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User Topic: For Those That Love An Alcoholic
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Default  Posted: 10:14 PM, May 16th (Wednesday), 2007View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

The following material is excerpted from the bestselling book:

Getting Them Sober – Volume 1

endorsed by 'dear Abby', Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, and Melody Beattie (author "Codependent No More")

By Toby Rice Drews

Note: This information is not intended to be considered counseling or other professional advice by the publisher, author, contributors or this site or its operators.

Necessary Basics When Counseling the Non-Addicted Partner of an Alcoholic
Copyright by Toby Rice Drews

Chapter 1: No More Taking the Blame for Someone Else’s Drinking!

You cannot cause anyone to drink.

You cannot control anyone’s drinking.

You cannot cure anyone’s drinking.

You probably feel guilty or resentful so much of the time that it’s been a long time since you did not experience these feelings. These emotions are very normal for a person in your circumstances.

When the alcoholic acts rotten, you feel like a resentful saint. For example, sometimes out of the blue, when things are going well, you seem to say something that “triggers” the alcoholic to blow up and get a drink. Or you overreact all the time to everything he says or does because you’ve got so many pent-up feelings of frustration. When this happens, the alcoholic reaches for the bottle or goes slamming out the door to the bar.

“It’s all your fault!” he accuses. You’ve heard it so often, and more than likely you believe it by now. The alcoholic needs you to keep believing this so he can dump the responsibility for his drinking on you.

Are you responsible for the drinking?

Look at it in this light: Can you make a tubercular patient cough? Can you make him stop coughing? Tuberculosis is a disease. Alcoholism is a disease. You cannot cause, control or cure a disease. You cannot make your alcoholic drink; neither can you make him stop. He bends his elbow; he makes the choice. Always remember this.

What can you do when he accuses you – or when his family accuses you – of causing him to drink? When you feel capable of speaking calmly, say this (only once – they’ll really hear you that way): “I am not responsible for anyone’s drinking. If he chooses to drink, that’s his business.”

Then, simply be quiet. Leave the room if you have to, in order to avoid an argument. You don’t ever have to discuss it again. They’ll get the idea.

What will this accomplish? Once you really start to believe you are not responsible for his behavior, you will no longer be able to be emotionally blackmailed. You’ll stop feeling guilty and you’ll stop thinking you need to he punished for making your alcoholic drink. And probably for the first time in his life, the alcoholic will feel that someone is saying, “I love you enough to let you grow up and be responsible for your own life.”

God, give me the courage to cope with the situation that threatens to rob my peace of mind.

Chapter 4: Don’t Pour Out The Booze

He’ll get more – doesn’t he always?

It costs too much to replace it. (It’s your budget too.)

Mae was a tall, energetic woman who, even after twenty-five years of marriage to Phil, her alcoholic husband, had a great deal of enthusiasm for life. But she was begin*ning to look harried, drawn. For the past five years, she had managed to do quite well, keeping an emotional distance from her husband. He was drink*ing in bars most of the time. Then Phil’s condition changed, phys*ically. His illness progressed and he couldn’t get outside like he used to. He was too weakened, too tired. Besides, he had tem*porarily lost his driver’s license after his third encounter with the police, “driving while drinking.” And his favorite bars were too far away to walk to.

Years ago Mae had gone through her period of jealousy and feelings of deprivation and loneliness when her husband drank at the bars every night. But she adjusted, because she wanted to stay with him for various reasons at that time. So to not go crazy, she blocked out a life of her own and built a “bubble” around herself, emotionally, causing her feelings of anxiety and rage to be submerged. She channeled her energies into her kids, her job, her aging mother, her church work. They lived a life of détente, a somewhat peaceful coexistence, accepting the fact that if she wanted him there – and she did – then it had to be on his terms.

Mae really did believe things would go on like this, forever. She always thought he would keep his job, drink, come home, pass out, and, if she stayed out of his way, there’d be some kind of animal comfort in knowing he’d he home at night, eventually.

She even stopped feeling jealous when she read about alcoholism and how most men, after drinking as long as her husband had, were much more interested in the bottle than a woman – even when they acted like that wasn’t so. And even if he did become interested in the female on the next bar stool, he probably couldn’t stay con*scious long enough to have a sexual encounter – or even be potent enough to start one. Besides, he was really too afraid to even try, thinking he’d probably fail. That part of his life – and his pathetic attempts to still try to occasionally scare Mae about the “other women” – had long ago lost its effect on her.

But Mae forgot about the fact that the disease of alco*holism is a progressive one. She often thought about it being fatal, and she vacillated between sometimes wishing he would just die, so it’d he over with and she’d have some peace – and feeling scared and sorry for him, that he would die if he didn’t stop. She was frightened for herself at being left entirely alone, and experienced nagging guilt over her thoughts and feelings.

She knew alcoholism was progressive. but she didn’t think it would happen so soon. You see, one of the illusions Mae swallowed when her husband acted like he was so powerful for so many years had the effect of making Mae believe her husband was as invincible to this disease’s progression as he said he was. Oh, he often claimed if he didn’t stop, it would “get him too.” But he really didn’t believe that, way down deep, most of the time. He was scared and he kept trying to convince himself – and acting like – he had forever. As the sign says in some alcoholism detoxification units, WE DON’T HAVE TIME TO TAKE OUR TIME.

An alcoholic often believes he truly has all the time in the world to finally make that decision to surrender his sickness, to give it up and get well. He often, when still committed to it, believes he can somehow finally outwit that very cunning, baffling and powerful alcoholism.

And wives often despair because they also have been deceived by this illusion. “God protects drunks and fools,” so goes the old myth – the myth that perpetuates the idea that the alcoholic can slide by, can stay at one stage of the disease and just hide there indefinitely, can just hang in there without going further, without truly getting well.

That’s the illusion May and Phil were living under.

She even hoped, much of the time, that things would stay the same, not change, not get worse. She did not realize it might he good for him to “get worse” – then, hopefully, he might hurt enough to decide to get well. Both of their hopes in this area were under*standable. He was too scared to give it up – yet. She didn’t want the boat rocked – it had taken too many years to get this much peace in their home.

* * *

But now Phil was home a lot. Drinking at home – at night and on weekends.

Somehow, it had been easier on Mae when she didn’t have to see it.

So it started driving her crazy, all over again.

She started to mark the bottles, pour them out, empty half of their contents, hide them, find them and scream and cry and beg him to stop. She stopped spending time with her women friends because she was too busy, always looking for bottles to throw out or pour out.

That’s when Mae showed up at the therapy group.

“I thought I had this thing licked. I was coping with it. Our house was calmer. Why did he have to go and get arrested for drunk driving? Why does he have to get physically sicker? And now I have that extra worry about his health, about his ability to keep any job. I can’t stand it any more.”

I made some suggestions to Mae:

1) Accept that this is a hard time for you. Be very gentle with yourself right now. Treat yourself very lovingly, nurture yourself. Give yourself little splurges – and big ones – when you can afford them. But, certainly, at least, little ones.

2) Try to remember that it can be good that he’s getting sicker, because it won’t drag out forever. When alco*holics start getting sicker, they often start getting better. At least, when he’s hurting so bad he just may decide he can’t stand it any longer – and decide to get help.

3) Group support is very important for you. You need regular reassurance that it’s necessary for you to become detached from his problem. Try to not rescue him from the consequences of his disease. As Al-Anon says, let the crises happen. You will need support to prevent you from experiencing guilt and pity for him. Keep your compassion at a distance.

“Remember, you can’t save him, even if you want to,” I told Mae over and over.

Temporarily “saving” him was only postponing his final surrender to true recovery anyway. So it wasn’t really helping him get better.

4) Finally, we gently, but firmly, told Mae: “Don’t pour out the booze,” I pleaded. “The next bottle you throw out might be just the one that gets him so sick that he will wind up in a hospital! God forbid that you should prevent that from happening!”

* * *

Mae took a vacation at her sister’s home, came back refreshed, and was able to leave his bottles to him.

She gave up his problem and she kept her peace of mind.

Her husband? He got so scared by her lack of worry that he signed himself into a hospital!

He’s been sober a month now.

Cause me to realize Thy loving kindness in the morning, for in Thee do I trust.

Chapter 6: Don’t Be Afraid of Losing Him Because You’re Changing

You’re not as dependent as you think you are.

Your alcoholic often needs you more than (s)he will ever admit.

It’s very hard to lose an alcoholic.

This chapter deals with what I call the “closet fear.” If anyone were to ask me to name one thing that I believe stops most spouses of alcoholics from making changes in their relationships – changes they know will help – it’s the fear that the alcoholic partner will leave.

I once heard it said most succinctly: “I was afraid of being rejected by a reject.” Most of the audience winced when they heard that – they thought no one else had ever had that terrible thought. It seemed so dastardly to think of the alcoholic in those terms – but that’s one of the most natural, normal feelings the spouse of the alcoholic has.

For years, you’ve been told by the alcoholic that “you’re the cause of it all,” that you never do enough or do it right. You feel lower than a worm (except for the few times you feel like a saint). The alcoholic, on the other hand, is your tin god. But not in society’s eyes. You know, and he knows, he is considered a reject. What could be worse than him leaving you, especially when you’ve invested all those years and expended your energy in an effort to help him?

And what do you get for it? He has you scared to death that he will leave you at the drop of a hat if you don’t continue to do as he wants.

Now, most of the suggestions in this guide are decep*tively simple; they seem “easy” to many people who do not live with an alcoholic, but any wife knows that as soon as she starts putting any of them into practice, her alcoholic will kick up a row.

Which brings us to an interesting point: Who is really controlling your relationship? I’ll bet you’ve been called the manager – the mommy. And the poor alcoholic is just shoved around by you, espe*cially when he’s feeling ashamed of past acts and slinks around the house, “taking abuse” from you.

But let’s take a second look. Who is controlling whom – from behind-the-scenes? Who has whom revolving her life around him twenty-four hours a day? Who is thinking, worrying, stewing about him all the time? Neglecting your children, your hair, your mental condition, your intellectual improvement – everything? Who has you thinking that a million women “out there” are waiting for him? One alcoholic’s wife, Miriam, has this to tell: “I left Joe for ten whole days – just to show him who needs whom. Do you know what? When I came home, he didn’t even know I’d been gone!”

* * *

How do you deal with this?

First, you must remember two very important facts:

1) The alcoholic is an addict – a very dependent person. His dependence is not just on alcohol – he is very dependent on you. He needs you.

2) The alcoholic is a denier – he denies his alcoholism. He denies he is dependent on you. Instead, he says that you need him more than he needs you.

Knowing this – internalizing these truths – is very important, especially at the beginning of your recovery. It can give you the courage you need to start to make changes. I know the guilt you feel can keep you from changing: Are you thinking you are being “unfair” by “using” this knowledge of his dependency on you? Or are you saying to yourself, “He won’t leave me if I make changes. He needs me!” GOOD! None of the changes you are going to make are unethical or vicious or wrong in any way. As a matter of fact, they are good for you, for the alcoholic and for the children. Under*standing that your alcoholic needs you very much – and using this knowledge to help you get stronger – thereby helping him to get well, is perfectly fine. After a while, when you are more able to, you will make changes just because they are good for you. But, right now, remember that he needs you and that you will probably not lose him – even though he may threaten it – as you grow.

What happens if you do lose him? Some alcoholics do storm out, calling your bluff, trying to scare you back into your place. Most come back, if you want them. But the way your relationship is now, you could probably replace your alcoholic with 1,000 others in one day by placing this ad in your Sunday newspaper: “Wanted: one mate; drunk 50 percent of the time; come and go as you please. Grateful family waits at home. All your housework done. Very few responsibilities expected to be met. You may interview family at your convenience to see if we meet your requirements.”

You see, once you make these changes, you’ll start to feel so good about yourself that you most likely won’t worry about him leaving you. You will like yourself so much that the “new you” will know she deserves a husband who respects her, likes her and treats her well. And when you begin to believe that and act like you believe it, your husband will very probably treat you that way. I know it’s difficult to believe that now; but it’s true. I know it is – but you have to take a little step of faith and start making some changes – and then you’ll see that it’s true.

God, help me to take my steps by faith and to keep on walking toward the wholeness you have for me.

Chapter 16: Mean What You Say and Say What You Mean

Think before you make a threat or a promise.

You can conquer your guilt feelings.

Learn to accept yourself as a human being.

One of my clients, Caroline, recently wore an outfit that seemed to blend with the decor of my office. She was wearing a Mexican poncho over a loosely fitting dress, and knee socks with sandals. Near her, on the wall next to bamboo roll-up shades, is my favorite Diego Rivera print, framed in heavy fruitwood.

But Caroline’s words did not coincide with her appear*ance. She sounded scared, small, and was lacking in self-confidence. Her husband, Josh, had just out-maneuvered her so well that her head was still spinning when she walked in.

“I decided to try to get courageous and follow through on your suggestion to just ask him to leave when he got nasty, instead of explaining and discussing,” she started.

Caroline and Josh are separated. He visits her from time to time, when she can handle it. Someday soon I hope she will be able to go beyond simply “handling it” to creatively deciding what she wants from life. Then she will go after her goals – to be content, peaceful – instead of just getting through her husband’s sickness and coping with cruelty.

Caroline continued, “So, Josh came in, looking crazy again – you know, with that same look on his face I have described to you. Well, he started trying to hurt me, emotionally, again. And before I even had a chance to ask him to leave – he turned around and announced he was going to leave because he realized he was intoler*able again. Then he smirked and packed his bag – and before you knew it – I was begging him to stay!”

Caroline felt Josh was reading her mind. I countered, “No, Josh isn’t Superman. We’re dealing with a disease that’s cunning, baffling and powerful. It’s alcoholism that’s powerful, not Josh.” I told her this, knowing she’d have to be reminded of it for months before the impact of it would begin to sink in. Eventually, she will start to see the disease as powerful, instead of Josh.

Then we discussed what she could have done instead of begging him to stay. She could have said simply that it was fine if he left. She didn’t have to yell it, or repeat it.

When you’re doing what’s right for you, it’s okay to say it once, simply, and then refuse to discuss anything further.

If that’s a new behavior for you, and it scares you, you can leave the house or room for a while, and ask him not to be there when get back.

If you made a mistake and asked him not to leave, you can think about what you’ve said and say, “No, I changed my mind. You leave. In fact, I’d prefer it.”

You don’t have to debate, discuss, or retaliate to “prove” you are sane when he accuses you of not knowing what you want. The quieter you are when you put this new behavior into practice, the easier it will be on you. Afterwards – you will experience less guilt.

Most wives of alcoholics have more trouble dealing with their own guilt than with the pain from the batterings they receive. That’s what keeps them stuck in old behavior patterns. You must find ways to lessen your guilt feelings.

If you don’t yell, you will avoid or lessen the stomach pain and anxiety that accom*panies guilt; you will be less afraid; you will know, in a very deep sense, that you have done what’s been your best for you, and your family.

And that is why it is so important for the wife to try very hard to calmly state, “No, you cannot do this to me” or “You must leave” or whatever needs to be said. This will enable her to carry through emotionally.

If you could not manage to remain calm, it is very important you learn to quickly accept your humanness, and just promise yourself to try harder to be calm, the next time. This will help you to get rid of that destructive guilt. You must try to remember that God is not interested in hurting you, in punishing you – your human reaction was very normal. So, take it easy on yourself. Be gentle with the person you are.

These changes are difficult, and they are going to be slow. They will be very hard at first. But it will get easier. Your guilt will ease.

Remember when the guilt sets in: You are helping your husband when you do what’s right for you and him, when you say no to allowing his disease to hurt you. You are helping him not to sink deeper into his disease; therefore, you are helping him to stay alive, to get and stay sober – no matter what he says. He’s too sick to understand that, too disoriented to appreciate it. Please don’t expect him to understand. In fact, expect him not to understand. It’s part of his disease. But, if you follow these ideas, you will get healthier and you will help him to make the choice to get well.

When my emotions are in turmoil, O God, I pray that You will be there to speak peace, healing and hope.

Chapter 17: Deal With His Arrogance!

He is only a paper tiger.

The real world sees him as pathetic.

You are a lot more powerful than you think you are.

Eight of us sat in a circle in my living room, which also doubles as my office where I see my clients (families of alcoholics). Rosemary flopped herself in the rocker; Carrie sank deep in the wing chair. Both of them bolted straight up when Madeline said she wanted to talk about her husband’s “incredible arrogance.”

“He lost another job – which, by the way, he had mixed feelings about,” Madeline began explaining. “Of course I was upset that he was getting obviously sicker – especially when I saw that he was denying the reason why he lost the job.

“He keeps saying, ‘Accounting just isn’t for me.’ Well. he has been an accountant for fifteen years, on and off; and it’s true that he didn’t stay in one job – he always seemed either to get fired or quit just before he would have gotten fired, on the pretext that ‘it wasn’t his kind of work.’ Then he’d manage to find something else, lose that job, and it was the same thing all over again.

“And what’s strange is that he’d go to an entirely different line of work, for a few years, anyway. Then he would say. ‘it isn’t for me,’ and then he would go back to that first line of work he had left. He kept up this same pattern for seventeen years! He lost nine jobs in seventeen years. It would seem fine if they were his choices, decisions he made to try to better himself, but, instead, they all seemed like frantic running all the time.

“I guess what really bothers me now, though, is what I’m seeing as the reasons for all his jumping around. He lives with such hate inside him. All the time he tells me how he resents this and resents that. It really interferes with his work. He spends so much time doing what he wants on the job – not following orders and even delib*erately dis*obeying them because he thinks he knows what’s right, or because he resents the boss for having money, that he doesn’t spend his time doing his job right. When he gets told off, it increases his resentment, and then everything goes downhill real fast.”

Madeline went on, “And to tell you the whole truth, I’m upset too, because whenever I’ve gone to those office parties with him, he has acted so weird with the women. It’s kind of like a combination of being angry with them and fawning over them. He ‘comes on’ to them – and it’s so obvious to the women, to me, and everyone else – and he looks like a fool because the women are contemptuous toward him, but he doesn’t seem to care. Then he gets mad because they won’t play his game. He does that everywhere – at all his jobs, with our friends, everywhere.

“Then this whole thing starts to affect his work too! He comes home, and in talking with me, he ‘lets it drop’ that he’s mad at a certain woman at work because she won’t look at him, and he seems to spend a lot of his days just sitting at work, and being mad – at her or somebody – anybody!

“But one of the worst times of all for me, is when, after he’s lost another job – he begins a new one. For a while, at the beginning, when no one knows his game too well (he’s quite charming, you know), he starts to act like he just doesn’t need me around anymore. He gets so puffed up! So arrogant!”

Everyone broke in at this point. One of the women said, “I know exactly what you mean! Every time a normally nice thing happens to my husband he acts like he’s King Tut and he pretends I’m just not needed around anymore!”

“My husband gets that way when a woman smiles at him. Or when a few of his drinking buddies talk about how they ‘don’t need their wives, anymore!’ Their arro*gance seems to be infectious,” another one wryly commented.

* * *

By the end of the session, we came up with a few guidelines that did work for them:

1) Remember that his period of “puffed-up time” doesn’t last. It ends when his co-workers discover the “real” person underneath all the charm. It ends with the first order from authority figures being deliberately disobeyed. “I’ll show ’em who’s boss” behavior cannot last forever.

It ends, in essence, when they see he’s a trouble-maker, when he no longer can stand the strain of looking like a “nice person,” when he drops his facade.

2) As his illness progresses, it takes a shorter amount of time for him to get arrogant. It’s just like the drinking; he gets sicker – quicker. Whereas before, it would take several months until he would begin to experience personality-changes on the job – now, it would take only a month or so, for those terrible mood-swings to begin to emerge again.

3) Why is it such a relief to the wife when her husband can’t keep up his “act” as long as he could previously? It is usually because he is so obnoxious during all this time when things are going well for him. She is afraid people think of her as less than she is because he looks so “terrific” and she is always so angry at him. His public image is so wonderful! She questions her own sanity – is he that terrific? She wishes so much that she could be happy for him in his new job, but his behavior cancels that possibility.

4) Remember, you’ve been conditioned to know that if it’s going to be nice for him – as long as he stays sick – it’s going to be hell for you.

5) Just knowing that this is “typical” of many alcoholics’ behavior helps you not to feel you are rotten or crazy. Most wives of alcoholics don’t get so angry from just the drinking. It’s the related behavior that gets them mad!

6) Don’t reveal your fears when he acts like he doesn’t need you anymore. Remember you are dealing with a paper tiger.

7) If he takes you to a social gathering and acts very puffed up and pays no attention to you, don’t beg him for attention. Don’t sulk and look like a victim-in-the-corner. Enter into the festivities and enjoy yourself. Two-to-one, your husband will be at your side within minutes, sulking that he wants to go home. Don’t. Insist on staying awhile. Leave later – slowly, reluctantly, with a lot of smiles.

These tactics are harmless in themselves, because you know your motives. You are not being cruel – you’re helping him. You cannot afford to be victimized any longer. It’s not good for you, nor for him, if he succeeds in making a victim out of you. He has to see that the people he tries to smash won’t stand for it any more.

* * *

Not every alcoholic is arrogant. But if yours is, his behavior in this area can be among the most emotionally painful ones you have to contend with.

Try to remember that everyone who lives with an alcoholic has areas that need to be dealt with. Some can’t stand it when their husbands don’t bring in enough to feed all the kids; others face the problem of other women; others must cope with gambling. In addition, many wives face arrogance and incredibly debilitating put-downs from their alcoholic husbands.

Realizing that these things are only symptoms of the disease does help. However, you don’t have to learn how to “figure around it.” Neither do you need to learn how to “cope” with his problem. Learn, instead, how to go beyond his problems, not taking the consequences of his behavior. Life is too short to be living in a practice-hell. You have a right to get his monkey off your back.

I pray for the realization that I can live no one’s life but my own.

Chapter 23: Let the Crises Happen

They might save his life.

They will save your sanity.

Crises often occur in the alcoholic’s life when: he can’t get up in the morning because the hangover’s too horrible, and he’s already on probation at work; your husband asks you to call in sick for him; it’s chilly outside and he has passed out on the porch; he’s in jail and wants you to bail him out; he promised something to the kids and forgot; he’s out of booze and wants you to go to the store.

There’s a lot more you could add to the list. A crisis occurs for the alcoholic when his disease is in trouble – when his disease cries out for you to intervene and help. These crises happen so often that you probably live in a constant state of excited misery.

* * *

There was a time, several years ago, when authorities in the field of alcoholism believed that a family member had to “create the crisis.” As professionals realized how fre*quently these crises occurred, beliefs changed to: Just let them happen!

What does happen when the wife lets a hurtful thing happen to the alcoholic, without stepping in and rescuing him, like she used to?

She feels guilty.

The alcoholic gets angry and threatens her.

That’s when the real crisis begins – for her.

If she can go through with her plan to do what she knows is necessary for her, him, and the children, despite his threats, and despite her feelings of fear, anger and depression – and act self-protectively in the process – then the wife is well on the road to her own recovery from his insane behavior.

* * *

Karen is a client of mine who is so calm, now! She’s a veteran of these “wars” with his disease.

Karen told the therapy group: “The main thing I think is important is that after you go through this the first time, and you think you’ll never he able to do it – you’ll never be able to get through the fears and the threats – you find that you do get through it. that you get stronger, that it wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be for you. The next time it’s easier. And then, from then on, it gets so much easier, you can’t believe it! Before you know it, you’re detached from his problems, and you’re living calmly, serenely, and you’re not scared of him any more. All l know is that it does happen that way. It happened for me and you never met a bigger coward, a more scared woman who was afraid of losing her alcoholic husband to another woman, than I was. I lost my fears! I know you can!”

Karen’s case is not unusual. There are over 100,000 Al-Anon groups around the world – plus other therapy groups for wives of alcoholics – with over a million women participating. All these wives have problems in common with yours. Almost without fail, if they keep trying, if they use the knowledge they’ve learned, they do not fail in getting healed from the wounds inflicted on them by their husband’s alcoholism. They get stronger; they’re no longer at the mercy of their husband’s disease.

* * *

Let the crises (the consequences of his disease) happen to him – not to you.

Don’t pick up the pieces of his falling-apart life.

If he loses a job or his driver’s license – it can be a reason to rejoice! It means he’s getting sicker, quicker. It means that maybe he won’t be able to stand up to that disease much longer.

Don’t get scared if he seems to recuperate quickly from his crises and “looks good” afterwards, like nothing’s happened. He may even smile and whistle and act like he’s getting better instead of sicker! Don’t be fooled by that! It’s all part and parcel of his denial system. Inside, he’s scared to death, because his disease is progressing, if he isn’t recovering. Stop believing his bluffs – they are just “his disease talking.”

What do you do when other people rescue him after you’ve stopped?

This commonly happens! Doctors, ministers, counselors – unwitting enablers – very often feel sorry and believe the lies his disease creates. His mother, sister, brother, his boss, his “friends” who drink with him – many people get sucked in and cooperate with him, not realizing they are being manipulated and are helping to keep him sick. The alcoholic usually has a whole string of patsies who believe his half-truths, his innocent understatements of what he really does, his denial system.

* * *

What can you do?

1) If any one of them is willing to calmly discuss the problem with you privately, give them this book to read, ask them to attend Al-Anon and/or therapy with you, to truly learn how to help the alcoholic.

2) Try to remember that if those others must – for their own guilt or need to control – rescue your husband, they will probably get tired of his “junk” just like you did. They will probably see through him eventually, especially if you keep your hands off! Nothing seems to “fire-up” a new rescuer more than an irate wife who insists that the person is a fool! Don’t give such people a chance to get mad at you and to try even harder, therefore, to show that they’re right – not you!

3) His disease is getting worse and more people will see through him quicker – despite seemingly occasional bursts of his “looking so good.”

4) Don’t expect his other rescuers to like you or approve of you when you stop rescuing him.

Remember these things. They’ll help calm you when you’re furious and scared. Do what you have to do.

You do not have to discuss, explain, or defend your behavior to others, no matter what their “credentials” are! Just do your part, and you’ll feel good about yourself.

And if he chooses to get well. he will drop all his sick friends and be your husband, not a cripple who needs twenty mommies.

If a crisis happens, help my perspective to remain clear and my emotions to be strong.

Chapter 26: Stay with Him or Leave Him “Just for Today”

Don’t be angry with yourself for not having left him before.

You have more options than you think:

$ You can stay, and leave the room or the house for a while.

$ You can leave for a few days.

$ You can leave for weeks or months and see your spouse when you want to.

You’ll think of many more choices when you remember that your alcoholic needs you very much, even though he denies it.

Marsha used to leave Phil all the time, in order to punish him. She’d wind up scared, depressed, and go back in worse shape than when she left. It never worked the way it was supposed to. It didn’t make him “act right,” and since Marsha didn’t carry through with her threats. Phil became more arrogant and Marsha felt furious, terrified and trapped.

Sharon never left. But she always threatened to leave. Her alcoholic husband “upped the ante” and left her for a while. He came back, but it scared her so much that she never threatened or did anything again that crossed him. Needless to say, he got worse and left more often, enjoying her fear of him and his sense of power. Sharon didn’t know about alcoholism; she didn’t realize her husband only acted so independent because he was so terrified of his really dependent nature. He knew he was more dependent on Sharon than she was on him. Keeping her scared was his way of trying to smash her down enough so she wouldn’t find out she didn’t need him as much as she thought she did.

* * *

The maddening fact in the alcoholic family is that the spouse seems so vulnerable to the alcoholic’s threats, and the alcoholic seems so invulnerable to hers. Most of the threats seem to get down to this basic one: abandonment combined with humiliation. What can the spouse do? Here are some sanity-saving suggestions:

1) Make yourself emotionally comfortable. This takes courage, for if you make your*self comfortable, your alcoholic will start to make those “little” threats again. But he will do it anyway. You can’t please him. It’s a no-win situation. If you try to please him, you’ll get hurt by him anyway – and have a resentment which only hurts you: “After all I tried to help him, he turned around and hurt me anyway when he promised he wouldn’t!” Even if your alcoholic wants to he nice to you for a time, his sickness makes him stubborn too. He won’t please you and he will tell you again that “no one’s going to tell me what to do!” (Telling him what to do usually entails asking him to he nice to you, not to hurt you.) But every time you beg, threaten, or connive to get your alcoholic to make you happy, you are giving him the power to make you unhappy. The truth is he won’t use that power to make you happy – he’ll use that power to make you unhappy. Take that power back. You’re not the frightened child who is at his mercy that you think you are; and he is not the tin god that you think he is. All those thoughts are part of the insanity in an alcoholic home.

How does he lose his power to hurt you? Some*times, if all other suggestions in this book don’t work for the immediate crisis and fear, remember you have a right to walk away from threats, embarrass*ment, and the ever-present insecurities that your alco*holic husband makes you think you should learn to live with. A normal husband doesn’t act that way; he tries to make his wife feel cherished and secure. (You need to hear this, for by now you probably think it’s the other way around: that you’ve got to make everything all right all the time so he won’t hurt you again.)

2. Act as if you are not scared of his retaliations. (“I’ll never let you back in the house again”; “I’ll see other women”; “You’ll be sorry – I’ll get well and make another woman happy.”) Act unafraid long enough, and you will become unafraid.

3. Remember it’s just his disease talking. If you have left him for a while and are wanting to see him (you feel you can handle it), and if he gets arrogant and tells you he’s not sure he needs you anymore, remember it’s just his disease talking. Pretend he’s a casual friend who’s busy when you called her to go shopping and answer him the way you would answer her: “Okay. See you!” Wave off; be breezy and nice and don’t act devastated. Eventually, you will actually feel that way! And your husband will have a new respect for you.

Sophie left her husband eight months ago. She sees him now, when she wants to, and not always when he first asks to see her. If she anticipates more pain than she thinks she can handle or wants to deal with, she just tells him she can’t make it that particular time. She sees her husband as a date for that day or weekend. If he is good to her. fine; if he is nasty to the point of exasperation for her, she merely leaves. Then she goes on with her life, thinking of her needs and doing what is good for her, blocking out thoughts of her alcoholic. She enjoys the peace in her alone life now. Sophie has lost her fears. When her Harold makes the ultimate threat of finding “someone else,” (even in subtle ways, he has threatened this), she told me that she tells herself, “If my Harold had any other disease – T.B., for instance – he would not threaten me that when he gets well and gets out of the sanitarium, he will leave me. That’s all part and parcel of the insanity of his disease.”

When Martha temporarily left her alcoholic, she started to he with him some weekends. Sometimes her husband would get to be “too much” for her; he would play his usual games and she would react. When she fearfully called him during the week, he announced that he didn’t know if he “could take” her yelling when he hurt her; “he would only see her if she shaped up.” Well, Martha was getting well, despite temporary setbacks; she thought about his crazy threats, and she decided not to beg for a weekend with him. She began to realize she wasn’t losing anything; if her husband was still sick enough to play these games, the old fears she used to have of losing him to other women seemed silly. What would they be getting? (Her insanity, she began to see, was in believing he could be crazy with her one minute and a wonderful and good husband to another woman, the next minute.) She kept telling herself: “Sane men don’t emotionally threaten their wives all the time; and if he’s acting insanely, why do I see him as a god, instead of a man who’s ill and not powerful at all?”

4) Do what is good for you. You can stay; you can leave; you can go back; you can leave again; you can do anything that truly makes you and your children feel safe and comfortable. You have that right. If you can get calm in your home, fine; if you can’t, fine. Very few people could stay sane in your home. You are not a failure.

5) Use your today. The next time you feel trapped in your situation, ask yourself, “Do I want to stay with my husband, just for today?” Then, whether you stay or leave, use your today. Do one thing, today, that will get you closer to peace. Go back in the book and choose one thing you couldn’t do before, one thing you think you might be able to do, at least partially. If you try to do this today and every day, whether you stay with the alcoholic or not, you will become less and less afraid, and then you will not be afraid of what he will do, any more.

Help me to no longer be manipulated by the needs of another.

Let my compassion guide me to make good decisions.

Chapter 35: Don’t Get Scared When He Threatens to Drink

At first, just act like you’re not reacting.

The worst thing you can do is to let an alcoholic think you’re afraid of him.

You will get to the point where you just don’t care if he threatens or not.

Carolyn told me she never would have thought she’d get to the point of not caring whether he threatened to drink, leave, or do or not do anything. She had been making progress in a lot of other areas, trying hard to grow, get more centered, but she still needed to react to his threats. He would sometimes just imply that he would be in a drinking situation and that would cause her to burn with anger. She just had to explode, when he would do that. Often, he’d feign innocence by widening his eyes, and claiming he didn’t think she’d be that upset by what he said, and he certainly didn’t mean to upset her – and of course he wouldn’t do anything to upset her. And then he’d grin knowing he “had” her, knowing he could make her react to him as surely as a puppeteer pulls on a marionette’s strings. And Carolyn knew it and hated him for it, knowing she couldn’t stop.

And then, one day, the incredible happened. Carolyn didn’t realize it, but while she was getting stronger in other areas, and despairing about this one habit she couldn’t break – this habit, too, was unknowingly being whittled away at, very slowly. (The process of getting well is often a hidden one.)

One evening she felt a peace, a calm, for six or seven hours, that she hadn’t known before, when she thought about things that used to upset her. That day, she even had passed bars and liquor stores on the street. They used to frighten her. She didn’t care. She passed people in bars, saw men and women drinking and flirting, and didn’t care.

Carolyn started to live her life in a way that always spoke to the alcoholic: I am not afraid of you or of your threats.

When he said to her: you only look good in black, and implied he would flirt with another woman if she wore bright colors, she bought a shocking pink outfit. If he said he beat up his last wife, she let him know, looking him dead in the eye, that if he ever even threatened to hit her she would have him in jail before the count of ten!

The more you act afraid of his threats, the more arrogant he becomes. and the more he threatens. Conversely, the less importance you attach to his threats, the less likely he will be to use them, because they will have become ineffective.

There are various methods one may use in order to render the alcoholic’s threats useless. If being “passive,” and not reacting rankles you – if you still react inside – you may be able, yet, to let it pass. The only way it truly works to let it pass is if it really doesn’t bother you. You have other choices: you may make the consequences of his threats more painful to him than pleasurable. Whenever he threatens to drink, or to do anything that is hurtful to you and your children, you may leave for a few minutes, an hour, a day, a week, or whatever. You may do anything that makes you comfortable; that restores your dignity to you – that says to you and to him, “I do not have to be humiliated and I do not have to live like that.” You have the right to remove yourself from any situation that is painful, that is not life-enjoying.

You can call his bluff: You can really do it up and bow graciously to the door, and say, “Be my guest” and smile – or laugh! It is good medicine for you to laugh at threats. It will also take the wind out of his sails. If he goes out to drink, don’t be there when he gets back. Go out to a movie, get in later than he does, glow with the good time you had – in contrast to the beaten-wife image you used to project. Smile; tell him you had a great time. Ask him how his evening was. Look sad for him, in a distant kind of way, when he says, “terrible,” or if he bluffs that it was great. Then, look distracted and go about some business, like brushing out your hair, removing your makeup. Act like you are on your mind – not him.

As you may have gathered, the whole idea is to take the power to hurt you out of his hands. It is very bad for him to have that power (or rather, to think he has it). It will keep him arrogant. But, his arrogance-needs, his power-needs are his problem. Your task is to get up off your knees and stop begging him not to hurt you. Stop begging him not to drink. Stop panicking when he threatens to kill himself. (If he does threaten that, call “911” on your phone – emergency hospital or police services – and tell them about it. They will take him to the hospital. If he is serious and does need help to prevent him from committing suicide, he will get that help – and maybe also begin the road to recovery from his addiction. If it was just a ploy to get you upset, he will probably not repeat that manipulative behavior again . . . and you will have responded responsibly, instead of just being reactive like he wanted you to.)

Whatever your methods to stop being afraid of your husband – use them. Don’t be discouraged when :you fall hack a bit. Old habits are hard to beak, especially when they’re built on illusions.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7).

Chapter 37: Don’t Expect Him To Be Sober

He does mean it when he promises he won’t drink again, but he probably can’t keep that promise – and he doesn’t know it.

The paradox is: when you truly stop expecting him to be sober, he has a better chance to be sober.

Janice, who has been a member of Al-Anon for thirty years, and whose husband has been in Alcoholics Anonymous for twenty-five years, tells this to people frequently: “My insanity was that for all of those years of his drinking, I believed my husband when he went out the door in the morning and told me he would be coming home sober. I spent the day half-believing, half-fearful; when he came home drunk, I screamed as usual, and fully expected that it would make him come home sober, tomorrow.”

* * *

What can you do? First, remember the facts. Alcoholism is a disease; your spouse is addicted, not from a lack of will-power, religion, or love for you; he is addicted to alcohol.

Try to remember that drinking is only one symptom of alco*holism. Another symptom is the alcoholic’s desperate attempts to patch up his life by making promises he cannot keep. One of these is his promise to stop drinking.

“Okay,” you say, “now what? Then it’s hopeless. If you’re right, and he can’t stop, I can’t accept the fact that he will come home drunk. I could only continue with this marriage on the premise, the hope, that he really meant it – that he will straighten out. If what you say is true, there’s no chance of our marriage even working.”

Is there hope?

Paradoxically, when you truly stop expecting it, and start believing in the reality of his illness, start losing your personal anger towards him, get a distance on it all, and plan your life for you – then, your whole behavior, your attitude, your voice, your actions towards your spouse – all will change. He will sense that change. He will see, without your having to say it, that the problem is his – not yours. It won’t even be anything you’ll have to discuss. Both of you will know it – even though he may deny it. You’ll have found your serenity; and he will have a chance to choose recovery.

Help my expectations to be realistic but never pessimistic.

Chapter 39: Don’t Beg Him to Stay

You’re not as vulnerable as you think you are.

Don’t come down on yourself because you’re “the kind of woman who married an alcoholic” and who wound up begging her husband to stay. You’ve got a good chance to get over your vulner*ability – because you can admit to it. Therefore, you can deal directly with it.

Why start this chapter off this way? Because there’s often a lot of shame involved when one is very vulnerable and possesses low self-esteem. Why? Because “clinging” people are often the object of scorn by others who have a tougher shell.

Stephanie told me, “Many of the other women I know who are married to alcoholics tell me I’m so much more vulnerable to him than they are to their husbands. They say they can see the hurt on my face when I walk into a room. They can read me like an open book. They even get contemptuous of this frailty – I can see it.

“But do you know what? I don’t believe they’re that invulnerable. They just don’t admit to it. One of them keeps herself busy to the point of exhaustion every day, to avoid telling herself that she’s in pain. But that’s just running – not facing and dealing with your issues. Another one screams at her husband behind closed doors – and then acts like I’m weird when I admit that I do the same thing!”

Stephanie has a point there. To deny you’re being hurt isn’t doing any good – whether you run or act tough. It isn’t healthy to learn to adjust to abuse.

But what makes the “Stephanies” take abuse, and then deny it so much that they beg their husbands to stay when they threaten to leave?

It’s simply a well-established pattern of denial and turnaround. She denies he has a bad problem; then she turns it 180 degrees around and says it’s her problem.

But the pain gets worse and eventually it cracks through. And then Stephanie wants to stop it all. That’s a good time to try these suggestions:

1) When he threatens to leave, show him the door.

2) Offer to pack his bag for him.

3) Don’t raise your voice.

4) Remember that this will scare him so much that he will threaten he will never be back, or threaten to go to another woman. He will tell you you’re bluffing, then go out and come right back, or go out and ask to come back that night. He will say he has changed his mind, and he may do all of this within fifteen minutes!

Remember, too, that it’s very hard to lose an alcoholic – even when you want to.

* * *

I asked Stephanie to spell out her fears exactly. What kept her locked into this sick way of relating to him?

Stephanie and her husband had separated, but still she saw him regularly. She was the one who asked for the separation. (“It wasn’t strength,” she told me. “It was just that I couldn’t take it anymore.”) But even though she was the one who had asked for this separation, she got terrified when they argued and she begged him not to leave her. He had finally agreed to stay, and then she had thrown him out again, feeling still more abandoned.

It’s not as contradictory as it sounds. They both lived under a lot of illusions: that he was the strong one, that he supported her emotionally, that she was more dependent on him; that he had aban*doned her, even though she had asked for the separation; that it was also her responsibility to make the marriage work; that “if only she had faith in him” it would all be okay.

Stephanie tried to double her efforts to get honest with herself in order to stop feeling so hurt. When she had facts she could understand, she seemed to be able to dispel the irrational fears more quickly. “Lloyd needed to hurt women – emotionally hurt them, that is – way before he met me.

“I used to think that if only I changed my behavior, he would treat me differently. When I did that, it did mean that I didn’t allow him to hurt me anymore. But it also meant we had to separate, because Lloyd still had his sickness and didn’t get the help he needed. Actually, he went for help, but he just wanted to hold on to his sickness more than he wanted me, I guess. I’d better not take that personally. He’s had one other wife and two women he’s lived with – and they’ve all had the same problem with him. Oh, none of them had my particular kind of vulnerability. In fact, each of theirs was different. But, he managed to switch tactics with each of us and “get us” just where our “jugulars” were.

“Lloyd knows all the reasons for his behavior. God knows, I’ve heard about his childhood enough. But a lot of people have rotten childhoods. So what? That doesn’t give you the right to hurt everybody when you become an adult. In fact, if you know how much it hurts, by being so hurt, and if you’re so very sensitive, like he is, you’d think that just the opposite would happen – that you’d work real hard to learn how not to hurt people, because you know that pain for yourself and wouldn’t want to have it happen to others.

“Last night I told him calmly that I couldn’t see him for a while, not even on weekends, and I felt proud that I could love him and feel compassion and still not want to live in insanity. I was finally detach*ing! And then – two hours later – I was on that phone, calling him, asking him if he loved me, and I was terrified. I kept calling him back all night, begging him not to leave me. Crazy, isn’t it?”

Crazy? Maybe to other people, but to anybody working with families of alcoholics, with people who try to learn to live in that insane world, it seemed par for the course, not at all “insane.”

* * *

Stephanie and I talked about some ideas that might help her – and you:

1) Try to, from your head, not your heart (from your mind making the decision, not your fears) make a long-range decision that will help you. If it helps you, it will help him. Then stick to it “against all pressures and per*suasions,” as they say in Al-Anon. Expect pressures and persuasions from your husband. They’re all part of his sickness.

Do you want to be living like this ten years from now? When thinking about wavering from your decision, remember this question, and your emphatic “NO!!” will help you to stick to your decision.

2) If you steadfastly act from your mind, not your fears, no matter how lonely you get, you will be a changed person. You will have started to love yourself, respect yourself – and be able to love in a healthy way. You will be more able to sustain a comfortable relationship. You won’t miss the excited misery. You will be repulsed by it.

3) Remind yourself that if you want to kid yourself into acting from your fears again – all you have to do is to tell yourself that “it wasn’t so bad” or “I’ll learn to adjust to it.”

Things won’t get better that way. You will just get more depressed and you will go deeper into your own denial.

4) Even if you could succeed in learning how not to “feel the blows” from his con*stant emotional battering – that is not the way to learn how to live. You owe it to your*self, emotionally, and morally, to learn how to get the most out of life for yourself, the best from all your situa*tions. And to learn to live like you are very precious.

And even if you “learned” how not to feel the blows, it is not good for your husband to get away with being able to continue to hurt you. If a person is sick enough to want to compulsively hurt others, letting him get away with it does not help him to get well. It just drives him deeper into his illness. “Turning your back” on it – i.e., if you don’t say (whichever way you can) “you cannot do this to me” – then you are denying that it is happening to you. It just adds to the craziness.

5) You don’t have to “settle for” anything the alcoholic chooses to hand out: cruelty, or crumbs of affection. Don’t be so scared of losing someone who is almost just animal-comfort, by this time. If you act as if you’re not scared, you’ll wind up not scared!

6) Okay, he has the right to do as he pleases. But, you have the right to do what you need to do in order to make your life calm and peaceful.

7) If it’s good for you, it’s good for him.

8) It’s okay and normal for you not to believe or feel any of this, yet. You will. You don’t now only because you’ve been believing the distortions and lies of alcoholism for so long.

9) Alcoholics are told to call another alcoholic when they feel they’re “building up to a drink.” You must learn to do the same. I suggested to Stephanie: “Call me when you’re ‘building up to a call’ to your husband – one of those ‘fear calls.’ ” It’s hard to break out of an addiction to an alcoholic.

10) When he calls, and threatens, remember it’s the disease talking; that his words will change tomorrow – and his actions. Don’t be bluffed by his disease!

11) Speak as kindly, and as little as possible on the phone, so that you can control your temper as much as possible. Because wives of alcoholics often get back “hooked into” him, when they’ve built up their irrational guilt by yelling, again. So, avoid having to drop that irrational guilt: by not yelling. Hold the phone away, and say, “Detach! Detach!” over and over to yourself again instead. You’re detaching from his disease talk.

12) When you “slip,” if you do, and you go back to acting in the old way, quickly forgive yourself, and get back to your new way of acting. You’re only human! Remember you’re dealing – and you’re new at it, at that! – with an awfully powerful disease.

If you’re like Stephanie, and you’ve learned to beg your alcoholic not to leave you – whether you’re with him or separated – just look at learning not to beg as a learning process. Try the ideas in this chapter. You don’t want to wind up two, five, ten, twenty years from now saying, “I wish I had.”

Help me to take life one day at a time, and to conquer the habit of worry.

Chapter 40: Don’t Be Scared That He Will Leave If He Gets Well

Well men don’t do that!

There’s a big difference between “dry” and “sober.” If he threatens this, he’s still very sick.

The ultimate threat in an alcoholic family is aban*donment, combined with humiliation.

Very often the threat comes many ways. Everyone in the family labors under the illusion that the alcoholic is very powerful, very important, a little tin god. You’d better do what he wants – or you’ll lose him. And – if you’re this scared of losing him when he’s still a drinking alcoholic – what a prize you’d lose if he decided to get sober!

See how distorted everything gets in the alcoholic home?

* * *

What things can you try to remember when you’re starting to panic again – when you’re afraid of losing him if he gets sober?

1) An addict who does not want to give up his habit does an interesting trick: he scares you into thinking he will be so sexy, so irresistible to the opposite sex, when and if he decides to get un-anesthetized, that you might lose him. So he gets you to help him stay drunk! It’s like the woman who says she wants to lose weight, but really doesn’t, so she makes subtle hints about how incredibly desirable she will be when she’s thin, over and over. Her husband runs to the store and buys her a gallon of chocolate ice cream! Then she blames him. “How can I lose weight when he’s always buying me ice cream?” she wails.

Don’t join with the alcoholic in this old self-sabotage game.

2) Remember: if he doesn’t get sober, he will either die or go irretrievably insane from a wet brain, spending the rest of his days in the back wards of a mental hospital.

I do understand when you feel you’d sometimes rather he be dead than “soberly” leave you and humiliate you – after all the years you have stood by him. Your feelings are normal; there’s nothing to feel guilty about. I’m just saying you’ll feel much less scared when you start to see him in perspective, when you start to see him as being very unpowerful, when you start to see yourself as a nice, deserving. intelligent person who does not need to put up with anything a sick man hands out in order to keep him with you.

3) This threat of abandonment is used by almost all alcoholics.

4) You can’t please an alcoholic. What you do is never enough. He’s probably got you convinced that you’re a lousy lover, a lousy mother, a rotten cook, a terrible partner in some way, a very undesir*able woman, too pushy, a wet blanket, too loud, too timid, too religious, or a screaming fishwife. You’ve probably already started to believe him and this means you’re trying harder to please him. This makes him even more arrogant. He’s really cracking the whip – and convincing you that you’re the one doing all the controlling! Your problem is only that you believe him!

His expectations of you continue to build. And you also expect more of yourself. Both of you wind up expecting you to always be strong, to always be able to put up with anything – to be Superwoman. But he is always allowed to fail you.

This whole mess sets you up for failure, for feeling like a failure, for believing that you deserve to be abandoned, if you can’t deal with him and his disease.

5) You may even start to feel terrified when he decides to get sober. You can’t tell anybody because you believe they’ll think you’re rotten, maybe, for not wanting him to get sober – because it’s hard to put into words, his subtle threats that he might leave you because he will “be too well” for you.

6. If he threatens by saying that you’d better “shape up” and accept his behavior just because he’s not drinking anymore, then he’s not sober: he’s just dry. All he’s done is remove the booze. True sobriety does not behave like that. Sober people are sane people. They don’t threaten their families with abandonment just because they have stopped drinking. As a matter of fact, they do just the opposite; they are so grateful to their families for sticking with them that they try very hard to make amends to them for all the grief of past years.

7) Why do you believe these threats are anything but sick? Because you have lived with his sickness, his distortions of reality for so long, that you have come to believe them as truth.

8) How should you act if he gets sober? Certainly you should not become scared of losing him! Remember: if he chooses to treat only one-third of his disease – the physical addiction – instead of his whole disease – the mental and spiritual parts as well, the problems that make him selfish and rotten to his loved ones – then he is the one who will suffer. He is the one who is playing Russian roulette with his life. A person can’t go on for long, treating only one-third of the disease of alcoholism, and stay sober. He can be dry for a time, yes. But sober for life? He must learn to change his whole way of treating his family; that’s part of his sobriety program.

9) You have nothing to lose. If he not only gets rid of the booze, but of that rotten behavior – you’ve got a nice, regular husband! But if he chooses to just get rid of the booze and continues to threaten you with abandonment – it’s his loss – not only of you, but maybe of his life.

God, thank you for helping me live more fully. I feel You are opening a new life for me.

Copyright by Toby Rice Drews

"The cruelest lies are often told in silence."

Robert Louis Stevenson

Posts: 12165 | Registered: Jan 2005 | From: southwest
Member # 6301
Default  Posted: 10:19 PM, May 16th (Wednesday), 2007View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I know in the book passage I posted it makes mention of AA and Alanon in some parts....

I am not a fan of AA nor Alanon. I didn't think much of the big book either.

I especially don't like the fact that at AA they tell the alcoholic not to reveal the truth to Wives about Infidelity...... I won't support any organization that doesn't advocate 100% Honesty.

If AA or Alanon works for you , more power to ya ....

Those are just my feelings about it .

"The cruelest lies are often told in silence."

Robert Louis Stevenson

Posts: 12165 | Registered: Jan 2005 | From: southwest
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Member # 8002
Default  Posted: 10:52 PM, May 16th (Wednesday), 2007View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Thanks Scorned...great post!

I have only a couple of things to add to this article...

*Husbands often despair too for their alcoholic wives.

** The alcoholics dont have to get better, even if spouses do detach, Let Go & let God....sometimes the alcoholic dies.

His name is Robert Paulsen

Posts: 1725 | Registered: Aug 2005 | From: NC
Member # 6301
Default  Posted: 12:49 AM, May 17th (Thursday), 2007View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Thank you for adding that NCGuy .....

I got that from the web site you told me about ,

"The cruelest lies are often told in silence."

Robert Louis Stevenson

Posts: 12165 | Registered: Jan 2005 | From: southwest
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Member # 8002
Default  Posted: 3:59 PM, May 20th (Sunday), 2007View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage


His name is Robert Paulsen

Posts: 1725 | Registered: Aug 2005 | From: NC
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Member # 13361
Default  Posted: 7:51 PM, May 20th (Sunday), 2007View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I haven't read the whole thread at this point, but I will eventually.

My WW is an alcoholic. She knows she is but I don't think she has really accepted it. She is going through the motions of meetings, talking with her sponsor, etc.. but yet she still drinks when I go out of town- I have to for work.

My IC, a recovering alcoholic, and her psychiatrist, also a recovering addict, have both said the same things- she is gong thru the motions and hasn't accepted it. In fact, her last meeting with her psych, he said that we weren't in any condition to start MC... that we needed to stick with IC, she may need to do long term in-patient therapy, and that we needed to seperate. This, quite frankly, scared me. But after a recent revelation surrounding her 6 year affair about her love of the OM, I feel it might not be such a bad idea.

I feel myself losing my committment to this. Too much crap, too many lies, too much codependency. I am tired. I just want to run away. Why does this shit have to be happening??

Posts: 309 | Registered: Jan 2007 | From: lost in the firmament
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Default  Posted: 9:52 AM, May 23rd (Wednesday), 2007View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

rizzo said:
[I look at the disease aspect the way I view an allergy. I can eat all the peanuts I want, but there are people out there who can die from just one. They have no control over how their body reacts to it, they just know they have to stay away from it.

My point exactly. It is all about taking responsibility for yourself and your choices.Those who do take responsibility choose to NOT make themselves sick. They watch their diets. They see family members struggle through and lose the fight against lung cancer and they say, I choose not to smoke. They lose a loved one to breast cancer and they choose to have a mammogram annually.

My spouse's family has several alcoholics, including his mother, his brother and his sister. My husband is an alcoholic. My mother has two alcoholic brothers, she is not. What is the difference between us and them? Does it really come down to the Russian roulette of genetics?

Addiction is often a product of misuse and over use of whatever makes one feel good. If we say that alcoholism is NOT a self inflicted disease, then do we also accept that smokers have a disease that was not chosen? How about people addicted to drugs? Food? Sex? Shopping? Shoplifting? Did these addictions just drop out of nowhere on hapless victims, or do their choices make the targets?

[This message edited by lorjo at 9:57 AM, May 24th (Thursday)]

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Default  Posted: 3:59 PM, May 23rd (Wednesday), 2007View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I have read most of the thread and can relate with a lot of what is being said.

I just wanted to add one piece of information my husband read while he began to deal with his Alcoholism.

Consuming large amounts of alcohol over a long period of time can actually change the chemical make up in the brain. (explains a lot of the strange behavior in our case!!!)

me BS 35
WH 34
Dday 12-4-05
Married 15 yrs
Together 20 yrs
2 kids 14 & 15
A occured off and on feb 05 until Dday

The teacher in me has the need to edit my posts a lot!!!

Posts: 506 | Registered: Jan 2006 | From: Wisconsin
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Default  Posted: 12:00 AM, May 24th (Thursday), 2007View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Consuming large amounts of alcohol over a long period of time can actually change the chemical make up in the brain. (explains a lot of the strange behavior in our case!!!)

it's called ,"wet brain"'s end stage alcoholisim related from what I have read's an alcohol based "dementia" .....not a pretty thing to have.

"The cruelest lies are often told in silence."

Robert Louis Stevenson

Posts: 12165 | Registered: Jan 2005 | From: southwest
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Default  Posted: 4:14 PM, May 27th (Sunday), 2007View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I've not been to SI for a LONG time, this forum was NOT here when I was here last!!!

This is a great forum for folks dealig with an alcoholic spouse.

I'm happy to report MY alcoholic spouse is now sober nearly two years (July 30 will be TWO YEARS SOBER for hubby!!!). A sober spouse sure makes a MAJOR difference. And I'm thankful EVERYDAY for it.....

Love and hugs,

Married 29 + years
The REAL DDAY-5/25/05
Hubby had a stroke 3-4-09 - working hard at recovering.

He decided to spend his days looking up old sluts on FB from years past.... Where are we now?

Posts: 885 | Registered: Aug 2005 | From: Somewhere I've not been before
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Default  Posted: 6:31 AM, May 29th (Tuesday), 2007View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Congratulations to your H on (almost) 2 years! That's fantastic! Life certainly is more enjoyable with a sober spouse!!

ME: 38 BS, FWS, OW
H: 37 FWS, BS
Married 15 years
D-Day October 6, 2005

Renewed our vows 7/30

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Default  Posted: 6:39 AM, May 29th (Tuesday), 2007View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

lorjo, but you also don't "blame" the person who has an allergy for their allergy. It is something that is beyond their control.

Alcoholism is a disease. Just because it is "labeled" a disease does NOT excuse any of the behavior related to the disease. I don't think anyone would say "it's ok to act like that, you're an alcoholic". Not even most alcoholics would say that. But if it can be accepted they are battling a disease like any other, perhaps there will be a little less condescension towards the alcoholic. When you are battling an addiction, and have people telling you to just get over it and stop drinking, it makes the battle twice as hard. You wouldn't tell someone with cancer to just get over it, you'd help them find the best way to get well.

Everyone has the choice about picking up that first drink, or smoking that first cigarette, or going to the casino for the first time. But that is often where the choice stops.

ME: 38 BS, FWS, OW
H: 37 FWS, BS
Married 15 years
D-Day October 6, 2005

Renewed our vows 7/30

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Default  Posted: 5:05 PM, May 31st (Thursday), 2007View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Congratulations to your H on (almost) 2 years! That's fantastic! Life certainly is more enjoyable with a sober spouse!!

Oh, most definitely!!! Now that he IS sober, he cannot understand how he EVER did the things he did. Now we're dealing with the guilt from it all, on his side. Looking at actions that you did while your brain was pickled now that you are totally sober, has not been fun for him. But he's doing great. WE are doing great too!

Married 29 + years
The REAL DDAY-5/25/05
Hubby had a stroke 3-4-09 - working hard at recovering.

He decided to spend his days looking up old sluts on FB from years past.... Where are we now?

Posts: 885 | Registered: Aug 2005 | From: Somewhere I've not been before
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Default  Posted: 11:28 PM, June 14th (Thursday), 2007View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage


"The cruelest lies are often told in silence."

Robert Louis Stevenson

Posts: 12165 | Registered: Jan 2005 | From: southwest
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Default  Posted: 1:28 PM, June 18th (Monday), 2007View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

For as long as I can remember I've lurked here but I don't think I've ever posted.

I am in love with an alcoholic - one who probably wouldn't consider himself one. We are not married but we do live together.

I know I should probably run - and run fast but I'm not. Why? I'm not sure - besides the fact that I'm very in love with him and we have a good time together MOST of the time.

I am a social drinker - sometimes not a drink for months and couldn't care less. He is a daily drinker. Currently it is just beer thank God because he tends to get argumentative and irritable when drinking liquor.

I know the warnings of it will only get worse as time goes on but I guess I have hope that it will get better. Maybe I'm just being a pollyanna.

I guess the reason for my post was to hear more from others in my situation (married or not) because it's nice to not feel so alone in all of this.

Thank you for reading.

[This message edited by lovtolaff at 1:29 PM, June 18th (Monday)]

The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day when I met him. Then, everything went crazy.

Posts: 40 | Registered: Nov 2005 | From: Virginia
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Default  Posted: 2:09 PM, June 19th (Tuesday), 2007View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage


The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day when I met him. Then, everything went crazy.

Posts: 40 | Registered: Nov 2005 | From: Virginia
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Default  Posted: 2:21 PM, June 19th (Tuesday), 2007View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

You are not alone!

Have you read the posts in the original link on this subject?

His name is Robert Paulsen

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Default  Posted: 7:58 AM, June 20th (Wednesday), 2007View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Yeah I've read that link. I guess I'm just looking for some "hope" - hope that this won't get worse and we will make it as a couple. But maybe I'm just fooling myself.

The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day when I met him. Then, everything went crazy.

Posts: 40 | Registered: Nov 2005 | From: Virginia
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Default  Posted: 12:42 PM, June 20th (Wednesday), 2007View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Living with someone who drinks to excess daily causes so much turmoil within the family dynamic.

After loving an alcoholic for 32 years, and surviving his two year affair, I am more than ready to see him sober.

He stated last night that he had had his last drink and asked me to look up AA for him. He also talked to our daughter last night, to which she advised that if he did not follow through with this promise to stop drinking that she will stop visiting and bringing our grandson to see him. So when he gets home today he said he will call them and start the slow, long road to sobriety.....will believe it when it happens.

It took him having an accident while driving drunk that I think finally made him realize that he needs help.

I will do whatever it takes to support him in this decision. I know that this is going to be yet another test of our commitment to each other, and I just hope I have the strength to last through the hell that I know is about to start.

Anyway, I don't suppose it will be much worse than the hell that has been part of my life, and that of our children.

I am hoping that he can do this because not only has alcohol affected our family for so long, his health will improve greatly as well.

When it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck & shits like a duck, it's a freaking duck!!

Posts: 881 | Registered: Mar 2004 | From: the other side of hell
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Default  Posted: 1:10 PM, June 20th (Wednesday), 2007View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

lykkeme - I can only wish you the best and hope for everyone's sake he follows through with his promise.

Yes living with and loving an alcoholic does cause turmoil - I can attest to that. Maybe I'm naive in thinking that somehow/someway it will get better.

I hope you update us on his progress.

God bless everyone dealing with this.

The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day when I met him. Then, everything went crazy.

Posts: 40 | Registered: Nov 2005 | From: Virginia
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