Monday, March 10, 2008

Alcoholism and Selfishness - the Impact on the Children

Alcoholism and Selfishness - the Impact on the Children

I didn't write about my wife's little trip out of town last weekend. As you recall she left with her friends, just two weeks out of Outpatient Rehab.

Here are some facts;
She didn't ask me if this was convenient for me or my work schedule. If she did, she would have found that it wasn't in that I had travel plans that week for work. I would have had her not go or at least rearrange her schedule. I wound up rearranging work and jeopardizing some business critical issues. My daughter was impacted as well.

She also never told us exactly when she was leaving or when she was returning.

Phone Calls Never Returned
Probably the hardest part was when my daughter called to say "Goodnight" each one of the nights her mother was gone. When my daughter called, my wife would not answer the phone. Or did not answer the phone. This was on Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday night. So each night, my daughter went to bed without having talked to her mother. It was sad. My daughter acted like a trooper, whatever that means and went to bed each night, not talking to her mother.

On Sunday morning my daughter called her mom. Not there or at least did not answer. My daughter even called one of her friend's and the friend told her (my daughter) that her mother just went to the store.

They did speak eventually that morning. And I want to make sure that I don't leave the impression that daughter and mother did not talk - they did - the each morning for a few minutes.

But, that Sunday, my daughter started crying, saying, "I have no mommy." That Sunday was a tough day. She went upstairs to her room crying. She asked for "alone time" which I gave her, but spoke to her and told her that what she was saying was not true. That she did have a mother.

To me it's sad. I try to call both morning and night, every night I am out of town. I never miss a night without having said, "Goodnight, daddy loves you."

Not Understanding the Prison of Alcoholism
Most people - who don't understand alcoholism - who would read this - would see this as a "one- time" event. But those of us in the throws of alcoholism, know that this is part of the disease. That the disease and selfishness go hand-in-hand. If you don't live in the house of alcoholism, you can never quite see the prison walls being constructed and the warden is the alcoholic and we are the prisoners to the alcoholics whims, fancies, and deceitfulness.

It is tough going. It is toughest with children. The impact on all of us is enormous. The impact is something no one quite understands, until you are living in the prison of the addiction.

I am living another one of those moments this morning, which delayed my post. My wife had plans this morning and my arrangements did not suit her. So she cancelled her arrangements and made herself the victim and me, the bad-guy. She never thinks how this might impact me or her daughter. What she wants to do, she does. As long as it looks good to the outside world.

This morning, I am angry and bitter. I was fine - until the selfishness raised its head.

I hope you all have a good Monday.

11 comments:

Ashley said...

I don't know if this will help at all Joe, but will post this anyway. :)

My son was sick on Friday/Saturday with the flu, throwing up sick. He started feeling better about mid-day on Saturday. My husband went to the store and came back that afternoon with candy for both of the kids. I came upstairs to see my sick-with-the-flu son eating candy. I just about came out of my skin when he said "it's ok, daddy gave it to me". I looked at my husband with "the look", and he got defensive telling me it was ok. I said something about it and then told my son to put it away. I started getting the silent treatment from my husband. A few hours later, I asked him if he was mad at me. His response was yes, and that he's tired of getting yelled at all the time. Since I didn't yell at him, and really haven't for a long time, I asked him to elaborate on that which he couldn't.

But here's the point of this comment. He was mad at me, but I walked away from the argument, and most importantly, didn't let it affect how I felt. I didn't have to feel bad because he felt bad. I didn't have to feel like the bad guy because I told my son he couldn't eat candy when he's sick.

I can't dictate how he's going to feel or act, I can only change how I feel/act. Just because he's made me the bad guy, doesn't mean I have to own that role, and it doesn't mean that I'm going to bury myself in anger and resentment of how he feels. I just think, "I'm sorry he feels that way", and go about my business.

I don't know if that helps at all --- but I don't think you're the bad guy! :)

Anonymous said...

Joe,

I can certainly relate to the feeling of those frustrations.

I can share with you that the selfishness, and the behaviors associated with that process simply created havoc, uncertainty, and and a mis-trust I could no longer accept or participate in.

It shackled me, like a dog to a fence post. I took my power back, broke those chains of bondage, and set myself free of being the respondant to the behavior.

I stopped calling, asking questions, and simply let her do what she was going to do anyway.

I went to work on me, and only then did it become clear to her that she no longer controlled me, manipulated me, or postioned me as the "pawn" in her game of chess.

I can share with you that it was a life changing experience for me, and I have never regretted the decision to get MY LIFE back, and not fret why she didn't return the call, or be home at a certain time, or do what she said she would do.

I let it go, and set it free.

I watched the clouds slowly roll away, and started to see some sun again in my life.

Peace This Monday.

KevinB

Syd said...

Having expectations of the alcoholic will only cause me pain and disappointment. I have learned to not expect much and to take care of myself. I've learned to keep the focus on myself.

Anonymous said...

I think I can relate to how your daughter feels. My mom is an alcoholic and addict, who also just recently was released from a treatment center.

I am an "adult" now and I live far away from my hometown and my family. Whenever I talk on the phone to my mom it seems like she is not interested in my life or what I am doing. When I ask her about what is going on in her life or at home she doesn't say much. Essentially, we have no relationship, other than she is my mother and I am her daughter.

Recently, after one particularly frustrating and hurtful phone conversation something I read or heard in al anon just clicked. It's not really my mom acting that way . . . it is her disease. This concept is so difficult for me to grasp! Yet, I feel like it is so obvious too.

A mother would never want her child to feel unwanted or unloved. But to her disease it doesn't matter. Her disease doesn't care if I feel sad, abandoned, unloved, unworthy or unwanted.

Joe said...

Anonymous - I agree. I tell my daughter that same thing, as much as I can. I try not to harm my daughter's view of her mother. I work very hard keeping my daughter grounded and not becoming sad or lonely with my wife's disease.

Joe

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I have been reading your blog for awhile now and I really enjoy it!! I have also been attending Ala-Non recently but for some reason my feelings are that some of the things tought to me in Ala-Non are coping tools so that I can tolerate my spouses condition. WHy is it I should tolerate this behavior and call it a "Disease"? My children and I deserve a better life than this and the answer is not do not fight with him and ignore him
???

A.J. said...

I think the more Al-Ateen your daughter gets Joe the better. She will realize she isn't the only one who feels this way, and she will learn that it isn't her fault.

There are some really good comments here, but I especially like the comment that talks about the disease. It's taking the person out of the picture and if your daughter could see the disease for what it is--hopefully she will not take it personally.

You are doing a great job by being the "rock" in her life. You're the stable one, you're the one who's going to be there through thick and through thin, and you're the one who is there as the "parent" just like Ashley. Children need to know they have the "parent" and the stability and love of a parent unconditionally. They need that stability and structure. She's a lucky little girl to have you.

Anonymous said...

One thing I know about this disease is it hurts everyone close to the alcoholic. I have spent years grieving the losses of loved ones, they didn't die, no but the disease has taken them from me. I had to detach from my family because they are unhealthy and it's not a safe place for me to go. I can't will them to recovery, recovery is for those who want it not those who need it. So I cry and I get angry and I feel alone and I have come to understand that it's not me they hate or dislike or me who even causes them to drink. They drink because they have lost the choice. I know they would do it differently if they could but they are stuck in denial and are not free, don't see a problem yet, they rather blame me for not wanting to be around them, see that way they can not feel guilty or responsible. Yes, lots of grief with this stuff, loss of dreams, loss of families, loss of relationships, loss of parental love and affection, loss of work, loss of freedom, loss of dignity, loss of self worth, loss of respect for ones self and the alcoholic. What you describe is tragic and sad, and even though it's hard to accept it may never change. I spent years greiving the loss of my marital dreams, coming to terms with those was not what I wanted to do but I had to face reality.
Recovery is not easy, that's why we do it one day at a time and surrender to HP and sometimes we have to leave the situation before it kills us spiritually, emotionally. I call this the soul sickness.
SG

Francy said...

Hi!
This is Nice Blog!
Change Your Life Today What has drug abuse done to your life? Are you overwhelmed, confused, out-of-control? Looking for a Drug Rehab Treatment?

Drug addiction is something that is not planned. A person struggling with drug addiction changes. They don't seem to be the person they used to be. In dealing with an addict, the drug becomes the deciding factor for all aspects to their life. An addiction Drug Rehab program is the farthest thing from their mind. Family, work, friends are all damaged by the addiction. It isn't hopeless and it doesn't have to be. The drug rehab program at Synergy Treatment's drug rehab facility is always here for drug rehab help.

Francy said...

Hi!
Nice Blog!
Change Your Life Today What has drug abuse done to your life? Are you overwhelmed, confused, out-of-control? Looking for a Drug Rehab Treatment?

Drug addiction is something that is not planned. A person struggling with drug addiction changes. They don't seem to be the person they used to be. In dealing with an addict, the drug becomes the deciding factor for all aspects to their life. An addiction drug rehab program is the farthest thing from their mind. Family, work, friends are all damaged by the addiction. It isn't hopeless and it doesn't have to be. The
Drug Rehab program at Synergy Treatment's drug rehab facility is always here for drug rehab help.

Anonymous said...

Kevin - this is my first post here after reading what seems like hundreds to see if this was normal behavior and normal how I felt about it. Iv only been dating my boyfriend for 14 months and only recently realised he is an alcoholic. He has just gone through home detox and drank 2 days later. I got a bit mad but tried to be understanding. However he has been so selfish since detox I want to leave - and am close to the stage where I no longer worry if he is at his drinkingas I know he will be, I haven't bothered to call him as he won't answer and it feels great! Not quite sure why I felt the urge to reply - I think I picked up on the liberating feeling you expressed by doin nothing rather than everything
thanks
T