What to Do Next.

Old 06-12-2019, 06:23 PM
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What to Do Next.

I'm very new to this site, I only found it because I was googling the term 'gaslighting' after my therapist has used it several times to describe my husbands behavior towards me in certain situations.

Let me preface all of this by saying my husband is a good man and a good father, we get along very well and compliment each others strengths as human beings. We truly enjoy each others company when sober. I want nothing more than for him to just seek help so we can continue to live our lives together.

But I've been struggling for almost 10 years with his drinking and have come to realize that he is absolutely a functional alcoholic. We met in college and drank as a couple for several years before it became problematic, really I'd say the turning point was when we had our first child. I had to grow up and be responsible for the sake of my children and he continued on with this lifestyle of binge drinking and daily drinking to cope with stress.

So here I am 10 years later after many fights and frustrations. I've recently had this ah-ha moment when I started reading about gas lighting. My husband is not a narcissist, but I do think he uses gas lighting on me simply to keep up the habit. And it has worked. He will lie to my face saying he hasn't had a single thing to drink when he CLEARLY has. He will have conversations with me drunk and then the next morning sober have the exact conversation and make me feel crazy for questioning his level of drunkeness the night before. Thankfully he's not abusive to me or the kids, he just drinks too much too often. The only punishment he's ever gotten from me is a stern talking to the morning after, which my therapist has pointed out to me many times. No real consequences, he gets to do what he wants.

I'm to the point where I don't want to bring him around my friends in social situations because I know he'll embarrass me and I'll be mad by the time we leave.

I've had to lie for him because he drank too much and I didn't want to bring him out with me and my friends. So I told them he decided to stay home.

His father is an alcoholic, but only became one after my husband was fully grown.

I feel like I'm doing a terrible job of explaining things for back story sake, so I guess I'll just share what I'm up against at the moment.

Late last year we were preparing for a company party at our house while he was also going through a stressful time at work. He was out in the garage while I worked inside getting things ready. He'd been drinking that evening but I had no idea how much, he was standing there with a co-worker talking business and feeding my 3 year old snacks while he 'helped around the garage". I told him I had to leave to go pick up my older son from his friends house and asked that he have him down to sleep by the time I got back, it was past his bedtime.
I get back to my house with my older son about 30 minutes later and I cannot find my husband or younger child anywhere. I call my husband concerned and a police officer answers (and let me tell you what a shock this was, nothing like this has ever happened before). He says my husband has been arrested for driving drunk with a child and I need to come and pick up my son. He'd put my son in the back seat to go get pizza... no car seat. Then he said he realized he was too drunk to drive, pulled over into a subdivision and fell asleep. Officers had to break a window to get to my son. My older son had to experience me picking up his brother from the back of a police car asking where his dad was because he could see his car.
Words cannot do justice the heart ache, stress, hell, and embarrassment this situation caused me and our marriage. He told me while he was in jail that next day that he realizes he probably has a drinking problem and made a huge mistake. I was so, so angry and told him no more drinking, ever.

Gosh, it was maybe 2.5 weeks later and he'd somehow weaseled his way back into drinking again, promising only one with dinner or two at a party etc. He wasn't drinking every night that I know of, but we were back to where we'd always been where he was drinking what he wanted when he wanted and I didn't really have a say.

We'd have a lot of nights where I could tell he was drinking but he'd lie about it, make me feel crazy, and then apologize in the morning.

Fast forward to now, after more anecdotes than I would even care to share with you, last weekend happened.

Friday: he comes home from work early at 4pm so I can run some errands before I take my boys on a planned 8 day trip without him. I come home at 5:30pm and he's clearly been drinking. I calmly ask him if he's been drinking and he insists he has not and tries to make me feel stupid for asking. This happens all the way until I'm ready to go to bed. FYI - we don't fight around the kids about this, I don't even fight about it anymore with him before fighting with a drunk is futile. I was calm, hoping he'd just be honest with me.
He slept in the guest room that night and came into my bed around 6:30am and apologized, said he had a few beers after he got home from work and he lied to me about it and then he was embarrassed that he lied so he continued to lie. My therapist calls this 'addict brain' or something.

Around 2:30pm that day he said to me 'I know you're going out of town to think about things with us, I'm going to think about things too and how I can be better.'

2:45pm I go into the garage to ask him a quick question and I find him pouring vodka into his Monster.

I immediately told him my 8 day trip would be extended and I wasn't sure when we'd be back. He said okay.

He came into the house and told me he had no excuse and that he knew I'd looked into it longer than he had and he'd like me to send him information on where he can go while also working to get help with alcohol dependency. He says sometimes he has no idea why he drinks, he has no idea why when he knows he shouldn't he still chooses to do it anyway.

Vodka is a new thing by the way, liquor in general. It's only been the last several weeks that I've noticed he's been drinking that along with or instead of beer/wine.

This trip is something my therapist encouraged me to do. Get out of the 'dance' with my husband and his drinking. The dance I've been doing for years now, clear my head and see what I want and need as a human being. She agrees he's an alcoholic and her biggest problem with him is he's still so concerned with 'controlling' his drinking and convincing everyone he will just have one or two. He wants to cut back but still be able to drink, but he's been trying that for YEARS and failing. She thinks I need to figure out what I need for me and stop being so concerned with what he needs. Because what he needs is professional help otherwise this is going to get worse. And only he can make that decision to get help.

So I'm on the trip, I've read a ton about alcoholism and gas lighting. I've told him in no uncertain terms that we are not coming back and living in that house with him unless he is actively seeking sobriety through a program. He's given me quite the hard time saying that he's more likely to do bad things while I'm away because he has no accountability and no support. I told him that nothing about my presence has ever held him accountable for anything and all I'm doing by staying is enabling and accepting his terrible behavior.

He went to lunch with one of my friends yesterday, a woman who is our age who has been sober for a couple of years now and he sought information from her. So that's positive.

He's telling me that while I'm away he's going to look into resources for him so that he doesn't 'mess up' when we come back.

All of this long post to say, he thinks I should come back after 2.5 weeks total of being gone. I honestly don't know where to go from here. Do I go back and when he messes up the first time just leave? Pack up the boys and leave? The LAST thing I want is to screw my children up because of his poor choices. So far they've been shielded from the drama as much as I can and I want to keep it that way.

My older son starts 1st grade in the fall. I'd planned to send him to school in the area where's he's been the last 3 years (we moved away from my home area 3 years ago but that's where I am right now). I feel like I need to make a decision for his school soon.

I feel so lost, like this is such a big decision but my husband NEEDS SPACE to figure this out. I cannot live in that house with him where I'm daily concerned what he's had to drink, if he's drinking, how much he's had to drink, and if he's lying to me. I refuse to go back to that life.

I just don't know what to do. What the right amount of space is. I feel torn and lost and overwhelmed.

And I'm pregnant with our 3rd due in September. I know that if I go back into that house and allow this to continue on leaving will be SO MUCH HARDER with an infant.

If he starts doing AA this week or next, is that enough? If he says he's starting the program, is that enough?

Any help or guidance or advice is appreciated.
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Old 06-12-2019, 06:51 PM
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Let me also just say he loves his kids and our family. He spends a ton of quality time with them sober, but if it gets into the afternoon almost inevitably he will drink something. He's a really great dad and does so much for and with them. He never goes to bars, he's home by 6pm after work every night, he's a family man by nature.

Also, not everyone can tell he's been drinking when I can, he's good at hiding it. So he's not always getting fall down drunk, I'd say about 80% of the time he's drunk and only I know it.

And I say he's a functional alcoholic because he holds a very good job, is incredibly intelligent, and only drinks when he gets home from work (thanks to the breathalyzer now in his car I know that to be true). Now that hasn't always been the case, his office is very boozy and they keep it there and many people drink in the afternoons (insane to me). Not good for someone like him and I know there are others similar to him in that very same office. Ugh.
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Old 06-12-2019, 07:15 PM
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This was like reading my own life. I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. I am right there with you on so many levels. This site has been extremely helpful guiding me to make healthy decisions for me and my children. Here’s hoping you find the support you need as I have!
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Old 06-12-2019, 07:21 PM
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What did you do??? I feel so lost. At times I don't even want to believe this is all happening and that I'm just a dramatic wife making too big of a deal out of this. But I have young children and living in that house is exhausting and I'm tired of it and I just wish someone would tell me what to do. And I know that's unrealistic, this just sucks.
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Old 06-12-2019, 07:27 PM
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It sounds like, from your post, you’re doing what all of us that love alcoholics do. You lost all these things that make you crazy, make you feel bad, give you anxiety, but... you can list off a whole bunch of things that make it “not so bad.” He’s a good dad when he’s not putting the kids in the car to drive drunk on a pizza run. He’s not “noticeably” drunk 80% of the time he’s drunk. He NEEDS ME for accountability.

The greatest thing my therapist told me was, “If loving you was enough to stop him from drinking, don’t you think he would have stopped by now? If you could control his drinking, don’t you think it would have stopped years ago?” At the end of the day, the root cause of drinking for our alcoholics is they are still actively choosing to drink. And they will do that until they either die or choose not to, and that will only be up to them. You didn’t cause it. You can’t control it. And you can’t cure it.

Ultimately none of us can tell you how to continue your marriage any more than you can tell him how to drink. I can suggest finding an AlAnon meeting you like and going. Look up detaching with love. Make a list of what you want out of your life and decide where he fits in it, assuming he doesn’t change, because you can’t control whether he does.

And finally, reach out to your friends and family that you trust. Alcoholics like their problem to stay in the dark. They don’t want you to talk about it. But it will lift so much weight off of your shoulders to have real support, someone to call or text to talk. To give you a hug.

Best at of luck to you. This is wonderful, supportive community with a lot of experience and a lot of heart.
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Old 06-12-2019, 07:41 PM
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I wish I could give you the answers you seek. I made a choice to ask my husband to leave (check my posts if you like). He’s currently sleeping in a tent on our property. When I think about that what immediately pops I to my mind is guilt. I feel like the bad guy because it was my decision to make him leave. But guess what? It was HIS decision that put us all in this situation. Like your situation, my husband is quite good at keeping up appearances. Did I make the right choice. I don’t know. But I made A choice. I acted. For me and for my children. Only time will tell but I will always know that I didn’t stand idly by while his addiction took over our lives.
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Old 06-12-2019, 07:46 PM
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I see - I did go back and look at one of your recent posts, living with a high functioning alcoholic is so hard, so frustrating.
I've told my husband to move out several times, and he just ends up in the guest room and continues his behavior. Which is what led me to where I am now. Back in my home town, renting an air bnb, trying to figure out where in the heck we will be after this. Back home with him because he's in AA and committed to doing better? I'm just not sure 2.5 weeks is enough time, and he may just be stringing me along anyway. He's at least admitted to having an alcohol dependency a couple of times now. Maybe he really does want help, but of course with the caveat that he wants to still be able to drink further in the future once he learns to control it.

Sometimes when I write down my thoughts I wonder if this is really my reality. It doesn't feel real, I just want to be home with him and our family. Without constantly worrying about his level of drinking.
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Old 06-12-2019, 07:48 PM
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For me, things got better when I began to accept what I could change and what I could not. When I figured out a plan that did not depend on anyone else doing what I wished they would do--what made sense for them to do, if they weren't in the grip of an addiction.

Obviously it would be ideal if he would stop drinking, enter recovery, and recommit to being a fully-participating member of the family. But there are no magic words or actions you can take to MAKE him do any of that.

What you can do is figure out what is best for you, and for your children, who don't get a say in managing their own lives, and just keep doing the next right thing towards that end--without depending on him to figure out his drinking. Right now what he is saying sounds hopeful, but when it comes to addiction, the only thing that matters is what he actually DOES.
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Old 06-12-2019, 07:58 PM
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Regarding your reality doesn’t seem real feeling, research “depersonalization”. I have an anxiety disorder and this is what happens to me in stressful situations. A good portion of my anxiety stems from being obsessed with my husbands addiction. The past week I have felt as though I’m dreaming. I catch myself thinking “is this even real” all the time. I also share the feeling about “am I overreacting”. I think these feelings come from so many years of manipulation from my addict. I let his problem become my problem. This is what I’m trying to focus on NOT doing right now.
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Old 06-12-2019, 08:06 PM
  # 10 (permalink)  
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Giving up drinking is hard. You might want to read around the newcomers section to get an idea of how hard:

Something that is said a lot around here is Actions not words. It's easy to say something, much harder to do.

Also, as you have been reading about addictions and alcoholism you probably already realize that moderating drinking when you are an alcoholic is pretty much impossible. The fact that he is still thinking he can drink at all may just be a sign that he doesn't understand his addiction yet, I hope so and it's not that he is in denial.

As sparklekitty mentioned, you can't change any of this for him. If being with you could "fix" this, it would truly be fixed by now.

One other thing you may have come across is functioning is just a stage of alcoholism, not a type of alcoholism, they are functioning until they aren't.

Personally? I would want a lot more "action" than just some words on the phone and lunch out with someone in recovery. I appreciate that you are taking your children in to account here, as you know, children and alcoholism are not a good mix.

You might find these threads helpful as well: (distorted thought patterns and denial) (Classic Reading)
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Old 06-12-2019, 08:11 PM
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As you read around you will see that in many cases Vodka is the choice of alcoholics. In theory anyway it's not supposed to smell as much, in the glass or on them - and truly, while beer is noticeable, vodka, not so much.

Also, vodka can be mixed in to other drinks (like a monster drink) and no one will be the wiser.
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Old 06-12-2019, 10:02 PM
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fwn...I suggest that you begin to do the readings that were suggested in trailmix's post....especially the section in the "Classic Reading" section! (they are in the stickies at the top of the page, also)….
There are over 100 articles on alcoholism and how it affects the loved o nes….enough for you to read one every single day.....
Also, the book "Co-dependent No More" is the most recommended site on this forum....and it is an easy read. I think a lot of it will resonate with you.
I also suggest that you start going to alanon meetings … will get a lot of understanding and validation, there....

I must admit, you have me scratching my say that you have "read a ton on alcoholism".....but, you say things that sound like you don't know very much about the course and nature of the disease....
For one example--you seem so surprised that your husband has lied to you about his drinking.....anyone who knows "a ton" about alcoholism knows that all alcoholics lie about their drinking...they know it is in the alcoholic's

This is my suggestion....if you plan to stay with him until the baby is would do well to see some hard core commitment to life-long sobriety out of him.....more than he is showing now....
Without that...relapse is very alcoholism is given to relapse....
Alcoholics drink to deal with their, they tend to increase drinking around the time of birth...or. relapse at that time.
For your sake, I think you should have a good plan for your and the newborn's care around the time of the birth. You need people who you can count on and who will be there to help you with the baby and the other kids.....
Make sure you have an uber ride lined up for when you go for delivery and someone who can stay with you (who is sober) during the delivery.
I worked, at one time, in a woman's hospital...we did lots of deliveries...and, I can tell you about the number of women who came to delivery alone, or with husbands who were drunk when they did show up....

the birth of a child is a sacred time for you and you will want to have some good memories that you will carry with you for the rest of your life….

I am selecting one article from that hundred that spoke of in the "Classic Reading" is a pretty good yardstick, I think...for judging how ready for treatment/recovery a person is... (10 Ways to Tell When an Addict or Alcoholic is Full of ****, reposted)
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Old 06-12-2019, 11:05 PM
  # 13 (permalink)  
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Wow I lived this exactly for so long, my heart breaks for you. We all make our choices and decisions when we are ready and with the information we have at the time. Keep coming back and find local support for yourself, its perfectly okay to feel your way through this. Please take care and prioritize yourself first, its the best thing you can do for your children and the one on the way.
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Old 06-13-2019, 05:10 AM
  # 14 (permalink)  
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Speaking as someone who was addicted to alcohol, I want to concur that functioning is simply a stage, and moderation is impossible for a true alcoholic.

From what you've described, he is one. I followed much the same pattern of gradually increasing intake, switching to vodka or vodka "add ons", still maintaining job and appearences while slowly eroding in the home around my spouse.

Plenty of red flags here and very little real action on his part. Talk is what alcoholics do to maintain status quo and protect their drinking. Even if he "means" it, past actions show you likely outcome.

If he really believes he can moderate (as I did many years) I do not think he will succeed. I haven't read a single account on this list of any real alcoholic who could. You don't relapse on heroin just a little, and drinkers can't seem to ever go back to just a glass or two. It's like being a little pregnant.

Wishing you the best., and hope is important, but remember it isn't a plan.
Back up and more support for you are critical right now.
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Old 06-13-2019, 05:22 AM
  # 15 (permalink)  
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FWN, my take-away from your posts is that he's not 100% serious about sobriety. For a start he asked you to find treatment he could do while still working. It's not your job, and he may have said it to appease you.
I'm sure he thinks he's being serious but that's not the same as rock solid determination to become sober. The real thing can be traumatic, gut-wrenching, and leave little effort for anything else. Recovering As can be hard to live with at first.
Is there any possibility of him living somewhere else until he can show sustained sobriety for a year?
I understand your circumstances don't give you a wide range of choices. If it were me, I would stay as close to support of F&F as possible, but there are many factors to consider. At least think about what contingencies you can put in place if you need to separate.
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Old 06-13-2019, 05:29 AM
  # 16 (permalink)  
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Just want to say that you have found a wonderful supportive community here.
It does seem to me that your therapist has advised you well, in my experience, some don't understand addiction as well as we might are trying to take care of yourself and your children, and you got away...even for a short time. Very true what has been said here, alcoholism is a progressive disease, so things will not get better unless your AH gets into a strong program of recovery, and it takes time. He has already driven drunk with your child in the car...thank goodness no one was hurt. There is no reason for you to think it wouldn't happen again.
Stay and read all that has been recommended, and you will find strength and clarity.
What you said about "gaslighting" was so familiar to me. I found this site when I googled "alcoholic insanity". I found this site, and it saved me.
Keep reading and sharing. You know what you know, don't doubt yourself.
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Old 06-13-2019, 06:20 AM
  # 17 (permalink)  
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Wow. I could have written your story. I will take a stab and guess that the hard booze has been happening much longer than you think, or at least it was with my X. He hid it in small bottles in the garage and all over the house. No matter. He's an addict. Just going to meetings is not going to make him well. If being arrested with a child in the car did not do it, what will?

I wish I had moved and and kept the focus on me and my children instead of my X. He too made me feel crazy because he would lie and then apologize as if that makes it all ok, and complete the cycle over and over. He too is a binger drinker. Eventualy it became dangerous and my children ended up being exposed to things they should not have. More importantly, I started to change into this angry, anxious person and could not even recognize myself. That has damaged my children as much as their father's behavior.

Please continue therapy and go to meetings, Alanon or Celebrate Recovery. I know our CR has free child care. This was a huge help to me. I knew I had to become strong enough that no matter what happened in my future I could handle it as my children need a stable, calm parent.

Sending you a big hug. Keep sharing, you are no alone.

Lastly....under no circumstance should your children be left alone with him, ever. He clearly cannot be trusted.
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Old 06-13-2019, 06:40 AM
  # 18 (permalink)  
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Thank you so much everyone for your responses. I have had strong epiphanies this week but then I second guess myself. So based on everyone's responses...

1) he definitely seems to be an alcoholic, right? I mean, I know this in my head. But I also keep thinking maybe I'm missing something. But this realization of seeing these large empty vodka bottles in both the freezer and his fridge in the garage just blew me away. I had no idea vodka was even in the equation until a couple of weeks ago.

2) the BIGGEST revelation I've had is this... me staying in that house will never, ever help him get better. Me being there in fact makes things worse given that he's been so sneaky and lying about his drinking. As much as I desperately want to stay and feign the happy family, how can I knowing my presence enables him? He screws up, apologizes, and we try again the next day. And so on and so on. So how could I convince myself to go back if he's not actively trying to remain sober with the help of a program? Because this man has made me so many promises, given me so many X many of drinks this week speeches, lied to my face when clearly drunk that he hadn't had a drop. What good is me being there at this point??

I spoke with him this morning about what concrete steps he has or plans to take, and he says he's reading the little blue AA book (that I left on his night stand) and that he's going to attend an AA class soon.
I realize that 2.5 weeks is not sufficient. I just don't know how much time is. Thankfully I have the means to be on my own with the kids for a while. But if I settle here and enroll my kids in a school here and start a new life for them, there's no way I'd pull them from this life we've created and go back into that house with him unless he's somehow proven to me that he's sober. Which I don't even know how that's possible, he's lied to me for so long and he knows I have zero trust in his words when it comes to drinking promises. We have zero trust. But I still love him and want to be with him :-/ emotions are such a crazy and inexplicable thing.

I also need to say this... I have a wonderful support group of friends who I have NOT discussed this with, really ever. I just didn't want to taint my husband's reputation because I know when I talk to them about this it will forever be in their mind. But I did reach out to my best friend of over 20 years now to explain to her what's going on. She herself grew up with an alcoholic mother and still deals with it.
My other friends, including the one he went to lunch with earlier this week, unfortunately are the wives of his employees :-/ I've known them for as long as I've known him. But gosh, what a spot I'm in there.

This whole thing just sucks. I wish I could just wake up tomorrow and realize this was all a dream, like I do many days.
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Old 06-13-2019, 07:26 AM
  # 19 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 593
FWN, you are completely correct. If you go back, nothing will change, and things will likely get worse. If you and your children are in a good place now, then it's a good place to be. You deserve peace in your life, always, and so especially when you are expecting a baby. Give yourself this.
So far, from what you've shared, he has a good job, and a lovely family, a nice home, and he can just keep telling himself that he cannot possibly be an alcoholic if he has all of these wonderful things. But maybe, just maybe, if he begins to lose these things, he won't be able to lie to himself anymore. Maybe not, but at least you and your children will have peace and be safe. Hopeful is right...if getting arrested for driving drunk with your child in the car was not his bottom, I fear what his bottom may be in the future if you give him that opportunity.
Don't worry about when you'll know if he is sober...take one day at a time, and take care of you and your children, and let him figure out his next move. You are in a good place. Keep reading and posting. We care.
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Old 06-13-2019, 08:17 AM
  # 20 (permalink)  
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Join Date: Jan 2018
Posts: 500
FortWorthNative - Fellow Texan here. My story started exactly like what you have described. Except I did 22 years in that situation and it gets much worse trust me. My original name was viola71 and then I had to change because he was reading everything, still does. The best thing I can tell you is that your entire world will open up when 1) you ask for help - from your friends, family, strangers 2) you quit hiding his behavior, your feelings about it and covering for him, that is your part in the disease and so very unhealthy for both of you- in my experience.
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