Relationships

A good friend of mine read a couple of entries on my blog for the first time today. After reading he remarked “It’s kinda depressing… Isn’t there any light at the end of the tunnel?”

All day I pondered his remarks. Addiction is not a pretty subject. It is hard to address as a writer in a way that is uplifting and provides some hope. Of course light is what I strive for- but I am sure I don’t always hit the mark.

So today my friend’s remarks were on my mind.

Also on my mind as the current turmoil with my ex husband. This time it had to do with a custody battle. Although my children reside with me, Dave has retained joint custody, and the legal rights to see his children. If you’ve been following my blog, you might realize that this is no longer a good idea. And so although I have no money, I filed a motion for custody. I was determined to make a stand for my children, and would rely on the justice of the legal system. What I wanted was for Dave to be evaluated for a substance abuse problem, and his custody/parenting time adjusted until he had control of his problem.

What came back at me in a counter-motion from his lawyer yesterday was a long slew of allegations. There were partial truths, half-truths, and untruths- with a good slice of politician-like spin. All were designed to make it look like I was the one who was the ‘bad’ parent.

So this was on my mind today as I thought about the proverbial ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’ I began to wonder,in all of the work that I have done, where have I come from and where have I gotten to.

As I pondered, I thought about the time period 16 years ago, being a young mother and not knowing I was living with someone else’s addiction. In those days I had no self esteem, and I only got my sense of self from my husband Dave. Had these accusations come at me in those days I would have believed every word Dave of them. I would have blamed myself, and become deeply depressed. After all, these allegations hit me in my most vulnerable spot, my deep desire was to be a good mother. Considering all of this, I’m not sure I would have even survived the experience.

I thought some more and stopped at 11 years ago. I was still a young mother. I was attending my very first Alanon meetings. I was learning about addiction and trying to seperate myself from Dave. In the process, I was grasping for shreds of self-esteem that came from within myself. I had some support in those days from my friends in Alanon. So if Dave’s accusations had hit me then, I probably would have spent a week on the phone with people. Those people would be trying to make me see that everything was not all my fault, and I would be having a hard time grasping the thought

I thought more about where I came from and where I got to. It was now 9 years ago. I was in three 12-step programs including Codependents Anonymous. I was also in group therapy. I had learned a lot about the sickness of addiction. I had gained many miles in self esteem. But I was now angry at how Dave had treated me all of those years. Had these accusations come at me in those days I would have met them with venom and spite. That venom and spite, though it might have been fulfilling in the moment, would have eaten me alive. (Resentment is akin to taking poison and hoping someone else gets sick.) In those days I was full of that self-killing poison of resentment.

In pondered some more and now it was 5 years ago. I went to a lot of courses and classes to shift myself. In so-doing I had given up my anger and spite. I had a strong sense of self now. I knew that a sickness caused Dave to act as he did. So I maintained my calm while also and standing up for myself and my children. But deep down I clung to a desperate hope that Dave would cure himself. All of the work I did on myself in those days was aimed at trying to get Dave sober.

Meanwhile, Dave was on a seesaw, in a constant flux between drinking and not drinking. With him I ‘started fresh’ over and again. The more time Dave spent on his never-ending see-saw- the more work I did to keep my self centered. Had these allegations come at me in those days, I would have looked to see what my part was and cleaned it up. It would be a long drawn out process of self-reflection that took up huge amounts of my time and energy, and Dave himself would never have been held accountable.

And so now it is today. The year 2009. I have many years of experience in Landmark Education. I have support groups and therapy available when I need them. Sometimes I use them. Sometimes I take time off. I live in moderation these days.

Dave and I are divorced. I still care about him, but from a distance. Now when hurtful words come at me, I can truly detach. I can tell my children, ‘it is the disease, and not your father.’ If Dave’s words are abusive or scary, I leave and take my children with me. I am not afraid to call the police- but I bear Dave no personal malice.

Today when these accusations hit me, I feel the sadness. I even feel the injustice. I call a few people on the phone. I speak with them and get centered. I realize that most of Dave’s words are smoke. There is no real fire. For any shreds of truth that exist, I know I can shift how I operate in the future. I also see that I am human. No judge will expect me to be perfect. I know I am a good mother and a good person, and so I have no fear of the outcome.

As for the court motion, today I know exactly what to do. During the week I will move forward on all that I have to do. As usual, I will focus on work, home, health, children. I will not stop the action. I will not dwell in fear. In addition, I will make a game plan and find a lawyer who is willing to give me some feedback. I will give no credence to negative thoughts that may enter my head. I will not entertain worries about things that I cannot control.

In addition, I will walk into the courtroom well-dressed and groomed. I will tell the judge the truth. I will tell it without venom, or spite. I will tell it without anger or fear. I will tell it while also knowing my value and worth. I will tell it with true humility. I will not look to hurt Dave. I will even have compassion. I will remember that Dave is only acting-out his own terror, fear, and misery.

And in conclusion, I will walk out of that courtroom with a court order for Dave to be evaluated.

And that my friends is the light at the end of the tunnel. My own personal victory- but one that is truly accessible to everyone. Because if I can get to such a place of health and sanity- anyone can get there.

When you live with an alcoholic in you life, it is hard not to get discouraged and just want to walk away. If you care about the person, you want to help them, but the truth is that they are the only one that can take the first steps to helping him to herself. You can try to help as much as possible and do things to make things easier to quit, but sometimes all the help and treatments in the world are not enough. You have to be positive and hope that the day will come when the person finally goes for treatment and wins the battle of alcoholism.

Remember why you fell in love with the person. This is important or you will not make it. Many times, you will hate the person and other times, you will see a part of them come shining through. It is even harder when you live with an alcoholic that drinks and becomes mean and then goes a couple days of being their same loving self. They become the person you fell in love with. However, it can end in a minute when they start drinking again. This is the hardest thing to live with.

Think about the person they used to be and how much fun you used to have. This can work for a time, but after years of abusing alcohol, it can be hard to think about the good times. The person that lives with an alcoholic needs to be strong. This can be hard for some people, but if you love the person, you have to try. It is hard to watch them do this to themselves, but you have to give them love anyway. It is possible to make a difference if you remain strong.

Remember that there is help for you and the alcoholic. There are groups that offer support to the spouse or family of the alcoholic. Al-Anon is a great group to join. You can hear others talk and can even relate to what they are saying. After all, you are living the same nightmare that most of them are living. You have to have support to make it through the hard times. This is vital to living with an alcoholic. The support should come from family and friends as well. If the family does not have a clue as to what is happening, they cannot offer support.

Look at picture albums and see the joyous times you shared. This is a mask of the problem, but it does help. You see the times when the drinking did not control your life. You see another person standing next to you. Browsing through picture albums with the sober alcoholic may bring back memories for him or her as well. Sometimes it is these times that they start to think about what they are doing and want a change.

If you are living with an alcoholic, you have to stand up and let them know that you are feeling alone. You have to let them know that you are there for them, but they are the ones that have to change. You cannot do it for them, but you can offer support and encouragement if they agree to treatment. You are part of the process, but the person that drinks is the only one that can make things better.

Today I am pondering ‘what do you need to know that will make a difference for you?’ In other words, what is the sense of making a blog about my experiences with a loved one’s addiction if it doesn’t make a difference for you, the reader. As I do so I am thinking of what someone said to me yesterday… He said ‘your blog is very personal.’ He’s right. It is very personal.

It’s interesting to note that I have gone into the rooms of Alanon, which is a program for friends and family of alcoholics, and I have heard personal stories of people who live with this sickness. I have gone into the rooms of Codependents Anonymous, for people who may or may not love some one with an addiction- but who act and live as if they do- and I have heard personal stories. I have gone into the rooms of open AA meetings and I have heard personal stories. I have gone to Overeater’s Anonymous where people grapple with their own food addictions, and heard personal stories. In any twelve step group you will hear personal stories. The good, the bad and the very ugly. And those stories make a difference. They let you ‘see it quicker and change it sooner.’- whether the ‘it’ be something you are doing that does not work- or whether the ‘it’ be something that makes you see that the person you love does indeed have a problem, and that you- living in the insanity- need help too. And make no mistake, those personal stories, and the people who are brave enough to tell them, make a big difference for the people who are listening.

But those stories cannot be told to the outside world. The stories, listeners, and speakers are bound by a golden rule, repeated clearly and succinctly at the end of each and every meeting. “Who you see here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here.’ This is the heart and soul of anonymity. This is the rule that has allowed millions of people to share their hearts and their lives in a safe space- knowing that what they share will never come back to harm them. This rule of anonymity is truly what makes it possible for people to seek sanctuary in recovery groups around the world.

And anonymity is a good thing…

Except when it is not.

Anonymity is good for the people who are addicted- who would certainly face shame, disdain, exclusion, and even downright discrimination if the outside world knew of their plight. And anonymity is good for the loved ones, who would face judgments, and a level of derision from smug onlookers and people who have never walked the path of loving someone with an addiction. They would hear judgmental things like “Why doesn’t she just leave him?” Or “I would never put up with that.” Or “Doesn’t he have any backbone at all?”

On the other side the person who loves an addicted person might be told “What kind of a mother are you, to let your son do that?’ Or ‘Perhaps if you were a better wife, he wouldn’t drink.’ Any of these remarks, and all derivatives in between, might be said with the best of intentions. But they would completely undermine the process of living through a loved one’s addiction. Such remarks and such an attitude would only come from complete ignorance. So anonymity protects bothe addicts and their loved ones from the hurtful ignorance of others.

But there is one person who is not helped by all of this anonymity…

And it is you, the average, unknowing, normal person- who has no knowledge about addiction.

You see, if you are a person who is living a ‘normal’ life, and you have not gone to school to learn about addiction, nor sat in a 12 step program, then what you don’t know could hurt you. What you don’t know could even kill you. You see, I lived with an alcoholic for 10 years, not knowing he was sick, and it nearly did kill me. If I had only known what I later learned in the 12 step recovery rooms (Such as Alanon for families and friends of alcoholics) life could have been very different for both of us, and for our children.

And that’s why I want you to read my blog. That’s why I write it- so it can be different for you. So that you don’t walk around blind- believing that you are seeing. I write so that you can know what to say to a person that you love who is walking straight into addiction with his own blinders on. I write so that you can know what it looks like to love someone with an addiction. I write so that you can say the word addiction, without feeling shame, derision, and thinking how nasty it is.

I envision a world where the shame and derision disappear. I envision a world where people do not have to be anonymous in order to live their lives and heal their sicknesses. I envision a world of togetherness, where no-one walks in the shadows of addiction, alone and afraid.

I see such a world. And if you can see it too, then visit my blog, and send your friends. And let us begin to see together.

Are you one of those people who are suffering from living with an alcoholic? Then this is the right page for you. Lots of people are getting addicted to alcohol. They can be your parents, relatives, friends, spouse or anything that is near you that are suffering from addiction. Maybe you are suffering because of the bad behavior they are showing especially if they are drunk.

Alcohol is not bad but everything that is too much is definitely not good for ones lifestyle. It is amazing to know that this kind of people really want to stop their addiction but they just can’t. When a person is addicted the body and the mind is very much affected. The urge to take big amount of alcohol is so strong with this kind of people. If you are a friend or someone closer with this kind of people then you can certainly do something to help them stop.

The first thing that you need to put in your mind is avoid being judgmental. If you continue to show them that you think that they are consider bad person because of their addiction then you are totally pushing them to go to the addiction further. Giving them the inspiration to change and boosting their moral can really give a big help. Lots of people are getting drunk because of many reasons. Solving the issue with regards to the main reason of addiction is a big factor.

For the person to be able to change he/she needs to have the conviction to do so. This is the main thing that you must put in the heart of the person. The self control must be build and remember that you can’t do this in an instant. Addiction is better to stop bit by bit so you don’t need to rush too much.

Remember to be positive in your outlook that the person can change if you help him towards the goal.

More Living With An Alcoholic Spouse Articles

Alcoholism is a disease that can be devastating for those living with an alcoholic. People with an alcoholic parent or spouse know how stressful it is to constantly worrying that their loved one will drink and drive, sell family valuables and use the money to finance their habit or go on a binge and not come home for days.

For many living with an alcoholic means constantly worrying about paying the bills, having to clean up after their alcoholic loved one, looking out for various signs of alcoholism, dealing with abuse, and even being unable to sleep from fear of what will happen next.

Instead of enabling or becoming resigned to the situation you have to fight back! Follow these top 5 tips to change your situation.

1. Take an honest look at the alcoholic: Identifying the line between social drinking and alcohol abuse is not an easy thing to do. Although an individual who only drinks a few glasses during the weekend might not be considered an alcoholic, anyone who drinks to the point that it affects their regular life can be considered to be abusing alcohol.

Talk to the alcoholic parent or spouse. Sit down and ask them why they drink. Discus worrying symptoms that indicate alcoholism such as drinking to the point of blacking out, needing to drink to feel better about their life and feeling ashamed over their drinking habits.

2. Let the alcoholic accept the consequences: To get out of resignation, let the alcoholic experience the negative consequences of drinking and do not let yourself take on responsibility for their actions. When living with an alcoholic avoid calling in for them if they miss work, do not buy alcohol for them, steer clear of helping them to bed or cleaning up the empty bottles after they binge. To keep them out of debt and get them to realize how bad the situation has become do not purchase alcohol for them or give them money to buy more.

3. Accept the reality: To change your life with an alcoholic parent or spouse, you need to accept the reality. Do not live in denial or make excuses for the signs of alcoholism being displayed. You should also not feel guilty or try to threaten or bribe them into giving up alcohol. Instead, focus on dealing with your own emotions, because these are the only emotions you have the power to control.

4. Do not engage: When living with an alcoholic, you are likely to notice that when heavily drinking they may start arguments, throw items around, or become verbally abusive. Do not be sucked into playing mind games or getting into a fight! Make sure your spouse experiences being loved by you but detach yourself from the situation. If necessary, leave the house for a few hours or go out with some friends. By not accepting the outburst and bad behaviors they will see even faster that they need help.

5. Get Support: The road to recovery will not happen in just a few weeks or months. For some the process can take years! To get the emotional support needed to recognize and treat the signs of alcoholism therapists, support groups, online forums and even eBook systems can be accessed.

These treatment methods are enormously helpful for both the alcoholic and the individuals living with an alcoholic.

If you have a loved one who is depressed, the first thing that strikes you is the complete lack of interest in anything. A friend of mine whose husband has been in a severe depression for many years has told me that her husband has not left the house in four years. There is a level of apathy and lethargy which is just impossible to fathom. But the fact that they need motivation is a classic symptom of many depressive illnesses and mood disorders so we should not be surprised at all.

I know lots of depressed and anxious people who use alcohol for a quick fix. Unfortunately alcohol, in the long term is a depressant as their mood disorders such as irritability and wild mood swings become even worse. Although they first start with alcohol to help them cope or because they need motivation, the fact is that very soon they are too far down the alcoholic road to be able to do anything about it. They have become dependent on it.

Dependency on alcohol has side effects which can be devastating in many ways. Potential alcoholics feel they must have a drink and will go to any lengths to get it. Work and relationships start to suffer and physical and mental problems start to set in.

There is a definite link between alcoholism and depression and there are statistics to show that people who self injure are much more likely to be alcoholics. Suicide is also more common in alcoholics. Many people drink to find quick relief from depression but very often become even more depressed after the immediate effects wear off. That is simple because alcohol affects your brain chemicals or neurotransmitters and puts you at greater risk of getting more depressed!

Alcohol can have severe effects on the central nervous system and it can slow it down considerably. Your breathing is slower, you relax and it sounds like the perfect solution for depression if you need motivation as you immediately feel better. The problem is that you become more and more dependent on it and you need more and more for the same effects to kick in.

If you need to help motivate yourself and have decided that alcohol is far too risky for a quick fix, then why not consider natural alternatives. There is no risk of dependency and a few simple lifestyle changes can work wonders.

Codependent relationships are usually characterized by two roles. A needy person who depends on her partner too much, and a person who acts the care-taker, always comforting his partner at his own expense. In relationships, a common pattern is a clingy woman paired with a man who never asserts himself (though the roles can be reversed).

Codependent simply means that you depend too much on your partner emotionally. For her, this may mean that she relies on you for all her emotional needs, and “can’t live without you.” For him, it may mean he feels too responsible for her, always catering to her demands, and never asserting himself for fear of hurting her.

Are you a man feeling stuck in a codependent relationship? Maybe you wish she wasn’t so clingy — or maybe you want to leave the relationship entirely — but you “don’t want to hurt her,” as so many guys say about their clingy girlfriends.

If you find yourself in this situation, it’s because you didn’t assert yourself whenever she showed herself to be overly needy or demanding. In fact, you may have inadvertently encouraged her to behave like this. Now you may feel stuck in patters that don’t allow for the things you desperately need:

Some degree of independence Space to yourself Time to pursue friendships and hobbies outside the relationship

Have you ever felt that you are making major life choices based on her insecurities? Maybe she discourages you from taking a position that requires travel, or maybe she’s pressuring you to get engaged before you’re ready…

If you find yourself in this situation, you have to either:

a) Negotiate new terms for the relationship – terms that you find acceptable and don’t cause you persistent stress

or…

b) Plan to leave the relationship

Otherwise, the constant stress of remaining in a codependent relationship will take a toll on your mental and physical well-being, and you will live a life of regret.

If you feel trapped in an unhealthy or unsatisfying relationship,  breakup and get on with your life.

Being an alcoholic is no fun and certainly nobody denies that addiction is a form of sickness in whatever form it takes.  However, being closely associated with an alcoholic is also no bed of roses and entire families are affected by the social behavior of someone in the grip of alcohol addiction.

For a long term partner, wife or husband, there is a certain obligation felt to help the addict and support them in seeking professional help.  For young children and teenagers there are often deeper issues to address, some of which are not aired for months or years as the family struggles to help control the effects of addiction.

When an alcoholic is living within a large family structure, it is reasonable to assume they take up a great deal of attention that might usually be required to help younger members of the family through difficulties caused by adolescence; exams; teenage physical development.  Teenagers already have a battle with hormones: add Grandpa’s elderly problems and Dad’s alcohol addiction to the mix and you have a recipe for explosive family confrontations on a daily basis.

Extreme addiction to alcohol produces some unpleasant problems, not the least of which is financial.  Alcoholism is an expensive addiction and one that requires a constant cash injection to sustain an adequate supply of liquor.  Cash spent on a bottle is no longer available for the things teenagers tend to think are essential to life, such as clothes, cell phones and money for entertainment.  The lack of funds can make a youngster resent the cause of ‘not being able to do stuff’.

The younger members of the family, although sympathetic with elderly problems, tend to view addiction as an indulgence.  Grandparents with elderly problems are usually very welcome to be absent minded or even slightly senile, but not to be addicted to drinking.  Resentment causes teenagers to rebel and object and so the vicious circle goes on and on…

An even greater problem occurs when the addict is a mother.  Mothers who have an alcohol addiction have multiple problems to overcome for a number of reasons.  Women often provide the daily routine in the house, beginning with getting the children out of bed in the mornings to eat their breakfast and ending with putting them to bed at night after a nutritious supper and a warm bath.  All of this breaks down when the lady of the house is sleeping off a bottle induced stupor somewhere by the end of the morning.

The result is that other members of the family, some of whom might be trying to cope with elderly problems, must take over the household responsibilities while Mom sobers up in the corner – or not, as the case may be.  Many American homes are being run by elderly grandparents because parents are either absent or drunk.  The social difficulties faced by these reluctant carers Fare immense and in some cases, insurmountable.

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