View Full Version : What do I do? Have I done enough?
3rd March 2001, 02:14 AM
Hi. I don't know if you can help me or not. I've been married for 7 years, my husband is 21 years older than me and an alcoholic. I knew he had a drink problem when I met him (he was a regular customer in my mother's off licence) and spent the first year together coming home to find him passed out etc. We got married and I believed it would turn out fine. He is basically a very nice person. I found that over the years I conformed to try to be the person he needed and each year the problem of addressing his drink problem arose and he promised to deal with it but never did. He also spent most weekends helping people out (such as his grown-up kids etc) so was never at home, when he did get home he'd start drinking straight away and then fall asleep. Its been the same thing during the week as I commute so by the time I got home he would have been drinking (even driving under the influence). I have been unhappy in this marriage for a long time and have felt very stilted. Over the years I have lost many friends as he has, one way or another, forced me to make the choice between them and him. Last year I met a guy who subsequently has become my best friend. There is no romance between us but he is, in a way, my soul mate; and apart from our friendship we have become involved in an exciting new business venture together. Obviously this guy calls me at home a lot and has been very supportive to me over the difficult times I have had with my husband which have escalated because of this friendship. I have been very unwilling to give up this friendship (a) because of how I have done so in the past and (b) because this friend accepts me for who I am and has encouraged me to grow as a person for the first time in years. My husband has now accused me of having an affair with this guy and has phoned various friends to tell them who have all supported me and told him he is being stupid. My husband has now announced that he knows he is an alcoholic and has joined alcoholics anonymous but feels that this should make everything in our relationship alright and that I should give him a chance but I feel that I have given him a chance for 8 years and he is not respecting my rights as a person back. He has admitted to lying to me for years regarding drinking and that he has topped up bottles of water, poured whisky in his coffee and can't remember much of our time together due to drink but he expects me to stay with him. Most of me says desperately that I should leave as I am only 30 years old, I have a good career, good friends and should start life afresh but I feel guilty that my husband has now decided to address his drink problem and will be left unable to support our current lifestyle financially and would probably have to sell the house (as I am the main earner in the house). Everything and everyone tells me that I have given enough and that I should go before I have a nervous breakdown but I am so scared of telling him. I have tried to tell him that I think I should leave - even if I lived away for 6 months and we dated to find out if we have anything left between us - but he says if I go he knows I will cope and won't come back. I am so desperate. I really don't know what to do. I have no tears left to cry but why do I feel so guilty? Tonight I came home and he pushed past me to leave the house as he was going to his first AA meeting and I don't know what to say when he comes home. I can't tell him I want to leave as he would have just gone through an emotional time at his first meeting which is such a big and difficult step but I feel as if I am mothering him.
I would really really appreciate any advice you could give me.
3rd March 2001, 04:37 AM
It is really tough relating to an alcoholic. As you have discovered they are often inveterate liars to cover their addiction. It is so easy to think that when we marry them or when we befriend them we will be able to change them with our love, but only they can really start the change. It sounds as if your husband is now trying to sort himself out and he will need your support if you can give it. There is no guarantee that he will be successful with AA (http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/), but you obviously don't want to hurt him, by turning away now.
You could get some support and counselling for yourself to try and help you through the turmoil you are going through and have been through over the years. There is a support group network (http://www.hexnet.co.uk/alanon/) for spouses of alcoholics. Whatever you decide to do, it would be worth talking to someone experienced about what you have been through, to help you make the best decision.
If you've loved him through eight years of this, isn't it worth giving him a little longer to see if he really wants to sort things out. He may be beginning to glimpse what the effect he has been having on you all these years and really care about losing you. Don't rush into a decision.
28th February 2003, 12:00 AM
Go with your heart, if he's self-centered, as is my husband, aa may take him away from the booze but the I-Me attitude will come back with a fury after he has achieved a position of "one who knows" within the group. After almost 20 yrs. in it, my husband still hasn't done the "steps", which doesn't matter to those in the group who, like him, are only doing what they call the "fellowship program". AA has a lot of wonderful concepts in it's core program but it has become extremely watered down since people are now "referred" there by the courts, etc. These guys/gals can go to any town with meetings and represent themselves as super-gurus and have their egos stroked by other "disease-victims". There are a lot of vague logic/non-logic ideas, or slogans. In many areas the aa members and the alanon members in the same family, as in spouses, are now focused on each other in their own groups, and the focus is OFF of the family. There is no real authority; at least in a formal group-therapy setting there is a moderator, assumably with psychological education, to keep things in line and not have mis-guided attitudes dumped on participants. Even the ones who do the program as it was intended can fall victim to the focus on themselves...for ex: their "stories" all sound more and more similar after they hear and repeat for several years. It can become a "substitute addiction". A psychologist who counselled my husband and I, briefly...since hubby thought it was only me who needed the help...told me that aa is the lesser of two evils(and this guy is aa-friendly), he said that they aren't out getting dui's or wrecking the car, but there are "a lot of pitfalls". Whatever issues come up in your relationship can wind up always in second place since "At least he's not drinking." There has been a lot of debating over the last 30 years about whether it's a cult or not. There is a very wealthy business involved with supplying all the literature to recovery institutions. I think that I agree with what I read somewhere on the internet, that it IS a social cult. There is a lot of what they call "caring and sharing" that goes beyond the tools to avoid alcohol into other areas of the members life/relationships, and is ripe for affairs. They are inundated with concepts such as "only another alcoholic can understand". There is a lot of "twisted-logic" in modern aa such as: "Don't think, remember, it was your best thinking that got you here in the first place"......
Members can wind up so caught up in their OWN drama, always reliving it through the newcomers to the group, and their own importance to "the suffering alcoholic". It's still all about them...heck...there's even a tee shirt slogan that says,"IT'S ALL ABOUT ME!" that is sold by companies that peddle all the "stuff" to people...at least aa isn't into THAT! Somehow the concept of helping others is watered down when it's only others with the same problem(controlling alcohol). ALSO...GET THIS...THEY ARE .....NEVER.....TO STOP GOING TO AA MEETINGS! They are told that if they stop they WILL drink and also ....it leads to INSTITUTIONS, JAIL, AND DEATH!
As you can no doubt tell, this is an extremely sore subject with me. If someone is selfish and dishonest their life can be full of problems that lead them to self-medicate their "inner-bull...." They can also self-medicate with attention at meetings and still be selfish and dishonest.
Go with your heart....don't let yourself become a victim of "emotional blackmail".
28th February 2003, 12:26 AM
SJ, I just re-read your letter and I feel compelled to add: My husband also is ready to drop anything and work on whatever projects other people are involved in. It made me angry at the other people, in the past, for taking advantage of him...but...I have come to realize that he many times won't take no for an answer about "coming to their rescue". He would rather go to a noon meeting, then he goes to a nice place to eat, sometimes with many in the group, then home for a nap(self-employed with employees to do the work) and doesn't lift a finger around home for sometimes weeks at a time.....and I mean NOTHING! He told me recently that the reason he does that is because they are so much more grateful and appreciative than I am(also they go out to a nice place to eat afterwards, he pays more than half of the time. This is VERY narcissistic behavior and the bottom line for us is that we are living in an emotionally abusive relationship(no marks!) I told him that the only way to have level-ground between us is for me to start making nice dinners, with my time, and pack them up and deliver them to whatever acquaintance I know....he can be in charge of dinner for himself and our three sons who still live at home(teens) and I can be the recipient of all the gratitude and appreciation from "others".
Guys like this ALWAYS make a big move to keep you when you feel clear enough to see you deserve a big change. Probably the fact that you are the main money-maker counts, too.
28th February 2003, 04:49 PM
I c an see you are both concerned about the progress your loved ones are making with AA. It made me go back and visit their site to see what they had to say about the problems you are facing. They have a booklet (http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org/default/en_about_aa_sub.cfm?subpageid=85&pageid=13) for those in the family of an alcoholic and they highlight the very issue that you are struggling with:
"Alcoholism may be under control, but many smaller problems almost invariably remain. Alcoholics, in their enthusiasm for the new life, may indeed forget the sacrifices those living with them made during the drinking days. They may plunge into such a constant round of A.A. meetings and calls to help other alcoholics that they have little time left to spend with you. Enjoying the return of health, some may approach their jobs with new energy and interest. Others may want to return to school to pursue long-delayed career goals."
"Often, this intense interest in A.A. and in work or school will seem to be just as self-centered as the alcoholic's drinking was. This period when the recovering alcoholic has such high enthusiasm for A.A. that other concerns fade — is often referred to in the Fellowship as "living on a pink cloud." It passes, eventually. Although sober, the alcoholic still has the same illness, and nondrinking alcoholics cannot be expected to change all their erratic behavior overnight. Certain thinking habits have probably become ingrained. But as time goes on, most A.A. members achieve better balance. The A.A. program is designed, not as an escape route, but as a bridge to normal living."
I would say that it was part of addictive behaviour to transfer dependence on to something new during the process of recovery to normal life.
AA has a long history of helping people to live without alcohol. I think it still has a lot to offer. You may still not be seeing the benefits in your loved ones at the moment, but the work and concept of AA is still valuable, even if it may not be the whole answer for everyone.
In the end it comes down to whether you believe that a person is capable of change and willing to go through what is necessary to change. There are some questions we can all ask ourselves, "Would I be willing to change some behaviour that was recking my marriage and how determined would I be to see it through? What would help me to get there?"
All the best
1st March 2003, 06:08 AM
The booklet you refer to is published by the "business-end" of aa. The core doctrine and the various (many) booklets and writings are good for the most part, but how they are applied in real life is the proof of the pudding. Professional group therapy has a beginning and an end, aa does not. Usually the most enthusiastic family members are those with an alcoholic loved one who is in the very first years of membership. The ego-feed effect comes later, also the attitude of "uniqueness" and separateness from everyone else who isn't "in aa".
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