codependency and alcoholism – parallel diseases

Someone posted this on the Sober Recovery message board. It is 1000% true and something that I finally realized.

Maybe if you try and think of codependency and alcoholism as similar problems, then you can understand why it is just as hard to get rid of someone you love no matter how much of a negative influence they are on our lives, as it is to recover from alcoholism.

They are addicted to alcohol and we are addicted to them.

They have denial about how alcohol negatively affects their lives, and we go through denial about how they negatively affect our lives.

They know something is wrong with their lives, but can’t put a finger on it…for a while, and we know something is wrong with our lives, but can’t put a finger on it…for a while.

They have to accept they need alcohol out of their lives for it to be healthier, and we have to accept that we need unhealthy attachment out of our lives before we can be healthier.

You see what I mean?

The steps to getting better are similar as well.

We admit we are powerless over THEM.
We turn inward and become selfish about our recovery.
We stop doing things for others that hurt ourselves.
We rediscover our self worth.
And then, we remove what is affecting our serenity and growth.

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the path to acceptance

I haven’t written for a couple of days. Anyways, Friday morning, AH came into the bedroom asking if I had his keys. Of course, I didn’t. He couldn’t find them anywhere. And then he also couldn’t find the spare or valet key. My thinking is that he hid the spare and valet key from me so I couldn’t get into his car. Anyways, after paying locksmith $200 to come unlock his car and then finding that they weren’t in there, he finally found them. He had put them in his backpack. He exclaimed that with all the lack of sleep and stress, he was losing his mind.

We then had a long talk. He had heard me talking on the phone to my brother and I was telling my brother that it was a bit hurtful because AH was acting like he wasn’t upset about us separating…that he was only upset about not being with the kids all the time. AH told me that wasn’t true and to please not tell people that. We then discussed how we are still having the same relationship issues that we had early on, years ago. And even when we got married, he knew deep down it probably wasn’t the right thing to do, but he had hoped we would grow closer. I told him that I was just heartbroken to be losing my best friend. We talked more about how it will be after we separate and he explained that he will still be here for me. In fact, he still plans to come over and mow the lawn, etc.

Of course, I cried and cried. Even though it was overall a good conversation that made me feel a lot better, it’s just a mix of emotions. Sadness for ending our relationship, relief for not having to live with this constant stress and unhappiness, and fear of the unknown. I also told AH that we agree to disagree regarding his drinking issues and we agreed not to bring it up anymore. I had to remind AH about this when he said “I’ve always accepted you as you are.”

Last night, I could tell he was getting agitated by the kids. He decided to go to a meeting. It was a gentle reminder to me of why I can’t be married to him anymore, although he does have many great qualities and I do believe he does truly care for me. As far as his drinking goes, he told me that he’s not drinking now and he will not be drinking around the kids or if he has to drive anywhere.

This morning I woke up feeling TIRED, even though I got a pretty good night’s sleep. I’m trying to remember that my body is using up tons of energy to heal from this trauma and to be gentle with myself. I went to get a haircut then came home and took a little nap. I’m thankful for AH that I could do that. He just left to get groceries and took DD1 with him.

I still haven’t sat down and gone over our finances. I’m hoping to rest up the rest of the day and then hit work tomorrow hard to have a productive week.

update

So, after my last post, I was texting with AH and he told me the credit card charges were not what I was thinking. He said it was an accumulation of purchases. He told me he would email me his bank statement. Then he called and was very matter-of-fact saying that he didn’t have anything to hide and that he was hoping we could handle this all amicably like adults, but now he’s not so sure. I told him I have a right to know what he’s been doing if he expects to be spending time with the kids. I think he also made some mention of this incident is exactly an example of why this marriage can’t work…that he’s a grown man and he can spend his money on what he wants. Me (thinking): “Ah, yes. Thanks for reminding me that you can do what you want without regard for anyone else.” In fact, I was quite aware he felt that way since that’s how he’s been acting our entire relationship. His voice started to tremble and he said how I was trying to take his kids away from him. I just love how the A’s are always the victims. They play that card so well, don’t they?

Anyways, once I saw the yearly statement, I saw that almost all of the charges were from gas stations. Many of them being the exact same price…$4.38, I believe, which is probably the price of a 24 oz. beer. So, while he wasn’t doing what I thought he was with this credit card, instead he was using it to purchase beer behind my back.

I was feeling pretty frustrated because he was playing me out like I was the villain for going through his stuff. And I do know this was super codie behavior, but as we go into the divorce proceedings, I feel I need to protect myself and know exactly what he’s been up to. And lo and behold, I find more evidence of him lying and drinking behind my back. I did text him later to apologize for accusing him (trying to admit my wrongs and make amends, a la Al-Anon.) He said he had a late meeting after work, so he didn’t get home until pretty late. Of course, his demeanor was very cold.

As for me, I had a pretty relaxing evening with the kids. I was happy again because DS5 seemed to be happy and didn’t have any emotional moments. I”m most concerned for him with all of this stuff happening.

I’m going to try to start blogging at night, at the end of the day. I think it’s a good way to unwind and get all of my feelings out. And I’m also going to try to document one thing that I do for just myself each day.

What I did for me today: I washed my face before bed! Seriously, I know this probably sounds horrible, but I have the worst habit of wearing my makeup to bed. It may sound crazy, but something as simple as this is the type of stuff I would neglect due to all the stress of my alcoholic marriage.

 

devastated…again

Not sure why I decided to do it, but I had a sudden feeling of wanting to check AH’s credit report. AH has had a separate credit card for years. Originally, he was supposed to cancel it after I found out about him visiting the massage parlors, but I guess he conveniently forgot.

Anyways, so I log on and pull up his credit report and check the credit card. It pulls up a monthly history of the balance on the card dating back to September 2014. As I look at the balances, I notice that there is a zero balance until February 2015, where there is a $40 balance. That gets paid off and then in May 2015, a $65 balance appears and then the balance goes up slightly each month (as if he didn’t make a payment?) Then in August 2015, the balance is $56, then $104 the next month. Interestingly enough, $65 is the amount that I know one of the prostitutes he has gone to charges for a quick session of oral sex.

I text him about this and he tells me he just used it for snacks, etc. Hmm…what amount of snacks and chew ends up being exactly $65? And if that’s the case, why didn’t he just pay it off?

I’m not sure why I’m surprised. He’s a liar. And an addict – sex addict that is. I guess I just truly wanted to believe him when he said he hadn’t done any of this stuff since I found out about is 3 years ago. I’m just a bit upset now because I felt like I was doing so good and now this feels like a punch to the gut.

on detachment

Detachment has always been a concept that I could never quite grasp. When AH would come home and I could tell he had been drinking, my thought was always, “Well, I HAVE to let him know that I disapprove…otherwise, he will think it’s okay for him to do this!” And so, of course, we would get into a big fight and then he would say how sorry he was and how he let me down, etc. I’m sure this would then result in tons of shame, resentment and guilt inside him, which would start the cycle for the next episode of drinking.

Now that I’ve immersed myself in Al-Anon and reading, I think I finally get it. Someone on the Sober Recovery website wrote this about detachment and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it put more plainly or perfectly.

For some the concept of detachment is hard to grasp. Especially if you are the kind of person who is used to having a ‘say’ in most matters. We somehow think we must always “speak up” when our S.O. is doing something wrong and in some cases we do need to speak up in certain situations. Detachment might feel to ‘passive’ for us. But, sometimes it’s not so much a matter of keeping quiet as it is a matter of refusing to engage in something FUTILE. We learn the hard way how to stop wasting our own time, energy, efforts in “reforming” this other person and instead take that effort and put into ourselves and our own fulfillment. We learn that the person in question may never change and become the person we wish they were. We realize that our own happiness is not about *them* and not wrapped up in them.

It’s funny because I went back to an Al-Anon meeting last night that I haven’t been to in ages. I think the last time I was there was in October, just before we were in the process of purchasing a new home, selling our old one, and moving. I shared with what has been going on and especially how I now understand that chastising/nagging my AH is the wrong thing to do and only made things worse. Then I said, “Why didn’t anyone ever tell me this?! Oh wait…they did, I was just in denial.” It’s so interesting how my disease of codependency has paralleled AH’s disease of alcoholism. I would start going to Al-Anon and then stop. I would read the literature, but it really never sunk in…until now. It took me hitting my rock bottom to surrender and start my true path to recovery.

Sidenote: I slept great again last night, although DS5 came in around 2am because he was scared of the wind and rain. For a moment, I thought about how sad it is that when he has a nightmare or is scared at night, I’ll be the only one there. 😦 But my mind is feeling a bit clearer today and I think I’ll be ready to tackle going over our finances tomorrow so we can start to detail how finances are going to work through our divorce.

learning to let go

Near the end of yesterday’s work day, I was feeling pretty good. I was able to be productive in the afternoon at work and then stopped by the store to grab some tomatoes (AH and I were planning on making tacos.) He ended up going to a meeting, so it was just me with the kids, which was fine. I was thankful that DS (5 years) didn’t throw any tantrums and seemed to actually be listening to me. He’s been throwing tantrums at school and seems to be very emotional, which is worrying me a little bit. I talked to him again about daddy moving out into his own place in a few weeks. DS doesn’t seem to really understand it yet, which I think is good. I told him that daddy is still going to be around a lot and that no matter what, we both love him.

AH and I actually watched part of the Downton Abbey finale together, chatting and making small talk. It’s all just a bit strange. AH smoked pot and offered me some. I declined. Even though I used to smoke with him, I decided it’s probably not very kosher to do so when I’ve told him I think he has a problem with it.

At one point, we were talking about our dog and AH mentioned that if I ever go out of town, he could probably smuggle the dog into his apartment and he would keep her. I then said that if I went out of town, he would probably just stay at the house with the kids and then he said, “in 3 or 4 years?”

I don’t know why, but that statement got to me a bit. Even though everyday I can recall things he has done that I am thankful to get away from, I guess that piece of me still remains hoping that we can reconcile at some point. But I know the chances of that happening are very low. I think too much has happened now for me to ever be able to trust him or truly forgive him and not be resentful towards him. And when he mentioned being apart in 3 or 4 years, well, I guess it’s just not something I have thought about. I know I need to be able to let go of our relationship as it is now and avoid future tripping.

I really like this quote about recovery and try to remind myself of it anytime I start to future trip.

Recovery is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

I will say, however, that I have been sleeping pretty good. For awhile, I was having issues where I would wake up at 3am. But the last few nights, I’ve been able to sleep until AH comes in to shower (around 5:30).

defining myself

I had a session with my therapist a couple of hours ago. Of course, I updated her with what’s going on. One thing we discussed is that I was somewhat relieved when I was talking to AH about his trip to Mexico and he told me that he was depressed the entire time and never really even went to the beach. Therapist asked me why this made me happy and my response was that I guess it makes me feel better knowing that he does seem to care that that our relationship is ending. She then told me yes, he does care, but probably in the same way a child would care about losing his mother. Ouch.

Then I told her how this process seems to be hard because a lot of the time I don’t know what he’s thinking. Besides conversations about the kids and making plans for our separation, we have pretty much avoided talking about anything else. She asked me why it matters what he thinks…what could he possibly think or say that would make things any different? I know she’s right…at this point it’s only actions he can take that will make any difference. Then she got around to saying that in all of this, I have to define myself and not let him define me any longer.

So, we spent a lot of the session discussing how I can define myself. That I can define myself without insulting him. For instance, I can say “yes, you’re free to drink and smoke weed however you want, but for my own health, I cannot be around it.” I also took a step towards defining myself yesterday, when I told him that right now, I just can’t discuss the details of our finances or what our divorce will look like. I need to just focus on work for a bit.

I also asked her if she thinks my constant state of overwhelm and inability to ever seemingly be productive and get things done is a result of all the stress and insanity of my marriage to AH. She simply said, “yes.”

This is one thing I am working on. For as long as I can remember, life has been a struggle. I’ve become a big time procastinator, putting things off at work; not having the energy to take my kids outside; being short with my kids; etc. That HAS to end. I can no longer live life this way and I can no longer let AH’s problems define myself or my life.

the role we play

Yesterday AH had taken the day off from work and went to look at some apartments. He called me at work just wondering about getting approved since the mortgage is still in his name and everything. I ended up asking him if he can hold off on actually signing a lease or applying until we have a chance to sit down this week and go over our finances. He agreed. Right now, I am still in such a state of fog, I’m trying to refocus on work since I was out last week and figuring out all the details of our divorce just seems to be too much right now. He agreed, which I was thankful for.

He agreed to pick the kids up from daycare yesterday, while I ran to Costco to grab a few things. I had told him I planned on going to an Al-Anon meeting at 7PM. He got home with the kids around 6 and told me he needed to run to the car dealership to grab his coffee mug, which he had left there that morning when they were working on his car. Mind you, the car dealership is not close and it’s actually almost right next to the kids’ daycare. This is something typical he has done all throughout our relationship. Always finding excuses for things he needs to go out to do. It’s like he has to get away from the house. I’m not sure if it’s so he can drink or what…but of course my thinking is, do you really HAVE to have your coffee mug right now? We have other mugs. He could easily just pick it up some other day. I could also tell that he had been smoking marijuana. So, I told him I needed to leave the house around 6:45 for my meeting.

Well, 6:45 rolls around he’s not home. I text him and say my meeting is at 7. He calls and is apologetic and says he thought I had to leave at 7. Even though I was really annoyed, I managed to bite my tongue and just tell him it’s okay. Just another example of him not listening or not caring enough to listen.

After my meeting, I was reading the Al-Anon Pamphlet “Alcoholism: A Merry-Go-Round Named Denial.” I’m sure I’ve read it before, but this time it really resonated with me. Essentially, it talks about how the other actors in the situation contribute to the alcoholism by reacting in certain ways. The role I played was the victim and by repeatedly chastising him when he drinks and criticizing him, it creates more and more guilt in him, which just leads to more resentment and denial. It actually makes a lot of sense.

Anyways, I’ve been thinking about the role I have played a lot. It’s hard for me because all of these years, I’ve blamed him for everything. But now I am starting to see how my actions have made things worse. I think I am also getting closer to being able to feel compassion for him and his disease. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still harbor tons of anger and resentment. But I think it was a good start when I bit my tongue and didn’t get into a huge argument with him because he made me late for my meeting.

The background story

I met AH back when I was 22 and he was 24. I had just finished undergrad and he was living out here because he had been in the Navy. We actually met through friends and somehow, we hit it off from the moment we met. We met in the fall of 2003 and I had been planning to go off to law school in the summer of 2004. This was the same time he was finishing up his Navy service and he decided to stay with me, so he moved with me and while I attended law school, he started undergrad.

I started noticing drinking problems very early on in our relationship. Whenever he drank, he was unable able to drink just a few beers, instead drinking quite a lot. He also seemed to have to drink every single weekend, often drinking a 12-pack in one day. He also smoked pot frequently. I remember the first time he lied to me. He had gotten a phone call and told me it was a friend from back home (he was originally from the other side of the country). Later, when he was in the shower, I looked at his phone and saw that is was his marijuana dealer.

Life continued on through law school, our up and down cycle. We ended up getting engaged in the fall of 2007. After my 3 years of law school, I decided to attend another school to get an advanced law degree in tax law. This meant that I needed to move 3 hours away, but AH would stay in order for him to finish up his undergrad degree.

I moved in the fall of 2007 and AH got his own little apartment. The plan was for him to be finished up at the end of 2007. During this time, we would try to visit as much as possible on the weekends.

One particular night, he was visiting me, and he had left his email open. I noticed that he had emails from different porn sites he had signed up for. One of them was a chat site, where he had paid to chat with women online. When I saw this, my heart sank. Even though I knew he had drinking problems, I had never in a million years had any reason to believe he would/could cheat on me. I confronted him about this and his response was that he really wasn’t attracted to me and I “just wasn’t doing it for him.” Yep, can you believe it?

However, once again, in the morning, he was apologetic and told me how he didn’t mean what he said and blah, blah, blah. Of course, I believed him. So we continued on. At this point in our relationship, he was still a “functional alcoholic,” definitely not drinking every day, but whenever he did drink, he could never stop at just a couple.

He finished up his degree and moved back over and in with me in January 2008. I finished up my degree and we moved into a rental house together. AH had been able to get a decent job and was working in inside sales.

Once again, in the fall of 2008, he left his email open. Again, I found some username and passwords to some porn websites. This time, one of them was a messageboard where escorts (prostitutes) posted ads and users would leave reviews of the escorts. I looked up AH’s username and found that he had left a review of an escort and the type of service he received was oral sex.

When I confronted him about it, he initially told me that he had not left that review…he was just fascinated by the site and in order to stay a member, he had to post something, so he had copied and pasted the review. I remember plain as day that we had this conversation on a Saturday during college football season. I then left to drop our dog off at the groomer. As I drove back to the house, I just couldn’t get rid of that nagging feeling. So, when I got home, I told him I wanted to see his bank statements (we still had separate accounts at the time) and his phone records, so I could verify that this had not happened. And then this is when he admitted to me, that yes, he HAD posted that review and yes, he had visited this prostitute.

At this point, our wedding planning was well underway (wedding was set for August 2009). I had told NOBODY about his issues with drinking and of course, this porn/prostitute stuff. He agreed to go see a therapist and get some help for himself. Of course, I’m the one who found him a therapist who specialized in addiction. AH saw the therapist for awhile. I later found out he basically lied to me about what the therapist had said.

And so we continued on…at this point, my codependency was in full force. Me often counting how much he had to drink and being an undercover spy to make sure he wasn’t visiting prostitutes, etc.

We got married in August 2009 and headed to Puerto Vallarta on our honeymoon. Another vacation that I never really got to enjoy because I was just stressed out by how much AH was drinking. We had DS in December 2010.

At this point, AH actually was doing very well at as his job in inside sales, making a great living. However, many of the people he worked with tended to drink heavily and “happy hours” often included numerous shots, etc. It was never a situation where AH would just go have 1 or 2 drinks. I can also count endless events, such as weddings, where I know he drank too much and should not have been driving.

On January 17, 2013, I was on Facebook and noticed that AH had left a comment on a photo of a girl he knew from high school. His comment was “smokeshow,” obviously meaning she was hot. This prompted me to log back on to the escort messageboard to check his username. And when I did, I was shocked.

I had not been on the board in probably at least a year (because AH swore he would never do any of the escort stuff again.) But now I saw that he had posted a couple more reviews and just the day before, he had posted an ad looking for “asian massage parlors” that accept credit card. I could not believe my eyes. Well, I started chatting with him, asking about this stuff and then a slew of lies followed. First he told me that he had let a friend use his username, but he wouldn’t tell me who the friend was. I finally got him to allow me to reset his email password, so then I could actually log into his username on the site to check his private messages.

Before he did this, he managed to delete everything out of his email. However, I logged into his account on the messageboard and saw that he had been conversing with a certain escort, talking about paying her with a visa cash card or something to that effect. He still claimed that it wasn’t him until I told him that I had contacted Yahoo and was going to get all the emails in his account restored. Well, then he finally came out and admitted the yes, he was the one who posted those reviews. However, he was adamant that he had never received anything other than “happy endings.”

Of course, I was devastated. He came home, and I told him to leave. After he left, it was just me and my 2-year-old DS. Again, nobody knew anything about what was going on with us, so I felt so alone, with nobody to call. I ended up calling AH and he was sobbing, saying how he had ruined his life and lost everything. I told him to come home so we could talk.

That night, we had a long discussion and the truth came out. He admitted that he had been to see the prostitutes a handful of times, receiving oral sex. He also admitted that he had been drinking behind my back often. He told me that the therapist he had seen previously had told him he had a drinking problem, but AH had lied to me and not listened to him. AH told me he admitted now that he had some serious problems, but was willing to do anything he had to do to save his marriage and not lose us. For the first time in our entire relationship, I felt like I was seeing the real AH for the first time.

I was hopeful after this because AH had finally admitted he had a problem – yea! We got into marriage counseling and started seeing individual counselors. It’s kind of a blur, but the basic story is that this started the up and down process of “sort of” recovery by AH. I now know AH was not really committed to recovery…he was just saying whatever he needed to say to keep me. Over the next couple of years, AH stopped going to therapy, started drinking again and the same cycle continued, but by now my codependency was worse than ever.

I gave birth to DD in May 2014. AH continued on in “fake” recovery. In July 2015, there were 2 weekends in a row that he drank and then an incident when I thought I smelled beer on him and then later found beer cans in the garbage. At this point, I was just exhausted and tired of dealing with all of this. We had a long talk and AH admitted that he had never really committed to recovery and now he was really ready to do so. He started attending more meetings and posting on Sober Recovery.

Well, this lasted about a  month and then he relapsed. He was also smoking marijuana nightly and sometimes in the morning and during the day on the weekends. Since July 2015, he has only been able to make it no more than 1.5 months without drinking. I was exasperated because in my eyes, he really wasn’t trying to do everything he could to really recover. He didn’t have a sponsor, wasn’t working the steps, and wasn’t willing to give up marijuana.

At the end of January, he was attending a work function and was arrested for DUI. No longer could AH say that he’s “not like the others in AA..he’s not out getting DUIs and stuff like that.” I thought maybe after this, he would really clean up his act and realize he couldn’t just white knuckle recovery and do it himself. Well, nope. This produced no change really…2 weeks later, he wasn’t going to more meetings, quitting smoking pot, or working on getting a sponsor.

Even though he hasn’t been drinking regularly for the last few years, even when he isn’t drinking, he has been difficult to be around. He is really unable to handle stress and gets agitated very easily and will sometimes be in a bad mood for no reason (sulking, pouting, silent treatment.) When I ask him what’s wrong, he just says nothing.

Finally, on February 25, 2016, I woke up and just had the worst feeling. There wasn’t any specific incident that prompted it, but I decided to tell him (via chat) that I think we should just end things. I wasn’t happy and wasn’t sure I could ever be. Deep down, I know that in doing this, I wasn’t really ready to split up…rather I was hoping again, that this threat would get him to start really working the program. Well, he got angry and agreed.

So, here we are now. I broke down and told my family about everything (with the exception of the part about the prostitutes. I just can’t let that part out yet.) They have been very supportive. I’ve also been back in Al-Anon and have been reading, reading, reading. I’m starting to understand the part I have played in prolonging his drinking and I am finally committing MYSELF to recovery.

So, that is my story. Even though it’s all in the past, I’m viewing it as the beginning of my new life.