Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My Note to Kelly

Kelly - I too was worried about the death of my qualifier. I knew she was killing herself. There were things happening to her body that - well - were not normal.

I am not a doctor, but if I described them here - you too would see it that way.
Alcoholism is an insideous disease. It is almost - to me anyway - disease that attracts attention from others and sucks the life out of those of us it attracks.

Our belief is we can fix it. And somewhere it tricks us into thinking we caused it.

My word for you is to - DETACH. With or without love. With love is kind and compassionate with understanding that this is a disease. MOst importantly - it is kind and compassionate toward yourself.

If you have too - just DETACH. Don't get angry or blame or cause anxiety with yourself by arguing, or trying to presuade. The arguing and persuasion part - is the disease working thru us and once again, putting the attention on him/it/the disease.

Think of the disease as a disease except with a psychological attraction that grows by you feeding it with hate, anger, persuasion and frustration.

If you want to defeat it - then of course you would never do the above things. But it has gotten to you and filled you with anxiety and the NEED to control and fix it.
You can't.

The only thing you can fix it YOU. You are numbero uno. You fix yourself and the world is a better place. Family, friends and relatives see you as the good guy and healthy. When you get healthy - you make better choices. You have more options.

I can say all this now. For I am not living with the disease any more. My wife's disease carries on. I see it in her emails and hear it in her voice. She baits me. She wants me to engage.

Sometimes I am trapped in the snare and I react. I fall prey to the disease and I am not even living with it. So everything I say above - while it is true - requires real fortitude and strength.
Reprogram yourself and reprogram your responses to your husband.

Reprogram your thoughts of death as perhaps a metaphor that part of your life is perhaps over. Not a physical death - but a mental death.

I felt this "death" - I think we all have. It's called shattered dreams. We lived a life - and wanted something - a vision - a dream of what could be. It maybe that it never materialized, or you saw glimmers of it.

Detach. Detach. Detach.

Focus on yourself is a great slogan.

Read Chapter 10 - hell read all the chapters of How Al-Anon Works.

I really found The New Earth by Tolle and his earlier book the Power of Now great books. I sat and read and reread The New Earth and the Pain-body sections over and over and over all summer. I read - I think it was pages 160 to 220 - about 12 times. In fact, I was thinking just yesterday I need to reread them again. It is about detaching, being powerless over someone else, surrendering your thoughts and realizing your ego - your own ego needs to be fed. The ego wants you to think you are less than. It feeds on your misery. And it makes you see everything is a light of being miserable.

First step - be aware of it coming up and starting. It starts as a small voice and then it calls a meeting. The committee meets and you are being knocked around by the voices. FIRE your committee and rehire new people for your committee. You can hire Jesus or Budha or both. What would they be telling you? How about one of your closest friends too? Or someone you admire and respect? Abe Lincoln? It's your head. You can control your head - we just don't. The mind is a terrible master - but a good slave(no offense intended to anyone - it is only a metaphor).

Love yourself. Have compassion for yourself.

See a therapists that DEALS with alcoholism in families.If you have an EAP program - the program from your work that has trained counsellors they can guide you and provide assistance in finding a therapist/coach/Sherpa.

You are a good and worthy person. And everyone is thinking about you.


Syd said...

Good information Joe. All of it is good information.

Joe said...

Post Script - About an hour after I wrote this wonderful discertation, I engaged.

I am mad and angry. Both at myself for engaging. And at my former spouse.

So, the lesson. It is easier to give advice than to follow it. It doesn't mean that we have green light to engage.

It means we are human. I need to forgive myself. And frankly nothing else matters (except my daughter - to whom I need to set the example).


Anonymous said...

"It is easier to give advice than to follow it."

Amen to that brother!


Anonymous said...

Joe, I very much appreciate your response. So much of it speaks to me. I am just realizing that my dreams of a stable, "normal" adult life aren't being realized and might never be, no matter what relationship I'm in. It *is* a metaphorical death I've experienced on a grand level.

One thing I am trying to do is take care of myself. I'm more active now and have actually lost some weight. Not a small feat.

It's interesting you say that alcoholism is a disease with a psychological attraction that feeds on hate, anger, etc. I have noticed that the more compassionate and affectionate I am with my qualifier, the better things are between us. He's begun talking of the possibilities of life together in the future. It's a different mindset from before. I'm just trying not to get my hopes up.

Guess that's where detachment comes in -- a concept that's always eluded me. I can't help but equate detachment with not caring. I know intellectually that's not correct. It's definitely something I need to work on or I'll drive myself nuts.

Again, thanks for sharing. I'm sorry you got all worked up! Hopefully you're in a better place now.

Anonymous said...


I just read your comment about you being upset your dreams may never be realized.

I remember a point in my relationship with my qualifier when I called him a "dream squasher" (ha ha where did I come up with that one?). This was before I figured out I did not have to engage him.

Aren't there phases of grief that occur in order, like first is denial, then anger then acceptance. I can not remember the name of the person who wrote that. But it applies to the death of our expectations as well. I spent a couple of years in the anger phase. And depression is just anger turned inward at yourself. I only got out of the anger phase when I was able to detach and let go of my expectations of how others should behave.

Looking back, one of my biggest impediments to detachment was that I first had to let go of a lot of MY expectations.

Once I let go of my unrealistic expectations, of having the perfect relationship, perfect husband, etc. it became easier to detach.

Also instead of thinking the word "detach" in my head, I found it easier to substitute the phrase "ignore his drinking and anything to do with it including its consequences" (at least to the best of my ability unless it compromises my or my daughter's safety). This included ignoring and not asking about whether or not he was going to meetings or seeing his counselor. Anything I said about it just set him off. Simply became not my problem. Or "N.M.P." which is what I would say to myself like an alanon slogan 10 times a day. Its not that you don't care...its just not your job to solve others self created problems.

I have also found NMP to be useful in other areas of life as well, at work, other family issues etc.


fulltimedad said...

Love the way Joe put this response. I too, once in a while, get snared by the bait. I too lament the loss of my dreams. BUT, alas, I am making new dreams!! I am living in today but I can imagine finding someone new oneday and getting to experience a new companionship - MAYBE even better than the one I thought I had before the monster came.

Once in a while I get sucked into the vortex of crap. I am a better swimmer now and I can get free much more quickly.

Jen said...

I was completely taken off-guard tonight, by the usual "surprise" night of drinking that hadn't happened in a few weeks. So, I totally engaged...majorly. I actually called and said, "you could have at least let me know you'd be out for a night of drinking, instead of being okay with me staying up 'til 4am wondering and waiting." He said something to the effect of, 'oh, I hadn't thought of it that way.' Right.
I got so angry, hung up the phone, and cried, and suddenly realized that he went right back to getting drunk at a party while I sat in my living room in tears. Why should I be crying for him? What is the point, really?
After all of this, I honestly:
1. Wouldn't trust myself to "find someone new." I think I tend toward this type of man...and
2. Think this has drained me of the desire for a relationship. Being alone sounds so delicious to me. Or just being with my kids. I have been allowing this man to steal my ability to enjoy my kids.
P.S. I know that everything I just said (above) is so "wrong," as far as the way I'm letting it all get to me. The reason I came back here tonight is just because I desperately needed to connect with someone on this. I feel like this man is stealing the beautiful woman and mother I could be...and I'm letting him. I just needed to say it. After all we have been through, it is just becoming so clear that he is going to stay this way. His mother has lost everything and is still drinking. I don't want to stick around for this and have my kids tell me that they wished I had just left him long ago.
Thanks for listening. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Jen, I'm sorry you're going through so much pain right now. I know what it's like to feel trapped, wondering where your life is going, wondering if you're wasting your life.

The best piece of advice I have is to avoid doing or saying anything while you're angry and worked up. It's hard to hold back the anger, but I've found that I ended up regretting things I said or did while I was pissed off at my boyfriend for his antics. Some of the things will end up on my amends list.

I wish I could tell you whether to stay or go. It's a question I often deal with -- some times more than others -- and as time goes on I think I begin to see an answer. We'll just have to see.

Jen said...

Thanks, Kelly. I feel like that was a 'bottom' for me and I have started attending Al-Anon (and even AA) meetings. They are really helping. I used to attend (a few years back) and could tell they really helped, but let things get in the way and stopped going. I hope I will stick w/it this time, and have a friend that is driving me (a.k.a. making sure I go!). Thanks for writing back!