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The Rollercoaster

Old 02-24-2015, 11:16 AM
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The Rollercoaster

I talked to my ABF about how I feel about the drinking. He was totally lucid and for once not combative. In fact he was sweet and even apologized for upsetting me so much.

I am not a fool though. I know this is the calm before the next storm. He will drink again. He will make it all my fault for being upset about it. Somehow it will be my fault he did something stupid because he isn't smart enough to not use my laptop or tablet to look at porn or message other girls.

The rollercoaster...its a horrible ride. Just as I start to feel comfortable with making the move to tell him "recovery or I'm leaving" he turns into the sweet guy I fell in love with. This is the way it always goes. I get super angry, we have it out, we make up, and he is sober for a few months because I stand my ground. Then he falls off the wagon, the cycle starts over. No wonder I feel so crazy all the time and have anxiety. My emotions are wrecked.

Is this normal behavior for an A?
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Old 02-24-2015, 11:24 AM
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Wow, it's like you are describing my relationship with my XAH. Yep. Completely "normal" if there is such a thing. I chose to get off the ride but it took a long time and a lot of preparation. I wish you the best. <<<hugs>>>
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Old 02-24-2015, 11:26 AM
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Sadly, in my experience yes this is 'normal' behaviour for an alcoholic.

Once they see you may be pulling away and have had enough they will turn on the charm, maybe stop drinking for a period, but unless they are fully embracing recovery the cycle is pretty much as you described above and will continue.

Whether they turn on the charm for fear of losing a person they love, the enabler they have, or a mix of both Idk but either way it doesn't matter if it's the same continuos cycle and it isn't a healthy place to be in.

Sorry you are going through this. Hugs to you.
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Old 02-24-2015, 11:46 AM
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Have you read the "intermittent chicken" story?


My therapist told me that when he was studying to get his psychology degree, they had to do an experiment with chickens. They were given 3 chickens, and they had to document their behavior. The first chicken got a food pellet every time it pecked the lever. The second chicken got a food pellet intermittently, sometimes yes, sometimes no. The third chicken never got a food pellet no matter how many times it pecked the lever. My therapist asked me, "Which chicken do you think drove itself absolutely nuts pecking at that lever to get a food pellet?" I gave what seemed to me to be the most logical answer, "The one who never got the pellet...??" He said, "Nope. The one who only intermittently got the pellet." And then he looked at me expectantly, as if this information should have some relevant meaning to me, lol.

So I'm sitting there thinking, 'Ummm....okayyyyyy. What the heck does this story have to do with MY situation?? Why is he just sitting there, looking at me as if he thinks this little anecdote is going to have some significance for me??' So he finally takes pity on me (lol) and says, "That's what he did to YOU." And I just stared at him blankly and asked, "Did what to me? What do you mean?" And he goes, "He created that same situation with the intermittently-fed chicken with you. He always kept you unbalanced with that come here-go away dynamic, he'd call you to come over, you'd be on cloud nine, and then you wouldn't hear from him for a week. Or two. Or a month. Then all of a sudden you'd hear from him three weeks in a row, and then you wouldn't hear again for who knows how long. And he kept up this unpredictable rhythm of highs and lows, always keeping you guessing, never knowing when you'd hear, until you didn't know if you were coming or going. He had you right where he wanted you - close enough to keep you hooked, so that you'd come running when he wanted you, but distant enough that he never had to make any real effort or commitment. And that type of dynamic creates an obsession, wondering when you're going to hear from him, when you're going to see him, then you'd see him and sometimes he'd say all the right things and let you stay over and other times it was for an hour and he'd practically kick you out as soon as it was over. Either way, he'd then go back to ignoring your existence, leaving you to obsess over when you were going to hear from him again, until he wanted his selfish needs satisfied again. You see, he created an obsession in you, just like the obsession created with the intermittent chicken never knowing when it was going to get a food pellet." By this time, I think my jaw was hanging open, and I practically screeched in disbelief, "Wait, I'M the intermittent chicken????" LOL!


I can (mostly) laugh about it now. But I have to say, it took a couple days to fully sink in, and when it did, it really bothered me.....because I knew it was TRUE. Whether deliberate or not, he had turned me into his damn chicken - and I had LET him!! I allowed myself to be turned into an obsessed, clucking chicken frantically pecking at the lever, desperate to get a tiny pellet of affection from him. And my therapist said that these types of relationships can be very difficult to break free of.

I have to say, it was really one of those 'lightbulb' moments for me, and it has stuck with me these past weeks. And on the days when it hurts so much, when I feel like I can't take it, I allow myself to feel the pain, sit with it a bit, and usually shed some tears. But then I do my best to shut it out, dry my eyes and remind myself, "NO. I am NOT his intermittent chicken anymore.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
And wise words from Dandylion:
for one thing, it gives intermittent reinforcement (the strongest pattern of reinforcement) for the hope that the relationship will finally become the fantasy dream that we cling to from when we first met that person.. That we will become nurtured and valued and matter to someone..therefore never be abandoned and alone.
Rather than that bond being broken by the bad times....we get hooked back in again by the period of good behavior..strenthening the bond each time.
The abuser is aware of this, of course, at some level. That is how they "know" that we require some good times to keep us there. As the abuser becomes more confident in the power...the episodes of the good times can become shorter and shorter.
It is amazing how well the abuser learns our buttons and knows just where to push them to rope us back, again.
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Old 02-24-2015, 11:48 AM
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It sounds like you just predicted your future if you stay.

At the end of the day it is your choice.

Most important, take care of YOU!
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Old 02-24-2015, 12:00 PM
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You are all right. There is no winning. It is exactly like the intermittent chicken. Everytime I tell him how I feel, even if I said it before, he makes me feel awful. Or he does the whole "I'm terrible I'm a piece of s**t" thing and it makes me feel bad and apologize. We never resolve anything because whenever I get the gusto to finally express myself he turns off and walks away. When I'm really upset, he pushes me until I tell him what's wrong (when it usually has to do with him) and then I feel like he punishes me for it. He also NEVER can be told he's wrong with out getting super defensive and turning on me. I feel like its easier to ignore issues than confront them because then at least I don't feel so guilty.

I always feel like I'm to blame for everything wrong that happens.Things go through my head like " I shouldn't have told him he upset me, because now he has to drink to cope, "I should have let him do what he wants because then I don't get yelled at or berated". Its not healthy for me and I know it. But when he loves me right he loves me well. Its the in between that I can't stand.
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Old 02-24-2015, 12:08 PM
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Part of my co-dependency was that I felt if I could just find the right words, right time, say it in the right way, be more clear, speak more candidly, then it would work. He'd 'get' it and of course once he got it, he would change. The ball would be in his court.

Consider that you have already said all there is to say and he's heard you. He's not taking any action because he does not want to - not because he does not know how you feel. The ball is definitely in your court.

What you see is what you get. He is who he is. When he manipulates you like that it is to keep the status quo. You talk. He manipulates. That is the roller coaster and you get to decide if you want to keep buying tickets.
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Old 02-24-2015, 12:13 PM
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We never resolve anything because whenever I get the gusto to finally express myself he turns off and walks away. When I'm really upset, he pushes me until I tell him what's wrong (when it usually has to do with him) and then I feel like he punishes me for it. He also NEVER can be told he's wrong with out getting super defensive and turning on me. I feel like its easier to ignore issues than confront them because then at least I don't feel so guilty.

And this is the dynamic that keeps us stuck. I was trapped on the merry go round for 5 years. Florence posted a link to an article awhile back that I found very helpful and eye-opening. It refers to employers and employees but it totally described my alcoholic relationship.

Issendai's Superhero Training Journal - Sick systems: How to keep someone with you forever
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Old 02-24-2015, 12:35 PM
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The cycle, the being on the roller coaster, or the being that intermittent chicken is so so exhausting Both physically and mentally!!! Lots of hugs and support to you because we all have been there! For me, I'm checking out of the amusement park and I'm getting out of that chicken cage!!! The reward is no longer worth it! Stay strong and wishing you peace!
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Old 02-24-2015, 01:04 PM
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I think the rollercoaster is the thing that I hate most about alcoholism. My alcoholic mom is a mess for about half of the holidays/family events, but then almost scarily, perfectly normal and even charming for the other half. You just never know what you are going to get with her.

When I talked to her today she was sober and actually telling me that she and my dad had to help a man who had fallen and then they noticed a bottle in his bag and that he was a drunk. So, they had to call 911. She seems to forget that she fell on the beach on Christmas Eve due to drunkenness, was rolling around in the sand and refusing to let others help her up. The sand was all stuck to her because she had run into the ocean with her clothes on before this fiasco. Today, she also told me that she just doesn't understand why her friends have cocktail parties before dinner because she likes to keep it at "two drinks" and then proceeded to tell me about two movies that she had seen over the weekend that she enjoyed. (I saw both the movies and they both involved tragic drunks, but that never seems to jar her self recognition.)

I know this really isn't helpful, I just wanted to let you know that I share your frustration. The intermittent thing really is "the rope of hope."
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Old 02-24-2015, 01:44 PM
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I almost hate the "perfectly normal" part more than the alcoholic mess part. You know the other shoe will drop eventually and then you're stuck worrying about "when". My fiance's parents met my AM when she was having a "perfectly normal" day - they were shocked when my fiance told them I had no contact with her and took quite a bit of history before they understood that she wasn't quite as charming as she had let on.
Frustrating.
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Old 02-24-2015, 01:47 PM
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One thing my mate has going for him, is that he is consistent in his aloofness. I don't know what I would do if I had to deal with the good guy/ bad guy thing.
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Old 02-24-2015, 01:53 PM
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Is this normal behavior for an A?
Yes, and staying on the roller-coaster is completely normal behavior for codependents too. We must all be thrill seekers...although my roller-coaster hasn't been fun anymore for a very long time
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Old 02-24-2015, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by ajarlson View Post
I almost hate the "perfectly normal" part more than the alcoholic mess part. You know the other shoe will drop eventually and then you're stuck worrying about "when". .
That is EXACTLY how I feel. I get so happy when he is on a bout of sobriety and then once he slips up and starts drinking again I am constantly on edge wondering "when" he will stop again or "when" he will be Mr. Alcoholic Mess and make my life harder than it already is. I have told him that its not the fact that he drinks that I can't deal with, its the constant fear of what mood he is when I walk in the door. I hate being co-dependent when it comes to him, because it is the only thing in my life where I am not in control and super strong. I have been through a divorce, deaths, miscarriages, medical crises and nothing compares to this ABF crap. It is exhausting, draining and soul sucking. I cannot wait until spring when I can just grab my purse and phone and walk it all off.
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Old 02-24-2015, 02:10 PM
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I always feel like I'm to blame for everything wrong that happens.Things go through my head like " I shouldn't have told him he upset me, because now he has to drink to cope, "I should have let him do what he wants because then I don't get yelled at or berated". Its not healthy for me and I know it. But when he loves me right he loves me well. Its the in between that I can't stand.

Love is a not a kitchen faucet with HOT and COLD handles. Love is not a sometimes if the moon is right thing. Love is not something you DO to get your way, it's not a tool.......or a weapon. Love isn't what you do when your underwear says Tuesday.......

what you are doing is called Splitting....as if there were really TWO of him. there isn't. one person. one person who has been taught (by you) that he can treat you like crap MOST of the time and all he has to do is put for the bare minimum of effort to be "nice" and you'll roll right over to get your tummy rubbed.

if you went to a restaurant ten times and the first nine trips the service was awful, the food unpalatable and made you sick, but the 10th time you went it was FABULOUS......would you keep going??

if you took your car to a mechanic and each time he overcharged you and didn't FIX the car properly, an then one time managed to change the oil without the engine catching fire when you drove down the street, would you keep going?
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Old 02-24-2015, 02:10 PM
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Yup, draining and soul sucking. And they will never understand, they'll never get it. They don't know why we're so over dramatic and over react to everything. And if you try to explain it they make you feel as if you're the crazy one. I got off that ride and left the park and slammed the door behind me. Only took 30 years. Yikes.
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Old 02-24-2015, 02:12 PM
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Up and down and up and down and round and round we go!!!

I'm sorry you're going through this with him.

You might find this useful - http://www.amazon.com/Melody-Beattie/e/B00455LE2E
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Old 02-24-2015, 03:29 PM
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Yes absolutely it's normal for these push/pull relationships.




Originally Posted by rougelily View Post
I talked to my ABF about how I feel about the drinking. He was totally lucid and for once not combative. In fact he was sweet and even apologized for upsetting me so much.

I am not a fool though. I know this is the calm before the next storm. He will drink again. He will make it all my fault for being upset about it. Somehow it will be my fault he did something stupid because he isn't smart enough to not use my laptop or tablet to look at porn or message other girls.

The rollercoaster...its a horrible ride. Just as I start to feel comfortable with making the move to tell him "recovery or I'm leaving" he turns into the sweet guy I fell in love with. This is the way it always goes. I get super angry, we have it out, we make up, and he is sober for a few months because I stand my ground. Then he falls off the wagon, the cycle starts over. No wonder I feel so crazy all the time and have anxiety. My emotions are wrecked.

Is this normal behavior for an A?
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