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Post Info TOPIC: Unacceptable behavior and consequences


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Unacceptable behavior and consequences


I'm wondering if others would be willing to share their list of unacceptable behaviors and the consequences they have established if their qualifier should exhibit one of these behaviors. This is a new concept for me and while I am doing ok with establishing unacceptable behaviors I'm not doing so well in figuring out what the consequences should be.

Here is one example, and this all came out of the incident I wrote about earlier from my birthday: I consider my wife displaying out of control anger in front of the kids to be unacceptable (out of control anger defined as breaking things, slamming doors, yelling at me or the kids, etc.). However, I don't know what the consequence of this behavior should be.

Thanks in advance.



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Great subject.... I'd love to know as well... :)

As much as I'd think we'd all love to, I don't think time out or sending them to their room with no dinner will cut it... LOL

Thanks for the post!

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~Kat

 Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats. ~Voltaire



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Aloha Usetobe...she has already had some of the natural consequences...lowering of trust and unconditional love, anxiety and fear reaction from you and the children, resentments and defensive anger and behaviors, hurt feelings etc.

I had to learn to assure myself that I wasn't looking for punishments my alcoholic, addict also had to serve and there were times when there were punishments served up which made the situation so much more worse for her and for me.

Natural consequences are inevitable.  Once consequence could be a family sitdown to discuss what happened, how each person perceived it and how they felt about it and now think about it.  If that seems to be viable do it soon other wise it goes into the resentment file to be dragged out later.

Unacceptable behavior also can be very subjective...Some people have beliefs about value systems that are much different than others.

((((hugs)))) smile



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Jerry F wrote:

 

 

Aloha Usetobe...she has already had some of the natural consequences...lowering of trust and unconditional love, anxiety and fear reaction from you and the children, resentments and defensive anger and behaviors, hurt feelings etc.


 I know with my A... regardless if I react or not, he has the "I don't care" attitude....  How do you know if they really regret anything???



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~Kat

 Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats. ~Voltaire



~*Service Worker*~

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Part of the equation is how much control you have over what happens in your house.  Usually we have control only over ourselves, unless we have full custody of our children.

In my case, I do have full custody.  So the consequence I've established is that if my A shows any signs of drunkenness, our child won't go over to his place for his weekly visit.  (My A is a binger, not a constant drinker, so I can depend on the fact that he is sober sometimes -- if he were a constant excessive drinker I wouldn't allow any unsupervised visits.)  If he is drunk, I won't have a conversation with him.  This is also easy as we are separated and I can detach myself just by saying, "I'll talk some other time" and hanging up the phone.

My situation is a lot simpler than yours because we don't live together.  If you didn't have a child, it would also be simpler.  Figuring out what is reasonable and doable is an important thing, so it's good you're doing this.  I look forward to others' replies. 



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~*Service Worker*~

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Hands down it is unacceptable behavior. 

My concern is how your children are interpretting their mother's behaviors.  My mother wasn't alcoholic, but she had a personality disorder.  She would yell, scream, put her fist through the wall and turn furniture over.  Several times during my elementary years, I was always afraid to open the door to our home when coming home from school.  I never knew what I was going to walk into.  I never let my friends over, either, for fear they'd see the mess.

So I know what it's like to have a mother who doesn't know how to manage her emotions.  No one talk with me about it; it was hushed up.

You come across as an intelligent man.  I hope you and your children are communicating and they are allowed to express their feelings and ask questions.

I'm so sorry for your situation.  You and your family are in my prayers.

Take good care of you and those children!  Gail



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You have to go through the darkness to truly know the light.  Lama Surya Das

Resentment is like taking poison & waiting for the other person to die.  Malachy McCourt



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Hugs Used,

I am against the norm I'm sure on some of what I do, the best examples I can give is that whatever it is that I am doing that is enabling the unhealthy behavior has to stop.

I was able to let go of feeling responsible for driving my AH everywhere, because his behavior become so out of control on a ride into work. I no longer am the primary ride for my AH to and from work. I literally informed him that day I wouldn't be doing pick up and drop off. I was able to do so without yelling or being angry about it. I just let it all go. That was a key moment for me. That has been a positive payoff for both of us. I no longer resent having to pick him up or drop him off (I do from time to time it's not often anymore). Which means our drives are so much more fun. We talk about different things. We both enjoy that time.

I no longer take phone calls from his mom. He has chosen to lie to her about the DUI situation and I do not know what he has and has not told her, and I'm not going to lie and cover for him. So everything from her HAS to go through him first. I am happy to take him over to her home, I will go to the store with my AH and buy her what she needs, this is on him. I wait in the car when he goes into the house. I have been very clear that I am not angry with her, I'm just not going to cover for him either. It is his story to tell so he has to deal with remembering what story he has started with her. She is an active A as well and I am not going to be part of the drama. She still tries to call me, I just text my AH and let him know she's called. He continues to lie to her and that's fine I just am no longer playing the game.

I no longer put up with unhealthy behavior from my AH. He can do it .. lol .. he just does it by himself. I leave, if the situation is so bad, I take the kids with me. Usually it's never been an issue of screaming with him, he's been inappropriate in his actions he would flip me off totally childish stuff. I leave. It's interesting because it doesn't happen anymore now that I think about it.

For me boundaries are about the respect I carry for myself. That car ride WOW .. I wish I could express how that changed me, in a really great way. It dawned on me that me allowing my AH to treat me with such disrespect actually was about ME not respecting myself. If I were in his shoes would I respect me and I shocked myself by answering "no" to myself. That was the turning point for me though if I was not respecting myself how in the world did I even think other people including my AH, why would they respect me? The consequences are about how I hold onto my own serenity. Do I leave the situation? Do I choose not to participate in it? The examples in my life are totally about enabling my AH though I mean not enabling him. It's caused him to really have to think more before he reacts to a situation and I also rarely yell. The softer I speak, the wider his eyes interestingly enough I think he would rather I scream.

Hugs P :)









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Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman.- Maya Angelo



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ELEKTRAWMN wrote:
Jerry F wrote:

 

 

Aloha Usetobe...she has already had some of the natural consequences...lowering of trust and unconditional love, anxiety and fear reaction from you and the children, resentments and defensive anger and behaviors, hurt feelings etc.


 I know with my A... regardless if I react or not, he has the "I don't care" attitude....  How do you know if they really regret anything???


 Kat,

All I can tell you is that the more my AH tells me he "doesn't care" the more I know the opposite to be true.  They DO regret so much.  The "I don't care" act is total deflection of how much they do care.  Now that is my opinion and what I find to be true for my AH.  That's just more added to the guilt and shame they already carry. 

Hugs P :) 



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Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman.- Maya Angelo



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still stuggling with this one then? guess what- I am too- even after all these years. does your wife have a dominant personality? because the one thing my mum hates is for anyone to stand up to her and to be honest- honesty seems to be the ultimate. and its rare it happens- i push it all down because i dont want to make things worse- her "sponsor" agrees with everything she says because she isnt strong enough to say whats right and whats wrong...or maybe my mum hasnt got a real sponsor......

I am ready to say a few things- when the time is right - im going to say- look you have to change this control thing etc etc

its hard.

i dont know what to suggest to you- as i know so little about your wife......

you could always try stomping around back-lol....but ive tried this little mirror trick and it only has a momentary effect.

has she been ok since though?

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rosie


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When my A was at his worst and still drinking I had a plan A, B, and C.  If he started that abusive behavior our son and I would go out for ice cream, to the park or the library.   We could have a play date at a friends place overnight.  I also obtained an overnight babysitter for very cheap for nights that I suspected he might be terribly bad. The sitter had children my son's age so that was a play date too.  I had a list of things that I could use for my A, B, and C.  I would choose what was most appropriate for the time of day.

I would use my program and remain non confrontational.  I said "You might be right about that....I'll think about it, thanks".  I said it lots.  I learned tequniques to diffuse the situation.  Being a co dependent as I was, I knew my A pretty well and how he would react to my responses.  I started using that to my advantage.

Before I came to that point however I simply called 911.  He called down quickly after a little pep talk from the men in blue.  After I called the second time, the conflict resolution unit from the local detatchment became involved.  That worked wonders :)  

After using the program often, the police wasn't required.  I think also after he knew I would dial 911 as I did before, the issues greatly minimized and I was able to handle the rest with ease, of course using my program.  Without it, even the most minimal upset seemed like a mountain of conflict to me.



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I read part of your other post. What do you mean by 'etc'. Beside 'verbal abuse', is she also phycally abusive to you? Or the kids? Has her violent behavior been getting worse? Is is worse when she drinks? Or has she always been this way? How long do you suppose, if this violent abusive behavior continues, will it take for someone to get physically hurt? On purpose or by accident?

You and your children are already being hurt emotionally by this.

And NONE of it is acceptable. Verbal abuse is not acceptable. Physical abuse is not acceptable. Active alcolholism is not acceptable. Adultery is not acceptable. It is not OK for either partner to be that way toward the other. It is NOT a gener thing.


As to consequences, I suppose the questions are 'How dangerous is it?' and 'How long are you going to tolerate it?' 



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I think this one issue is one reason its so great to refer to Getting them Sober.  The first is we don't have to work this all out overnight. Boundaries are so difficult. Alcoholics can be so capable of making a scene.  Learning when to say something and when not to is so great.  Nowadays if one of the alcoholics I live with makes a scene I'll stand up to them but that doesn't mean I scream at them for hours.  If they threaten me I'll say "bring it on anytime..." and believe me they scuttle off.  But I don't spend hours going over their behavior.

I think the core issue with an alcoholic who you are in relationship with is that it doesn't just go from relationship to divorce in one swift swoop. There are lots of stages in between.  Some people do decide to stay with a spouse for all kinds of reasons.  All of them legitimate.  So saying we dont' put up with that kind of behavior is very difficult.

The ex A screamed, raged and threw tantrums all the time right up to the time I stopped speaking to him. That was his mode. He knew it worked.  I had to work on not being so affected by them.  I used to be absolutely devastated.  He broke things, crashed cars, he lied, he snuck around, he did all kinds of stuff.  Saying something didnt' work for me. I had to take actions:

 

They were:

1) Not driving with him when he was drunk

2) Not socializing with him when he was drunk/using...in a tantrum.

3) Being prepared to remove myself when he was drunk/drugged

4) Not taking his calls when he was argumentative.

5) Not discussing him with his friends.

Did I get to any of those things overnight.  Nope I flip flopped all over the place for a long long time. Did any of these stop his behaviors nope but they mitigated his effect on me.

Detaching and keeping detached was so difficult.  I didn't get to it overnight. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself lots of space to flip flop around.  You don't have to be perfect.

maresie.

 

 



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maresie
bud


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Hi Usedtobe,

I understand and no abuse is acceptable.

When dealing with an irrational person, I find rationality is often ineffective. We cant control their disease. So, the consequences would be your boundary regarding what you will do when these things happen. When I am in this situation, I think of what would make me safe or make me feel protected. Mean what you say and say what you mean and don't say it meanly...

For example, if it is verbal, I'll excuse myself from the room or phone, saying that I hear he is upset and I'll be happy to communicate when it can be done in a more positive/ productive fashion. If things are being thrown, I'll leave the room or building and get myself to a safe place. If it is more mild, then I'll deflect by answering, "ok", not as an agreement but an acknowledgement that I heard and am not going to further engage (the difference is clear).

When my daughter was younger, I'd always keep a fresh overnight bag in the trunk of my car. One time, it came in handy and we stayed at a hotel with a pool and ordered room service. It was a much better and safer alternative.

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It is hard having the little ones because there is only so much you can practically do in terms of "consequences". Really the ultimate consequence is for me to take the kids and leave, but I simply can't do that and it would be an over reaction (no, she hasn't been physically abusive to any of us). My wife is a good person, but at times she is completely beaten by life and by her image of herself, and her response is to drink and at times to lash out angrily.

It isn't acceptable though, I think we all agree on that. But again, I'm just stuck with what to do. For the most recent incident, I essentially did exactly what Jerry described--was colder/more distant, etc. And also, I didn't have a conversation with her about it at any point and exactly what Jerry described is happening in that resentments are building on my end.

Anyway, I have some basic ideas, essentially detaching completely if it happens again--not spending time with her, not talking to her, not being around her. But most importantly, explaining to her that her behavior was unacceptable.



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RLC


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usetobe,

No it's not fair. (to you are the kids). There is no excuse. (alcoholism doesn't get a free ticket). With that being said, I have followed your story since you became a member of MIP. Our situations are not alike, but similar. Over time you have grown in the program tremendously, I admire you for that, attend f2f meetings, work your program to the best of your ability, and always ask thought provoking questions on MIP that brings out sincere ES&H from members. You have used the ES&H over that time to always do what you felt was the next right thing for you and your family. It's a one day at a time in this program and I have all the confidence in the world that you will, with the program, find the answers you are looking for.

You Have MY Support,
RLC

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Jerry F wrote:

 

 

Aloha Usetobe...she has already had some of the natural consequences...lowering of trust and unconditional love, anxiety and fear reaction from you and the children, resentments and defensive anger and behaviors, hurt feelings etc.

I had to learn to assure myself that I wasn't looking for punishments my alcoholic, addict also had to serve and there were times when there were punishments served up which made the situation so much more worse for her and for me.

Natural consequences are inevitable.  Once consequence could be a family sitdown to discuss what happened, how each person perceived it and how they felt about it and now think about it.  If that seems to be viable do it soon other wise it goes into the resentment file to be dragged out later.

Unacceptable behavior also can be very subjective...Some people have beliefs about value systems that are much different than others.

((((hugs)))) smile


 Jerry is right- its sad watching these natural consequences- what it must be like for them when their loved one starts to detach.

 

i havent got more to say- but to add that i agree wholeheartedly with this post as this is a biggey- my mum has lost her daughter...has people ignoring and avoiding her. they really dont set out to be sick.

 

i think there must be a natural process of anger and frustration...

 

there is so much i can say on this post...but ill end up waffling.....i think consequences given- it cant be that simple for someone who is so sick- and the sickness truly is beyond their control- and your wife needs AA- hopefully she wil gravitate towards it as AA is a life saver.

 

But despite it being a sickness- you are totally right to talk to her in an honest way and say, "you are putting your stresses and issues before your children- you are putting yu first. etc etc"

 

the reason why you should, IMO do this, is because in my experience alcoholics get governed by their impulses and reactions- they are so wrapped up in their own pain they cant see what they are doing to others and have completely no control over it- through honest communication, you can point out whats happening- as chances are high that it doesnt occur to her that the ranting infront of the kids thing must stop and the damage it does.

But I really think she will need a sponsor and AA too, as sponsors also work through all this with them- and it REALLY takes the heat off of yu and your kids...AA is a lifeboat man....if she can get in it it would be great

 

but i know its not something you will have control of- she has to somehow find it and want to get better.



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rosie


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I would add to Maresies list a it was similar to my own that should the anger or shouting occur in person or on the phone,  I would say,

"it doesnt seem like this is the best time to talk now, I will be back or call you later."

I would then leave and go do something fun for me at that point giving them time to sit in their dis-ease.  If it was a phone call, I would let enough time go by and get into a good place before I called them back.  

In the past I would respond with behavior in like kind, shouting, slamming doors, or using a few curse words before I slammed the phone down.  Since I have had a little  practice with boundaries over the years I find it doesnt come to a tipping point as it did before because love, kindness, and courtesy has returned in my home. 



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I'm cross talking a bit .. lol .. sorry, however exactly what Tommy said. I have applied almost verbatiem what Tommy has said only I had put it back on the A who was in rant mode. "It doesn't sound like you feel ok at the moment. Why don't you call us back when you feel better." I ended the conversation at that point and the next day there was always a return call with an apology. Never one that was demanded just one that was given. That's the nice thing about the phone is that the conversation ends with a click and the option of unplugging the phone is always there which we had done in the beginning of dealing with the rant calls. Face to face confrontations can be more difficult however the same applies, as far as tolerating that kind of behavior or not.

Hugs thanks for the reminder!!

I should add this has worked for my situation and what I have dealt with in the past. 



-- Edited by Pushka on Friday 23rd of September 2011 08:51:56 AM

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Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman.- Maya Angelo



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Going a little bit against the grain here cuz I do believe Alanon tools would be to detach further and set a more firm boundary and then inform her of that.

I don't know what attempts at empathic communication will do but I assume your wife still has some/most of her mental faculties. She probably is already somewhat ashamed of her behavior. I assume she doesn't like to scream and rant but is upset at how far her life has spiraled downwards due to her alcoholism and self-defeatism.

So...an attempt at communication where you try and reduce blaming and take out as much of your own anger might help (but it might not). All I am suggesting is something like "I want to talk about what happened on my birthday. That argument we had (even though it was her that was having it) is something I want do avoid in the future. We can't be arguing like that in front of the kids. Also, there is a lot of tension between us, but a lot of caring is still there too. It hurts me to get screamed at like that and if you have feelings that strong about something, I want us to be able to talk about the issue instead of screaming."

Now...these types of conversations are pointless with many active alcoholics, but there are shades of gray and I'm not sure if your wife is so deep into it that she is incapable of perspective taking and empathy. You have to work as a team to be parents so your best effort at communication is warranted.

If this doesn't work, then you can set a really firm boundary like "I will not be verbally abused in front of the kids or anywhere else. If you do this I will call the police to have you removed and I will only abide by the visitation schedule that is legally mandated." Once you try to communicate with empathy, you can make a boundary like this because you know you did everything in your power to avoid having to make it first and your side of the street is clean.



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For me the boundaries are not said with empathy.  Empathy is the big hole in their. If I were to have empathy for the addicts/alcoholics I live with they'd find more reasons to jutify their behavior.  I have had to set a firm, "no" no matter what.

The one that "gets" me is the issue that they are "sick" but at the same time demand the right to "party".  I'm no longer willing to get into that.  Of course no one else is "sick" but them!

I think the other issue is that when you set a boundary with an alcoholic be sure you are going to be on their negative list. Since I've set boundaries, which are far better than me arguing, I'm far far more unpopular.  After all how dare I have a need.

 

Maresie.



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maresie


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In reading these replies, especially the last 2, it makes me realize again that you can't have any expectations when dealing with your A; I feel like a constructive conversation like pinkchip outlined, as good as an idea as it seems, would be a waste of time in this case. Been there, done that, specifically after she put her fist through the glass of a framed photo of us while we were eating dinner last year, yes, in front of the kids. I calmly told her shortly after that that it was out of line and nothing like that should happen again. "I know, I know, you're right, I'm sorry...". And here we are.

I think the consequence has to be FOR ME. That's what this all comes back to. My goal isn't to punish her, she is punishing herself enough I am sure, and even if she isn't that is not my job. My goal is for me to define and determine what I will do if and when I am treated like this again. I still don't know what that is, but I have an idea, as I mentioned earlier, and that is to basically "detach", although not the way we define it--I will be civil to you and cordial to you, especially in front of the children. But when the children are in bed, I will live my life and likely won't include you. Meaning I won't sit and watch tv with you, I won't sit side by side with you as we are on our individual computers, I won't go to bed with you (not intimacy, as that hasn't been on the table for 3 years) together, etc. And I will not do these things because someone who treats me with such a total lack of respect does not deserve my time.

But most importantly, I will not just do this, I will explain to her why I am doing this.

Anyway, that is my plan for now.

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Well I do have expectations when I am dealing with the alcoholics who I live with. I expect them to act out but I expect them not to bring their mess to me.  They certainly do continue to use and drink to excess. The issue is that they no longer do the things that affected me because there are consequences when they do.  They didn't stop drinking or using they just changed the behavior that affected me.  I certainly don't expect them to stop!  Been there and done that.

I also quite honestly don't expect their behavior to keep up.

One of my roommates smoke. You are not supposed to smoke in the house.  I must have asked her 100 times to shut the door. Every time I do, I get the excuses.  She can keep it up for a month at best.  This week we had spare the air days, my asthma was very bad.  She had her door open and I could barely breathe.  I will now have to ask her to keep her door closed again.  I have had to revisit my expectation that she can hold to anything!

Maresie.



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maresie


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Well...since you tried the humane and empathic communication already...Your side of the street is clean now when you make those boundaries and stick to them.

As an aside, I don't know why I didn't assume that you'd already tried that form of communication before and it that it didn't work out too well. This does show I have more experience walking in the A's shoes as opposed to the spouse. I never changed and would rationalize everything all the way up to the point that I chose to be in recovery.

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i think empathy should be reserved for those who go to AA and are working hard at sobriety. if this is not happening- i totally agree its good to set th boundarys, but since when do drunks stick to boundarys? what do you do when you are living with one? and one who starts ranting infront of the kids?

there is no get out option is there. you cant say to them- stop being drunk- stop being nasty and stop ranting.

and i think this is the situation here- although all the advice given so far is spot on- and really good.

but what hope do you have when an A is in full siwng- full drunk mode and is in the house?

also- if this person seperated- the A would still have contact. visitation rights....or even whole custody.

its a v difficult situation...

but excellent spot on advice from al-anon members i think- who have been there and got all the tee shirts.



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rosie
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