Saturday, May 10, 2008


It never ceases to amaze me that I can go to a meeting and hear what I need to hear. Tonight's topic was about control. Whether it is the alcoholic trying to control us or us trying to control the alcoholic, the end result is one of resentment that grows into anger.

After the meeting an older fellow who is living with an active alcoholic told me that he understood exactly what I was saying about the difficulties that arise in relationships with the alcoholic. He said that he'd been asked many times why he didn't just leave his wife. His answer was "Well, you see, I love the old girl."

And those who love others often are willing to forgive and try to forget. I can remember how I would be swayed by the words "I'm sorry" after drunken episodes. I would believe those words and kept believing them until I finally realized that maybe the words were sincerely spoken at the time but the follow through wasn't there.

A few words of love or promises can spin us into denial. Sometimes, belief in those words can keep us denying that we are being lied to, mistreated, or abused. But I've learned the hard way that if behavior doesn't match what a person is saying, then I'm allowing myself to be controlled and deceived. A person not only has to talk the talk but walk the walk.

Just like the fellow at the meeting, I also love my alcoholic. I can't control what she does, but I also don't have to accept her words as being the truth. I get to work my program, take my own inventory and communicate with my HP. I've let myself be harmed by words, both kind and unkind. But I know that through my HP, I will eventually know the truth.

I know I'm controlling, but so is my husband. Possibly more controlling than I am. Each time I set out to leave him, each time I started to walk away, he knew exactly what to say to pull me back in. And he knew I'd respond. He knew how to say exactly what I needed to hear to keep me where he wanted me. He knew what he was doing, and he knew what I would do. I know, because after we began recovering, he told me so.


  1. Hey Syd: You post made me think. I'm on my third marriage--which has been going on for almost 2 decades and is really satisfying and happy. I think in the relationship with my first two, very nice husbands, I consistently saw them as I wished to see them, not as they really, really were. I was essentially editing my picture of these guys to fit my own idea of what I needed . With Mr. Charlie, I have at last been able to both accept responsibility for myself and accept him as he actually is. He, too, is in recovery. We have made it very clear to each other that we will meet each other in health, not in craziness. Hope this makes sense.

  2. You thoughts are very helpful to me.I remember the day it finally sunk in that no matter how much love I gave my son, it was not going to cure him. I'm having a hard time with the difference between support & enabling.My mother heart always takes over. I'll keep on keepin' on.

  3. I've been around long enough to know that love doesn't come around all that frequently. Like, lust, yes. True love, not all that often. It would be very hard for me to give up one of my true loves (my current husband) although when I'm angry, sometimes I want to. Even though he makes me mad and sad at times, I am no bargain. I have my issues too.

  4. if everyone else would only behave right?!! heehe

    i'm still doing my inventory and SURPRISE! I didn't know how controlling I was (am) - it is 2nd nature to me and I'm trying to see the ways I do it. Mine is usually when I'm trying to be nice and "get my own way". very unflattering! good topic. have a great rest of your weekend syd!

  5. I found your blog thru "Bouncing off the Bottom". Just wanted to tell you how much I admire the spouses of alcoholics who seek help thru al-anon. I have been sober for 18 years but my husband only lived to see 14 months of my sobriety. He never reaped the benefits because I was truly incapable for the first few years of my sobriety of having a real relationship. We had waited way too long to do anything about my drinking. I'm amazed that he stuck by me, but I guess he "loved the old girl" and stuck in there.
    I have no idea if your alcoholic is in recovery or still "out there" but I can only tell you that I wish my family had not enaabled me for so long. They were in denial and I was delusional so it wasn't a pretty picture but the last 15 years have been miraculous and I pray yours will be too. Good luck.

  6. I went to a meeting this morning...and heard exactly what I needed. It was one of those where ya come out with a heart full of gratitude that you aren't where they are.

  7. Control and love are powerful words.

  8. I dont know what else to say except wow...I get it. I've been there, I'm trying to work through it too. Thank you for writing this.

  9. I too am working through the reality that my partner of 16 years is an alcoholic. Yes, love has helped me stay. Yet over time I have learned to distance my emotional turmoil from my reactions to my partner's "slip ups."

    I've been to a couple of Al-Anon meetings and felt lucky after hearing other's tales.

    I've bookmarked your blog for inspiration and learning. Thanks for blogging on this subject.


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