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Old 06-01-2016, 01:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Acceptance phase, now what?


I used to have hope that my husband would change and stop drinking. He was diagnosed with an alcohol related illness almost two years ago (when we had a newborn) and told to stop drinking or he will eventually die. He stops drinking for periods of time... anywhere from like a month or two to nine months which was the longest period of abstention and right after his diagnosis... but then he starts up again until his symptoms flare up and he has another health scare. Then he beats himself up for thinking moderate drinking would work out for him, and stays sober for a while, and then the whole thing repeats.

I was focusing on forward progress and being positive but my therapist recently hammered it into me that this is just who he is and he's not going to change. So now what? I feel like my therapist is kind of sick of me and our relationship kind of fizzled out for some reason. I have been to Al-Anon but I'm an atheist and don't believe in the higher power stuff and I found it all pretty weird. So I am looking for any other methods or advice.

Even though my husband drinks much less than he used to, any amount could be fatal for him and does always end up worsening his health. I have tried to focus on myself and my own life and not keep tabs of what he drinks etc. (I can always tell when he's drinking again and I get so worried but I know nothing I do or say can stop him so I just try to focus on myself. It doesn't seem like nearly the amount he used to drink and he never-- except once when I went out of town and he spent 5 day drunk-- gets to the drunk phase but he does get tipsy and I think that ever since his diagnosis/near death attack his body just can't handle much alcohol at all, and each time takes less and less to affect him badly. On the other hand I don't count his drinks/he hides them and I don't try too hard to figure out what exactly he's drinking because that drives me crazy and does no good... so I guess I really have no idea of the amount or frequency.) But I feel like I am watching him slowly drink himself to death and I don't know that I can handle it anymore.

He blames his return bouts to alcohol on when things are difficult and I need him the most. For instance right now he started drinking again about a week ago because I was having practice labor and thought the baby was coming. So now he is up in bed recovering on his second day of having health flare-ups and probably withdrawal too. And I continue to be having pre labor and feel that Baby could come any second. We have a toddler and are supposed to be getting ready for Baby but he just checks out and says he's scared and overwhelmed about how he can take care of two kids, even though he was on board with this until it became a reality I guess. It's unfair that he not only drinks and gets sick when I need him the most but also that he uses the fact that I/we need him as his excuse, thus making me feel guilty (although I try not to and he doesn't phrase it like that-- he's never a mean drunk or abusive etc., he just cries and says he is scared and can't cope etc. and I feel bad for him but then when I really think about it, I'm the one who has to have the baby and feed the baby so it sucks that he's the one crying and drinking and getting sick over it.)

This has really made me realize that he isn't there when I need him and due to his own issues and alcoholism he chooses alcohol and being sick over the best interests of himself, me and our family. When he was sick he was in the ICU for a long time and had to be intubated and almost died and he knows what that did to us and to him yet he still thinks he can drink sometimes-- it makes no sense. I know alcoholism makes no sense but it just really sinks in when he goes back to it. I love him and I said in sickness and in health but I am not sure I can do this anymore.

I have been trying to just focus on staying calm and getting baby here okay due to prior pregnancy losses, one very late term, but I am mad at him and at myself for having believed that he could change. I want to focus on my toddler and my delivery/newborn and not him but that seems to be impossible for me. This is no way to be married and I really don't know what to do, please help.
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Old 06-01-2016, 02:27 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Ericar you are in a very difficult position concerning your husband , it looks like he isn't capable of stopping drinking for your and your child and for the child that is about to be born , fact is he needs to really want to stop drinking for himself before any sort of progress can be made .

At the moment this seems unlikely he has had very serious health scares and it seems to have had little effect . Of course you know all this already , Alanon at least gives you some understanding from those that are in or have been in similar circumstances so it may be a good idea to stay in contact with some members if possible. Do you have any family that could help out just now ? you probably realize and know that you cannot make him stop for any reason , and you probably know that you may have to leave or he needs to leave right now simply because commonsense tells you that this cannot be allowed to continue , it is very difficult to advise you in this matter but the reality is that you need to think of your child yourself and the kid that is about to be born , you are supposed to go through pregnancy without a lot of stress and worry as it can harm you and the baby , you need to put that first , you are ''powerless '' over your husbands alcoholism and the ''family illness is pulling you down '' you need to act soon and do what it takes in the best interest for you and the kid and the newborn '' you cannot change your husband no matter what . You have a choice ( 1 stay and it will probably stay the same or worse (2 ) leave and get rid of the stress which is better for you and the baby it wont stop you worrying but you wont be there to witness what is going on , contact some of your family members as ''you need HELP not distress and worry '' attend to that first and see how things work out , take care but I think you already know what to do and you have probably thought along the same lines as my suggestions , take care good luck .

Regards Stevie sober 12 03 2006
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Old 06-01-2016, 04:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Ericar you are in a very difficult position concerning your husband , it looks like he isn't capable of stopping drinking for your and your child and for the child that is about to be born , fact is he needs to really want to stop drinking for himself before any sort of progress can be made .

At the moment this seems unlikely he has had very serious health scares and it seems to have had little effect . Of course you know all this already , Alanon at least gives you some understanding from those that are in or have been in similar circumstances so it may be a good idea to stay in contact with some members if possible. Do you have any family that could help out just now ? you probably realize and know that you cannot make him stop for any reason , and you probably know that you may have to leave or he needs to leave right now simply because commonsense tells you that this cannot be allowed to continue , it is very difficult to advise you in this matter but the reality is that you need to think of your child yourself and the kid that is about to be born , you are supposed to go through pregnancy without a lot of stress and worry as it can harm you and the baby , you need to put that first , you are ''powerless '' over your husbands alcoholism and the ''family illness is pulling you down '' you need to act soon and do what it takes in the best interest for you and the kid and the newborn '' you cannot change your husband no matter what . You have a choice ( 1 stay and it will probably stay the same or worse (2 ) leave and get rid of the stress which is better for you and the baby it wont stop you worrying but you wont be there to witness what is going on , contact some of your family members as ''you need HELP not distress and worry '' attend to that first and see how things work out , take care but I think you already know what to do and you have probably thought along the same lines as my suggestions , take care good luck .

Regards Stevie sober 12 03 2006
Thank you for the support and advice.

I've lived far away from my family of origin ever since I was 18. I have a purposefully low contact relationship with my parents due to their cycle of dysfunction. My father is an alcoholic and my mom has some kind of selfish, mean, unpredictable personality disorder (well, so does my dad probably... but he drinks in addition to that). My parents have only hurt me and to go to them would be a worse decision than staying with my husband.

I'm close with my sister but she still lives near our parents and is quite enmeshed with them so it would be difficult to go stay with her, not to mention that it's across multiple state lines and I'm not sure how that would work with custody or parenting arrangements. I have thought about just taking my son and staying with her for a while (she just had a baby herself and appreciated my help when I went out there to meet him-- but my husband spent the whole time I was gone drunk and I decided not to go back again unless I had our son with me, which is kind of difficult).

I'm pretty close with my husband's family and they help us a lot with babysitting and stuff. I'm not sure how things would go if we separated though as there is a lot of dysfunction in his family as well and they tend to coddle him and think I should too. I think they care about me but in the end they are his family and I wouldn't expect them to support me in any decision to separate from him or do anything that would upset him. Perhaps they could surprise me though, if I told them the extent of it all, because they were certainly worried about him and and upset with him when he was in the hospital.

But anyway luckily I am financially independent with a good career and I'm in my mid 30's. I took a hiatus from climbing the corporate ladder and I don't really want to go back but I could if I needed to. I'm also quite entrepreneurial and now work from home and make enough to pay the bills and save some, and I just seem to have a knack for making money. I'm not trying to brag but I guess what i'm saying is that although I don't really have family to rely on it's not like I'm destitute or in need of financial help and I doubt I ever would be. I'm not worried about money (well, I'd likely have to pay some to my husband maybe, because I'm the breadwinner... so if anything my worries are about how he would get by without me and/or how much I would have to pay to support him I guess). It's more just wondering how it would work being the primary caretaker of two young children because when my husband's isn't sick he does help me a lot with our son and it would probably be difficult without him although I know that plenty of mothers do it.

And it's more about being lonely and wanting support but not really knowing how to get it. I'm an introvert and not a very social person and I know it sounds so dumb but my husband and I are very close when he's not drinking/sick from drinking; he's a big source of support to me, until he's totally not! So to imagine a life without him is really difficult. I do have some friends and some social interests/groups but nobody very emotionally close to me except for my sister and my husband. I felt very out of place in Alanon and I feel like if I went back I would be being quite fake; much the way I feel when I go to church with a family member or something. I am trying to find out if there are some secular groups that don't say stuff like a higher power etc.

I'm not sure I even believe in the disease model of alcoholism or the "powerlessness" aspect etc. I used to but I think I was kind of using that as an excuse for him, as if he just can't help it or just is this way etc. I've been reading Rational Recovery and it makes more sense to me sometimes that he just selfishly chooses to escape in alcohol instead of deal with his problems. Or else I just think that he is so depressed and has bad coping mechanisms and little desire to change them. (Which is what my therapist thinks. She focuses more on his depression than drinking or other issues and says he is just a depressed person who will always fail to function in the long run. I could deal with that better than I can knowing that he purposefully, while stone cold sober, drinks what is essentially poison to his body and which could kill him and purposefully render himself unable to function... I don't see how the first drink at least isn't a clear "choice" and even he admits that once he drinks once he just continues every day until he gets sick, so I get mad that he DECIDES to have that first drink.) I could go out with friends and drink and party and escape but I don't because I want something better out of life and I want to do what's best for my family and me. (I used to party a lot in my 20's and to be fair when I met my husband we both were quite the partiers. But I guess I just grew up and he didn't, even though he claims that he has and that he wants to, etc.) I guess he just doesn't think that same way. Then again maybe I'm just so mad at him and sick of telling myself that he's sick and powerless blah blah blah. Sometimes I don't even care why he's like this anymore, I only care about the effects and I can't take it anymore.

I guess what blows my mind is not even knowing how to talk to him or approach him with how I'm feeling. He knows I get upset when he drinks; he alternates between getting defensive and apologetic. But I don't think he thinks I'd ever leave him and I don't even know if I'm there yet but I feel I should tell him I'm least approaching any and all desperate actions because I am confused and saddened and I just can't imagine going on like this much longer. I feel like I've slowly been reaching the end of my rope but he thinks it's still same old same old and I'm not sure what to say. I don't even have a practical plan because I don't think I could kick him out, nor would I even necessarily want to kick him out since it's his house too; I would be fine going to a hotel or renting an apartment with our children but I wouldn't want it to be looked at like I abandoned the family/house or something.

I have really thought about saying if you drink again I am moving out. But I know I would have to have some practical plan in place and I don't feel ready to do that with a new baby on the way. But maybe it has really come to the point where I have to. It's weird to feel seething mad at him and just almost done with him and to not have him even know, because I don't want it to be one more "upset conversation," I just want to decide in advance what to do before I talk to him because nothing I have tried in the past has gotten me anywhere. Sorry for rambling.
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Old 06-01-2016, 08:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I just talked to him and tried to be really honest. I didn't make any ultimatums or threats as I am not prepared to carry them out. I just told him that I can't keep living this way and I'm at my wit's end.

He said he knows I am and he's sorry. He said that even though I can't see it, he does want to stop drinking, or else he'd be like the people who just keep drinking every day once they get out of the hospital until they die. I said what difference is it when he is just slowly doing the same thing and prolonging his suffering and dragging out what I think (and he agrees) could be just a slower death. And what difference does it make if he wants to stop drinking if he can't consistently stop, especially during the times that I/we need him the most? He said he guess it doesn't make any difference.

He said he will go to a SMART recovery meeting with me. This is something I've sought out as an alternative to AA/Al-anon but he was reluctant to go to any meetings in general. He told me he would rather kill himself than go to meetings every day. I told him these meetings are not every day and it seems like he would rather kill himself than stop drinking because it's all the same thing.

I honestly don't know if these meetings are any good or if he/anyone needs meetings to stop drinking. I know he needs SOME plan of action but it also needs to come from within him but I was just trying to give suggestions as I really don't know what he should do when he wants to stop drinking but can't stay stopped.

I guess I should feel like a victory has been accomplished in that he has agreed to go somewhere/do something but I am still skeptical and to me the biggest "victory" was just telling him how I feel. I am not sure what if anything he is going to do to change things but I know that I will have to do something to change things for myself and this is my start.
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Old 06-01-2016, 11:49 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Hi Ericar .

At least you have made a start by telling your husband about how you feel and what your thoughts are with the baby on the way and how his behavior is affecting you , is good that you are not financially dependent on your husband and if it came to a needs must situation then you would at least be able to afford it .

Reality is your husband still has too many excuses against seeking help , not AA for a start , having to go to meetings etc whereas, if he is really really serious he would be willing to do anything especially for you and the family and that unfortunately does not seem to be the case . Fact is that one can stop drinking if they really want to they do not need to go to meetings and ''then stop '' if I were you ''even if you do not really want to '' tell him in no uncertain terms that you are really really serious and you are not going to take any more of his unreasonable behavior , he is selfish and self centered to the extreme and cannot envisage life without alcohol.

Who knows maybe going to Smart will bring some hope to first and foremost himself , because if he keeps on feeling he is hopeless then he will remain hopeless , but you cannot put all your cards on this making a difference, I certainly hope it does but you need a contingency plan because you know deep down that this cannot go on .

Ericar please keep in touch cos who knows maybe by sharing you are getting rid of some stress rather than bottling it all up, so stay in touch , thinking of you .
Regards Stevie
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Old 06-02-2016, 03:54 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Hi Ericar .

At least you have made a start by telling your husband about how you feel and what your thoughts are with the baby on the way and how his behavior is affecting you , is good that you are not financially dependent on your husband and if it came to a needs must situation then you would at least be able to afford it .

Reality is your husband still has too many excuses against seeking help , not AA for a start , having to go to meetings etc whereas, if he is really really serious he would be willing to do anything especially for you and the family and that unfortunately does not seem to be the case . Fact is that one can stop drinking if they really want to they do not need to go to meetings and ''then stop '' if I were you ''even if you do not really want to '' tell him in no uncertain terms that you are really really serious and you are not going to take any more of his unreasonable behavior , he is selfish and self centered to the extreme and cannot envisage life without alcohol.

Who knows maybe going to Smart will bring some hope to first and foremost himself , because if he keeps on feeling he is hopeless then he will remain hopeless , but you cannot put all your cards on this making a difference, I certainly hope it does but you need a contingency plan because you know deep down that this cannot go on .

Ericar please keep in touch cos who knows maybe by sharing you are getting rid of some stress rather than bottling it all up, so stay in touch , thinking of you .
Regards Stevie
Thank you. I agree that nothing will change unless he himself wants to make changes and actively tries to make them. He seems to think that just not wanting to drink or going weeks without drinking means much more than it really does. I suppose it IS a big step/change for him but in the long run it means nothing if it's just continued failure.

In the past I have gotten sucked into focusing on the positive and the fact that he has greatly cut back his drinking. But I think this has been a wake up call to me in terms of the fact that it is still a big problem even if it isn't too "frequent." I know for sure I can't take it any more but I also don't know what that looks like in terms of reality, so it's hard to tell him that without anything to back it up. I HAVE told him that I can't take it and he says he knows and I think he does know but I also feel that that isn't enough. I don't have much hope that he will change and I think at this point if it happens again I'll be beyond the stage of ultimatums, I think I will just want to leave him because I can't fathom staying with someone who puts themselves over me and our family to that degree. I was thinking that I should express to him "one more chance" so he knows it's make it or break it time, but I realized that if I don't have something concrete to back it up with, it will be an empty threat that could do more harm than good. And by the time my threat has teeth to it, I'll just be beyond my breaking point. I don't know if that makes any sense but it's how I'm feeling.

I think I've reached the stage where I realize I deserve more. It's strange because in many ways he is so great to me and I love the life we have and I don't know what I would have done without him through certain parts of our marriage such as when we lost a child etc. On the other hand I have to balance that with the knowledge that he is willing to drink even thought he knows it means negative consequences for us and even though it could mean death! So what do we even really have, maybe it's all built on a lie and it has just taken me way too long to figure that out. I feel like a life of watching him "relapse" and suffer and not be there when we need him is not a good life and if he doesn't want to change it then I am going to have to, for myself and our kids without him. I'm not looking forward to that at all but it has to be better than the slow and depressing alternative.

And I don't want to count him out, maybe he really will change, but if he seems to think he will just somehow make it work this time without doing anything differently than he did last time, then I have to assume that nothing will really change. I do want to explore any options I could do first so that I know I didn't just bail. I'm glad he'll go to a meeting with me although I'm skeptical of how much it will help just based on his unwillingness/motivation to go but at least I'm trying. And maybe the next step is to set up a plan so that I can really say, okay if it happens again I will do x, y, and z, and then really be able to carry it through, and maybe just the knowledge of knowing I'm serious will make him change. I doubt it but I guess that's the next step. I'm not sure but I do know that I'm sick of it.
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Old 06-02-2016, 11:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Hi Ericar .

AA states that alcoholism is a mental obsession coupled with a psychical compulsion , Einstein says ''insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results '' the obsession has to be smashed and the ''illusion that somehow someday we will be able to drink in safety also has to be smashed '' and Ego has to be deflated at depth , these are symptoms of chronic alcoholism . Your husband it appears seems to consider alcohol as his ''solution '' his go to place when things start to get to him, and it has became ''his comforter '' and unfortunately it has become a way of life a habit often repeated . In my own case I had ''to hit bottom '' a mental gutter where ''that is it enough is enough I Cannot do this anymore '' that is where your husband has got to reach '' and how when and where is hard to say , sadly maybe never , but as you say ''you cannot go on like this '' its also much better if you do not become ''an enabler '' because your husband will seize every opportunity going ''and turn it into a reason/excuse to drink , keep in touch and let us know how ''you are doing '' .

Regards Stevie
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Old 06-03-2016, 09:59 PM   #8 (permalink)
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My ex-fiancée has very similar issues. One day I just said "no more" and broke it off. We are still good friends but I deserved better, and now I'm happier for having him in my life, on my own terms.

I just want you to know I've been reading your journey.
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Old 06-05-2016, 07:02 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Hi Ericar,
You might want to read on the friends and family of alcoholics board, too, as many of the folks there, including me, have similar stories. Read the "quakers" thread for some smiles and tears of recognition. (Many of are are not into the religious aspect of AA either. And, for everyone, the rule is "take what you need and leave the rest.")

I started out trying to follow RR methods. I really liked the book, and found the part about self-care particularly helpful, as it helped me to focus on what I could change and control, rather than what I couldn't. On the other hand, it made me even more obsessed with trying to figure out what he was up to, so that I would know when to reward him and when not, which was not conducive to anything positive.

However, at a certain point we all have to decide when enough is enough, and it sounds like you're getting to that point.

Your AH likely hasn't taken you seriously before because as you note, you don't really have a plan yet. Words without actions don't register with an alcoholic, in my experience.

Have you spoken with an attorney to find out your rights? You mention not wanting to move out of the family house. It sounds like you need to find out what you can/should do to put yourself, your toddler, and your new baby in the best possible position. Many attorneys offer a first consultation for free--you could look at Yelp for recommended attorneys in your area.

A couple of things that had to sink in before I was ready to leave were 1) marriage is not supposed to be a life sentence (spoken by my therapist but often repeated on the F&F board); and 2) by staying, I was enabling him to continue killing himself with alcohol. I was either the reason, or the excuse, for his drinking, and so long as I was around, nothing was going to change.

I tell you that because since leaving my AH 6 mos ago, I have a lot more leverage than I did living in the same house. I managed to get him to agree to a sobriety monitoring program in order to have custodial time with our children. That means for the first time in 20 years, he has to be sober in order to get something that he really wants, time with his kids. And he's managed to comply.

I hope you're able to breath and take care of yourself during this really stressful time.
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Old 08-12-2016, 09:14 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The SMART Handbook for Family members is so helpful. I had to read it for my F&F SMART Facilitator training and I'm using exercises and tools in it daily
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