job.

the reason why you are running out of helpful supporting little messages, is that they ain't working! try to be less of a sober coach. let him figure this out.....if he is going to. i'm glad you have a boundary about staying apart....
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Old 12-16-2014, 06:00 AM
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Um I'm sorry to say something negative rather than encouraging but I don't think he is really forced to work anything like the hours you say. Such working hours are against the law in the UK. People exaggerate how hard they are working ALL the time. It's normal but it's especially common among relapsing alcoholics when they are looking for an excuse to drink.

Sorry not to be warmer in my response.
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Old 12-16-2014, 06:20 AM
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Shil.....this is the way I look at it: It really doesn't matter what you say--IN TERMS OF WHETHER HE WILL ULTIMATELY GAIN HIS SOBRIETY OR NOT. He will get it if he really wants it for himself. The reason for not addressing the details of his drinking or not drinking is that it is a boundary that can be protective of YOU. To keep you out of power struggles with him...to keep from starting stupid arguments...to keep you from the i llusion that you can control his drinking...to keep you from WALKING ON CONSTANT EGGSHELLS. Only worry about what you say IF you want life to be easier for YOU.

I had years of experience with this aspect. I can tell you that if you touch that topic by offering praise..specific encouragements...asking questions...etc. It will backfire on you, eventually, like a defective firecracker. My A saw it as someone trying to come between him and his drink---therefore I was (silently) seen as the "enemy". I was seen as pressuring. I was blamed when he needed a good "excuse" for drinking. It triggered countless outbursts of irritation and angry remarks.

I had to get to the point of such detachment from the whole subject of alcoholism and drinking that it "didn't exist" to me. Except for certain boundaries for myself...such as, if I could detect that he had been drinking or sounded hung over...I would say "call me when you are sober/ or not hung over"...and hang up. NO praise. Praise was definitely resented. I know that that is counter-intuitive--but it is. No encouragement.

That left everything else in the world to talk about....talk about anything else that you would normally talk about. I say this because it is easier to list what not to talk about that to tell you what to talk about.
Trust me...when you become truly detached...they will notice!! It really does.
Always try to keep in mind that boundaries are for YOU...not to try to change the alcoholic (because you can't).

Now, this is purely my experience. Some will disagree with me, of course...LOL!

I hope this helps...

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Old 12-16-2014, 06:24 AM
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I think it's really good that you have boundaries for yourself. I understand that you want to encourage. Maybe just, "I am thinking of you today" would be enough? Just a thought.

I hope he is being genuine and putting his sobriety first. I hope you stick to your boundaries for yourself and have peace in your life.

Tight hugs.
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Old 12-16-2014, 06:25 AM
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Originally Posted by endlesspatience View Post
Um I'm sorry to say something negative rather than encouraging but I don't think he is really forced to work anything like the hours you say. Such working hours are against the law in the UK. People exaggerate how hard they are working ALL the time. It's normal but it's especially common among relapsing alcoholics when they are looking for an excuse to drink.

Sorry not to be warmer in my response.
Well, here in the US there is no limit on the hours managers can be required to work. The rules are different if you're not a manager--in those situations you get overtime. Here, if you're a manager they can work you as hard as they want to.

Sounds like he maybe took too much on for his first job in two years. Not that that's an excuse for a relapse, but he should have taken a more modest job a long time ago. My second husband (who lost his job because he screwed up due to drinking) refused to apply for what he considered "doofus" jobs. Beneath him, IOW.

Anyway, that wasn't what you asked. I'd stay away from sending little messages of encouragement about his recovery. Too controlling. You can say, "that's nice," or "good for you," if he tells you something recovery-related, but I wouldn't bring it up otherwise.

"I love you" or "I'm thinking about you and hope your day is good" are nice, neutral expressions of caring.
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Old 12-16-2014, 07:36 AM
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I think the healthiest text you could send him would be: I need to work on me. You need to work on you and let’s take a break to allow each other to do that. Text me after you’ve been sober for 6 months.

The reality is, if he wants to get sober he’s going to get sober with or without you. What you need to work on is accepting that fact. You do not hold a place in the equation of his sobriety, never have and never will.

If love and support were all alcoholics needed to get sober, there really would be a zillion less alcoholics.
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Old 12-16-2014, 08:17 AM
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"What would you do" Great question for me Shil! I am going to answer this as how I think I should react trying to avoid being too stressed over it and NOT tapping into my codie tendencys.

First, I would be fretting and stressed because, OMG, I would feel so unbelievably limited in what I could/should say and what is or isn't encouraging...so, I'd have to plan on addressing my feelings first with some running and/or yoga before texting and releasing my stress. LOL, not lying here, this is exactly why I needed to give up facebook, seemed like everyday there was a new drama, somebody said something that hurt someone elses feelings and it put me on high alert and feeling great constraint as to what I felt was safe to say.

OK, that done, I'd re-assess the necessity to always text something that related directly to his recovery and open the field to anything positive..jokes, updating him on funny news stories, passing along a hello from a friend, sharing something funny the dogs did, sharing something funny/stupid I did and laughing about it.

THAT would work for me and my husband, not sure if it'd work in all cases,especially if you've made some kind of deal to post him encouraging things directed to his recovery. I actually think I'd find this an enjoyable thing to look forward to doing on a daily basis and I know my AH would get a kick out of it too.
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Old 12-17-2014, 12:29 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions. Especially about sending humorous stuff!

I think I should clarify a bit, though. My intention in saying he was in cider not vodka etc, was not to talk it down (drinking is drinking after all) but more to give some background as to why I am not looking for advice on keeping calm. His last relapse was horrific a year ago and he attempted to kill himself. So I was explaining that this time around it's a safer situation. Not that it is OK with me.

I know that nothing I do or say is going to make him drink or make him stop. Honestly, I get that. I never pry into his recovery unless he asks for something specific like an opinion on something or he initiates a conversation needing a sounding board. In turn, I chat to him about things I am learning and he listens and supports me. We have never had a row discussing alcohol and we are both comfortable raising topics and shutting them down if one of us needs to.

In this situation however, I don't see the point in either condemning or praising. It happened. I understand the process by which he was triggered and I genuinely see it as an illness and am sympathetic, not happy about it obviously, but not upset or angry either. Keeping in touch works for us, I simply was curious whether anyone else does anything similar and how you keep it light as I thought perhaps I had gone a bit far with that particular text.

I hope that's clearer, I don't feel any responsibility for his recovery at all. He'll do what he wants to do regardless. But it's nice to be supportive too without being controlling surely?
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Old 12-17-2014, 01:26 AM
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Shil,

I am an alcoholic in recovery, and I have not read your backstory so my comments are based solely on your original post.

I think text is great to stay in touch with the distance needed for your sanity under the circumstances. But text (and to a lesser extent email) can really easily be misread because it is impossible to be certain of the tone, ie sarcasm vs. empathy. "looking forward to getting you back, please don't take too long about it!" could have landed as criticism and impatience with his relapse. I know you didn't mean it that way, because I have the benefit of the other 95% of your post. He did not. Be careful of texting things that could be unintentional double entendres; keep it simple. Open ended questions about him and how he is doing are probably least "misunderstandable" ie "How is your day going?"

I would like to comment on the work situation. I was unemployed for 18 months after I got out of rehab. I too took the only job offer that I had, which was stressful, long hours, and paid far less than it should have. The only saving grace was that it was 5 minutes from my meeting place, and only rarely did I miss a meeting because of work. If I had to, I would finish my work at home after the meeting.

Your husband may not have had a position where this was possible. I can only say that working 72 hours/6 days a week and missing meetings would have been untenable for me. I would like to think I would have quit before I relapsed, but then again I know what my self image was like after being unemployed for close to 2 years. I might have tried to stick it out... at the risk of my sobriety.

I had been told that anything I place as a higher priority than my sobriety is likely going to cost both it and my sobriety. I now understand that this doesn't mean that I cannot have a challenging career, but it absolutely means that I need balance. It does not sound like your husband had balance, and it cost you both dearly.

These are the sort of things that make being in AA and having a sponsor so critical. I didn't get sober to spend the rest of my days hiding in church basements, whining about my life and drinking bad coffee. But I can never forget that I am an alcoholic, and my disease can make me think that I am not sick. I need feedback from someone who understands, someone who I know has my back. I sincerely hope your husband has a sponsor, because if he is anything like me, some days its awfully hard to know where the line is for balance in my life. Truth is, that's not just an alcoholic thing, we all could use some outside perspective every now and again.

So, what can you text to stay in touch but stay on your side of the street? "Hope you have a great day, I love you." or "How was your day? Thinking of you."

Hope this helps.
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Old 12-17-2014, 04:08 AM
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shil2587....I think Eddiebuckle's post is excellent advice. And, it really does make it so much easier if he has a sponsor and his groups to turn to.
I do hear what you are saying...I think. You feel that it is only "human" and loving to offer support when your mate is struggling--while avoiding the control thing (if I read you correctly?). I imagine that you feel like this is what marriage is about---mutual support in times of need. AND I ABSOLUTELY AGREE.
HERE IS THE STICKEY WICKET: When it comes to his recovery (specifically)--HE DOES NOT NEED YOUR SUPPORT. You cannot do for him what other alcoholics and program members can do. The two are already too intertwined in the dance together..and it gets even worse if you are playing the role that a sponsor or counselor should play.
His recovery is his , alone. He has to take full responsibility for managing it. He has to do it for himself. It can't be entirely "his" if you are involved.

Should you support him? I say absolutely yes---as a wife and fellow human being--to the extent that you can take care of your own needs and welfare, also. Just not his program.

On a personal note--I think that it gives us a feeling of security and power in a relationship to feel like we are "needed". That they can't make it without us. If they need us--they will never leave us, kind of thing. Actually, we are in safer ground if they want us...rather than need us to do the things for them that they should and can be doing for themselves.

LOL....actually, I think that this is a long-winded way of saying....I think EddieBuckle is right!!!

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Old 12-17-2014, 05:53 AM
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Thanks Eddie for sharing your perspective. It sounds like your recovery process was similar to his. I really appreciate the feedback.

I will have a think about the feeling needed part. It didn't register on my radar as an issue, but I think now there might be an element of that too. Certainly of feeling wanted.

Thanks again.

On a side note, he is now detoxing which was a very fast turn around and I am impressed with the speed with which he pulled up. Hopeful for the future.
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Old 12-17-2014, 06:25 AM
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I am my Hubbies life line. when I am at work we email back and forth.. sometimes just a one liner melting Snow Queen to sick Troll and he comes back with blakkkkkk sometimes its just a ____________ I threw you a line... can you catch it.. and he responds no fish on the Line... little things that are something that are just you two. and don't make sense to the rest of the world... Silly Clown to Huge Group of Melting Coffee huggers.. hahahahahah ardy
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Old 12-17-2014, 08:13 AM
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As we say in AA -- there's always an excuse but never a reason. I suggest forgoing all contact until he gets in a program, gets sober.
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Old 12-17-2014, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by NYCDoglvr View Post
As we say in AA -- there's always an excuse but never a reason. I suggest forgoing all contact until he gets in a program, gets sober.
He is in AA, has a sponsor, works the steps. I am not going to forgo all.contact with him. He is not abusive in any way and has been a positive influence my life in many ways. People mess up. He's not in denial and he is working at it.
I remain hopeful that he'll get there. And if not, well along the way we've made each other happy for now. Can't ask for more than that now can I? No one knows the future and in the present, it's pretty good.
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