What if I am in Recovery and my Partner Drinks? How Will I Stay Sober?
I have been pondering this for a while now. I just celebrated 6 months of recovery from alcoholism on July 4th, 2018 and have been thinking about this long before I made the decision to live in sobriety. Before January 4th of this year I was trying everything I knew to stop drinking and stay stopped. Unfortunately for me, I knew nothing. I had no tools in my toolbox. Hell, I didn’t even own a sobriety and recovery toolbox. All of my attempts failed of course.
To make matters worse, my husband whom I love more than anything, drinks and was drinking almost every night. It is certainly not my place to say if another person is or is not an alcoholic, and I truly believe he is not. He never really wanted me to stop drinking completely, he just wanted me to drink like he drank. He wanted me to drink with him and when he was done, I should be done. He could not understand that I could not do that. I don’t know what type of alcoholic you are, but I drank until I physically could not drink anymore. I would drink until I passed out, fell asleep, or could no longer physically bring the bottle to my lips. This was the kind of alcoholism I was living with in my addiction.
My husband is a wonderful man and even though I cannot speak or communicate with him until January, I firmly believe he really had no understanding of the disease of alcoholism and the mental pain and emotional anguish I was suffering from. The alcohol was just a small slice of the pie for me. The bigger chunk, the problem, was my spiritual malady and my overall misery within myself. I had an enormous ego, but zero self-esteem if that makes any sense.
My life was comfortable and really encouraged drinking, but I was miserable inside and slowly dying. I was in such a dark place that took many years to get to, but could see no way out. I have spent the last 20+ years trying to figure out how to stop the intrusive negative thoughts that plagued me so and just could not. I turned to the alcohol as a way to muffle those negative words and feelings about myself. Clearly that did not work and I gave everything away. What had started as social drinking with my husband about 12 years ago manifested into this uncontrollable obsession to quiet the pain.
I am so thankful to him for allowing me to hit my bottom earlier this year and I will tell him over and over and over again “Thank You. You saved my life.” because he did just that. I am patiently waiting for the day I can speak to him again and I hope to repair our relationship that has been damaged by my inability to accept life on life’s terms. I was overwhelmed and truly had no desire to continue to cause pain to myself and my family, but was simply stuck. It was as if I had fallen through a frozen pond. I could see the shadows of the people above me, but could not find the way out. The more I struggled, the deeper I sank and the quicker I was running out of oxygen to breathe. There are many things that could have been handled differently to avoid my spending some “vacation” time in the county jail this year, but it takes what it takes.
“We were having trouble with personal relationships, we couldn’t control our emotional natures, we were a prey to misery and depression, we couldn’t make a living, we had a feeling of uselessness, we were full of fear, we were unhappy, we couldn’t seem to be of real help to other people” Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous Pg. 52
The Big Book tells me how I was feeling and where I was in life right there on page 52 among other places. Many people will not believe me when I say I am eternally grateful to my husband for saving my life, but I am not concerned with whether or not they agree. I know the truth. I know what was happening in my home and what was not. I know what the facts of my charges and cases are and what they are not. In the end, it does not matter. My path to recovery had to go through jail. My path to sobriety took exactly what it took for me to be in a position I could experience some horrific tragedies in the county jail and included watching a woman commit suicide and another woman bleed for 33 days while having a miscarriage.
The experience was tragic for both of them, their family, and the other women in custody with me, but it has become the defining event of my life. Call it the psychic change, call it a spiritual experience, call it an awakening, call it what you will, but watching her hang there in her cell while pounding on the door and calling for the guards allowed me to really open my eyes. I asked myself then “Do I want to live, or not?”. The answer was yes. I had a complete and total 180 with my perspective and my path right then.
The worry now is what happens if I choose to go home? Will I be able to go home? Will it be a safe environment for me? I do not know if my husband is still drinking or not. I hope that these events have caused him to look at his life and his choices and the path he wants to head down, but I have no reassurance either way yet. I look forward to repairing our relationship and will never give up in trying to make amends for the decisions I made and pain I caused. We have 3 young children together and we will be their parents forever. We will be physically around each other, we will be together in many situations. I know that today, there is no way I could have gone back to the environment I was in. You cannot get better in the same place you got sick. My toxic place was my home as much as it pains me to say it.
I choose to take advantage of each and every day I have right now to build the best and most solid foundation I can build for myself in recovery. I know that I must be smarter, because I am not strong enough to battle this alcoholism and the triggers alone right now. I believe this will become easier as I learn new tools and ways to handle and accept life on life’s terms, but it will always be one day at a time. I know that Alcoholics Anonymous has given me a new way of life I never could have imagined.
I feel the blessings every day and meetings will be a huge part of my day-to-day life in recovery for the rest of my life.
I am so fortunate to be in a place where there are 2 great AA halls within a few miles and many others within 30 minutes. My home does not currently have any Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and that is definitely something I will work toward changing when I do go back. I want my children to continue t live and grow up in the small town where we live and the meetings I go to now will only be 30 minutes away. I will be able to drive one of my vehicles again and I plan on staying involved with my home group lon
g even after I go back home. But, what about living with someone who drinks on a daily or weekly basis? What about living in a house where there is a supply of alcohol sitting in the refrigerator most of the time?
I do not have the answers yet, because I really do not know what is going on at my house today. I have not been there since the beginning of January and will not be able to return until January 2019. I do know that my life has forever changed and the way I choose to live my life has forever changed. There are certain rules I must keep in place to protect myself from anything other than a completely sober life. Alcohol will not be able to be in the home for the foreseeable future. I hope that is something my husband can support me in. AA meetings are extremely important to my sobriety today and will always be. Attending AA meetings will have to be something respected and supported by my husband and any friends and family I am around. This is life and death for me. I cannot ever go back. The line was drawn in the sand and it took a woman’s death for me to be relieved of the spiritual malady I have had for so long.
I have received the gift of a whole new life and am willing to go to any lengths to keep that. It is difficult to know what lengths will be required for my recovery, but I do believe whole heartedly, that I will give up anything and anyone to keep this gift of sobriety. It is a new happiness. It is a new freedom and these come at a cost. I do not know yet what the price of my recovery from alcoholism will be, but I pray I continue to keep the strength and willingness it requires when faced with major decisions whether to continue relationships or not because they are not healthy for me and do not support my recovery. I love so deeply, but I can never go back to the way it was. Today I choose to live.
“When you find yourself tipped over by the gusts of life; when you fall to the floor and shatter. There are those who will walk around your pieces, lest they cut themselves upon the scatter. But others will pick up your broke bits, they’ll cherish all they can gather. These are the ones to whom you must hold on to forever – not those who forsook you – but the ones who glued you back together.” – Shakieb Orgunwall