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Post Info TOPIC: struggling with the past


Veteran Member

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Posts: 37
Date:
struggling with the past


I am a proud member of alanon and go to f2f meetings. My AH is in a 12 step based recovery inpatient and is doing amazing. We live separately but aren't divorcing and intend to stay together assuming he continues on his recovery. My challenge is... I'm struggling. He has admitted he can't remember most of what he did to cause the separation due to his high level of alcohol use at the time. The things he does remember he doesn't seem very apologetic for. His recovery is his. I respect that. But I'm not sure what tools I have to let this go. I want him to recognize my pain - not that he must punish himself but I just want him to recognize it. He may not be able to do that right now - he may not be in a place to do that *ever*. He says he is open to discussing what I may need to, but I'm hesitant to do this so early in his recovery although I do feel it may help me... I want to be sure I am instigating this for the right reasons. I have prayed and read tons of program materials trying to sort this out and I'm struggling. I feel like I should just be able to "let it go"... But he is the person I love and he is the person who did these things. I need to reconcile this somehow and I can't. In our 12 step group therapy the counselor said it's cognitive dissonance. I can't sleep. I'm struggling. Thank you for reading.

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~*Service Worker*~

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Posts: 1629
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Welcome Jen - I'll preface this by first saying this would be a great discussion to have with your sponsor - and if you don't have one, this kind of stuff is exactly what sponsors are good at.

That said, I have a sponsor and sometimes I come here to hash things out between our calls or if she's not available.

My exAH did a lot of hurtful things to our relationship - things that definitely hurt me. I remember one night wishing I had some kind of magic wand that I could use to transfer the massive pain I was feeling onto him to make him understand just how hurt I was.

The thing with alcoholism is the alcoholic is either heavily in denial or very honestly completely oblivious to any harm they've caused. I learned in the program that I had to keep taking the focus back to me - stay on my side of the street, else I'd just instigate another fight by trying to force the alcoholic to understand me or explain his behaviors to me. Once my focus is off myself, I find usually only misery is sure to follow. My sponsor encouraged me to ask myself why it was so important to me that the alcoholic understand my side. Was that not just another form of control? I want the alcoholic to change and understand me so I can finally be happy.

A couple things got me to stop expecting an apology or acknowledgement of any kind from the alcoholic for his behaviors. What helped me most was to understand that that may NEVER come. EVER. I had a choice to make - did I want to be angry and resentful for the rest of my life, putting the power of my serenity in the hands of the alcoholic, waiting for an amends that would never come? Or did I want to be happy NOW? I'd sometimes picture myself as an old lady, hostile and bitter because so-and-so never apologized to me 40 years ago.

My happiness is not nor ever will be contingent on the behaviors of others. It's all an inside job - and that's the other piece of knowledge that helped me remember to stop looking outside for solutions to my happiness. I love the quote from Abraham Lincoln on our Just For Today bookmark. This always brought me back to reality: "Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be."

I hope this was helpful for you. I encourage you to take your focus back to yourself. What can you do to make yourself happy that is not contingent on the alcoholic changing?

For me, things that helped me immensely were getting to meetings frequently, participating in fellowship before, after, and between meetings, working the steps with my sponsor, and participating in service. A lot of those things help get me out of my obsessive thinking and I find it gets easier and easier to let things go. And, of course, remembering to bring God into the equation and hand my will - my hurt, my anxiety, my anger, all if it - over to God.



-- Edited by Aloha on Tuesday 11th of February 2020 02:54:48 PM

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Bo


~*Service Worker*~

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Posts: 1511
Date:

It is absolutely cognitive dissonance.

How do you "let go" normally? Simple, step by step, how do you do it?


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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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Posts: 2502
Date:

Hi Jen,

What helped me through when my loved one was in an inpatient rehab was talking it out with an Alanon sponsor. Some things were very personal and not for group sharing. Even though this kind of sharing with a sponsor didn't feel quite like getting direct acknowledgement from my exah of the wrongs, it was validation of my feelings and it brought some comfort. Releasing the feelings to someone I trusted was a de stressor. It helped my physical and emotional well-being. Talking to my higher power about what weighed heavily on my heart was also helpful.

The rehab had encouraged me to find Alanon and work my own program of recovery while my husband worked his. Early in his time at an inpatient rehab (much more than just 28 days), he was very ill and suffering the physiological effects of withdrawing. His moods were all over the map and he just didn't feel well. I chose to trust the rehab and follow their guidance concerning his well-being. In the beginning there was no contact from family. He was on his own with others recovering and the staff.

There did come a time when I could have a discussion with him with a family therapist present at the rehab. I felt that was beneficial. I was also glad to let the rehab, the professionals make the call as to when they felt my ex was ready for that sort of participation. It was a relief to put that responsibility in the hands of someone else. It was not solely the family therapist who made this call but rather an interdisplinary team that included licensed drug and alcohol counselors who were in recovery themselves to whom my husband was assgined.  In the earliest of days he was very fragile. His mind and body had been through a lot of physiological trauma as a result of his use and time was needed for stability.

I'm sorry you're struggling and for the hurts you are carrying. Whether your husband remembers or not doesn't change the fact that these things happened to you and traumatized you. The nature of those hurts can dictate what sort of additional help if any you might seek. Womens advocacy groups, one to one therapy, clergy or additional 12 step group. But for this moment... remember, your are a loveable person and a loving person. The struggle to separate the alcoholic from their disease is a common one. Time and experience can help with determining what we can and cannot forgive. I also feel more comfortable in my decision making when I ask my hp for guidance. Our journeys are so individual and personal. I trust my higher power to help me because my hp knows my whole story. Wishing you the best. Keep taking good care of you. I hope you get restful sleep tonight. (((hugs)) TT



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Faith unsticks fear.



~*Service Worker*~

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Posts: 1991
Date:

 

  Hi Jen... sleep is precious- and as essential as water, and food.

                the main A. in my life was my dad. He saw nothing wrong with "I night out with the boys", even if that was every night.

He did not and could not remember much, because he was medicated with alcohol. And he could not face the issues, without drinking.

The AA big book talks about ~emotional sobriety~. We would call it serenity, or emotional maturity, or emotional intimacy. The ability to connect with others in a safe and meaningful way.

Alanon has given me all this, along with some extra help.

In the rooms, you might see a raised eyebrow, or hear an "uhuh"... as you take your turn to speak. None of us are in tis alone anymore. smile ...

Nice to hear your share... awwawwawwawwawwawwaww...



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One day at a time.



~*Service Worker*~

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Posts: 2958
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One idea, that worked well for me (as I can fully appreciate the feelings you are struggling with - I lived many years wanting my ex-AW to acknowledge the pain she had caused me, and it didn't happen until recently - some 15+ years into her recovery)...

 

Have you ever tried a "God box", or something similar?  The concept is you write down those things that are bothering you, and "symbolically" place them into a box to allow your HP to deal with them.  The variation that I used - every bit as powerful - was to write out my list, and then burned the list at an outdoor fire.....  it was freeing, and helpful....

 

Regards

Tom



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"He is either gonna drink, or he won't.... what are YOU gonna do?"

"What you think of me is none of my business"

"If you knew the answer to what you are worrying about, would it REALLY change anything?"

 

 

 

 



Senior Member

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Posts: 224
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Letting go For me the letting go came out of nowhere it was when I was ready I still have not #let go# of some of the resentment I feel to the e A. I have not seen them in years The kettingbgo happened when I also cane you terms with I.was not going to get an amends I am staying with a friend of mine who is an alcoholic right now. I.do not have the kevel of resentment I have had to him in the past Nevertheless I do have resentment towards him right now for his actions. He is an incredibly self absorbed person Al anon helps me tremendously I stay in my side of the street I have stopped trying to fix everything NY friend who.i.am staying with has many issues. I do not discuss them with him The difference today is I have many issues today. I no longer have to try to.nahe it better for him I only have to try to.mahe it better for me Right now that is a herculean effort Stopping trying to make it better for others is a huge issue for me. I spent my whole life doing it I will be staying with my friend for another err two months it should have been two more weeks It is a huge testament to my program that I can deal with this. Needkess to say I would rather not deal with it. This friend is one of the longest relationships I have had. I am at peace with what it is ar the moment which is not that great .. I have also given up weighing whether it would gave been better for me to stay at the hotel. That was the other option I had I am also working st a job I.want to leave. There are numerous problems at the job I.have to work on when it is the right time for ne to do that . Forcing ourselves to let go is not that productive. I.am no longer consumed with resentment in ways I once was but wrking a program requires a lot if discipline I am so grateful I.have one Without this group I would not have one Maresie

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~*Service Worker*~

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Posts: 10331
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Jen - great to see you again and sorry for your pain. I will say a quick congrats. that your AH is in treatment - sending prayers and positive energy for his journey! I could write novels on 'this' from both sides of the room. I will say that when a person self-medicates with mind altering substances for any period of time, it takes a long while for the clouds to clear in the head. I have been sober for 32+ years and yet, believe it or not, there are still times when someone will say, "Do you remember when................." and I do not remember. I was a black-out drinker and missed more than I know apparently.

The disease and all that it brings is never, ever a reason or excuse for bad behavior. I will share also that for most alcoholics, emotional maturity ceases at the point substance abuse began. So, the way I see it, when I did get sober, my emotional age was about 13! Again, not an excuse or reason for bad behavior just possibly an explanation for his inability to 'see' your pain and'acknowledge' your pain. He may never get there, he may get there at some point - not too sure. Even if he stays sober for the balance of his life, he may not see things your way...

From the Al-Anon perspective, I know that anytime I start having expectations about what is going to 'happen', I am usually disappointed. Not always in a bad way - just saying that for me and my recovery, projection has never served me well. I do not like or use labels unless a therapeutic diagnosis because it gives me an excuse to shift my focus away from me and my recovery and focus on qualities, mannerisms, etc. in others. For me, when I am confused, discontent or bothered by anything going on around me, it does serve me well to increase my recovery efforts - meetings, readings, step work, sponsor, etc. More often than not, I am affected because I am resisting acceptance of another person, place or thing exactly as it is today.

I've always been told and do embrace that feelings are real yet they are not facts. What this means for me is that I can be legit. hurt or sad or mad or another. But today, with recovery, I have choices and do not have to exist for an hour, a day or longer believing and reacting as if that feeling is permanent. I too have used a God box to put in things that have me obsessing with the intent of giving them to the God of my understanding. When I can't sleep, I add that as well. Instead of counting sheep or the like, I repeat the Serenity Prayer over and over until I go to sleep. I can struggle with intended prayer when my mind is cluttered, so this helps me remember who's really in charge, and it's not me.

I practice embracing One Day at a Time each/every day so that when 'real life happens' I'm better able to deal with the next right thing for this day only. I have also worked extensively with my sponsor on forgiving others, not necessarily to fix a relationship, but instead to free me up for continued growth/change. If/when I am holding onto the past and resentments from the past, I really must find some way/tool to release them as it affects me from head to toes. Today, I know that forgiveness is for me completely and not about anyone else or for anyone else.

I've loved this quote from the first time I saw it on another user's signature here: "Forgiveness doesn't excuse bad behavior, but it does prevent bad behavior from destroying your heart". ~ unknown

It speaks to me, in a simple way that resonates. I also am a big believer in keeping my mind, life, days, program, etc. as simple as possible.  Three simple tools, working together, have gotten through some absolutely horrific life events, Write About It, Pray About It, Talk About It and I'm grateful I learned that/this here!

Love and light to you Jen - be gentle with you esp. if you're not sleeping well.  It's easy for me to complicate life even more when I lack adequate rest.  Keep coming back - you are 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

 

 



Senior Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 224
Date:

Rehab is a hard slog. The A is not available yet they want you to be supportive. In many programs they out a lot of barriers in there to limit contact with home Then there are these short intermittent periods then next minute you are supposed to turn on the support like a tap. .ambivalence is normal when someone goes to rehab. Feeling a lot if anger is also normal. There is no #rehab# For al anon. Although I think ceetain high end facilities have dual track Al anon is a lot of work to get to a point of feeling the skills work When I came to al anon I was in crisis I ended up spending a lot of time in the boards Decades later I am still actively needing al anon. Life on life-s terms is real hard going Be kind to yourself. You are in a hard time. Hard times require more focus on self

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