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Old 12-03-2019, 10:44 AM   #1 (permalink)
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When the Chaos Subsides


When my (estranged) AH was in active addiction, the entire focus was on him. He created so much chaos, there wasn't room to think about much else. He's now coming up on 6-months of not drinking (after doing 30-day in-patient rehab). With that has come some measure of peace and predictability, and I'm left to finally think about myself--how did I get into this situation? why did I accept such poor treatment? why did I ignore the red flags? why didn't I walk away years ago? where are my boundaries? what is wrong with ME?

The bottom line is: if I had had more self-esteem, if I had thought that I deserved more, I would never have dated AH, I never would have married him, and I never would have tried to build a life with him. The signs were all there. They were, as much as I hate to admit that.

But now I feel like I'm taking on 100% of the blame. Like, this whole terrible situation is my doing. There was one person who had the power to right the ship, to get out of dodge, and it was me, and I didn't do it soon enough or fast enough. I was paralyzed by what other people would think, by needing to pay tuition to the fancy nursery school I just had to send my boys to, by a lot of stupid stuff, I guess. And so I just went on day-by-day--telling myself I was doing the best that I could in a situation created by my AH--as things got progressively worse.

Ugh, I'm just rambling. Not even sure what I'm trying to say. Just maybe that it's hard to accept my role in this sh*tshow, I guess.
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Old 12-03-2019, 10:46 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 12-03-2019, 11:11 AM   #3 (permalink)
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When you figure all that out, please let me know because I made all the same mistakes & then some.
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Old 12-03-2019, 11:13 AM   #4 (permalink)
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You’re being much too hard on yourself! Remember, when you’re looking back at those years it’s with the knowledge of everything that happened and how it turned out. You didn’t have that then...you had one incident. Then another, maybe right away, maybe months later.

In the meantime you had a life in progress with floors to vacuum, bills to pay, dishes to wash...all the chaos that comes with just living takes up a ton of attention and energy.

Is it good to evaluate your actual and reactions so you can learn some things about yourself? Of course. But self-blame and relentless self-criticism aren’t learning, they’re punishing.

You did the best you could with what you knew at the time. Now you know better.

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Old 12-03-2019, 11:33 AM   #5 (permalink)
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tightheship…...I think you are right about one aspect....all voluntary relationships are a kind of dance....similar to the Argentine Tango...lol....
But, no way are you responsibility for everything in the whole relationship!
It sounds like you have been doing a lot of self evaluation....which is a valuable and brave undertaking for any of us.....
When you came to the relationship with your ex....you were the culmination of all of the dynamics of your early developmental, growing up years....(as as he, also)…..
The good and the not so good....
It can be complicated and have many layers....
Be patient and compassionate with yourself.....you can't be expected to untangle a whole lifetime in six months...….!
As we know better...we do better...…

I think you are doing pretty good.
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Old 12-03-2019, 01:09 PM   #6 (permalink)
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hi righttheship. I went back and looked at a few of your older posts, but they are all after he had left the house.

Not sure how long you were married but yes, you married an alcoholic, what did you know about alcoholism back them? Anything?

Alcoholism is progressive, so there is that as well.

All I'm saying is that things probably didn't start out the way they ended up and you didn't know what you didn't know about alcoholism at the time.

I married someone that hit me. Go figure! I should not have done that, of course and my child is certainly not better off for having lived in such a volatile household (the violence did stop but it's a bit like someone being a dry drunk, the anger is still always lurking).

I married very young, the consequences of what I was doing weren't really clear (seems obvious, I know, but it wasn't out of my comfort zone).

Do I blame myself? Not for a minute. I did what I did with the knowledge and life experience I had at the time. I am sorry my Son had to witness the dysfunction but, there is not one thing I can do about that now.

I never thought about the marriage much until several years later, when I got tired of arguing all the time. I left when I was ready, not before. Isn't that really all you can do?
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Old 12-03-2019, 01:54 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trailmix View Post
I did what I did with the knowledge and life experience I had at the time.
This is exactly it. I'd never seen a healthy, loving relationship modeled for me as a kid, growing up in a badly dysfunctional household. I had no way of knowing what that looked like. I was lonely, afraid, very aware that I wasn't worth much, and so I was just like the OP in the thread about "Does he have a pulse? Is he paying attention to me?"

You just can't know about something you've never seen or experienced, so no need to beat yourself up for not somehow magically having that information and acting on it right from the get-go. When you learned better, you did better, and that is what counts.
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Old 12-03-2019, 02:33 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Life is a journey of lessons

Don't beat yourself up. I am a medical doctor with a few years experience and I was floored by own lack of understanding of alcoholism. It's been a learning curve for me.

Sometimes life will teach you lessons which you never thought you would learn. There are people out there who will never know the horrors of alcoholism and the collateral damage it creates on loved ones (and I am glad for them).

You are not stupid or silly for sticking around. I daresay being as caring and as understanding is what lead to where you are but that doesn't make it a bad thing at all. You just learn from it. And that's okay.
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Old 12-03-2019, 02:58 PM   #9 (permalink)
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You made the best decisions you could with the information available to you at the time. Now, after the fact, you have a lot more information. But it is not your fault that you didn’t have this info at the time when it could have made a big difference.
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Old 12-03-2019, 03:05 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Boy oh boy....I could have written this exact post myself.

The reality is, it's hard to look deep at ones self and see what needs changed, and then actually do it! It took me a very long time, a lot of support, and a lot of counseling to get there, and believe me, it's still a big work in progress.

I do think it's important not to shoulder all the blame. You no more poured alcohol down his throat than I did. That is his to own. For myself, when I just let go of blame all together and focused on what is, I became a lot more confident within myself. My XAH simply is an addict. He simply does have a personality disorder. I simply do have my own issues. I had to pick out what I can control (myself), and simply learn that I can only control how I react to all the rest.

The reality is, we all have things about ourselves we wish to change. All you can do is go forward and work on YOU!!!!

Big hugs!
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Old 12-04-2019, 11:00 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Thank you for all the responses. They really help.

I recently overheard my mother saying to my sister: "She's going to have to reckon with her own role in all of this." My mom would never say that to me directly. But I think that comment is how a lot of people feel. Like, come on, you could've done more to get yourself out of the situation before it all really went to hell. But I guess we're all experts when it comes to other people's lives. I'm reminded of when I watched Oprah as a middle-school girl. I'd see these abused women hemming and hawing about whether to leave their husbands, and think to myself "Just get out of there. Just leave. Today." It's so easy to flippantly say that because we don't have to confront the practicalities, the logistics, the finances, the expectations, the minimization and inertia that comes from years of escalating abuse, etc., etc.

I wish I had done a lot of things differently. And I do have to reckon with what about ME contributed to going down this path. But you guys are right, I can't entirely own this. And I can't sit back after-the-fact, from the comfort of a peaceful home with no addiction/abuse issues, and blame myself for everything and not getting out sooner.
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Old 12-04-2019, 01:05 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Very true!

Perhaps you've heard your Mother say those words before? That can contribute to self blame and perhaps she doesn't mean it that way at all? You know her well of course.

They are true words from a self reflection perspective and when you take the sting out of them, they are actually helpful, but again, doesn't mean they were meant that way on the day!

There doesn't need to be blame I don't think and I think that because I can't think of how it would help (me). I wasn't trying to hurt anyone else, I wasn't being malicious or conniving. I do think at that point I may have had a little bit of the - I am a victim can't you see how you are hurting me - going on, but that's history. I grew up, I got wiser.

Once married, I had a child to look after. When he was pre-school we moved countries, I went to work full time, I had a demanding job, long hours and a long commute. Food, shelter, work. Life was far from being all bad. Just like alcoholism (unless they are drunk every day) there were a lot of good times, he wasn't and isn't an evil person, just has - rage.
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Old 12-04-2019, 07:34 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Sounds like me. One day when I was talking to my sister, I burst out, “how did it get this bad? How did I let it get this bad?”.
i guess there’s some story about a frog and a pot of water. The frog doesn’t notice the water slowly getting hotter over time until it’s at a boil. Anyhow, it’s like one day I looked up and I was in the middle of the boiling water. It was slowly getting bad a little at a time...
I need to work on myself, too. How did I / why did I put up with this? People with self esteem don’t allow this behavior...but, I’m still here...planning my departure, but I’m still here continuing to subject me and my kids to the madness...
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Old 12-04-2019, 10:01 PM   #14 (permalink)
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rightthesship-

It's not 100% anyones fault. (Well, he is responsible for 100% of his drinking). That's just life. I think the beauty in some of these struggles is that it isn't perfect, it's not what we expected but we keep moving forward. We have such strength.

I think it's important to look at myself and say well.. I could have done this thing better, or that better, and learn from it going forward but it makes so little sense to beat ourselves up forever. Who is going to benefit from that?

Believe me when I say my choices in partners have not been very good. But are my children ok? Yes. Am I ok? Yes. Could we all be better? Sure! Will it always feel this way.. No. It definitely won't. Will I ever date anyone who is any sort of an addict ever again? Nope. I don't want to anymore.

When we know better we do better. Take care of yourself.. be kind to yourself.

I wish you peace and clarity in the coming days.

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