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Old 07-29-2017, 01:33 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Open questions: resistance, confidentiality and embarrassment


I've been wondering about a number of specific topics over recent days, and would be very interested to hear the thoughts of anyone who's had any of these particular experiences with their alcoholic spouse.

1. How do (or would) you respond to a claim by your AS that 12-Step groups aren't for them because they don't feel listened to by the people there, and that they can't stand what they call the "evangelism" of the meetings and the way in which people describe recovery? In the scheme of things, is this just an excuse not to go - or do people thInk there is something in the idea that 12 Step genuinely might not be the best approach for everyone?
(I should qualify that my AS's issue doesn't appear to be anything around the Higher Power, but more a general distaste for what he feels is judgement about anyone who doesn't "get" 12 Step or embrace it with full zeal).

2. Besides physically going to AA groups, at what point did it feel okay for you to unburden yourself to another third party such as a trusted close family member (say parents or siblings), or a very old friend? Did you tell your AS you were doing this, and what was the result? (Again, I ask this because of the idea that 12 Step depends on anonymity. In my own situation, however, my AS has long held a belief that he detests being a subject of "gossip". I now wonder whether this is a subtle type of control, and whether I'm denying myself a source of perspective on the situation).

3. For those of you who are still, to all intents and purposes, functioning couples - how did you or do you deal with social situations with other couples? Particularly if you know your AS's behaviour around alcohol and when you're in a group is a specific boundary for you?
I ask this because I know I am stalling on arranging things with people for this very reason - now that my AS is drinking again. Counterintuitively (because the social embarrassment feels trivial, as an impact), I also feel this might be the deal-breaker that makes or breaks us as a couple. I know my AS feels lonely where we live and that he needs to socialise semi-regularly. I know this too, and yet I eye each opportunity now with some trepidation. (When things get bad at home, it's the cycle of awkward events and reunions with people that seems the most relentless. How did you manage to pause it or even stop it altogether?)

Ergo, we both feel trapped.

Update on my previous post: I think I am going to ask for a frank conversation with my AS in the next week, in the same place we went when things went pear-shaped a year ago (I.e. public, so that things stay calm and nobody flies off the handle). I will try and open the conversation by asking something like "How do you think things are going for you, one year on from when we were last here?" or "What's been your experience since you were last abstinent?" In other words, try and steer clear of being accusatory or inflammatory, while persuading him to take stock and acknowledging the elephant in the room. There are too many warning signs beginning to mount up for me, and in terms of previous patterns, I don't want to wait for things to get even worse...

Thanks in advance for any answers to my questions - any insights based on people's lives experience would be really gratefully received.
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Old 07-29-2017, 04:22 AM   #2 (permalink)
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1. AA isn't for everyone, but there are secular options. If you're in the US the meetings might end with a prayer, and that doesn't sit well with non-believers. I didn't go to AA, but I might have if I felt I was struggling.
2. Secrecy is the friend of the addict. Try not to get boxed into storing everything up and suffering from the strain of not being able to unburden. Your journey is yours to live. 'Privacy' is often an excuse to keep drinking in secret. If you need to unburden to a friend or family member, that's your right. From what you say in point 3, his drinking problem must be obvious to your social circle.
3. This is a hard one, but it's not you who should feel embarrassed. I do understand you're coping with the consequences though. If you're isolating yourself for reasons of embarrassment or fear then maybe you should consider the viability of your relationship, or socialise on your own.
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Old 07-29-2017, 06:56 AM   #3 (permalink)
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First of all, there is no need for you to "respond" to his claims AA isn't for him. The bottom line is that right now he's not interested, and arguing with him isn't going to change that. And honestly, if he could get sober by dancing around the tree naked in the back yard, you wouldn't care, right? It's the health/behavior issues that matter to you, not how he gets there. I know many people who have gotten sober without AA and stayed that way. Typically they are people who put their own massive efforts into changing their lives, inside and out. They might not do it with the formality of a 12-Step program, but they achieve something similar (which AA refers to as a "spiritual awakening," defined in AA's Big Book as "a personality change sufficient to recover from alcoholism").

In my own experience, though (two marriages to alcoholics and almost 9 years sober, myself), most people who claim AA "isn't for them" are still in denial about their disease and looking for loopholes that will allow them to keep drinking. They consider themselves superior to "those people" and terminally unique. It's generally a load of BS to consider oneself "better" or "different" from other alcoholics, but again, until a person is ready to see that and get a bit of humility, there is no point in arguing about it.

In terms of confiding in others about what's going on at home, I generally went with who I felt I needed to tell. It isn't gossip to talk about a problem with a close friend whom you can trust to keep personal information private. You have every right to share what you need to for your own well-being. If he doesn't like it, well, then he can quit doing hurtful things that require you to seek the support of others. Don't EVER put the alcoholic's "privacy" above your own well-being. As noted above, alcoholism thrives on secrecy, and keeping secrets tends to make us, as partners, sick.

Finally, in terms of navigating social activities, my best suggestion is to have some good boundaries for what you will and will not tolerate. You could decide that you will always have your own way to get home and that you will leave if he becomes drunk and embarrassing. If he embarrasses himself that's on him, not you. Or if he is simply too unreliable at all times, you could decide not to attend social gatherings with him--that you would go by yourself or not at all. Just suggestions--everyone has to decide what works best for him/herself.
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Old 07-29-2017, 09:01 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I am the alcoholic in my marriage so I'll respond for me

1) As the people here will tell you, you have to stay in your lane and deal with what you can control. Al-anon seems like a good suggestion.

As for AA, we all come to it and experience it in different ways - both initially and then during. For me, there were too many people in the room, and it made me nervous. At my first meeting, I managed to self identify as 'new' and 'alcoholic' not knowing it would cause the more senior members to flood to me after to offer phone numbers and conversations. It was overwhelming to say the least. I navigated that and managed to get to meetings, and found a small group of quieter women. I wasn't and still am not much of a higher power person, and that's never been a problem. There are certainly people who are very 'high' on the program and perhaps seem a bit 'preachy', but like everything else in AA you take what you need and leave the rest. Some of the harder parts of AA (for me) are way more internal than external. When a speaker or a step discussion moves waaaaay close to home and hits a lot of nerves. I can leave AA meetings pretty shaken, and usually need to follow up with my sponsor to figure out what to do with the ugly feelings that can arise (shame, embarrassment, etc)
That said, AA is not for everyone, but those who find that do so after really trying it. I know people using SMART recovery, Rational recovery, who go to the Gnostics chapters.... etc. Some people prefer one to once counselling. It depends on the person. but the commonality is that the person is actively seeking a new recovery program and demonstrating deep commitment.

2. Agree, secrecy is the best friend of the alcoholic. I don't have any hard and fast facts - but I again recommend al-anon. You are a person too, you need to talk. I imagine there's a lot to talk about.

3) Social situations is a tough one. This is a road you can draw a lot of boundaries on. Understand that you cannot change the behaviour of the alcoholic, that is within his control only. So if you do make plans to bring the alcoholic out, you must also accept any and all alcoholic behaviour. Which seems like a pretty raw deal, right? A couple of years of sobriety and my advice to you is not to set yourself up for disappointment and failure. You'll be angry, you will want to confront him, and nothing will be solved.

You didn't ask but here's the thing - alcoholics get sober when they want sobriety more than they want to be drunk. There are no rationalizations, there is no real criticism of the method we take to become sober. If one doesn't seem to gel we find another. We use multiple methods at the same time (for me, AA, SR, books on addiction, counselling, regular medical apps with dr, journalling, and meditation). When we want it we stop at nothing. When you see that level of commitment, and behaviour that is non-erratic for some time, then you will know what's up.

Wishing you nothing but the best
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Old 07-29-2017, 09:54 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Looking back, 3 things that hurt me the most that I had the power to do something about:

1. Isolation. I self-isolated with shame, with trying to control what was uncontrollable , with not knowing I was even doing this.

2. Believing my marriage and taking care of my spouse was more important than my own emotional, physical, spiritual and mental health.

3. Turning to the wrong people for help... friends and family who seemed like they were helping, yet this kept us bogged down in the mire of the disease; doctors who didn't specialize in addiction who didn't have a clue that their suggestions kept us running in a hamster wheel of going nowhere.

By breaking through the isolation and walking through the doors of Alanon meetings, the rest started to come together. It's a journey, not a race.

I didn't like going to meetings, but it's what saved me and my marriage. If my marriage hadn't survived, nothing I could have done would have "fixed" that.
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Old 07-29-2017, 10:38 AM   #6 (permalink)
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AA even says it isnt for everyone.
what i read thats pretty sad is it seems quite a few people say that but dont look for other methods of recovery.
which leads me to believe quite a few people arent honestly,sincerely ready for recovery.
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