ESH? Thoughts or advice? (x-post)

Old 10-14-2015, 12:41 PM
  # 1 (permalink)  
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ESH? Thoughts or advice? (x-post)

I posted this on the other side as well hoping to see if this is out of the ordinary - and maybe advice from the AH perspective(?) - but wanted the F&F side also. I post occasionally but read pretty much every day. The ESH I've seen here has helped me so very much to keep me sane the last several months, so thank you!

AH and I have been in a pretty bad place for a few years now, although I only woke up to the alcoholic backbone of a lot of our issues the last year or so. The last year has been different in that the explosive anger has subsided (or at least his outward expression of it at least?). However, I still am pretty much alone in the marriage.

Here is where I'm at a loss. He's been going to AA off/on for a year, with the current push being that he's going pretty much every night. But, he's also still drinking every night (less - a small bottle vs a 750). I haven't been checking up on him, but he doesn't hide it, so I'm pretty sure it's consistent.

So, my first question - is this normal? Frankly, I broke down and told him I'm sick of picking up the slack with the kids, house...basically everything for him to keep disappearing and then still drinking and pretty much being "absent" even when he IS home. He brushes off any suggestions of any sort of intensive outpatient alternatives btw.

My next question is - Is an ultimatum ever a good idea? I know I can't keep this up. It's emotionally exhausting me. I'm working on upping my Alanon and trying my best to take time for me (with 2 young kids and work, etc. and an emotionally/physically absent spouse, it's hard). But, I feel like I'm getting all the bad parts of being a single mom with none of the freedom or benefits - I'm alone living with a spouse. I feel I may be getting close to my limit. I honestly don't know if our family could overtake the alcohol as a priority if I did give one, but it may not even matter either way given the current state of things. I can't live feeling this lonely while living with someone indefinitely.

Right now, I'm trying to stay out of his way and let him do what he needs to do, but after a year, we're more like roommates than a couple. At some point, enough has to be enough, right?

Anyway, thanks if you read this far. Any experience you are willing to share would be wonderful!
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Old 10-14-2015, 01:00 PM
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WMU, I feel your pain. Very, very acutely.

My AH and I hit the pinnacle of his verbal/emotional abuse in the spring of 2013. After a few months, the abuse subsided (with occasional outbursts), but the drinking continued. For the last two years of our marriage, we slept in separate bedrooms. For the last six months of our marriage, he never kissed me or hugged me. It was complete and total deprivation of any and all affection. Nothing changed it. Ultimatums didn't work (because I never followed through on the consequences).

I left six weeks ago.

Best thing I ever, ever did for myself, and for my children.

Hang in there...
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Old 10-14-2015, 01:01 PM
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It sounds pretty normal for an actively drinking alcoholic; the disengagement, disappearing, etc. Reducing doesn't stop progression, you know? While I certainly don't think it's encouraged, I doubt he's the first to continue drinking while attending meetings. I know I've read others here share similar experiences. Could be he's just not ready or maybe he feels like it's enough just doing that little bit.

Ultimatums seem like a waste of energy - it never seems to help someone find their bottom.

No one can tell you what's acceptable to you - you really have to define that yourself.

I'd suggest that if you are this close to YOUR limit & he's showing no desire to change or any discomfort with things as they are - then worry about YOU & what makes the best sense going forward with ONLY your needs in the focus. What kind of ultimatum would you make? Are you ready to enforce it? If not, maybe focus on fixing whatever it will take to make that possible before you throw it out there - finances, etc.
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Old 10-14-2015, 01:13 PM
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I would not say it's normal to go to AA daily to a meeting and then drink every night unless it's mandated by the Court to go and the perso would not otherwise.

Sorry to say my guess is he is not really attending AA nightly.

No ultimatums do not work nor are they healthy to do. Boundaries do work and are healthy. A boundary is for you not for him, it's about how you will live or not live. Thing is that ultimately the boundary boils down to exiting the relationship. You may make a boundary that you will not be around him while he is drinking. This may result in him leaving when he drinks OR NOT. Then it's up to you to figure out how to enforce your boundary.

You sound tired, where are you as far as leaving the relationship or are you still hanging in hoping to see a change?
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Old 10-14-2015, 01:38 PM
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I think when someone asks if an ultimatum will "work" it only tells me they are still clinging to the idea that they are capable of manipulating another person into the change they believe they need to be happy.

If this is not what you want in a relationship, then you have every right to leave the relationship. Or to adjust your expectations to suit the reality that you are living with. But as long as your happiness in within a relationship depends upon another person changing, you have surrendered your power to make yourself happy.

Based solely on what you have reported him doing, he isn't ready to quit drinking. You can wait it out in the hopes that he may come around one day, but nothing you can say will give him that desire to change.
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Old 10-14-2015, 02:00 PM
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AA: "The only requirement for membership is an honest desire to quit drinking."
More info on that here: Who Is a Member of Alcoholics Anonymous?

I know one member of AA who has long, solid sobriety now. He started with almost 2 years of attending meetings while still drinking. I believe it took him a few drinks to make it through the door. He was welcomed and accepted.

This is such a counter-intuitive disease. No matter how much my husband loves me, or how much I love him, that doesn't help and often has gotten in the way. The more I work my own recovery program from this Family Disease of Alcoholism, the healthier I get and clarity does come. Other people may be able help my husband, if he's willing. I'm too close and too affected by this dis-ease. Any "help" on my part is often a part of the problem.

With my recovery, I'm finding happiness, joy and love in my life. Good days that are there, no matter what else is going on. Friends, where I've never had them before. Strangers who understand me more than I understand myself. Transformed relationships in my life, as my viewpoints change. All by being willing, and doing the work in my own time. Easy does it. Baby Steps. One day at a time.

What are you doing for yourself? Alanon has been a life-saver for me. First, I had to become willing. Then I attended meetings. Listened. Heard nuggets that kept bringing me back until I got a sponsor and started working the program. We each come to recovery in our own ways, on both sides. Some never do. Some lie to others and themselves; others may have an honest desire to quit, but need time to find how that will be.
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Old 10-14-2015, 02:37 PM
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I know he is not working the program AT ALL - every time I see him pick up a drink, it's obvious. He has started a step-study meeting recently, which I don't really understand given the circumstances.

I have been going to Alanon, with the exception of the last month or so since the timing just wasn't working, but I have to make time during my work day to attend the local lunch-time meetings. I haven't yet found a sponsor though as I haven't found the courage to even share much either.

As for discussing this with him, we have discussed it many times (too many!). I've even flat out asked him if he's just going through the motions to shut me up - and if he is actually going to the meetings at all lol! (Not that I really expected an honest answer even if he was ...) He admits it's a huge problem and has been for a long time and that it takes up every second of his time with either waiting to drink or have that next one. He just can't/won't take that next step, whatever that has to be.

If I set a boundary to not be in the house when he's drinking, the kids and I would have to go as I think it's highly unlikely he would go anywhere (and he would go to his family which would only make things soooo much worse), which means getting an apt and likely leave behind our dogs with him. That's why it has to be the end of the road for me if I have to make that ultimatum/threat/boundary. We would have to sign a lease and go all out; I can't take care of the home we are in (financially or otherwise) alone without help. I am, however, in a position to care for the 3 of us on my own elsewhere and still keep the kids in their current school if need be.

I have told him that I was just about sick of this whole situation and that "sucking it up" so to speak if he was really serious about getting sober was one thing - I'm totally ok with that. But, I'm not ok with the situation if he's not going to actually get his *@%! together.

I've sort of decided internally that I will wait it out until after the holidays are over and decide from there whether I am truly ready to leave. I guess I have been holding out hope that him admitting it's a huge problem and going to the meetings, etc. I just have to reconcile that with the fact that his ACTIONS don't match his words, and that's a hard pill to swallow.

Thank you so much for your responses (and keep them coming, please). Believe it or not, coming here has put me in such a better place than I was this time last year - and I realize how much that says about how crazy I was/am
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Old 10-14-2015, 03:13 PM
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^^ Hun-it is hard to reconcile that their actions don't match their words....btdt. We want so badly to believe their words-bc they're so lovely and full of promuses that they know we want to hear-but they are just words, and the promises will be broken bc they are alcoholics....and what do alcoholics do best? Lie.
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Old 10-14-2015, 03:38 PM
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I found it very hard to stop judging what my husband was doing/is doing and start looking only at myself and my own recovery. If someone looked at my first 1 1/2 years in Alanon, they may have also said that I wasn't doing the program at all. Really, all I need is to be willing. The rest comes in time.

My husband's recovery isn't on my timeline and doesn't look how I perceived it should.

My recovery isn't on my husband's timeline and doesn't look how he perceived it should.

That's okay.

How did I know if I should stay/leave/try something different? I tried something radically different -- working on me.

With doing that, all things become clearer. A year ago I couldn't have said I was 100% committed to my marriage. I thought that was utterly preposterous!! Ironically, now I AM committed 100% to my marriage. What that looks like for me is to keep working on myself and my recovery. This disease affected me more than I ever realized, and I'm also finding things I brought to it, good and bad.

If I was intent on leaving? Or in my case, if he were to leave, not be able to show up in our marriage, or die. I'd still follow my recovery plan.

I was never willing to leave him. My Higher Power provided what I couldn't when I needed space to heal. Now I see my husband on weekends while we work in two different towns. I'm gaining experience and self-esteem in my job. He's gaining the same in his. For a short time on the weekend, we get more quality time together than when we're together all week. I couldn't have planned or done this, yet by doing the next right action, learning to take care of the little things in life, learning to take care of me, I'm finding inner joy and peace. Ironically, when my husband is sober is when I go more crazy and need to double-down on my own program.

Take what helps and leave the rest. You'll find your way, in your time. Be gentle with yourself.
What are you having for dinner tonight?
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Old 10-14-2015, 03:47 PM
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^^ yes, thank you for posting this. After my post I thought to myself , well, that's not really accurate bc I, too, was fil of ****! My actions didn't match my words for a very long time...and I manipulated, blamed, so on. The way I found my way out of the crazy was to focus on what I could change-and that was me-my issues, my defects, my flaws. That's all we can do.
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Old 10-14-2015, 06:30 PM
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Yes, that is exactly what happens being a spouse of an addict, you become roommates. (or in other words and enabler) An enabler takes care of the home, kids, dogs, bills, husband and everything else. Because that is what we have been groomed to do. Put out fires, make things happen, be there for all the kids school stuff and sporting events even though "Dad" can't. We are everything to everyone, it has been our job for a very long time.

You become angry that you have to do everything. When you learn to detach and not worry about the addict you become stronger, more independent. You make decisions that you need to for yourself and kids. Over time you can lift your head a "little" higher, and get a little strength. Slowly when you heal, you realize that you can "do" this. You can make the decisions that you need to make. Take the time and build up your "strength" and you will be able to do what you need to do.

Take your time, don't force a solution. Sit back and let things happen. In alanon they say when in doubt, dont!!

Hugs my friend, hit alanon, keep reading and posting. It will all fall in to place as God had intended.
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