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recovery timeline and methods - your experience, strength and hope

Old 02-18-2016, 05:06 PM
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recovery timeline and methods - your experience, strength and hope

Let's gather up some stories of recovery timelines and methods. Experience, strength and hope. Sometimes hope seems far away with this Family Disease of Alcoholism, yet it often appears in unexpected ways.

Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive disease unless recovery is embraced -- meaning this both for the alcoholic and for the non-drinking family members. Many people on both sides of this disease die from it. Stress can cause just as many health issues than alcohol.

"High functioning" is a stage of alcoholism, not a type. Somehow I found that true for myself, also. The "high functioning" multi-tasking, get-anything-done non-drinking wife of a alcoholic, until eventually I no longer could manage anything in my life.

---------------------------------------------------
My recovery timeline and methods --

(unknown amount of years -- much longer than I'd like to face up to. 20some?) Tried to adapt, work harder, work smarter, read about alcoholism, learn about the laws and possible health issues to try to educate my husband and "warn" him. He never wanted to end up like his dad. I couldn't imagine that happening and it never entered my mind, since that isn't at all who he was and our family has always been "too important to him" for that to happen.

Skip most of the slow progression. Frog in the slowly heating water syndrome. Neither of us could see what was happening.

About 14-15 years ago he tried jumping out of our car while drunk. He was upset with me for disrespecting his friend because I wanted to get the kids home and to bed because of school the next day. Thankfully (?!) he was wearing his seatbelt. (maybe if he'd jump and gotten hurt I would have faced reality sooner?) Two young children with us in the back seat. Our oldest stayed home. It was Superbowl Sunday and he already knew it was asking for trouble to go to this friend's house with Dad. There would be drinking. (....yet I couldn't figure out how to stop/control/change things... and I wasn't ready to give in yet!!)

There were many times it "wasn't bad", "wasn't often", and he'd cut back or quit completely for some small amounts of time. See? It wasn't a problem...

Joined SR in December 2004. I'm a slow learner. That's okay.

In the past 5-ish years (it's all run together and doesn't really matter now), there's been 2 life flights, multiple injuries and I've "saved his life" multiple times. I now look back on that as me getting in the way of him really getting help. "We" talked to doctors. "We" (me) kept having hope after each one that finally something would change. He would briefly (or not) quit drinking . Not in recovery (we had no idea what that was). When talking with doctors, we were told that if he continued drinking, it would cause major health problems or possibly kill him. Several said to try to cut back. Either no one said the words AA, Alanon (for me) or rehab centers, or we weren't listening. Likely a combination of both. No one really talked to us about it, but if it came up as a slight suggestion we didn't listen.

2+ years ago I went to my first Alanon meeting. Swore I was going to be there weekly. I knew I needed help. Totally focused on my husband getting help. Very rarely went back.

Things finally came to a head at work. December 2013 he went to rehab with the full support of his manager and the owner of the business. Stayed sober for a total of three months. I asked the owner of the business to please give him one more chance. He didn't want to, but did for me and the kids. Things were really progressing with the disease. My husband was hiding out and very scared, living in fear -- of the disease, of not drinking, etc.

It was very difficult to get through to him that he needed to go to rehab or he didn't have a job to be at. He didn't want to leave work, yet was no longer effective at his job at all. He had no concept of reality. Neither did I. I kept trying to do this all on my own, although at the time I thought I really had made progress in being open with other people and asking for help. Finally took him hostage (basically -- my interpretation of events now, with looking back on it) and got him into another treatment center. It was "his choice" that time, supposedly, with me coaching, cajoling, manipulating, controlling him in every way I could think of. I was working at letting go and letting God, so maybe in some ways I was, but I still couldn't step away and let him be on his own with his Higher Power. I thought I had to "be there" for him and "help" him.

I'm still very glad for family week at the second rehab, where all our older kids came. Planting seeds for possible family recovery. First rehab also had family week, which I went to. Both rehabs my husband didn't want anyone at family week. Part of the symptoms of the disease, with shame and wanting to self-isolate. That "I can do this alone" syndrome.

He was back to drinking soon after being back home and back to work. Nothing had changed. He lost his job, which was perhaps a relief for him, since he couldn't do it anymore, anyway. Guessing at that. No idea really. We also had to move out of our home where we had lived for 12 years. Downsized from about 4000 square feet to our 5th wheel camper and a large shed on some acreage we mortgage payments on.

1 1/2 years later, he's been through several jobs, some quite well paying, in cycles of being well-liked, doing great work, seemingly doing okay at work, to not being able to function and hold a job. Not sure how some ended. I've been working my own recovery program and didn't ask. Lying is a part of the disease. It's not personal, and if I ask certain questions, I'm pretty sure there will be a lie coming.

After trying absolutely everything else I could think of, finally DS9 and I have been working our Ala-teen/Al-anon recoveries for over a year. I've had a sponsor since last spring and am working the 12 steps, currently on Step 4.

No DUIs, but not that there couldn't have been. Rolled his vehicle last fall. Two weeks after being released from a week of mental health treatment. All learning experiences, progressions on the way to finding out all the ways that didn't work.

After that, my husband had in over 60 days of sobriety in AA, just went through a two week relapse, is currently sober and working the AA program and reaching out to members there who can help him. I cannot. I'm the last and worst person to try to help. The best way I have found to help is to work on my own recovery, to help others in Al-anon, and to become a whole person who can come to our family and our marriage healthy, one day at a time. The more I can lovingly detach with caring and compassion (all words that now look nothing like I used to think...), it seems like the better chance we have. If he decides to drink, there is absolutely NOTHING I can do that causes, can control or cure that.

I can decide to seek help for myself. In that, I'm finding life is fun, amazing, and has many opportunities for happiness, whether my husband (or any other family members) are drinking or not. I'm now seeing many wonderful choices in my life. One day at a time. Baby steps. This is a very counter-intuitive disease. I'm so very grateful for those who've walked this path and are leading my way.

--------

Our 9 year old son who is in Alakid/Alateen advises not do this to the alcoholic:
And not to do this to yourself:

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Old 02-20-2016, 09:23 AM
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Bump

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Old 02-20-2016, 11:08 AM
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Keepingthefauith.....I want to ask you a question....wh at would have made a difference when you were in the stage of not listening to those who tried to help you, along the way?
Is there anything that they could have said or done that would have prevented you from spending 20yrs. on your (you and your husband's) journey?

That info. would be very helpful for those of us who try to offer help.....

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Old 02-26-2016, 12:05 PM
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keepingthe faith.......bump....

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Old 02-27-2016, 01:14 PM
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I don't really know. I'll think on that.
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Old 02-29-2016, 09:41 AM
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Thanks for sharing KTF Glad you are doing well and finding fun in life!

Originally Posted by dandylion View Post
Keepingthefauith.....I want to ask you a question....wh at would have made a difference when you were in the stage of not listening to those who tried to help you, along the way?
Is there anything that they could have said or done that would have prevented you from spending 20yrs. on your (you and your husband's) journey?

That info. would be very helpful for those of us who try to offer help.....

dandylion
For me, I don't think there was anything else that any of you all or anyone else could have said to me that would have prevented me from spending any less time with my A.

I got so much love and support and wisdom from all of you, and I guess I just needed time for it all to sink in. I was in major denial for a long time. But I did take it all in, and kept it in the back of my mind until I was ready to process it. I came back and read my old posts and all your responses a lot... I still do, though some of it is really hard for me to read.

All the advice / support / ES &H I've gotten from you guys ranging from just ((hugs)) to straight shooter, no nonsense Anvilhead type advice (love ya Anvilhead ) was / is all so important to me in my journey.

I beat myself up a lot for staying in my situation for as long as I did, for giving him so many "one more chances". I thought, what is wrong with me? Why am I still with him? Why do I keep letting him come back and hoping things will be different when I know they won't be?
I really appreciated knowing that there were others of you in such similar situations with similar A's / abusers.
I wasn't as alone as I thought I was.... That gave me hope that I would be okay.... with my A or not.... that it would all work out the way it was supposed to.

I really appreciated hearing that we are all on our own timeline.
We all arrive on time.
That I would be ready when I was ready, and not a minute sooner, and that was okay.
I could stay with him until I was ready, while I gained strength and clarity, and figured things out (with safety plans in place )
Those words helped me to not be so hard on myself....

Love you guys
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Old 02-29-2016, 10:23 AM
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Kboys.....to be very honest, this can be very discouraging.....I have heard several people say----"nothing anyone could have said would have prevented me from staying for five or ten or 20 more years,( in some cases.)

Many newbies come saying "please help me or "any advice would be appreciated"...."My life is in chaos and I feel like I am falling apart"
Sometimes, quite frankly, I feel like just saying---do nothing, stay with your alcoholic, you don't have to make any decisions...wait and hope that, sometime, between 5 and 20 years, he will get better"......
(of course, if you have read my almost 7,000 posts...I don't actually do that (at least, not so far...lol...).....
Not all newbies....but lots and lots go away defensive and angry....because we have told them things that they did not want to hear.....

Also, telling someone that they can/should get help for themselves...this also elicits a defensive or angry response...or they just go away....

Would it save a lot of hot breath if we just said....."go on your way...you are not ready".......
Sometimes, I wonder....... (I have actually thought of doing that!)

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Old 02-29-2016, 11:24 AM
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I understand your points here dandy, it can be so defeating to know that you are sharing the very best of information & you cannot get the newbie to see or appreciate that.

It's hard, but I try to remember it in perspective to something like DD learning to walk...... if I kept reprimanding her for falling instead of praising her for trying & standing up again & again, it might have stopped her from trying as hard as she could. I didn't TRY to control it because I already KNEW it was something she HAD to learn on her own & all I could ever do was cheer her on.

Obviously, this is a pretty basic example - the people coming here for "help" are typically adults with a much more evolved set of problem-solving skills. We have all traveled different paths to this place & those experiences really shape how open we are to change. So many differences - lifetime Codie vs. someone new to the world of addiction, etc. ACoA adds a whole 'nother layer of madness. (don't I know it!)

I think new members don't really have a grasp on what they're looking for when they use words like "advice", "help", etc. The more seasoned members around here have different definitions for those same words. I AM helping someone when I encourage them to focus on their own "side of the street" but I can't stop them from misinterpreting my meaning. I can't make them value what they don't know. No matter how much I want to, I can't make others learn from my mistakes. Look at how many people ignore advice given by their doctors, therapists, etc. Denial is strong, the need to protect our vulnerability can hold us back in so many ways.

Self-awareness/closed-mindedness is a huge part of this IMO. I tend to come from a perspective of wanting to change & grow & learn so my approach was to lurk & read & read & read for months when I found SR. I want to change anything that keeps me from being the best I can be - others don't want ANYTHING upsetting their status quo because they are invested in their self-definitions... anything that challenges that is going to be met with extreme defensiveness. Some people only have empathy AFTER going through an experience -they can't relate until they can see, touch, hear it themselves.

And of course, when you're in the middle of a crisis or living in constant crazyland, you can hardly see all the separated events as related to one common cause. I know *I* didn't - my biggest fail was looking at everything as a separate issue because that kept me from seeing it all in the Big Picture sense.

Originally Posted by dandylion View Post
Would it save a lot of hot breath if we just said....."go on your way...you are not ready".......
Sometimes, I wonder....... (I have actually thought of doing that!)
I know - BUT - sometimes that info gets filed away now & makes sense later. Sometimes it takes hearing stuff again & again & again before we FINALLY get it - one day it just clicks & we're ready.

I have thought about this exact question A LOT over the last 6+ months - but more from the ACoA side. I wonder if anything anyone could have ever said or done would have changed the way addiction impacted my life as a child/teen. I wonder "if" there were resources available, would I have recognized my need for them?
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Old 02-29-2016, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by dandylion View Post
Kboys.....to be very honest, this can be very discouraging.....I have heard several people say----"nothing anyone could have said would have prevented me from staying for five or ten or 20 more years,( in some cases.)

Many newbies come saying "please help me or "any advice would be appreciated"...."My life is in chaos and I feel like I am falling apart"
Sometimes, quite frankly, I feel like just saying---do nothing, stay with your alcoholic, you don't have to make any decisions...wait and hope that, sometime, between 5 and 20 years, he will get better"......
(of course, if you have read my almost 7,000 posts...I don't actually do that (at least, not so far...lol...).....
Not all newbies....but lots and lots go away defensive and angry....because we have told them things that they did not want to hear.....

Also, telling someone that they can/should get help for themselves...this also elicits a defensive or angry response...or they just go away....

Would it save a lot of hot breath if we just said....."go on your way...you are not ready".......
Sometimes, I wonder....... (I have actually thought of doing that!)

dandylion
I am one of those newbies and I come her looking for love and support and I am not strong enough to leave yet. I am glad the members don't say stay and be miserable and come here when you are ready to listen to what I am telling you. I wouldn't come back and I would feel more in pain, lost, alone and hopeless that I sometimes already do. Coming her hearing people share their journey and tell me they were where I was makes me feel not so alone for once. I think this is supposed to be a safe supportive place where people understand and take you for where you are and offer solutions and ESH without judgement or frustration that you are not doing what is told. Most everyone has been amazing in remembering when they were where I am and just making me feel not so alone and crazy in my insane world. I am gaining strenth each day regardless if I pack my bag and leave today. If it were a place where I came and someone said this is how you do it, take my advice or stop complaining I would not only come back but feel even more isolated as I did when I couldn't connect in alanon and ever so hopeless.

A few of you have criticized and berated me for complaining and not changing ASAP and it hurt alot I can get that at home! I lurked here for a while reading and even then got a feeling of safety and advice I have found no where else so thank you for not getting frusturated but still offering support. Even if I don't take immediate action hearing your story and more so that you totally get where I am makes me feel hope that I can see a light someday and I am not the only one in the world going through this but also that you care. So thank you and I am thankful for this group
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Old 02-29-2016, 11:50 AM
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I understand what you mean Dandy, and why that would be discouraging, especially to members like you who have offered so much to so many of us...

It would not have been helpful to me as a newbie to hear that I should just wait and stay and hope, or that I was not ready; however, knowing that it was okay if I wasn't ready right away, was comforting to me, and knowing that SR would be here for me either way....

A lot was hard to hear, but I had to hear it in order to get where I am now....
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Old 02-29-2016, 11:56 AM
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Patricia Evans' Book Verbal Abuse: Survivors Speak Out gave a name to what I was enduring, and brought me to tears at times when I read word-for-word what I had experienced.
To know that others understand is hugely important.
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Old 02-29-2016, 12:04 PM
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Kboys.....thanks for that....It is good to know that people would NOT actually feel helped / relieved by that.....!

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Old 02-29-2016, 12:42 PM
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The reason al-anon, and all the other 12 step programs, are so strongly rooted in giving _only_ experience, strength and hope is precisely because of the issues mentioned in this thread. _Any_ kind of advice, any kind of statement that implies "you should" is going to be offensive to most people who come here for help.

What keeps people coming back to SR, and starts them on their search for help in real-life, is _not_ the information or direction that is sometimes provided. It is the feeling of being _accepted_ with kindness and compassion regardless of what trainwreck has happened to their life.

The primary objective of SR is _not_ to provide advice or direction. It is to provide enough emotional support such that peeps can then go into their community and find advice directly relevant to the resources available to them.

As a general rule most "alanoids" have control issues. Asking advice from an alanoid is like asking an alcoholic to be a bartender. _Some_ will be able to function under those conditions, but the majority are going to make a big mess of things.

As a general rule most "alanoids" have a _huge_ capacity for kindness and compassion ( which is what dysfunctional people take advantage of ). Kindness and compassion is something that most newbies are desperately in need of. Therefore the general direction of SR is to "work to our strengths" and not our weaknesses.

Once a newbie has been around a while, and has figured out which members can be trusted and which are still off in the ozone, only then is it workable to start sharing the more difficult opinions. But even then expressed only as personal experience.

The "recipe" is really quite simple. It's the reverse of the "frog in the pot". Start with the "pot" warm and welcoming and add the "hard truths" very, very slowly.

The worst thing that can happen is for a newbie to get scared off by a little too much "tough love", and a very small dose of "detachment." That is how spouses end up dead.

Mike
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Old 02-29-2016, 01:58 PM
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The "recipe" is really quite simple. It's the reverse of the "frog in the pot". Start with the "pot" warm and welcoming and add the "hard truths" very, very slowly.
This is great and I totally agree, Mike.

I compare my codependency to alcoholism often. I believe both are addicts, and not much different from each other - my codie awakening was I imagine, similar to someone coming to realize they are an alcoholic. I knew something was not right with me and my life - it wasn't going the way I wanted it to. And I blamed everything and everyone but myself.

It was a process, and no one thing made me see the light. It really was just gathering information (which started out as gathering info on how to change XABF lol). Slowly, you all asked me those BRILLIANT questions - what should have been obvious questions to myself from myself.

What kind of partner do you want? Are you getting that from your partner? Make a good and bad list about your relationship. Is he even close to what you want? Are you who you want to be? Why not? What are you going to do about that. You know you only have control over you, right?!

Slowly - those became an obvious train of thought to me. Very slowly, and on my timeline. Our bodies only allow us to process what we can handle TODAY. I don't even think WE have control of that so much. We learn when we are ready to learn, and we change when we are ready to change I think.

Dandy - keep doing what you do - you've helped me and others a lot!
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Old 02-29-2016, 02:04 PM
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firebolt....thank you so much for your support! That means a lot to hear....

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Old 02-29-2016, 02:27 PM
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For me, I thought I was ready to leave a year before I walked out the door - I told my HP I'm ready and I know that I know, my HP said "No, it's not time"
I spent the next year working on me, learning about detachment, self-care, dignity & self-respect and I kept asking my HP when can I go -

I know it sounds crazy - it was crazy to me - but when it was time to go - the path was so clear - the peace in my heart was so evident - everything so fell into place

If I had pushed or been pushed to leave before my time - it wouldn't have worked out- I truly believe that -

Today, my life is not perfect - but it is so pinkfully serene even in the chaos of life and it is SOOOOO much better than living with active alcoholism & addiction.

Everyone just has to walk their own path -
Or that's just my e, s, & h,

PINK HUGS to all
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Old 02-29-2016, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by firebolt View Post
Dandy - keep doing what you do - you've helped me and others a lot!


Last year dandy gave me some advice & resources that became an absolute game-changer in recovery for both myself and RAH. To say it has been invaluable sounds too small to express the deep gratitude I'll always have for her input; she's one of my Recovery Angels.

I can't even name ALL of the members that have helped me on my path here at SR - not only by reaching out in response on my posts, but letting me know when I've been able to help them as well. I've benefitted from both shoulders to cry on & tough love talk. It's a big circle of love, lol. But in all seriousness, I've made REAL friends here in the time I've been posting & that has been such a blessing.


I'm also at the point of knowing that my recovery is a forever-thing. I no longer think of it in terms of something with a beginning or an ending, but something that I simply live every day. I started referring to it in terms of my Whole Life Recovery & removed all of my qualifiers as my reasons for change. It will be a year in April since I made that label change & shifted the focus to be on Me. I've challenged myself to making sustainable, personal changes in all areas; mental, spiritual & physical & it's been nothing less than extraordinary.

I'm moving toward simply living life as my authentic self, by way of "unbecoming everything I was never meant to be in the first place".
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Old 02-29-2016, 08:32 PM
  # 18 (permalink)  
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I really like this thread and conversation, KTF. It seems like someone could gather all of the stories that people share here and come up with what seem like the common trajectory for f&f learning to deal with the As in their lives.

When I saw your original question about stories of recovery, I hesitated to post because I'm not 'recovered' yet; however, as others have mentioned, recovery for me is a journey rather than a destination.

I found SR after about 5 years of increasingly upsetting behavior by my AH. At that time I was still hopeful that my actions could change him, or at least influence him to get into recovery. Initially, I read and tried the behavioral approaches to getting a loved one sober, which had zero effect on him and detrimental effects on me because I started to go more 'detective' on him, trying to assess more closely what he was up to, and because I started to take it personally when he/I failed.

One of the benefits of giving up and getting away from the madness is how clear it becomes that the other person is making his/her own choices, regardless of your behavior. For me, reading other people's stories and listening to their advice helped me move on, finally, rather than continuing to ride the roller coaster that we all detest

Another step in regaining my sanity was learning to meditate. Meditation and
exercise give me the mental space and clarity that I need to be healthy.

I told my AH I was leaving almost exactly a year after joining SR, and I moved out a month after that. Like so many others, I've never looked back. I gave up the big house, the financial and familial security, the dreams and illusions, but also the insanity. As a matter of fact it has shocked me to realize how little I miss anything from my old life. Instead, I've realized that my life has changed 180 degrees. I used to be unhappy most of the time with scarce moments of serenity and joy, like when I was walking my dog or hanging out with our kids. Now it's the other way around--most of my life I'm filled with joy, and it's only in the interstices--all of which have to do with fighting STBXAH about child custody--that I'm still sad.

There used to be a lot of things that I would tell myself I would do differently if I were to live my life all over again. What a welcome shock it has been to realize that I can do things differently right now, in this one life that I've been given. I didn't have to continue tolerating the almost unbearable, and I'm grateful for the people on SR who helped me to see that.
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Old 02-29-2016, 09:04 PM
  # 19 (permalink)  
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Sauerkraut-I echo all of your words. My path was crooked, bent, not linear at all-but I made it out alive and with my sanity firmly intact. I spent so much of my time trying to help HIM, listen to HIM, be there for HIM while he was a drunk POS wherever things in his life fell apart. Even after my aha eye opening God, I hear you loud and clear moment...I still stayed for another year and a half bc I had hope. But I was working my program and gaining clarity and strength. When I first joined, under a different name, many years ago, I was terrified. My life was literally a day to day battle just to stay sane and keep my then husband away from me an our kids at times. My focus had been so much on him that i forgot that I, me, had a choice. People here were extremely comoassionate and loving when pointing out my flaws and what I sorely needed to see-my eyes slowly started to open. Many slowly started to introduce the word abuse and I didn't like that-it took me more time to understand this and my eyes got even more opened. By the time I left I had gained enough strength to say, No more. Not ever again. But he still tried to suck me back in-and it almost worked. Thankfully my strength ad intuition won (brain vs heart thing!) and I'm happily and forever gratefully divorced from him. The way I m now is not how I was even a year ago, let alone a few years ago. I was filled with so much rage abd terror for how he had treated me and our kids. I've had to let that go and accept that he is who he is, and not who he pretends to be or pretended to be in our marriage. My recovery is definitely a journey and not a destination-but I will say that leaving an abusive narcisstic alcoholic IS a destination point...and I passed Go and got my family to safety. That was my only goal...that, and peace. SR has been THE single most important piece of my puzzle of recovery. Hands down the most important. Y'all have helped me know I'm not alone when I felt utterly alone, ashamed and crazy for years. To be validated when you share awful stries of abuse, etc is so utterly important. I've shared some pretty disgusting things here and y'all have not only validated them, you told me I was going to be ok. Guess what-I am ok. Thanks to y'all
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Old 03-01-2016, 08:21 AM
  # 20 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by firebolt View Post
Dandy - keep doing what you do - you've helped me and others a lot!
Yes^^^^ I should have said this too Dandy! Your words always mean a lot to me.
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