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Therapy

Along with going to AA meetings and marital counseling I also see my own therapist. This morning I have an appointment with her and she’s been away for three weeks so I look forward to it.

I’ve been going to Lynn for about two years. She is a psychiatric nurse as well as a psychologist, which is a good mix because I suffer from depression. Initially my primary care physician prescribed antidepressants for me. But I knew that was not the best way to go because my physician didn’t know my mental state. My doctor knew my symptoms, such as lack of appetite, sadness and sleeping a lot; however she didn’t know I was also drinking too much and feeling suicidal. I spent years drinking while taking daily antidepressants. The meds worked but, as you can imagine, not as well as they would if I wasn’t drinking at the same time.

That’s when I found Lynn who I sought out specifically to help with my emotional problems so that I wouldn’t drink as much (still under a false illusion that I could drink eventually in a normal way). I disclosed my drinking habit to her and she helped me quit drinking through therapy and her persistent suggestions that I try AA. She also prescribed a cocktail of antidepressants that helped calm my anxiety and depression so that I could focus on sobriety.

Lynn hasn’t wanted to change my antidepressants since I stopped drinking. When I go through periods of sadness, such as a couple of months ago when I felt suicidal, I was grateful that she didn’t mess with my antidepressants. She seems to understand recovery is a process and I have to feel negative things to learn not to drink every time I have a bad feeling. I can’t hide from all feelings.

Lynn seems to have found a balance in my depression medications where I am able to go through recovery with ups and downs. I’m not sure I’ll ever be completely off them because there’s research showing childhood trauma causes changes to neural pathways that lead to the likelihood of developing depression and addictions. Who can say if I’ll ever be free of them? At this point I’ve tried enough times to know I get major depression without treatment (all that is on my old blog).

So, in my therapy session this morning I suspect I’ll talk about the dynamics of my marriage and how that’s changing. But it’s really not about the change it’s about how I’m handling the change. Which to me feels like a major failure.

Individual therapy is helpful because it allows me to get all my crazy thoughts out. And it’s nice to know I’m not as psychologically disturbed as I think or else I’d be institutionalized and often times that’s where I think I belong!

Fern

Self-pity run amok

I hate that saying because right now I think I can’t!

I’ve been stuck in a negative mindset for a while now. I lost count of the days; but it’s definitely been a long time because I was reading an old blog post, written two months ago, that describes my situation. Except back then I still had hope that I could change. Now I’m wondering if I’m one of the few who are constitutionally incapable of recovering from my addictive thinking. Notice I said thinking because it’s really not about the drinking.  My mental defects are the real problem.

When stress gets high I turn against myself. I rarely write about specific problems because they seem so trivial. Unemployment, aging parents, and a busy family life are common and should be manageable. I don’t know how to seek help and I tell myself I’m not worth it. Currently my thinking is stuck in this belief that I am so full of self-pity that nobody should help the person who’s that down on themselves. It’s like I’m just looking for sympathy because of my mood. When I act that way I don’t even want people to help me because I just think it’s sickening and I hate myself when I’m like this so I can’t let other people in.

Today my sponsor called and he left a message, “call if you want.” I wrote a sorry-ass text back saying, “I’m not going to call you today. I should probably just talk to my therapist who I pay to hear my tiring self- pity crap.” Just writing that makes me sick because it’s the twisted mind of a dependent person. I could have simply not called J but instead I leave this stupid woe-is-me text. He called me a while ago but I can’t get myself to talk to him. What more can he and I talk about? What else is there to say?

I went to a beginner’s meeting this morning and we read from As Bill Sees it. The passage was taken from pg. 86 of The Big Book:

On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives.

Those words were meant to be read by me today.  It just goes to show how much AA understands the mental traps alcoholics can fall into.  I am full of self-pity.  So, my time to share came around and I spoke truthfully.  I mentioned my feelings of stress, isolation, and self-pity.  I stopped before I could cry because I have not cried at any meeting and I’m not about to.  I don’t cry because I wouldn’t be able to handle the concern bestowed upon me after the meeting.  No one approached me after this meeting and I bolted out as quick as possible.

Last week two of the older men with a lot of sobriety tried to talk to me and I brushed them off and hurried out the door.  Since I didn’t get that response today it reinforced my belief that I’m too needy and dependent and everyone knows I have to do the work on my own.  No one else can help me; it’s up to me to take action and change.

This truth is what my husband is telling me, too.  Al-anon is teaching him to admit he is powerless over my thinking.  He is no longer responding if I’m down, which I am.  He’s in the world where everything is grand and he wants to be all loving and I’m not feeling it.  I told my husband we’re on two different planets right now and he responded, “You can stay alone on your planet if you want to.”

Fuck me.

This is the place where change occurs.  It’s inevitable. I haven’t figured out how; but I know others before me have.  They say it’s with a higher power and the help of people in AA.  I stand on the edge of a jumping off place but I’m not ready to take the leap of faith that’s necessary. And it seems like every time I do, I face the same problem over and over.  Me and my thinking.  I can’t see an end to this madness.

♥Fern♥

Depressed, isolated and losing hope

My first year of sobriety is nothing compared to this second year of recovery work.

The separation that grew between me and my husband was noticeable while I was drinking but we learned to live that way, secretly contained within the home where I did most of my drinking to cope and where my husband worked and watched TV. When I stopped drinking back in July 2013 I started going to more and more meetings in AA and my husband became cognizant of the further distance that had grown between us as I embarked on recovery in AA.

The distance became more than mental/emotional, it now had a physical distance component. My husband admitted he didn’t like that I was going out to meetings seven nights a week. But I knew in order to stay sober I needed those meetings. I needed to be around like-minded people who were taking steps to improve their lives. My husband suggested marital counseling and since then we’ve embarked on trying to bridge the gap between us.

We’ve had five sessions plus he went to a couple Al-Anon meetings. So within six weeks I’d say it’s been a big change. I should be happy my husband is making positive changes but right now I’m struggling with trying to accept that part of his healing is to distance himself from me.

My husband said he’s learned from Al-Anon that he can’t change me. He’s using an Al-Anon philosophy to cope with my depression and negative thoughts. He says things like, “I can’t help you with that thinking. If you want to think that way go ahead.” One time when I felt sad and told him so, he matter-of-factly responded, “I’ll leave you to your feelings.”

This is a complete turnaround from the way my husband has always wanted to help me. I knew when I began recovery that they were going to be changes and I hoped that they were going to be good changes for me in terms of confidence and contentment but I didn’t expect that I’d be called out on my flaws. Maybe he’s been enabling me. I don’t like to think of it that way because it points out my potential defects of character.  Is that the reality?

So my husband decided he doesn’t need to be my emotional support anymore because I get it from AA. He doesn’t want to hear me talk about my feelings and my problems and he said as much in therapy. The therapist thought that this was good that my husband and I are separating more than we have and not relying completely on each other for emotional support.

I’m honesty okay with getting support outside the home but I feel insecure and worried that the whole thing with my husband is going to change. The whole fear of change thing scares the crap out of me.

He doesn’t like me to always be depressed and unhappy. He’s tired of me always talking about my problems. He sick of hearing how I feel and what I think. He’s done. And I am not sure how I’m going to change myself because I do act needy and reliant on my husband. I’m beginning to realize that I will have to change in order to effect change in me. If I want my husband to let me change and grow outside of the home I’ll have to change inside of the home. The issue is I need to take personal responsibility for my part in our problems.

It’s certainly a complicated situation because we’ve been together for 30 years and we’ve developed these dependency and codependency roles which will be hard to break. For instance right now I feel really sad that my husband doesn’t want to know how I feel. But I’m thinking for me to tell him that I feel sad will be doing the exact thing that I’m not supposed to do.  He’s told me he doesn’t want to hear it.

So the depressive person in me can take that problem and spiral downward into believing it’s a problem in all my relationships. Calling my sponsor about this problem and my sadness and my confusion is also a way to talk about my thoughts and my feelings. It perpetuates the problem. Where do I draw the line between complaining and expressing a feeling in order to move through it? Big question that I don’t have the answer to.

The therapist also said something to my husband about how I may always be depressed and talked about it being necessary for my husband to stop trying to “fix” me. My husband said he’s no longer going to try to change me. He now sees he has no control over whether I’m happy or sad. This change in my husband seems to be a positive step for him. He no longer appears angry and he’s been telling me he loves me, offering intimacy and affection, and being kind.

The truth of this hurts and it puts my problem solely on me.

My problem is now glaring.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me that I can’t change my thoughts, attitudes, feelings, and behaviors and just be happy with what I’ve got. For some reason even when things are good I can go back to feeling lousy. Even when no one else feels similarly. I get stuck inside myself and don’t have the ability to reach out for the help that’s being offered.

The therapists (and my sponsor) have told me I get comfort from being negative with my thinking. How messed up is that shit when I know it’s fucking destructive!

I’m afraid I will always be this way. I’m growing tired and losing hope.

I know this entire post is really selfish!!! I know it doesn’t help me!!! I know I should meditate or do anything to stop myself from perpetuating my problems.

I also know you have better shit to do than read this bullshit of mine.

I foolishly think going on and on about how I feel will help but it won’t.

I should pray for God to help me. Even though that seems impossible, too.

My alcoholic thinking craves something outside myself to make me feel better. I need to increase my antidepressants or pop some pills or have a drink. Anything to take me out of this negative shit circling in my head.

What is really my problem? In a nutshell:

-manipulative

-needy & insecure

-depressed & negative

-lacking the capacity to accept love

-fearful and mistrustful

-dependent and scared

Tough times.  Not positive.  Self-critical.

I don’t see the clearing through the trees.

I just hope it’s there.

I won’t drink or drug because the urge is not present, just a fantasy that it would help. I’ve been to enough AA meetings to stay sober just for today.

I know my thinking is fucked up.  I just wanted to dump my crazy thinking out. No clear point and the grammar sucks, I know. It’s one of those shitty weekends where I don’t care. You’re comments aren’t necessary.

This too shall pass.

~Fern

I hate myself

Life’s spirit is out of reach if I don’t discover how to love myself. Without love for self, there is no joy or peace.

The AA program was helping me discover my true self. The problem now is my husband has had it with me.   I’ve been completely self-absorbed and self-centered during this first year I’ve been in recovery. He first tried offering an abundance of love and thoughtful actions in the hopes of restoring me to emotional well-being. I wish I could have magically felt better on the inside from the many outwardly ways my husband offered love. But, I am a mere shell with nothing on the inside. The only way to fill the emptiness is to discover who I am and to learn to like myself. I am a long way from that self-discovery.

 

I cried ample amounts of tears last night because I’m hurting my husband. He says he can no longer sit around the house waiting for me to accept his love. It hurts him every time he sees me go out the door to an AA meeting. His heart breaks when he knows AA has helped me more than he can. So, he is on his own path now. He is keeping extra busy with exercise and other activities out of the house. He has taken to going out before I leave for a meeting and he doesn’t come home until after I return. But, this weekend was different, and he decided to not be with me at all. He did things for himself and explained that he must put himself first or he hurts to want a love from me that he doesn’t feel. I didn’t realize what my recovery was doing to him. I must be causing him too much pain to even be around me.

Last night he went to his first AL-anon meeting. He was visibly emotional when he returned. I hadn’t known where he was and it took some pleading for him to tell me. When I asked how it was, he commented, “Everyone there was divorced.” That’s all he wanted to say and so I let it be.

The conversation opened up more at bed time. He shared with me one young woman’s story that touched him. I asked if he talked and he said he did. That’s when he again told me he was the only one in the room married to an alcoholic. The others were divorced, widowed or children of alcoholics. He said the words, “My wife is a recovering alcoholic.” He did not go into what else he shared but the common theme was the people in AL-anon had to put themselves first. My husband went on to explain that it’s not helping him to try to get me to love him. He said he can’t spend so much of his time trying to love me. The massage oil, the foot rubs, the dinners out – all of it is not good for him. He keeps trying to love me but he does not know how I will respond. My unpredictability causes him to suffer and he is not going to put himself in the situation anymore.

I took all of that to mean that I am not good for him. I told him I understood that he has to follow his own path and take care of himself and then I said good night and rolled over. The tears came quickly and I silently cried because my husband was intentionally withdrawing his love. I am an alcoholic and loving me is hurtful to him.

My default thinking re-appeared and I knew I deserved this. I’ve been a miserable human being who does not know how to give love or how to be happy.

My husband heard me quietly sobbing and reached an arm around me.  He put his hand on my heart and said, “You have a loving heart.”  He reminded me that he cared about me. 

Whatever it is I learned in this year of recovery is unclear. All I feel right now is that I’m a bad person who is worthless and unlovable because of my many faults.  When I told my husband he said, “That’s the old you talking.” Right now I don’t know who I am.

I’m scared. I’ve been with this man for 30 years and the patterns we’ve set are unhealthy. It is with a great deal of sadness that I acknowledge we will never be the same again. When I stopped drinking I had no idea that it would lead to my husband emotionally disconnecting from me. I’ve always relied on his steady commitment and love for me. But, I suppose if I am to find love within myself it is the price to pay.

I’d like to end this post on a positive note but my heart is heavy. It’s alcoholic thinking to the max.

Fern

Recovery and marraige, can they co-exist?

I fear that I’m losing a foothold on my recovery program. This is because my husband wants me to emotionally depend on him as much as I’ve come to rely on AA meetings.  He read this blog, discovered I talk with my sponsor a great deal and, I suspect, he saw a new sense of confidence in me.  I’m trying to figure out how to handle this new development in my marriage.  I’m trying to rely on my husband more but what’s actually happening is I’m just not relying on AA. I foolishly believe if I back off from nightly meetings and I don’t call my sponsor my husband will feel more secure. When, in fact, I’ve just become more detached. My isolation is making my husband feel more distant from me.

This plan is not helping in my recovery or my marriage.  It’s completely backfiring and I’m depressed about it.

I thought it’s most important that my husband is feeling secure about me in AA (now that I’m one year sober).

I’ll back off from the program, I said to myself.  Last night I felt certain the right thing was to start over in the AA program. I’ve imagined changing meetings and the people that have grown to know me. The idea was that I could stay in AA but not be as emotional attached.  I realize this idea is not based on what’s best for me but what would make my husband happy.

So, I took a good look at what I’m doing and whether it’s helping me grow. I realize from hearing many alcoholics in recovery talk about when and how they relapsed that my plan of distancing myself from those I’ve gotten to know in AA is basically a step backward. It would wipe away all the emotional work I’ve done in making connections with all those in the weekly meetings I attend.

My husband and I had a conversation this morning. I directly asked, “Will you be okay with me continuing with my sponsor J.” He explained why it makes him uncomfortable and I listened. He asked if I would feel the same way if the roles were reversed and he relied on a woman as a sponsor.  I said, “Yes; but I would deal with it differently. I would see the helpfulness of my relationship with J. J has been more than a sponsor. He’s been a spiritual advisor.” My husband said he’s never going to like it but he will accept it.  He said he will accept things he can’t change.  I felt some relief that I had my sponsor back.

I called J later and we talked about the slippery slope I’m on. I told him that I have a desire to run the other direction and he asked if I wanted to go back to being anonymous.  Yes!  But he and I both know that’s not where my healing is going to happen. I’m trying to get away from an uncomfortable period where a lot of growth could occur if I work through this inner conflict I’m having regarding my recovery.

Where’s the balance?  I have to stop worrying about how hard all of these changes have been on my husband and go back to working on my personal recovery.  It’s not what my husband wants and it causes me great distress to stand up for my personal self-discovery journey.  I know it shouldn’t feel like it has to be one or the other, but it does.  J tells me it’s not as hard as I’m making it out to be.  I need to speak up and tell my husband I dont want to talk about the meetings even though he asks about them every time I come home from one.  He wants to help me but in this situation he can’t.  J said, “If you broke your leg he could give support while you healed but he couldn’t make it better.”  I guess he’s right.  Lastly, J encouraged me with these words, “To thine own self be true.”  Six simple words on every AA coin.

♥ Fern ♥

It’s not easy being married to an addict in recovery

A year into this sobriety and I feel like the journey has only begun.  AA has helped me to live a sober life and the steps are a way to continue working on myself.  I want to talk about recovery and those feelings that I buried for so many years. Unfortunately, my husband and I are at a crossroads because he doesn’t.  We are in couple’s therapy and it has uncovered emotionally charged topics that my husband says are unnecessary to continue talking about.

To keep talking about it focuses on the negative, he said.  He’s done, he said.  This talking is mental abuse, he said.  I can chose to be unhappy but he is going to do something fun today, he said.  It doesn’t involve me because I’m emotionally detached and I want to be negative, he said. 

You sound angry, I said.  I’ll be here when you want to talk, I said. I told him I feel sad.  I want to talk about this, I said.

I’m done talking, he said.

What will happen if I keep talking? I asked. 

I’ll walk out the door, he said.

He walked out the door. 

This just happened.  I sit here contemplating my next step.  I decide to read about AA and marriage and I come across enlightening words that I need to hear.

Chris M. Tatevosian, author of the book, “Life Interrupted: It’s not all about me”, struggled with MS and not alcoholism but his words ring true for me.  He writes, “my problem was that I acted like my problems outweighed the importance of any problem or concern she had….I felt the world owed (me) everything.”

That got me thinking.  My addictive personality can show itself as self-centeredness.  I see this right now.  I’m trapped in my painful past and my recovery.  My husband is right. I can’t let go of the program and balance it with rebuilding the marriage in positive ways. 

I’ve got to find a way to balance my life with my family so that my needs are not overshadowing everyone else’s. 

Right now I’m going to find my husband and suggest we both let the negative go and get out from behind my shadows. 

♥ Fern ♥

Married female with a male sponsor

I’m struggling in recovery right now.  Big changes are occurring in my marriage and in the relationship with my sponsor. Just when I think I got this there’s a seismic shift in my world. 

The dynamics have completely changed regarding the role my husband wants in my recovery.  For the past year, he didn’t show any interest. (This could rightly be because I was formerly his distant alcoholic wife.) I’ve been chugging along, having my ups and downs, and sharing the emotional journey with people in AA and on my blog. Fast forward a year, and now he appears to be jealous or envious and/or feeling plain old left out.  He requests to know everything, from the meetings I attend to the conversations with my sponsor. This change has left me unsettled.  Husband has been asking a lot of questions about my sponsor, J, who happens to be male.  He repeatedly compares the time I spend at meetings and speaking with J to the time I spend with him.

This is where I feel troubled.  I was going along fine reaching out to others but now my husband has introduced this feeling of guilt into what I’m doing.  We are having countless heartfelt conversations but what he wants to know or get from me is just not possible.  It’s the gift that AA gives to those in recovery.  People on the outside can’t possible understand it.

So, my husband would like me to express my feelings.  He wants to be in the space that I share with AA. It’s become a nightly ritual that we have long conversations before bed. I am trying to accommodate this need but it’s like oil and water. I honestly don’t know how I can share what is happening to me in AA, for two reasons: 1) AA is a spiritual program that one has to live to understand and 2) it’s hard to share emotions with my husband because he is so practical.  He can make anything have a simplified solution.

When I use words like “journey” or I explain I’m going through the “process” of recovery, he admits to bewilderment.  For a guy in the field of business management, a “process” is a series of activities that relates to the planning and monitoring stages of the business process.  When he and I went to therapy, he felt “better” after 2 visits and wanted to be done. He is pragmatic and goal oriented.  I am not sure what I am but I know I’m neither of those.

I spent so many years numbing my emotions with alcohol that it’s not as simple as flicking a switch to have emotional balance.  I struggle internally with shame, guilt, unworthiness, and an inability to know exactly how I feel in any given moment.  That’s where AA comes in.  AA helps me recognize and talk about my emotional self.  The 12 steps, The Big Book, the Daily Reflections, meetings, and a sponsor are channels to aid in my growth along spiritual lines.

AAer’s stated right from the beginning that women should have women sponsors. I thought it was because of the difficulty in setting boundaries between the two alcoholics but in my case, it is the effect a female/male sponsorship has on my marriage. I could be avoiding a lot of issues with my husband right now if I had found a female sponsor.

My husband has never felt good that I have a male sponsor who I call on for emotional support.  Even though he claims to be okay with it, I see it as a huge issue in the marriage and it keeps rearing its ugly head.  My husband met J and the three of us sat down together and chatted about my recovery.  The meeting reassured my husband that J is forthright and sincere in his role of sponsor.  There isn’t anything inappropriate about the sponsor relationship; but my husband continues to have misgivings over that which he cannot understand.  This alters how I feel about my recovery.  I’ve developed a sense that the relationship I have with my sponsor is wrong because my husband has questioned it far too often.  The negatives are beginning to outweigh the positives because I feel I’m being censored.  Husband has questioned how long I talk on the phone, the amount of texts J and I exchange and the conversations we have.

The issue, according to my husband, is not my sponsor relationship. He says it’s the distance between us after I talk to my sponsor. I have no way of knowing which is more accurate. I want to argue that recovery is a personal journey and my husband cannot entirely be part of this process. But, regardless of the cause, I want to address the issue.

I told my sponsor yesterday that I would no longer be calling him because I need to protect my marriage. This is not an easy decision because J has helped me immeasurably.  It appears, however, I have to make a choice so that I can relieve this ongoing sense of emotional distress.  I feel compelled, even though my husband insists it’s not necessary.  Here are my reasons for making this drastic change: my husband doesn’t understand the relationship I have with J.  He can’t understand how his wife needs to call another man to discuss deeply personal emotional issues.  If the roles were reversed and my husband was depending on a woman I would feel insecure, too.  That is the truth.  (What I would do with that truth may be different than my husband’s reaction but that is not the point).

I don’t perceive my relationship with J as a threat to my marriage.  In fact, he has been the person who has taught me how to trust.  Only another alcoholic can know how low we feel about ourselves. J walked me through a lot of negative crap, helped show me my self-image was faulty and he opened my eyes to a world of love and trust.  These positive emotions were buried deep from years of drinking.  Layers of shame, guilt, and remorse were blocking me from discovering my inner light.  J helped me find myself and now I can take these positive feelings and use them to build a stronger marital relationship.  That is, once I settle in to this new phase of my recovery.

Right now there is a sense of loss that I’m giving up the sponsor who has helped me so much. I hope I’m doing the right thing. When I look deep into what I feel is right, it’s to switch perspective a bit and bring my husband into the loop. Emotionally I want to keep things the same and work on myself as I have for the last year but intellectually I realize that is selfish. Alcoholism is a family issue and the time has come for me to deal with the fall out that occurred with my husband. My husband wants to be a part of my sober life and the love I’m discovering. I have talked about my circle opening with the support I get in AA; well, now it’s time to broaden the circle more and let my husband into my journey.

♥ Fern ♥

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