New - I need help - Any advice appreciated
Hello. I am really at my wits end and I am searching for support. It seems that this is a larger arena so I thought I would start here. My husband and I got married in June and although there have been some issues, we have been fairly happy. However, there is one main issue that sticks a wedge between us. His family. His mother, father and sister are all alcoholics. His mom and sister are the kind that drink until they can barely stand or speak. His father is more of the observant drunk. He just sits and drinks a lot and nobody really notices. My husband is the on that fixes the messes once they have occurred because he is not a drinker. He gives the rides home, picks them up when they had too much to drink, tries to get them out of situations so there is no scene, etc.
Although his mom and dad have caused me issues a few times...it is his sister that concerns me most. When we first started dating, we went to the wedding of a close friend and his sister got so intoxicated that she passed out at the table and I was left to hold her up. I had never experienced anything like it. She could not even speak, literally. Her words were jumbled and incoherent. She also knocked over a table and a small child on the dance floor. She then proceeds to not want to leave and calls me some terrible curse words as I help the family try to get her to leave the facility. She did not wish to leave because she wanted to drive to the after party and hang out. Finally, a family friend, my husband, her mom and dad and a few other people had to physically back her out of the room as she was yelling the "F YOU" over and over again very loudly at those trying to get her to leave. It was so unbelievable...I thought I was in a bad movie or something. Thank goodness the bride and groom didn't see it happening. Totally embarrassing. There are other instances as well. She has made comments under her breath while she has been drinking if she doesn't like something, often becomes unable to speak. I have seen her pass out at concerts, be unable to walk or function. She made a fool of herself at my bachelorette party and then lied to my husband to protect herself by saying that she didn't drink as much as me and at least 5 of my friends saw her drink.
So for 2 years I have tried to not cause any waves and do the best I can to function in this family and find my way within it. My husband works for his family as well so he is enmeshed with them deeply. I am his first serious relationship and he is 38 now. His sister is 35 and I have seen her go through men at an unbelieveable rate. And....some of them have dumped her once they see her have a real 'episode' of being drunk and acting hideously in public. As for the rest of the family, I have been trapped into a corner by his mom while she is drunk and telling me in my face that she loves me and crying and the like. I have also been exposed to his mother saying mean things to his father when she is intoxicated, as well as dirty or inappropriate things that no daughter in law wants to know about their intimate life, etc. So I have witnessed and tolerated a lot so far. But I have done so because at the core of it all...he is a very good man to my son and I. It isn't typical 'but I love him' thing. He really is a good human and very kind. I think that a lot of the way that he functions of course is due to being raised in the home he was...and him and his sister have not had the best of relationships either until they were adults. I also didn't realize how bad it was and it does appear to be getting worse with time.
I do not really drink myself and I have friends that are not drinkers other than perhaps socially. My family aren't really drinkers either. My grandmother was an alcoholic but I was not exposed to it that much. My grandmother died due to complications of her alcoholism. My mother got the brunt of her problem for many years. So...by choice, I have chosen to surround myself with friends and loved ones that feel similarly to me about drinking to excess. I am prone to addiction I am sure....so I stay as far away as I can.
About a week ago, my son and I, along with my husbands mother, father and sister, were all on a small duffy boat that goes very slow through the harbor to look at holiday lights. Some people there had had a few drinks but my husband's sister was visibly drunk. And then...she decided she wanted to drive the boat. My heart stopped. My child and I were on this boat and she was going to drive it drunk. Although the boat does not go fast, my son is small and thin and if something happened to put us in that water, he could have been really injured. I froze. I had no idea what to do. So...I leaned over to my husband and asked him to say something. He replied "I can't do anything about it this time but I will make sure this doesn't happen again". I sat there in shock. He was willing to risk my son's life so that he didn't create a scene. I was flabbergasted. I thought surely he would stand up. And...none of the family said anything either. I told my girlfriend that i was texting and she asked my location because she wanted to call the police but I didn't even know how to get her the instructions to find us. All the while, several people on the boat were telling her how well she was driving ....and also telling her to watch out for that boat or that platform with lights on it, etc. I just sat there froze and holding on to my son...and finally I had to stand up and say something when it was apparent that nobody else was going to say anything and I had to stand up for me and my child. So finally...she had a drink in one hand and the wheel in the other and was heading right towards a light platform and I said something. I told her that I felt that she was too drunk to be driving the boat and that she was putting my son at risk. I asked her to please get off the wheel of the boat. In her slurred words she started getting mad at me and I told her I was sorry that she felt the way she did but that I was not okay with her driving the boat drunk. She kept spouting off but she was taken off the wheel by the family finally and we headed back home. I was so furious I could barely speak. And I didn't want to make more of a fuss in front of my son. I just wanted her off the wheel. I didn't care what happened after that point. She was off the wheel so I stopped listening to her drunken babble and just held on to my son. We left.
This has now caused major issue. My mother in law took me out to lunch and we had a long talk about it. She apologized for their lack of action and she said she will be talking to her daughter....so it is ironic that she is actually on my side...even in her own addiction, she sees that her daughter is really in a bad way. After this incident, I took my husband out of the middle and went directly to my sister in law via email. I told her how her behavior over these few years has effected me. I have placed clear cut boundaries that as long as she continues to drink, I will not be exposed to her behavior any longer. If she starts to disrespect me, I will walk away from her and leave the situation. I will now take my own car so that I am not trapped into having to tolerate her behavior and her intoxication. I told her how this all made me feel and that I will be limiting my exposure to her. I understand that I can't change her but I can change how I handle things and this is how I am choosing to do so. She responded to my email by 'apologizing' and yet justifying her behavior by saying everyone else thought she did a great job with driving, etc. And she didn't mention her drinking as a problem....she just glossed completely over that part. I assume that is because she doesn't feel she has a problem.
I couldn't care any less about her response...I needed to just set my boundaries and then carry on with my life. However, the bigger issue was yet to come. My husband is a huge enabler and does not really get how deeply he is in that behavior. He thinks that all the behavior is normal and he is just used to it. I personally could not get used to some of the behavior I have witnessed so I know that I need, for my own mental health and well-being, to limit my time with his sister, and with his parents as well when they are getting drunk as well. My boundaries are now clear. However, my husband and I have been basically fighting for a week now because I am deciding to limit my time with his sister specifically at this point. I am fully aware that I can't change her. However, I can change how I interact. He told me "I support you but I don't like it" as if it is MY fault. I feel totally upset, defeated and unsupported. He is so enmeshed with them that he is used to this and he doesn't see that really there is a big issue. He agrees that his sister and parents have a problem but he justifies a lot of the behavior and says that there isn't much that can be done...he doesn't like to cause scenes and he tries to handle it the best he can on a case by case basis. But it feels like he is angry at me for MY decision. I told him...this is a direct effect of your sister's alcoholism....and that is why this is necessary. He asked me why I can't find a middle ground here....that I will miss some fun things....and he is pretty upset. I told him that his sister not being able to walk, talk or function at an activity makes it NOT fun for me. And that I am protecting myself at this point.
So each night has been the same thing. He keeps trying to 'fix' it and talk to me...and I keep getting angrier and angrier as I tell him I need time for this to settle down before I can speak about it. I keep telling him I am too mad to talk, etc. It all boiled down to last night when finally I told him I feel unprotected by him and he doesn't stand up to his family regarding things that effect me. He asked why I can't say something...but it is awkward for me to do that sometimes and I need his help. He is pretty passive and it is showing up in this way. I feel like he doesn't stand up to them in times I really need him too and is getting angry at me for what I am doing to mitigate the future damage. Last night, I finally lost it. He was pushing at me again and then started in with victim language...and I just screamed at him at the top of my lungs in a way I don't think he has ever heard me before and that totally surprised me as well. I told him to just stop freaking talking and that I can't keep doing this and that I can't continue to function this way. That he is not putting the responsibility on the person that he should be...his sister....and that I could not talk anymore. I went into the bathroom in the dark and cried for a while. I was so angry....and felt so unsupported in this...i didn't know what else to do. I had never lost my cool quite like that with him....but I felt like an animal backed so far into a corner...and had no idea how to get him to stop. I just cracked I suppose.
So now..I am at a loss. I have not talked to him since last night. I went to bed at 8pm and I can't even look at him. I am going to an Al-Anon meeting tonight because I feel like I have no support and I need some really badly. I find it ironic that the one person that really is good to me in so many ways as a partner, comes with an issue that is one of my biggest fears, alcoholism. And yet, he isn't the alcoholic!!! He is the fixer and the cleaner and the enabler.
Any advice or kind words would help. I really don't know what to do at this point so I am just sitting quietly until I figure out the best way for me to come out of this anger and how to progress from here. I don't like people to be angry at me but I am done being treated the way I get treated when they are drunk. I am okay with people being upset with me so that I can set healthy boundaries even if they don't understand. I am currently a member of CODA and that is helping me to understand some of how to handle this but there is this other layer.
Thank you so much for listening.