Letting go of the illusion

Al-Anon Step 1

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable
I cannot change the fact that someone else’s drinking has had a profound effect on my life.

I did not want my husband to be an alcoholic. Hell, nobody wants that. My father’s drinking had a huge effect on my life even though I only realised it years later when the problems in my own marriage started. I woke up one morning and I had turned into my mother.
Fact is, I cannot change who my parents are, and I cannot undo the fact that I married my husband.
These people played a huge part in my life up to now. It is done. My life was affected by them in profound ways and my husband behaviour devastated me. I have to admit that. It feels like it ruined my life, stole my opportunities and smashed my dreams. Their drinking did affect my life and it will forever remain an undeniable fact and a part of my past.

I cannot change anyone else’s behaviour and attitude.
We confuse love with interference. Cannot show love other than manipulating people, situations. Trying to get them to do what we think would make them happy.

It took me years to realise that no matter how good a cook I am, how much I “put out”, how much money I make, how many things I buy him, how hard I study, how agreeable I am, how many children we have – It will never change my husband’s attitude. Nothing I did or did not do, could make him content of happy. He would not stop behaving the way he did towards me. He might change it temporarily to manipulate more of the above out of me, but there would be no permanent change.
Trying to change his behaviour and attitude turned me into a scared, insecure, people pleaser. My entire existence revolved around keeping the alcoholic happy so that he would react different or behave different

Our misplaced concern for others becomes intrusive, meddling, resented, and doomed to failure.
Terrified of letting others do as they wish.

It is hard for me to read these negative words and know they apply to me. I had meddled and I was intrusive. I did not allow my husband to be the man of the house. I controlled his finance, I controlled who he may see and when. And yes, eventually the – “you are trying to change me” resentments did start flying. My husband did act out because I treated him like a child. I wanted him to stop drinking – but yes, it was doomed, because I went about it in all the wrong ways.
I was terrified of letting him do as he wishes, because I believed he would spend us into financial ruin. I was scared he would hurt himself or me. Because I believed he did not care for me, I did not believe that he would act in both our best interest if I let he do as he pleases. In retrospect I never gave him a chance to grow up. I thought I was keeping him happy, but really I was reading his mail, going through his cupboard, checking his mail and phone. I had no idea of boundraries or respect for privacy. He didn’t have to take responsibility or learn what our best interests are, because I took care of everything. I have so many reasons to justify my behaviour, but ultimately I robbed my husband of his dignity as a grown man and the ability to fend for himself and provide for his family. I had destroyed his self-esteem and controlled is money and his life. This also spared him the consequences of decision he made, which took away any opportunity for him to learn and postponed rock bottom for him. I thought for long that I was doing the right thing (helping him), but I was postponing the inevitable and doing no one any favours.

Our preoccupation with others distracts us from our responsibilities to attend to our own physical, emotional and spiritual health, we suffer.

This one goes way back. I spent a huge amount of my young adult life trying to get my father’s approval and ultimately his love. I had to be the best at everything, not because he said so, but because I thought if I could make him proud he would spend more time with me and be more open with his emotions. It did not work. I was well into my twenties when I stopped seeking my father’s approval. It took a huge weight off my shoulders and I could finally focus on who I am and what was good enough for me.
Then I met my husband. He had so many dreams and aspirations. He dreamed well, but acted seldom. I wanted his approval and I wanted his dreams to come true, so I started realising them. When he decided we need to buy a house I was scared, but eventually I took care of everything. Now, here at the end he only contributes one quarter of what is needed to keep the house, all of the gain, very little of the pain.
I did not look after myself. I had no hobbies, no friends, no colour, and no life! All I did was try to please the alcoholic. We ate what he wanted to eat, we went where he wanted to go, we holidayed where he wanted (I always financed it and hated it because where ever we went it consisted mostly of sitting and drinking). So I never relaxed, I was always anticipating the other shoe to drop. My life was insane and mentally I was walking on a tight rope. I lost so much weight people started asking me if so I was ill. I developed a stomach ulcer and at one point could not make a day without 2 kinds of antidepressants, sleeping pills and tranquilisers. I was moody, tired, and unhealthy and it started to affect my ability to be a mother as well as my work.
When I finally realised that my preoccupation with keeping the alcoholic happy was causing all these problems and I stopped a new world opened for me. I still take it one day at a time discovering myself and looking after my needs, but I have learned to evaluate why I do thins and what influences my decisions.

We did not cause it, we cannot control it, and we cannot cure it.

It is an illness. As hard as that concept for me is to accept and understand – because seriously, if you have been sober for months and then relapse, that constitutes a choice in my mind. Apparently, it’s not that simple, not for them. By the time they pick up a drink the sickness had already been eating at their thoughts and mind for months. Drinking comes right at the end.
No matter how well I plan, how many steps I think I am ahead of the alcoholic I cannot control what he does or how much he drinks. And it will never be cured. I have to decide whether or not I am willing to live with the alcoholic, knowing he could start drinking any day.

Let go of the losing battle we are waging. Redefine what we believe about others, ourselves and our relationship.

To be able to redefine what I believe about others, I first have to know what I believe now.
Honestly – I don’t believe my husband loves us. He has no love to give. I don’t think he cares about our needs on any level. I believed for a long time that there is no hope for our relationship to ever change. I did not believe I had a choice in what happens. I was doomed to ride along because I said “I do – for better and worse”. I believed it is better for children to have both parents around even if one is dysfunctional. I believed that love could cure my husband. If he had a loving family, unlike his childhood he would want to be different. I believed it would get better.

Let go of the illusion to move in a more positive, productive and rewarding direction. Move toward hope.

I had given up on hope a long time ago. I stopped hoping my husband would stop drinking. I focused on getting through the day without rummaging through the neighbour’s rubbish and not being impatient with my daughter. I spent most of my energy to keep up my happy face and pretending to love my husband when I knew that every last bit of compassion I had had, was gone and that I only have resentments and pity left. But finally, finally I have let go of the illusion of the happy family I believed we could be. I had stopped hoping that he would want to stop drinking. I now focus on being as functional as possible under the new circumstances. I am doing the things I have to do for my sanity. I am getting divorced and staying on my own. I am hoping now, to someday, I will have only one chaos day per week.