Feeling overwhelmed and lonely


#1

Hi,

I’m not sure where to begin, it’s been a really long journey for my husband and me. We’ve been together nearly 15 years and throughout the years have had many ups and downs. All the downs came from alcohol and caused much pain to our family. My husband has now realized he has a problem and what we call a functional alcoholic. He can drink everyday, 6 pack of beer and continue until he’s asleep. We argue about it often and he is now trying to stop. I’m not really sure how to support him but I try to encourage different activities, time spent with our kids or family and none of my suggestions seem to help him. It almost feels like he resents me for having a problem with his drinking habits. He understands why I have a problem but when it comes down to it and he’s really craving a drink, and I don’t agree with his choice he gets really upset and tells me to leave him alone or stay out of his way. It almost feels like there’s no winning in this situation. Either he continues to drink and we are arguing or he doesn’t drink and it feels like I don’t even have a husband. He puts a lot of blame on others for his drinking but never fully takes responsibility for his actions. Im not a heavy drinker and have offered my support in his journey as far as cutting out alcohol completely, but it’s easier for me to completely stop than it is for him so a lot of the time it feels like it doesn’t even matter. I feel like I’m out of options, I don’t feel the connection I once felt with him, I feel so alone. He won’t even sleep on our bed because he didn’t get to drink…and it’s usually the same when he does drink. He says he loves me, he wants to have a better future together and can be quite convincing but it’s so hard for me to believe him due to his actions or attitude towards me. I feel so lost and confused because I want to be supportive yet it doesn’t feel like my support is doing anything good for us. I don’t know what to do. I feel like I’m losing our marriage. How can I determine what’s right or what’s wrong?

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#2

Oh @graciasmom I can feel the despair in your words. Although my husband and I haven’t been together as long as you and yours have, I have been where you are. For a bit of context, shortly after we started dating, my husband confided in me that he thought he had a problem with alcohol. He decided to “quit,” but that simply meant pretending to be sober and continuing to drink in secret (we were long distance at the time, so it was easy for him). Our issues got worse when I moved to be with him and we got married. He continued to drink and try to hide it (although it was always very obvious), until it just about broke us completely. He had a choice to make between “the monster” as I came to call it, or our family, and that was the turning point for him. As of this moment, he has been sober for 2 years and 3 months, and it has been the most wonderful and peaceful time in our lives… something I truly wish everyone could experience.

I’m going to share with you a few things that I learned through my husband’s active addiction that I hope you will find useful.

Something my husband talks about a lot is how much he regretted “coming out” with his alcohol problem. He always felt like he was under the microscope and that he was being judged. It sounds like your hubby might be dealing with some of the same things. This idea of “if I hadn’t said anything in the first place, then I wouldn’t have to deal with the shame,” Unfortunately once we know something, we can’t un-know it, so the only path for your husband now is to continue on the one that includes being aware of his addiction. That’s his journey and you do not have to own it.

I did this too. As I learned more about the effects of alcohol, and saw how it was hurting the person I love and my family, I made the decision to stop drinking… he was still in active addiction during that time. I never made a big deal about it to him, but I think at first I did hope deep down that seeing me quit would make him quit too. It didn’t. But, he has said since that me being sober made it a lot easier for him when he did decide to leave alcohol behind. It made it easy to remove it completely from our home, and social situations were less hard knowing I would be in solidarity with him. Ultimately, make whatever choice you need to make for you, but do not do it with the intention of manipulating him into a certain action. That will hurt both of you (him because of the manipulation, and you because of the frustration that it isn’t working.)

Remember, that deep down, he is still the man you are in love with. He has chosen to name that he has a problem, and has said he wants to make a change–that is an enormous step, even if he doesn’t always act in alignment with those intentions. I found it very helpful to separate my husband from the “monster” of addiction. The Monster is going to do whatever it needs to to survive, including pushing away anyone it sees as a threat (that’s you).

The last piece to think about is boundaries. Through this community, and the wonderful @momentsandlight, I learned the major difference between an ultimatum and a boundary. An ultimatum is something you put into place to try to force someone to do what you want them to do. For example, “If you don’t quit drinking, I’m going to leave you.” A boundary is something you put in place for yourself, for you to uphold, whether the other person changes or not. For example, “I cannot be in a relationship with someone in active addiction.” Do you see how one places the responsibility on another person, and one places the responsibility on you? Some boundaries that I had in place for my husband were: I will not spend time with him while he is drinking. I will not leave the children alone with him (ever. and yes, that was a very hard one.) And, in the end, I will not stay in a situation where I am being made to feel sad or scared.

I hope this helps a little. Please please know that no matter what, you are not alone. Feel free to go back and check out my past posts, as I was very active here during the final year of my husband’s addiction, and leaned heavily on this community. I hope you can find the same sense of belonging and solace here as I did.

Wishing you nothing but strength and love. xo


#4

Thank you @Blondie for breaking down your process and also for giving some insight into your husband’s recovery. You’ve been through so much and have come so far. :hearts:

Separating my husband from the addiction has also helped me to support him better. I called it his “demon,” and it was (is) scary. It would take a hold of him and turn him into a person I couldn’t recognize - someone who would choose drugs over his own family. He described it to me once as feeling like he’s in a dark tunnel, and he can only see one thing, and only one thing matters: the drug.

Thank you for mentioning boundaries - they’re so important and also one of the hardest things to 1) understand and 2) hold in place. It makes me so happy to hear that this community has helped you through!


#3

Hi @graciasmom, thank you for sharing here. Loving someone in active addiction is most certainly overwhelming and lonely. But there are many people who share your story, and one of the first steps is reaching out. So you’ve just made a big step forward in your own healing journey by finding this space and speaking your truth.

I have felt this too, so much. The lies, the empty beds, the secrets. I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone because I was so ashamed this was my life. I couldn’t believe anything he said. I woke up in the middle of the night to an empty bed, then woke up in the mornings to drag him out of bed. I cried alone in my car in many, many parking lots.

The first thing I did was admit that I needed to start loving myself and take care of myself. I was becoming a person I didn’t want to be, and I was blaming his behaviors. I started seeing a therapist. Having that safe space, someone I could talk to and trust, was huge. I started making time for myself. I started reading up on addiction, learning about how it affected his brain and behavior. I went to Al-Anon meetings, I found a sponsor, I found this community and I learned about the CRAFT approach. I learned effective ways to communicate with compassion and empathy.

It sounds like a lot and I don’t mean to scare you or overwhelm you with all the work it took to get to a healthy place, but honestly it was so worth it. And it starts with the first step, and after that, one step at a time.

One piece of advice I heard early on from two of my therapists (yes, I had multiple, including individual and a marriage counselor!) was to trust my gut. You know what is right for you and your family. Let go of all expectations, let go of what you’ve been taught your life or your marriage or your family is supposed to look like, let go of any fears holding you back. Know that nothing is permanent, and any decision you make doesn’t have to mean life or death. Just take it one step at a time.

What’s something you can do for yourself today or this week? What does that next step look like for you? We’re here to help and cheer you on!


#5

I can relate to so much of what you’ve said here @graciasmom. For a long time, I could convince myself that my husband was a “functional alcoholic” and being in that space where things are bad, but maybe not bad enough to where one feels a change is necessary is such a painful place to live. And in my case, we lived there for a very long time. You mentioned that he has admitted he has a problem, this is so hopeful! There are stages involved in changing any behavior and recognizing the need for change is an important one. It can take time to move to the next step, but this is a good sign. Something that was necessary for me as I supported my husband was acknowledging every small bit of hope and every win, no matter how seemingly small it might be.

As @Blondie said, one of the things that helped me the most was setting boundaries. A big one for me was deciding to not argue, and engage very little, when my husband was drinking. That was very difficult but it was necessary for my mental well-being. It doesn’t mean that I wasn’t upset, I definitely was, but I used those days as opportunities to try to do something for myself. Sometimes this meant going to bed at 8:00pm, other times, it meant leaving the house to go for a long walk by myself. Sometimes it was listening to music in my backyard. And it took a lot of effort to withhold this boundary and I wasn’t always successful- many, many times, although I had no intention of arguing, I found myself getting so frustrated that I did fight with him. In those moments, I tried to show compassion for myself and it also helped me tap into compassion for him because change is hard, even when we want to, even when it’s good for us, even when our brains are working well and knowing all of that was true for me, it was possible to ignore that those same things were true for my husband (and even harder when we’re talking about an addiction.) One of the ways I stayed connected to him through this time was to spend quality time together any time he wasn’t drinking. It wasn’t nearly enough but it gave us both glimpses of what our relationship could be like without alcohol. I needed the reminder and he did as well.

Living with addiction can be so isolating, know that you are not alone. There are plenty of people here who know what’s like and are proof that recovery is possible (for us and our loved ones) :heart:


#7

Wow…all of your responses brought me to tears! Thank you to each of you for sharing your journey with me and giving me a different perspective on a more positive approach. After reading your responses I realize that I have a really hard time setting boundaries for myself. I am so wrapped up on making things better for my husband and children that I’m not truly thinking of what’s best for me and my children. I’m definitely going to practice this when I feel it’s necessary. I also really appreciate the idea of being closer to him when he isn’t drinking. That’s also difficult for me because it’ll usually be the day after he drinks and I’m bothered by it…although I really truly want to show him the most amount of love I feel like it can confuse him into thinking that I’m totally fine with him drinking every night. The other day he asked me to give him space because I didn’t agree with drinking with him and he avoided me completely but also didn’t drink (this is where I felt he was mad at me), today he decided to drink and I could hear it in his voice that he was pretty tipsy…he wasn’t mad, wasn’t confrontational but because I knew he was intoxicated I asked him to give me space this time…it didn’t go well but it didn’t go terrible. He emphasized on feeling like all I do is complain about him when he’s “happy”. He said “Oh ‘he’s drinking and he’s too happy about it so I’m going to be mad’” clearly this isn’t the case for me. I tried to explain how and why I felt bothered but not sure I got the message across. I explained that we’ve been going through this struggle together and now we’re here again…and again…and again. We spent most of the day together and it seemed great! We spent time with our youngest daughter and ran some errands but throughout our time spent he kept bringing up drinking or getting a drink together…so there I was trying to suggest better healthier options for us to do and he acted as if he agreed with what I said but once we got back home he chose to drink. I know I’m also guilty and now feeling a bit hypocritical because there have been plenty of times where we have drank together or I’ve chosen to drink with or around him and I’m starting to feel like there’s this strange responsibility of not being able to drink at all with him “or else”…is this a thing? Thank you again to everyone who is taking the time to read these really long responses and questions. This community has suddenly become a place I never knew I needed. So happy I found it♥️


#6

I love this, @Tlee22 and so agree that recognizing the need for change is such an important step.

@graciasmom - Let us know how you’re doing! Sending love. :hearts:


#8

I would feel the same way when my husband would sleep in every weekend morning. I’d feel so resentful that he kept sleeping while I was up early with our son. And then when he woke up and we got a chance to spend time together as a family, I felt like I couldn’t enjoy myself or be happy because I had to “punish” him. Like he wasn’t allowed to have a happy wife if he kept sleeping in. But then I just ended up punishing myself and my son, too. And it’s not like it changed anything, either. My crabbiness didn’t get him up any earlier the next weekend.

I’m glad you were able to spend quality time with him and your daughter. It takes time, but eventually the hope is that those moments of peace without alcohol will become motivation for him to make small changes.

So happy you found this space too! :slight_smile:


#9

This is tough for me I haven’t been able to talk to anyone about this is why I’m reaching out here
My husband and I have been together for 3 years he what I thought at the beginning had been doing well out a year previous of rehab and then early on in our relationship I too have as finding periphenalia
And turned a blind eye as he lies consistently and I believed him
Now the last 6 months have not been good his mood swings are unbearable takes it all out on me making it feel that all his problems are my fault he has stopped paying multiple bills now we are getting more and more buried I have been working my butt off around the house to help as we need to list the property before it’s too late and pay the debt off he just doesn’t seem to care about anything anymore and I’m not sure if I can even keep it together enough to stay unless he gets treatment and I can’t make him I realize that and also I am enabling this behaviour in keeping it to myself
This is a downward spiral for me too I have caught him chatting to other females and pretty sure he has been unfaithful too I realize it’s the drugs but I can’t keep going in like this either I had to go on Meds because I can’t trust and feel sick all the time lately in the out of my stomach I want to tell his family if I do he threatens me that he will kick me out if I do and then 5 min later the mood changes again and he’s sorry
Yes I love him But he’s not living me the way I should be
I’m really feeling torn what I should do ?


#11

Thank you I’m so glad I found this site I am reaching out to counselling too and try to educate myself the best of my ability which is why I’m here


#10

Hi @Seeking - Sending big hugs to you.

Please know that you didn’t cause his addiction, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it. I learned these three C’s in Al-Anon, and they’re a good reminder when everything starts to feel like our fault.

Unfortunately, no one can (or should) tell you what to do. This situation is so personal to you, and only you know what is the right move. But I will tell you this: take care of yourself. If his addiction is making you feel physically sick, then there is something you can control - your own health and well-being. In this case, that might mean setting boundaries to protect your own health. As @Blondie said in an earlier post:

Boundaries are tough, and can be hard to understand. It took me a long time to really wrap my head around them, and I still struggle with them all the time. But that’s totally normal, as I learned from this community - you can see here all the questions about boundaries in this community. I encourage you to take a look through some of the threads, and keep reaching out. Maybe instead of asking, “what should I do?” you can ask “What boundaries can I set to take better care of myself?”

What do you think about that?

P.S. I’m going to try to move your comment into its own topic, so more people have a chance to see it and respond. You’re not alone, there are others going through the same thing, and we can all help each other the more we share!