My story-My husband is an alcoholic and I'm co-dependent
I introduced myself here last month. Here's my story.
My husband & I have been married for 15 years. No kids. My husband was just a casual drinker when we dated. He very gradually started drinking more frequently and more in quantity as well. In the beginning, he used to drink only on weekends including Friday night and only start drinking at night (with dinner). Gradually, he started drinking during the week beginning right after he got home from work. He combined the drinking with playing games on his computer. There were a few incidences that occurred which slapped me upside the head into realizing that he had a problem. Once, the smoke alarm was going off in the middle of the night. I could not wake him up. It terrified the crap out of me. Another incident was that he fell through the wall on his way to the restroom. And another time-my grandmother passed away and he knew something bad had happened the prior night, but didnít know what it was.
Heís not violent or abusive when drinking. Heís mostly just obnoxious, however he tries to mask it. Sometimes, heíll focus on things obsessively when drunk. Heíll speak in incomplete sentences. The alcohol seeps through his skin but he hasnít a clue. He believes that vodka has no scent.
It was probably about 7 years ago that I realized he had a drinking problem. I learned many years ago to not talk to him about anything (especially important) when he was drinking. It was probably about 3 years ago that I realized he was an alcoholic. That is when I started voicing my concerns.
We sought marriage counseling but he refused to discuss the alcohol problem. In the counseling sessions, he wanted to point out all my flaws and discuss none of his. I didnít see a point in proceeding with the counseling.
In Dec of 2015, I told him that I just couldnít deal with it anymore. I wanted a separation. And the weird thing is, I wanted the separation to see if we would be happier by ourselves, not really to work on the marriage. He refused to give me a separation and promised that he would work on it. He went cold turkey sober for about 2 Ĺ months-3 months. Then the drinking started back up again. He had a stressful day at work and drank. That opened up the can of worms because then he started drinking on weekends again. He gradually worked back up to drinking from Friday after work to Sunday night. Sometimes he wouldnít drink on Sunday. And many weeks he would drink at least one day during the week as well especially if we went out to dinner. So, that was the routine that he fell into during 2016. I saw history slowly repeating itself.
He wants so desperately to be a social drinker, but he has a hard time stopping once he starts. After a particularly bad weekend on Memorial Day weekend, I began to go to Al-Anon weekly. It helped, especially at first. I stopped attending after a few months. I read up on co-dependency and on alcoholism. The holidays hit (2016) and he had a lot of time off from work. He drinks when heís got time on his hands. So, drink, he did. I fell back into my routine of watching him drink. I checked the level on the vodka bottle to determine how much he had drank. It broke my heart. By the time the holidays came around, he was already drinking 4 of 7 days of the week. The holidays put it back into full gear.
On new years day, we had another fight. He could feel my resentment & anger. I asked for another separation, which he refused again. He says that he will spiral out of control if we separate. That weighs heavily on me. I told him that he reverted back to his old ways during the holidays which he had promised not to do. He disagreed that he reverted but did agree that he was drinking more because of the time off from work. He promised again to ďwork on itĒ.
So, right now, he drinks Friday night. Then on Saturday, he starts at noon and drinks all day. He hasnít been drinking on Sunday, but I can tell that heís trying to keep himself busy to avoid the temptation. Although, I was out of town this weekend and when I returned on Sunday, he was drunk. He was trying to mask it but I knew. I did not say anything.
I hate spending weekends with him. I dread Fridays because that begins the binge. I just hate who he is when he drinks. On Saturday, he plays his video games so heís not even around me. However, I know what heís doing. I can hear the multiple trips to the frig, and it disgusts me. Iíve searched multiple times for hidden alcohol but Iíve never found any. I watch the level on the vodka bottle. Sometimes, I pour some down the drain. Iíll check the trash bin for empty beer bottles. Iím not sure what I expect to accomplish by doing these things.
I guess at this point, Iím just wondering if itís even possible for an alcoholic to become a social drinker? Can they control it? Or should I just expect things to gradually go back to the old ways? Thanks for listening.
In my experience, no, they cannot ever be a social drinker. Yes, they normally go back to their old ways.
Sorry, I just cannot cushion the blow. I know it hurts.
You are not alone.
I just want to say, he cannot refuse to "give " you a separation.
YOU get an attorney and a plan and you just do it. Of course he's not going to agree, that's okay. He doesn't need to.
An alcoholic does not often become a social drinker - but the problem is defining what is an alcoholic; which if he drinks to drunkenness and it's causing family problems - sounds pretty quacky. Regardless, you have a right to live in an alcohol free zone if that's important to you.
If you want out, he doesn't really have any say and it sounds like you're ready. As a matter of fact, you've stayed a year and some months longer than when you were ready. I say, put on your boots! He's going to throw up roadblocks. Step over them.
I am a conflict avoidant person. I'm working on that though. . .
Page 31 of the Big Book
"Step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled drinking."
My answer is that I could go to the nearest barroom and do some controlled drinking. Within a few weeks, I will be back to uncontrollable drinking on my own so I do not engage in controlled drinking. Too many relapses and two DUIs proves that I can never engage in controlled social drinking.
So when I go the barroom or a camping trip where there is excessive drinking (which is only a few times a year), I avoid drinking because it will create a chain of events that will undo four years of sobriety. I have relapsed several times since 2009 but I have not drank socially since October 2008.
The best strategy is to learn that you are completely wired differently than your drinking buddies and that you do not feel that you have to "drink" to be normal. For an alcoholic, not drinking is normal and accepted thing by society. It is the illusion that we create in our mind that we can drink like the social drinker.
Hi, flower. Welcome. Glad you found us, but sorry for the situation that brought you here.
Sure sounds like your husband is alcohol-dependent. As you likely know, from all you have read and from your time in Al-Anon, you can't control his behavior.
He is going to drink.
He also won't want you to leave. Alcoholics love having their enablers around.
Yet, they can't do the one thing that would keep loved ones there: stop drinking.
Please don't base his recovery, or lack of, on whether you are there or not.
It has nothing to do with you. Though he may say it does.
Will he "spiral out of control" if you aren't living there? Maybe.
But as you have observed, he has been doing a pretty good job of spiralling out of control, with or without you.
Life with an addict is hard. Until they want to get sober, stop drinking, and work a solid recovery program, it is hell for those who love them
End of the day, you get to decide what you want to do. He will say the right things: I'll get help. I'll stop. I'll cut back.
And do the right things: no drinking during the week. No drinking on Sunday.
To get you to stay with him.
But, it won't last. Guarantee it. Eventually he will be back to his old routine.
You have the power to change things for you. He must want to change things for him.
Becoming a social or "normal" drinker is simply not possible for an alcoholic, and it gets nothing but worse over time. The only way things can improve is if he choses to do it himself, and it sounds like he has absolutely no desire to do so.
You know the right thing to do with leaving, he doesn't control you. I would speak with an attorney about getting divorce or at a minimum a legal separation going, as well as looking for a new place to stay. You don't want to waste your life away on this nonsense.
The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death.
- ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, The Big Book
One of the most important facts to remember about alcoholism is its progression. Alcoholism begins in an early stage that looks nothing at all like a life-threatening disease, proceeds into a middle stage where problems begin to appear and intensify, and gradually advances into the late, degenerative stages of obvious physiological dependence, physical and psychological deterioration, and loss of control.
- WILLIAM F. ASBURY, Beyond the Influence
Alcoholism is a devastating, potentially fatal disease. The primary symptom of having it is telling everyone--including yourself--that you are not an alcoholic.
-HERBERT L. GRAVITZ & JULIE D. BOWDEN, Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics
So just an update. It's been while since I've checked in here. This week has been a rough one. Last night when I came home from work, my husband had started on dinner and had a glass of wine waiting for me. I immediately suspected that he had been drinking. He had to travel for work during the day and most likely got home a little earlier than normal. Any ways, I did not notice any beer on the counters or his normal "drinking glass". However there was an open can of Sprite sitting on the counter. He stepped outside to tend to the grill and I took the opportunity to take a sip from the can of pop. Sure enough, it was liquored up. I feel deceived and hurt. He has been drinking and according to my knowledge, it's still on weekends (Friday & Saturday, with sometimes a day during the week if we go out to dinner). I'm wondering how often he's done this. Pretending to be drinking a can of pop, when it's been added to?! He's hiding it from me. I've looked multiple times throughout the house over the last few years and have never found anything hidden. I haven't talked to him about it yet. I'm pretty sure that he saw me set the can down after I took a sip. He ended up dumping it out and getting a real can of pop which he opened in front of me. I've been really quiet with him because I'm disappointed. I'm just at a loss on why he is now (or has he been doing it for a while) being secretive.
Hiding and lying are part and parcel of alcoholism, flower. My A hid his drinking from me for YEARS. Even after I finally learned what was going on, the signs of him being drunk were subtle. An outsider would never have had a clue....
He also hid his cigarette smoking from me for years. Every so often, he'd get sloppy and get caught, then swear he was quitting but in reality hide and lie about it yet again.
With both the drinking and smoking, I asked him to please do so openly so at least the dishonesty wasn't present. It didn't happen. The secrecy is simply part of the disease. People have said it's b/c the A can't admit to him/herself the truth of the matter either; maybe that's true.
I'd be willing to bet that what you've seen, what you know about, is only the tip of the iceberg. That was certainly what my experience was.
As far as talking to him about it, what do you hope to accomplish? HE is aware he is still drinking; YOU are the one who didn't know. It seems he is telling you pretty clearly what he intends to do, even if he's not saying it in so many words.
He hides it because he knows his drinking upsets you, but he doesn't want to and or can't stop.
Searching for alcohol, counting drinks, and constantly wondering if he's been drinking will make you crazy! (That's coming from a person who made herself crazy trying to monitor someones drinking.)
It doesn't matter how many drinks hes had, or how often he does it. His drinking is unacceptable to you, and the only thing you can do about it is either
accept that this is who he is and this is what he wants to be doing, and make a good life for yourself by staying away from the parts of his life that you don't like....knowing that how things are today could be the best they will ever be.
decide that this life isn't good enough for you, and change it.
BOTH choices are painful, and NEITHER will be easy to do. The only one that has a guaranteed ending to the pain of alcoholism is the latter.
HUGS to you - are you still going to meetings? You don't have to decide anything today, but meetings will help you gain some clarity, and turn your focus back to yourself, and what you want for your life. :grouphug:
Sending you strength and hope.
The only thing I would add that hasn't been said already is that there is no timeline on the progression.
By that I mean, some folks take years and years to progress through the different stages of alcoholism.
Others move more quickly.
You truthfully never can know when or how the disease will progress.
The only thing you can know with certainty is that as long as they continue to drink it will progress.
I'd revisit the idea of separation. Maybe consult a lawyer about your options if he won't voluntarily agree to one.
And yes, the secrecy and lying just go with the territory. He's not doing it to hurt you, he's doing it because he wants to drink and knows you don't approve. So clearly, you don't have to TELL him again that you don't approve--he gets that part.
He is spiraling down even though you are there. His claim that he will spiral if you leave is just his wanting things his own way--you there and for him to be able to keep drinking.
EVERY alcoholic wants desperately to be able to drink socially. The fact is, they can't.
Have you been to Al-Anon? It might help you get your head on straight so you can make the choices you need to make. There is no emergency here--at least none that you've mentioned. So you can take your time to decide how to proceed. Just know that your choices won't dictate his. Your leaving may or may not be a wakeup call for him. Many alcoholics, even though they love their partners, are unable or unready to quit drinking. Some have to accumulate many, many losses before they are ready to stop. And some are NEVER ready to stop. They just keep drinking until they die or something else happens (jail, hospitalization).
I'm glad you are working on conflict avoidance because avoidance is a short term strategy to escape conflict, and the best long term strategy to ensure suffering.
For whatever reason, I am not upset with my ABF's actual drinking (it's the emotional intimacy issues that bother me) so he has always been honest with me about how much and how often he drinks. His relatives have NO idea the volume of booze he puts away. Of course they don't know because they react to the drinking. "Have you been drinking" is the quickest way to get an active alcoholic to lie to you. Checking his soda cans will only inspire him take more precaution in the future.
That you feel it's your responsibility to help him is more than reason enough to get yourself to Al-Anon. It doesn't matter what you sweep under the rug, ask him about, check on him about or let him alone about - HE WILL DRINK. He will drink until he chooses to get himself into recovery - or not.
I decided to not bring up the pop can "incident". It is what it is. I don't think that I'm going to accomplish anything by discussing it. I'm pretty sure that he saw me take a drink out of it any ways. He knows how I feel about his drinking and he knows that I believe that he can not be a social drinker. Yet he chooses to continue his bingeing. I don't want to have the same argument over & over again.
So, this upcoming weekend is a holiday weekend and that makes me anxious. My AH always drinks more heavily during holidays. Last years Memorial Day weekend was the weekend that set me in motion for Al-Anon. My goal is to keep myself busy; I have to work on healthy detachment. It's just so hard to watch someone do that to themselves. I just don't understand it.
BTW, I have believed for years that our marriage will eventually come to an end if he continues to drink. I think that there will be a day when I know, for sure, that I've had enough. That day has not yet happened. I do look down the road from time to time. And while I have a ways yet until retirement, I just cannot imagine us retiring together. At this moment, I'm just taking it one day at a time.
Hang in there flower, and keep working on making a happy life for yourself - regardless of what he is doing - you'll get there! Can you just get out this weekend? Plan a little get away for yourself, or with a friend? Why hang around and watch the trainwreck ? I remember the holiday anxiety all too well.... HUGS!
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