anonymous Asks ...
I am married to an alcoholic. He first identified himself as an alcoholic 7 years ago after he had a bad fall and a black out and started AA and had a sobriety period of about 2 weeks. Since then he has had different time periods of sobriety that last 2-4 weeks. What I noticed the past 4 years is he has a sifnificant incident while drinking (fall, fight, etc) and he declares sobriety, remains sober for about 3-4 weeks then slowly starts drinking again. His frequency and amount increases over the time span of about 8 months or so until he is consistently binge drinking every weekend, has a significant incident, then starts the pattern all over. He recently had his longest period of sobriety 60 days. I attend Al Al-Anon and am learning a lot but this pattern is difficult to watch and stay out of. Can you provide some insight into what is happening with this pattern? Any ideas on how I can keep myself from participating in it? His sober times are not exactly pleasant either. He is usually anxious, agitated, and irritable. When he drinks he is beligerant and very unpleasant.
Jim LaPierre Says ...
Hello and thank you for connecting with me and sharing your experience.
The pattern you've described is very common and as you're seeing, it tends to get worse over time.
What we most often see is a gradual decline in the person's ability to function.
To not participate in his patterns is primarily a matter of being true to yourself and not enabling him.
The good news is that the folks you're meeting with at Al-Anon and their literature can teach you a great deal about that.
Not pretending is a big part but not expecting it to change and not attempting to evoke change in him are important considerations. I urge you to focus on yourself and promote your own well being. You may well find that you have some patterns that correspond to his.
I am struck by your words "His sober times are not exactly pleasant either. He is usually anxious, agitated, and irritable. When he drinks he is beligerant and very unpleasant."
This has been true for many years it seems. Perhaps you're holding out hope that he will change but it seems likely to me that closely examining that hope would show it to be unwarranted. Please focus on yourself and on fulfilling your needs. Please contact me if I can answer further questions or otherwise be helpful