Thursday, March 8, 2012

A few answers to inquiring minds--Part 2

Here is part deux of the questions you asked.  Whew--good stuff.  Do I really have to pick a winning question?  Let me think on this.  I'll post the "winner" on Friday.

Anonymous said... I guess my question would be what is the thing that has most helped draw you and C. closer and keep you guys together? How did you reach the decision to stick it out?  I just want to know from an Al-Anon perspective what I can do if anything beyond what I am doing in my step work to rebuild the love and trust and to be supportive of his feelings. I have been very selfish in the past and he has been through hell and back with me.

Once my wife decided to stop drinking and go to AA, and I went to Al-Anon, we were able to start anew in our relationship.  It was difficult at first.  There was a lot of resentment for her and for me. But we were able to put a lot of the past behind us.  I knew that we loved each other still, but the matter of trust had to be resolved.  I know that we have commitment to each other. The best thing that I have found is for us to spend time together but to also do separate things that we enjoy.  I don't obsess or hover over her.  By working the steps, I came to see that the old part of our marriage was over, but that it was possible for us to have a different relationship than before, one that wasn't co-dependent.  

Mary LA and Ellen asked....What is the single most important thing we can do to save our oceans?
I think that reducing our carbon footprint and reducing energy consumption are the most important things to do.  Anything that can be done to not use fossil fuel will help.  Recycling, not using plastic, using alternative means of transportation, keeping thermostats at reasonable levels will all help.  

Pammie said... 1. Does C. know about/read your blog?
She does know about it but doesn't want to read it. 
2. Is there a sound of a clock ticking in your house? (some of your pictures suggest that you have a grandfather clock lurking somewhere with a continuous ticking.)
Yes, there is an old clock that belonged to my paternal grandmother. It is ticking away...still. 
3. Does C. find your work interesting or does she say "Echinoidea Schminoidea?"
She is also a marine scientist. We have co-authored papers together.  She says Opsanus tau (anus face) when I say Thetys vagina (whose vagina??). Even Linneaus had a sense of humor.    

A reader in Piedmont, NC said...
I have many questions, but my most probing would be: (if you are comfortable sharing) "Was there one situation that led C to recovery? Were you already working Al-Anon when she began the recovery process?" (I ask these because my partner does not admit her alcoholism. I feel very alone in this recovery journey, even with my Al-Anon buddies.)

The one situation that led her to recovery was my telling her that I was leaving.  I had enough and realized that I was dead on the inside.  I think that got her attention.  We started our recovery programs within a few weeks of each other. We were true newbies with scrambled brains when we began. I am thankful that we stuck it out because the first year of recovery is difficult for all concerned.  Alcoholism is a disease that makes a person feel very lonely.  

 Have Myelin? said... Do you push the elevator button more than once? If so, why?
Mostly I take the stairs when I can.  But if I have to be on an elevator, I push the button once.  And that is enough to get it to go where it's supposed to go. Learning patience is a good thing.  

Anonymous said... Maybe it's just my eagerness to feel less alone in the world or to help myself with all available resources, but it seems to be hard to find blogs where people are married to alcoholics. I mostly find blogs belonging to parents dealing with their children who are addicted. Perhaps I am not looking in the right places...suggestions?

You're right.  There aren't many blogs that deal with alcoholic marriages.  One that I read is My Alcoholic Marriage.  Another that is excellent is Through an Al-Anon Filter, which is about recovery in Al-Anon.  It would be good to start your own blog, if you are comfortable with that.  Perhaps you have a message and perspective that would help you and others. 

palata66 said... Question: no children... why?
Too busy with careers and then finding that the genes on both sides included depression and alcoholism.  I'm not much of a gambler. 

Anonymous said... You're such a romantic - how did you propose to C?
She actually proposed to me.  I was in the lab working. She came in and said, "Do you want to get married?".  I said, "Yes. When?".  This reminds me of a joke: How can you tell an alcoholic and an Al-Anon are on their second date? There is a moving van in their driveways. We obviously got attached to each other pretty fast!  We were a co-dependent mess back then. 

Karen C said... Q. Sweet or savory?

the walking man said...
OK here is another question...I drank almost 1/5th a night for almost 17 years why is it that I never went to an AA meeting and felt like I was welcome? No one ever approached and asked first time? The coffee is there and you should go to that table there. Maybe it was me but I found that the longer the group had been together the more stand offish they were.

I don't know the answer to this.  I can tell you that there are many different meetings.  Some are better than others.  AA is filled with sick people getting well (and so is Al-Anon).  I seek out those meetings where there are those who are welcoming and warm.  In most open meetings of AA, if a newcomer raises a hand for a white chip, there are claps and cheers.  People talk to the newcomer and offer phone numbers.  I even go over to the newcomer at open AA meetings and welcome them.  I know that self-centered behavior can often be in charge.  Perhaps there were more egos in the room who were reaching inward than those who were interested in reaching out.  Hopefully, some of the members of AA who read here will have a better answer.  I'm sorry that you didn't feel welcome.  

Gledwood said.....
Did you find it hard doing the 12 steps in an association where you're there (in a sense) by proxy as it wasn't YOU who had the alcohol problem. You were in a codependent relationship, wouldn't you say? I got into the opposite end of a codependent relationship when I was bang on the heroin a few years ago. It was crazy. She used to follow me around and we'd have rows that lasted all day! Also I was wondering: are you allowed to drink alcohol as an Al-Anon member? Or is it banned?

I had problems resulting from being around alcohol since I was a kid.  Everyone has some kind of problem.  I can't think of anyone I know that is totally well-adjusted. And I haven't felt bad about going because essentially I became more aware of who I am after doing the 12 steps.  I think that the world would be a better place if everyone had some kind of 12 step program.  

And there are no musts or rules in Al-Anon. So, yes, I can drink.  

Anonymous said... I came across your blog in October of 2011 and I have been reading it ever since. I would like to know if you have any siblings and if so do they have any addictions (hopefully not)?

I am an only child.  No addictions, other than maybe spending too much time on the computer!

Lulu said... I am sober thanks to AA for just over 3 years. I was raised by a very alcoholic family in a very alcoholic community. I know a LOT of my challenges are due to living around this disease, but haven't looked into Al-Anon at all because AA was all I could handle. But now I am wondering.... would it help me now? Or will AA be enough for me to shake the effects of this disease and become my best self?

I sponsor some fellows who are in AA and decided that they also had been affected by someone else's drinking.  One sponsee has 27 years in AA and has found that going through the 12 steps of Al-Anon helped with relationships.  I think that it's important to have the program of AA ingrained for several years, have an AA sponsor, and have worked the steps in AA before moving to Al-Anon.  But again, there are no rules on this.  Just a suggestion.  I think that knowing whether AA is enough for you to shake the effects of the disease is something that only you can answer.  It has helped so many people. 

Simply Me said... Question: What's something new you recently learned about yourself?
I learned that after many years of doing a great many things, I am happy doing just a few that interest me.  I don't feel guilty about playing like a kid. 

How would you describe yourself in one sentence?
I am a seeker of inner peace, knowledge, happiness, and truth.

How many sponsees do you usually sponsor at one time?
Generally, about three.  That seems to be a reasonable number, but I haven't refused anyone who has asked. 

ScottF said... I am not sure about all this global warming business. Is there really good science behind the claims that we're causing our planet to melt down? Or are we simply hastening a natural cycle? I've heard everything from a coming global ice age, to "business as usual" and I have no idea what to think about it.

Scott, scientific evidence points to climate change as being real.  Here is a good site that provides some of the basics.  In the scientific literature, there is a strong consensus that global surface temperatures have increased in recent decades and that the trend is caused mainly by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases.  No scientific body of national or international standing disagrees with this view.  In fact, the findings of a warming climate affected by human activities has been endorsed by every national science academy that has issued a statement on climate change, including those of all the major industrialized countries. Much of the argument surrounding climate change hinges not on whether global warming is occurring, but rather whether this warming is a result of human activity.  I think that each person needs to read the reports for themselves.  This one by the Ocean Studies Board et al. is available on line and is a good one to read.  I think that climate change is one of the most critical issues, if not the most critical, facing the planet today. 

An Irish Friend of Bill said... The first question that came to mind was What does an alcoholic look like from the perspective of an Al anon? I suppose a request for objectivity. Permission to take alcoholics inventory and expose their Achilles heel/most glaring weakness from the viewpoint of an observer. I know aa's have some appeal to al anons, but that's not what Im interested in. I'm more interested in the ? ugliness of aa's that aa's are less able to see about themselves.. their blind spots.. the cruelty of their irrationality, and how this inflicts harm on others. I only ask because I suspect that this are the two things most difficult to admit to in oneself. ..... Where do you instinctively feel that alcoholics let themselves down the most Syd? when drinking.. and when they 'recover' in aa.. ? well thats the first question that came to mind Syd :) Tell us aa's where we are out of line :) hehe scary! but would be interesting :) for me anyway.

Whew, Irish....this may piss off some people, but my experience has been that alcoholics think far too much about themselves (self-centered) and Al-Anon's think far too much about what the alcoholics are doing.  That being said, the alcoholics look pretty good to first.  The appeal to me is that alcoholics know how to have fun, are intelligent, witty, and experimental in thought and action.  That is a magnet for someone who has played by the rules, is a perfectionist, and introverted.  But the self-esteem issues and the cover up of the truth (i.e. dishonesty) are really off-putting to me and eventually come up with each alcoholic I have known.  And the idea that the entire planet revolves around them gets tiresome.  I also notice a tendency to shift blame to others, getting prickly when someone disagrees, and spending time thinking about doing something, rather than taking action to do something.  The restless, irritable and discontent characteristics of the alcoholic spoken of in the Big Book are real.  That being said, there is a solution! And getting to a spiritual place through the steps makes all the difference in outlook for anyone affected by alcoholism.  

I think that alcoholics let themselves down by thinking the worst, rather than being positive.  The whole self-pity and negative persona is difficult to be around for long.  Drinking is a way to not have the negative thoughts come crowding in.  When the drinking stops and sobriety comes, an attitude shift to get out of self would seem essential to stay sober.  I do believe that recovery happens. Therein, is the miracle. 

Steve E said... QUESTION
1. How far away from home have you sailed--not 'boated', but sailed?
And was it for work or pleasure? (both?--grin!)
Steve, so far sailing has been down the coast to Beaufort, SC and Port Royal Sound.  Coming back out of Port Royal and back home took 20 hours at the helm.  Hopefully, this summer, I'll get up the coast to Virginia.  But will take some stops along the way! 

2. Have you ever had a narrow escape from disaster--or fear loss of life--yours or others, while sailing or power boating? Please, respond with particulars, unless answer is "No!"
No fear for loss of life, but fear of being run down by someone who was not paying attention and nearly rammed my 22 foot sailboat when I was at anchor.  I happened to wake up just in time (no coincidences from the HP) to look out the forward hatch and see a big bow rail over me.  I yelled out just in time to avoid a crunch and damage to the boat. 

Momma said... I love the new pic on your blog. Where is that?
Thank you! It's in Charleston Harbor, with the city in the background.  It's called the Holy City because of the church steeples.  

Anonymous said... You're such an animal lover ... but yet you're not vegetarian. How do you reconcile that?
I do eat fish, shrimp and crab.  But I don't eat other meat.  I do eat egg whites and skim milk.  So I am an ovo-lacto-pisco vegetarian!

And a last answer for Christina--those are six feet.


  1. You're a brave man Syd. These questions and answers have been enlightening. I particularly enjoyed your observations about alcoholics - and I agree.

  2. The traits of the alcoholic are the same for addicts. I will add, the addict expects past wrongs to be forgotten. They think "I'm clean, can't everyone see the new me!!" They get all pouty if you bring up a past transgression (some of which are very serious).

    Oh well, time heals. We all get better when we work on ourselves.

    I really enjoyed this!

  3. An ovo-lacto-pisco vegetarian!

    And I agree with this: alcoholics think far too much about themselves (self-centered) and Al-Anon's think far too much about what the alcoholics are doing.

    That movement away from the self-centredness has been perhaps the greatest challenge in sobriety.

  4. :) This was a great exercise and wonderful sharing!

  5. Thank you for doing this Syd. I loved reading all of the questions and your answers to them. Oh, and your response to An Irish friend of Bill was spot on. Made me want to respond with an Amen!!!

  6. wonderful and honest responses, as always.

    the traits for the alcoholics and al-anon, you nailed it.

    thanks syd. =)

  7. Syd, thank you! I really appreciate your thoughtful answers to my, and all the other, questions. Lots to think about. Thank you.
    That reader in Piedmont, NC

  8. first, i love the header pic so thanks whoever asked that question...there is also something to be said of savory...this has been fun getting to know you a bit more syd

  9. Thanks for being so open in answering these questions. I really feel I know you better. I don't think my husband would feel comfortable knowing I was writing about my experiences in our alcoholic marriage. I usually don't share too much about it. Maybe this is why there are fewer blog about this topic.

  10. I have to comment on the problem with alcoholics. The longer I am in the program the more I realize I am just as self-centered as any alcoholic I know. It isn't as obvious because I did nice things to get something back. I wanted the alcoholic to see just how self-sacrificing I had been. A painful truth to acknowledge. I built my esteem off of whether I was getting that attention. Look at me and how nice I am.

    I do agree that they are selfish wanting to have fun all the time. I am too busy being in control for fun. Not anymore. Thanks for the post.

  11. Okay, okay, Syd - - - All I can say after reading both sets of responses is - - - you are GOOD at remembering to NOT take the alcolic's inventory, but keeping the focus and most of the replies on you and your own ESP.

    Right on!

    Hugs to you,
    Anonymous #1

  12. Although I did not submit a question, you answered the one question I would have asked if I did - about finding a sponsor. It was a huge relief for me to hear that some folks never get a sponsor. I'm still relatively new to Al-Anon (7 meetings), and felt like I should have found a sponsor by now...but now I realize that's not always the case, and I'm so relieved. Your blog has been an amazing resource for me the past few months when I came across it, desperate for answers and guidance. Through Al-Anon meetings, reading, and your blog and a few others, I have learned so much about myself. I'm so tired of feeling like the victim. I have choices to make and things to work on to try to improve my situation. Thank you for your insight and honesty.

  13. Thanks again for your posts. I am probably too late but have a few questions as well: 1) in our group, members introduce themselves by saying their first name and then their relationship with their alcoholic (husband/ child/ parent etc.) I am struggling with this as I feel Alanon is for me, and it sounds a bit co-dependent to me if we introduce ourselves in this way; I prefer to say that I am a grateful member of Alanon. What do you/ Alanon think? 2) I also struggle with the fact that members talk about alcoholism as a disease. Personally I am not sure about this, and moreover, I think it does not really matter and it's more important to accept that alcoholism has affected your life, and use the Alanon programme to cope and simply live! By the way, I strongly believe the Alanon programme (steps, slogans, sponsor) saved my life: it works!!!

  14. I think your wife is a strong person not to read your blog. I'm afraid I would be too curious, and then not like what I read :)

    And I like your answer to Christina!

  15. Follow up question, Syd... from my husband: what class of sailboats are they in your header pic?

    and thanks for all of your answers... enjoyed reading them all

  16. Syd,

    Thank you for this wonderful exercise and insight. I have copied your example.

  17. I've only been following this blog for a few months and hope no one minds if I comment even though I didn't ask a question . . .
    In my own life, that issue of regained trust was a big one. Who could have known that as I worked my program and re-established my relationships that there would be a new level of trust far stronger than before these relationships were ever tested. It is a treasured gift which I am very careful to maintain.
    Also, what a genius question to hear Syd's take on the addict/alcoholic personality. I think I know those things about myself, but to hear them from someone who is "sympathetic" to the alcoholic personality made it neutral enough to receive - I wasn't offended at all - more grateful to have it kindly underlined.
    This blog has become a part of my daily reading. I don't hear the ticking of a clock, but the rhythm of the ocean, and a determined peaceful heartbeat.
    Lisa (recovering addict)

  18. Hahahahahahah THANKS for the Answerpic, Syd. Well done!

    How did you know I have a thing for *feet*?

    Love the question series, and thanks for always posting comments and your support. Cheers!

  19. Fun post Syd :) My question is: "What are the most inspirational book(s) you have read (fiction or non-fiction) ?"

  20. Hi Syd. Sorry I've been lax in my blog-watching and these last two entries of yours are intriguing. I loved where you shared that you finally told C you were leaving and it caught her attention. My husband died within 14 months of my getting sober (at age 56)and he never reaped the benefits of my sobriety. It's my biggest regret and my question to you is this: how can you get men to WANT to go to Alanon? I think it would have helped us a lot.

  21. Syd thank you so much for this! I enjoyed all the questions and learned a few things! :)

    The question about feeling lonely and not finding blogs about alcoholic marriages from anonymous really stuck out to me. I live in an active alcoholic marriage with no children. My spouse doesn't have a program. I'm grateful I have the Al-Anon program and my blog provides an outlet to express my new way of living and working through the struggles. This has inspired me to perhaps try to share more of how I live with day to day things and work through the struggles we have on a daily basis. While finding my comfort level of what and how much to share.

    I really like your one sentence describing yourself.

    Everyone had such wonderful questions and thank you again for answering them Syd!

  22. It's nice to see you both making it and moving forward. The man in my life is a convicted alcoholic, it's falling apart . One day he is loving and wonderful, the next day he is trying to pound me into the ground emotionally. I get it intellectually, emotionally it is killing me. Some peoples bottoms are very hard to hit. Thanks for sharing this blog, it gives me lots of comfort.

  23. wowsers, Syd! LOTS of homework done here lol

    Thanks for the info on global warming, I shall read on further :-) I asked because I trust you. I don't trust much of what I hear, see, read in the media.

  24. and oh by the way... you're commentary on alcoholics, in response to "an irish friend" was awesome Syd. I really appreciate your candor, and I recognized myself AND my wwife in varying degreees in your description.

    I am glad I took the time to read that and comment on it AFTER I read MY question/answer and commented on IT. lol :-)

  25. You are too sweet syd.
    Thanks for the shout out.


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