Friday, February 29, 2008

On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Our Finances & Money

This weekend's On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Our Finances & Money.

If you have found this website you are invited to join us in a weekend long, Al-Anon Meeting. The on-line meeting starts Friday evening 2/29/08 and runs to Sunday 3/2/08 evening.

A Note: To view this post and the comments at the same time, click on the link here (click here) in order to get a better view.

Our host for this weekend is Catherine. Catherine is one of our regular visitors to this blog and provides a lot of good comments. She is encouraging and hopeful.

This is where we start. Catherine has posted the message below. These are Catherine's words which start our meeting on:

"Our Finances & Money"


A few months ago I volunteered to cover the costs of our kids’ daycare because I make more money than my alcoholic. Two months later, the price went up; three months after that I lost my job. And yet I still kept paying the entire bill – out of my savings – for another FIVE months.

One of my past boyfriends borrowed money from me every week until, after five years, he owed me $10,000. Ten. Thousand. Dollars. Embarrassing!

So, in terms of my financial expertise, you can see that I have none. However, I do have these “credentials”:
* I am in a co-dependent relationship with an alcoholic
* I have used money to enable his behavior and to try and control him (and others)
* I have faith that my money issues can change by working the program

Everyone has emotional issues with money, and I think people have a hard time discussing them (I didn’t even tell my accountant the stories I just told you). I find that even trying to identify my issues is tough. I started by doing a little free association in my notebook around money, emotions and AlAnon concepts. Here are my top five things to think about:

5) The past is gone. In terms of money, it’s very black and white. Spent money just ain’t coming back. When I can accept that, I can move forward to reconstruct my financial life with peace and freedom from anger or resentment.

4) Use the mirror, not the magnifying glass. This vivid AlAnon metaphor helps me to face the truth about my financial situation and to examine how my emotions took me down that road. In my case, the reasons I use to explain my money problems, “I’m bad at math,” or “it’s boring,” or “it’s for the kids,” are not reasons, they’re excuses. And they’re not even true; it’s denial! I am in denial about my finances because the reality proves that I’m a mess. I have to keep using the mirror to catch this evasive thinking or seriously, I won’t retire.

3) One day at a time. I wish there were some formula or instruction booklet to get me out of this situation, but there isn’t. I have to think about financial enabling and financial detachment each day and work toward recovery.

2) Don’t do for someone what they can do for themselves. What a simple, little sentence that is, but financial detachment for me in daily life has been a huge challenge. I have worked really, really hard for my money and I deserve to benefit from that. So why do I cover for someone else? Because I feel sorry for him, because I have guilt and other negative feelings about myself, because writing a check is a great way to avoid confrontation. But when I cover for him financially I enable him to dodge his responsibilities. (And I free up his resources so he can spend them on alcohol.) So my challenge is to step away and put him in the position to shoulder his own costs.

1) Put myself first. Whose money is it anyway? (Suze Orman offers specific strategies on her show and in her writing.)

I have a lot of learning to do, so I welcome your shares and thoughts. Thanks for listening.

This is where we begin our program and your comments for this weekend's meeting. Please comment on the subject or if you have a burning desire or issue, please comment and ask for help.

Al-Ateen Meeting

This post is about Al-Ateen and my daughter.

As you know from reading this blog, my wife left with her buddies for an out of town road trip. These are her ol'buddies, and every year, for the past few years they go together to escape the harrowing lives they live of playing tennis and coordinating house cleaners. They must get together to commiserate their intolerable situations, and drink to forget and decrease the amount of stress in their highly stressful lives.

OKAY. That was sarcastic as hell.

I am setting myself up to be the victim. Isn't Al-Anon great? (no sarcasm here). I am going to leave that little snit up there at the top of this post however, to demonstrate that I am still a little (or a lot?) resentful that my wife refuses to try to participate in reality. Well, what Al-Anon has taught me, is this; That's her life and I cannot control it. (Damn Al-Anon, again ;-) )

Al-Ateen Meeting
First, we did not go out of twon. (As you may recall from last week, earlier this week, I was trying to do something fun, since wife decided without seeing if it was convenient for us, that she was going to the lake/mountains two weeks after her rehab program was complete (which by the way she was drinking through the entire time - it was outpatient rehab not inpatient).

I thought about going pretty hard. In the end, I thought that I might be pampering my daughter if we did this. She said, later, that she wanted to stay home and take care of the dog and be with her friend. I must admit this too: I also have a problem spending money, even though we have enough. It is a carry-over from childhood. But I had decided to SPEND away! I am realizing "who cares" about money if you have happiness. (Damn.)

Also, I was able to find an Al-Ateen meeting at a decent hour (6:30PM). Traveling out of town would have put this meeting in jeopardy.

So I picked my daughter up from her school and had an early dinner. And drove up to the meeting. We got caught in 5 o'clock traffic.

Lesson Learned: Never allow child to go back for a Caffeine-Free Diet Coke refill and not expect to stop along the way. (We stopped three times in 25 minutes. You may remember my post Monday when I was pissed that my wife had her cell phone turned off while she was playing tennis and the school nurse tried to reach her and she wasn't able to take the call).

So we went. I was nervous. She (daughter) wasn't. Daughter is 10. Meeting room in back of a church. It was a new meeting. A man and a women "audit" and "run" the meeting. The meeting is new, but had 12 children show up! 12! I think it is in it's 5th or 6th week. Since it's for teens, they will break up meeting into two (2) groups. One group for 9 to 12 year olds. And second group of 13 to 16 year olds.

I went to the Al-Anon meeting in the building right next door.

My daughter was a strange type of peaceful when we left our respective meeting. She was peace and very aware yesterday afternoon when I picked her up and we had dinner. She was laughing and talking - strangely - very fluently for a 10 year old - or very differently from what I have seen before [with her mom being there? maybe daughter felt the center of attention, since mom was not there? or felt center of attention and a little nervous since she knew she was going to a meeting?]

Some "By the Ways" or Some Things You Should Know About This
The first "by the way:"
my daughter [I hate calling her that, but I feel if I introduce her name to this blog, I destroy or violate some sort of "rule" I have about the anonymity and sacredness of my daugher, so I apologize for the clunkiness of the term, "my daughter."], has wanted to go to a meeting and has expressed a very very strong desire to go to my meetings and meet all the people. She has said, "I want to know I am not alone." And she has said, "I want to talk to people about how I feel."

Some more by the ways;
I am going to take her to my "therapist" (coach/mentor/guide/teacher/counselor/serpa). My daughter has expressed interest in meeting this lady.

Another by the way; my wife expressed, very much, her doubts about Al-Ateen. She said that the "counselor" at her rehab said that he discouraged it. I confronted her (yes I know, I confronted alcoholism) on Wednesday morning, when she said this. I said, "What exactly did he (the counselor) say?" I got a "Hem and a haw and a maybe and a sorta." That night at Family Night (they allow us family members to attend forever, no matter if the addict goes clean and sober or if they relapse), I asked the counselor and he said, "That's good that your daughter goes." And also, by the way, so did my therapist (serpa/guide/life coach/mentor).

After Al-Ateen Meeting
When my daughter and I got home she started reading the literature - right there at the kitchen counter. She said I am going to make a folder and binder out of the material. I asked if she wanted to talk about what she saw and heard there. She told me just a little bit, that no one talked, they pass around a stuffed animal she said and the animal means you can talk to the animal or just pass. They read from some of the literature she said. Then she said (because I told her about anonymity and what goes on there stays there), and this is funny, "Daddy, this is my meeting. Will you tell me what went on in yours?" I said, "No. I can't." She laughed, and said, "See!!" We both started laughing. Like I said, it was a very strange, peaceful evening.

She wanted to call her mom (I started to put the word mom in quotes. Is that some sort of Freudian thing?). She did but her mother did not answer. That was weird. It was 8:50PM. But my daughter thought nothing of it, apparently or least she did not get upset. I suggested that she call her mom's friend. But daughter said, "No. That's ok. I want to read." (This the same friend of my wife's that I called to apologized to for telling her that she needed to go to Al-Anon to see what alcoholism is all about, since she is instrumental for taking my wife out of town with all her buddies.)

So, we went upstairs got ready for bed and she opened up the red Al-Ateen book. I showed her how to read it by going to the index and finding the topic or subject on what she may want to learn more about or what is bothering her.

So she went to bed/sleep a few moments later. But not before say this. "Daddy, I want to go back there next week, OK?" I said, "So you liked it?" "Yes daddy. I did." She said.

I now have a label for Al-Ateen.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

This Weekend - Al-Anon Meeting -

Cath - do you still want to do this weekend's Online Al-Anon Meeting? About how money and financial issues became tools for control, symptoms of illness, etc.

To all - if you would like to sign-up for setting a topic up for the upcoming weekends, please post in the comments below. All you have to do is read/write from an Al-Anon book or write up a topic or issue that you would like to discuss.


Addressing Some Questions Around Alcoholism

Al-Anon Books and Literature - About Alcoholism, Detachment, Is the Spouse to Blame? It never ceases to amaze me how these books and the words impact me every different time I pick them up.

There must be some people who wrote these books who we just absolutely brilliant.

Here are a few Quotes from the Book "How Al-Anon Works for Families and Friends of Alcoholics"

[Engaging - Why They Engage and What We Can Do]
P30 - "Recognizing Our Options" is the heading. [brackets are my words]
"Alcoholics act and family members and friends react. .... We react because we don't realize we have a choice. ..... if the alcoholic has one end of a rope, and we have the other end, and they give it a tug, we would tug back. It never occurs to us that we don't have to play [referring to the alcoholic's game]. What if we dropped the rope? There is no tug-of-war unless both players hang on to the rope ..... [envision this - dropping the rope. I get it. I am going one step further to make it fun. We drop the rope and the other team on the other side, all fall down! Remember that one?]

.....For example, some alcoholics feel guilty about their need to drink and find it easier to blame the drinking on someone else. Some alcoholics often provoke those around them, trying to start an argument or create a crisis. We who live with them tend to react to this provocation, arguing back, defending ourselves against unjust accusations, making accusations of our own. In the end the alcoholic gets what he is looking for, an excuse to drink. Dry or sober alcoholics use the same tactics to create a diversion so that every ones attention with be drawn away from the topic or situation with which they are comfortable. Dropping the rope means we recognize the behavior pattern and choose not to play the same part any more.

[Enabling] [not the heading] p32
....We don't realize that, by playing our part, we actually contribute to sustaining the disease of alcoholism. We may serve as the enabler, rescuing the alcoholic from unpleasant consequences of their own making. Or we may play the victim, unwillingly stepping in and covering for the alcoholic.

Changing The Part We Play In The Family Disease [Heading] p32
...the most helpful and most loving action any family member can take is to get help for ourselves. By recovering from the effects of this disease we become able to stop playing our part in the family disease. The balance is disrupted. Suddenly it is no longer so comfortable for the alcoholic.

We cannot make choices for other people, even those most important to us. We are not gods, and we can't truly know what is best for anyone else, no matter how obvious a particular course of action may seem to us at the time. Most of us had to hit a "bottom" in personal agony, before we were ready to make real changes in our lives.

Engaged - Getting "hooked"

The Meeting - All About Me and My Alcoholic Spouse and how I engaged and broke off. What I learned.

Last night the Meeting turned to me. The counselor allowed me t0: me blah, blah, blah. I was on a roll. I didn't realize I talked sooo long. I cannot tell if he couldn't figure out how to stop me, for he is a kind and generous man, but I think he saw I was critiquing myself and my actions, and was using this as a learning lesson.

I feel a little guilty about it. Hogging the show that is. But the thing that I feel good about is where I have come from and where I am. Not perfect, never will be, but I recognize how I contribute.

So, let's learn and use my experience as the lesson.

I explained how she (spouse) uses me to throw attention away from the alcohol problem. In fact, he told me this on a phone call once. He said, "Do not engage. She will try to draw you into an argument to take the focus off her drinking addiction." WOOOOOOW. Then I saw these same words in one of the Al-Anon books. It's the blue book - it's in the trunk of my car. I will post the passage later this morning/afternoon.

I explained the situation. He said, "Did you hear the first time where you got hooked?"I said, "Yes" with an of course attitude (it was arrogance raising it's head, because I really knew I had no clue although arrogance was telling me, 'Yes of course you know. You are omnipotent." I explained where I asked my wife to go to the finished basement rec area and told her going to the water was affecting my/our/her entire family."

I realized the first time I got hooked, was when my daughter told me that mommy was going to the water with her ex-college roommates.

YIKES. Open brain. Allow new data to flow.

The hook wasn't what I was saying. It was the hook like a fishing hook and line that pulled me into an engagement - but the hook got my emotions and drew me in. MAKE SENSE?

I went on and on. But you all have heard this in previous posts.

I know the next time I get hooked I have to call my sponsor. Stop everything and call my sponsor.

I am learning to call the sponsor sooner - but still after the engagement. I am calling 30 minutes after now (last one was Tuesday morning and you all saw my rants). It used to be a day later, then 2 hours later. So I am making progress. But even still - I know and he knows - I need to call BEFORE the hook is set and I draw myself in.

Simple solution. Complex problem.

The alcoholic wants to blame you. This is what I learned from dinner the other night with the men. There is self-loathing. This self-loathing is anger pointed internally and the projection is onto someone else. For example, ME. It may be on you. This is where you have to Detach. Detach with love if possible. Detach with despise. But detach. Remove yourself from the situation.

Reread the above. Anyone who believes this doesn't have a clue. It is an addiction. It is a disease. if you believe it to be a disease, then it would be like someone saying, "You gave me cancer."

If you don't believe it to be a disease, think of the weakness of the other person then. "Are you saying you are so weak, that you felt compelled to drink and become an alcoholic?" Does the fact that your parent drink and were alcoholics have anything to do with this (Or your uncle/aunt/grandfather etc)?

Of course, do not use the last paragraph as your argument. This is engaging. The alcoholic, and I had engaged this spouse of mine, will twist the words around, juuuuussst ever soooo slightly, and the next thing you know, the winning argument she cannot defend, is now turned to something she can win. It's unbelievable.

I have learned to stop her from twisting the words, by bringing the original words back around and calling her on it - calling it the dance of the alcoholic. When I say this she understands she cannot get away with the twisting.

I also learned - that the trigger for me is the same words I use - The "Dance with the Alcoholic" (it is really the "dance with alcohol" by the way - and is commonly recognized in AA and recovery. I think there is an Al-Anon pamphlet on it - Syd or some others - isn't this right?)

Those words - are my trigger to disengage. That I cannot "win" (make my point and get her to see my side - which maybe a form of control too, for me). But it is my trigger to break off. Maybe the only satisfaction I get in a sick way, is I get the last word in. So, I disengage. I detach. I leave the room.

I am wrong for even engaging. Because my blood pressure goes up. I sense the flight or fight syndrome occurring in my reticular cortex is activated (is that the part of the brain? - there is a part of the brain still with us from prehistoric times -I've read about it a hundred times). And you (me) start to lose "emotional control" because our body is on full alert for war (or some animal ready to kill us). It serves no useful purpose in 2008. It was great in 1200 BC, which I will write about in another post sometime (that wasn't funny, but I tried).

So recognize "the hook." Where does it occur? What trigger words? What tone. With who?

I learned that apportioning guilt and blame is arrogance. Recognize the hook. Practice in your mind the "next time I will do this." Rehearse it like an Olympic Gymnast practices her routines in her mind. Same concept.

Reminder - we have an Al-Anon Weekend Online Meeting on money/finances. And how this affects us.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Men's Al-Anon Meeting

This meeting was on the Al-Anon 3rd Step. It was ad-hoc, as there was not someone who prepared for the meeting. But as in all things good, and non-judgemental, it was a resounding success.

There were about 10 men there. All of us a various stages in life and with Al-Anon.

I cannot explain how impressed I am with some of the members and how what one might call them, "wicked smart." I know I do. Their voices were voices of helpfulness, centeredness and all good.

We talked about God. I struggled with the concept of a God for much of my life. I learned later in life, or have come to believe, that there is "something" out there. It was a can be a "higher consciousness" or a "Power" greater than us all. The Al-Anon program has helped me understand this more clearly and consciously.

The meeting turned to the subject of "control" and "letting go." And this letting go meant not trying to understand why people do certain things. Again, as I pointed out in Monday's post, about how a meeting can turn, based upon what you speak about or how you say something, I found this same experience holing true last night. When I spoke about my feelings about a HP and the issue of my wife heading off to the lake and not even thinking to ask us, the next people that spoke, while they didn't speak at me, spoke about their experiences, and how similar they were, yet different, - but also what they did, wished they did do or not do, all based upon their learnings and more years of experience in Al-Anon. Of course, I could relate their situations to mine immediately.

I came to the conclusion, last night, that I was trying to control my wife, perhaps in a strange sorta way, from going to the lake/mountains and it is not my right to do so. I am having a hard time with this concept intellectually and emotionally. I understand the concept, but when someone wants to dive off a building, or a cliff, do you not let them go? Maybe this an extreme argument, justifying my position. Yes. Of course it is. She is heading off to the lake/mountains with friends who will be drinking. Not a cliff. But maybe a cliff in the drinking world, but not a cliff in real life.

What I have decided after last night, is it is God's will for this to happen. I cannot change it or control it. I am working Step 1; I am powerless over the situation. And my mind has become unmanageable about it. I resent the thought that no one asked me if I had plans. But that is the unmanageable showing up, based upon someone else's decision.

I am focusing on myself. And that was another key message last night.

I think I am going to use my energies of worry, doubt and fear and use these energies on how I can improve myself.
We had dinner last night, and one of the gentlemen who spoke right after me spent time explaining his life and what happened to him. I saw him at several meetings before and he has a certain peace about him. [A "Certain Peace." I like that term.] He said he gave up trying to figure everyone and everything out. Peace. I am not sure how you do that.
Last night, before the meeting, I completed my apologies for having accused others of enabling my wife and allowing her to go to the lake house. It was a reaction when I accused them, covering up hurt from a sense of uncaring. This may be borderline rationalization and justification when I make that statement. But I make it and I judge my words, perhaps too harshly, perhaps right on target. I am not sure now. I am only sure about work, it seems.

If you come across this blog, you will find a grown man, a sometimes irreverent man, a pissed off man, a hurt man, one who will come out on the other side of this better in some ways, and different in others. Maybe not what I expected of where I thought this life was going, but I really had no plan or vision of what my future would look like, in truth. Maybe this is forcing me to think about where I REALLY want to end up. And really what matters.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Follow-Up Note

This morning I trespassed on a few people. My wife's friend who said basically yelling at me, "Well she's not drinking anymore is she???" And my response to her was, "Just by the very nature of that question and the fact that she has been drinking hard just 45 days ago, tells me you don't understand alcoholism and the disease. You should go to Al-Anon to understand it better and see how you are enabling her."

Of course at the moment I was not in my finer spirits. Although I believe my statement is accurate, it has a "I'm better than you tone." Still she is contributing to my wife's childish behavior of going to the lake/mountain. I need to get more humble. I still feel a little anger, as I sense I feel a righteousness.

The therapist played the chair game. And man, for a person who is in confusion, the one chair I sat in (the one that says "I go") I was clear, articulate and I breathed (she point the breathing part out). The 10% or the I stay chair, was; I was confused, abandoned, swirling, not breathing. In case you want to know the chair thing was cool looking back on it. I sit in one chair and this chair is one feeling and I talk; blah, blah, blah. Then I jump to the other chair and act out the other feeling; blah, blah, blah. I jump back and forth between chairs. This therapist is really cool.

What am I writing here?

I was once, very much had my act together. I knew where I was going and what I wanted. Or did I? No. That was a lie. I knew what I wanted with work. My love life was shot. So I buried myself in my work. Work became life. Life became work. My love life was or became non-existent almost the instant we were married. I can remember the limo ride to the hotel, the new bride's attitude changed. I can remember thinking in the car ride/limo ride, what's with this attitude? Is it she's tired? Maybe.

Before we were married, I told her the drinking had to stop. Or else, no wedding. I told my best friend this. She apparently told her best friend this too. She did stop. At least in front of me. I was so stupid and naive. Only men are alcoholics or are "drunks." What an ugly word. It was the fighting that ensued from her drinking. She would get hostile. I would back off. I had this sense of peace and did not engage. I had a daily ritual of waking up at 4:30AM and reading for 2 hours something inspirational. When I was done after the two hours, I had this very light feeling as if I floated. It was weird. I passed no judgement on people. I worked well. I ran with peace. I spoke to people directly and purposefully.

I told the therapist/coach/mentor this same thing this afternoon. When I was in the 90-95% chair. And I wanted it back. Want it back. Must get it back. Will get it back.

I started out this post with this thought about God or HP. I am not a religious person. So when I was thinking this, it was the list of what I worried about and then turning this over to God comment, that made me think of this and then the comment about God guiding me through whatever I decide.

This is a feeling that I hope does not leave me. I have a sense that I am being guided. And everything will work out.

I read this Zen story this morning. I think it relates to me in what I was experiencing at home for the past 7 to 10 years. The story goes;

She had this large bump in the carpet. She kept on straightening out the bump in the carpet to get it to lay flat. She did this over and over, but the bump kept on appearing. Finally in desperation, she lifted the carpet. Out from under the carpet appeared this very large snake, angry snake, that kept on causing the bump in the carpet.

I think the bump in the carpet was the alcohol. The addiction. I kept on trying to appease. I ran. Jogged. Skied. Worked. Avoided. Talked it out. Then the snake appeared. It was an angry son of a gun.

Now at least I know what I am dealing with. I did not like it. But I know what I dealing with.

Back to my original reason for the follow-up. I believe my HP is helping me. Through you. Through my sponsor. Through my therapist. Through my daughter. Through my mother. She said something yesterday too. My brothers too. Through two of my best friends who I have reached out to, to ask for help. Through I guy I worked with who went through the same exact thing. How come all these people are showing up? At my wife's rehab Family Night Meeting. The people there are super supportive. Even the counselor. He gave me the therapists phone number and recommendation, when I asked for help. I list all these people out, because I did not have these people around me trying to help me before, until I began asking. My daughter's school - the teachers, the assistant principal, the counselor there. The neighbors who some how know - but knew before me (I recall two women at two different times trying to tell me something, but I was not listening, refuse to hear what I thought was just gossip).

I am very grateful and need to remember this last paragraph of people and support infrastructure that I am building.

I see I do not have a label of "Gratitude." Interesting. How could I not have that?

I do now.

The Emotional Rollercoaster

So, you all saw yesterday's posts. A real nightmare of resentment and bitterness. I disdain those words, frankly, because I used to be in control of my emotions, now I feel like a ping pong ball.

Last night I got some peace after I went for a run and posted my last post.

I woke up this morning at 5:30AM, a little late, and after a small cup of coffee decided to go to the coffee house down the road to get out and study my Leadership books that I bought from One is really interesting, it is called "Leader on the Couch." Written by a famous professor at Instead in France. Short story here, is that it talks about leaders and their internal thoughts and where they come from, and the behaviors of leaders in business and how the behaviors today are a product of the past, how people interpret the events around them and how their dominant emotions and belief affect their actions and communication styles.

All of this said, it is almost directly related to the Al-Anon literature to some degree. Except the book and this scholar is not dealing with alcoholism. Which is, an unpredictable variable, thrown in the mix of some predictability, creating havoc. Then, with our frustration, mine very evident yesterday, causing more havoc and leading to chaos.

So, things are in normal mode. Reading. Drinking coffee. It's 7:30AM. Then the phone call from my daughter. "Mommy is being mean." OK, under almost every single circumstance, I used to brush this off as a child's pitting mom vs dad thing. I used to get these calls before. But now I am much more, "vigilant" or "observing." So, I ask my wife what is happening. Wife says, "She is being sassy." I say, "What has she done?" Spouse says, "She won't turn off the TV." I say, "Why is she watching TV?" We made a rule, no TV before school. Wife was sitting daughter down in front of the TV every morning as a baby sitter. I stopped that because I noticed daughter became more lethargic/tired. This was BEFORE I knew there was a problem with alcohol abuse.

So, I asked, "What else?" Spouse says, "I took away her computer privileges, and cell phone (I bought daughter a cell phone, because sometimes mommy would not answer hers or wife would forget to pick daughter up from school - I was really against buying daughter a cell phone but had to due to circumstances). Wife continued, "Because she said to me, 'I am afraid that you will be drunk when you pick me up from school this afternoon.'"

I said to wife, "You can't take phone and computer away because of a fear or concern she has." With that the conversation ended by wife handing the phone to daughter. Daughter says, "Daddy please come home."

I go home. I try to reason with wife. I take daughter to school. Daughter says, "When are you and mommy getting a divorce? And get this over with?" I am sitting there in car pool line, not knowing what to say to a 10 year old.

I come back try to reason with wife. She is a 17 year old in an adult body. I say this to her. I shouldn't have. Wife corrects me, "I am about 20 now." Am I hearing this crazy conversation? We say a few more things. I was trying to be compassionate when I said, "I do feel sorry for you. You didn't ask for this. But we have to try to figure out how not to get our daughter in the middle." This is crazy for me to talk this way to my wife. I expect another adult to be there. I am missing a key ingredient in the family. I realize we are all sick. No adult wife. I have a young girl's brain in an adult body. And an adult trying to break out and trying to be an adult, but doesn't know what that looks like or how to behave like one.

I call my sponsor. We talk for an hour. He tells me a lot. My sponsor is a very wise man. He tells me just enough so I don't confuse myself. He says, "Step one. List out all the things you are powerless over that is impacting you. All of them. Then on the flip side of the paper, list out how they are making your life unmanageable. Don't think or write in terms of solutions. Just do this."

His listening to me has a calming affect on me. I think he needed my phone call too. His advice to me, was something he needed to hear for himself too. I sense this. He is a good man. He gives me something else. He says,
"Think of you and the alcoholic in the ocean. You both are drowning. You know if you have ever tried to save someone from drowning you can't unless you're a lifeguard. But you know they'll drown you too. So imagine this, and then the choppy waters. Imagine a lighthouse off on the shore. All you can do is swim toward that lighthouse. You have to save yourself and hope that the alcoholic will follow."

Smart man. I am swimming.

Now, therapist (remember I hate that word - so coach/counselor/mentor) calls up. She just got a cancellation we talk for one second. I grab the hour slot. I rush to the meeting/therapy session. We have a real meaningful session. I tell her my 90% and my 10%. This is where I am and where I am going. She does a "chair therapy" session during the last 5 minutes. I talk about the 10% and the 90%. Interesting what I revealed to myself.

I am such a nightmare. I have so much swirling around in my brain. I am hostage to my own thoughts. I need an outside intervention. And I get one. Two. Three today (Sponsor, Therapist, Al-Anon Meeting).

I am swimming toward the lighthouse.

I work Step one at 5PM. I will work it hard. I got to an Al-Anon Meeting with Men tonight.

Last note. EVERYONE's thoughts were excellent yesterday and I CANNOT EXPRESS MY APPRECIATION enough. Every one of you - I owe you. IF I could take everyone to dinner I would. No drinking though (said in fun but in truth).

See you all later

Monday, February 25, 2008

Last Post (today anyway)

Ok. So, Wife and I argue about daughter's nutrition. I say she's not eating fruits - period. Wife - who is going to AA, and came out rehab, says "Yes she is."

It is a "he said" versus "she said" thing for a second. I say, "Tell me what she eats or what do we have in this house that resembles a fruit?"

She goes, "Look, she eats Fruit Roll-ups." I say, "Are you kidding me?"

Her mind is fried I think. Or she is very good at trying to make me crazy. I realize she cannot make me crazy as I type this. I know this is stupid talk.

I control what I decide to think about me. Again, this is the easy part. My daughter thinks Fruit Roll-ups are fruit. (In truth my daughter is pretty smart. She knows they are basically candy. And she senses she is not eating the right food.)

She (daughter) was eating pasta every day. Until I intervened. It was easy to cook. No butter. No sauce. Just parmasan cheese. Every day. And all day. No joke. No exagerration. I did not know. Now I know.


I should be kind, and compassionate. It is hard. It is very hard.

I went and found an Al-Anon meeting yesterday, because of this new found resentment. I searched my little white folded piece of paper - it has all the meetings where I live, the times, whether it is for women or men, gays, adult children of alcoholics or whatever. I carry one in the car, one at my desk and ine in my briefcase. I worry a little, because some people I work with may actually see the folded piece of paper.

Where it was held was in some rundown place. It was not the best place I have been to in the world. But when I got there, I sat in the chair, a big plastic chair, the bad ones from Walmart for 5 bucks. But, I felt a calm over take me.

I breathed deeply. And I breathed deeply again. Calm. People who understand my situation. They all understand. Even though they are from different backgrounds. It is nice to be understood and to vent (we call it "sharing" but I vented).

Everyone always laughs when I tell my story. I think I try to make it funny because we are all in pain. It may also be that it because I am afraid to show my pain and it is a way of covering it up.

Everyone there, I have never met before, except for one guy. We met at a meeting a few times before. There were several moments where there is silence. This was where no one says anything.These are hard moments. I feel a compelling desire to tell others "Speak! I want to hear your story. And I want you to know it's okay." One new gentlemen, young, who's wife went into rehab, said during the first silent moment, "Now what do we do. Just sit here?" I nearly laughed myself off of the plastic chair - trying to keep silent guffawing (is that a word? who knows).

What has this got to do with Roll-ups and Resentment? Nothing. Except they start with R. But yesterday's Al-Anon meeting topic was Guilt. And I turned the meeting into resentment when it came to me. Or at least part of discussion was resentment in the voices of others. Guilt and Resentment, two evil sister lurking under the skin able to spread like a little fire damaging our well-being. One holding our head down in shame and self-talk that beats you up to a pulp. The other, anger, on a slow burn. It's mission: to fester until eats your heart one bite at a time.

We at Al-Anon suck sometimes at making it easier on new comers. So after 5 people spoke, I talked to the newcomers when my turn came around. I told them they will not get open advice here in the meeting, that if you listen, you begin to hear options and tools and ways of dealing with your situation. It is a "magical" thing that just occurs. Sounds like bullshit (I didn't say that because some woman brought her son who was all of about 4 years old to sit and he did which was amazing), but that no matter what the situation, we can help guide you and in cases where you need help hang around at the end. But we do suck at making new people feel welcome, at least in the meetings I have been to.

This Thursday, I take my daughter to an Al-Ateen meeting. I have cleared it by talking to a number of people. One lady spent 30 minutes on the phone with me to insure it was alright for a 10 year old. She will be in a room with children from 9 to 12 years of age. I am not as concerned about this as I once was. We'll see.

Got to go out for a run and read something inspirational.
Thank you for your kind remarks today. I consider you - strangely - as close friends. Even those that have skimmed the blog and have not said anything.
If you note over to right we will pass 10,000 readers this week. I put that little counter over there I think sometime in November when I was messing with Blog Gadgets.

10,000 readers. But not everyone is commenting. Feel free to comment, but no rush. But realize, no one knows who you are and we are with you all the way.
Also - we have just slightly over 300 readers this past weekend. I almost forgot to mention that part because I was resenting all over the place this morning. Great job by all this weekend

My Resentment - An Update (Late breaking)

Al-Anon spouse works. AA spouse plays tennis. Who is stressed here?

So, I am working with conference calls and the normal issues of a hard, good job. My wife is at a tennis lesson this morning.

A Little Background
My wife decides to play tennis. Oh yes, I failed to mention because she does not work, will not work, that's right, she refuses to work, because it is "too much stress" on a "recovering alcoholic." At least that was one of the stories she fabricated, why she could not work. She said they at the clinic said don't work. Actually I semi-believed it. But the clinic people said she should. It would keep her occupied and doing something. What is it? "Idle hands makes for the devils playground"

She never played tennis before. She is uncoordinated. But NOW she does. She actually stinks at it but because she has nothing to do and wants to present a good front, she is out with the girls.

This sucks

Back to This Minute
So, the school nurse calls me. Can't find your wife. So we are calling you. Apparently your daughter has a bladder infection. Dear Joe, who now has to drop everything, reschedule the con calls, goes to the school picks up our daughter, which I absolutely have NO problem doing, and takes daughter to doctor.

But the problem I have is my wife, mother of my child, has cell phone turned off at tennis lesson as it may interupt the lesson and distract the other girls.

Are you friggin' kidding me???? AM I in a nightmare here?

This only gets worse. It's not the drunkeness, it's the selfishness. Damn this is hard.

My Resentment - Trying To Overcome

Al-Anon can't fix a trip but can help me reframe and vent. My alcoholic spouse hacks me off because she doesn't think or consider others. This past Saturday afternoon was tough for me. I was hacked off that my wife will be leaving for the lake/mountain to meet her buddies this coming Saturday.

One of my sales people quit this past Friday night. Adding another complexity to this week coming up. He had several appointments and presentations with clients lined up that I was supposed to go to. But because my wife "decided" just to go to the lake the week before, I had to rearrange my work plans to stay home.

My Wife's Trip To The Lake House/Mountains - Unconsulted, Unplanned (Another totally selfish act)
As you may recall, in an earlier blog post I mentioned this, she never consulted my schedule, she just scheduled it. I found out through my daughter that my alcoholic spouse/wife/roommate (that says it right there - roommate) that she decided to go to the lake/mountains with the same girls she would get drunk with.

When I confronted her, my wife, and said, "You just got out of rehab, don't you think this is premature??" She said, "I decided I am going, all my other friends are going." Then I found out ALL her OTHER friends were not going, that others had obligations (like who knows?? staying home because they are too old to party? and now have lives like taking care of their children and being with their families?). She said, also, "I need a vacation." I wanted to say, "YOU NEED A VACATION, from WHAT??? From coordinating the tutors I lined up? From unlocking the door for our house cleaner to come in (no they have a key)?"

Are you friggin' kidding me???

I am staying in this marriage because:
A.) The Luuve I receive? (that's "Love" said with sarcasm)
B.) The appreciation I get?
C.) The help my daughter gets for studying?
D.) The opportunity to pay my wife's bills? (no, not this one, I took her credit cards away that I paid for, and now make her pay her own things)
E.) The opportunity to be able to blog about her?

If you said "E" that is probably the closest answer to accurate or truth I can possibly find. I does provide some material to write up. (that's sarcasm again).

I should give a "F" option. "F" would be the opportunity to spend $130 per hour on a therapist and rant there about this problem. Oh yeah, right, I am reframing that too. I mean not a therapist, I coach, a mentor. A guide through life and help me find the door to float freely across the universe and be happy and sing merry songs of peace. I think I hear the birds of tranquility chirping now. No. Those are the black crows perched on my wife's shoulder making that noise. Again, to be read with sarcasm or facetious.

So, back to this lake get-away thing.

I have these appointments and presentations I need to realign. Not going to be easy. I MAY have to go to a place in the country that is not easy to get to and with the weather as it's been in the past 2 weeks, the delays may keep me from coming home on time so I can be there to meet my daughter coming off the bus or be there to tuck her in Thursday night.

I have to go test my resources, the friends in the neighborhood I have made as potential helpers, just in case I do have to go out of town, they can be there to take my daughter off the bus and maybe feed her.

So it's now 7AM where I am, and my wife will make the usual bread and put a huge amount of butter on the side of a plate for my daughter to eat for her morning breakfast. I have intervened and said "no more" we need to eat fruit, making me the "bad guy" to my daughter and a "control freak" to my wife. I will show you all later what my wife considers "fruit" by the way. She and I had this little argument about fruit roll-ups. She called them fruit.

One More Thing - Making This Problem an "Opportunity"
Oh yeah. One more thing. I am trying to make a "silk purse out of a sow's ear," (I really don't use that saying in real life) but this little excursion beach trip was unplanned, and I was not consulted about whether this fits into my schedule.

So, to make this problem an "opportunity," I have decided to take my daughter some place this weekend. It will not be easy, because I had a couple of personal meetings this weekend that I need to rearrange. But that is easy to change. We are planning to go some place warm - by plane. Maybe - well who knows? I am reframing this "issue" with my wife, who didn't ask about whether it was convenient for us or me or my work or my daughter or anyone else. I could use this as another opportunity to be close with my daughter and do a little bonding and just go have fun.

For those of you in Al-Anon or in a predicament like this (an alcoholic spouse) who do not have children, Al-Anon boundary setting, and detachment doesn't work like you or someone without children can understand. It really complicates things. "Let go and Let God" is not always the answer, however, I have learned that quotes like this are often misapplied. I am rambling here, but there is a point. If you are in a relationship with an alcoholic and you are thinking of having children, far be it from me to tell you what to do, for I have the most beautiful daughter in the world and I would give ANYTHING for her, but if you are thinking of having children, and that this might "fix" your spouse, you are really complicating your issue by 10 times (10X). Because it's no longer just about you. You can set boundaries and walk away. But with a child, if you are aware of what is happening, you start to see things occuring that affect them and you have to begin protecting this little innocent creature who is now subject to mental abuse, that is often, very subtle. [Did I just write that? Yes I did. "Mental abuse that is often very subtle." And those of you who have children and are married to an alcoholic know what I mean, don't you? I did write that. I am typing very slowly now, verrrry slowly. I think I just realized something that my brain is saying to me that I keep fighting.]

Friday, February 22, 2008

On-line Al-Anon Meeting on: Focus on Ourselves

This weekend's On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Focus on Ourselves.

If you have found this website you are invited to join us in a weekend long, Al-Anon Meeting. The on-line meeting starts Friday evening 2/22/08 and runs to Sunday 2/24/08 evening.

A Note: To view this post and the comments at the same time, click on the link here (click here) in order to get a better view.

Our host for this weekend is Ashley. Ashley has her own blog called "Back from Chaos." It describes her challenges and her steps to "recovery."

Ashley is a regular to our blog and provides a lot of good comments. She is encouraging and hopeful.

This is where we start. Ashley has posted the message below. These are Ashley's words which start our meeting on:

"Focus on Ourselves"


I had an incredible meeting on Tuesday night - topic was "Focus on Ourselves" and I thought this could be a great topic for the weekend meeting.

One of the readings from Courage to Change jumped out at me.

page 29

"Many of us learn the value of self-expression in Al-Anon. We discover how we feel and benefit from giving voice to those feelings when it seems appropriate. But there's a difference between expressing ourselves and using words to control others.

Sometimes the only way I can determine whether I'm trying to control someone else or whether I'm simply expressing my feelings is by noticing how many times I say the same thing. If I mention something that is on my mind and then let it go no matter what response I get, I am speaking sincerely. If I repeatedly make similar suggestions or ask prodding questions again and again, I am probably trying to control (emphasis mine). If I am satisfied only when the other person responds in a way I consider desirable -- agrees with what I've said or takes my advice -- then I know I've lost my focus."

Today's Reminder

"I am learning to be honest with myself. I will not use my recovery as an excuse to justify my efforst to change other people's thinking. Trying to control other people only gets me in trouble. Instead, I will promptly admit such mistakes and put my energy back where it belongs by focusing on myself."

I ended up posting this on my blog yesterday because I really wanted to remember it.

I do this all the time. When my husband and I are arguing or even discussing things, I always think maybe if I just state it a different way, it will make sense to him. I never consider that I might be wrong, or even if I'm right, he may not agree with me. There are times that I feel like I've failed if I can't get him to see things my way. I think that I just didn't figure out the right combination of words to convince him I'm right.

Obviously one of the many things I have to work on.

Hope you're having a great day!


Please comment on this topic/subject how it may be relevant to you. If you have a burning issue, you may jump in and provide your thoughts, vent or just plain ol'type away.

Thank you Ashley.

Forgive and Be Free

As the spouse of an alcoholic, I know I can be free by forgiving. Forgiving does not mean I put up with nonsense or said another way, crap, of another person. It means something very different than most people think "forgiveness" actually means.

Let me tell you as honestly as I can, how immature I was (and still am) regarding the word, and the embodiment of "forgiveness."

I used to think that forgiveness meant- that forgiveness made me the bad guy. And made the other person "correct" or "OK" with their actions. I said "used to think" in the last sentence. Let me correct that. I don't want to seem I am above and beyond anyone here. And I certainly don't want to fool myself. So, the truth is, I still think this way sometimes when my past programming rises up and takes control, and I react, usually because I hurt or feel pain, because I feel someone did something to me.

But, this is important, this definition of forgiveness, to recognize how many of us in society think or believe forgive actually means. This definition of forgiveness; "making me wrong and the other person right" is why I had a hard time letting go. I know I wasn't wrong (at least sometimes). I didn't want to be wrong. Therefore, I would not forgive. So, I carried this "thing" around called "resentment."

I think resentment causes me to put on special sunglasses as I go about life. It causes me to filter out reality and causes me to seek out or look for "who might be trying to do something to me." This filtering out - actually makes me behave differently toward others - which actually attracts people to actually do something to me. It is a weird phenomenon. The thing I am trying to avoid, I actually attract, by sending out "signals" in terms of how I talk, hold eye contact (or lack thereof), move, etc. Why? Because my mind is focused on what I don't want. And I send neuro-transmitters through my brain and body. This is going too deep here - but in psychology this phenomenon has several names and terms, this "filtering" and "attracting." The term I will use that I personally like is "self-fulfilling prophecy" which if we can really get that concept, can dramatically change our lives forever.

But, as I say, I digress. This is a post on forgiveness, so I will get back on it!

Real Forgiveness - The More Mature Thinking
Real forgiveness is a completely selfish act. Now before you fly off the handle about "selfish," this word too, can be a positive word. We should be more "selfish" as long as we are not doing something to try to wound another or injure/harm. Selfish is OK. It is thinking about us, ourselves, which we rarely do, as spouses/parents of addicts.

Real forgiveness has nothing to do with the other guy being right or us being right. It has nothing to do with "letting them off the hook."

Forgiveness - to forgive - is about you and I clearing our resentments of the past. It is about freeing ourselves from the mistakes we have made. Because don't we beat ourselves up sometimes? And this leads to guilt and/or resentment.

Forgiveness is a selfish act, in that if used properly, it is about letting ourselves go free of regret, remorse, resentment, and stopping ourselves from replaying the negative events in our mind over and over again. And it is the beginning of eliminating the question we may be asking ourselves in our mind that cannot be answered. It is the question of; "If only . . . " And that question, which really isn't even a question, but a statement of regret.

I read to you from Robert Anthony. I read this last night and I thought, "Wow. How appropriate."

"To the degree that you cannot forgive, whether it be yourself or someone else, you perpetuate lack and limitation in your life. You hold back.

Many people don't want to forgive others. They say things like: "Why should I let them off the hook after what they did?" The enemy is someone who you think can take from you or harm you. People harm you through yourself. Actually, they don't harm you at all. You just give them the instructions on how to treat you and they follow through.

When we deal with forgiveness we tend to think that we must forgive because someone has done something to us. It is difficult for many people to realize that people haven't done anything to you. When you finally realize that you've done it to yourself by your responses to them then you are free of it. You are free because you're not holding onto the person as a source of your problem."

The italics are from Dr. Robert Anthony.

What struck me last night and it still strikes me, is; "We just give them the instructions on how to treat you and they follow through."

I think Dr. Robert Anthony was writing his books for me when I first stumbled upon them over 15 years ago. The words are so powerful. What I like about his writings is that I see how Al-Anon and his writings are so interconnected - because the "control" that he and Al-Anon foster is control over your thinking and therefore over your feelings. It has nothing to do with "people out there," which of course, you cannot change. It forces you to work on yourself, the only thing you can change.

I hope this post makes sense to you this day, Friday. I think this is one of my favs. I hope you like it as much as I had writing it.

May your weekend be a blessing.

By the way, I deleted my first message from someone yesterday. You may have noticed this in an earlier post. To disclose to you this; it was from "someone" who is facing some problems with AA people. I think he thought this was an AA blog. He invoked a HP to his cause and also said he was the HP. He may strike again. Do not respond to his invocations. I wish you peace.

PS - We have a topic for this weekend's Online Meeting. Please see the post below (or click here). Ashley is hosting the Weekend Meeting. I will be sending out an invitation at around 5PM eastern time with Ashley's Topic. So please don't respond to her writing in the comments yet. She will have her own blog page all weekend as we did before. And if you wish to host a weekend meeting let me know! We have another volunteer for the week after! So this is great!

Steve Martin - A Phone Call and Message

Steve Martin and Al-Anon? No. But still we need some humor every now and then. This is one of my favorites. It's old, (from Johnny Carson), but if you don't crack a smile, play it later, you will!

I was reading his autobiography a while back and could help but think about how he rose up, slowly, surely, confidently to become the star his is today. His rise was not without a lot of set backs.

Here it is! Click on it once. It takes a second to load up.

If you are unable to view it, cut and paste this link below and put it into your browser/internet address bar. It will take you to YouTube.

PS - I did post this to this blog a long time ago (or so it seems).

A Positive Video

A positive video. Not exactly AA or Al-Anon related, but inspirational, never-the-less [what is "never-the-less?" . . . ooops sorry, I drifted]

I borrowed this from our friend Ashley - with permission of course. I saw it on her blog. I thought there were a lot of positive messages in this video.

I thought it would provide a bit of value and entertainment, on the positive side of things, and perhaps how some one - an individual - can decide how he or she will act.

This is from Oprah's show; Randy Pausch his Last Lecture

This is the First of Several Posts I will provide today.

Click on "Ashley" and you will go to her site. Ashley's blog is "Back from Chaos."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

This Weekend - Al-Anon Meeting - Topics?

Anyone, please! who would like to name the topic and do the set up?

It could be multiple volunteers - I will take the first volunteer, and the second will not be a loser - for your topic and set up will be for next week!!

There is no risk of rejection here!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


This post is on resentments. At Al-Anon a wise person told a few of us, if you had to choose between guilt and resentment, always choose guilt. For, he said, resentment will eat you up.

Very wise. We, as spouses and parents of alcoholics are angry. We are bitter because we felt "betrayed." We are angry because we feel "decieved," "lied to" and no cause to believe the person, because the trust has been broken. Not just once, but day in and day out, for years.

What is worse I guess - is the fact that if we feel this way, how do our little innocent children feel? Link here to Letter to Children

How does someone who does not live in the shroud of alcohol understand the sickness of alcoholism and how it affects everyone's well being?

It's like a suffocating blanket of lies, told a little bit at a time. You believe the little lie. You uncover later that it was a lie. You ask about it later to your spouse. You get a perfect answer, "I never said that, I said this." It's a little twist on the truth. That little twist is believable. We believe because, we are married to someone we entrusted with our future. We gave and continue to give.

Yet we were beginning to sense something is wrong. But we could not quite figure it out. Something, some how, did not match up. Our brains start to go into overdrive, analyzing events, conversations, facial expressions, searching for what is it that is not making sense . . .

Then one day, after months, and years of the deception, we uncover that hidden bottles of wine or beer or alcohol. Hidden. A key word, hidden. Yet, now it makes sense. We were beginning to think we were crazy. All the conversations that we convoluted, twisted lies, making us [me] feel, well, "lost" in an unreal world.

The alcoholic is very good and falsifying the truth and twisting it ever so slightly as to make you/me/us feel like the bad guy. And they begin to tell others, "She is crazy." Or "He has an issue with _____." You name it. It's us, not him/her. And brother or sister, do we look bad. And feel bad.

How many of you been called a "control freak?"
How about a "MF asshole?"
How about a "loser?"
How about someone who has no future or has no friends?

With these criticisms, the alcoholic is in full rage, full bloom. Love of the alcohol, has caused her/him to protect his/her addiction. And one of the protective mechanisms is to be little the other person as to make them feel inept, crazy, and bad. She or he can kill you with a few words. And even a glance, once they have you in their "hooks."

But the worst of all, I believe, is the apathy. The apathy is; "I don't care about you, because you are meaningless and worth nothing." It is a look, an attitude, and cutting remark. And to make matters worse, in my case anyway, the alcoholic can turn the charm on, but with others, hiding behind the charm. And when you see the adoration she pays to another person, it is hard not to say, "Hey, what about me? How come you don't pay me that kind of attention?"

At least you say it to yourself. You see the chasm between how she treats others versus how she treats you and your child. It is the attitude of, "You are not important. The world and universe revolves around me. I will get to you when I feel like I can spare the time."

So far, am I right on target? I just want to know. In fact, I want others who may skim this blog one day, others who never understand what we are going to through to understand that living with an alcoholic, especially one that is so full of his or her self, or so mean, that it is like torture.

How do you feel? Am I close?

This post started off as resentment and the nice "giving it up" type of sentence and the wonderful quote. But at times, it is hard to "give it up." Especially when when you finally realize you weren't the bad guy after all. But you were made to feel bad.

So, I choose not to be resentful or even guilty. Because while resentment will eat your insides, guilt will break your confidence in half.

I am not resentful. I am not even angry. I am/or was - very hurt. My mask that I used to wear, was anger. Then it was bitterness. Now I am just tired. Surrendered. Given up. You win alcohol. You kicked my sorry ass for 15 years. And most of the 15 years, I didn't even know I was fighting alcohol. I was just kicked down on the ground my a little lady who could diss you with a glance. And ignore you like you were an endentured servant.

If I sound pissed, may be, but just for a second, but for a second long enough to fight any feelings of guilt and remorse about the future path in front of me. Because guilt is another weapon used to keep you in place.

That is my pain. I cannot stand to be treated like a "no one;" a "nobody." AND I shall never be treated that way again. Mark my words dear reader, I will never ever be knocked down by a condescending attitude, ever again.

So how do you feel? If you had to explain to someone off the street, what you are going through, have gone through, how would explain the dark cloud that you feel envelope you as you walk into the home raging with alcoholism? What scars do you bear?


I am traveling this week. I am worried my spouse will relapse. I am worried she will inadvertantly assume she has full command of her capacities, and take the car and my daughter for a spin. Especially since I am out of town this week.

I ask God how did I get here? every, single, God-damned, day. [Sounds like anger. It's just a quote from Patton - the movie, when a reporter asked Patton if Patton read the bible that was sitting next to his bunk. That quote was his reply. I thought it was humorous. ]

Then I think about what I can control. And what I cannot. I think about what will she do if she reads this Blog? Feel the pain of ourside of the chaos and distrustion? Or will she just use that as an excuse to be righteous?

Those thoughts are things I cannot control. I just wish for sanity and happiness. I wish for her to be more empathetic. And I wish she was not self-absorbed and not deceitful.

Those are false hopes. They're mine and no one elses. Except our daughter's too. She feels the pain. She is sensing that she is not protected and she worries.

I try to address my daughter's pain of worry by saying "That's not your problem. That problem is mom's and she is trying to get better." The problem with that statement is my wife is not operating on full speed. I can see it and hear it. It will take at least 12 months and maybe years for her to get well. In the meantime, she is making poor judgments and decisions. And she saying and doing things that are a little bizzare. I won't go into it, for it would sound demeaning. But I fear for our daughter, as a role model, mothers are a big influence.

But again that's hers and this is mine. The only thing and this is complicated, is when you have children. We can say, "Let go and let God," and "Control what you can control" but only for a second. With children, you cannot exactly ever "let go."

I am grateful today for;
1. Having two of the greatest in-laws a person could ever have. They have dignity and integrity. It makes me sad when I write this. I told my counselor this too.
2. I have a beautiful daughter. Absolutely beautiful. I could not have asked God to provide a more beautiful person to come into the world.
3. I am learning Al-Anon tools that I wish everyone could learn.
4. I am grateful about getting friends and neighbors to help me/us in this time of need.

I need to find an Al-Anon meeting while I am here. Except I cannot slip out of these business meetings. I am sorta in the midst of a major melt down of this division of the company.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Our Addiction as a Spouse

What is our addiction as a spouse of an alcoholic? Or as a parent? Is codependency and our need for acceptance an addiction? Are wanting something we can't have? And we just keep on keeping on, thinking we will get it?

I wrote these words AFTER I read the passage below.

I picked up an old book by Dr. Robert Anthony. I am getting ready to fly out of town today. So I am gathering up my usual four or five books I think I need to read (never really reading or needing them all. But the books are my friends and I think I may need to talk to them and have them talk to me.)

Anyway I pick up this book. I open it up and it jumped to this page (page 80). The words on the page went right to my eyeballs. The words were looking for me. Weird. How did the book open to this page and my eyes went to these words. Or the words go to my eyes?

Page 80
"In dealing with your more subtle addictions, such as an addiction to having a certain person near you or loving you, remember: The pain you wish to get rid of is the pain you feel when that person is not present or is failing to meet your expectations. Don't make the mistake of thinking you are addicted to the person. Your addiciton is composed of your expectations of how that person should be and your expectations of having them near you and supportive of you."

Matching Childhood with Today

AA and Al-Anon - marriages? What if we are matching today, with what we learned growing up? What if we know that this is NOT what we are supposed to do, but cannot help it?

Are we attempting to match subconsciously to bring into existence what we learned as a child, when these were the height of our imprinting years?


When I was younger, I used to wonder why some of the nicest and prettiest girls hung out/dated the jerks.

I now realize after some analysis and therapy, that we try to "match" ourselves with what we saw in the home. What we grew up with, in other words. The "matching" was what we knew, experienced, thought was "normal."

Somewhere, in the recesses of our minds we felt inadequate, undeserving, controlled, hurt, frightened - or whatever.

Think about this for a moment. This is a hard pill to swallow.

I did so much work on myself, but never with a therapist or with Al-Anon.

I told my therapist I disliked the word "therapist." Of course she asked, "Why?" What a powerful word, this word "Why?" You have to answer. And every single time, you have to explain why. So simple. So revealing.

I said, "it was a word we laughed about in movies or TV shows for people who couldn't deal with reality." Now I am one. So she said, "Use the word, "coach," if it works better for you."

Great. That's another $130. As Robert Anthony said, "A therapist is an expensive friend."

What if we get out of one relationship that is faulty, only to find ourselves looking for a person who matches our subconscious beliefs we grew up with. That is, we go back to the same type of person again?

My personal experience: I was dating two girls. This one was drunk most of the time. Called me in the middle of the night, drunk of course. Drank wine at dinner - Chardonney - and had bottles of it all the time in her refridgerator. Both girls were 22 at the time. One was havoc. The other peaceful and gentle. Attractive - yes - very. The one who drank the wine, knocked a three-masted sailing ship off my fireplace mantle. A ship I built by hand. Knocked it off on purpose. Said, "Oooops." It crashed to the floor. Broke of course.

I got pissed off but did not do anything. Probably more hurt than anything when she explained, "I just didn't like that ship." I cannot remember what I did or said, except I didn't want to "offend" her. Excuse me, did you just type that?

The other girl. I think she had a mom who was drugging and/or drinking. Her parents were divorced. She "lived" with her father and step mother and children. I met her mother once, but I remember something about it as being an "addict" of some sort. I was naive then. Still am. I know only about an "inch" in a mile's worth of data. But in that inch, is a lot of info I never had before.

So, I may have had two girls with situations. But because one was more chaotic and obnoxious, and I knew that this one was a little "crazy" or bizzare - I wind up marrying her. It was at a time where I had just begun to find "peace, joy, and serenity." I had this certain "calm" over me and my thoughts. I had this sense of fulfillment and forgiveness. I was hard working, yes, but still this empathy for life and the world.

So, I am sitting here this morning typing at 5AM. Asking myself, "Well how did I get here?"

And, "What do I do now?" Unfortunately one question is irrelevant. Although, I have to see what map I used so I can burn it and never use it again. The irrelevant question is from the Talking Heads. It is the cheapest therapy analysis I have ever recieved.

But the pertinent question is; "What do I do now?"
I added this a day later. I miss my wife. I used to be able to ask her questions like this. But I never really got a really heart felt response. I didn't know it at the time, that she was drinking. I felt like I didn't exist in her world. It's been like this a long time, the "I didn't exist in her world." I was in denial of this pain. I knew it, but I wouldn't face it squarely. I am still in denial to a large extent.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Just For Today, Yesterday

Today I leave town for the morning. Heading off to a conference. It's a 3-Day thing, that I am attending just for this morning, to help set up our booth/display and "man" it until others come in. I volunteered to do this because I was just an hour from the town where the conference is, why mess up everyone's weekend to have them fly in Sunday night.

Is that codependence?
I question my actions now about what I do and why I do it. I am not sure that this is a good thing. Because it has taken some of the automatic non-thinking activities that I did and has given me "cause for pause."

My wife. This is the Yesterday part of the Title of this Blog.
What a nut. She told me through my daughter she was going to the beach in two weeks with her girlfriends. "Excuse me? Are you like outter your mind? These are the same "girls" you used to go to the lake with and drank too much. Used to = last year. Can't you just skip going to the lake this year while you are in early recovery?"

Her reply, "Nope. I have decided to go. Besides my friend, 'ABC' (a fictitious name) will watch me like a hawk."

My reply, "So, you don't want me watching you like a hawk, and I learned I shouldn't through AL-Anon and the Family Night from rehab. So you are setting ABC up in the role?"

Her reply, "Well I said that because I knew you'd worry about me." [Man, isn't she fast on her feet? You see why you don't argue with an alcholic? I thought I had her pinned to the mat in my verbal maneuver above, and she came right back at me. But wait, I am still wrestling this demon. See my rejoinder.]

My rebuttal, [I am now getting engaged. Watch and learn. This is how we get 'hooked up']. So I said, "You know, you spent over 12 weeks in treatment. It cost you [us] several thousand dollars. Now you are going to, put yourself in a situation where there is alcohol and put stress into your life?"

Her reply, "Yes. That is what I decided." [All - Now watch or read, as I have gotten myself into this tangle with a sober alcoholic. I am engaging. I get engagement back. A passive-aggressive sort of retaliation. Instead, what should I have done? It was so easy to slip into this. I did not know the answer yesterday. Today I do know the answer to "what should I have done?"]

My rebuttal, [I am engaged in full now. Not angry though. Just in disbelief. And maybe using the "disbelief" as a guilt throwing device.]. Here is what I say, . . . ,
"You know, your going down there is not about you. I don't really care if you drink. But there are a lot of other people affected by your alcoholism. You have our daughter, your mom and dad. This is isn't just about you. What did XYZ say? [XYZ is her counselor at rehab]

Her reply, "XYZ strongly discouraged it."

I was in a little shock that he thought it was bad AND said so. But I was glad he expressed it. And I am surprised she admitted he said it.

But God intervened then, by giving me some calm and insight. "I said, you know, OK. Go ahead and go. Me and our daughter will go visit Uncle Mike and his wife." I said to myself, the insight being, maybe I can use this as an "opportunity" to get closer to our daughter.

"Who will watch the dog????" she said.

"I don't know. I'm sure you'll figure something out. Take her to the lake." I said. Truly not trying to throw the dog into an alcoholic party, but sticking her with the issue of the dog. Not mine to figure out. And I didn't pick it up to be mine. I was pleased.

God intervened even harder, more forcefully this time when my daughter my brought the phone from upstairs to the basement where we were having this conversation [we/I try not to have confrontations in front of our daughter. But our daughter is always curious to hear what is going on when we go into another room to "talk."]

The phone call was from a next door neighbor and my wife took the call and started talking so self-absorbed that neither one of us [daughter and me] were no longer there and no longer important. [Funny I write this part. I did not think about it until now. Now that pisses me off, now that I realize this. I can feel the sensation rising from my stomach, (this is happening real-time - as I write this) that recoiled snake uncoiling wanting to lash out and say "You stupid shit. We are having a conversation at the time and you put us on 'ignore mode'?"] But I didn't and . . .

I won't. It doesn't make any difference. [But why did I feel this? - I am writing this thought 3 hours later. Why do I want to be noticed? I must try to figure out why being ignored hacks me off.]

There is a reason for this exchange occuring. And my wife going to the lake/mountains. Maybe it is to show me her self-absorbtion. Maybe it is something that I will find out later. Patience, dear Joseph. And just let it be.

My daughter and I? What did we do while my wife got into the phone call and just acted as the peacheyist thing in the world to the phone caller? Well, we went to a coffee place (like Starbucks). And we studied for an hour. We reviewed her math. We had fun. She had a smoothie. I didn't.


PS - Thanks KevinB for putting the program together this weenend. I am looking for volunteers for the next weekend. It takes the pressure off of me, I am offering my hand for help!! :-)
PPS - We had over 260 visitors this weekend (Friday through Sunday night). When I say "we" - what I mean is this blog has become more than a diary for me. I have learned so much from the comments here and I am grateful for the anonymous support we exchange.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

How To Use This Blog

This is about how to use this blog to your benefit.

On the right hand side of the blog, you will see links to a lot of information. It may seem confusing at first. But if you look to the right of this blog, you will see the following;

1. The latest 5 Blog Posts
These latest 5 posts to this blog is a fast and easy way to search.

2. A Table of Contents: Label of Past Posts
The table of contents (diagram on the right) allows you to search the entire blog very quickly bringing back all the blog posts related to the Label or Topic and all the readers comments.

3. Other Resources Links
Toward the bottom of the blog are scientific and government sponsored links about addiction and alcohol studies. These are placed here for you to click or link to. These are the major resources and organizations that are looking into the disease.

A word of caution: In our attempts to understand, we often become consumed by it and attempt to fix the alcoholic. This is a mistake as this is our attempt to control and fix, which is impossible to do. It becomes our obsession (addiction) and our disease.

4. What Other People Are Saying

On the right toward to top middle, you'll find the latest 5 comments people have made. You can click on the actual comment and it will take you to the comment AND the actual Blog Post. This is a fast, easy way to see what situations others are dealing with and their coping strategies.

5. Past Diary Posts

Here you can search by the Date of the Post and Title. You can see the Blog Post and the Comments.

The Google Search Field: Really Cool. At the upper, left corner of your screen (scroll back to the top) you'll see a search display. You can search this blog by typing in a word like "detachment" or "vent" or other words. The Search Engine will search the blog for all words matching this request and bring back all those Blog Posts/Articles matching your request.

6. Get a Better View of the Post and Comments by . . . You can get a better view of the posts and comments by double clicking the Article (or Post) Title. Clicking on the Post Title will bring back only that article/post and the comments so you don't have to flip to the comments to see what others are saying. This allow you to go back to the blog post and the comments just by scrolling up and down on the screen.

This makes it easier for you to read what others are saying and the actual blog post/article.

7. Your Responsibility and Gift

The fact you are taking time to read this Blog, realize the greatest gift you can provide a blogger is making comments. All comments are really Anonymous, although people use first names or "monikers."

By the way, even if you disagree and your comment is contrary to what was written, that's OK (and encouraged!). Perhaps, most important, is making a comment may help clear your mind of your situation AND give insight to the readers of how their situation is affecting them.

So, providing comments is a gift to the readers of this blog as well. We all benefit by others experiences and insights and questions.

8. This Blog is Anonymous
What you read here, and write here is anonymous. The blog is simply a tool for us to vent, learn, encourage, and find peace. It is not affiliated with Al-Anon or any religious sect or denomination or public or private organization. It is privately funded with the time and energy of me and the participants. This blog is not influenced by the opinions of any organization.

MOST of all: This is meant to be a safe place for you.

9. We Encourage You
I or we, encourage you to read and comment. Some things may not pertain to you. You may find them humorous, encouraging, inconsequential or meeting with your disapproval.

Take what you want, and leave the rest, for we are simply humans doing the best we can, with what we have, at this point in time.

10. My wish to You
My wish is for you to find happiness, however you define it. You may leave or live with the alcoholic. Your promise to yourself is your promise to your life. No one can judge you and no one will judge you here.

What I am not advocating however; we may go through difficult times, this is a place to unburden. However, I am not advocating accepting any type of abuse to you or your children. To me, there is no ability to rationalize abuse, whether it be mental or physical. It you are abused, I encourage you to seek outside agencies for yourself and your family. That is as far as I can go in giving guidance.

Best wishes,


Friday, February 15, 2008

On-line Al-Anon Meeting on: Expectations

This weekend's On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on Expectations. If you have found this website you are invited to join us in a weekend long, Al-Anon Meeting. The on-line meeting starts Friday evening 2/15/08 and runs to Sunday 2/17/08 evening.

A Note: To view this post and the comments at the same time, click on the link here (click here) in order to get a better view.

This is where we start. To get us started here. Here is a powerful message from KevinB.

KevinB brings a lot of good comments to our blog. He is encouraging and hopeful. With that I bring you KevinB and his topic on Expectations.

"Blaming others for the pain we feel each time someone fails to live up to our expectations is no different than burning our tongue on coffee that's too hot to swallow, and then calling our cup an idiot". (Guy Finley)

Having expectations in our culture is expected. We are brought up that way. Having great expectations sounds great however when the expectation if unfilfilled, we bitch, we moan, we become disappointed. That's a problem for most people including myself.

Another disappointing thing about expectations is that they often do not come true. One love partner knows the expectation. The other love partner doesn't know the expectation of the other. Expectations are in the eye of the beholder. Can we see a problem here?

Somethings maybe we can talk about and share?

Problems are not to break us. Working together on problems makes us strong.

Unfulfilled expectations always cause problems.

How do we side step the disappointment?

How can we improve our communications skills?

I look forward to all that journey here this weekend, and can hardly wait to read, and have more understanding of expectations!

"What you can be with in life let's you be"

Peace this Friday.
So with that, please post your comments on this topic, or if you have a burning desire or issue, please post a comment on that too.