Seeking guidance

If you're not an alcoholic but have questions about AA, here's the place to ask them. Anyone may post messages and replies in this forum.
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Emm
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Seeking guidance

Post by Emm »

Hi all - thanks for the opportunity to get some input. I guess my story is just like so many, but its still really important to me. My ex bf ended our relationship abruptly at the end of April as he was sliding into a very bad major depressive episode. I had no idea what happened to him and to say it was traumatizing is an understatement. He still had belongings of mine, and in mid-September I asked for them back. He responded right away, apologizing, and made arrangements to return them. When he showed up with my stuff (which he had clearly taken care of in the meantime), I could tell he was trying to hold himself together. He looked distraught but also more clear-eyed than I had seen in awhile, and he hugged and kissed me and apologized for hurting me. There's really no way I can describe the look on his face here, but suffice it to say he was mortified. I told him that I had assumed that at some point he would have just left my things at my door; he was surprised I would assume that and said he would have never done something like that, but that he had been unable to return them. My strong suspicion is that he ended up hospitalized, perhaps detox but maybe psychiatrically as well, but talking about what happened was beyond him at that point and I could see that whatever it was had been pretty traumatizing. He told me that "things got pretty bad", then added that "I'm going to meetings" after which he said that "I have to do this myself" which I saw as very positive. I assumed he meant AA but not sure if he's in an IOP with a 12-step model or what. That blew me away, as this was a man who was always afraid to get help because "I'm afraid I'll find out what's wrong with me". Anyway, after telling me this it was clearly more than he could handle, and I could see that he was trying not to cry, and he told me he had to go. As he was leaving he said "I won't disappear".

I should mention that I realize now that he had been hiding his drinking, and I suspect it had started to escalate in the month or so before he went off the cliff into depression but not in my presence. He was never, ever mean, accusatory, blaming or negative to me or about me to others at any time in our relationship. He was always affectionate and a gentleman, and I had great relationships with his family and friends who frequently told me how happy they were that we were together. However, he came from a family with immature, selfish parents who only cared that he was solving their problems and who never showed interest in his thoughts, feelings or needs. Truthfully, his family, although very nice people, aren't ones for talking about feelings or addressing problems or issues head-on. His brother was a major enabler of his drinking, and I saw that in full color on two occasions. It likely surprises no one that he married a narcissistic parasite who treated him the same way his parents did, because it was familiar, and he let her treat him like a dog on a leash for 22 years until he left. Of course, I'm certain he played his part as well, as happens in all relationships. He always told me that our relationship was the best thing that had ever happened to him, and in February he was talking engagement rings. I can tell you honestly there was no enabling or controlling on my end, but I will also say that of course I'm not close to perfect and I'm certain that there were things that I could have done differently, or not at all, if he had just talked to me and told me what he needed and didn't need. He knew he had open lines of communication with me, I just think he didn't know how to use them.

I fully recognize that he needs to work on himself and needs space to do this. I sent him some words of encouragement a few days after he came to see me (a meme I found on the web, not my own words) and he thanked me for that, but he didn't respond when I sent another one a few weeks later and I haven't reached out since. I'm wondering if someone told him to ignore me; I get that he needs to focus, but communicating that to me would have been more helpful, less of a kick in the face and I would have understood.

My question is this: does AA routinely tell members in some blanket statement kind of way that no matter what, whatever relationship they were in when their S*** hit the fan was the problem and that they should never try to reconcile with the person at some point? They don't know me, but I sometimes get this nagging feeling that someone somewhere will try to convince him that I was his problem and to never speak to me again. I suppose like many people, I've tried to read as much as I can about the process, and some of the information seems to assume that all of us ex-partners are the devil, no matter what. Does this happen and is it common? If so, how fair is it for others to judge someone negatively just because they happened to be in the alcoholic's life? Does anyone ever consider that the partner may have actually been a healthy influence and that the alcoholic didn't know how to react to that in a healthy way? Do we always take the blame when we're not there to tell our side of the story?

Thanks in advance for any insights.
MyNameIsBetsy
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Re: Seeking guidance

Post by MyNameIsBetsy »

My question is this: does AA routinely tell members in some blanket statement kind of way that no matter what, whatever relationship they were in when their S*** hit the fan was the problem and that they should never try to reconcile with the person at some point?
No. The answer to your question is No. AA does not issue that sort of advice.

We do suggest the 12 steps as a path to recovery. It has worked for millions and millions of us.

What happens between the two of you is entirely up to the two of you.

Betsy
an alcoholic
"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path."
Emm
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Re: Seeking guidance

Post by Emm »

Thank you, Betsy. I do hope that he allows AA to work for him. He's a good man with bad problems. I hope he'll let himself see that at some point.
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avaneesh912
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Re: Seeking guidance

Post by avaneesh912 »

For some people it takes a while to really realize that they are the problem. The serenity prayer tells it all. You may have to give some space for him. In the meantime you may reach out to Al-anon fellowship for help with handling alcoholics/addicts. Its our sister fellowship to help friends and family of alcoholics.
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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PaigeB
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Re: Seeking guidance

Post by PaigeB »

Emm wrote: Thu Nov 10, 2022 8:36 pm I suppose like many people, I've tried to read as much as I can about the process, and some of the information seems to assume that all of us ex-partners are the devil, no matter what. Does this happen and is it common? If so, how fair is it for others to judge someone negatively just because they happened to be in the alcoholic's life? Does anyone ever consider that the partner may have actually been a healthy influence and that the alcoholic didn't know how to react to that in a healthy way? Do we always take the blame when we're not there to tell our side of the story?

Thanks in advance for any insights.
https://al-anon.org/
Alanon can help YOU get through this difficult time whether he returns to drink or not - whether he returns to you or not. It is the Sister Program to AA, open to anyone who has known or loved an alcoholic. Give them a chance to see what they have for you.
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB
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Brock
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Re: Seeking guidance

Post by Brock »

My question is this: does AA routinely tell members in some blanket statement kind of way that no matter what, whatever relationship they were in when their S*** hit the fan was the problem and that they should never try to reconcile with the person at some point?
While it is true that AA does not issue blanket statements on this, its literature certainly points to the best practice of avoiding romantic and/or possibly emotional relationships, there are various examples, this one is taken from the book ‘living sober’ page 63 -
Again and again, we have seen such feelings change dramatically in only a few months of sobriety. So, using “First Things First,” we have found it helpful to concentrate first on sobriety alone, steering clear of any risky emotional entanglements.

Immature or premature liaisons are crippling to recovery. Only after we have had time to mature somewhat beyond merely not drinking are we equipped to relate maturely to other people.
Added to this is the almost insistence that everyone has a ‘sponsor,’ and this person whose judgment we are expected to trust and follow can very well have their own ideas about ‘love matters.’ So it could be that he has been advised to drop any such relationship, for the time being, sometimes it’s hard, but if this is the case I hope he finds a way to tell you about this, as you said in your post - “He knew he had open lines of communication with me, I just think he didn't know how to use them.”
They don't know me, but I sometimes get this nagging feeling that someone somewhere will try to convince him that I was his problem and to never speak to me again. I suppose like many people, I've tried to read as much as I can about the process, and some of the information seems to assume that all of us ex-partners are the devil, no matter what. Does this happen and is it common?
Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about AA on the internet, and any half decent sponsor or AA group would make it clear to a newcomer that nobody but themselves is to blame for their predicament, we do not entertain sob stories about parents who did this or that or failed to do whatever. It reminds me of a song I like by Jimmy Buffett, ‘Margaritaville,’ at the end of each verse he sings ‘some people claim there’s a woman to blame,’ (or some other person to blame), but at the end, he sees the truth and sings ‘but I know it’s my own dammed fault.’

I hope things turn out well for you both.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."
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PaigeB
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Re: Seeking guidance

Post by PaigeB »

Brock wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 12:29 pm While it is true that AA does not issue blanket statements on this, its literature certainly points to the best practice of avoiding romantic and/or possibly emotional relationships, there are various examples, this one is taken from the book ‘living sober’ page 63 -
Again and again, we have seen such feelings change dramatically in only a few months of sobriety. So, using “First Things First,” we have found it helpful to concentrate first on sobriety alone, steering clear of any risky emotional entanglements.

Immature or premature liaisons are crippling to recovery. Only after we have had time to mature somewhat beyond merely not drinking are we equipped to relate maturely to other people.
Just want to add that for relationships that one is already IN - ie; not premature or immature - it is also suggested that no rash decisions be made in the first 1 year or 100 days... Sounds like there is room for safe space either way.
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB
Emm
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Re: Seeking guidance

Post by Emm »

Thanks everyone for your insights and help; I really appreciate it. It especially helps to hear it from people who have lived (and continue to live) the process. I don't know anyone personally who has been through recovery, so until I found this site I felt like I didn't have anyone I could ask who could tell me the truth.

I fully get that he needs to focus only on himself, and I want him to do that to get better for himself first. I had no illusions that he would just show up at my door at this point, ready to get on with things. I've just found it painful that he's vanished again with no communication or explanation, which is what led to my initial question. However, I'm sure there's an element of survival in that kind of response, and I work to understand that. If he had told me that his sponsor recommended no contact, or that he found my occasional texts to be stressful rather than encouraging, I would have been better able to understand, respect his needs and step away completely. I do hope that he meant what he said when he told me he wouldn't disappear, but I also understand that he's riding a flaming roller coaster right now and, if I know him at all, I know he's struggling to just figure out which way is up. I'm sure that's a common experience. He ran from his feelings for 54 years. Coming face to face with them now, without a load on, must be terrifying. I keep hoping that he'll let his fellow members and sponsor help him. More than anything, this is a man with a lot of shame and that never helps anyone to be up front about their thoughts and feelings.

I have no doubt that he would not blame me himself; if anything, he blames himself for everything and that's a big part of it. Again, it comes from way back and I know he's never allowed himself to connect the dots between his past, his problems and the ways he's tried to cope. And of course I agree with you Brock - we all have experiences with other people that shape us, but we have to own how we deal with that. I just hope someone will help him to see the roots of his issues while he works to take accountability. My main concern/question that led to my original post was that others would try to convince him that I and/or our relationship was the problem, but you've all addressed that and I truly thank you.
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