Friday, March 7, 2008

On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Enabling.

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

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 3/7/08 and runs to Sunday 3/9/08 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 me. I am one of my favorite people and yet at the same time, I am one of my harshest critics. I have had a tough time recently not knowing where my life will go, but I know that in my heart of hearts, that things always work out for the best.


This is where we start. I have posted the message below which will start our meeting on:

"Enabling"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I am one of the most messed up on this subject. I thought I was helping all this time. Then I found out I was not only enabling, but I was also crossing boundaries by getting into other person is one of our regular visitors to this blog and provides a lot of good comments. She is encouraging and hopeful.

I find that enabling leads to codependence for us. How is this you might ask. Well, let's pretend you did ask. The answer dear reader is that we "help" so much, we become "needy" in that we need to help almost always. We offer to help and do for others, that which they should do for themselves.

People think this is great . . . . . . . . . that is, at first. Then it gets on their nerves. That is, if they are not an alcoholic or addict. It becomes, to the "normal" person, sort of, yucky. Like being too available. Too much "on."

So I am going to read from the Al-Anon approved literature, the book, "Hope for Today" from page 122;
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Today I know I was the perfect enabler. My autocratic behavior deprived my husband of responsibility. I tried in vain to control him and to keep him "dry." Eventually I felt only hate and disgust toward my husband and alcohol. My life seemed totally worthless, and the I felt deprived of a shoulder to lean against, a safe place to cry.

Then I was led to Al-Anon. . . . "I learned I could not save him, but I could save myself. This was my chance to jump off the merry-go-round called denial before I slipped under it and was crushed.

I especially had to learn that my way of helping was not really helping. I had to do something differently. At Al-Anon meetings in my country, they call detachment letting off in love." I was unable to let him off in love. However, I decided I could let him fall gently.

That's what I did, and slowly my life started to feel worthwhile again. I began taking care of myself. I practice thinking positively by using the Steps and slogans. Prayer and mediation help me become balanced and content. . .."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I believe we as children of alcoholic, or spouses or friends can learn from this definition of enabling versus helping;

Enabling; "is doing something for someone, that they could, and should be doing themselves."

Whereas, Helping; "is doing something for someone that they are not capable of doing themselves.

This spills not only over into enabling our alcoholic qualifier. But these behaviors manifest themselves in all of our relationships. You will see this behavior at work, with our children, with our boyfriends and girlfriends - past, present, and future.

By doing anything, and everything, makes us feel good at first. Our self-esteem becomes tied to this source of doing for people. But we begin to feel unappreciated over time. Why? Because by being "too there" - being "too available" - no one appreciates us because they become accustomed to our helping. And, frankly, people take advantage of us. They don't appreciate it, they just give us more to do and expect it from us. By allowing this to happen, we are sending signals, that we are not worth much, and we are allowing our boundaries to become trodden upon.

And this is all because by always doing for people, people do not value us. We become their personal lackey. This is due to the fact that a "new normal" has been set up in the relationship. The "new normal" is: You do. I do not.

When we stop helping, people are angry. People are not used to this "new selfishness" from us. And then guilt sets in. And, we sometimes give in, by continuing to do.

Some examples of enabling behaviors are:

  1. Working regularly after hours at the office, by "helping" others, and they go home
  2. Buying the alcoholic alcohol
  3. Cleaning up after the alcoholic
  4. Paying the alcoholic's bills (even the little ones)
  5. Setting up appointments for the doctor's office for the alcoholic
  6. Making the dinner, cleaning up after everyone, and washing the dishes and never eating because, that's "your role."
  7. Picking up your kids, the neighbors kids and watching every one's children and no one returns the favor or says "yes" but acts like it's a real burden
  8. Getting a good feeling when people ask you to do something you know you have to sacrifice time and other things you'd rather be doing
  9. Getting angry/upset/slighted when someone asks someone else to do something, when you are perfectly able to it
  10. Juggling 12 things, at the same time, and getting that rush

This is a good place to stop. Please provide ideas of how you have been brought up, or how you do too much, or how you are doing for people who should be doing it themselves.

My best to you this weekend.

31 comments:

Catherine said...

When I got home from my meeting my alcoholic had his coat in his hand. "I'm going out," he said. And off he went. My enabling is more subtle: Cleaning up the place after he's gone, putting away his books or papers so the kids don't get into them, reminding him to take an umbrella, shushing everyone and taking on the parenting in the morning as he sleeps it off. Oops! gotta go. more later...

Anonymous said...

There is a story I read somewhere, that two women were talking and the children were playing in the house. The husband had been sober for several days. One of the women said, "We have to be quiet. We may get on his nerves."

The other woman said, "Why should we be quiet? If we get on his nerves, that's his problem."

Which of the two women was a veteran of AlAnon?

Ashley said...

Thanks Joe, very well written. :)

I've been thinking about my own enabling behaviors. I've done the "shushing everyone and taking on the parenting in the morning as he sleeps it off" that Catherine mentions (many many times).

I haven't bought alcohol for him, but I have bought things that he couldn't pay for because he spent all of his money on beer. A grown man should be able to budget his money so that he doesn't run out between paychecks, but darn if he doesn't run through $200 in four or five days and is then broke for the next 10 days before his next paycheck. My boundary that I'm setting right now is around my wallet. If he runs out of money, he runs out of money!

We also have an issue with driving. My husband doesn't have a license, and hasn't in the 10 years I've known him. Technically, he's able to get it back, should have had it back 3 years ago. He needs to go before the Driver's License appeal board to apply for it back. The problem is, I told him I wouldn't write a recommendation letter for him until he had a measure of sobriety behind him. They won't give him his license back if he's still drinking, and I won't lie for him. I couldn't live with myself if he drove drunk and injured or killed someone and I played a part in getting his license back when I know he will drive drunk with it.

So, I'm the chauffeur in the family. I don't drive him to work, he has a friend that picks him up. But if he needs anything from the store, I have to go too. I have to take him to his Dr appts, and when he was going, his AA meetings. Even though there are a ton of other people who attend these meetings, he wouldn't ask anyone for help.

I've definitely done things for him that he should be doing for himself. Our relationship has become much more Parent/Child, than Adult/Adult. I'm tired of being a mom to three instead of the two I should be focusing on. That's it for now, but I will probably be back with more of my behaviors, I'm really trying to nail these down this weekend.

Thanks Joe!

Anonymous said...

Good Morning All,

Enabling..... What a real messed up word this is.....

Me, ya big time, my thought processes always convinced me that it would make a difference in my relationships, both personal and professional. It doesn't, it simply leads to resentment, anger, and insanity......

When I began the never ending work building at least some basic boundaries for my life, I realized that all my enabling, was full of false hope and expectatons.

Initially, it was for the other person, co-worker, whomever, and my desire for their approval, love, friendship, all the things that I wanted in my life. I ended up empty handed, every single time, and the expectations were simply built on shifting sands....

Back to my boundaries.....

I have learned that there is love in the word "no" I have learned that it is ok to speak what is in my heart, and mind, and that what I feel, what I think, what I need, are just as important as all the rest...

If I can communicate these things from a position of honesty, truth, and in a way that is not damaging to others, then, I have a much clearer picture of why I do things, and what my true intentions are in doing them.

I will always remember the line in Rocky 2 when Rocky bails Paulie out of jail, drunk, and resentful in all or Rocky's success. He always thought that he was the key component to Rocky's success, rather than just a part of it. He was resentful, and thought Rocky owed him something....

Rocky looks Paulie dead in the eye, in the middle of a shouting match, and says.....

"People do because they want to do".

What a message.

Peace this Saturday.

KevinB

Anonymous said...

This post really hit home with me. I've just said out loud, for the first time, that I'm in love with an alcoholic. It felt, perversely, so good to say it and so scary.

We live in his great grandmother's house that is in dire need of repair. The roof leaks, the foundation's shaking, there's termite damage, etc. etc. And yet, I've been the one booking appointments and gathering estimates. And it's not even my house!

So I've made a decision this morning. The last of the contractors comes on Monday. I'll get his estimate, throw it in my boyfriend's lap, and say, "It's your house." And then I'm done.

Sue said...

Letting go is so difficult. I left the A 3 and a half years ago. I still talk to him every day up until a few days ago. I thought I was still helping him (he is still drinking) but do not want to live with him. Cutting the ties completely stresses me out, even though I have no intention of ever living with him again. How do I get over this feeling that he can't manage on his own?

Laurie said...

I've been thinking a lot about enabling, not just for this weekend's topic, but over the last month as I've read here and learned so much. I know I enable my alcoholic husband and I've done better in some areas...some. When I really think about enabling behavior I realize I was brought up to be an enabler. My mom "needed" me to do nearly everything with her. Every morning she would wake up and "pick up" the house, which meant she would go from room to room picking up and counting (I now think she was/is OCD) and I would stand behind her ready to do her bidding. If I interrupted her through this process, she'd have to start over. When I was home for school holidays she'd wake me up in the morning to help her get ready for work because she was late. I'd pick out her earrings, her shoes and I'd better be quick about it because she was late after all! It was crazy! There was a period of time I was resentful as hell at my mom, but I've since realized she had her own issues. Even so, it still goes on to some degree today. She often calls me at work when her and dad are driving somewhere and asks me to look up directions for her. (Mind you, she's not in some other state or slum lost, she's just in another city looking for a particular store or restaurant). I joke sometimes that when she calls I should just answer the phone with, "OnStar ready." Really, I should set a boundary. (BTW, what did we ever do without cell phones?)

I went into my marriage as an enabler. So when he started drinking, enabling came very easy. I understand it now and I'm beginning to see the cause and effect. I've done better in some areas, for example I won't buy liquor for him, although I've occassionally slipped and bought him beer to help him "come off it".

I think I have issues in a couple areas, I substitute enabling for engaging. In other words, to not engage (or argue) I enable. Like a couple weeks ago I came home and he wanted to fill out an online application for a job but was too drunk to do it. You guessed it, I did it. It was either that or fight with him, or so it seeemd at the time. It was just easier. And the other area is he is "used to" me enabling, drunk or not. I guess I'm "used to enabling" too. I know I need to learn how to set boundaries. I'm working on all this now, through this blog and others and I attended my first Al-Anon meeting last week.

The next issue then is how to communicate with those around me the boundaries I'd like to or plan to or am setting. (Indecisive or what?) I know I'm an avoider, so I need help with this too. And here I thought it was just Mom, the husband and everyone else around me who's screwed up... ;o)

Happy Saturday to all! Great topic Ashley/Joe!

Laurie said...

Just looked at my post - I wrote a lot! Don't mean to monopolize!

Sue said...

I find it so hard to let go of the A in my life. We separated 4 years ago, but still keep in touch by phone every day. I have decided that I have to sever all ties, but it is killing me not to call him and try to help ( he still drinks) I still feel sorry yet I allowed him to cause me a lot of grief. It is a daily struggle and I find it hard.

Ashley said...

I've heard it said that my husband could not be an alcoholic without me. He couldn't keep it up without someone to take care of all the things he can't do while intoxicated.

Sad but true.....

Catherine said...

...I'm back. My A is furious and hurt that I attend AlAnon meetings, so I'm really not ready for his reaction to me blogging. I'm on the DL here.

Laurie, you brought up something interesting: the relationship between enabling and engaging. When I find myself fighting with my alcoholic (engaging), I am also totally enabling him because after a confrontation he has "a reason" to drink and blow off his responsibilities.

KevinB, your mention of honesty really struck me. I would love to say, "I will no longer be tiptoeing on Saturday and Sunday mornings because it enables your drinking." But that kind of honesty would engage him. At the same time, I'm trying to talk with him about his alcohol and drinking because I feel that to ignore something so huge makes me a fraud and is enabling. It's very tricky territory, though.

Joe said...

My life is a mess. How I got here I will never know.

I would engage and argue and try to convince my qualifier to "act differently." This was before I knew that her "crazy behavior" was due to her drinking and being drunk.

So I became controlling and enabling. I would try to get her to change. I would give in to her "demands" just to keep peace (albeit after a battle). So, my behavior of controlling and enabling started without my "noticing" what it was. It snowballed. I thought I was just being a polite and nice guy. Duh.

There is a great piece of literature that I picked up from Al-Anon this morning. I read it before, when I was new to the Al-Anon program. It made sense then. But like almost anything one rereads, it means something different today.

The pamphlet is free and is called; "Alcoholism, A Merry Go-Round Named Denial. It describes all sorts of enabling behavior. It actually describes three (3) roles of enabling. I highly recommend it.

It is very common for us to fall into the role of parent, and the A to fall into the role of child. It is very frustrating, especially when you want to hold an adult conversation. Frankly, since we all don't know each other, I can say it is very lonely. The loneliness makes life sad.

We are in a "damned if we do" and a "damned if we don't" situation. We enable to avoid arguments. We enable to keep the alcoholic from going out in the car and killing someone.

Sometimes there are no "right answers." My opinion here is; We have to be aware of the situation and make a choice - the best choice under the circumstances. As long as we know, and this is "Joe's" opinion - not a clinical, scientific one - which choices you are making and weighed the possibilities out. Driving the A to the Dr's office may be a necessity. Driving the A to get alcohol, may be necessary to avoid a fight. But having "back-up" plans, like contacting friends and relatives to be there when you say "No" and then the A wants to engage, may be another option. May be the best option. We have to be creative and look for alternatives.

All of these things; enabling, boundaries, codependency, isolation, depression, etc are so closely interwined. Isolation, because we want to keep it "a secret" is hard on all members of the family.Getting it on the table and in the open is part of breaking the disease. Ask for help.(That is not "Joe's" opinion. It is clinical advice.)

Another piece of advice is; don't beat yourself up. Anger turned inward is worse than arger turned toward the appropriate party. I learned this at the Family Night meeting - held with pro. counselors. I am really good at beating myself up, as many of us are. This makes us feel guilty and encourages us to "make amends" by "doing for the A that which they should be doing for themselves."

Great comments.

Joe

Joe said...

Wow. If I could only say just one thing and shut up. It would be a miracle!

kim said...

This topic really has me thinking about the ways I enable others, particularly my alcoholic husband. While I refuse to purchase any alcohol, I do try to keep the peace by shushing my kids and trying to smooth over any comments that might "set him off." My children have learned through experience that certain topics are better left not spoken about as they inevitably lead to a long rant session if he has been drinking.

I appreciate all the comments. You help me clarify my thinking.

Anonymous said...

My son is home from school this weekend for the first time in 2 months.

My husband has decided that he is busy this weekend and consequently we have not seen him, he leaves at 0700 in the morning and returns late at night. He is not drinking, but he is not here either.

Like many others, the job of parenting has always fallen on me as the only responsible adult in the family (or rather I enabled him to avoid being responsible). He claims if I was not around he could build a relationship with our son, but i don't let him because I always intervene. I probably do! But I want to spend time with my son too! Am I enabling him to avoid his parental responsibilities by being here for my son?

Skip

Catherine said...

I sort of feel like there is a difference between parenting and building a relationship. Parenting is care and feeding, it's what you give your child. Building a relationship is an exchange between you and your child. Anyone can take on the parental responsibilities for my kid -- hell, even the state can do it. But only I can facilitate the relationship between me and my kid. And I use the word facilitate because even though it's an exchange, I'm the adult. The ball's in my court.

My kids are still small but I'm sadly aware that they will probably learn enabling tactics from me. I worry about that.

Melanie said...

My husband has always been a moterte drinking until his two hip replacements and he was put on SS Disability. Since then he has gotten worse and worse. This last year he had entered rehab 3 times to no avail slipped and began to drink even more asif to catch up on "lost" time. Well Jan 25th he woke up in a drunk frenzy and attacked me and was arrested, later Feb 9th came home after being at his moms. The following Zsat cops called again by his Dad and his bro wife because he was talking crazy. No one arrested I left with the kids. Then that Monday he was suicidal and I called 911 from work because he had said he was puking blood all over the utility (which he was) he denied medical treatment but his step dad came up and got him and put him in the hospital for 4 days. We (kids 12 & 11 and I) did not visit him we were mad and are just tired of it. Well he came home on Friday and was mad at us for not "caring". Well lets jump to the next Thursday (mind he was sober night before, house calm) he was acting really out of it. Time for bed and kids were making fun of him calling him drunk dad and to shut up. I tried to intervene, it was not in time he hit our son giving him a bloody nose and pinned him against the wall. This is not the man I know, when he drinks he is gone you see it in his eyes. Needess to say, cops were called again and he now is up against Child endagerment Felony charges. I dismissed the restraining order after a week, and I believe this is rock bottom for him. I am a professional who makes really good money and do for my kids. I want the sober husband back. I told the DA I did not want jail time but an extensive 30 day program that my insurance covers. Right now we can not communicate,which is fine. He is 2 AA meetings a week and attending anger management classes. He loves the kids and I very much and know it, has hit rock bottom. But now that our families are involved they are wanting us seperate. What I dont understand is how it got so bad and me not see the signs more clear. I believe it is all in Gods hands now. I also wish I could find an alanon program near me as well as alateen for my kids. We need to begin this healing process. I do love him and have been married 13 years together 15 (since I was 16)He is a wonderful man but is truley lost.

Anonymous said...

I am not new to the world of being an enabler. I have a friend of 25 years who is an alcoholic. She moved back to my city last year after being gone over 15 years. We remained friends long distance but that was easy. I did not have to pick her up when she passes out or deal with her nasty behavior when she had too much to drink.

Now that she is back, I find we are fighting often. She told our mutual friends that I am mean and she needs to remove negativity from her life. So they think I am the one causing problems. I do not know how to deal with any of it. I probably am mean to her! But she has been mean very often when she is drunk. Her mom was an alcoholic and died before she reached 60.

I want to detach lovingly. Instead I backed away completely after the last fight. I want my other friends back too. But I am nervous and do not want to be treated like crap any longer.

Sounds like I could use an Al Anon meeting, huh?

Anonymous said...

A Comment to All: When an Alcoholic gets serious, he finds that the people will tell him to do 90 meetings in 90 days. Sometimes more.And work the steps and find a sponsor. There is no substitute.

Enabling is a hard topic for me. I allow people to ask me to do something, and then I allow myself to say yes.

It is like I cannot say no. It like I have a sign on my forehead that says give me the hard crappy work that no one else wants.

A.J. said...

Melanie, Al-Anon helped me more than words can explain. I am a professional also, and I was embarrassed at first, I didn't want anyone to know I was living amongst all the drama I was. I tried to hide his alcoholism for a long time (and the verbal and physical abuse)

In addition to Al-Anon, I started going to a domestic abuse counselor. I had been to many other counselors in the past and didn't think anyone had anything to say that could help me. I knew what the problems were, and I knew how to fix them. But this time I went to a domestic abuse counselor because someone suggested it to me and I was at wits end. He wasn't listening to what we needed to do, so all I could do at this point was help myself. I couldn't help him--he just wouldn't listen.

The counseling...I thought how can I need this? And it's free? I don't need free, I have great insurance. This counselor helped me more than words can say! Looking back, I see how both the counseling for abuse and Al-Anon helped me get out of the rut I was in (and believe me,I had a lot of the same instances as you).

Remember the three C's.
You did not Cause it.
the alcoholism, or suicide attempt or abuse no matter what the alcoholic tells you)
You Cannot Control it.
You Cannot Cure it.

I can't say enough, get help for yourself. Peace!!!

Joe said...

Hello this is Joe.

I read all the comments. I can agree with ALL of them! And they are all different! How can I do that?

I want to comment on a few topics that came up. First and foremost, you bet ! WALK IN OUR SHOES. My mother was the wife an A. Raised a family basically by herself. Was she an "anabler"? You bet. Did she have a choice. No way. She did the best she could under the circumstance. Could she have used help? Yes. if I knew then what I know now, I would have done a few things differently. Alcoholism makes the whole house and family in the house crazy. The only way out is to get out of the house

Some of my brothers blame her for not leaving the A. He would have just followed her. And where would she have gone?

Enabling is not about blame or assigning blame to us. Like I posted before, you are not the evil one. YOU are NOT to BLAME. You and I are victims. However, I hate the word "victim" when it applied to me. I would like someone to say "I am sorry" for this happening. But it's not going to happen.

Because no one is ever going to say "I am sorry" our new way of thinking needs to becomes one of "we have to look after ourselves." This is hard to do since we are ALL so busy taking care of the A and the crap he or she leaves behind.

Enabling means stop and take a look at what you can stop doing and make the SOB do it herself (my spouse is the A and she expects me to take care of her and spend my money not hers).

This is to us. I raise my diet caffeine free diet coke to you all and what we go through.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading over the posts from the last few days---Just looking to see what is out there for people who's spouse are alcoholic's. The last few days just really thinking that I am not happy with my marriage because of my husbands drinking. He comes home from work and drinks a 6 pack in about 1 hour and then passes out on the couch until sometime in the night, if you try to wake him he will yell and scream at you. On the weekends he drinks all day long--so usually around dinner time the mood in the house shifts, he like's to aggervate, and get's all grabby, the other day we were trying to watch a family movie, I made popcorn, and he drank somuch that he passed out with the popcorn in his mouth half chewed. So Last night my 9 year old son went to a neighbors party and when one of the mom's asked where his dad was, he responded "Dad did not come becasue he is too drunk, he's asleep on the couch"--It was 7PM. I think at that moment I finally realized how my husband's drinking is hurting not just me but my kids too. We have been married 10 years, and for most of that time he has been a drinker, in the last few years many times it has gotten out of hand, and he will always say-I will cut down, etc. This morning I told him that he is a alcoholic and he needs some help. He is hurting me and our kids. He tried to smooth everything over and say, he was just tired, I am the one with the problem, For a very long time I have been thinking of how to resove this situation I have allowed myself to be in. I have had simular converstation's with him before but never actually used the A word. He told me he would cut down, and I said no, you have said that before and it never lasts, you can not handle your beer, even just one and the person you are changes, like Dr. Jeckel and Mr. Hyde. I can not accept that, I deserve more and so do the kids, I want you to stop - no beer at all. He said no, absolutly not, called me some choice names, and then He chose the beer over us, over his own kids. While he was sober, actually said that to me, to my face, that he will not stop drinking. Told me I can't tell him what to do, I was not prepared for that, I just wasn't , I would have expected that if he were drinking,but not sober. So thats where I am at, I have many decisons to make, none seem to be easy but I am glad that your posts were all available to me to read, One thing for sure, I am not going to enable anymore, from this moment on. Your comments have encouraged me to seek help and find a local meeting. --

Thanks

Anonymous said...

I am here searching the Web for answers and found this blog. It struck a chord because recently I had an epiphany at work about how I was taking on whatever people asked of me, beyond what was reasonable or humanly possible to do. I jokingly told someone, I felt like I was already multiplying the loaves and fishes and people were still saying, "Gee, only six loaves? We were really hoping for twelve... Can't you turn the water into wine faster?"

I finally started saying no. It is a relief but it does come with guilt--my own internal guilt--that I'm not doing the superhuman thing, that I've turned someone down and maybe now they don't think well of me.

I live with an alcoholic boyfriend. It has taken me five years to really conclude, without question, that this is the case. Now I have to decide what to do. What is the extent of my responsibility for him? I know how the future will turn out, and I see it in these posts. It will be the same situation I'm in now, only the years will mean marriage and children in the equation. I have too many friends who are children of alcoholics and are still working to achieve some sort of normalcy.

But right now I feel stuck. The one time I talked to him about his alcohol problem and its potential effect if we were to have children, he said alcohol was always going to be in his life. But he was drunk when he said it, so... I want to have the same conversation when he is sober, but I just haven't known how to begin it.

Sorry if this was long.

Joe said...

It wasn't too long. Read all the posts and the comments. I am going to state the facts and I mean no offense;

"You cannot change the alcoholic."

What you see, only gets worse. As alcoholism is a progressive disease

The alcoholic is fun, in the beginning. Over time, they get mean, angry and in some cases violent.

We - all have our "addiction." We are addicted to helping the alcoholic and unfortunately, we derive some of our self-estemm from this "help." We are bitter when people tell us this. Defensive is the term. But we are bitter, because we know it, deep down.

Getting help let's you see the options you have. You do not realize the prison you are in right now. Because abnormal behavior has become normal

Stick around. See what others say. Others may disagree.

Joe

Ashley said...

Anonymous,

Having conversations is good, the problem is it doesn't matter if they're drunk or sober.... bottom line is they are alcoholics.

When they're sober and discussing their addictions, they can be 100% committed to quitting. It lasts until they have their next beer, and then the guilt they feel over breaking their committment leads them to continue in a downward spiral.

My husband has at times said he will never be without alcohol (drunk and sober) and has said he's committed to sobriety (drunk and sober). Alcoholism is a cunning, powerful, and baffling disease. They can say with absolute honesty that they want to be sober, but their brain convinces them otherwise when the cravings kick in.

Getting help for yourself is the only thing you can do. Sometimes that helps the alcoholic, sometimes it doesn't .... but it always helps you! And keep in mind what A.J. posted - the Three C's. You didn't cause it, can't cure it, and can't control it. (I interpret that to mean I'm not responsible FOR it, or responsible TO it)

I'm glad you found this blog, Joe has great information & the people who comment here are "in my opinion" wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Joe and Ashley. (I'm the anonymous from yesterday at 11:19.) I will continue to read the entries and comments.

One thing that opened my eyes was reading Drinking, A Love Story by Caroline Knapp back in January. It made me understand the idea of a continuum, where the alcoholic only gets worse (and can always justify that he/she is not an alcoholic because there is someone worse off they can point to as the "real" alcoholic").

My boyfriend's drinking has never been fun. He's not mean or violent (joe, I noted your comment, perhaps he just isn't these things yet) but the person I care about is gone somewhere else when he's drunk.

I nearly moved out two years ago. Now I am trying once again to figure out if that's what I need to do. I don't really see another way. Except staying in the status quo, which does nothing but make me sad. Crap.

Anonymous said...

So glad I found this blog, as all the comments resonate. My husband isn't drinking anymore, but the alcoholic behavior continues--secrecy, for one, and a lot of ridiculous anger, for another. So tired of embarrassing scenarios--the accounts of the shouting matches that he manages to get in each and every time he goes on an errand. It's time to change, but it's scary too.

Rosalia said...

This is my first online meeting, and thank you Joe for this topic.

For the longest time, I was blind to how I was enabling my qualifier, my husband. I thought I had detached by going on with my life and letting qualifier find his own way.

And yet, it is obvious now that I have spent my every waking moment shielding my qualifier from the consequences of his actions. He doesn't work because I thought by removing stress of job that it would enable him to find happiness. He stays home with the children because I thought it might help him find joy and happiness by spending time with him. He doesn't pay bills because he can't take the stress of knowing what it takes for us to make it on one paycheck. He doesn't have any physical contact with me because I didn't want him to feel pressure there either.

I was the one who took the kids on vacations, bought their clothes, enrolled them in school, took them to the doctor, well, you get the idea. I did it all to keep him comfortable, and yet, he still was not comfortable! Hmmm, I think there's a lesson there somewhere...

It's insidious. The enabling crept into my every action and reaction. Untangling these habits takes time, first to see them, and then to change them.

I use affirmations to keep myself aware of what I can do and what is outside my sphere of control. That seems to keep me in a place where I am aware of my tendancies to control and enable.

Anonymous said...

first time reading on this site. I feel desperate, internal turmoil, been living with my husband, a functioning alcoholic, for 30 years. So many of the subjects I have read about today are similar to mine. My heart hursts. I love him, but I don't want to continue living like this! Once he drinks too much he becomes a different person. Yesterday, he drank all day. then went to go drive to get more beer. He was sitting in his truck with it on, laying his head back, eyes closed for a few moments, I opened the door and turned off the truck, took the keys. His eyes glazed over, looking at me telling me to give him his keys...and smiling; you know I have another set of keys. So he left. Then later that evening, I get a call from his best friend; come and get your husband! now! Our friends wife comes over, telling me to come and get him. That he is acting crazy and no one can control him. What am I supposed to do? He does not listen to me! I cannot make him do anything. So, me and my 24 yrs old daughter start to walk over, I look around at some of our other neighbors, I say out loud "I am going to need help". The young man that was hanging out talking and drinking beer with my husband today, has already gone over. My husband got into a yelling match with the woman who lives across from our friends house, he had parked in her spot... he was yelling obscenities and I heard later that he had swung at the kid. He has a cut on his hand, and his toe is bleeding. He does not know how that happened. He is so angry at this woman calling her all kinds of horrible things, telling me I should go down there, and why didn't I come down earlier. So, already, I am wrong somehow... I just try to be calm, don't ask anything, want to re-focus energy to keep him calm, relax... let it go... I clean his wounds, bandaid them. He has to go to bed... but he finds himself another beer. I just stay quite, and wait for him to fall asleep on the couch in front of the TV. It does'nt take long. He been working 6 days a week. This was his only day off. Yet he only gets a few hours sleep. He wakes up next morning on time, gets ready, goes to work. Still angry at that woman -hating comments made. I am home today, I cannot continue, His drinking problems affect me, my thoughts, my heart, my self-image, I think people think I am stupid for staying with someone like him. Our finances are- have been screwed up for years. Never bought a house... behind in everything... but he always has money for liquor.
I so needed someone to talk to, to tell all this to besides my girls and my son. They grew up with this. I know it has damaged them too. I so want to leave, I want to get away from all this turmoil. I need help. I need strenght. My spirit aches. Tears fall at almost anything that I read here because I have the same experience... I have gone on too much - but thank you for being here.

Anonymous said...

Don,t feel bad abot yourself your doing nothing wrong except staying with your husband. He souns very similar to mine of twenty years, its a shame that they do not think of their kids and how it affects them. For some reason they think they don't need help. I've read some things on the internt that help somewhat, like detaching and stop helping and supporting. Prayer and excersice helps also, good luck to you.

Unknown said...

I was also married to a very bad alcoholic. He eventually died from his disease. Now I am dealing with my 34 year old daughter. I have made so many excuses for her because of her father. She lives off a trust fund that any of us would love to have. I struggle so hard not to be an enabler. I have a new husband of 12 years who cannot understand my involvement with my daughter. All I can see is my baby and the lovely person she used to be. The fact is, she has been arrested, hospitalized and evicted many times in the past two years. She has a problem with drugs and alcohol. I love Al Anon for me. I wish I had "gotten it" when I was with my first husband. I need to be able to detach from my daughter. It is way easier to leave a husband than a child. Is there anyone out there struggling with the same issues?