Its tough to recover

Old 08-28-2007, 05:34 AM
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Its tough to recover

Hi, I am an addict in recovery. I wanted to share something with families, to get your view.

I have been in recovery for 18 months, work a programme, and am keeping clean.

My wife and I had the most serious fight since I went into recovery this week. It revolves around our children - 5 and 6.

We have different parenting styles, althougfh we are united most of the time. On Sunday night, my wife and I differed on a dicipline issue, and it resulted in raised tempers and harsh words.

The crux of the issue is Ifeel she indulges the children a little to much sometimes - but she is a very good, loving devoted mother. The following transpired:

She does not feel we are equal parenting partners - she is primary care giver, and I am comming in from being an absent father - ouch - that hurt, but there is truth to it.
She feels while I am a much more involved parent now - she can not yet let go of the past. ouch - gues my past will remain for some time yet.

When we started getting to angry - I opted to go to bed. That made her more angry. However, the next day I explained I needed to look why I was so angry. What fears of mine was she speaking to. What role do/did I play in this angry exchange. This is new for me. In the past I would have heldf on to be right!

I also explained extreme anger is a trigger for me. The F it feeling. In bed I can get up to no mischief!

I called her the next day to discuss it. I was hurt by much of what she said. Listed above. However I have to accept her view on this. I cannot decide when I am forgiven. I have forgiven myself - but that is all I can do.

When I reflect back on how I acted, I am proud of myself. What different behaviour to before. I would have waged war, insisted on being right. At least now I know how she sees my parenting, and know where I stand. I will have to adress her perceptions through action.

Thank goodness I have a programme. So I can reflect on myself, my role in the conflict, and what fears are being spoken to. This is a 360% turnaround for me.

And my past, well it remains an issue. I must accept that.

By last night, there was peace in our home. Some hurt feelings, no resentments, and love. I did not like what I had to hear.

It was very strange have just one issue at the core of it all. In the past my lies, deceipt etc would have come into it too. Now it was just about the children and that issue alone. I also felt I could engage as an equal. I did not have to worm out of any untruths. I think this was new for her to.

I think my wife was surprised by this new approach of mine. I feel I was mainly constructive. I could admit I was wrong where I was.

All is not resolved around the core issue of parenting. But openness, dialogue and love are more prevailant.

And I can now ask HP to guide me, to show me the way, to hand it over.

Recovery is tough, my past lingers on, but the rewards are rich, and run deep.

Recovery truly is so much more than staying clean.

Thank you for letting me share. And yes, I feel quite proud of how I handled it. Progress, but not perfection.
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Old 08-28-2007, 06:11 AM
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I think recovery is a time of adjustment for everyone and conflicts are bound to arise, especially before all the healing is done. Out of need, she may have become used to being in "control" at least over the children and it will take time for her to trust that you have something valuable to offer also, even if your views differ.

Your behaviour was just fine. She isn't used to you behaving that way so was probably confused. She may have seen it as withdrawl from the issue, and she may have preferred to continue talking about it. Doesn't make her right, it just means that you haven't learned to recognize the motives in each other yet.

A boundary that worked for my son and I was that conversations must remain respectful. As soon as they became heated or hurtful or even over emotional...the conversation was over until cooler heads prevailed.

My thoughts are to be patient with her, as she is probably trying to be patient with you too. It takes time for everyone to heal and to adjust to the newer better way of living.

Also, couple counselling has helped many here because it is in a neutral setting where each gets a chance to speak uninterrupted with a counsellor/moderator there to make sure it is kept balanced and safe.

Hope this helps a little, maybe the spouses here can add a lot more insight than I can as a mother.

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Old 08-28-2007, 07:20 AM
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Sounds like you are doing well! The more she sees a change in you the more things will change.

Congrats and keep up the good work
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Old 08-28-2007, 07:25 AM
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Congratulations on your recovery Calabash, and the very obvious progress you mention.
I'm like Ann in that a boundary I have is respect in my home. Yes, it can lead to repressed feelings, or the thought that "We're not done yet", but I've always felt that once a battle rages out of control, its better to start fresh after a cool down period.
For me the issue underlying is "who's" control it raged out of, but I'm working on that
Another thing I learned, and have seen in myself is that us Moms, when put into the situation of feeling "abandoned" in the child raising arena, tend to build a fortress around the kids. Kind of a "You may hurt me but you'll NEVER hurt them" mindset.
These walls take a while to dismantle. They are strong, for sure.
I wish you and your family happy healthy futures.
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Old 08-28-2007, 07:33 AM
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I relate to this. What has helped me when issues come up with my wife and kids is the phrase.."would I rather be right or happy?".
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Old 08-28-2007, 07:33 AM
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Hang in there, Calabash. It takes time to build trust. I'm sure you wife has a hard time sharing responsibility with you after being totally responsible in the past. A lot of parents, even those not having problems of addiction, disagree on those very same issues.
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Old 08-28-2007, 07:36 AM
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calabash............your recovery is shining.

My husband is in recovery now too and one thing we have discussed recently is the way we both approached disagreements in the past................and like you he says he needs to be able to walk away and like you he said he should go to sleep and think on things but in the past this made me more angry his walking we discussed it and came to the agreement of sorts that in those disagreements ..........he will make sure not to go to bed angry, we will as calmly as possible agree to let it rest with a promise to readdress it tomorrow .Basically in the past he would say I'm done or something like that and I would be left angry feeling like he just didnt care.
So we talked about that and basically just agreed that even in the most heated disagreement we need to address that its just a disagreement not the end of the world that we love eachother and are committed to working it out together but for tonight we let it go......and say I love you and mean it!!!...........I think this works for us both and I hope when it happens we can do it!~!!

And its great to begin to rebuild the love and respect between a marriage because active addiction does alot of damage but when the love and respect are rebuilt so is the trust in time..........
But trust is the most difficult but it can return it wasnt lost in one day and it doesnt return in one day.......

Keep doing what your doing, I know for me its the actions he shows me today and the "difference" that I see and feel from him that helps me forgive and begin to rebuild..............

Congrats to you be proud of yourself!!!!
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Old 08-28-2007, 07:38 AM
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You are really growing and I admire your realization recovery is so much more than staying clean. My double winner AA/ Alanon sponsor referred me often to the AA Big Book's wisdom. I recall reading the bottle ( drug) is only a symbol, suggesting there is much more to putting down the bottle or drug.
Codependence is a symbol as well. Healing and recovery take time, effort, patience and a new self awareness. Trust issues are major for codies. Try to understand rebuilding trust takes loads of patience and effort. One's actions and consistent effort, not one's words are key.

It's natural for husband and wife to have growing pains in recovery. Patience is called for. Anger, heated arguments can trigger both A and codie to relapse.
Yes, codies relapse too LOL. Differing parenting styles are common in most marriages.
Neither parent is right or wrong. Couple counseling can help you both.

I wish you and family well as you rebuild your lives together. Congrats on 18 months
clean. Your miracle is a life saver one day at a time. Good for you.
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Old 08-28-2007, 07:42 AM
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depends on your view

If you want my honest it is...

If my husband were out of the picture and then came back home thinking everything was normal, I would have a problem with that. Especially if the cause of him being away from home was due to drug use. I am so happy that you are 18 months clean and that is a wonderful accomplishment, but have you reflected on the role that you wife had to jump into when you weren't clean? Not only did she have to be the caretaker of the children and probably for the most part, doing it all alone, she had to deal with the hurt and deceit that she was feeling but she had to keep going for herself and the children.

I am sure you realize, now, everything that has happend in both your lives, but you have to understand that once moms have control or are forced to have control, it is too hard to let go and let your guard down. I am sure your wife is dealing with way more than most people could imagine and if you ask me ...your recovery took how long?? I think you may need to double that time for her recovery. It is hard being hurt by a loved one and something that some people will get over in time and i bet there are some that never really get over it.

I think you two should sit down and talk and maybe ask her what is expected of you when it comes to the kids. I know my husband doesn't do much of the discipline in our family unless I give him that "LOOK".

Good luck and I hope all goes well.
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Old 08-28-2007, 08:18 AM
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Mmmmm strong words TrishaV, but quite correct. I was present physically but unavailable to my children for a good number of years, and sincerely appreciate that my wife (as wives of addicts often do) had to look after and protect them, as well as herself.

Thank all of you for your comments.

I have been reminded again by you that my wife was left with a lot on her plate, when I was using. And she may well need time to develop trust. I am mindful I am one call away from using again - and perhaps she needs me to keep stacking up that clean time in order to come to terms with that.

She is very loving and supportive - quietly - of my recovery. She does not say well done this or that. She sometimes asks how a meeting was - but holds the view, which I agree with, that I do not need to be praised for being sober and clean. This is a responsibility as a functioning citizen, father and husband.

I also agree that she needs to get her head around me taking my rightful place in the family. With all the trust implications. And I need to accept I cannot quickly undo what was. It remains an ever present reminder of where I have been - and without working my programme - could return to.

And yeah, I am learning I will rather be happy than right

Thanks once again to all of you.
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Old 08-28-2007, 08:24 AM
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Calabash, Sounds like you are experiencing your problems from a new perspective. Life on life's terms rather than through the haze of addiction. The parenting issue affects most families. My husband was pretty much hands off with my daughter until it came to discipline. He wanted more discipline, I was the more lenient, loving type. I remember telling him that when she grew up and turned out good that he could thank me for that. Well she grew up and became an addict and I had to eat my words I think that you just need patience. Your children need imput from both parents. Just don't let them see you argue in front of them. They are great at divide and conquer. Hugs and congratulations on your clean time. Marle
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Old 08-28-2007, 08:42 AM
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I am sure you didn't need reminding........

I am sure you didn't need yet another reminder of how things were, this is probably part of your step by step recovery, I just know from my isn't hard to get things in a bind...but...trying to unknot them can take a person forever. You need to keep an open band of commuication and doing this with a level head will make things so much easier.

You also said that your wife got upset because you walked away..I would also bring that up during the discussion. I know my husband walks away when he feels that things are getting heated...but..i am the type of person that wants the discussion to be handled when it happens. This causes an issue with me because I feel that he is just putting off having the discussion. It wasn't until he told me that he feels no need to argue (yell, scream...) and therefore he walks away until we both calm down. Of course, I don't calm down, I get upset that he walked away. Now that I understand why he walks away it makes it a little easier. (by the husband isn't the addict, my daughter is....i am just speaking from a moms or wifes standpoint).

I am sorry if my previous post sounded harsh, I didn't mean for it to. I am going through this stuff with my daughter, I am not sure I would ever be strong enough to go through it with my husband.
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Old 08-28-2007, 04:41 PM
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calabash, thank you for the wonderful post. You're open and honest with your wife. I applaud you for that.
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Old 08-28-2007, 05:32 PM
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welcome to our side.... it takes alot of work to recovery. it does not matter if you are working n.a. or naranon.. with us we have been lied to & disappointed so many ,many times. you are going to have to build her trust up in you & it is not going to happen over nite. you are the one who has to be patient & hang in there.i am proud that you have 18months clean day at a time is how you have gotten there & that is how you both will have to work at your marriage.maybe a little therapy could help you both also.i wish the best for you,your wife & kids.prayers,
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Old 08-28-2007, 07:50 PM
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Thumbs up

Hey, just to let you know--you are among friends, no matter how angry or harsh we may get! They won't even shoot their wounded, believe me I have asked!!!!

Hang in there

Last edited by caileesnana; 08-28-2007 at 07:51 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 08-28-2007, 10:29 PM
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Thank you for your is awesome and I am so glad for you and your family that you have found a good recovery program and it is positively changing your life.

The addict that brought me to Naranon was my child, so I can say with certainty that the types of arguments you both experienced occur without addiction and there is no "right" just two different people with two different views. I'm grateful that my own recovery work is helping me to see that. I appreciated your perspective about going to bed...Like others here said, I always had the feeling one should never go to bed angry, so without understanding the why behind the action, I too would feel like it was lack of caring.
How wonderful that you both have the ability to talk things through and move on from there...I hope your wife has an opportunity to focus on her own healing as well and move forward with you without harboring resentments from the past. Prayers for you and yours.
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Old 08-28-2007, 10:38 PM
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I'm not sure if this is helpful but it was a huge 'aha' for me in my own recovery.....

I have to share this story then I will explain why I found it so helpful -
For the longest time I had a huge problem with my husbands shampoo...not logical, didn't make sense, but I felt anger, stress, anxiety when I smelled it. I asked him to change it but he wouldn't...why should he there was no logic behind why he should. Then, while sitting in a class learning about post tramatic stress syndrome and how it can impact my students (I'm a teacher) they talked about triggers - smell being the strongest and most common trigger. That when someone is triggered they are brought back into the trauma of all the emotions but not necessarily the actual memory. Then, while sitting in this class, hearing this information....I smelled his shampoo (even though it was nowhere around). The room appeared to darken around me and all I could see, hear, smell, feel was when he used to have seizures due to his drug use and I held his head in my lap. The sweat from his head, moistened his hair filling my face with the smell of his shampoo...BINGO! That is why I felt angry, stressed, and anxious when I smelled his shampoo.

The reason I'm sharing this story is to remind us all that sometimes we have triggers that don't make sense and we don't understand. Addicts can more easily identify their triggers to use because the result is 'using' which is black and white, either you do or you don't. Codependents are triggered with feelings...and feelings are in our everyday, we don't know if they are real, appropriate, timely, or a response to a trigger. And if 'we' don't know that, the recovering addict can't possibly know that. It is going to cause crazy feelings and reactions to fly at unpredictable times. It is going to cause us to jump into 'fight or flight' reactions, especially when it has to do with our children.

Calabash, although walking away from an agruement may be wise, you never know if it is a trigger for her. I know it would be for me because when my husband walks away from an agruement it means he is going to avoid it, drug himself out for days, then so I don't rock the boat when he comes out of it, I drop it - issue never dealt with.

My advice is to avoid thinking that your wife's reactions will be logical, that she will understand what she is feeling or why she is feeling it....but respect her feelings because they are real. As codependence, we survive, we take care of all the pieces as the addict crashes our lives apart. We appear to be able to handle anything and everyone starts to expect that from us....when normal life starts to reappear is when 'we' start to see and feel the damage that has happened.

Not sure if that made any sense, or if it is helpful at all.
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Old 08-29-2007, 12:32 AM
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Thank you all!

I rarely post here, but rerad often, and when I post I want to hear your perspectives. Even if it is not what I want to hear. There is no point to post and then get offended with things that are pointed out to me from the supporters perspective.

Harmoney has returned to our home. All issuews around the children are not resolved, but steadily and calmly we will adress them. That is how a marriage works isn't it.

My wife is not the greatest communicator, and so sometimes it takes a bit of a blow up for me to understandf where she is at. She chooses not to go to any support meetings etc, which is her choice.

My programme of recovery has really helped me to get to that core of selfishness that underlies addiction. I believe as long as I continue to change that part of me, our relationship will blossom and grow. She stuck with me through the insanity of addiction. I know her love for me is strong. She is a wonderful, beautiful caring woman. I am grateful I chose her as my life partner.

Thanks for all your kindness and insight.
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Old 08-29-2007, 06:27 AM
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Calabash, it's so very beneficial when both marriage partners are working their own recovery program. Your Mrs is always welcome here.
You have the BEST attitude.
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Old 08-29-2007, 06:51 AM
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Hi Calabash-

So many wise things said before this. I want to say well done on your recovery and working your program.

As a wife, its soo hard to deal with the aftermath of addiction. Believe me, I'm going through it right now and without a program of my own, I'd be insane. It took a long time for me to realize that it wasn't JUST my husbands drug abuse that was causing all the problems in our marriage. I wasn't doing drugs so WHY should I get a program?! I thought all these folks were just crazy.

Until I hit MY bottom, just as you reached yours, I wasn't willing to start a program and to continue to work it.

Trust is something that I still haven't gained back in my husband and it will be a very long time before I do. I still put up my debit cards and credit cards, the check books are hidden and he has no access to any money that we may need to pay our bills. He tells me it hurts him for me to do that but he understands.

Things will never go back to "normal" whatever that is. This experience won't allow it. We will always have this in our past BUT we don't live in the past, we live in today, one day at a time. We've both changed and for our marriage to survive, we'll have to grow into that change with eachother.

Counseling is a great idea. Heck, even "earth people" have to have counseling sometimes!

(((Calabash))) (((mrs. calabash))) I am glad that you and your wife have worked this out.
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