Thursday, February 7, 2008

Asking for Help

One of the best Al-Anon meetings I have ever gone to was about "Asking for Help."

As people who have alcoholism in our lives, we tend to carry the burden. We do it all ourselves. We take on everyone's task to make sure the family stays together or tries to function.

And damn, life is hard, isn't it?

But we need help. We have very few people who can understand us and know what we are going through . . .

It was just like that phone call that I received from my wife's best friend yesterday. (see post from yesterday labeled "A Phone Call" or double click here). The women said, "Well she has stopped drinking hasn't she?" Yes, but only for two weeks, and even then I am still not certain, because she hides it so well. And I explained to her that even when the drinking stops (for 2 days or 2 weeks) the alcoholism still rages. She could not understand that fact, and how could she? She is not here in the house of alcoholism - the insane asylum.

So I left it alone - because I could not explain to her that they still have the role of a child. They do not act like an adult. And they are frankly, a bitch sometimes (or bastard), because they are so self-absorbed and self-centered, that no one and I mean no one matters to them and factors into their realm of reality - because they have no realm of reality.

Am I accurate here? Do you know what I mean? Please respond or comment. I am sorry for the strong words by the way, but I know of no other way to describe it.

But back to the main reason of this post . . .
We all need to be able to ask for help. To "unburden" our emotions to someone who will listen. Some one who KNOWS what we are going through. Because just like my wife's friend I mention above and in the earlier post, people who are not living with it, cannot understand what we are going through.

They may look at us as "whiners" and say "get over it." And it may be we need that once in a while. Because we do drown in our whining. "Which is different and better than drowning in our wine, which is how we got to where we are in the first place but that is another story." (that last sentence should be read with a Groucho Marx kind of accent and style, which is supposed to be funny - or somewhat humorous - in a sad sort of way.)

Back to asking for help . . .
My sponsor says something like this; "If we don't ask someone, we keep on asking ourselves and we keep on getting the same answer that is a result of our screwed up thinking." (OK Sponsor, please correct that last statement in a comment here.)

These Al-Anon meetings have gone to a new level for me. I am now not only going to more of them (two a week), but I am now hanging around afterwards, to develop friends, so I may call upon them to help me when I need it. And offer help if they need it.

I have already used my sponsor to help me get out of a bad couple of situations where I just thought my wife was the most arrogant person in the universe. I was able to talk to him and just by his listening, I was able to calm myself down. He made me laugh too. Which gave me a new perspective.

I also reached out to my wife's counselor, something I would have never done before, had it not been for that Al-Anon meeting and that topic on "Asking for Help."

I also reached out to one of my brothers, who, as children, we never got along. But has now become one of my closest confidants. He provides only an ear. And very few words. And the words he chooses are the most heart felt words and guiding words one can recieve.

I have reached out to one of my old friends, who I used to hang out with in my single days and was one of my groomsmen in the wedding - with my marriage to the Bride of Frankenstein. Dear Mr. Frankenstein, some how I married your wife. If you would like her back . . . PS - Please do not return this package to sender, as sender has moved and left no forwarding address.

I am very grateful for these new friends and the new friends I have found here on this blog. This blog started off as a - I don't know - a test of how blogs work? A real raging diary? I am not sure how and why I started this blog now. But I have discovered - this is a place of fellowship, friendship and consoling. I hope - and is this codependence? - I hope you have found this a place to unburden and friendship as well.

My wish for you is to go to Al-Anon and make the leap as I have. It isn't perfect. Nothing is. But it is a place for us to share and find friends where we can - and I like this word a lot - "unburden."

My best to you all today. And if you have to rage or wage war - rage or wage war here. Here you can get pissed off and unburden, safely and soundly. Or attend an Al-Anon meeting.

PS - you will see a label for this post below called "Effective Tools." The way these blogs work is that you create labels for each like an index in a book. And then you can search by these labels. Asking for help is an effective tool. Very effective.

PPS - please comment. A blogger's gift are the comments he or she receives.


Syd said...

No one on the outside of alcoholism understands what it's like to live with alcoholism. I've gotten judged, begrudged by others but keep trudging . My reward is that it does get better by working the program. I now have friends and people who care in the program. They are a great measure of support. But my main support comes from my Higher Power. And yes, the alcoholic is like a child. A therapist said to subtract the years drinking from the actual age of the person and you have their emotional maturity level. I believe that and perhaps the level may even be less than that recalcuated age.

Joe said...

Thank You Syd. Your ideas and comments are always insightful.


Anonymous said...

If were not for a very special person in my life, I probably would have never found myself here, let alone Alanon. I am the type that tells myself, I can do it alone, I don't need fellowship, a place to release the pressure, or to share an experience.

What a blessing that I am here, in Alanon, and appreciate this blog, as it has become a daily place for me to go and "let it go". No judgement, no second guessing, just open ears, and supportive responses.

Thank you all!

Peace this Thursday Morning.


Joe said...

Peace to you Kevin B

Laurie said...

Joe - First, thanks so much for starting this blog and offering it to us as a place to unburden, learn and grow. I came searching for a place to do just that and found it here. I feel I should say I have not gone down the Al-Anon path...I did go to one meeting and it was uncomfortable but I haven't been able to go back due to work conflicts. I tried another one in another city during my lunch break and no one was there. I was hoping to find an "on-line" Al-Anon group to meet the need and seem to have found that here. And I've been toying with the idea of creating my own blog probably for the same reasons you started this one - to vent, rage, really just journal and get some help along the way. Anyway, I think you are correct in your definition. I can't believe the selfishness of the drunk. The rage I often feel at home leads me to use even stronger words and, well, hate just boils over. I hold it all in because you can't express it at home without making the situation worse and others just don't understand. They want to, they just can't. I feel like I'm living this pretend life. I put on a happy face for the oustide world and push my feelings aside. Everyone rushes out of the office at 5 to go home and I dread the thought. Ah, but then there's the sober times, and I believe it will last (I really am so gullible) and it seems good but we're still pretending. We don't talk, we go through the motions. In fact, he's told me before (when he's drunk) that it's all pretend. So what's real in my life? My hurt? Yes, it really hurts. My faith and my hope for something better keep me going. And now this. Thanks. I'm pretty sure I just rambled on here - hope that's ok.
Blessings to you Joe and all of you!

Joe said...

Blessings to you Laurie. That was one of the topics last night that we discussed. The topic was "getting it out in the open." The leader - the counselor who runs the meeting, said to get it out and help the pretending to end. [This does not mean to tell people at work - this is me talking now. They will probably never understand and MAY look at you differently.] It means; go to a meeting. Discuss it, find friend and unburden.

I bought a new book. Hope for Today. Similar to Courage to Change. Good stories to grow strong by. I would just recommend reading them from the index by subject.

Bless you and your situation

PS - you may vent, rage, ramble and say anything you wish here - in any vernacular you prefer

Laurie said...

Thank you Joe. Your comment, advice and understanding are a welcome gift!

kim said...


I think you express what I am feeling far better than I could. I appreciate your honesty and the honesty of everyone who responds. I struggle regularly with the rage I feel when my husband in one of his alcoholic stupors. I don't understand the selfish need that drives him to destroy our time together as a family. And, time passes so quickly and my children will be gone before too long. Why would he want to waste a single day of that precious time raging and living under the influence of alcohol? I don't understand it. I never will. And there are those times when I feel hatred toward him. I too am gullible when he is sober a night and regrets his behavior and says it will change.

I appreciate all of you and am grateful for all the support you give. I am hoping we all have a peaceful evening.


Marie said...

Hi everyone,
I am not having the best day and as usual I read this blog and everyone is hitting the points that I really need to hear right now. Thank You! Can I vent for a few moments?? Here is my situation as I have stated before I no longer live in my home after my husband entered rehab for the 4th time I decided that the best place for my daughters and I to be was living else where. This being said I had the movers come and move about half our stuff maybe a little less anyway the house is in perfect condition for him to live there happily on his own. I do still stop there to pick up all the bills and pay them, Handle all the finances, handle our 2 rental properties, Take our children to school(since we now live farther away and they cant take the bus)Handle all responsibilties with their schools (homework,snacks,activities, etc.)and I do work full time as well. So this being said and I am not saying this for everyone to sing my praises but my husband told me today I am supprotive of his recovery??? How the hell do I have time to do anything else?? Not supportive him he goes to work(which we pay someone to drive him becaused he lost his license DUI) and thats it I handle everything else in the world I even give him a allowance!!! Am I not supporting him by taking care of every single thing in our lives and our childrens lives??? Please let me know what you all think about this??? Sorry Im rambling!!

Marie said...

Just a quick note as I reread my Post my husband says I AM NOT SUPPORTIVE of his recovery. I just wanted to clear that up I could barely understand my own rant!!!

Joe said...

Marie - one of the things you are getting caught up in is an exchange with the alcoholic. Now I can say this because I have done the same thing.

Everytime you get caught up in an exchange with alcohol - you lose. You cannot fight or go "toe to toe" with alcohol. Even take the person out of the equation here. You are fighting something that is called "cunning, baffling and deceitful" by psychologist everywhere.

Step back when the exchange starts. Step away, and if you have to say "I am not going to engage." Say it to yourself now, so you can prepare yourself for later.

Second, when he is sober or not a dry drunk, say you are not going to talk to me that way again. If you continue then, I will not engage and I will walk away. Don't threaten unless you are ready to back it up.

Third, you do not have to support him in his recovery. It is HIS recovery. He does not need you to support him. AND you should not get caught up in his guilt throwing. YOu are a guilt catcher. And if you want some motivation, your two children are picking up your guilt catching, and they will marry a guilt thrower. I am only saying this not to make you feel bad, but to motivate you to take action and not engage. YOu are probably a very pleasant, nice person who does everyone's job, at work too.

Our "addiction" is doing every thing for any one.

SOme would say that perhaps you are enabling him to drink. By paying all the bills, and making sure he is fed, goes to work, etc you are allowing him to lean on you and not allowing him (allowing is the wrong word - it probably better as - not forcing him) to grow up.

But this is a problem when you have children. I sit here typing this while my wife refuses to work becuase??? Why ??? She doesn't want to. And I? I work, wash dishes, get my daughter's studying done etc.

And I have to travel.

So I allow my wife not to work. Except lately, I make her pay the bills with her money. She buys stuff now. I took away the credit cards. Sure she whined at first. I said - then get a job. Or get out. Your choice. Pick one of the three.

I would tell your husband to kiss your grits, but that is engaging. Disengage. Don't fight with the alcoholic - it's a losing proposition. You can argue and it's like water off a ducks back.

Go back to the Setting Boundaries and co-dependence labels on this blog. Also pick up a couple of Al-Anon books. You can buy them used off - used and bascially new condition for a few bucks (the price of eating lunch).

Remember - you are not the evil one. He - the alcoholism - wants to be fed. You both have a disease. He may have caused yours - but you have the ability to elminate it by going to Al-Anon. It takes a few weeks (if you do one meeting a week) it comes faster when you read the literature, get a sponsor (a guardian is really what a sponsor is - or mentor)

Remember you are a good person. Jsut because some one has an emotional out burst and labels you - you are not that label. He can kiss your grits.

And drive him crazy by saying "I am not going to engage with you." He will go "huh?" And then leave. He won't know what hit him. It will be the funniest and most rewarding things you can do. You will laugh your heartache out.

I promise.

Keep us posted.


A.J. said...

Marie--YOU know YOU are supportive. You are still hanging on to him and to "what could be"--correct? If you weren't, you'd have taken absolutely everything out of that house that you needed (not just 1/2) or might need and turned away for good. I know, it feels like a slap in the face. I did all of the same after I left, I kept his business running and took just enough to be able to live--meanwhile, while I wasn't being supportive enough (home w/ my infant so she was in bed by 7 each night), he was running around w/ other women and it was my fault because I wasn't there. They just don't get it. They don't get that we are putting our children first by trying to eliminate the roller coaster ride from their lives... Meanwhile, we're burning the candle at both ends. Remember, it's a disease and they can only see within their little bubble. It's the self-centeredness. Maybe reading a little on detachment would help. Also, get a babysitter and take time for YOU--Please, make sure you take care of yourself. You'll be a better mom for it. Peace to all of you

Joe said...

All- the "disease" I refer to here is our "codependency" and our getting our guilt strings pulled.It has become our "way of life". Essentially we are addicted to the engagement and the DOING everything bullshit for everyone. And in the end, we cannot do enough nor do it right. The food you prepare is criticized. The house is not clean. The "this" and then there is that.

Walk away and don't engage. And stop feeling like you have to do this or that for others. That is our disease. And we married someone who saw we had that "codependency" ability and we fit right in with the person with the alcoholic mindset. I have learned this from Al-Anon, my readings and my wife rehab family night. When someone divorces their alcoholic spouse, it is VERY often that someone marries an alcholic AGAIN! Can you believe it!? In fact, there are people I met who have been married three times to alcoholics. It's almost like an innate attraction.

But this is where we have to break the cycle. I ve heard that term used before - break the cycle of addiction and codependency.

AND never allow anyone to put you down Marie and everyone else reading this. We are good and worthwhile. To the people who try to "control" us by labeling us, kiss out you know what's.

I guess I could not say "Peace" after that outburst could I?

So - what the heck - I will. PEACE! May you sleep well tonight knowing you have a great future.


A.J. said...

Joe, nice job! You and your words are truely amazing! I have learned so much by reading and commenting here. This week I was really missing an Al-anon meeting, and this is great knowledge. All of this shapes our minds one little bit at at time. It's great to see all of this from a different perspective and begin to heal "our" sickness. (And to laugh hysterically at the Mrs. Frankenstein lines.) :-)

Joe said...

A.J. is accurate especially in her statement - and recommendation about getting some time off.

Take that as a perscription like from a doctor.


Joe said...

Marie - One more thing (did I just say that?). You said your husband's been to rehab 4 times. Are the centers near you? I ask that because sometimes the center's have a family night and allow you to continue to come to get educated.

I have said enough, maybe too much. I have a weakness when someone tries to make me feel guilty or lies or distorts. I get emotional and call them on it. It is my character defect. But you cannot argue with alcohol. You would do better going outside, stand next to a tree and say "Roll over" and expect the tree to roll over.

Joe signing out (hopefully so some one else can comment)

Marie said...

Hi Everyone,
Just want to tell you all how much you mean to me and how helpful you all are to me!!! Please dont feel bad about anything you say I love it I need it!!! I feel like you guys are the first real people I have heard anything from in my whole life!!!! Like everyone has said all of the advice I get are from people who havent lived through this I know you guys understand!! And I am going to go get some of your books you recommended and Im going to go to my first Al-Anon meeting next week So I am trying!!! As for my husbands rehab it is quite far away so I cant go there. My big problem with him is now that he has been sober for 5 weeks he thinks I should move back in since I am keeping our family apart?? So when he calls me tomorrow I am going to say "I am not going to engage with you!!" HA HA I really like that one!!!

Marie said...

I feel you are right by the comment with the what could be you are totally right. If you were wrong I would not even answer his calls or texts but I feel that each step I take away from this situation gets me one step further away from him and the alcoholism and lord help me if the next person I meet is an alcoholic I will run like a nut!!! HAHAHHAA!! Gotta get some humor in here some where right?? I am working on getting away and all of your support is so helpful!

Catherine said...

Wow. Thank you all so much. It is a relief to see your fangs once in awhile. My meeting this week was non-stop sweetness and light -- in stark contrast to my own mood which is more, uh, volcanic. THX

Rebecca said...

That's why I go to alanon meetings: because I can say things there that sound absolutely disgusting and outrageous in the "normal world" but when I say them in a meeting people smile and nod their heads in complete understanding.

Not engaging the alcoholic has become one of my strongest tools! It comes along with boundaries and it is life saving.

To Marie-something that my sponsor tries to impress upon me is that what anyone else, including the alcoholic thinks of me is none of my business. You know that you are doing the best you can with what you are equipped with at the moment. That is all we can do.

Anonymous said...

Marie - you may want to consult an attorney. You could have locked him out of your home. It was your home. You had a right to do that. You left the home. If your husband is vindictive, he may try to pull something like you abandoned him.

It may be the best $200 to 300 dollars you spend. If you do, ask on this blog what you should ask and how you can pick one.

One person I know decided to move out and it was considered "abandonment".

Marie said...

Thank you all for the advice I actually have consulted an attorney (I am not going to file for divorce right now however) I could have changed the locks on the house but then I would have my husband hanging around harrassing me trying to get in to the house. See if I kick him out he stays at his mothers which is close enough for him to walk to our house. I had to move us out to find peace. Where I am at now he can not get here he doesnt drive and its to far to walk so I did this so my girls and I can have a nice peaceful life. Trust me I have already tried to lock him out and it was much too stressful for the kids.

ashley said...

Hi everyone,

I'm finally feeling better and getting caught up on blogs and comments.

Marie, when I read your comment about your husband saying "you're not supportive", the first thing that came to my mind was to say "I'm sorry you feel that way" - and ending the discussion. The alcoholic's thinking is definitely distorted (by so many things) ... but if I'm truly going to treat my husband as a human being and an individual (and since I want that same respect back), I need to allow him his emotions.

That being said, I certainly don't have to change what I'm doing because he doesn't like it. But I can allow him to feel a certain way.

Does this make sense? I'm having a hard time putting this thought into words.

I am trying to practice this with my husband (who went through treatment but relapsed after 2 months). I don't have to agree with his feelings or accept responsibility for his feelings, but I can accept that they are his feelings. I can say "I'm sorry you feel that way" and mean it. I am sorry that he doesn't realize how much I do. I am sorry that his disease has affected his mind so much that he can't see outside of his world. But, I'm not going to drop everything to be at his beck and call, just because he's feeling left out, lonely, or just frustrated because things aren't going the way he thinks they should. I'm going to continue living my life and making a safe and stable environment for my kids - regardless of what he thinks he needs. My needs, and the needs of our kids come first in my life.

In reading one of Joe's comments, I think this is similar to "I'm not going to engage" but "I'm sorry you feel that way" sounds more like something I would say. It's also kind of fun repeating that phrase to every attacking statement he makes.

"You don't love me anymore" ... I'm sorry you feel that way.

"You're the one with the problem!" .... I'm sorry you feel that way.

"You aren't being supportive" ... I'm sorry you feel that way.

and so on and so on. Staying in a calm and rational place and repeating that phrase over and over again can be kind of fun..... it can be quite frustrating for them because you're not letting them take the argument to the next level. (that's my evil side speaking).


MARIE said...

Ashley I really like that answer that really does sound like something I would say as well"I'm sorry you feel that way" I will use this in the future. It is just so difficult dealing with all of his irrational thoughts that there are times I think I'm the crazy one. I know you all know what I mean!! Thanks for your help!!

A.J. said...

Great comment Ashley--I read that and thought, wow, that didn't even cross my mind...I hope my thinking can become so "clear" and "healthy" over time. I think I'm still a little defensive. You can sure see the Al-Anon working! Marie, the meetings are soooo worth fitting into our schedules! I leave there on a high!