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July 28, 2005, 8:18 am CDT

Enabling!!!

Quote From: skyblue555

My fiance has had a alcohol problem for years now.  You watch and pray that he'll pull himself together because he isn't just destroying his life, he destroys the lives of those around him.  I've finally let my family in on his problem after years of excuses why I couldn't come to see them or attend a get together, or have them all over, etc.  They are disgusted with him and me, I think, because I have put up with him.  But this is a person I've loved and he always wasn't this way.  Our relationship started out in such a loving, wonderful, happy way that I sometimes think my life now is all a bad dream.  I am pretty naive and didn't realize he had a drinking problem.  At that time he could go for months without drinking and he was careful not to do that around me while we were dating.  I was completely in love with him when I realized how bad his problem was and I then became determined to help him.  Because of the stress I'm under, the lack of sleep, and a tremendous loss of weight, I now see a therapist and take anti-depressants.  I am learning that I am a MAJOR caretaker.  I should have had a target on my forehead.  A normal woman who had a decent amount of self esteem would not have taken all the crud I have for the past few years and that includes paying his bills, learning he goes on porn sites, finding out he goes to bars and buys drinks for other women, and also goes to strip clubs.  Along with these behaviors he verbally abuses me terribly when he's drunk because his rage comes out.  I pay all the bills when they're due, cook, clean, do the laundry and read everything I can on how to help the alcoholic.  I've done what they've said over these past years and it hasn't helped.  I can attend all the meetings I want to, but he is the person with the drinking problem and he is the one who has to attend the meetings and seek out help.  I know I've been a martyr and I feel foolish.  I've wasted the past five years of my life with someone who didn't get better with my intervention.  I read recently in one of my books on alcoholism that a person can be drowning and someone on shore sees them and jumps in to save them, but because that person doesn't know how to swim they both end up drowning.  I feel that's what I've done.  I know my heart was in the right place.  I tried every way to get him help.  And now I have to separate from him because my own mental and physical health are in jeopardy.  It's breaking my heart because I know the truly wonderful person he is (used to be).  It's terrible to give up on someone and let them "hit bottom."  My fiance's "bottom" will probably be death or jail and I can't bear the thought of that.   I still wish there was something I could do for him (my therapist would kick me for saying that!)

Hi!  Just so you know, I'm a recovering alcoholic and also grew up with 2 raging alcoholic parents, so I've more or less seen this issue from all sides.

 

A lot of what you said reminded me of myself.  So I'll mention a couple of things.

 

First, don't be so hard on yourself.  As you clearly realize, you've been enabling your fiance all over the place, to the point where it puts yourself and your employment at risk.   It's unfortunate, but enabling comes naturally to most of us who think of ourselves as "good" people.  Why wouldn't we want to "help"?? 

 

The problem is that enabling is very destructive to the alcoholic.  Us alcoholics tend to look at the results of our drinking in terms of "well, I still have.....".  And as long as someone is sticking around helping us hang on and avoid consequences, (as in leaving work to pick him up from a DUI), that person is not only hurting him/herself, but is hurting the alcoholic even more.   An alcoholic NEEDS the consequences to hit his/her bottom.

 

The other thing that reminded me of myself is this: In spite of all the therapy and meetings and research, I can tell that  you're still struggling with the notion that there has to be something left for you to do.  There has to be some combination of right words or actions that will make him sit up and see the light.  Simply put, there isn't.  You cannot control his disease.

 

Finally, like me, you're on information overload.  While education is certainly useful as part of a healing process, it can actually become a negative and you end up with "paralysis by analysis."   And when that happens, people can stall out. 

 

So I guess my only real advice is that you simplify things.  Stop reading and researching.  If your therapist isn't holding you accountable for acting on your knowledge, stop with the therapist.  I do think Al Anon can be helpful in cases like yours.  But set simple goals (ie, by this weekend I will have kicked him out), do not negotiate your boundaries with your fiance, and above all, be good to yourself. 

 
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July 28, 2005, 8:36 am CDT

Addiction Support

Quote From: mischif12

.....to being and alcoholic and an addict for 30 years I am also severely codependant. I have been sober now for ten months today, but the codependancy issues are really kicking my behind. I do my best to set boundaries with my husband who is still in his disease but it's hard and not good for my sobriety to wake up and find beer cans all over the house. Don't get me wrong I am no better than he is and 10 months ago I was a lot worse but it seems that the longer I am sober the more he drinks. We haven't had sex in 4 years and I am truely considering divorce. I am only here right now because AA teaches not to make in any major changes in the first year and they haven't steered me wrong yet. You know the stronger I get the more threatened he becomes. He is truely a functional alcoholic in that he gets up every morning goes to work and pulls down 6 figures. He only drinks at night after work and he's not violent or abusive in the physical sense of the word. He can be verbal at times but general he keeps to himself in true alcoholic fashion. I am working with my therapist on the codependancy issues and it's helping but it's going so slow. I guess I' m just a little down today. I'm usually very up and ready to help whenever I'm needed but right now I just need a little encouragement.

 

Mischif

Hi mischif!  I'll be happy to try to encourage you. :)

 

First, I didn't realize your hubby has this problem.  I can't imagine being in early sobriety and finding beer cans all over the house.

 

But here's the deal.  You are working such a solid program, and I can tell by your posts that you're benefitting from it.  So don't let anything or anybody take that away from you.  In fact, they can't -- it's all yours!

 

Since you're more involved with AA than I am at this point, I'm sure you already know what I'm about to say.  But problems between spouses when one gets sober are endemic -- regardless of whether the other spouse has a problem himself or not.  Part of it is the sober person suddenly seeing the spouse with clear eyes.  Part of it is the spouse suddenly seeing what the sober person is like when they're not drinking.   And suddenly people are confronted with issues they didn't even know existed.

 

The one thing I can assure you of is, with more and more sobriety, things become clear and take care of themselves in a way you can't even envision right now.   It's hard to explain, so I won't even try.  But you are slowly and steadily earning the right to celebrate yourself.  From what I can tell, you have a great career and have been given a second chance.  You're doing what you have to do to stay sober every day, and you're reaching out to help others.  Hang on to that! 

 

The issues with your hubby are serious and will need to be addressed.  But your sobriety gives you the power to address them on your timetable.   

 

PS - I agree about AA not "steering us wrong" and I, too, would definitely advise against making any major moves.  But AA also has some strong words about "slippery people and places".  If at any time you decide that these beer cans lying around are an actual threat to your sobriety, I would think that situation would trump the "major change" advice in a heartbeat. 

 

I really think, based on what I've read from you, that you are doing everything right.  So my prescription is for you to do something nice for yourself today.  You've earned it.  And just keep taking those small steps.  The rewards are enormous, even when those inevitable bumps in the road pop up.

 

 
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August 1, 2005, 12:13 pm CDT

Mic

That was supposed to say mischif but it wouldn't let me correct it.

 

Anyway, I'm glad to hear that! 

 

Now if we can just hear from a couple of others! 

 

I'm having a bit of trouble navigating at the moment, but getting here wasn't a problem, hopefully they'll at least be able to check in.

 
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August 3, 2005, 12:46 pm CDT

laura

Hi!  I'm sorry you all are going through this.

 

I don't know anything about the laws in Canada.  Just for grins, I plugged "Canada" and drug treatment options into google and I got over 3 million links!  Are you sure your sister has thoroughly researched the possibilities?  I'm sure this isn't the case, but it almost sounds like she's waiting for Dr. Phil to step in and help, which isn't much of a plan.

 

Here in the US, if I was in your sister's situation, I would try another mental health professional asap.  The purpose of this wouldn't be to talk him into rehab - it would be to asses his mental status to see if he's even capable of making decisions for himself.   If the first shrink he saw failed to grasp the situation, I'd simply find a new one.  If it appears that he's not mentally competent, there are legal steps (again, I'm talking in the US) that a relative can take on that person's behalf to position themselves so that they can get him properly evaluated on an inpatient basis. 

 

If, on the other hand, he's a legal adult who is oriented and alert, but simply refuses to give up drugs and refuses to go to rehab, unfortunately there's very little that can be done.  That is also true in the US since, as you say, rehab facilities allow patients to come and go as they please. 

 

Other than that, I don't know what to say, but I find it hard to believe, if he's really that messed up, that your sister doesn't have options and legal protections she can tap into.  Has she thought of consulting an attorney?  At this point, from what you've said, his mental competence sounds like a more urgent issue than anything else. 

 
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August 4, 2005, 10:54 am CDT

Hines

Quote From: hines14

Thank you for such a great post.  My husband has been alcoholic for over 20 years.  8 Aug 05 he gets released from prison for DUI.  I too have felt like there should be something more that I could do or say.  By the grace of God I now know that I can't do anything that my husband doesn't want to do himself.  I won't say it will be easy but I have already stated my boundaries clearly to him and WILL NOT negotiate with him.  I don't mean it to say it's my way or the highway but in a nutshell that's pretty much what it is.  I can't live like this anymore, waiting on the other shoe to drop.  More importantly I can't raise our son in this environment anymore.  I am worthy of dignity and respect and I am no longer the enabler I was when we married.  Time will tell if he will stay sober :)

Your post was great, too, and it really sounds like you're on the right track. 

 

The only thing I can think of to add (I always have to have something, of course :) is that many people in his situation confuse being dry with being sober.  I don't know how long he was incarcerated, but he may very well come out of there feeling like he's "cured" merely because he's been abstinent.

 

You obviously know that it isn't your job to worry about this, nor is it your job to make sure he's in some sort of support or recovery group.   Don't let yourself get caught up in being his hall monitor or making sure he's doing what he needs to do to stay sober -- you'll drive yourself (and him) nuts!  Hopefully, your boundaries are simple and relate to consequences of any drinking -- it's on him to do the legwork and figure out how to get and stay sober. 

 

I'm not saying this because you need to hear it.  In fact, you probably don't.  But if there's one thing that I've seen that trips folks up when they're in your situation, it's this.  The "dry" alcoholic continues his manipulative patterns and the poor spouse gets caught up without realizing it.  It's all about staying focused.

 

Anyway, best of luck with all this.  It sounds like you've made an awesome start!  And please keep us posted on your progess --- I have a feeling you'll do very well! 

 

 

 

 

 
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August 4, 2005, 11:03 am CDT

Hello again

Quote From: lauralp3

I understand you must find it hard to believe, so do I!  And my sister isn't waiting for Dr. Phil to get involved but, to me, this could be her last resort.  She has sought legal advice and the only thing she was able to legally obtain was a paper to have him assessed IF and WHEN he is a danger to himself and she did use this legal paper just over a week ago.  However, the two physcologists who assessed him couldn't do anything, they couldn't keep him because he was somewhat "alert" being he knew his name, where he was, etc.  The laws are different there even compared to the province I live in which is just 4 hours away from her...  See here where I live if 2 people hear someone say they will kill themself and do harm to themself, then you can have them admitted and treated but, it's different over there, you just can't do that.  If there is a time where one can say that the law has let someone down, this is it!  I've seen it now since he's been 12 years of age and it really upsets me!  And yes, this is an urgent issue as my nephew can't continue on like this for very long without something happening to him.  He's also gone to rehab twice I believe in the past of his own will of course but, he went back to the same friends, same enviroment and now things are worse than ever.  Anyhow, just thought someone may have advice of some sort...I've been trying to come up with something on my own but without success. 

I think I'm going backwards at the moment -- I keep going up when I'm supposed to go down or something.  :)

 

Wow, this really is a mess.  I only have a couple further ideas, but they're kind of stupid. 

 

First, have you (or your sister) tried googling for Canadian (your province) message boards on this?  Now that I think about it, you guys can't be the only people in this type of situation.   Message boards can be really good sources of info if one takes the time to find good ones. 

 

Secondly, I agree that using "alertness" as a measuring stick for potential to do harm to yourself is simply nonsense.  You mentioned that the standards are different in your own province.  If your sister is really serious about going to all lengths, could she move herself and her son near you, establish residency, and then take advantage of those laws?  It sounds extreme, but then again, the situation itself sounds kind of extreme. 

 
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August 5, 2005, 8:56 am CDT

Hey if you're still here...

Quote From: lauralp3

First, I'd like to say thank you for your ideas!  I greatly appreciate it!  Well, my sister has looked into everything for her province (Quebec) and according to doctors, police, attornys, detox and all, there is nothing she can do...he, my nephew has to "want" the help.  It's crazy because he isn't thinking, the drugs are!  As for her moving here, well, he wouldn't go for that and he isn't living with her all the time since he is in his 20's now.  He just recently moved in with a girl who has a young 3 month old and who just last month attempted suicide herself!  My nephew goes back to the house only once in awhile, when he's in trouble, needs food, etc.  So, moving here isn't an option really since he wouldn't come.  And you are right, this situation is as extreme as I can imagine!  I just hope I never have to go through this with my own children!  Again, thank you for all your advice and just for taking time to write back!:) 

Oh, you're very welcome, but I just realized something!  With all the things you mention that your sister has tried, there's nothing in there about AA or Alanon.  I know AA is active in Quebec, and this is something your sister needs to get plugged into. 

  

I say this because of your statement that your nephew only goes home when he's in trouble or needs food.   Your sister needs to understand why it's very destructive for her to give him shelter or food while he's using drugs.  This is classic "enabling" and it's actually harmful to the addict in the long run.  AA (or Alanon) will help her understand why she needs to try the "tough love" approach and what steps she needs to take. 

  

It's always trickier when there are questions relating to someone's competence, but if he's got enough sense to show up at Mom's house when he needs something, he's obviously capable of thinking things through.     

  

So if your sister hasn't gotten involved with one of these groups, she really needs to do so.     

 
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August 11, 2005, 12:08 pm CDT

I Agree Mischef

Hmm....this place has kind of ground to a halt.  I've been doing some long-weekend type travelling and it amazes me when I check in and see nothing new!! 

  

I'm glad to hear your Dad is doing well.  I think I mentioned that my Dad, too, had colon cancer.  For us, it turned out quite well -- they simply removed the tumor and sewed him up.  No chemo, no radiation....what was significant about it was that his colon cancer was what finally convinced my stepmom that my Dad was an alcoholic!! They were having problems pulling him out from under the anesthesia and couldn't figure out why, until the severe twitchiness and sweaty palms finally gave it away.  They literally had to bring up some vodka from the hospital pharmacy to pull him out of it (I'm not sure why they didn't just use librium or something, unless this particular hospital was a bit archaic in treating alcoholism). 

  

Just like you, my relationship with my father is/was complex, to say the least.  But, of course, I was happy the cancer had been caught very early and proved to be minimally challenging. 

 
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September 8, 2005, 11:49 am CDT

Hola!

Quote From: lynzrae

As of right now I have no rent, i am living with family. I have looked into all of sober living homes. Everyone is different, not everyone can quit by themselves. I have been using since I was 14 years old, daily. Its also a part of my probation to be in an inpatient program, I have to do this or its prison!!

Maybe it's just me, or maybe I'm missing something, but some of what you're saying doesn't add up.   

  

For one thing, you say you've been on waiting lists for "sober houses".  If you're still using every day, this is nonsensical, since sober houses always require a period of sobriety.  And I'd guess that's especially true if the home allows kids.  You wouldn't even pass the UA they give you at the door!   

  

Then you say you have to be in an inpatient program or you'll go to jail.  Again, why the search for sober houses if you need to be in an inpatient program?  And are you sure that's your only option?   

Since inpatient programs are costly and many can't afford them, I find it a bit surprising that this would be your only choice other than jail. 

  

I mention the above because I truthfully can't tell whether you're genuinely confused or you're misrepresenting the situation on purpose. 

  

Also, are you sure you're really ready to do what it takes to get and stay sober?  I know you want to stop using as a way to avoid jail, but that's not the same thing at all.   And it's not even about the recognition of the damage you're doing to yourself and your children.    

  

It's never hopeless, and there are things that you can do and lots of people who care, but if you're truly reaching out for help, take a few minutes and please clarify the situation.  What exactly do you need to do (legally) and what is the timeframe?  Have you attended any AA or NA meetings?  The people in these meetings have "been there and done that" -- they might know resources you're not aware of.  Is there anyone who can help care for your kids for an extended period of time??   

  

 
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September 12, 2005, 9:16 am CDT

lynzrae

I hope you see this.  I didn't want to "reply with quote" because you can't cut and paste and this board is getting cluttered with long repeated quotes.   This new format is horrid!!!  

   

Anyway, just a couple of things.   

   

First, going to church doesn't hurt, of course, but for someone who is "gutting out" those early days of abstinence, your time is better spent at an NA or AA meeting.  Like I said, the people there -- especially with NA - are familiar with legal problems.   You keep sidestepping this issue and I'm not sure why, but it's a mistake.  Even if you don't want to hear what they have to say about sobriety, go to hear what they have to say about your specific situation.  They may know of options you're unaware of.  

   

Secondly, you need to be a better mom to your son starting today. I'm not usually the sentimental type, but your comments about your 2 year old being called a convict broke my heart.  Wake up, please!  You have a toddler with both parents absent in one form or another, and grandparents who are emotionally distant.  How long do you think it will take before this poor child is permanently damaged?  Answer:  It's already happened.   You need to think about this, even more than you think about yourself.   Does his father have relatives?   

   

This child is a tragedy in the making and YOU are his mother.    

   

   

 

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