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Mixed emotions

Old 01-21-2016, 12:08 PM
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Unhappy Mixed emotions

I'm new here...I posted in the newcomers section and it was suggested that I post in the Friends and Family section seeing as I am not the alcoholic but the spouse

My husband was a first responder in one of the most horrific shootings recorded in our history. For the past three years we have been attending trauma therapy to manage the PTSD that accompanies such a tragedy. All the while, he continued to work, but he was not the same. He has been an officer for 18 years and it is all he has ever wanted to do. I have been with him since college. The past three years have been a nightmare. I would have done anything to help, but nothing seemed to help. The trauma specialists didn't even see this in him. He had been using alcohol to cope with his traumatic memories. He never did it when anyone could see and because some of the symptoms I kept describing overlapped with many of the symptoms of PTSD, I didn't question it and neither did anyone else. There was no help from the state or anyone with regard to this trauma. We were all on our own. Our nights were horrible, his mood was horrible, he was sad, withdrawn, called in sick, short tempered, all the while, never admitting that he had a problem. Fast forward to two days before this past Christmas and the state finally decided they had a place for him to go. They told me that this would help everything and that there were many officers that have had to go for the same reason. My prayers were answered, but my nightmare was just beginning. It was a rehab facility that specializes in Police/Fire/EMS/officers, etc. Apparently 80-90% of people with PTSD self medicate. He has been gone for the last 3 weeks and will be home next weekend. He looks and sounds so much better. I desperately want the person back that we knew a long time ago and I think he's there, but I am so terribly angry, resentful, lonely, etc. I feel like a complete fool. I am an educated, involved business woman. How could I not have seen this? How do we get back these past three years? I felt so much better about the trauma and would've kept putting up with the behaviors, but when I found out alcohol was involved and that he didn't want to tell me, it turned my world upside down. I know that he is not making empty promises and that he cannot wait to get home to put into practice everything he has learned, but I am sitting here and have been crying for the past 30 days. Why do I feel this way? Why am I so scared and hurt? I want to get past this so we can move forward, but I don't want anything that comes with "alcohol dependency." I just don't want it to apply to our life. I am sure that no one does. I want to be ready for him to come home and have continued counselling, etc., but I feel as though I am farther behind than he is because he left for rehab right after this came to light. I have not gone to any Al-Anon meetings and am not sure I want to. I don't even want to devote any more time to this than we already have, but I know that' s not realistic. I don't even want to show my face about this right now. I want my husband back and I want to give him a chance, as I know he has been through a terrible ordeal, but I feel as though he put the ones he loves the most through an ordeal and I have to figure out how to get past it so we can move forward. I am scared and want a crystal ball...
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Old 01-21-2016, 12:38 PM
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Buddy....just so you know---we don't have any crystal balls on this side, either...lol....

also....alanon is not about the alcoholic...it is about YOU......

If you want to get better...you will have to be willing to do whatever it takes for your own recovery...whether you "like it" or not.....
that is just the reality of the situation.....

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Old 01-21-2016, 12:46 PM
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Hello Buddy.

You write a very powerful opening thread. You nearly brought me to tears. I am so glad you posted.

You have every right to feel angry and resentful about your corrected view of what really has been going on and how he gets to go off to rehab while you are stuck in reality of every day. It is OK to be scared too and want somehow to seek a contract of sobriety, a guarantee things will get better, or a crystal ball so you could protect yourself if things aren't going to improve.

Are you going to your own personal counselor? Perhaps an outlet like that will really help you work through your own emotions and what you want to do about this situation to make it livable for you. And one of the options is to end your relationship. If you don't want to sink any more time, that is your right too.

PTSD/C-PTSD ? Inside The Alcoholic Brain

Take care.
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Old 01-21-2016, 12:58 PM
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As a recovering alcoholic myself with some PTSD in my background I have to say that if he has made an effort to get professional help I applaud him.

As a wife of a first responder, and a resident of the same area where this tragedy occurred, why do you not see a need for recovery for yourself as well? This kind of tragedy isn't something that just goes away - it has real and lasting effects on you, your family, your community, the law enforcement and medical community, etc. I am sure your husband is not the only one who was deeply and forevermore changed. Aren't there trauma recovery groups you could plug in to in your area? Surely the local hospitals have had lots of PTSD and addiction reported in response to this type event.

I drank for many years to escape and numb out my own trauma. It is possible to heal from it but it might take more than one rehab and a little follow-up, though. It may take some long-term marriage and individual counseling for each of you and it definitely will mean you coming to grips with your own feelings about the event and the effect it had on your family. This isn't some small thing that can be forgotten. It's going to take years, not weeks to recover. Mine took decades. That doesn't mean I didn't have a meaningful life, or that I was a dishonest and uncaring person. I just had stuff to deal with - like we all do. It didn't ruin me, it is part of who I am.
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Old 01-21-2016, 01:00 PM
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Im so sorry for all you and your family have been through... I think as you've continued to try and support and be concerned for your husband, you surely have been traumatized by this incident too and could benefit and deserve to have counseling for yourself too.

Do you think that would be of use?
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Old 02-03-2016, 10:16 PM
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I can really relate to you. My husband is an ex cop and refuses help because he's different. I would love if you can PM the name of the facility you found. I can't believe that exists
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Old 02-04-2016, 04:03 AM
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Hugs to you and your husband. I worked in law enforcement for decades and thank god that there are men and women like him willing to face the ugly things on behalf of the rest of us (I wasn't a first responder--I dealt with the aftermath of many tragedies, though--and I know how deeply people are affected).

Your husband is in good hands, it sounds like. YOU, on the other hand are facing your own (very common and understandable) reaction--denial. No matter how much you wish it weren't so, this thing happened. Your husband didn't choose to be traumatized, nor does anyone choose to become an alcoholic.

One of the analogies I sometimes hear when people resent having to get their own treatment for someone else's "problem" is that it's kind of like being in an accident where the driver responsible doesn't have a scratch but you have broken bones, and insisting to the EMT that the other driver go to the hospital, not you, because HE'S the one who caused it. Whether it's "fair" or not, you have been injured by this. You deserve your own chance to heal. Al-Anon is GREAT--it saved my sanity, I'm convinced.

Yes, your life has been changed. Disasters do that. You can run from it, but the effects will follow you unless you find a way to deal with it.

As mentioned above, you don't HAVE to remain in your marriage. Either partner is free, at any time, to decide that for whatever reason the relationship is not good for him/her. But whether you stay or you go, you take you with you. Facing this now can spare you a lot more agony down the road.

FWIW, my first husband just celebrated 36 years of sobriety. We had a very nice marriage for almost 15 years, and our eventual divorce had nothing to do with alcoholism. We are still good friends to this day. So things are far from hopeless.

The other promising thing about your particular situation is that his alcoholism developed relatively recently. People who drank alcoholically from their youth have a much longer, harder road to get back to "normal." I'm one of those people whose alcoholism developed much later in life. I've been sober for seven years now, and really, to look at my life you'd never know I had a problem with alcohol. I have no desire to drink, and I have a great life.

Hugs, please give yourself a chance to heal.
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Old 02-04-2016, 04:23 AM
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One other thing--I agree with bimini that trauma therapy might be very helpful for you, too. I'd look into it if I were you.
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Old 02-04-2016, 05:21 AM
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First of all- I am so sorry that you're both going through this. A thank you to your husband (and anyone else in emergency services) for doing what he does. My fiance is a doctor and know that some of the things seem can be difficult to come to terms with.

I am so glad your husband is getting help. I do think you could do with some support too. It sounds like a very difficult time. I've just started going to Al-Anon (I went to my second meeting last night) and I only wish I had gone a long time ago. I'm thinking about ME for a change. I may have only been to a couple of meetings so far but what I have talked about and read has helped a great deal, I'm already finding ways to deal with things and trying to put things in to practice to help me which will then hopefully in turn help the alcoholics in my life (my parents in my case).

I understand where you're coming from when you say you don't want to put any more thought in to this than you are already. As I said earlier, my fiance is a doctor, highly educated, intelligent. I, myself, have a good job and what seems to be the perfect life to the outsider. I kept all of this a secret for such a long time out of shame, anger, some guilt in thrown in too. I didn't want anyone to know. I wanted my life to be normal. If I pretended everything was normal then it was and things would be OK.

That didn't work.

My parents still drink. I have spent years not sleeping, worrying, trying to make everything right and not putting myself first. It's time to realise that what has happened has effected me. There's no shame in that. Anyone can be an alcoholic for many reasons.

"Why do I feel this way?"- I feel you need to do something for yourself to find those answers. Maybe it isn't something someone can tell you but some support for you might be just what you need to find those answers within yourself. Maybe you need the support now so all these feelings aren't being locked up inside and left to build for a long time.

I'm sending healing thoughts to both your husband and you.

Take care of yourself.
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Old 02-04-2016, 11:43 AM
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Thank you

Thank you to everyone for their thoughts and opinions. I do appreciate it. Yes, I am in trauma therapy, as is he, as well as couples counselling, etc. He is now home and back to work (light duty), which is a great thing and seems to be doing wonderfully. He has a renewed focus and is putting his recovery and family first. He has a much clearer head. He actually seems to be handling everything better than I am, but I do have therapists helping me with that and am seeing a doctor tomorrow. We have a lot of work to do but I am hoping that this was the first step toward a better life for us and our family. I still have a lot of mixed emotions and feelings which, from reading everyone's responses, and speaking to many people and therapists, I am understanding is normal. I am still contemplating going to Al-Anon and understand everyone's thoughts and appreciate them. I do think that one needs to be ready to do that. I also feel as though there is an extraordinary amount of appointments we have during the week already (due to various therapies, AA, work, and kid's schedules), that I feel I need a little more time to figure out what, where and who is going to work for me. Either way, I am very proud of my husband and know how hard he is working. I know that we have a long way to go and that this year is going to be tough but I have hope that we are on a much brighter path.
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Old 02-04-2016, 12:54 PM
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Buddy, what a wonderful family your husband has; to be able to go through such a horrific time, and be there to support him.

I've not been through re-hap myself or a family member, so I don't know how it all works. In my opinion, I would think your anger is normal. You thought you were helping with one thing (which, in reality you were) but, feel lied too. Who wouldn't feel angry.

If you were my sister, I would probably tell her I think she might be making it personal when it wasn't meant to be that way. He could very well have been embarrassed that he was medicating with alcohol, and that he "wasn't strong enough" to get through this awful time on his own.

As I said, I've not been through the rehab process but something tells me he wouldn't be shocked to hear that you are angry. Do you think it would be something he is willing to talk about when he returns? Try not to hold it back, otherwise you might grow bitter and angri(er) and that won't be good for either of you.

Try to enjoy his return, thank him that he went to seek treatment, In my opinion, you are blessed that he didn't want to continue the path.

Be well, please keep us posted!
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Old 02-04-2016, 01:31 PM
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Oh man. So, my sister is fairly high ranking within the state police. She also works with officers and other personnel that have went through this sort of trauma. I get it, completely.

First off, hats off to your husband. There is a HUGE stigma w/in that community to come forward when you have a problem. So the fact that he did so puts him ahead.

Now, time for you. The hardest part of living with an addict is the realization that they could absolutely relapse at any given time. Forever. It's a huge thing to overcome. You need face to face support for yourself either through a group, or with a counselor who specializes in families dealing with addiction. I know you don't want to do it. I know you just want everything back to normal. However, that is not realistic. You are worth an hour a week of counseling, or another hour of Alanon or Celebrate Recovery. I promise these things help. A huge part of recovery (yours and his) is living one day at a time. For myself, it was the absolute hardest part of living with an alcoholic. It really does apply to everything in life once you actually get it, but it takes work to get there.

You are in the right place. The forum here is 24-7, and you will find huge support here from people who truly get it.

Keep coming back, you are not alone!

Sorry...just read your update. I would say individual counseling for you would be helpful. Try that Alanon or Celebrate Recovery meeting, it is worth it!
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Old 02-04-2016, 02:34 PM
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I also feel as though there is an extraordinary amount of appointments we have during the week already (due to various therapies, AA, work, and kid's schedules), that I feel I need a little more time to figure out what, where and who is going to work for me.
This is where Alanon is useful. It saved my sanity and taught me how to handle my own emotions instead of just focusing on the alcoholic. The support was a lifesaver because others in the group understood what I was going through and could offer suggestions based on their own experience. A big hug.
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Old 02-04-2016, 05:37 PM
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Well, go at your own speed. Maybe as you adjust to the "new normal" you will find that your husband's alcoholism (which you hadn't even been aware of) doesn't change things as much as you thought it would. I had a relatively easy time staying sober. I do go to meetings (and probably always will--it's dangerous for me to start thinking I can drink, and meetings help with that), but other than that (and, of course, the obvious fact that I don't drink), life isn't so different from the way it was before my drinking was off to the races. I think I'm calmer and more balanced now than I ever have been in my life--which is only a positive thing.

Just remember that the help is there if you decide you need it or want it. I made some terrific friends in Al-Anon, but if everything seems to be healing fine without it, you aren't (IMO) harming yourself by not going.

So play it by ear. I'm glad your husband is doing well, and hope you soon are, as well!
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Old 02-05-2016, 04:33 AM
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Thanks everyone. I have received two private messages asking me to tell people about the facility my husband went to. I have tried to answer privately but it keeps telling me that I cannot respond because I haven't posted enough yet. Do these replies count as posts? I want to give them the name and general observations about it but it won't let me do so. Please advise. Thank you.
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Old 02-05-2016, 04:38 AM
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Please let me know if you got my message...it says I haven't posted enough to send one.
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Old 02-05-2016, 04:43 AM
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Yes, replies count as posts. You should be able to do it now--I think you only need like five or something.

It's really to protect members from unsolicited spam or harassment by someone who swoops in just for that purpose.
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Old 02-05-2016, 04:50 AM
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Thank you...I think it went through now. I understand.
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Old 02-05-2016, 12:46 PM
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I think going to an Al Anon meeting would be a great idea. Not only will you get support, you get ideas as how to cope with your husband. You will see a huge variety of folks that have a huge variety of reasons they are there. Just there is a huge variety of reasons someone ever turns to alcohol. And a huge variety of reasons they hide it.

I can say the most COMMON reason they hide their alcohol use is because they are ashamed. If your husband is in one of the most stressful professions there is with the high expectations this sets up a precedent that he has to be strong and tough and cannot show his weaknesses. I don't know what the divorce rate is among cops...but just being a cop without substance abuse involved can be a strain on spouses and families. I think being in a relationship with anyone who has a stressful job would be a strain. My husband was a probation officer for a long time and even though he didn't see as much violence, he saw a lot of bad stuff and managed to bring some of negative stuff home with him. It hasn't been a cake walk.

The simple fact that he feels shame about his alcohol use tells me he is a good man who knows it is wrong, but a desperate man who reached for the bottle when he should have been reaching for other help and support. It can be lonely place when you do not feel people understand and will condemn you if you reveal you alcohol use. In my experience the reaction you get from people varies. Some don't care if you drink, because they do too and others would shun you while not really offering the support you need.

It's frustrating when you see a loved one struggling, hurting, needing help and you just cannot seem to help them. It's frustrating when people need to change, say they will change and maybe change for awhile, but revert back to old habits. I've come to realize that habits are hard to change, but not impossible, whatever the bad habit happens to be. And if the addict has enablers in their life, even harder. Once someone gets clean and sober, there is always that fear of relapse and how disappointed the addict is with theirself and how disappointed their loved ones are.
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