Stepwork

Learn how the 12 Steps work. Participate in your own recovery as well as the recovery of others, by being active on this board as we go through the 12 Steps of recovery together! We discuss each of the Twelve Steps In the order they are written, one step at a time, every two weeks.

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Post Info TOPIC: Alanon Step 1


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Alanon Step 1


Step 1

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol ~ that our lives had become unmanageable.

 

ODAT PAGE 144

The First Step prepares us for a new life which we can achieve only by letting go of what we cannot control, and by undertaking one day at a time the monumental task of setting our world in order through a change in our own thinking.   I will dedicate myself to managing my own life and only mine.

 

My Share

After many years in program this Step seems quite easy, reasonable and desirable. However when I first entered program I did not want to accept the fact that I was powerless and that I could not manage and fix my own problems and my life.----by making others do what I thought was right

The hardest part of this step has always been the" ADMITTING"  You see my disease is very manipulative and although I know many things intellectually my disease can  fool me into denying the reality of a situation and tell me that I have power over things and I can fix it, control it, manage it,  and be happy .  In order for me to admit that I was powerless over alcoholism I had to hit a very huge emotional bottom.  I had tried everything.

 I always believed that if I followed the rules, did all I was supposed to do then my life would follow an orderly enriched line filled with all good things.  I would not have to deal with the messy reality of an alcoholic marriage nor a son who hated school and refused to learn, and a career that had stalled and my position eliminated.  I kept repeating the insanity of my belief system.  I had tried all avenues, church, doctors, therapist, friends and nothing worked and nothing changed.  Nagging, Pretending and Denial no longer worked.  My life and the life of my family were spinning out of control and I could not figure out what to do.   That is when I arrived at the doors of alanon

Then I finally crawled into the rooms of alanon and was willing to try anything.    Alanon handed me the 12Steps and said here is a program of living that works.   Try it and see.  I did and it did.  Keeping an open mind is the key to progress.  Found that I became teachable and ablel to take in new information and learn how to truly live

Thanks for letting me share

 

Step one questions

Do I accept that I cannot control another persons drinking? Another persons behavior?

How do I recognize that the alcoholic is an individual with habits, characteristics and ways of reacting to daily happenings that are different from mine?

Do I accept that alcoholism is a disease? How does that change how I deal with a drinker?

How have I tried to change others in my life? What were the consequences?

What means have I used to get what I want and need? What might work better to get my needs met?

How do I feel when the alcoholic refuses to be and do what I want? How do I respond?

What would happen if I stopped trying to change the alcoholic or anyone else?

How can I let go of others problems instead of trying to solve them?

Am I looking for a quick fix to my problems? Is there one?

In what situations do I feel excessive responsibility for other people?

In what situations do I feel shame or embarrassment for someone elses behavior?

What brought me to Al-Anon? What did I hope to gain at that time? How have my expectations changed?

Who has expressed concern about my behavior? My health? My children? Give examples.

How do I know when my life is unmanageable?

How have I sought approval and affirmation from others?

Do I say yes when I want to say no? What happens to my ability to manage my life when I do this?

Do I take care of others easily, but find it difficult to care for myself?

How do I feel when life is going smoothly? Do I continually anticipate problems? Do I feel more alive in the midst of a crisis?

How well do I take care of myself?

How do I feel when I am alone?

What is the difference between pity and love?

Am I attracted to alcoholics and other people who seem to need me to fix them? How have I tried to fix them?

Do I trust my own feelings? Do I know what they are?





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Betty


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Job title...Controller...sigh. I have often wondered how it is I have held such a position for almost 10 years and have been so successful and yet my personal relationships have been such failures. Step one may take me awhile to establish the many things that I need to admit to being powerless over. It starts with I am powerless over Alcohol. I did not cause the disease to which my spouse suffers. I can not control it, and I can not cure it. I have been so consumed with A's poor choices I have neglected myself and have caused my life to become unmanageable. I have feared what has not happened yet and in doing so have missed out on precious moments. I have made myself physically ill and mentally distraught over things I can not control.



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Dear Mari

Thank you for your honest, soul searching share. This is a great First Step. 

Please continue sharing the journey  and working  this  poweful progarm one day at a time   



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Betty


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Admitted we were powerless over alcohol...I got that part and saw it only as the chemical in the bottle and so I just "big dealed it" in attitude - and my life had become unmanageable was a first perspective that turned on a brighter light. "Was the insanity I was feeling a part of or proof that it was really about unmanageability"?  Okay I found something to look at or a little piece of something I could look at and still didn't know at thing about alcoholism and didn't know that I didn't know.  ....dumb as a stick as I would later admit.  Admitting powerlessness became the first door to freedom over my incessant need to control outcomes of people, places and things and so I went from far left to far right and let go of everything...pulled my self free of any responsibility and even gave away my front row spectator seat.   I was done...lets go play.  In time with constant new admitting, new daily visions and perspectives of what was going on around me I found out admitting really was about making choices...I got a choice and did some investigation to decide if what was being offered was good for me and real for me and then if I was qualified to be with it and then if I wanted to be.  After investigation I get to make the choice and during the process with further investigation "do I still want to be a part of it and why"?  The goal for me is managability...continuous and ongoing I get to control for me how the process goes and what the outcome should be.  This is a daily constant step for me...I wear it like my skin...never leave home without it.  Mahalo Betty (((hugs))) smile



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(((Mahalo Jerry)))

Thank you so much for sharing  in your beautiful, insightful, honest, manner.  The humility  and clarity that you so readily exhibit in all your shares helps me to stay just as humble and work this program one day at  a time 

I too do not ever leave home without the first stepsmile



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Betty


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I realize I am powerless, why do I still lay awake when AH is without a doubt out somewhere late getting completely inebriated? The half thought, that when he did call and say he was on his way home, something else happened. Let that thought go it is out of my control. It is more important I sleep than worry.
I ordered a book online. The Lois Brown story. I want to gather up some tools, so that I have them in hand when I need to detach from the situation on hand.
Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated <3
Thanks
M

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Great awareness  "Getting the Sober" by Melanie Beaty  and repeating the Serenity Prayer worked for me  When I began to recite the prayer it took about 5 repetitions in order to fall asleep after a few times it was almost instant .

 Take care of yourself as best you can you are worth it



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Betty


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Thank you Betty, for Step One :) Going through a total relapse with ABF made me realize how much I needed to start back at Square One. My life is totally out of control and it really is nobody's fault but mine. I realize how much I've always tried to control everything in my relationship with ABF because I've felt as if I've been in the midst of a downward spiral for many years now. Looking back, I see that I've been a "fixer" for over half of my life. I think I'm this way, because I've believed that I, myself am broken. I didn't trust my initial gut instincts with ABF. I led myself to believe ABF's drinking wasn't alcoholism (a fantasy would be easier to control); even when my instincts screamed it at me, I thought I could fix it. So my control issues gradually got more and more out of hand trying to fix and control ABF's problems (all the while ignoring my own). If ABF doesn't do what I want I will get quiet and retreat, until ABF does yet another thing to break that last straw, then I initiate a fight. I find myself actually calmer in a crisis, because then I don't have to anticipate a catastrophe any longer, the way I do when things appear to be going smoothly.
I need to realize that I don't have any control over what another person says and does.
I have to learn to trust my own feelings, and actually learn what those feelings are.
I have to learn to take care of and love myself, because noone else can do that for me.
I have to realize that I can't "fix" anybody else's problems, and learn how to lovingly detach.
I have to learn that I didn't cause ABF's alcoholism, that I can't cure his disease, and that I am not responsible for his choices.
I have to repeat that statement: I am not responsible for ABF's choices (or anyone's for that matter).
I have to learn and live the slogans, and right now, ODAT is an excellent start.

Thanks again, for listening to my ramble.



-- Edited by Raven Juniper on Tuesday 24th of September 2013 08:55:11 AM

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Dear Raven Jupiter

Thank you for you honest share.   You have such clarity and that is the one important tool that I found aided m recovery.   For eyears I lived in denial as well.   Letting go of that destructive tool helped restore me to sanity.

Keep on showing up for yourself  You are on the way



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Betty


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i am brand new and i am really struggling. Not only with my son, who is at this moment homeless and hungry, but with myself and my doubts and hopelessness. It's very difficult for me to believe this program will work for me (although i have seen it turn other people's lives around); i don't even know if it is right for me, although my life has certainly become unmanageable. How can it be right to leave him on the streets? What if he kills himself, as he threatens so often to do? I really resonate to the question about how can i let go of other people's problems and give up trying to solve them. 

i want what this group has, but i don't know how to get there.

I can't quite take that First Step.  i can imagine in my head how it would feel, the enormous relief...but i am tormented by the belief that this is in large part my fault and the only way i can redeem myself is to save him.


Louise



-- Edited by louise1942 on Sunday 29th of September 2013 12:06:49 AM

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Dear Louise

i hear you and do understand.  You are a mom and love your son to pieces.  If it were possible for you to save your son we would not have to find alanon and a program to help us. 

Please know we are powerless over this disease and rremember also  We DID NOT cause it cannot control it and cannot cure it

Working the porgram is  a process I am glad you are here.  Please keep coming back and attending  meeting .  Living one day at a time with prayer and meetings helps



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Betty


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Step One Questions:

Do I accept that I can't control other people drinking/ drugging nor any of their behaviors?

I've come to accept the realization I can not control another person as each of us has free will.

How do I recognize that the alcoholic/ addict is an individual with habits, characteristics and ways of reacting to daily happenings that are different from mine?

Each person has patterns that are common of them, some create comfort for them some are actions and patterns built from their own self esteem, ego or lack there of and rights.  Some more selfish then others.  Each of us has the right to behave as we would with our own experiences and choices.

Do I accept that alcoholism is a disease?  How does that change how I deal with a drinker?

At first I couldn't come to terms with it being a disease, that to me sounded as if it weren't by choice.  What finally helped me to come to terms with it was the realization no one at any age wakes up to say, Hey I want to be a drunk/ addict.  Also in spite of the fact they despise it's affects can not resist the temptations even though they lose people and things that are more precious then life itself and often they lose that. 

It changes how I deal with the drinker/ addict by admitting and realizing " But for the grace of God, there go I."  Look at all the people in the world with addictions of all sorts that aren't illegal or admonished by society, over eating, gambling, shopping, grooming, working the list goes on and on. 

How have I tried to change others in my life? What were the consequences?

Many ways behaving as if I were pouting, none compliant, disinterested, uncommunicative, manipulating situations or outcomes, becoming aggressive and loud, threatening, tearful, impatient, unkind, rude, begging.

Consequences were as follows, nothing worked to change another from their disease. 

What means have I used to get what I want and need?

None of the above listed previously.

What might work better to get my needs met? 

Handling things on my own or seeking help from a healthy, well, trained professional or someone dealing with similar situations.

How do I feel when the alcoholic refuses to be and do what I want?

Before coming into the program it would literally leave me befuddled, despondent, remorseful, sick at mind, body and spirit.  Tearful nights and days, more and more withdrawn believing no one could possibly understand.  

How do I respond?

Embarrassed, sullen, despondent, half caring, anxious to strike back and behave as if it were a personal assault, even responded at times by feeling unworthy of happiness.  Feeling responsible for their lives, eating, sleeping, clothes well being and those of their spouse or children.

What would happen if I stopped trying to change the alcoholic or anyone else?

That person would eventually and did have to hit their own bottom and find their own help with ER rooms, mental ward, watching friends die, losing jobs and homes and rehabs, financial ruin twice, til they found help in meetings, there own meetings, with their own sponsors.

With the prescription addict mother not trying to change her after so many years of beating myself up by keeping score and holding grudges, but still craving a sincere apology, no more excuses and jokes made of serious topics.  In her case, I keep my distance and she is forced to seek new people to manipulate and harass and sicken.

How can I let go of others problems instead of trying to solve them?

Prayer, for me that is all I can do to let go.  I can find my own interests and friends and activities.  It is my hope to come to a place where I feel literally indifferent rather then panicked, willing to over react, seeking a spot in my mind, body and heart where I believe and realize it is theirs not mine to fix.  I despise  years of drama accentuated by crisis and disappointments.

Am I looking for a quick fix to my problems? Is there one?

Of course I was, I resented having to find my own program when I wasn't the addict/drunk I felt counterfeit if that makes sense behaving as if I needed assistance and regaining my sanity.  Until I realized I had literally been stripped of proper and healthy accountability and had never known honest boundaries.  

In what situations do I feel excessive responsibility for other people?

When they are family.  A friend you can walk away from and not feel responsible when it comes to them losing a job, having another wreck, ending up in the hospital or on probation.  Was raised where public image meant everything.  What you portrayed to others the way you dressed, walked, talked, education, manners, consideration. 

In what situations do I feel shame or embarrassment for someone else s behavior?

When it becomes a topic of discussion, why they aren't succeeding, looking well, behaving well, always in trouble.  Around other family members who are clueless and begin making up their own rumors and judgements.

What brought me to Al-Anon? What did I hope to gain at that time? How have my expectations changed?
 
Searching for help with my son who we literally had kicked out of our home due to not coming home sober or missing curfews etc.  Hoped to find answers for HIM.  My expectations have changed once I realized the Al-anon program was designed for friends and family of loved ones with this disease.

Who has expressed concern about my behavior? My health? My children? Give examples.

Boss, when my attendance reflected the sleepless nights and many absences due to poor health even threatened to fire me until I finally just walked out and saved myself the disgrace.  Weight problems, nervous eating, smoking heavily, my family commented on the effects of my mental stability due to the depression I was falling into.  Husband complained all I wanted to do was sleep.  I even recall a recent comment made to one of my son's when his co-worker remembered my name from grade school once she realized I was his mother and commented on how nice I always was.  I've changed completely from that person, for awhile I had stopped singing, laughing, smiling, finding good in my daily life.  I hadn't realized I had lost those things until I arrived at Al-anon.

How do I know when my life is unmanageable?

When I can't finish college, when I had suicidal thoughts, when I regretted ever getting married or having children.  When I lost touch with things that I used to enjoy.  When I stopped having close friends and doing things with others in exchange for hurrying home to nap or find a quiet spot to avoid life's constant onset of pressures, drama, and new daily crisis.

How have I sought approval and affirmation from others?Being a perfectionist.  Putting such pressure on myself that it was making me a nervous wreck if I couldn't accomplish things quicker, better, faster, more brillantly then anyone else.  By trying to keep my home immaculate. 
 
Do I say yes when I want to say no?

Of course.  Isn't this the true sign of a co-dependent person.  Example, we would always take the grand kids for weekend over nights.  Making sure they were fed well, rested well, loved well, stories read, activities they would have not otherwise been able to attain.  Even so far as buying their winter coats and school clothes, cooking on the spur of the moment when son and his wife showed up saying they hadn't eaten and had no food.  Working all week like the next guy and once Friday night hit, a full weekend of baby sitting.   

What happens to my ability to manage my life when I do this?

My own life is unmanageable at this time.  I function as far as cleaning daily but my sleep is all messed up.  Not able to hold a job, eating poorly, no exorcize, no friends, or outside activities...behave as if I were a hermit or recluse.

Do I take care of others easily, but find it difficult to care for myself?

Without a doubt, make sure husbands things are cleaned, charged, easily reached and barely dress myself twice a week and only after bath time.  When I used to wear makeup, get together with friends for coffee or cards, I used to always wear jewelry and kept my hair nicer then most.

Strangest thing just this week happened while at the dental office while under sedation the hygienist slipped with the water pick in my mouth causing water to go outside where it was intended...out of my closed eyes and unconscious mind I apologized stating that was my fault.  How odd...definitely a people please-er.

How do I feel when life is going smoothly?

Fine, content, wonderful...used to always wait for the other shoe to drop..I'm coming out of that.

Do I continually anticipate problems?

Yes, my mind fixates on everyone I know life's issues and concerns in the event they would contact me for input. 

Do I feel more alive in the midst of a crisis?

No, it sickens me after so many years of it.  I Abhor crisis and drama, it's gotten to the point when one of the sons calls...I will say, here talk to your father.  I literally can't take any more.  Even though now they are both doing so well!

How well do I take care of myself?

Not well enough, I'm doing better as in getting in the have my hair cut and colored.  I do make it to my regular Dr. appointments monthly and dental events...3 to 4 times a year.  

Concern over daily appearance has gone to heck. 

How do I feel when I am alone?

Wonderful, I crave it.  I long for it, I raised two sons like twins, my famous last words were always when they grow up and move out..I'm going to clean this house and take a nap.  That's basically all I do and enjoy both things to the max.  I rarely even turn on the radio never turn the sound on my computer and keep the TV volume very very very low.

What is the difference between pity and love?

Pity is what I had for myself for so long, I would whine about why did this happen to my sons' my family, my mother.  Love is when I remember to think before I speak, eat when I'm hungry, sleep when I'm tired, breathe and enjoy silence as needed. 

Regarding pity and love of others...it's huge..one you do with regret and sadness the other you do freely and unconditionally.  It's the difference in my mind of and open arms event compared to a struggling through despair event. 

Am I attracted to alcoholics and other people who seem to need me to fix them?

No, no and no.  I didn't marry an Alcoholic or drug addict.  I gave birth to them and was raised by a mother who is a prescription drug whore to this day.  A father who drank daily and was very angry daily.
 

How have I tried to fix them?

I felt at first as a parent of two active sons it was my job in spite of whatever age they were to get them back on track, to help them redeem their well being and to become successful mature individuals.  I felt that was my title, my job, my requirement.  How, every possible way you can imagine money, time, begging, manipulating situations, angry words, promising things, driving them to new jobs when they lost their cars.  Things I proudly never did was take them to pick up booze or drugs.  Nor call a boss and make up an excuse for them.  These things I never did.   Pay their bills, sure.  Buy them food, of course, buy into their lies, oh hell yes.  All of it. 

Do I trust my own feelings?

At times, I would have to finally say yes....I've come a long way.  Boundaries are something that didn't come easily.

Do I know what they are?

Yes, I do know what my feelings are.  Forgiveness, sometimes I'm lonely but rarely..I tend to rather enjoy my own company.  I now take time to determine how I'm feeling and realizing I have a right to serenity and peace of mind...as this is my only life here too.  

 



-- Edited by Peggy7 on Tuesday 1st of October 2013 10:22:35 PM

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Thank you, Betty, for your warm and supportive reply.  Yes, i do need to attend meetings - right now, i want to attend online - i am very comfortable on line; perhaps someday i'll be ready to "push" my comfort zone.

i have a question that is, i think, very related to Step I.  I'm trying to figure out whether acknowledging my powerlessness over my son's addiction means that i cannot help him when he asks for things that seem like a good idea - he tells me he is trying to change his life; he wants to move to a different area where he does not have such longtime connections in the users' community - as i said before, he is homeless with no $$$ - and the temptation to "sell a little" on the side is strong.  And his "friends" are all heavy users.

He has asked me if i will help him move to my community and hook up with a program and services here, so he can make a new start.  I am not willing to give him money, but I feel willing to help him in this way. 

Am i wrong?  Is this "aiding and abetting"?  Does letting go control mean just completely cutting myself off???  Can i help him in a positive way?   Or is this just one more way of being co-dependent?

I don't know if this board is the appropriate place for such practical questions.  I want to offer support, both emotional and practical, while not taking responsibility.  Is this possible?  Is there another place I should be asking this question.

Please help.....i'd love to hear from people who have struggled with similar issues.

Louise



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Louise

I know you love your son and want help him recover  I think financing his move  near you and helping him begin a new life might be too much too fast.  There are "Sober living Houses in many communities.  If you can afford helping him live in one of those,  I should think that would work.

  In these houses there are  strict rules and the guests must find a job and work as well as attend meetings etc.  You would never be able to enforce these rules on your own  A call to  AA  inter group in your community could help

 

Good luck  I  know this is a hard road


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Betty


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Dear Peggy

Thank you so very much for your honest, in depth answers to each question.  It is obvious that you have taken the time  to reflect, and search  inward to know yourself. 

Your gift to this board in answering the questions is huge.

I truly appreciate your sharing the journey.

a



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Betty


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Hotrod, thanks so much for posting these questions for us, here's my go at it. Been working on it all morning.

I have NO problem admitting I am powerless over alcohol and that my life has become unmanageable. I have way too many years doing an uphill battle to have any other opinion. This is a no brainer for me.

I KNOW I cannot control anything my AH and AS does, especially drinking and their behavoir because of it. and the comquences

I see that they are individuals, and their own persons, have their own set of  rules, likes, dislikes eat.

I see that it is a disease, that I cannot cure any more than cancer, but unlike some cancer, my AH has the possible option of getting better, not cured, but having a better life. I know the disease prevents him from seeing that. My son is mentally ill, living on the streets, and for sure cant see he has any problems. I don't know that the fact it is a disease, changes the way I deal with them at all. Whatever the cause, they still cause disfunction in my life, that has gotten me into a mess, with myself. When a friend gets cancer,I feel sorry for them. I have NO room in my sole to feel sorry for my AH. I do feel sorry for my son, he is to be pittied.

I have tried to get my son into mental health treatment, and on meds, so many times with always the same out come. He winds up homeless or in jail. Sometimes I don't know if he is alive for a couple of years at a time.      I have tried endless times to get my AH to basically be someone he isn't. I turned myself wrong side out, trying to get him to plug into the marriage, stop drinking "so much"  LOL!  I always end up being sad, mad, dissapointed,hurt, discusted, disillusioned.

I tried to keep myself fit and looking nice and keep the house , and yard, and kids all really just nice. I tried to plan romantic evenings and vacations, ect. I never got the love from my AH I was wanting. The only way I am going to get the connection, love, friendship I want, is to look elsewhere. Get a divorce and move on.

I think my AH sometimes refuses to do things just to push me, and others because he is incapable of giving of himself. I realized that each person has to tend their own garden.  I used to be embarrased about my son being mentally ill, or my daughter getting pregnant, but now who cares. I used to think I would be viewed as a failure if I get divorced, but now I don't care about that either. I love the quote I heard on here." It is non of my business what other people think of me"

Since my kids are grown, I feel no excess responsibility for anybody but myself.

I came to Al Anon because I needed a soft place to fall, and people who are where I am. And have been where I have been. And have wound up in places where I hope to get to.

I have stopped trying to change the AH, a long time ago.  I realized I can't change him.

I realized my life was unmanageable when I became so mad and sad, and lonely all the time.

I do not say yes, when I want to say no.

I take care of myself physically quite well, and am working on the rest

When things are going smoothly, I know it's only because the crap is just below the surface, and will soon surface, in regares to the AH. In other areas of my life, when things are going good, I know it's because of hard work, and i enjoy them

I am fine alone. I am comfortable in my own skin.

Love is goodness, and pitty is sadness

I think at one time I would drag home the lost dog, kind of person, but no more. I don't want to fix anybody. Fix yourself.

I trust my own feelings, I don't make any rash moves, way all the options. Think it to death

 

 

 



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Islandtime

Thank you so very much for the wisdom, courage and honesty of your share.  The First Step is certainly a difficult one to grasp because the "surrender' that it requires runs deep.  I heard that Surrender in your share.

It is  an honor to share the journey with you



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Betty


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Well, I'd better answer these before I move on to step 2

Do I accept that I cannot control another persons drinking? Another persons behaviour?
In theory- yes. But I still find myself trying in all sorts of sneaky ways to get a result. An example of this is "detaching"- not always for my own sanity but quite often to get a response from him; when he feels ignored he often "behaves" for a few days to try to win me back. But, at least I'm aware of this and can work on it, day by day..

How do I recognize that the alcoholic is an individual with habits, characteristics and ways of reacting to daily happenings that are different from mine?
Not sure exactly HOW I do this, I just try to remind myself of it. He isn't DOING this to me, I am allowing his behaviours to affect me. It helps to remind myself that if we separated, he will not suddenly become a well person and find a fantastic woman and live happily ever after. That thought for me illustrates that his behaviours are NOT due to me nor could they be changed if I was "better" than I am in some way.

Do I accept that alcoholism is a disease? How does that change how I deal with a drinker? I suppose I feel some pity rather than anger when I see the abonimable behaviour and the way he alienates everyone that tries to care for him or be a friend to him. It makes it a little easier to control my anger/hurt/dissapointment.

How have I tried to change others in my life? What were the consequences?
I tried very hard to change him (and my ex husband, and my bf before that), years ago through anger and constantly pointing out how things SHOULD be, then after breakups and painful rejections I became a doormat and thought I could change my partner by "loving him" and "accepting him" until he wanted to do better by me...ugh.

What means have I used to get what I want and need? What might work better to get my needs met? I've tried and tried to explain what I need, cry, yell, inspire jealousy, pretty much everything under the sun. The only thing that's going to work is finding ways to meet those needs myself.


How do I feel when the alcoholic refuses to be and do what I want? How do I respond? I feel crushed that he doesn't care at all for my happiness or needs and respond with sadness and then anger. Well, I used to I suppose. Now I try to think of ways to take care of my own wants and leave him to his own devices.

What would happen if I stopped trying to change the alcoholic or anyone else?
I'd be a lot less stressed and feel a lot less dissapointment!!

How can I let go of others problems instead of trying to solve them? I've gotten good at this. I scan the problem quickly in my mind- Is there any serious danger? Would this person be there for me if I was having a similar problem? (For example if it's my mum I'll listen and offer suggestions as she does for me and it's our way of talking through issues but once we hang up, I let it go) but with others, particularly the A, the answer is NO. He will NOT die if I don't get involved in his drama and he would NOT do the same for me, ever.

Am I looking for a quick fix to my problems? Is there one? Not anymore. The answer to my problems, I believe is to work the steps here, practice what I have learned and do everything I can to create a happy life for my child and myself. That's going to be a long (but rewarding) process.

In what situations do I feel excessive responsibility for other people? When they are in distress. When they convince me that it is my fault that they are doing a certain thing or feeling a certain way. (Ie everything my A ever says or does, which I am apparently the cause of). And also when I am in public with them and they are embarrasing me.

In what situations do I feel shame or embarrassment for someone elses behavior? When they display their drunkeness for others to see and people know that I am with them. When I have been injured by the A and it has been visible. When people come to the house and there are beer-cans and ashtrays everywhere. When people come to the house and I have to block the front door and make excuses so that they won't come in and wake up the sleeping A, or encounter him drunk in his underwear or whatever. When people ask me about him. Pretty much all the time, really. It's all pretty shameful. Whenever anyone drives past and sees the front lawn. When he plays loud music or worse things all night to "get at me" and everyone hears it.

What brought me to Al-Anon? What did I hope to gain at that time? How have my expectations changed?
I came to alanon after living through another particularly nasty bender. I had a vague notion of 12 steps and recovery and i hoped to find a programme that understood my circumstances and fears and meet others that would help me feel validated and supported and in turn, find myself in a position of strength so that I could in turn help others. None of those expectations have changed.

Who has expressed concern about my behavior? My health? My children? Give examples.
Everyone who knows me, really. I wouldn't know where to begin.

How do I know when my life is unmanageable? I become despondant and depressed and stop caring for myself. I smoke too much, sometimes drink too much, eat poorly, sleep a lot and don't have the energy to engage properly with my child or get out into the world. I lose interest in my studies.

How have I sought approval and affirmation from others? By trying to turn myself inside out to please or impress them. Or by trying to demonstrate what a poor, poor baby I am in the hopes that they will tell me what a great person I am and that none of my situation is my fault.

Do I say yes when I want to say no? What happens to my ability to manage my life when I do this? I do this less and less now. I'm learning that it's better to say no than to resent someone because I chose to do something I didn't want to do.

Do I take care of others easily, but find it difficult to care for myself? Yes, always.

How do I feel when life is going smoothly? Do I continually anticipate problems? Do I feel more alive in the midst of a crisis? Yes.

How well do I take care of myself? My self-care is terrible. I don't even bother to eat when my daughter isn't around to cook for, sometimes for 3 or 4 days at a time. I've allowed my teeth to become rotten and broken and painful. I allowed my hair to grow into a jungle and didn't bother to buy clothing or care for myself at all for several years because I felt uncared for by the A so there didn't seem to be any point. Learning to demand proper care from myself is probably the most fun thing about alanon and the things I have learnt as a result of joining here. (And some of it really is fun after having such a bleak and miserable outlook for so many years).

How do I feel when I am alone? It used to be unbearable. Now, it is often enjoyable. I didn't think that was possible before.

What is the difference between pity and love? I'm yet to learn that. I don't think I have any real understanding of love at the current time.

Am I attracted to alcoholics and other people who seem to need me to fix them? How have I tried to fix them? Yes, in fact I seem to only be attracted to such people. I've tried to fix them by devoting myself to them and nothing else and by sacrificing endlessly in the hope that they will feel "loved" and start to behave in a happy and positive way.

Do I trust my own feelings? Do I know what they are?
I'm starting to.

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Dear Melly

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer each question with your usual honesty and humility.  It is obvious that you undertand that being powerless does not mean we are helpless or hopeless .  I am glad because being able to respond in a constuctive manner to negative situations is the answer.  I see you are already doing this   Likieng being alone, admitting that you are not taking care of yourself, being willing to share here helps in this process. 

Keep the focus on yourself Melly you are doing great.



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Here is my stab at Betty's questions. I really liked going through the exercise, although most of it was familiar ground.

Do I accept that I cannot control another persons drinking?

I DO accept that I cant control my sons using (with him its drugs, not alcohol). It took me a long time to accept that but I do truly realize that if hes going to use, hes going to use.

Another persons behavior?

Im not sure about this because Im not sure what the question is asking. On the most obvious level, of course I cant control what someone else does; however, in relationships, we have responsibilities to the other and responsibilities to state our needs, whats ok with us and whats not ok and then negotiate about that. So to that degree, yes, I try to get what I need from, say, my partner but I dont think thats what you meant!

How do I recognize that the alcoholic is an individual with habits, characteristics and ways of reacting to daily happenings that are different from mine?

Thats been very hard I think because my A(ddict) is my son, it makes it somehow harder than it would be to think about a friend, an age-peer relative, a partner. I keep expecting he will see that it is not OK to lie, to cheat, to steal and I know he does see those things but he does them anyway.

Do I accept that alcoholism is a disease? How does that change how I deal with a drinker?

Im not sureI know it is an addictionI know it is progressiveI know its not just rotten behavior for the sake of rotten behavior. I understand the benefits of the disease model, but Im not sure I completely buy it the same way I buy that lung cancer is a disease. But I dont think it really matters; what matters (to me) is that the person behaves in a self-and-other destructive way, that this behavior is not under total or even very much self-control, that s/he has an addiction which produces a compulsion to drink or use, that most people cannot overcome without help.

How have I tried to change others in my life? What were the consequences?

My second husband was a hard core alcoholic. I was married to him before I knew very much about AA or alcoholism or any of that. And boy, did I try to change him! Ultimatums, bargaining, you name it, I tried it..of course it was a disaster.

What means have I used to get what I want and need? What might work better to get my needs met?

I think I do pretty well with that age does bring at least some wisdom! I have learned to know myself well enough to know what I need, to distinguish between needs and wants, to figure out which needs I can and should meet myself, and to be clear and straightforward with the important people in my life about what I need in my relationships. I have learned not to manipulate, not to hint (and then sulk when the other person doesnt take the hint), not to charm or otherwise manipulate other people into doing what I want.

How do I feel when the alcoholic refuses to be and do what I want?
Sad, frightened, guilty...

How do I respond?
It dependsIf he is really bad, I eventually withdraw and refuse to interact until he pulls himself out of it. If he does something particularly outrageous, sometimes I lose my temper and yell at him. Most of the time, I try to interact with him normally when he is sober and stay away from him the rest of the time.

What would happen if I stopped trying to change the alcoholic or anyone else?
Im sure I would feel much better, less stressed-out. My biggest problem here is that he is my child (an adult, but still my child) and I feel a particular type of responsibility that is very hard to let go of. I eventually was able to leave my alcoholic husband because his behavior became very abusive and destructive and I could see that and didnt want any part of it. The dynamics are just very different when its your kid.

How can I let go of others problems instead of trying to solve them?
I dont usually try to solve other peoples problems just his (and my daughters, of course, but thats another story)

Am I looking for a quick fix to my problems? Is there one?
I dont know; sometimes I think if he changed his geographic area, it would help some; always, I think if he worked a program, it would help a lot but thats not a quick fix. I just dont know.

In what situations do I feel excessive responsibility for other people?
When they are my children.

In what situations do I feel shame or embarrassment for someone elses behavior?
When my ex-husband would be publicly drunk at a professional function, or in class (he was a professor) or at a faculty meeting, I felt those things.

What brought me to Al-Anon? What did I hope to gain at that time? How have my expectations changed?
To learn to deal with my son in a healthier way; I am very new, so my expectations havent really changed, but I do understand that Al-Anon means learning to deal with myself in a healthier way and that the rest will come.

Who has expressed concern about my behavior? My health? My children? Give examples.
My partner is very worried about my health and wellbeing; he is angry that my son has so much power to disrupt my life and frustrated with me that I cannot manage it better. At the same time, he totally understands the love one has for ones child and admits he might not be able to let go if our situations were reversed. My therapist is worried about my health and wellbeing, as well; my best friends are the same. One of my oldest friends, who is himself a recovering alcoholic of many years, is fairly disgusted with me and tells me I am enabling and not to expect any change from my son unless he chooses to make it. He is very tough with me. All those who know me well know that this is one of the most difficult issues in my life.

How do I know when my life is unmanageable?
When my bank account is depleted because of the money I have given him; when I sob uncontrollably after a conversation or confrontation and then am wiped out the entire rest of the day and into the evening; when I deal with him, even in his sober periods, and a weight of gloom settles on my shoulders; I become uninterested in things and just want to withdraw.

How have I sought approval and affirmation from others?
When I was a young woman, I did it with my beauty and my charm. As I grew older, I did it with my professional accomplishments. The two feel different. The first, I was clearly seeking affirmation; the second, I did for myself but enjoyed the affirmation. In general, as an adult, I have had no great need to be approved of by others I mainly choose my own path and dont worry much about what other people think. And, I am lucky in that most people who know me are drawn to me and like me, although a few here and there disapprove quite vehemently.

Do I say yes when I want to say no?
Not nearly as much as I used to!
What happens to my ability to manage my life when I do this?
It becomes crowded with unimportant things that I have committed to and then resent.

Do I take care of others easily, but find it difficult to care for myself?
I would not have said so, but others have told me that I dont care for myself the way I should.

How do I feel when life is going smoothly?
Great! I enjoy it!
Do I continually anticipate problems?
No, not in general. With my son and daughter, I am often waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Do I feel more alive in the midst of a crisis?
Thats a hard one. I would say I feel very at home in a crisis, they dont frighten me, and I am at my best at those times.

How well do I take care of myself?
Not very well. In particular, I am very sedentary, although that is slowly changing a little. I drink too much at times, sometimes I am lax about self-care (thats depression), I take risks often without really being aware that they are risks at all. But I am working on these things.

How do I feel when I am alone?
I enjoy my own company most of the time.

What is the difference between pity and love?
That question would take more energy to answer meaningfully than I have right now! But I definitely know the difference!

Am I attracted to alcoholics and other people who seem to need me to fix them?
I dont think so. I married one, of course, but Im not sure I really understood at the time that he was an alcoholic; I was pretty far in denial. Rather than fixing him, I expected and wanted him to take care of me.

How have I tried to fix them?
I dont. I do a lot of fixing and empowering in my professional life, but have no desire to do so in my personal life. With that one exception, of course!

Do I trust my own feelings? Do I know what they are?
More and more. More and more.



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Dear Lousie

Thanks for coming back and sharing  I agree , answering the quetions in a somewhat formal manner helped me as well.  I was able to detach from myself a little more and see  through different eyes.

Your honesty and clarity are powerful examples of "How Alanon Works".

Thanks for being here and  sharing 



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Betty


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Louise, I am new here as well and our issues are the same!  I am too struggling with what is supportive and what is enabling.  He is only 21, a heroin addict, and it has just been discovered that he has relapsed and I am heartbroken.  Here we go again.  I know that I cannot fix everything...but he is my child...not my spouse.  It has been my job to keep him safe and "fix" things.  He has (or maybe had at this point) a good job.  He had 10 months clean then started doing Kratom (an opiate like substance he could legally buy at a smoke shop!).  Addictive when abused and very expensive.  I am not ready to cut him off...not with all things but some things.  I have agreed to fix his car and help get him into a "sober house" if he needs money for that.  The desperate cries for help and the subsequent threats of suicide are gut wrenching and God help me if he ever takes his life.  I put myself in his shoes and understand the fear, guilt and realization of the wreckage he has around him and know that he feels that he can't get out of the hole he is in.  I am hoping to find another parent with a "success" story to mentor me.  God knows there are so many parents who have lost their children to addiction.   



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Valerie Mackenzie-Low


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smile Louise, your message to me means more than you could know.  I hope I can be of some comfort to you as well even if it is just knowing that you are not alone.  I do understand, and I know that you do too, that our children's addiction can wreak havoc in every part of our lives and we need to learn to set boundaries regarding that.  Having said that, I am so happy to hear a parent say that they cannot in good conscience let that child drown in this awful disease.  If this was cancer I would not leave him to figure it out on his own.  I want to work the steps because I need to learn about myself and his addiction.  Please feel free to contact me at any time and I am sure I will be talking to you throughout our journey. 

 



-- Edited by v maclow on Monday 21st of October 2013 02:35:45 AM

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Valerie Mackenzie-Low


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Hi Louise and  Valerie,

It is fine to mail  privately  You can "PM" anyone on the Board or they can  give you their private email address and you can connect off the board  What ever works for you is acceptable.

I lost my son to this disease 6 years ago.  He had been to many, many detoxs and rehabs and it was obvious his bottom was not going to be easy.   I could not let him be hungry or homeless. I moved into his home paid his bills and was there the night that he  passed.  I am grateful for this and have no regrets as to my "enabling or helping him"  He was my son and that is all I need to say 

Your sons will be in my prayers tonight



 



-- 



-- Edited by hotrod on Monday 21st of October 2013 03:45:17 PM

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Betty


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Oh, Valerie.....i SO feel for you! They say everyone is different but i feel as if i understand every word you say and every emotion you feel because i have been there....am there. I am so sad you have to go through this. Sadly, I have no success story to share, but I do have some words of hope. He is young. That is so wonderful. I always feel if I could go back to when my son was that age, given what i have learned in the last 20 years, i would be so much better able to help him. He is young and has time. His entire life is ahead of him. He hasn't lost it all or even half of it.....I would kill for that! He has (or possibly had) a good job - my son was in the Coast Guard, loved it....got into drugs, got washed out, and never was able to stick with another thing - He went to them and "fessed up" and asked for help -- and they promptly discharged him....since then, it has been a downward spiral. i don't know much about heroin because my son's drug of choice has always been some form of upper (coke->crack->meth, which is where we are now). There are no good treatments and there are no good medications. I don't know a lot about methadone and i know it has its problems...but it exists. It can be a short term help. And heroin has been around for a long time - at least we know something about it and how to treat it's addiction. None of this is the case for meth. So...have hope. You/he have youth and time on your side, you have experience and knowledge on your side, you have possibilities on your side.

A word about the smoke shops. They are deadly. They sell all sorts of things that i have no idea why they are legal. i know a young woman who purchases and smokes something called "Spice" and proceeds to have psychotic breaks in which she goes into a dissociated space and physically attacks those around her, including the people she loves the most. She has lost her job and is in danger of losing her children. I am not advocating for marijuana, but she never ever did any of those things when she was smoking that. My point is that going into a smoke shop is walking into a lion's den.....no idea how many people they have harmed or killed or lives they have ruined....

Have hope, my dear....have hope. i don't know any answers about the difference between enabling and helping. My situation has gone on for a very long time, and i have had an opportunity to wear out my answers against the unremitting wall of experience. i finally came to the point where i realized that i had to choose a point beyond which i could not go for my own sanity. For me, that was homelessness. i cannot allow him to be on the street and still live with myself. I'm not saying this is a reasonable or even helpful position -- but i know what i can and can't tolerate. Am i keeping him from hitting his bottom? i don't know. i only know, as his mother, there is one thing i can't handle and that is it. Perhaps someday i'll get beyond it, but for now, that is it. The main point of this is that i do it more for myself than i do it for him. I don't fool myself that he will be better for it; but i will be able to sleep at night, knowing he has a place to do so as well.a

i am not a religious person, although i do believe in a higher power....most people conceive of that to be God in some shape or form, or at least that's the way it seems to fall out....i wish i could....but i don't....but at the depth of my despair, i prayed. i feel weird doing it, and don't really know what i'm doing....but i still do it, sending out my heartfelt plea to the universe and whatever else is out there.....next time i do that, i will include you and your son.....

Louise



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Thank you, Valerie.....it is so good not to be alone.  i know that's what Al-Anon is all about, and i also know that, as mothers, our situation has its own peculiar difficulties.    I finally walked away from an alcoholic husband whom i had loved very much, but i could never walk away from my child.  For me, Al-Anon is about learning how to be there in the right way for him, while also being there for myself....if that makes sense!

Are we "allowed" to email privately?  Or is that a breach of protocol?  Maybe Betty can tell us......

Louise



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Thank you Betty. I am so sorry and "he was my son" is all you have to say to me and Louise too I'm sure. I am looking forward to working the steps. I will be out of town for this week but will jump in when I return.

Louise please PM me anytime! In fact I will give you my email address as well!

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Valerie Mackenzie-Low


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[spoiler]biggrin. Hello I here to work my way to recovery and eager to learn and get healthy on my own time . Boy step one is long I see how it's all broken down how long do I have to complete step one ?

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Hi Ms. Smarty Pants -

Welcome! I'm glad you're here. I'm not wise enough to answer your question, but for myself, I will be working on Step 1 for a looonnnggg time! Giving up control - the idea that you can "fix it" - is the hardest thing i have ever tried to do. I experience it as coming in waves....i really get it....and then i lose it again....then i get it....and i lose it again....but each time the "getting" is a bit deeper, and the "losing" ends a bit more quickly....

The people here are wonderful.....and very welcoming and responsive. I hope you jump right in!
Louise

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Hi Ms SmarytPants 

Welcome 

You can work at your on pace.  You can use the questions posted, or simply share your understanding of the Step and how it applies to your life.

I am glad you are here and  that you have decided  to consider this powerful tool



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Betty


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I accepted this a long time ago- but it keeps coming back to me.  Every once in a while, I will go back to my old ways of thinking- that there is something I can do to make the A in my life change.

Before we got married, I saw the AA blue book on sale at a garage sale.  I bought it for AH, and gave it to him.  Insisted that he read it and was frustrated that he did not.  Was frustrated that I found the book shoved somewhere in the garage.  I have to remind myself that only people who WANT to change can, and he doesn't want to.

I stopped drinking myself, so I wouldn't set a bad example for him.  Didn't drink anything but water for over two months, and it went completely unnoticed.  I was frustrated, but again found my way back to step one- I needed to accept that I was powerless.  I didn't cause this by drinking around him- he found R&R long before he ever found me.  I can't change it, and I can't cure it.  The only thing left to do is accept that I have no power over anybody but me.

I find myself in a cycle, or a loop, where I am constantly having to remind myself of step one and admit that I am powerless.  Not hopeless, not stuck.  

POWERLESS.  I used to find that word so degrading and humiliating.  I used to associate it with being a victim and weakness.  You know what?  There is something very freeing about not having power And giving up that need for power.  



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ilostmon

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.  I too thought powerless= helpless and ineffective.  How wrong I was.

Being powerless opened up new doors to choices I could not see as I struggled trying to fix something I could not fiix

I could have power over myself and take action to affect my life,  

How a great is that

Keep coming back and sharing the  journey.



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Betty


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 This disease of alcoholism brings me to my knees.  AH was sober (with no recovery) for 9 months then has gone back to the drink.  Actually this really surprised me because he finally got a job after 40 months with no job.  So I have had to come back to Step 1 for my current situation.  Actually, I never leave Step 1 because I need it everyday.  But when he was sober I was being forgetful of my step work.  New job, sobriety - it was that pink cloud that I was floating on.

So now that he has gone back to the drinking I need to work on this step again.  I am powerless over his choices.  I get angry, but I think at this point I am more sad then angry.  I need to remember that I have my Al Anon family and my Higher Power to be by my side.

I did not cause this, I cannot cure it and I cannot control this disease.  I also cannot listen to the excuses as to why he is drinking again because I will not take the blame for it.  This is a new behavior for me, not taking what he says as gospel and carrying it around with me.  I am learning to keep my mouth closed and not say anything.  I must remember that he knows all about where to go for help and that I am not his Higher Power.  I will not bully him as to why he is drinking again because I realized that when he drinks he bullies me so I refuse to do that back to him.  Just because I am the sober person does not mean I am right.  I also have to remember not to use sneaky ways to manipulate him into my way of thinking.  I do not like when he lies to me (when I ask him if he has been drinking and he says "No" because if I suspect it then it is most likely true 99% of the time) and I hate when he sneaks behind my back.... so I am doing the same thing when I manipulate in a sneaky way.  I just have to keep coming back to the fact that I am powerless of him and his decisions.  BUT.... I can make my decisions that will be good for me.

I must pull out all the tools in my Al Anon tool kit right now.  Say the slogans, do my gratitude, pray, read my books and keep my mouth shut.

 

 

 

 



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I UNDERSTAND YOU SO WELL, MY HUSBAND IN THE LAST TWO WEEKS HAS RELAPS. IM ANGRY THAT HE HAS A EXCUSE WHY HE DID IT, OR HAS NO EXCUSE WHY HE DRANKED. AS I SHARE THIS WITH YOU, MY HUSBAND HAS NOT CAME HOME FOR TWO DAYS BECAUSE HE IS TO BUSY, DRINKING HIMSELF IN A CO WORKERS HOME, WHILE I SIT AT HOME WORRIED, DEPRESS AND POWERLESS TO HELP HIM. BUT I HAVE LEARNED THAT NAGGING HIM, AND MANIPULATING HIM IS JUST ME PUSHING HIM TO DRINK. I HAVE TO CONFESS THAT I WAS DOING ALL THOSE THINGS, NAGGING, MANIPULATING, AND MOTHERING HIM WHEN I MYSELF AM NOT A MOTHER.

cry IM SO MENTALLY TIRED, EMOTIONALY AND THAT IM NOT THE SAME SINCE I HAVE BEEN DEALING WITH HIS ADDICTION FOR THE LAST FIVE YEARS THAT I HAVE BEEN MARRIED TO HIM. IM NOT GOING TO LIE AND SAY THAT AT TIMES I WISH I CAN GET INTO MY CAR AND DRIVE SO FAR AWAY AND START ALL OVER AND LEAVE EVERYTHING BEHIND, INCLUDING FAMILY. BUT I SEE MYSELF TO BE THE "FIXER", FOR HIS ADDICTION, AND I KNOW THAT I CANNOT DO THAT. INSIDE OF ME I KNOW I CANNOT JUST GIVE UP ON HIM BECAUSE EVERYONE HAS.

 

BUT AS YOU SAID, I NEED TO LEARN TO KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT WHEN I ASK HIM IF HE HAS BEEN DRINKING, WHEN I KNOW THAT HE HAS BEEN. ITS JUST SO HARD TO DO!



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I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL! I FEEL THE SAME WAY, I HAVE GIVEN UP ON MYSELF! I DONT CARE ABOUT THINGS I USE TO CARE ABOUT, THAT IS INCLUDING MYSELF BECAUSE IM SO BUSY TRYING TO FIX MY AH AND HIS ADDICTION AND LETTING GO OF MY EMOTIONAL STATE! IM SO MENTALLY TIRED THAT ALL I DO IS CRY, HAVE ANXIETY, PANIC ATTACKS THAT IM AT MY WITTS END WITH THE ADDICTION.



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I TOO UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE GOING THRU BUT IM GOING THRU IT WITH MY HUSBAND. AS MUCH AS I HATE TO KNOW HE IT OUT THERE DRINKING AND DRIVING BREAKS ME. THE THOUGHT OF HIM KILLING SOMEONE BECAUSE DRINKING BRINGS RAGE TO HIM SCARES ME THAT HE WILL END UP IN PRISON FOR ANYTHING. BUT I TOO IS NEW TO THIS FIRST STEP, BUT SLOWLY AND KNOWING THAT WE NEED TO TAKE CARE OF US TO UNDERSTAND AND SUPPORT THOSE WE LOVE, THAT IS WHY WE ARE HERE TAKING THAT FIRST STEP TOGETHER AS A FAMILY AND NOT ALONE!



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I too have the anxiety and panic - do not eat nor sleep when my AH is on a binge. Last week I decided to keep my mouth shut so when he was slurring while talking then he passed out on the couch. I just took my laptop and Al-Anon books to my bedroom - watched TV and did the chat meeting. It was exactly what I needed to do. Even when he woke up I decided not to go downstairs to see what he was up to. I finally detached (with love for me not for him). The next morning nothing was said but the kitchen was cleaned up. Hmmm...was that guilt? It was very interesting to see how he reacted. So maybe me detaching and admitting that I cannot control him and his decisions was the right step to take. I am not his Higher Power. I just need to remember that I can go to my Higher Power and visualize sitting on the beach with him and passing over my husband and his bottle of vodka to his loving hands. I cannot control or cure this disease. And I do know that it is not my fault no matter what he says. This is my powerlessness over him and I am working on this step daily. I am powerless over him and others.

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Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol ~ that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step one questions

  • Do I accept that I cannot control another persons drinking? Another persons behavior?
    I have come to accept this. For a very long time I couldn't. I really thought that if I made getting sober into a big enough deal, I could basically force or scare him into getting sober. I understand now that I have no more control over the alcohol and the disease than he does. 

  • How do I recognize that the alcoholic is an individual with habits, characteristics and ways of reacting to daily happenings that are different from mine?
    This has been shown to me on a daily basis. He is a vastly different person to myself, I cannot hold him to the same standards that I hold myself by expecting him to handle things the way that I do - especially when the way that I handle things is also flawed. He is his own person with his own struggle just as I am. 

  • Do I accept that alcoholism is a disease? How does that change how I deal with a drinker?
    I do. This is something I thought that I had accepted, because I knew it logically. But I had not accepted it. I still thought that with enough prodding, ultimatums, "big talks" and all the rest that I could change him, that I could make him stop drinking. I understand now - really, truly understand - that alcoholism is a disease. It is no different to my depression, anxiety, or PTSD. He cannot just 'get over it' just as I cannot just 'get over' my illnesses. Addiction is a mental health issue. Really accepting this has changed the way I interact with him by making me see that he is not doing it to hurt me or even himself. I see that he does not set out to get drunk. I see that it is not malicious. Most importantly, I now see that it is not an intentionally selfish act.

  • How have I tried to change others in my life? What were the consequences?
    I have consistently tried to change those who hurt me, instead of looking inward and addressing my own issues - like the fact that I chose to stay in relationships that I knew were not healthy for me. When my ex-husband serially cheated on me, I should have left but instead tried to change myself in order to change him - to be what I felt he needed, to try to stop him from looking for others. 
    The consequences were that I actually became a doormat and I was not respected. It was completely ineffective. 

  • What means have I used to get what I want and need? What might work better to get my needs met?
    I try to talk things out. I try to be honest and tell someone exactly how I feel in the hope that things will change. Failing this, I try to give ultimatums, threaten with punishment such as leaving, and never follow through (except this time). At this point I am not sure what would work better to get my needs met. I think perhaps it is more about, if I am honest and tell someone what my needs are and they are not attempting to meet them, then I should not fool myself into thinking if I hang on long enough, that will change. 

  • How do I feel when the alcoholic refuses to be and do what I want? How do I respond?
    I feel an incredible sadness. I feel unloved and like I am unworthy of him "wanting" to change. I feel lost. The sadness is often followed by vicious internalized anger, where I resent him for not "putting me first" or him not feeling I am important enough to change for. That what we have is not meaningful enough for him to see the error of his ways and try to get help. I respond with sadness, I cry a lot. Then I get angry and start fighting back when he is verbally abusive, I threaten to end the relationship.

  • What would happen if I stopped trying to change the alcoholic or anyone else?
    I would be a lot happier. I would have a lot less stress, because I would no longer feel it is my job to help him get his life together and get to a better place. 
    If I stopped trying to change people and instead accepted them as they are, I think I would feel a lot freer.
     
  • How can I let go of others problems instead of trying to solve them?
    This is a difficult one for me. I think I need to detach, and perhaps to tell people I will no longer be involved in unnecessary drama. If I can help someone with their problems, and they want me to help, I will. But if someone is venting to me I do not need to take responsibility for their problems and their emotions. 

  • Am I looking for a quick fix to my problems? Is there one?
    Previously, I was looking for a 'quick fix'. Where the alcoholism is concerned, I was always hoping and, I suppose, expecting that he would get help immediately following an ultimatum and that he would stop drinking and everything would be fine again.
    However, I know now that this is a process. It is going to be a long process for me to heal, and it will be an even longer process for him to heal. I no longer expect that he will seek help for his problems. I still hope he does, but it is not my main priority anymore. I am my own main priority. I am comfortable with this being a process and taking time to go through it.
     
  • In what situations do I feel excessive responsibility for other people?
    In all situations. This is a huge problem for me. People come to me with their problems and I feel I must help them fix whatever is wrong. I feel I must do everything I can to help someone else. If someone doesn't ask for my help but still includes me in their problems, I feel it is my responsibility to do what I can to help them. I feel it is my job to fix everyone, to be available to everyone, to help everyone even to my own detriment. 

  • In what situations do I feel shame or embarrassment for someone elses behavior?
    In most situations in my life. Whether it is friends, family, or partners, I feel responsible for their actions and that their behaviour reflects badly on me. Therefore I assume the responsibility for the feelings of shame and embarrassment even if they do not feel it themselves. I find myself constantly apologizing or covering up for the behaviour of others. 

  • What brought me to Al-Anon? What did I hope to gain at that time? How have my expectations changed?
    I have been in a relationship for a year and a half with an alcoholic. I very recently decided to end it because I could not tolerate the behaviour associated with the drinking. I don't want to end the relationship, nor does he, but I felt it was the right decision. I came to Al-Anon because I hoped to heal, and learn that the drinking is not my fault. My expectations haven't really changed. 

  • Who has expressed concern about my behavior? My health? My children? Give examples.
    Most people I know have expressed concerned for me. Especially for my mental health. My mother and brother have told me that my behaviour has changed, that I have become withdrawn and more depressed since being with my (ex) partner. My psychologist has expressed concern for me being in this relationship. 

  • How do I know when my life is unmanageable?
    I feel that my life is constantly unmanageable. I know that it is particularly bad when I start feeling more stressed, anxious and depressed than is normal. 

  • How have I sought approval and affirmation from others?
    I do this constantly. I feel the need for others to approve of me and to please others. I have always been a people-pleaser, much to my own detriment. I feel strongly that if others don't approve of my choices, then I am a disappointment. I have consistently changed things in my life because others do not approve. I feel defensive when someone questions my choices. I feel extremely uncomfortable when someone does not agree with something I am doing because I want them to be happy with me.
  • Do I say yes when I want to say no? What happens to my ability to manage my life when I do this?
    I do. I make things more difficult for myself by putting myself in situations I could have avoided by saying no in the first place. I put more stress on myself. My life becomes unmanageable. 
  • Do I take care of others easily, but find it difficult to care for myself?
    Absolutely. I am last on my list of priorities. I put everyone before myself. I have to make sure everyone else is okay, I am there for everyone else constantly but I do not take time to look after myself. 

  • How do I feel when life is going smoothly? Do I continually anticipate problems? Do I feel more alive in the midst of a crisis?
    I do continually anticipate problems. I feel that if life if going smoothly, it will not be for long. I live in fear of problems arising and don't enjoy the time that is going well. I have become so accustomed to crisis that I do feel more alive in the midst of one - more useful, more important. 

  • How well do I take care of myself?
    Not well at all.

  • How do I feel when I am alone?
    I am rarely alone. When I am alone, I feel free at first but then anxious and even guilty that I am spending time alone when I should be spending time with my children or partner. 

  • What is the difference between pity and love?
    I think pity and love are two very different feelings. Pity is being there for someone simply because they need you. Love is being there for someone because you need each other. 

  • Am I attracted to alcoholics and other people who seem to need me to fix them? How have I tried to fix them?
    I do seem to be. I don't ever intentionally set out to be with or surround myself with 'broken wings', and often I don't even know that about the person before I begin to know them. But I do feel like it is my job to 'fix' broken people. Depending on who they are to me, I have tried advice, threats, heart-to-hearts, pretty much anything I can think of that, in the end, will make the person 'better'. 

  • Do I trust my own feelings? Do I know what they are?
    I am learning to trust my own feelings. I have spent the past 25 years of my life feeling that my emotions and feelings were invalid or not as important as others. I am learning to identify my feelings and let them be, accept that this is what I am feeling and it is okay, I cannot change them, they are the truth. 


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Newbie

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Posts: 1
Date:

Im new to this, havent even been to a meeting yet but only now beginning to realise the damage that alcoholism has done to my relationship, my mental health and my life. Im struggling hugely with concept of admitting powerlessness, my partner is in denial and I think that I am too. I still need to really grasp what it means to be powerless, how I cannot help, fix, persuade, beg or control the other person. There is still that tiny flame of what I have been calling hope but which I now know is actually part of my own struggle in this codependent disorder and I need to be free of it. Even today I relapsed and ended up crying and begging him to stop drinking. Its so destructive and yet I keep doing it. Goddess grant me the serenity to accept the things we cannot change

__________________


Veteran Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 47
Date:

So glad  you're here and that you posted. Are you working the steps with a sponsor? When I worked the steps the first time, it was my sponsor who made all the difference in the world. Sending hugs.

In gratitude

Audrey



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