Saturday, September 19, 2009

From the spouse of an alcoholic

I am the spouse of an alcoholic---one who cannot handle alcohol. From my point of view, this makes me what I would call a ordinary alcoholic because I can handle neither you or the alcohol. Both our lives became entangled in a brew of frustration, fears, and lost hope.

Now, in an effort to recover, I find that we are no different really, because it's not the presence of the alcohol but the lack of it that makes us what we are. It's the feelings that we have in common. You see--- sometimes I'm afraid of what tomorrow may bring. Or perhaps I am hurt by a situation or someone. Sometimes I have feelings I cannot find words to express. I have hopes and dreams for tomorrow as well as for today.

I have needs, also. I need to be loved and to be shown that I am loved. I need your approval many times--do you not need mine? When I hurt deep inside, I need you to try and understand. Don't be angry with me or impatient, because I have enough trouble handling the hurt without trying to handle your anger and impatience at the same time. Would you not want the same consideration from me when you are suffering from some hurt or frustration? I know you give your fellow alcoholics this consideration because I have watched you do so.

Then comes the state of sobriety. Is sobriety your own private gift? Sobriety is not the lack of drinking to me-- that's just " dry." Sobriety of good quality is more then that. It's being able to be happy amid problems. It's the absence of unnecessary fear and anxiety. It's the presence of love and concern for others as well as from others. Sobriety is a feeling of contentment and well being. Sobriety is recognizing the presence of God not only in ourselves and others but also in the world around us. Can you now see why I need sobriety, too?

You say your sobriety must be maintained " at all costs." You say just want understanding and support. Do you think that my sobriety is less important then yours? So, I stuck around during your drinking because I love you. What I wanted was to be loved, remembered and understood in return. As my love for you must be patient and understanding, do you think I need less from you? As your recovery needs my support--does not mine need yours? You're supposed to be my partner. A partnership is a relationship involving two people of equal importance, so don't shove me in the corner. I cannot survive there. As you recognize the pain and suffering to your fellow alcoholics, recognize mine and I will recognize yours, Don't you see that we are really alike? Don't you hurt, cry, laugh, smile, hope, feel angry, frustrations, disappointments, and worry? Don't you need to feel loved and remembered, supported, useful, and cared about by me as well as by others? So do I.

I have learned to accept all the feelings that you have, and that you tried to escape from them by using alcohol. Now that you have discovered these things in yourself---take one more step. Look again--are we any different? I ask you---who am I?
Source: Anonymous


  1. wow. wow. wow. i've got goosebumps...

  2. This was a hard one to read. I wasn't able to stay. For years I tried, against my own nature I stayed, amazing everyone especially myself, but I was determined. He got sober and I stayed. The drinking was gone, meetings everyday, but nothing else changed.

    Then, the marriage counselor was brave enough to tell me this: "Staying simply due to guilt is wrong. Because there is someone out there who will love him madly, who will adore him. But if you stay because of guilt, you are keeping that person from him."

    I decided to leave. It was terrible, those first months. But before long he was with someone and now is happily married, by all accounts. Someone who knows them said she was surprised "she is nothing like you." And I'm very glad.

  3. Syd,What a powerful posting,I hope you donot mind.I am swiping it and give you credit with a link back to you.

  4. Wow Syd, I cannot tell you how many times you have written exactly what I needed to hear....thank you.

  5. Very insightful perspective. It's a process to get sobriety, not only for the alcoholic, but everyone who loves him too.

  6. Um, I'm at a bit of a loss here - is this you?

    I know, you relate to it (as do I) but this sounds a lot like the (desperate?) cry for help I've heard before from a member (sometimes both members) of a couple inside the rooms.

    I'm not asking you to blow your anonymity here - it's just that, if it is "Syd" that we're talking directly about here, it's just bad timing for making major decisions or looking at permanent relationship expectations or options due to the other changes that you've shared that are going on in your life.

    OTOH - it's a great article with good insights for all who share membership with a disease qualifier and are seeking a spiritual solution...

    Blessings and aloha...

  7. I think the writer has some lofty expectations of 'sobriety' -happiness in the midst of problems, the absence of unnecessary fear and anxiety, a feeling of contentment and well-being, along with the presence of God. Wow. Sign me up.

  8. I have a relationship with a recovering alcoholic that is right now estranged. I finally realized that "Figure it Out" isn't an Alanon slogan and I just decided until I get some clear direction, I am not going to force anything. A bit uncomfortable, at first, but I am grateful that I know I am not the cause of or the solution to their misery---only my own.

    Good Share, Namaste

  9. Wow- that was powerful. I'm reminded of how Chuck C used to talk about us all being G-d's kids. alcoholic or not, we're all G-d's kids.

    hope you have a nice weekend

  10. Such a plaintive cry for love within the sober marriage! I know from my own experience that recovery within the marriage can take a long time. Such love as I know has had its terrible moments, dark years, calls to sponsors, moments of staying only because we committed to God that we would stay. Yet the deeper our relationships with our Higher Power, the more honesty and forgiveness we learned in the AA fellowship, the more often we did things together as a sober couple and found laughter again, the better it got over time. God's blessings on your marriage.
    Chris A

  11. Brilliant, Syd..
    I didn't start to recover until I realized that my disease was every bit as sick, if not more so than the drinking people in my life..
    and, as soon as my life got better in ALANON I became an alcoholic myself..
    what a powerful realize that this disease permeates all aspects of my being and that, truth be told, everything I judge I become..
    have a glorious day.

  12. A thought provoking post. I feel this way about I have to walk on eggs shells so I don't "hurt" his feelings. But what about my hurts. I have never verbalized them to him, but several readers have suggested that I do. This reprint gave me a lot to think about.

  13. Thank you for showing me the other side of the coin.

  14. Wow, this is eye opening! I am the daughter of an alcoholic and the mother of two sons who abused drugs. I've spent my life dealing with being the sober party in the relationship. This post accurately shows the dynamics of relationships that revolve around addiction. And those who are not the addicted party have needs too. Thanks, Cheri

  15. Syd, that is how YOU write. If you had not let us know, I'd have sworn it was a SYD'LOG.

    Thank you so much for filling my tank with gas, and for hitting all cylinders in my engine.

  16. You've opened Pandora's Box, Syd! Not just your own, but for the rest of us.

    And Cheri, you also are saying something that doesn't often get verbalized. When I bolted, a friend who loved us both said, "It's been all about him and it always will be. It needs to be about you now."

    I thought that was true then. Maybe it wasn't. This post has me wondering, all these years and bridges crossed later. Syd!!! What have you done Syd?!

    Kidding. Obviously, you are on the right road, making us think, question.

  17. Hi Syd. I am new to the blogging community and also to al-anon. I'm not married but what you wrote spoke to me as well. I felt those exact words so many times in awful relationships with men I had no business being with. I'm an acoa as well and just beginning to realize what that means. It's great to find an accepting community of people who let me know I'm not alone. Your story was so honest and it gives me a little more courage to be honest as well. Just know that you have helped someone today.

  18. Interesting how many strong reactions you got from this post. I just love it and don't think your idea of sobriety is lofty at all.

    I was just reading in a Patrick Carnes book how important it is to experience joint recovery as a couple. He states that often you have each person going to their respective meetings sharing their stories. Each group is missing the perspective of the partners.

    Today my husband and I talked about going to a group for couples to help our recovery as a married couple.

  19. Intriguing and quite powerful, Syd. Thanks for sharing this.

  20. Sounds like you have alot of shifts in your life right now, aren't you retiring shortly?
    Thanks for your honesty I appreciate it.

  21. Thanks for your writing, it is hard for others to understand those feelings without seeing them written. It helps a lot.

  22. Once again, the power of recovery is astonishing. That is a nice perspective.

  23. Syd that letter was a beautiful letter of desperation that you shared...the first step, to recognize the powerlessness in people. If we focus on God and share our lives where we are led to, God will "with unforced rhythms of grace" the ebb and flow of the tide of recovery, bring us back into relationship with Him (who presides over us all) first and then suddenly I realized, that the desperate plea I wrote was all about me, my needs, my ideas of right, my grasping at control strings, and I realize I'm trying to be God not see him in my life and allow him to bring me into relationship and Love naturally.

    Great great share... I was there...I go there still...I'm Glad God reflects my insanity in others who also have the solution to my desperation... always God and sobriety first, family second and job third...and somehow God NEVER lets me down. :)


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