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.


Anonymous said...

Good Morning All,

Joe, I experienced the same type of behavior patterns with my former spouse. When she had set in her mind that she was going to do something, much similar to what you described, I finally learned that what I said, or what I thought really at the end of the day didn't matter, didn't register, and the action set forth was already decided upon by her. The more I tried to to talk about, or stop her decision(s) to oh, I'm just going to be out with so and so, or I will be home by 10 I promise, the more angry, bitter, resentful I became. It was my problem, she knew she was hitting the right buttons, and at times I think she really enjoyed doing that, in combination with knowing she was going to get drunk, and fire up the hurricane mode all over again.

I finally made the decision to back out of the issue, and let her do what she wanted. However, with that I was no longer willing to accept the responsabilities that came with her poor choices, not going to work, you know the whole bunch of bananas. It was for me, the beginning to the end.

These past several months have led me down a new road, and I can honestly say, that doing the work, seeking guidance from my higer power, and forcing myself to do the right things for me, my mind, my body, my spirit has been difficult at times. I try to make excuses not to do some of it, but I keep grinding, even when I don't want to. And ya know what, the positive results take hold, things start to change, and for the 1st time in a very long time, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I can't run fast enought towards it.

And to this day, I can't believe my life has changed so much just because someone dear to my heart left a pamphlet on the Insider's view of AA on my counter. As I began to read the basics, it has taken me to a place of recovery, Alanon meetings I thought I would never see myself sitting in, and here, to your blog amongst all of the world wide web.

I have a clearer understanding of the daily battle of an alcoholic, just scratching the surface, and how it affects me. I look forward everyday to listen, and learn so that I can digest it all, and if it can change me, and make me a better person for me, then it can only make me a better person for others as well.

What a miracle! I thank God for it, as it is molding me into the man that I believe god designed to make a positive difference in the world.

Peace to you all this Monday Morning.


Sorina said...

You have a very nice blog, good post…keep up the good job

Anonymous said...

One thing I know about alcoholics..they are selfish and self centered, only concerned with themselves, their plans, their ideas and rarely are they able to think of others. Fortunately through the twelve steps they can change but recovery is only for those who want it, not those who need it. When I was out there using and my husband called me out on my lies it just made me feel worse, and wanted to drink more and not come home, which just made the whole cycle start over again, giving me reason to drink and him reason to be angry. It's the dance ya know. As for a solution, Al anon teaches us a. we can't control it, B. We didn't cause it, and C. we can't cure it. And I personally like the ACE concept = A I don't argue, C I don't complain and E I don't explain. I know that I have choices, I just don't like most of the outcomes, they are painful and I like to avoid grief. i am a double winner. I drank over my alanon issues. Drinking is just a symptom of the disease of Alcoholism. It's a family disease I know this. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Joe said...

Thanks anonymous for the insight. Come back again. I heard the term "double winner" the other night. Can you explain that to us?


sobergirl said...

Double winner is a term used for those of us who are recovering in both AA and Al Anon. Me, sober 19 yrs in April, with a little over a year in Al Anon.
Anyone who loves an Alcoholic might try some open AA mtgs as well so you can see what goes on there and learn about Alcoholism.
Good luck

Laurie said...

Anonymous - thanks for the insight and the reminder. I needed that at this moment. I'm struggling with my husbands drinking - the roller coaster is in full swing right now. We just had a great weekend where he talked about the need to find a job and sent out a few applications. He hasn't worked in over a year and if we don't get more income coming in real soon we're gonna be in trouble. He knows this. He acknowledged it this weekend. And yet he pulled out $ to buy a bottle today. I actually had the "expectation" that he was not going to drink! I feel like such an idiot. What's worse is I know getting a job is not the answer. Yes, he'll have less time on his hands, but that never stopped him from drinking before. I keep believing in him and what does it do? So often I remember the saying, "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." How about fool me over and over and over...then what? I'm an idiot. As kevinb said, it doesn't matter what I say or think, he will do as he pleases. He always has. So why do I keep thinking things will be different? Why do I set myself up for disappointment? So, I pray - God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. And, be with me this night!

Joe said...

Thanks Sobergirl
I've been to several of them. Went with my wife - or took her. Whichever word. It is pretty amazing to see the people there who are working it.

In the meetings I went to, there is a great sense of peace is not quite the word, maybe humility and warmth.

Sobergirl, you may get a lot of questions!

Thanks - Joe
PS - you don't need a congrats from me for 19 years. But awesome. And congrats. That is great.

Marie said...

Hi everyone,
Ive enjoyed your posts over the weekend but its been kind of crazy. My husband (to whom you all no I no longer live with) and I have also been disagreeing. In his self centered disallousional mind set he thinks that when ever he asks me to take him to an AA meeting(because he doesnt drive DUI) that I should stop whatever I am doing and cancel any plans I have made to run over and take him. This caused a MAJOR explosion this weekend because I basically told him if he could not work around my plans I could not take him. I am trying not to engage so basically this whole fiasco was him screaming at me ( I used the Im sorry you feel that way line!!!) I am trying to learn from all of you and set boundaries with him. So after this he did not contact me which I could of cared less. Then yesterday he called my house after 2days of not hearing from him and found out I had taken my girls to the local childrens mueseum (we totally had a great day!!) And he went nuts again that I went without him???? Insanity at its finest. So today being presidents day and all my "expectations" where that he would pick our little one up at preschool since I still had to work and he was off. He refused to answer any of my calls or texts. So I let her stay home I had no choice. So basically my daughter had to miss a day of school because her pain in the ass father was trying to punish me. I have no idea how I have been able to rationalize all of this craziness for all of these years but I'll tell you all something he is proving that my decision to move out was the right one more and more everyday. Sorry to vent but I really needed to tonight!!!

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A.J. said...

Marie isn't it great to step away from the picture long enough with the help of Al-Anon to begin to see the insanity? I think you're experiencing growth! Have you found a meeting that is not close to his yet?

Catherine said...

Hi, everyone.
LAURIE, hang in there. I know about the roller coaster. For me, sometimes the "ups" are hard to enjoy because I've got anxiety about when we will go back down. I have to remind myself that the process is one day at a time and not worry about what is coming my way until it gets to me.

MARIE, what a bummer; at least she got to spend the day with mom. I got "punished" this weekend too. Friday night I went to a meeting and when I got back my qualifier (boyfriend) put on his coat and took off. I don't ask where he's going or when he'll be back. I went to bed and he must have come to bed after I was a sleep. A noise by my head woke me: it was the boyfriend, blacked out but mobile. He had his p***s in his hand and pants down. I realized he was about to urinate into our bed! It's so embarrassing but I didn't freak out. (In retrospect I probably should have let him complete the act, cos he was totally unaware, but that's another story.)

The next morning I confronted him on it and he blew it off like it was a joke and then was a total jerk for the rest of the day.

I haven't shared this in any of my meetings cos it's so sad but now that I've spilled the beans to you all...

On the bright side, he stripped the bed and laundered the sheets anyway -- !

nanceelee said...

Please excuse my little snarkfest here...but unfortunately my normal sunshiny disposition is a bit snarky...

I am a woman. I am a mother. I am a wife. I work and provide my share. I love my life and all I have, for the most part.

I know we are supposed to be "unengaged" with our alcoholics. I just have to say this--I can't imagine being an adult and not contributing to my living situation, my family, my home, our expenses. I don't think I could ever take a weekend for myself and family money to do that, if I wasn't the one earning that money.

Please, once again, excuse my snarkiness. I know addiction is a disease. I suppose the narcissism that comes along with it is a symptom? Is our walking on eggshells for years and years a cure?

I'm venting from growing up in a situation that was totally concentrated around the alcoholic, and now it makes me sound like a pouting, shouting, taking my toys and going home kind of person. More work on me...must do more work on me.

Ashley said...


You made my morning with your post. I'm sorry that you're going through this, but am so proud of you that you didn't get sucked into the insanity!

In reading your comment, I wonder if your husband would get anything out of going to an al-anon meeting. Some of the behavior you write about is typical alcoholic behavior, but I wonder if maybe he grew up in an alcoholic environment??? Not making any judgements and really have no idea if he did or not, but living in that environment can affect alcoholics too.

There are at least two "double winners" (I love that phrase) in my home group. They provide a different perspective that has been very helpful to me. I find I also get a lot out of reading books written for the alcoholic - "Yesterday's Tomorrow, Recovery Meditations for Hard Cases" is one I recommend. I think they have it at Amazon.

Finally, Kevin - I loved your comment to this post.
I finally made the decision to back out of the issue, and let her do what she wanted. However, with that I was no longer willing to accept the responsabilities that came with her poor choices

Very healthy decision. You can't live their life for them.... as much as you want to, you can't. They need to make their own mistakes and deal with the resulting consequences. Working myself up and making myself miserable because they're not doing what I think they should do, helps no one. (even though I'm right! :)

AJ - you're back!!! it sounds like you had an incredible trip (posted on her blog).


Ashley said...

oops - one more thing.

Nanceelee - God knows, I've felt exactly the same way. Deep breaths..... deep breaths.... grant me the serenity ..... and so on and so forth. :)

Joe said...

Ashley - thank you for calling out KevinB's comment. That is exactly what I needed to read this morning.


Marie said...

Hi All,
So happy my interesting weekend could be of some use to you. In an answer to A.J I have found a meeting that is not near my husband and I am going tomorrow night (I will keep you all posted on my first thoughts) And as for my husband he was actually raised in a home where there was basically no drinking?? His dad never drank and his mom might have 1 on Christmas?? Strange but true. And I must agree that I think I am experiencing some sort of change because he's already called me 3 times today and I just havent answered. I just dont feel like dealing with his issues today!!! Hope you all have a fabulous day!!!

Anonymous said...

For years I have been worried that my alcoholic wife would leave me. And after rehab it became ever more clear that I was the reason she drank. So I contacted a lawyer to get a divorce but put that on hold so I would not be blamed for a suicide. Now we are in marriage therapy and it gets a little better every day... even though I am still seen as the bad guy in both my wifes and the therapists eyes. Seems pretty comical to me now... I make 160K per year and am perfectly willing to give her 80k to just walk away and give me my half of the share of raising our 4 beautiful kids... and yet... now that she is sober she does not want a divorce (guess not working or doing a damn thing for years is just too hard to give up).

Anonymous said...

Just for the record, the therapist must be an asshole as well as an idiot.

You cannot be the reason she drinks. That is the biggest piece of shit I have ever heard of. No therapist who understands alcohol or drug addiction can blame another person. That's called denial, blame, and not accepting reality.

Cut off the funds for your wife and force her to get a job. That's reality. Pay for the children and tell her to get a job.

Don't know what state you live in, but most states allow divorce and award custody to the parent who is not the addict.

And do go to a lawyer that specializes in divorce. He or she will know about these types of alcohol related divorces. They are very common.

And report back to this blog

Laurie said...

Catherine - thanks for the encouragement. I also feel the "good, up" time is bittersweet because it feels fake at times as I worry about the next dive. Taking it one day at a time is something I'm working on. Last night was not the best night - I exhibited all kinds of codependency, but I did not engage! I am learning so much here! Today was an awesome day - I've been working like crazy on a marketing video and completed it today for a presentation. It was great - all kinds of accolades came my way! (Is that codependency too?) Oh well, I don't care right now if it is - I'm enjoying the fruit of my labor! Good evening to all!

work in progress said...

hey. new in recovery here and just found your blog. my hus has been dry for 12 weeks, and i am working on my codependent issues. was good to read what you have to say. this recovery thing is hard, but great to know there are others out there. thanks for posting.