3 things that have worked for me (most of the time:)).
"I wanted to teach her - she never needs to voluntarily stay in the presence of self-destructive people who are acting unkind."
^^ This hit me hard. It basically sums up the last year or so of my marriage (to someone struggling with alcohol dependency). I do not miss that feeling. No one deserves to be treated that way.
My boyfriend is a drug addict. He will use for a week/week and a half straight, and then be sober for 2 weeks, and back to using and back to being sober. Some days are harder than others. When he is using, he is usually agitated and becomes more defensive. There are some days I match his energy and he wonders why I act that way and doesn’t realize I’m putting out what he does. But other days I know two wrongs don’t make a right and just keep my distance. As I have learned, having any conversations during those times, there’s a good chance he won’t remember or the conversation goes no where. When he is sober, we are GREAT together. My anger won’t help the situation and I’ve learned that sometimes he just needs me to be there for him. Some days I can do that to a certain extent so I can keep myself mentally in a good space.
Staying busy is key. As is staying calm, grounded, detached. At first I would be “huffy” as I went about my chores. Or roll my eyes. It took a lot for me to stop that counterproductive behavior.
My STBXAH has problems communicating his emotions. He’s either critical, raging, or giving the silent treatment. I can usually feel when a rage is coming. It makes me anxious. He’s stopped drinking, which helps, but he still doesn’t know how to voice his feelings in a constructive way. I listen to podcasts that remind me I’m not at fault, and I try to do things that bring me joy, like take my dog for a walk, visit with my grown kids, or call a friend. When I feel better, I don’t feed into the tension.
@Michelle - - - AMEN !!!
Oh yes, I have several in-laws that are overbearing, highly opinionated, controlling, and have no healthy boundaries. When I married my husband, my sister-in-law would be so outright rude and inappropriate. I would literally shake at some of her outbursts. I was oftentimes so stunned, it would take a while for her actions and/or comments to even sink in. For many years, I didn’t have the coping skills to handle her. I would literally ruminate in front of the mirror about telling her off. I was SO angry and hurt, I had to get it out... but I was too intimidated by her, I couldn’t. Her daughter (my niece) was very much like her mom. I began to notice that my niece (who was 3 1/2 years younger than my daughter) would be mean and bully my daughter. I knew I had to put a stop to this immediately and teach my daughter the skills my mother never taught me. I was not going to allow her to go through life letting others walk on her! So, I began to roll play with her. It sounds harsh, I know, but when my daughter told me her cousin blocked her from leaving the room, I actually told her she could punch her cousin in the stomach! I never would have dreamed of telling my child something like that! But, seriously! Her cousin needed to know - YOU CANNOT BULLY ME IN ANY MANNER! I would also practice role playing with words. I pretended to be my niece and would say mean/hurtful/manipulative things to my daughter. Then, we would practice replies that helped her to express herself and apply healthy boundaries. There were several years, where my daughter simply didn’t want to be anywhere near her cousin. My husband and I completely honored that!! And we explained why she felt this way to my sister-in-law. Thankfully, my niece has turned into a wonderful person and we are all very close with her. Her mother and I have always had a love/hate relationship. But, I have changed so much. I no longer stay quiet. I told her she was one of the most over-bearing people I have ever met. I acknowledged I never had the tools to deal with her, so I built up so much resentment. She too has come a long way- much improved- and frankly, I have become so much stronger myself. I now tell her point blank when she oversteps. Just the other day, we were talking about a conversation I had with another family member. She interrupted me and was telling me how I “should have” addressed this person. I said very loudly, “I DO NOT NEED YOU TO TELL ME HOW TO SPEAK WITH ANOTHER PERSON!” It didn’t work the first time, as she kept interrupting me. So, I repeated myself 4-5 times, over and over, until she finally stopped and received my message. I know she will not do this to me again. She has learned to have respect for me because I have demanded it. And my daughter has such healthy boundaries. Some of us were born with milder, more sensitive personalities. And others are out opposites. I often wonder if these people are put on our lives so we may both grow and learn from one another.
Mine is a binge drinker. He can go a week or two without drinking anything. When he starts, it’s 24/7 unless he’s sleeping. I have to escape or go absolutely bonkers. I’ve taken up gardening which is nice and the work is never ending. It’s nice to be outside.
I have worked really hard to find different ways to distance myself from my husband when he’s on one of his binges because he gets extremely mean, defensive, condescending, and verbally abusive towards me. Similar to others who have commented, my husband will randomly binge for several days (up to 7 days). When he is on one of his binges, I have to completely disconnect from him, distance myself from him, and ignore him. If I don’t, I get way too upset and emotional and I let him and his actions take control of me. I have found that staying busy and mentally disconnecting from him has helped me tremendously. I have to basically focus on myself and only myself during these times. I ignore all of his text messages. I ignore his presence when I am home, if we do cross paths. I’m thankful for an amazing career that keeps me really busy and with a good group of coworkers who provide a social outlet for me. I have complete flexibility to go in to the office or work from home, so I will go into work every day during his binges just to get away from my toxic home environment. I will call my friends and meet up with them for happy hour or dinner. I will attend any work-related social events that week if there are any. I will accomplish things around the house, like yard work, projects, painting, etc.. huge stress relief as well.
When my partner has been drinking, I just remember that the person he is that I love isn’t the one that’s there before me. The “under the influence” man is not the version of him that I want any connection with, so I let him alone. I redirect my focus from connection to self-care, and distance myself physically too, if I need to. I’m still not entirely where I want to be yet, but I’m getting there. Shaming him will never declaw addiction, but compassion with firm boundaries may. Who would have thought that me taking care of myself could be so powerful? If he decides to get help for himself, awesome, but either way I’m okay.
In response to Michelle’s phonecall and what she did was correct. She had asked did anyone have anything to share re when one may want to bring you into what I call vortex. With someone who drinks. Is angry at life etc. The other person is not and wants love etc. Love yourself. Don’t blame yourself. Don’t blame anyone. Don’t engage in dead end conversations, that’s what gives the addict power as you feel you may have a chance to be heard. They only hear themselves. If you’re in it can’t cut the chord. As I am but have made a lot of progress with me. Then be civil. Nice. Work. And do things that make you feel good. Do not allow one to drag you into a vortex. That’s what I call it. Horrible place where I would feel so helpless and words can’t describe. But I allowed that. We took months apart. After I didn’t allow it anymore. There is no verbal abuse anymore. But it’s deadened and person still abuses alcohol and along with the unhappiness one can see or anger etc. Minute I feel they vortex pull. I say nope. Work today. Exercise. My cat. My mom. Paint. Read. Friends. Get out. Be nice and proceed with the day God has given to you of your life. Best way I can sum up my position now.
It makes me so sad reading some of the stories and relating to the ways that addiction makes the partner so very lonely in the relationship. I guess I am feeling sorry for the partner/victim in the relationship, and I recogbize it is sad and it is also self inflicted too. No one was holding a gun to my head thank god even though at the time I felt like I didn't have any good choice in leaving. My motivator did threaten to kill himself if I left. I get having to distance from the loved one when they are using and focusing on self care rather than controling behaviors, but it makes me sad that I did that so much in the past. Self care isn't sad and refocusing on the self is helpful in that kind of a relationship. Its just sad it's not a reliable and consistent intimate attachment/relationship. I recognize why I was attracted to that in the first place and continue to work on myself so that I don't go back or re-create that kind of relationship in the future either. It is so unfulfilling and it has aged me like nothing else. What a freaking hard lesson it has been and continues to be. I am still in the process of getting to a place of gratitude for the lesson and the work I suppose.
I am definitely codependent and empathetic. My oldest son, now 37 got the worst from an entire life with an alcoholic father. I’ve tried endlessly to spare him the abuse- which basically pretended what was happening wasn’t. You know the scene- making the abnormal normal”. It caused passive aggressive behavior in him. He acts entitled. It triggers me to know end and I have no one time blame but myself. My AH is now a year sober but healing really hasn’t begun as he is not in a recovery program. But I’m reading and have been in therapy 3 years. My best advice at this stage of my healing process is to RECOGNIZE when I’m getting triggered. I now know “it’s in my gut”. 2. I try and stop my talking, stop engaging. 3. I do whatever I can to get myself out of guilting myself, shaming myself. It can take days unfortunately
I have not mastered it. But I know engaging when I’m triggered does no one any good- actually will destroy relationship worse.
So- RECOGNIZE your triggers first.
«Not necessarily abusive language but an abusive tone of voice.
Are you familiar with that tone? The words are fine-ish, but the manner is sharp and volatile.»
Oh, do I recocnize this? Most definately. And it is really draining to be around. It has taken years of hard work, trying and failing, for me to not absorb the others feelings. For most of my life I felt I had done something wrong. Then one day I realized that I hadn’t done anything, it wasn’t my fault! And I started working.
Now I start with observing. Is it mine or is it theirs? What am I feeling? How is this affecting me? Most of the time I can recognize that this is pulling me down. Do I want that? The answer is never «yes».
I also observe how it is affecting my children. And I can help them get out of the persons grip and downpulling.
It used to feel very exhausting to pull us all out of the pit, but now it feels more easy. I like feeling good. I can’t say that the others mood doesn’t bother me. I mean, on a deep level this is something I don’t want to have around in my life. But it doesn’t affect me much anymore.
Distance is key. The yearning for connection sits deep, but protecting myself and the kids from the toxic space is life saving. Sanitizing. Brings me sanity.
I laugh with them. I put on some music and dance. We go outside and have fun. We draw, paint, play games. I also talk with them and put into words how the other was behaving. I don’t make it into a big deal, but ask them how they felt and kind of state the facts. Yeah, he was moldy today. Or irritated. It might feel like it, but you didn’t do anything wrong.
Sometimes he crosses a line, and I let them know what’s not ok to do.
The balance between policing and beeing clear on what I expect has been a bumpy road.
My challenge now is to voice my boundaries in the situation. If he is in a moldy mood, I know that bringing it up might just put fuel to the flame. Do I want that for me and the kids? I want to let them know we always can voice our feelings and needs. But is it worth it if confronting just makes the grip tighter?
I think you are right, Michelle, that talking in this situation doesn’t do any good. I still feel I need to work on beeing more clear on what feels ok and not for me. And doing it with dignity and politeness.
I was having a discussion with my daughter one night, i was visiting at her and her husbands house, we have a great relationship, and we were on opposite ends of a subject at the time. As a mom we always want to help and sometimes we just need to listen but I wasn't picking up on that at the time. So the conversation got a little heated and i realized i needed to just walk away and get into my own space, it was late so i excused myself and went to bed. Well a few minutes went by and my daughter walks in and tearfully apologizes! She recognized in that moment how much I had learned, how much i had grown, she was so proud of me! She felt so bad because she was just having a bad moment and that's OK. We hugged and laughed and moved on. I have a strong daughter and she wants me to be a strong mom, i get stronger every day.
I have been listening to the Love over Addiction podcast. I love all of the information and would love to look at old blog post or information about the Love Over programs.
My son was calling me multiple times a day. Not necessarily always drunk but to the point where I was his only point of contact with the outside world and it became draining to me. Often times he would call and have nothing to say and took on the Eeyore persona....woe is me attitude. I finally told him I loved him but needed some space especially from the middle of night calls which I had put a boundary in place for and turned off my phone for but waking up first thing in the morning and seeing that on my phone became very stressful. I just hit a month break from talking and texting him and it appears he has branded out and figured out other things/people to occupy his time.