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.


Anonymous said...


Just keep swimming toward the lighthouse.......


Anonymous said...

Wow, you've had quite a week (actually, I think it's been less than a week) since I was last here. I can say life is definitely a roller coaster with any addicted person(s) in tow (or in charge when they are parents - it makes for crazy days when they don't remember what they said that was so hurtful, embarrassing, etc. the night before - I digress). But what I am reading and understanding is that the roller coaster is one of resentment, hurt, desire to get even, OR feelings of being the saviour, self-righteousness, handling it all (alone) all while denying there is a "snake" under the rug (elephant in the room, etc.) These are all things I have lived and lived and lived and read about and UNDERSTAND- yet, I STAY AND STAY. I guess I am the one addicted - to my relationship no matter how dysfunctional. He IS selfish, and can be mean and basically there is a lot of abandonment because you can't be close to someone who is drunk BUT he is not ONLY those things - he is also generous, kind and thoughtful and can be good to talk to at times - which keeps me hanging in there - have I settled? - well, I only have two alcoholic parents to compare that to as far as seeing a real marriage in action. Honestly, I don't know of many GREAT marriages (define a great marriage? just non-alcoholic?) - just ones that are okay/some good (with good and bad days). But I AM religious and believe it is not in God's plan to divorce or for families to be torn apart (I do not sit in judgement of anyone who does decide they must leave, however because I know there are circumstances where people must separate).

Reading about your current struggles takes me back about 15 years when my kids were younger and I felt I was the only one raising them - being the adult in the family. There are differences too.
But you are: reaching out, working on your struggles and developing a network (safety net?) to get through - so good for you and now you do have "gratitude" but you have had it - just not the label.

What I worry about now is that my adult children will either: become alcoholic or marry an alcoholic. I can only discuss this with them. They will have choices to make. If your daughter sees you saving your life - heading towards the lighthouse - these are life skills you are modeling for her. She won't have to automatically become _______ (fill in the blank). She will have choices because you taught her to swim. I can tell you I wish I had someone who taught me - I spent many years reading books and attending groups and going to therapists and pursuing a degree to learn learn learn about being "normal". There's no one "arrival date" - just the decision I am content or I am not content so I will go get more help and connect again.

Thank you to those who shared their "story" and what you found on the other side after overcoming fears, etc.

What I do know is: life is a journey and we all have to walk our own path and follow what we believe. I also often "have my act together". It's usually when I am on "automatic" and not doing much feeling, thinking, trusting (except in me) and I am not very happy when I really get in touch with what I am feeling. It's so much better to be connected! I think I'll go out and join an Al-anon group!! I've done a great job of isolating lately as a way to survive (illnesses, deaths in extended family, etc.)

Guess you can have your blog back now!! I don't know how often I'll be back, but I appreciate the insights and the frank discussion, sharing from experience.

Marie said...

Hi everyone,
Having a busy week and strange week as usual. Something interesting I saw in Kaths post about other normal couples. This is something I have given quite a bit of thought and consideration to because in my circle of married friends(there was a bunch of us who got married the same year) there is not 1 couple that doesn't have serious issues. Wether affairs or alcoholism or drugs or gambling. Every single couple ??? So for a long time now I've been thinking if I divorce my current husband I'll just end up with another bone head so I might as well stay married to him?? And all of a sudden it hit me why would I want to settle??? Whats wrong with me that this is OK???? And who says I have to be with anyone? Hello!!! I am also beginning to realize I may be hurting more than I realize. I started seeing a therapist today and she really seems to think I have serious anger issues and shes right I do. I AM REALLY PISSED!!! I am going to read everything about anger. Joe I wish you well!!! And I think its interesting how intuitive our children really are even at a young age they are a lot smarter than we think!!!

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain.
i live that life too.
I am lost for words.

I wish I could throw you a life raft.

Anonymous said...


I have just recently started reading your blog and oh my does it hit home. I am a wife and mother of an alcoholic. I have attended al-anon meetings and did enjoy the content. I have several books I read to help me continue to plug forward. I am currently reading (per your suggestion :) The Dilemma of an Alcoholic Marriage. Just about every paragraph made me drop my mouth wide open. This book is my life. Your life is my life as well! I struggle mainly with loving detachment and not living angrily full of resentment. I carry my house, career and kids. Why continue in a family life, trying to have a "normal" family when I am doing this all on my own. Would being on my own be so damn bad? I am already basically alone. I think I need a CHAIR session! What a great way to work through those feeling. I will quit rambling, good luck to you and your writing does help me. I don't feel so alone.

Syd said...

Joe, I heard something a while ago that made so much sense to me--I came, I came to, I came to believe.
Your HP is the life raft that you need. You don't have to swim on your own. Just let go of the weight that's dragging you down and float up to the light.

Joe said...

1.Swimming, floating and going toward the light.

2. Yes. Very busy week and it's only Wednesday. I think I hit a cresendo. (sp?)

3. Marie - I know what you mean. I find that my "pissed" has a lot to do with my pain and hurt.

4. The book "The Dilemma of an Alcoholic Marriage" is an eye popper.

For those who are in that type of relationship (spouse of an Alcoholic) you will find so much similarities (at least I did even as a male) you will be surpised how close and similar your situations are to those discussed in the book.

5. regarding Life raft - I wish you could throw me one too. I will work Al-Anon and pray, as I don't think there is anything else TO do. And this might just be the RIGHT thing to do. I tried fighting alcoholism, and I surrender. In fact my fighting it, as it says in several Al-Anon books made the alcoholic stronger and more arrogant (Check out one of the books - it is blue - I think it is "About Al-Anon" - it discusses in detail our fight with it and how it will make us losers. I reread it last night before the Al-Anon meeting.)

6. YES. Focus on me and pray to HP for guidance.

Thank you all.

Marie said...

I had one of those AhA moments today when I realized I haven't spoken to or seen my husband today and I'm still extremely angry. It is really affecting me and I never noticed befor because he was always around to bother me and Im finally getting some time to myself to think!! I am really going to try to work on this.