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Boyfriend shows little emotions in recovery

Old 08-27-2001, 11:47 AM
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mindybadger
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Boyfriend shows little emotions in recovery

It's been a long and hard road to get my boyfriend into treatment for alcoholism. Let's just say for over 2 years I put up with a lot and I need to go to Alanon and work the steps to get emotionally healthy again. He got out of a 28-day treatment program about a month ago. At first, he acted like everything was going to be so much better, more communication, etc. After the first day home, he's been keeping me at "arm's length". He doesn't show much affection or emotions. If I try to communicate with him about these things, he gets upset and tries to put it all on me. I realize I need to be patient, but I'm tired of not getting my needs met and waiting for him to get his act together. Is he exhibiting "dry drunk" behavior? I've made a 6-month goal for myself to move out and move on with my life if things don't change for the better. It's so hard to see that things can get better and that I could have a life where I don't cry every other day over his icy disposition or irresponsible behavior. Am I being too harsh...or too passive? I'm realizing how extremely co-dependent I am and I need to work hard to get better. I'm almost done with "Codependent no more" and it's a great book! I've just always wanted a healthy relationship, and I really love him, but my needs are important too and I'm tired of everything being about him. Any advice, suggestions? Thanks very much. I'm feeling really confused.
 
Old 08-27-2001, 12:47 PM
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Hi Mindybadger, welcome to the forum!
First... yes, go to al-non.
Second... You say you put up with this for over 2 years. He probably can't solve a two year (at least) problem in 28 days. Recovery from alchoholism involves a life change, not just detox. You're probably not going to be able to look to him to meet your needs just yet. He's still struggling with himself. Your 6 month goal may be more reasonable. I've read that addicts may actually go through a "grieving" process. Perhaps his distance may be explained that way.
I hope you have friends and activities of your own that do not depend on his involvement. If not, get some. You cannot live in someone else's addiction or recovery.
In what way is he behaving irresponsibly? Has he joined a support group, or does he have aftercare of any sort?
In many rehab programs, patients are told they must give up their friends who they imbibed with as well as the settings and situations in which they chose to drink or use. For many addicts that defines most of their world. Just imagine if you had most of your familiar friends and environs suddenly forbidden to you. I think for me it would take a lot more than a couple of months adjustment to get on an even emotional keel.
You coped with the alchohol for two years. I'll bet he wasn't meeting your needs then either. Don't look to him for your strength, yet. Find an al-anon group, keep reading and keep posting. We will be here for you, while he can't. Only you can decide if he's worth waiting for.

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Old 08-27-2001, 02:05 PM
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ooh! ooh!
See Pernell's reply to "what is stage II recovery" this page!
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Old 08-27-2001, 02:43 PM
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I know exactly how you feel. you should read my posting, "Lonley and Afraid". That is my story. You are doing the right thing by giving yourself a goal. That shows me what a strong person you are to be able to do that. It is so hard when you love someone so much and do everything for them and try to help them, and this is the treatment you get. Trust me I know all about it. I wish I could tell you more or give you more or give you more information, but,I, myself am going through what you are. The past week he has not drank and we went to a huge party with family and friends and I thought for sure it would end up bad. But you know what, to my surprise, he drank Coke, and Sprite all night long. We had a great time! But- I am not getting my hopes up cause it has only been about 1 1/2 weeks since he last drank. But he did show me that he could do it, and beleive me I know that it was very hard for him not to drink at the party this past weekend. He told me in the earlier part of the week that he owuldn't, and I didn't beleive him....well he did it. Please hang in there and just make sure that you take care of you first. Give him all the support you can give, but don't settle and don't let him put the blame on you at all. Remeber it is him not you. It is real easy to lose confidence in yourself from how they can treat you...don't let that happen. Keep you r chin up and you can rely on me anytime!
 
Old 08-28-2001, 09:17 AM
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Thanks Smoke and Linda 332 for responding. I definitely will check out this book. Well, I have something more urgent to deal with right now: My boyfriend relapsed last night for the first (?) time since getting out of treatment a month ago. I was extremely upset, and noticed his sober friends' sheet laying out, so I called one of them. They called back, and came and picked him up. He stayed with another sober friend last night, which was a relief because I was so angry I didn't want to see him. I guess he hasn't been working the program, and I'm definitely going to throw myself into it now and I expect him to do the same. I so much want to pack up and leave, but I have to remember a day at a time...
 
Old 08-28-2001, 09:58 AM
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Hi again, Mindybadger!
In general, I hate psychobabble. I define that as people throwing around psychological terms that they don't understand and are unqualified to use. However, I am going to indulge.
In some recovery disciplines, the terms "lapse" and "relapse" are used to define the difference between a temporary backslide, and a full scale return to the former habit. We are cautioned to observe and delay judgement, until we see how far the behavior actually goes. I am certainly guilty of the fast fury that you felt last night. It seems like they're just not trying. But try to reflect.

I am an ex-smoker. When I was quitting, I lapsed. That's a nice way of saying, I cheated. I still eventually was able to stop entirely. Perhaps you have never smoked, but have you ever been on a diet and just been unable to resist a yummy peice of chocolate cake? That one peice of pastry did not negate your total progress... unless you progressed on to pies, cookies and indicriminate pizzas afterward.

IT'S WONDERFUL that your boyfriend has a list of sober friends to call on! They are for just such occasions as these... to help make sure that a craving or lapse does not result in a full scale relapse. Let your anger out HERE. This lapse could be just a part of HIS normal recovery process. Don't give him your rage to use as an excuse for continuing to drink. Most of us aren't given Saint Recoverii Spontanimous to all hail. I'm not saying to look the other way. I don't say you should condone what he did.. I say, you might keep looking and see what developes before you pack it all in.
BUT! only you know when the situation becomes impossible for you.
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Old 08-28-2001, 10:34 AM
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Thank you for responding Smoke! Okay, I'm following your advice and getting my anger out here: I do hope it is just a "lapse" as you say, otherwise I will have to leave. I will be so resentful if that becomes necessary because in being so codependent, I've allowed myself to get into debt, and I have no credit and no savings. It seems my only recourse would be to move back and stay with my parents in Nebraska and quit the software testing job that I love so much! I can't afford to rent a place right now, and I really don't want a roommate situation. I want to keep our dog and two cats. I'd probably also have to file banruptcy as I don't know how I'll come up with $550 a month to pay back my consolidated debt. I just don't know who to stay with here in Seattle. Nobody I know seems to have room, except maybe his mom. But, that wouldn't feel right to live with his mom! I'm also angry because I feel I've wasted 3 years on somebody who will never be capable of loving me and treating me the way I'd like to be treated. I don't feel I have a lot of reserves left. I'm so tired of everything being about him and his disease. If he doesn't have any emotions, can't cope very well, doesn't help around the house, is disrespectful, feels sorry for himself, doesn't earn his fair share of the money, I'm supposed to just "work" my own program and give him more time. I'd love to be able to work on my issues, but there's always some crisis with him, or physical issue with me, I don't even hardly know what they are anymore. I'm starting to feel like I hate him, like I don't love him, and I wish I'd never met him. Those aren't very productive thoughts I guess, because I can't go back and change anything in the past. I realize this. I'm so angry right now that I want him to feel the hurt that I've felt for the past 3 years so he knows what he put me through. I'm fantasizing about destroying everything I bought for him if I do leave. God knows he's destroyed so many of my things that I loved, that I got from my family. I guess I want something from him that will motivate me to stay. I want him to tell me he'll work the program, I want to see him apply for a job, not go back to the old job where everybody there drinks and smokes pot. I think he lapsed because he is truly afraid or unwilling of making the major changes necessary in his life - hanging with sober friends, going to meetings, journaling, counseling, getting a new job, being more responsible and proud of our home and showing it by helping out. He is always so gung ho about new things and then flakes out. This is what appears to be happening in his recovery. He was SO confident initially. Did I mention I just got back from Nebraska to help in an intervention to get my brother into treatment for alcoholism? A recurring them here in my life! When I got back, I found two different beer caps on the table and asked him about it. He said he didn't know where they came from, probably from a friend who came over to help him get my car from the airport. He initially said he wanted to put a sign on the door saying "No drugs or alcohol allowed in the house". I wonder, then, why did he allow his friend to bring it in the house and leave the beer caps on the table? I wonder now if he drank while I was gone. He says no, but now I don't trust or believe him. His sister said she saw him quite a bit while I was gone, and he seemed to be doing fine. Yes, it's good he had the sober friends sheet out. I guess I need to see him work the program or I will feel like packing it in. Does that seem reasonable? I'm so angry at not being able to have a stable life and work on my issues and enjoy life. I feel like I'm doing an injustice to God and the Universe by allowing myself to be this miserable for so long. I don't know what to do for myself other than go to meetings, meditate, talk to friends. I can't really go anywhere right now if it costs $ as I have $5 in my wallet and the bank account is overdrawn. I just had to ask my mom again to borrow money to help us get back on our feet. It was really hard to have to ask that. Now that he's lapsed, I feel embarrassed, humiliated, ashamed, and desperate right now. The main feeling is anger. I don't want to tell my mom. How would she feel sending me money knowing that my boyfriend is still being a selfish jerk?
 
Old 08-28-2001, 11:10 AM
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Boy, does that all sound familiar.

I guess it all comes down to what you "don't want" most. Roommates, Nebraska, Bankruptcy, An Addict using up your emotions and your resources. What choices.


I think the beer cap thing is interesting. I would have tortured myself with questions like "Why would he leave them for me to find? Is he tryng to provoke me? Does he think I'm stupid? Does he want help? What? What? What?"

Yes, it's reasonable to expect him to "work the program" if that is his choice of a recovery method. It's also reasonable to give it a little time, if you choose. AND it is reasonable to explore other options. Does he know about your resolve? It's fair to tell him.
I'm trying to be detached, but I'm having a "that miserable jerk" attack. Pull your own weight you creep! Sorry. Strong identification. I let my anger out here, too.

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Old 08-28-2001, 11:25 AM
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Thanks Smoke, I really appreciate you responding. I'm starting to feel tired, depressed. Now I'm mad because I haven't heard from him today and was hoping he'd call and reassure me of his intention to work the program. Nothing. I want to have a co-counseling session, "Focusing" with a girlfriend tonight, and I was hoping he'll tell me that he'll be at a meeting so we won't have any disturbances. I want to call him at work and talk to him about it and ask him about his commitment to recovery, but he probably won't want to talk at work. Plus, it's kind of loud there. I think my codependence is coming on strong, even though I'm still so angry. Advice?
 
Old 08-28-2001, 12:43 PM
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Do your thing.
He's going to do what he's going to do. It's his thing. Do you trust his reassurances right now anyway? He knows what you want him to do, right? Let him be a big boy. He knows how. He just has to choose to. On his own. For your own sake.... let go a little.
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Old 08-28-2001, 01:54 PM
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Good advice. Thank you! Have a great day and evening!
 
Old 08-29-2001, 08:57 AM
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Smoke,
Okay, I still vented on my boyfriend when I got home from work. I'm trying to learn to be honest about how I'm feeling, not hide and deny stuff, but balance it out so I don't go overboard. I MAY have gone overboard last night...a friend that we haven't seen was there and I came in crying because I had a horrible day, there was somebody threatening to jump off the freeway brige in the morning so they shut down the freeway!, so my commute was bad both ways, my mouth hurt because I just had oral surgery a week ago, I had been obsessing all day about his lapse, and yet some other things that I'll spare you the details of. Does that paint a picture of someone who is a mess? I apologized to our friend saying that I feel like I'm going to have a nervous breakdown, which I truly did. She asked what was wrong and my boyfriend was sitting beside me. I told her that I just had oral surgery, and asked her if she knew Jeffrey had gone through treatment and she said yes she just found out. I told her he lapsed last night, and I went on to tell her about my brother almost dying and being in treatment as well. Jeffrey got up and walked away at this point. After she left, I was afraid he would get angry that I had brought up the lapse in front of her. He didn't. He said he was sorry I had a bad day, but the conversation somehow escalated to a fight. He said that the message was loud and clear what I need from him and I don't need to beat it into him. I gues I feel I need to do that based on his past behavior. I told him I couldn't live this way and go through many lapses, and his dry drunk behavior, and he said I should just break up with him and he can't live with MY behavior. I told him fine to get out of the house, and he was kind of incredulous. He said I would have to leave, and I told him never because I've worked steadily the past 3 years, he hasn't, I've done most of the work in the house, etc. etc. He said he wasn't going to be threatened by me anymore as far as leaving. I told him it wasn't a threat, it was a goal for me to get my life back and be happy, whatever it takes. Am I making sense here? I feel like I'm babbling. I started to tell him a bit later that I was sorry if he felt I wasn't being supportive enough by not going to Alanon meetings and tried to explain that it was physical things that keep coming up, but that I had bought the 12-step book and was working on them. He tried to abruptly stop me as usual and said he didn't want to hear anyting more from me. Well, I'm tired of him shutting me down so I told him I felt I had a right to speak and he said he didn't have to listen. I went ahead and expressed that to him. I don't want him to keep saying, "If you went to Alanon meetings, you'd know that what you're saying now is wrong", etc. etc. So, it seems he's manipulated and won again. He's the victim, and I'm the one who is all wrong. I'm wondering if I should get away with my girlfriend for the weekend. I'd like to make plans, because I desperately need to relax. I'd also like it if he wanted to do something and we could attempt get along and have a good time, sort of heal up together. Right now communication seems so impossible and hopeless, I'm not sure what to do at this point. If I try to make plans with him, he'll act like he's still mad at me. If I try to make plans with someone else, he'll try to manipulate me, subtly, to change them. Or maybe I start feeling codependent and change them on my own. I'll be honest here. I did a Focusing/co-counseling session with my girlfriend last night and it was very helpful. I am planning to go to Alanon meetings the rest of the week. Any advice, feedback as to my behavior, my next move? Thank you!
 
Old 08-29-2001, 10:29 AM
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Mindybadger...
Go to al-anon. No excuses. Excuses are for addicts and people who want to cling to their discontent. I don't know all the things you are saying to your boyfriend, so I don't know if any of them are wrong... but you don't either! GO and listen to the voices of experience! If you feel like you got manipulated and "he won again" by pulling the "you need help" routine, YOU MUST FIND OUT if you are contributing to the problem or not. Stop shooting at him with a gun loaded with blanks. Get some ammo and then fire very discriminately.
Now here's something that has come very hard for me, and I'm still not very good at. It is okay to apologize to your boyfriend if you feel you went overboard. Don't let pride come between you and rectifying a bad situation. Even with someone who has done many things that are very wrong... it's okay, and wise, to say "you're right" IF they are.
It's also okay to step back, when it becomes obvious you are not being heard for WHATEVER reason, and say..."I would like to talk about this...can we talk about this later when I'm calmer?"
You cannot push him into a recovery. You have told him what you want. The rest is up to him. You can't MAKE him see. You can't MAKE him listen. You can't MAKE him wise up. And trying to communicate with someone when you're both angry is futile.
You say you're tired of everything being about him. Are you MAKING it be about him? For instance, you got caught up in a suicide attempt, your teeth hurt and you just generally had a bad day. But you turned the conversation to "oh, and HE'S and addict". Old news. FOR YOURSELF, you need to find a way to stop "obsessing" over what he does. Go for the weekend with your girlfriend if it's what you WANT to do. If you keep second guessing about what he'll do, or think, you're not doing it for you. You are trying to win at the manipulation game.
And saying to someone..."I could go do this, or we could go do that... do you have a preference?"... is negotiation. It reduces the presence of manipulation. If he says, "go and have a good time"... go and have a good time. If he says "I'd rather we..." and his "rather" is an acceptable option to you, do that. Listen to what he says and stop trying to guess what he MEANS. If he's not truthful about his preferences , that's not your problem.
Have you accepted that you're not responsible for him? Good. Can you accept that he's not responsible for you?
Al-anon, al-anon, al-anon.

I mean it with love.
Smoke




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Old 08-29-2001, 10:49 AM
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Smoke,
It's so helpful to get advice from someone who's been through this, and who isn't emotionally caught up in the situation as I am. It gets so hard to see clearly. Your email nickname makes sense now. I've often referred to a "smoke and mirrors" routine about my boyfriend's past behavior. I hope that I can find answers at meetings and some of them are different than just reading out of the One Day at a Time book and each person giving their feedback on what it means. Maybe the simplicity of that approach is effective. I heard there were different types of Alanon meetings. I guess I'll go to different ones and find out. I've only been to one! Yikes! My main fear now is "How can I commit to a lifetime with someone when I'm not sure how much I trust him anymore?" Hopefully, Alanon will help with that also. Whatever I do find out, I'll post it here. It would be nice to offer advice rather than always being so needy. But that's why most of us are part of this group, I suspect, at least initially. So, thanks again for your objective feedback, it's extremely helpful!
Peace,
Mindybadger
 
Old 08-29-2001, 11:06 AM
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Uh oh. My boyfriend just called and is acting really angry and resentful about last night. He says he still wants to break up with me, and we can't do anything this weekend anyway because we're so broke. I apologized for overreacting and asked if we could move forward and try to let go of resentments. He doesn't seem willing to do that. I told him I would arrange to get my things and leave, which means quitting my job and leaving town. He said he was fixing lunch at home and would call me back to talk further about it. What the hell? My head is spinning. I can't handle this anymore...
 
Old 08-29-2001, 11:41 AM
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Oh, Mindybadger!
If you can't handle it any more, then don't. But, what happened to "he has to be the one to leave"? If he's making the decision to end the relationship, why should you compromise on that point? Let him move out and get yourself a roommate. Unless you WANT to pack up and leave town. Maybe whether or not to stay in the relationship is something that is being taken out of your hands, but does your choice of residence have to be? Make sure what you do is what YOU want to do.

If this storm blows over, you might think about couples counseling (or rat poison). It was worse than inconsiderate of him to call and lay this on you at work. It looks like a deliberate attempt at injury and a childish act of retribution. Many relationships do not survive recovery... it's too hard for those couples to adjust to new patterns. But, boy, oh boy, if you ultimately wind up slugging this thing out... you guys need way new patterns. Do you want to continue this?

WAIT! WAIT! I was just kidding about the rat poison!!!!!

You have options. You have explained them to us. Review them. It may help you stop spinning.

Now I just have to add....THE JERK!!!!!

Smoke
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Old 08-29-2001, 01:59 PM
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Smoke,
Okay, he's being very clear about wanting to break up and he said he's moving out. I don't know if that'll change when I get home, but it seems he's made his decision. I'm in shock and feel like I'm going to puke. Rent is due in 6 days and I don't have the $. I don't know who to get for a roommate, I'm not functioning at work and I think I'm going to leave for the day pretty soon. I don't know if I still want to go to an Alanon meeting tonight, but alchoholism has been looming over me my whole life, so I guess it would be good. What else have I got to do? I've pretty much isolated myself from most people because I was embarrassed about constantly having problems and didn't want to vent. I'm in a very tough spot right now. I guess I won't fall completely apart. I'm asking God and Universe to help me through this. It's very painful because in June when he went in for treatment, he sent me an email telling me "I love you. Thank you for letting me see the light. I'm going into treatment to get back to myself and you". He told his cousin he didn't want to lose me. And now 1 month after treatment, he's dumping me. We incurred thousands of dollars of bills which are all in my name (I'm mad at myself) and I don't think he'll help me. So, I'm looking at possible bankruptcy unless I can get him to sign an IOU. I'm so baffled as to why he's giving up now. Maybe because I was firm in my expectations of him, and he feels he can't or won't do that, so just give up now...? I wonder if he drank while I was away on my family emergency, and he wants to get rid of me so he can go back to his drinking? I don't get it. I stood by him through all his crap, and now he dumps me. I suppose in the long run it's best for me, but I feel very betrayed and heart broken. I realize that he's still in the initial stages of recovery and I wonder if he's thinking clearly, or just can't cope with realities of bills and emotions, etc. so he's fleeing. I don't know what to expect at this point. Talk about a person's life falling apart...!
 
Old 08-30-2001, 08:00 AM
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Smoke,
Well, the day ended more hopeful than I thought it would. I went to an Alanon meeting and found it incredibly helpful. I felt like I was looking in a mirror and hearing myself talk. We talked about the recovery process. I believe my boyfriend was trying to hurt me back, and when I hit him with the realities of business to discuss, the bills, our possessions, etc. he waffled on moving out. I also think he's confused and can't cope with the reality of us going through several financial distress right now. I've decided to go ahead and file bankruptcy, because I simply can't pay rent, bills with my consolidated loan. That way, if he flakes and does walk out on me, I will be set up to take care of myself much better. I hope that I will have time to set up some savings for myself for just such an emergency and won't feel so helpless if he should leave. I've also decided to detach even more and realize that he may not be able to love me, he just may not have it in him right now. He hasn't been sober for so long, I don't think he knows who he is anymore, so how can he have a real relationship. I've decided it's out of my hands and I'm turning it over to my Higher Power. It always sounded trite to me, but it's comforting now. Since I love to try to fix things, I now believe that I have the tools to begin to fix myself. My boyfriend also said something like "I believe this had to happen" as if he wanted to "scare me straight" or something like that. He knows I have been very dysfunctional and unhappy. While I think his methods were cruel and confusing, I do believe that I can handle things a lot better now. Does that seem strange? I hope you don't tell me I'm in denial here. I just don't have any other choice but to let go and go to meetings and accept whatever happens. Have I gone temporarily insane?? Well, I don't think so. Thanks for listening and coming with me on this roller coaster ride! Dang!
 
Old 08-30-2001, 09:13 AM
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HI Mindybadger,
Congratulations on embarking on the journey to conquer step I. Admitting that you cannot control the addict, that is. You do not have the power to change anyone but yourself, and it's great to see that you have already begun.
It's a bit arrogant of your boyfriend to think his little trick was the catalyst, but it's okay to let him think so, if he needs a little success in his life.
You're right when you say he doesn't know who he is anymore. Letting go of a crutch like alchohol is certain to leave him off balance for awhile. And the fact is, when our addicts begin to recover, we don't know who we are either. At least, not in terms of our relationship with them. We have to renegotiate the whole thing. Be patient with him AND YOURSELF.
Temporarily insane? Nah. I think you're on the road to getting sane.
Keep posting.

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Old 08-30-2001, 09:44 AM
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Smoke,
Yeah! I took my first step in working on the first step! Wow, I can now relate a little bit more on how addicts feel. Seems like every time I heard a bell I'd come out fighting, and I'm sick of it. I sure hope there are no more crises to deal with, but I've decided I'm not going to fall apart after all. Whatever the Universe and God has in mind, I can't do anything about it anyway, so I'm not going to fight it anymore. I'm so glad I joined this chat room, wish I had more time to browse the other topics. Maybe later. Thanks again, I'll keep in touch.
Peace, Mindybadger
 

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