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Post Info TOPIC: Stuck on understanding Step One


Member

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Stuck on understanding Step One


I am having a very hard time with Step One. While I'm trying to accept that I have no control over alcoholism or its symptoms and that I need to allow the alcoholic to deal with the consequences of his choices, I feel so many consequences effect only me. How do I still take the snide comments and insinuations that I'm not good enough, don't do enough for him? Or have to answer the phone calls from creditors who call for payments on loans made in my name because he didn't have good enough credit?  Or calm myself from the urge to lash out at him when it's his addiction that has brought me so much disrespect and disregard for my efforts? What if it's not just the alcohol that's causing him to be this way? What if he's truly a horrible person with or without the alcohol? I do know that Al-Anon will help me regardless but I'm so stuck being able to fully let Step One enter my mind.



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~*Service Worker*~

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Hello Natalie, if you are having problems with Step One, I would suggest that you attempt to use the slogans in order to help you respond to the negative consequences of this dreadful disease.
Here are the slogans in poem format

Slogans in a Poem by Coach Papa

First Things First - I have heard it said - Be Honest With yourself, - get out of your head - You can Feel Good -About Saying "No" - Keep Coming Back to - Talk And Grow - Easy Does It - sounds real nice - If you Keep It Simple - you don't roll the dice - Live And Let Live - Brings it back to you - They're in recovery, - you are, too - What's to Be will Be - So, Let Go & Let God - Just wait and see - That one Day At A Time - Is more than a phrase - In Al-Anon, - it's the phrase that pays - Think! Listen And Learn - or watch bridges burn - Keep An Open Mind, - Now it's your turn - Is your serenity worth it - Just, Fake It 'Till You Make It! - I am pretty sure, You can - Cause, How - important is it? - In time, you will understand - It's true, we're all different, - But, together we can make it - If you feel that you can't, - Then, once again, fake it - When you let it begin with me - The fog will raise, - the sun will shine - Your eyes will see - Slogans are there - For you to use - Say one every day - So you don't sing the blues - It works when you work it - We say and it's true - We're all here to help - But your recovery is up to you.

I have found that the slogans and the steps work together in order to solve our serious problems. I found working with the slogans enabled me to move into the steps smoothly and with little difficulty.

. Please keep coming back



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Betty

THE HIGHEST FORM OF WISDOM IS KINDNESS

Talmud


~*Service Worker*~

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For me Natalie, Step One is two-part.....I agree, understanding I was powerless over another's drinking was logical in my mind....I struggled with the unmanageable and also felt my life was manageable - exception the stuff my A had done/was doing. It took me a while to get this and to realize that if I stay present in the moment, one day at a time, and deal with life on life's terms, it would become more manageable.

What I learned early on was I had choices. When mine were disrespectful or hateful, I could choose to leave the room, ignore the comments, react (which lead to chaos....and I had tried that with no success), call a program person, leave for a meeting, etc. I did not have to do what I did before - whatever that was....I could do something different. Anything different changed the dynamics and I tried many things while trying to get my sanity back.

Keep in mind that it does NOT say our life is unmanageable because of us, them, the drink or anything else. It just suggests that we accept we are powerless and our life has become unmanageable. If you click through the top right, to the Step Board, you can see some questions/answers for each Step in the program.

Attending lots of meetings and getting a sponsor helped me tremendously as I had tons of denial in me - built up for a long while. Keep coming back - you're not alone!

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Practice the PAUSE...Pause before judging.  Pause before assuming.  Pause before accusing.  Pause whenever you are about to react harshly and you will avoid doing and saying things you will later regret.  ~~~~  Lori Deschene

 

 



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Thank you for your guidance! And forgive me if this question seems simple but I really need to understand. Am I thinking correctly if what I took from it is that it's the dynamic of all things- the alcoholism, his words, my words, the attitudes, the stress, the history, etc. - that is the cause, not just him and his drinking? Because I can certainly see my part in getting us where we are. I've said and done some awful stuff too. I've added to the problem, sometimes not realizing and sometimes knowing completely what I'm doing but not caring.  And I do know that continuing with the same will only make things worse and make me feel even more shame than I already do. Am I on the right track? If I am, I think I can focus on things differently than just feeling like every comment or phone call or act of ugliness is one more to add to his list.  And then from there I can let the slogans be my reminders of how to keep going with strength. Please correct me if I'm off base.



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Senior Member

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Hi Natalie...I had a hard time with all 3 of the first 3 steps, but step, is just accepting that we are POWERLESS over people , places and things out side of us....thats all it is...accepting that I cannot change or control or cure or fix or rescue anyone but me, not really......and how do you know if hes a horrible person??? well I think the alcohol for a lot of cases, brings out whats really inside of a person...if they are hateful, they will be more hateful..if they are a adulterer, the booze will erase any inhibitions about cheating...If they are abusive?? the alcohol takes away any hesitancy to abuse...this is what I saw in my experiences...My mother was a selfish raging alcoholic...when I did my family of origin research adn discovery, asking folks, looking back at mine and my now deceased sister's memories..I even talked with her younger sister....and asked  "what was she like before she turned into a materialistic, raging, selfish, mean spirited woman??? most of them said as a girl, she wanted to "marry up"  didn't matter if the guy had morals ,but she wanted her fur coats and trips to Europe....she SAID this to my younger brother that all the darkness in that home, all the evil that happened to her own children  was "worth it because I got my fur coats and my trips to europe"   she was not a nice girl, even back then as tee totler....she just wasn't...she wasn't a criminal or anything like that, but she sold her own children out to satisfy and gratify HER wants, and to hell with us kids....I remember clearly, we younger kids, myself and my brothers had not been fed supper that evening...and here she adn her even worse monster husband are both eating HUGE t-bone steaks...We kids sat on teh floor by their table, hoping for some food....when they stuffed themselves, I remember there was 4 of us...hungry little kids, and they , being 2 people, had 2 bones...they tossed the bones at us and watched us fight over those 2 bones.....she just was worse when drunk....

there are just toxic and horrid people where the alcohol makes them worse...I don't buy into the Devil made me do it because I have seen too many other addicts do NOT abuse or misuse the young..or cheat on their wives, or verbally crush another's spirit...yea, my brothers in law could be rude and pushy and demanding, but they did not abuse my bio sister nor our adopted sister....I loved both my brothers in law and they wre active alcoholics, but they didn't do mean shit to their spouses and their kids.......

This is just MY experience...I hope you can get into face to face meetings and hang out with nicer and healthier people who won't treat you like crap, but accept you as is, as a lovable and acceptable human being....I would focus on myself and just let him suffer his consequences.....I am sorry you have loans outsanding due to his bad credit...You didn't say if you are married to him or not, but yea, if the loan is in your name, you are responsbile....I would not extend myself financially or any other way for this active alcoholic who seems not to appreciate you.....i woudl let him suffer all the bad karma he is making and MAYBE he will be forced to sober up and stay that way

in the meantime, Al=anon will show you how to live for yourself, and to take care of yourself and be responsible for just you because your life path is about what YOU do and where YOU are at...Not the people in your life...hes a lesson ...you will figure it out when you , I wold get a sponsor to help me with the steps...thats what i did when I started out...so I could figure out why I did things and why I accepted unacceptable behavior on the part of others...as I began to reclaim me, i began to set boundaries, say "NO" and not feel obligated to explain why i am saying "NO"  "NO" is a one word sentence.......

please give Al-anon a chance...You deserve better than this and Al-anon will show you how to get that better way of life......................HUGS of support



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Rose:

*** KEEP IT SIMPLE***



~*Service Worker*~

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Aloha Nat and welcome to the board.  The previous responses are right on and I am sure more are coming.  When I first got to Al-Anon I was a mess and didn't even know what alcoholism was or how to spell it.  I didn't know that I didn't know and came to say that I was a dumb as a stick.  Over time by taking one day at a time and often learning at a slower pace I found out I was born and raised in the disease and so needed to learn at a slow pace.  It's okay and in fact for many of us it should be that way. I even went to college on the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction as the wife I was married to then was dual addicted and our life was in chaos continually.   

The MIP forum is a great family of help and I hope you join in and work with us as we work with each other to learn more and do better with what we have learned and earned.  Be careful taking anything with the alcoholic too personally this is the nastiest of diseases I have ever encountered.   ((((hugs)))) smile



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Bo


Senior Member

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Hi NatalieP, and welcome. I too struggled with Step One when I first started attending al-anon meetings. The desire and urge to lash out, try to reason, yell, whatever my reaction was -- for me, was simply because I did not yet have a complete and total understanding and handle on the one thing that Step One has to offer...and that is...ACCEPTANCE. That has nothing to do with the consequences that have an impact on you, the phone calls from creditors, etc. Step One -- powerlessness, your life being unmanageable, all has to do with you and your acceptance; or lack of.

I suggest that you attendance to face meetings. As many as you can. Find a sponsor, and start doing the work with your sponsor -- and yes, of course, start with Step One. Step One is not simply "admitting" -- it is about "accepting" -- and yes, there is a difference between the two. You sound like you do admit it. Intellectually, it is easy for us to admit we are powerless...but it is far more, and to a much greater level and depth, to accept it. You can can admit it -- but not accept it. There is a lot of discussion you can have and a lot of work that you can do with your sponsor -- and that will allow you to more understand the methodology and meaning behind the words in the step.

Second, in doing all of that work, you can turn to the daily readers, and do every reading on acceptance, every day. Immersing yourself in acceptance will allow you get a complete and total handle on it. Third, you can start to learn and work on detachment, both physical and emotional, and start to make change -- in your behavior, actions, reactions, and thinking. You can also start to learn more healthy ways -- healthy for you -- to handle some of the "trickle down" or "collateral damage" type situations that do impact you. With a handle on acceptance, and better and healthy thinking and behaving on your part, you'll be much better equipped to handle of those situations. All of the things you have to deal with -- his comments, the phone calls, etc. -- you will be far better equipped to deal with all of that, once you start focusing on YOU and doing the work.

This is not about him, trying to figure him out, whether he's good or bad because of the alcohol, etc. This is about YOU. The steps, Step One, and the next eleven steps...are for YOU. Not him.

Good luck and keep coming back.

 



-- Edited by Bo on Sunday 6th of August 2017 11:53:57 PM

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Bo

Keep coming back...

God, grant me the serenity...to accept the PEOPLE I cannot change...the courage to change the ONE I can...and the wisdom to know it's ME...

 



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Acceptance does NOT mean I agree with it, like it, want it....it only means that I ACCEPT what is...the reality of what is in front of me NOW and accepting that "this is what it is" and there is nothing i can do outside of the chalk circle I drew around my feet...I can only change, help, control, ME....and this program is about YOU...reclaiming YOU...loving YOU...taking care of YOU...getting to know the real YOU......IN SUPPORT

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Rose:

*** KEEP IT SIMPLE***

Bo


Senior Member

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Excellent point Rose...thank you for posting this.



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Bo

Keep coming back...

God, grant me the serenity...to accept the PEOPLE I cannot change...the courage to change the ONE I can...and the wisdom to know it's ME...

 



Senior Member

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For me, acceptance meant shedding my denial about what was happening... that my attempts to help the A did not actually help or improve anything, my support didn't affect his behavior... because i am *powerless*. and that my help was actually enabling it all to continue (financial support, for example), which meant my life became more and more *unmanageable*. i was waiting and wishing things would change and improve, but that did not happen. 

it doesn't mean that the unmanageability and all the kinds of details you mention doesn't make you feel exasperated! it IS exasperating, and even more so when we feel the frustration of the consequences and the A is tuned out or unbothered. we are the ones that become alarmed at the chaos surrounding us. but i think acceptance is about recognizing it all and laying down your sword. it's not about liking it or accepting abuse. it's about recognizing WHAT IS and that we are literally powerless to do anything about anyone other than ourselves. (which will then beg the question: what can i do differently?)



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Bo


Senior Member

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Yes, laying down the sword...very good analogy. Think about the proverbial ping pong match. When someone hits you the ping pong ball...you put down the paddle...

There is no ping pong when one person puts down the paddle.

In the proverbial tug of war...simply drop the rope...

While acceptance may involve shedding one's denial...it also involves stopping doing what one always did. Stopping trying to do anything about it. Stopping the efforts to control, fix, cure, prove, be right, stop, prevent, etc., stopping all of that with him, to him, and so on.

There could be a great deal of drama, chaos and turmoil around your life...but it doesn't have to be in your life.

What can we do differently? Everything. Thinking, behavior, actions, reactions, our role, our contributions, our participation, and more.

Take action for you. To help you and take care of you. So you can get better.

The phone calls from the creditors is just one area -- where there is a consequence that directly impacts you -- where you can perhaps take action. Talk to your sponsor about it, and start. Nothing changes if nothing changes...and YOU CAN ONLY CHANGE YOU.

Keep coming back.

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Bo

Keep coming back...

God, grant me the serenity...to accept the PEOPLE I cannot change...the courage to change the ONE I can...and the wisdom to know it's ME...

 



~*Service Worker*~

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I kind of got to step 1 before attending a meeting, the disease beat me down and I knew I was powerless which is why I went to Alanon in the first place so I don't know if I can fully offer much. I use the daily readers, the Courage to Change, the One day at a Time and I go to the back and look up every reading for step 1 and I read and think and write out the main points that I can understand and I think about it in relation to me and my life. Its a doing program, Ive heard that a lot recently, we cant think ourselves different, we can do the actions, work the program by doing, writing, talking, listening, thinking about it over and over. Its a life changing task, like learning a different language but its learning a different thinking that changes your life beyond your wildest dreams. Its big but only if you want it and its not effortless.



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Member

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Unfortunately I have the tendency to slam my ping pong paddle down on the table and stomp out of the room.  Well, not literally, but I still want to respond with anger when I'm faced with a sarcastic remark from him or I want to tell him if he can't take care of his financial responsibility then that vehicle needs to be sold or traded in on something he CAN handle  (with the insinuation that he's not grown up enough to handle grown up things). The anger is so out of my character and its physically hurting me. It makes me so nervous to lose my temper. I shake and my stomach hurts. I cry and then get so physically exhausted. I do know my life is unmanageable. I know it's possible he just doesn't have the respect and love to give so expecting it is setting myself up. I just can't understand why, after 10 years, it's still so hard for me to get it. It's obvious but give me just one good day and I'm back to having hope which leads to frustration and anger when it inevitably gets ugly again.



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Bo


Senior Member

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I think that's very common (slamming and stomping) early on in the program and in recovery. I know it was with me. It is not easy to change, and "let go" of that anger, frustration, old and perhaps innate behavior, etc. The anger was very much out of my character and not who I am -- but it was who I became. My thinking, behavior and reactions became very distorted, very different, etc.

When you do finally arrive at a place of acceptance, you will recognize, and accept that he is an alcoholic. He is emotionally incapable of doing, giving, being, etc., what you want and expect. He is incapable of normal, healthy and loving behavior. He is simply not able to give what you deserve, want, expect, and he's not able to be who you want, deserve and expect. Until then, you have those expectations...and what happens? You get angry, disappointed, frustrated, hurt, and more.

This is about you and you making change. Keep coming back.

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Bo

Keep coming back...

God, grant me the serenity...to accept the PEOPLE I cannot change...the courage to change the ONE I can...and the wisdom to know it's ME...

 



Senior Member

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You sort of have to give up and start over. When you are tired enough step one will be easy. Fighting it won't help, just let go and let god as we say. Trust that the program will be there for you. Kind of like that trust game when someone stands behind you, and then they tell you to fall and they will catch you. Alanon will be there if you let it. Get a sponsor and go to face to face meetings, read the literature, listen to pod cast. You are not alone, there is a very big fellowship of people that have been in exactly the same places as you have.

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Sharon 

Bo


Senior Member

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All good points...thank you shrnp.

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Bo

Keep coming back...

God, grant me the serenity...to accept the PEOPLE I cannot change...the courage to change the ONE I can...and the wisdom to know it's ME...

 



Senior Member

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Hi there Natalie,
I can relate to where you are. It took me a long time to truly accept that I was powerless over my AH and his drinking or my AH in general. Finally coming to this conclusion was a huge relief. My AH and I had a long history of exchanging nasty or critical comments to each other. I learned to step away from his comments instead of reacting with retaliation. That was a real gift to me. I would just walk away when I felt myself getting angry and ready to react. That's the best I could do at the time but it was a lot better than what I had been doing to myself with getting so angry. I started to say to myself "that's just alcoholism" and walk away and try not to take it to heart. I had a lot of time on my hands in the beginning going for walks, leaving the house for a while to do some shopping, visiting friends etc. Whatever I had to do to get some peace for myself. The more I worked the steps and used the tools the better I got at dealing with things and the more our relationship changed for the better. Keep working the program you are doing great.

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~*Service Worker*~

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Hugs Natalie,

I am so sorry you are dealing with this right now ... I think how I tried to back into being powerless over anything that is a noun. This applies to everything in my life.

When I stand up and I place my finger on my nose everything I am touching is what I am in control over. During pre alanon days I could not see I had any choices which made me feel helpless. I was at the whim of the A and had no power .. so I did the victim stuff.

Being helpless sucks, it means no choices, all I can do is complain. I survive I do not live. Before Alanon I had little enjoyment of being in the now because I was always focused on something else. Being powerless I am coming from a place of acceptance and understanding while I can't control the noun in my life .. there is always a choice. So I might complain at first I can step back and say hmm .. what is the consequence I want and work towards that situation.

I felt very victimized by my XAH and rightfully so .. however living there became to painful. The anger was exhausting and draining. I really had the epiphany of what do I really want. That's where I became powerful because I stopped looking at the damage he was doing and seeing the damage I was doing.

As far as the credit issues .. where can you cut your losses. Can you renegotiate your terms with some of these people and if you can't who can. I shifted a LOT of things to my XAH as far as financial went and it worked out well. It meant talking to people with a clear head and knowing what I wanted and needed for my own survival .. I cut my credit loose because guess what .. it wasn't going to be fixed in 30 days. It is what it is. My serenity and in my case freedom meant a whole lot more. There is hope in your situation .. I learned I had to get out of my own way to find it.

Big hugs and keep coming back .. How Alanon Works has some great stuff on Powerlessness .. I highly recommend the book.

S :)

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"I cannot learn other people's lessons for them.  They must do the work for themselves, and they will do it when they are ready." - Louise Hay



~*Service Worker*~

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I too can relate to what you share. I truly had to consciously work to just keep my mouth closed....there's a slogan WAIT - Why Am I Talking that really helped me. My past experience with the disease told me that I was not heard when I was super-charged emotionally - anger or sadness or even excitement. In my home, their were blocks to my voice with emotion. So - I just stopped for a while until some sanity returned and I could actually share what mattered to me (not them, not the alcohol, not anything else) using I statements.

It was an amazing experience to watch - as I stopped reacting, they stopped 'poking the bear, stirring the pot, etc.' There was a strange silence for a bit and then...as said above, we kind of had a do-over. What I learned in when I speak kindly, softly and with I statements, they either agree, respond respectfully and disagree or do not know what to do.

Grateful for the members who came before me and reminded me that the current status was 'long in process' and would not be resolved/corrected quickly. Digging out emotionally, financially, etc. is a process - small steps are a great start...

(((hugs))) - it took me a long while to accept that when I reacted while angry, I was pretty insane. I can see now why they looked at me as if I had horns coming out of my head!!!

__________________

Practice the PAUSE...Pause before judging.  Pause before assuming.  Pause before accusing.  Pause whenever you are about to react harshly and you will avoid doing and saying things you will later regret.  ~~~~  Lori Deschene

 

 



~*Service Worker*~

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Accepting that he is an alcoholic doesn't mean that you have to put up with the nasty comments or the chaos.  It just means accepting that this is who he is - whether for right now, as an alcoholic, or just because he is a nasty person underneath, if that's true.  Or both.  Whichever it is, that's who he is and how he is.  But we don't have to stick around for it.  We can leave the room when it happens.  Or leave the relationship.  We have many options.  Not all of them are available immediately, but in the long run they are.  I thought my A was a great guy who just happened to have this little problem.  The truth was that the guy and the problem were the same.  There was no guy without the problem.  When I realized that he was not going to stop drinking, and that things were going to stay the same, that changed my view of my options.  Take good care of yourself.



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Member

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I was able to walk away from the chaos earlier today and not engage in it. I wish I could say that I felt better but I didn't. I had a long cry. He seems desperate to make this my fault. So when I stay quiet and keep all emotion from my face or find something to busy myself with or leave the room, in his mind I'm "refusing to meet him halfway". Even when he's sober, he doesn't see the hurt he's done.

I listened to a podcast that mentioned keeping yourself safe, not just physically but emotionally as well. There has been physical altercations between us in the past, with me as guilty of it as he is. But it's been the emotional hurts that have been worse, in my situation. Maybe I haven't really understood as much as I thought I did about how alcohol has warped everything. I get angry because I keep assuming he has the option to stop and be reasonable and in fact he isn't capable at all.  He may be too far to have options anymore.  It's a lonely thing to live with someone who carries himself well enough to hide the alcoholism from the rest of the world. He's so helpful to so many outside of our house and I'm the raging crazy or the weeping mess. I guess I get convinced he's ok too and that's when my mind gets turned inside out.

I have plans to go to my first meeting this Thursday. Honestly, I had plans to go last Saturday and didn't, then tonight and didn't. I am saying this to you all because maybe it will be an incentive to be held to what I'm announcing.  I'm really terrified of walking in that room, but I keep telling myself that it will be a temporary feeling because I'll be in the right place. I need the fellowship and the physical presence of people who can understand instead of telling me that I just need to leave or thinking I'm hateful for being so angry at times. Actually, that's only what I think people would say or think. I don't actually know from experience because I haven't really told anyone the full weight of it. I'm too ashamed of my own behavior and for staying with him through some pretty awful things he's done.

Thank you all for the encouragement to keep going. I'm so often on an emotional roller coaster and it helps more than I can express to see that there is calm somewhere down the road for me if I just keep going forward.



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Senior Member

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That is great you were able to walk away. You said you get angry because you think he has option to stop and be reasonable. He is sick, and the disease is subtle if you have been exposed to it day after day, year after year. If someone took a new medication the doctor prescribed and acted strange you would blame it on the drugs. Alcohol is a drug too, and it changes peoples behavior. Addicts and alcoholics cannot control their addictive behavior. We cannot control it either, but we can change our reactions.

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Sharon 



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That is great that you walked away. A meeting is always the right place for me to be if I am feeling the way you describe. There is no better medicine for me than being in a meeting with people who absolutely understand the insanity of the disease. Who can relate to how I think and feel. You are not alone Natalie. I hope your meeting goes well. Take care.

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El


Senior Member

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I honestly thought I had Step One down.  Not so......as my mind is still immediately trying to figure out how to show AH that his drinking is escalating. 

As I shared in the past, AH had hip replacement and since he has been off his pain meds he is back to drinking with a vengeance.  I suspect he has a stash of hard liquor in the garage, but is just (?) drinking beer in front of me.  The good news for me is that I refuse to go searching for it.  I already know it will amount to nothing changing, and it will only infuriate me if I see it.  So, as I suspect the stash is there....that is enough I need to know.

How I know I am still struggling with step one.......I have been making a mark in my calendar each night he goes to bed drunk.  My initial thought was that at the end of the month I would show him a visual of the # of nights he was drunk.   Hahaha...right?  Like it matters.  I could have a power point presentation on what he drank / how much / where  / when / with whom / how he was dressed......and it wouldn't matter!  So, the only thing my calendar markings prove is that I have not fully accepted Step One!   However, that is OK, as I know I need to keep going back and re-working my program. 

Have a grand day!

Ellen



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