emotional abandonment

A discussion of topics related to relationships in recovery and treatment
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Joined: Sat Oct 31, 2009 9:08 pm

emotional abandonment

Postby albertawind » Mon Jan 11, 2010 6:48 pm

I wonder how many other recovering alcoholics have felt abandoned by their spouses after being sober for a period of time?

At first (during the first 6 months or so) my wife was constantly involved in my recovery. She was happy, obviously, that I wasn't the drunken idiot that she knew so well. Life was getting better for both of us, in leaps and bounds.

Now she seems annoyed by my recovery. Specifically the meetings, Big Book studies, calls from other alcoholics, etc. She seems pissed-off that I spend a significant amount of my week with AA-related things. I have tried explaining to her that this is better than the alternative - which would be me being drunk all the time!

Perhaps she feels abandoned herself, but the truth is that she spends more time with her soccer-related stuff than I do with AA. I can tell she resents the fact that I am making friends in the program, especially female friends.

Note: when I was drinking daily I had absolutely no friends!

I have tried, calmly and reasonably, to explain why this is important for me, for both of us, but she remains resentful. I have asked her to look into Al-Anon - just check it out - but she won't have anything to do with that.

What's a drunk to do? Should I just trudge along and hope she doesn't eventually divorce me? I am not willing to let anything come between me and my sobriety... not even my wife.


garden variety
Posts: 750
Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2006 7:39 pm

Postby garden variety » Tue Jan 12, 2010 4:17 pm

Hi Graeme,

There are things that I've begun to do to build self-discipline. For me, self-discipline has been the building block of self-love. When I couldn't love me, I couldn't begin to love another person.

The way you posted "just trudge along and hope" sort of set off a blinking light for me. It attracted me like a moth to a porch light.

"Trudging" has been a term that I equate with "self-discipline". To me its like doing something which at first doesn't seem to have any "immediate reward" or "self-gratification". Often it's doing something that I don't "feel" like doing, and I don't want to do it.

Yet it is taking an action that builds something that I will absolutely need later on. I NEED to be able to love myself, and express love to myself, otherwise I will become isolated from my fellow man. I also won't have much of a clue about how to love anyone else of the female companion variety. I NEED companionship because I haven't yet been "called" to live an ascetic life of sacrifice as a monk or friar.

So in my "trudging", I'm learning how difficult it is to rely on hope. But to me, "relying" on hope is not the same as "resigning" myself to a potentially negative future outcome, such as death or divorce. The fundamental issue for me is a dreaded fear of loss: the fear of losing something good. It's a fear that permeates my soul to the core. It fires panic within me and contorts me into tears and doubles me over in a pain so sharp in my heart that it seems like it will kill me.

Funny thing is, nothing has happened yet. I reach that state because I don't yet fully understand hope. My hard lesson lately is coming to believe that as long as there is a heartbeat, hope remains alive. That carries with it trudging through some pretty scary "self-imposed" abandonment fears that are leftover from days so far back that I can't even remember what I lost, I was so young.

For me it means disciplining myself to make a decision today to turn my will and my life over to the care of a loving God. I mean making the decision and trudging through the day and taking constructive actions to make that decision something more than just a fantasy or passing words or a "nice idea" that just sits on a shelf.

The outcome of my actions doesn't need to become my possession or my expectation. Once again, I don't have much wiggle room other than to rely on hope. So whether or not it makes you feel better, today I'm beside you wondering what "hope" might amount to at the end of the day. Just like you, I might say I'm "not willing" to allow this or that to happen, but I catch myself. I remember that I already made all the decisions I needed to make. Now I need to allow the outcome to become the byproduct of my constructive action - without my help or coercion.

Most of the time, that isn't much fun when I'm dancing with the fear of abandonment. Sometimes I just have to stop, change my "dance partner" and do some deep breathing, then get re-focused on the constructive action and trudging that remains in the day. Eventually I get through the day, and it never turns out as bad as I feared at my most anxious moment.

I don't know much about your wife or what outcome will happen with you and her. But what I do know is that simply being available...being in the moment, or in the "here and now"...when a friend or loved one calls out my name for help or encouragement, that is when I know my purpose and what I'm called to do. It's pretty simple - if my name is being called, then being available is the most important thing.

I know we all have the responsibility to help another alcoholic in need, and to do work and self-sacrifice for others. But when I agreed to become a father, "best friend", or "significant other", I gave my loved ones permission to call out my name and to be assured through my words and actions that they could RELY on me being available to meet their need. It's pretty simple to make myself available, but it's not always easy or fun. The bottom line is that I made a decision they relied upon, so being available becomes my responsibility even when being active in AA is more fun.

Some might disagree with me about that, but the reason I joined the fellowship, and why I work a recovery program is to provide assurance to the ones who need me most - my significant other, my sons, my cherished friends who have answered to their names being called when I needed help or encouragement - I'm sober to assure my loved ones that I will be available any time of the day or night for them when they need me.

I hope the outcome of your trudging rewards you with miracles you never expected. That happens to me more often than not.

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