Codependency; living with an active alcoholic

The holiday’s are upon us, and for many it is the most wonderful time of the year. Not so much over here. My mother is still dead, my kids live far away, and I live with an active alcoholic Scrooge. Way to deflate the holiday bubble.

So, to give myself a little love, I booked a trip to go see my son for Christmas. I am excited yet apprehensive at the same time.

Back to the active alcoholic, my husband. We relocated to NY 2 1/2 years ago. When we did that, I stopped going to AA meetings. In our old town, I never felt that I was getting all that much out of the program, so when we moved to a new state it was easy to stop going to meetings. I remained sober from alcohol, I just wasn’t working the program.

When we returned to my husbands old home town, he went into a deep depression, and started to drink very heavily. As I wasn’t working on myself, I didn’t really notice or care all that much.

I am now very active in the program again, and working on myself, along with working the steps. His alcoholism has become a huge issue for me. I have taken all of my focus and placed it directly on his drinking.

I addressed the situation with him a couple of months ago. The last time I went to visit my son, I happened to call him at 3:30 in the afternoon, and he was totally shitfaced.  When I returned home, we had a “come to Jesus” meeting about it. He told me, unequivocally, that he will not quit drinking. He will moderate, as he has always done in his life, just two drinks a night. I tried to impress upon him that this addiction is progressive, and that once one has gone so far down that road, it is difficult to get back to the beginning of it. Again, I was told, two drinks a night.

In October he began to drink white wine, his usual drink is vodka. That went on for about a month. (I say about, but the notes that I am keeping know it was exactly a month. And yes, I know this is hazardous and serious codependent behavior.)  After a month, the vodka was back in the freezer.

Being the codependent, controlling alcoholic/addict that I am, I could not let this go unaddressed. I asked, why the switch back to the original culprit, vodka? I was told that he “detoxed” with the wine, and would now be able to control the vodka drinking to two shots per night. WTF?? Right?

Codependency is a gorilla that sits on my back. I am now laser focused on his drinking. And, yes I know, intellectually that this is ridiculous, tell my addict that, she can’t get a grip on this.

I hear when the freezer door opens, I hear the shot glass get picked up, I hear the two shots being poured, then the glub, glub, glub of the extra vodkas that goes in from the bottle. It all just makes me so anxious, fearful and crazy angry at the same time.

Since the return of the vodka, I am too actively involved in his drinking.  I have begun to water down the bottle of vodka. I thought that when it froze, as it is kept in the freezer, it might tip him off, it didn’t, he just moved the bottle to the refrigerator.

This unfortunate trend of watering down the vodka has taken up massive amounts of space in my addicted brain. Each night, before I go to bed, I add a splash of water to the vodka bottle. He either hasn’t noticed, or refuses to address it with me. I don’t know which one it is. (Our communication skills are horrendous about this subject matter.)

I need to get this fucking gorilla off my back. I know the other shoe is going to drop while I am away over the holidays. He will go back to his heavy drinking because he is only moderating because of my monitoring. (How fucked up is this?)

The whole situation, all of my own making, is causing me extreme anxiety about my trip. I  do not want to live the rest of my life focused on him and his alcoholic drinking. I know about Al-anon, I am aware of ACOA, I go to 4 AA meetings a week. I have read countless articles and books about codependency, listened to numerous podcasts, yet I can not shake this behavior.

Therefore, I am turning to you readers, sober, non sober, anyone, with suggestions of how to NOT continue to focus on this.

Before anyone suggests things such as exercise, work, getting out of the house, reading, going to another room, or just try to stop, I do all of the above, and more. I just can’t stop this nonsense. It is giving me huge amounts of anxiety daily.

Any and all suggestions welcomed.

 

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AA is Antiquated

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I quit AA again last night. I am an alcoholic and an addict. Apparently, the AA meetings I go to here in New York, don’t want to hear from addicts, only alcoholics.

Last night the gentleman who qualified, had both alcoholism and addiction in his story. He had 12 years sober, tore a shoulder ligament, then became addicted to pain pills. He pulled his life together, put together another 12 years of sobriety, and then incurred a debilitating back injury. He told the doctor that he was an addict, so the did not give him opiates, they gave him suboxone, more addictive than heroin. He slowly took himself off of it, supplemented with vodka.

The floor then became open in a round robin style share. I have difficulty sharing under the best circumstances, but this was something I know about. Having an injury where pain pills have re-entered my life, I got a lot out of his story. As people began to share, the shares leaned more to addiction rather than alcohol.

I rarely, if ever, raise my hand. I was with my sponsor, and she said, maybe you could talk about what you have recently experienced. I let a few more people speak, then raised my hand, at the exactly the same time. Fortunately, he called on her. After her share, the moderator then stated that all shares only be about alcohol.

Alcohol and prescription medicine are my addictions. I went to AA for the fellowship,  the understanding, and the like mindedness of the people in the room. If I am limited in what I am “allowed” to speak about, then I am not being true to myself, nor am I putting my real self out there.

After the announcement was made, I was stunned. I then quickly picked up my bag and promptly left. I decided on my way home, through many tears, that I am done. I do not need to go to meetings to feel like shit, I can stay at home and do that to myself. I hate intolerance, and I don’t accept it, and I won’t get over it. I have no patience for feeling intimidated about speaking, due to some antiquated rule.

21.5 million people in the United States are addicts, 7 million battle a drug use disorder, about 1 out of every 8 people. A lot of people are cross addicted. When is AA going to move into the new century, and realize that they can not longer be an exclusionary group? Until that time comes, I will have to find a new program that will accept and tolerate a cross addicted person. Anyone have any suggestions?

 

 

Challenge

I have torn my labrum, along with a slight tear in my rotator cuff, in my left shoulder. I have no idea when it happened, as I exercise regularly and do a lot of heavy lifting on my own. It let me know last Tuesday night at 2:30am that something BAD had happened in my left shoulder. I woke up with excruciating pain, and I could not raise my left arm above waist level. Having had two rotator cuff operations on the right shoulder, I knew from the pain, it was something bad. I also knew that I was heading into dangerous territory.

It was the first two back to back shoulder surgeries that led to my addiction to opiates. The first surgery was not done right, after, I was still in immense pain every time I moved my right arm. Physical therapy put me in agony. Each time I went back to the surgeon, he wrote me another prescription for Vicodin. I was taking them daily for close to two years before I had the corrective surgery. The next surgeon was equally as giving with the pain medication. This was 10 years ago , prior to the opiate epidemic we are facing today, but it was enough to get me hooked. There was nothing more relaxing than a pill and a bottle of wine. This combination numbed the world away, brought it all to a manageable blur.

The morning following the sleepless night of pain, my husband, the retired doctor, and I went to the E.R. Ex-rays were taken, pain pills were given, along with a prescription for 24 additional, and we were off to the orthopedic doctor who had fixed my right shoulder. He gave me a steroid shot, and set up the MRI, which gave me the results of the tear.

This all did my head in. I was closing in on six months of sobriety from the opiates, and here they are front and center in my life again. Part of my long term recovery plan for the last 3 1/2 years since I quit alcohol, was running and exercise. Now I was sidelined with one of my worst enemies sitting in a little yellow bottle on my night table.

I know my limitations, and I desperately do not want to go down this ugly road again, so I handed the bottle to my husband, the retired doctor, and asked him to manage them for me. To only give me one at the end of the day if I asked.

On day three, when I returned from an AA meeting, I asked husband for a pill. I had worked all day using the arm, which of course one uses their arm, it is an ARM. I was in pain. Husband had been drinking, and when I asked for a pill, he came out and HANDED ME THE WHOLE BOTTLE!! His comment was, here, you manage this.

It felt like someone had gut punched me. I was devastatingly hurt, as well as completely flabbergasted that he could be so cavalier, unsympathetic and show no empathy.  I felt like I was living with a stranger.

He has been with me through this struggle for the last 4 years. He knows I have stolen his pills whenever they have been around. He knows I have gone to Maine, to help my father, and have stolen all of his left over pain medicine. He knows I am an addict, yet here he was, handing me my drug. I just couldn’t understand in, nor believe it.

I called my girlfriend and asked her if I could drop the bottle off with her. She was leaving for the weekend, so I kept 3 for the days she would be gone, and I got them out of my house.

When I handed them to her, I told her I would not need them again. I had given myself the deadline of Monday to figure out how to deal with the pain without taking the pills. I did end up needing the three I had set aside, but it has been Tylenol since Monday.

I am still gutted by my husband, the doctor’s, actions. I am so angry, and hurt, I have yet to address it with him. I don’t understand how he doesn’t understand.

 

 

Rigorous Honesty and a Day Count Reset ☹️

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I have finally owned up to the fact that I can no longer say that I have 1213 days of sobriety.  This has been a tough one for me.  Since I quit drinking on 11/30/13, I have taken opiates four times, an addiction I don’t readily own up to. I took them for the same reasons I used to drink, to not feel something that was painful.  It is the same behavior as drinking to mask my feelings,  I took the pills to make something less of a THING. To make it go away, however briefly.

I have gone back to AA and am giving it 100 percent effort this time around. When I first got sober, I did it online for the first three months, white knuckling it with the WordPress sober community.  I then decided to try an AA meeting. I found one where no one asked anything of me. No coffee making, no greeting, no commitment. Also no offers of sponsorship, nor did I asks. I just went one night a week, sat in a chair, said nothing, then went home. Just going through the motions.

I had a sponsor, but she lived in a different state, so we weren’t connected geographically, and were unable to attend meetings together. We weren’t able to get together in person and discuss my new sobriety the way I can with my new sponsor.

My current sponsor is tough, she expects a daily telephone call, and she expects me to show up at meetings, regularly. No half assing it this time.  I have been doing that, because there has been a hole in my sobriety. Without the meetings, I was back to white knuckling it, and just going through the motions. I wasn’t drinking, but if given the chance or the opportunity, I would happily gulp down a pain pill.

What I have found by attending meetings for the last three months is that  I was missing was the rigorous honesty. When you don’t have to be accountable for your behavior, you give yourself a pass and rationalize away anything.  And I have. I have done that four times when I have chosen to take opiates.

I have attended a lot of meetings in the last few months. I have been listening, and I have heard people tell on themselves repeatedly. I kept hearing the phrase rigorous honesty. It has stirred something deep in me, I have not been honest with myself, or within the program, and now it was time to own up to it.

In my mind I had kept my two addictions in separate places, never admitting the pills were as bad as the alcohol. I was sober because I didn’t drink. I kept up my day count. Nothing was going to stop my streak. Somehow, I discounted the pills, they weren’t my REAL addiction, so I kept going after each pill relapse as though nothing happened.

Except this time it was different, I had a new sponsor, I had to tell on self. That is what we do. When I first asked her if I should reset my day count, she said she felt that I was a bit too fragile and new at the program to do that, and we could let it go. But I can’t. The more meetings I go to, the more I realize that I have to reset my sobriety date. As I have relapsed, not once, but four different times. The pills and the alcohol are the same, they are both an addiction and they belong in the same bucket.

This morning I told my sponsor that I felt I needed to reset the date. The continued talk of rigorous honesty was getting to me. I am not being honest, I am a liar. I have not been sober for 1213 days, I have been cheating.

It is time to own up to it. I don’t want to, in fact it makes me cringe and cry. I can’t even think about getting another 30 day, 60 day, 90 day chip, it just makes me so sad. I am told I will feel better once I admit this. It will be a weight off, it will be the beginning, again, this time with rigorous honesty.

 

 

 

Opiate Relapse, Story #2

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I relapsed with opiates was in December 2015.

Christmas Day of 2015, I received a call from my step-mother. My father was in ICU in Bangor, Maine with pneumonia, can I come please? The next morning, I caught the first ferry off the island, and headed to Maine. Along the way, I stopped at Logan Airport to pick up my brother who had gotten the same call, and had flown in from Saint Louis.

For most people, pneumonia is not a deadly disease. For my father it is. My father is a two time cancer survivor. In case you were ever in doubt, smoking does cause cancer. The cancer first started in his mouth, under his tongue. He had radiation, which killed all his salivary glands, and compromised his jaw bone. In later years, he lost a lot of his teeth. Two years later, the cancer was back, in his lungs. The doctor’s removed the top lobe of his left lung. They caught it early, so he didn’t need any further treatment, and has been cancer free for 20 plus years.

That being said, pneumonia is deadly for a person who has a compromised immune system and has diminished breathing capacity to start with. The doctors also could not identify the strain of pneumonia, so they had no idea how to treat him. My step mother thought he was going to die. Both my brother and I went to Maine.

My brother was also suffering. He had fallen off a ladder and had done something horrific to his neck. He was using the neck hanging traction apparatus, but was in a lot of pain.

When we arrived at my father’s home, my brother said he was in agony. He had taken the last Vicodin that the doctor had prescribed him. I said, “I know that Dad has some pain pills, he never takes them after an operation.” I strapped on my running shoes and made a bee line to their bathroom, lightning speed.

I took a couple of pills out of the bottle and handed them to my brother. I took the 3 bottles I found there, and stashed them in my room.

I was in Maine for a week,  most of the time alone. Spending time in the ICU, and spending a lot of time at my father’s house. I popped pills like a mad woman. Every night I would watch TV, have my seltzer, and take a few pain pills. Every morning I would wake up, feel like shit, and tell myself to flush them down the toilet. Yet, every night, I would repeat the previous evening’s cycle.

When it was time to head home, my true addict surfaced. I emptied the bottles and put the pills into a baggie, which I hid in a compartment in my bag. I threw the empty bottles into my handbag. As I headed south, I stopped for a coffee and bagel. Along the way, at a rest area, I took the empty bottles, put them in the bag of trash from the coffee shop and threw them in the trash can at a rest stop along I-95.

I was sneaky for sure. At the time, it all seemed perfectly normal, in hindsight, it looks like what it is, a drug addict, stealing drugs from family members.

After a few days at home, I came clean to my husband. I had flushed the remaining pills down the toilet, and had, once again, determined to get sober from opiates.

I made it a year and a month.Last week I relapsed. My problem was, I didn’t get help. I did what I always do, I stay sober through sheer determination. I am a competitive person, even with myself. This worked until last week.

In December, I had a realization that I can not power through my addictions by myself.I was struggling, mentally. No matter how many miles I ran to clear the noise from my head, it kept coming back. I needed help.I half- assed a few AA meetings in November. In December, I got serious, I got a sponsor, who I speak to every day. I am a work in progress. I am working on rigorous honesty, with myself and my sponsor, who had no idea how deep my opiate addiction was until last week.

This is the first time I have told on myself about this side of my addiction. This has been my dirty little secret that I have not acknowledged to anyone, and most importantly myself.

Now it is out there, it is with my sponsor, and it is with you. Rigorous honesty isn’t always pretty, this is down right ugly, and it has made me completely uncomfortable to share. I was just getting used to calling myself alcoholic, now I need to add addict.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017 and percocet relapse

I was lying in bed last night, wishing I had a journal to write in. I have had journals, but I have stopped writing in them because my husband reads them. He reads them even though I have told him, “Hey, this is my journal, it is going to live here on my night table, please don’t read it.” I find this to be a huge invasion of my privacy, among many other things that I am not going to get into today, so I stopped journaling. I moved my current one to the car, which is not a convenient place to find time and put down thoughts. I would suspect writing in a journal while driving is up there in the don’t column along with texting while driving.

Being in recovery, I have discovered that NOT writing down my thoughts has not helped me process the thoughts, or get the thoughts out of my head and put them somewhere else so they no longer make such a racket. The noise keeps me up at night.

I remembered, in my early sobriety I used to blog. I never really enjoyed blogging, I always felt my writing wasn’t good enough, or I wasn’t being insightful, or I wasn’t posting frequently enough, so I shut my blog down. That was about 2 1/2 years ago. I was blogging for the wrong reasons. This blog will now be my journal, somewhere for those pesky, keep me awake at night thoughts to live. Somewhere that the husband won’t find them.

A lot has happened in 2 1/2 years. Of course it has, it has been 2 1/2 years. I am still sober, from alcohol. I have 1,179 days. I have been in AA, then quit AA, and now my road has brought me back to AA. (more on that another day)

I never disclosed in my prior blogs that I also am an opiate addict. I had a botched rotator cuff surgery, and my doctor’s answer to my complaints about getting worse instead of better, was a continuous supply of Vicodin prescriptions. I had the shoulder repaired again, and got more opiates. As time has gone on, there have been various injuries that have required prescriptions for opiates. I have never refused or disclosed my predilection for addiction.

I found that alcohol and opiates were the perfect combination to keep me numb. As long as I had my wine and a pill or two, I was happily high, and nothing bothered me. I could drink and drug and never have to bother with any of the myriad of bothersome, hurtful issues that life consists of.

I had a year of opiate sobriety until two days ago. I found my husbands percocets that he had gotten when he had kidney stones last year. I had previously requested that they be hidden, which they were, (which in itself is pathetic to me, but that is another post) but we are away, and they aren’t hidden well, so I found them.

Then life happened, which it has a habit of doing, so I took 2 percocets. Never one, always 2, 1/2 at a time, spread out over the evening. Naturally, the self loathing was there immediately the following morning.The sick feeling,and the abject sadness at having relapsed after having a year of sobriety with pills.

As I am sitting here, life is coming in fast and furious once again. Things are ramping up to a place where I have no control. Control is my thing, as I believe it is for every addict. I still know where the perocects are, so I am telling you. I am telling anyone who is reading this that I am thinking about taking a percocet to make these feelings go away.

I am also thinking about how shitty I will feel if I do that, so for this moment, I am not going to do it. I am going to finish this post, then go do fold some laundry, and get through the next moment, then the next, until this feeling passes.

And then when my husband gets home, I am going to tell him I found them, and to please hide them again. That is what I am going to do.

PADDLING THE HOLIDAY RAPIDS

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Last year I went white water rafting with my daughter and my running buddy.  It was a great trip.  My pal, John, owns a small motor home, and we drove through the mountains of Tennessee in comfort.  I had never ridden in a motor home before, so it was a first, and it was fun.

We got to the Ocoee Rafting Company ready to battle the rapids.  It was summer, but it wasn’t a very nice day.  It was cold and rainy.  We figured, who cares, we were going to get wet anyway.

We were assigned a raft, loaded into a van, and went down to the “put in” spot.  Prior to “putting in” we sat in the raft, and received a lesson in paddling commands.

All forward;  all paddle forward.

All back; all paddle back

Left turn; the left side of the boat paddles

Right turn: the right side of the boat paddles

Over right; everyone in the boat gets on the right side

Over left; everyone in the boat gets on the left side

Get down; get to the bottom of the boat, quickly

I feel like I have been adrift in this raft throughout this holiday season.

We made the plans to be in Florida close to 18 months ago.  At the time, neither of my children were living at home, and I was actively drinking large quantities of wine every night.  It sounded awesome, sign me up, fun in the sun, drinking in bars and on the beach!  Boo yah!

Then in November of 2013, I was struck, by who knows what, and decided it was time to give up alcohol, and get sober.

Last year’s holiday season was s struggle.  I think I was unknowingly going through PAWS, and the holiday’s were hard, really, really hard.

This year I thought, been there, done that.I wasn’t cocky, still vigilant, but here comes the holiday season, easy peasy, right?

Wrong.  My son moved home, my mother is dying, and I am in Florida, with my husband and a pile of regrets.

December has been difficult.  I have been filled with guilt about my son being alone for Christmas, and not being in Missouri with my mother, as this may be her last Christmas.

I didn’t think any of this through thoroughly enough to remember to pack the small Christmas tree.  Therefore, no decorations. There is no cold weather.  Christmas lights in palm trees just don’t give off that Christmasy feeling.  There was no Bailey’s on Christmas Eve, and no red wine with the Christmas roast.

I have hopped into this raft, and have been paddling like mad to keep from hitting all the obstacles the have been placed in the way.

Paddling forward, getting up each morning and trying to be in the NOW.

Paddling backward, resetting my brain every time it drags me into my pile of guilt, or sadness over where I am NOT, instead of where I am.

Hopping to the left side to avoid the Christmas Eve Bailey’s craving.  Hopping to the right to get around the longing for red wine to have with the roast.

I feel like I am in the bottom of the boat every day when I wake up here in Florida, and not in my own home.  I lie there, take a mental inventory and remind myself that I have a lot to be grateful for.  I give myself a mental slap, and go through the list.

I am here, I am sober, I managed to remain sober through a difficult Christmas, and my son was fine being on his own.My mother spent the holiday with my brother and his family, she had a great time.

I have so much to be grateful for, and if I keep my thoughts in the present, I can make it through another day, where I continuously remind myself that relaxing is not supposed to be so much work.

BEWARE OF MR BAKER

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Last night we watched the documentary, Beware of Mr. Baker, about Ginger Baker the epochal drummer.  He was the creative genius behind the iconic band Cream, and was he the drummer for Blind Faith.

His story is incredible, and disturbing.  He was one of those people who never had a musical lesson, he just had perfect timing, when he heard the music, he could just play it, and play it really well.

One of his early inspirations was the jazz drummer Phillip Seamen.  Not only did Phil Seamen introduce Ginger Baker to jazz drumming, he also introduced him to heroin.  Ginger Baker was an addict for the better part of his life.

The documentary shows his life, his addiction, and his nasty, terrible personality.  It was his personality that ruined his career, along with his prolific use of drugs.  He amassed and lost fortunes a multitude of times.

Ginger Baker claims that Eric Clapton, his band-mate from both Cream and Blind Faith is one of his closest friends.  They interview Eric throughout the documentary.  I came away thinking that Eric Clapton was less a friend than a person who watched Ginger Baker implode from drug abuse, something that Eric Clapton had to distance himself from.  During the course of the film, Eric Clapton admits that he hasn’t seen Ginger Baker in years  because he couldn’t be around him due to his lifestyle choices.

I was never a big fan of Cream or Blind Faith, but Eric Clapton is one of my all time favorite musicians.  He is an amazing guitar player, song writer, and musician.  I have seen him live multiple times, and he never fails to be amazing.

Eric Clapton is in long term recovery, he was addicted to heroin and alcohol.  He got sober in 1989, six years before he lost his son in a tragic accident.  He is also a founding partner The Crossroads Center in Antigua, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.

“Prior to the time that Clapton decided to get sober in 1987, he addicted to heroin and alcohol, crashed cars, attempted suicide more than once, survived growing up in a broken home and dealt with a litany of health problems.

As mentioned above, he attempted suicide many times…..”the only thing that stopped me was the realization that if I were dead I would not be able to drink anymore.”

Fast forward to 2013, Clapton is nearly 26 years clean and sober despite suffering the death of his child six years into sobriety. Clapton, speaking publicly, on several occasions has credited his sobriety with not only aiding him in surviving tragedy but aiding in his self-awareness.

Since getting clean and sober, not only has he penned the biggest song of his career, he has written a book and released several successful CDs.

Congratulations on 25 years of sobriety Clapton. We can’t wait to see what you will produce during the next 25 years.

To all the newly sober people out there, not that it has to be this way but let Clapton be an example of what you can face, overcome and remain clean and sober through.”  Recovery Now, DeShawn McQueen.

The documentary is unwittingly a juxtaposition of addiction and recovery.  Ginger Baker remained an addict, and continued to ruin his life.  Eric Clapton got sober, and his world has continued to get better.

Recovery works.