Sobriety Gives Me the Ability to Continuously Learn and Grow

Life Has Crinkles

It has been a challenging week for me, and I have started this post several times and I am still not able to articulate exactly what I am feeling. I felt like I have been thrown in the middle of someone else’s life and my head and my heart have been arguing none stop!
Life
Last Wednesday night my ex had a bad fall. He has several medical issues and has been taking a large regiment of different medications and it didn’t look like was was getting better, but he was maintaining. So, I get a text from my daughter (who was spending the week with him) that he has fallen and she thinks that he is hurt badly. I rushed over and called 911. Come to find out that he has been drinking and basically due to the medications and the added alcohol, had sort of passed out. The exact words that the ER nurse used was that he “temporarily blacked-out” and they were detoxing him before they do another round of blood work, and are able to establish a diagnosis.

He is still in the hospital.

My daughter’s father was my drinking buddy. We drank day and night and all the time. Our relationship was quite rocky as expected. To me, and in the midst of my alcoholic spiral downwards, he drank way more than I ever could, yet he rarely got obliterated. How do I know this? Well, because on numerous occasions I tried to drink like him and in the end he was caring me home! When we went through the insanely painful custody battle over our daughter, I admitted to having an issue with alcohol but he denied that he did. We were both evaluated and the therapists could not clearly establish if he had a problem or not. But in the last year there was an increased number of times that he appeared drunk. Of course he denied it every time.

So, over the last several days I have all of a sudden become the contact person for my ex as calls came in from every direction. In my head I was just doing the right thing, and in my heart I was screaming out why the hell am I doing this… just to be told by my head, that oh, yeah, because it’s the right thing to do.

Right.

Just don’t forget to keep the boundary.

Well, things were happening so fast that I couldn’t quite place  my boundary —  that fine line of how much to tell whom, and/or even tell them anything. I tried my best to just relay the information– just the facts– as I was asked a billion questions to which I did not have any answers! I was struggling to process this thing myself! The boundary line was just flying all over — and then back around to telling me that I am just doing what is right and since I was the one that called 911 and he has no one else here, I guess I need to help all I can. Well. Not really. Actually, I DON’T.

This is not my journey! I am on this path right now but this is not my path to travel!

Nevertheless, I was quickly getting sucked in; call this person, run this errand, check on the house, bring his glasses, get updates from the doctors, call back this person and than the other, then get that other thing from the house… and OMG… on and on. My boundary went completely astray!

And then to deal with our daughter. In my head I wanted to be honest with her and also just relay the information. In my heart I wanted to protect her from all of it and make sure that this never happens again. In my heart I felt like have failed her, she should have never been there, I knew that he wasn’t doing too well, I should have not let her stay with him. In my head I tried to rationalize that I really didn’t know how bad it was and I sure didn’t know that this would happen.

Of course to add to it all, he wanted me to bring our daughter by to see him. He is in intensive care, so my head said, no that wouldn’t be good for him her see him like his. Then my heart said, he misses her and it would make him happy and what if he dies or something and she’ll never see him again. Ugh. Then I asked her. She says, I don’t know. Well, that was no help, so I went with my heart! Still not sure if that was a good decision, she was very nervous, and uncomfortable, but did thank me for taking her, and he seemed happy.

ImageThen, his sister called to proudly announce that she, the registered nurse, had the doctors take that statement “temporarily blacked-out…” taken out of the medical chart data, because it was misleading. And to add she said, “We sure don’t want that on his medical record.”

WOW.

Of course I couldn’t help but respond to that, because somehow as a registered nurse I really thought she knew better, and that she understood, that she knew this disease — who in their right mind drinks while on pain killers, steroids and antidepressants because it makes him feel better!?

That conversation did not go well.

In my head I know that stigma still associated with alcoholism/addiction is still very much alive. I know that may people still think that addiction and alcoholism are moral deficiencies and are degrading. I understand that no one wants a diagnosis that is incorrect on their medical record. And I totally understand that many people that have not been affected themselves do not understand this disease. BUT, these are the exact reasons that people don’t get help, and can’t get help, and no one even knows that they need help!

In my heart, I was outraged – oh no, she was embarrassed. She didn’t want that on his record!? Because that would make him what? Oh, I know for a fact that this is not a moral disease, I didn’t dream of being an alcoholic, shit, I spent all of my teenage years and early adulthood making sure that I was not going to be an alcoholic because it runs in my family genetics —  just to find out by my late 20’s that, guess what??? After working sooo freaken hard to not be, I AM AN ALCOHOLIC anyway!! Holy crap! Trust me no one was more upset about this then ME!

That incident alone made me realize that I have gotten in too deep. This is not my place to say anything about anything. I have said too much. I got suck in the middle. My boundary got moved too far. I had taken on too much. Oh I needed help! I started making phone calls to my support network. The more I talked and listened the more things were becoming clear. Once I was able to get a different perspective, my head and my heart started agreeing.

This is not my journey.

Today, my head and my heart are in agreement. My number one concern is my sobriety and safety for my daughter. He is not my responsibility. Convincing his family that he needs more medical assistance and that his drinking is an issue, is not my job.

And after all I am still sober. In fact once again I am super grateful that I was, because even thought this has been quite challenging, I was able to provide help when needed, take care of my daughter, and even argue with my head and heart! This has all been a huge learning experience that I wouldn’t give up for anything. Today, because I am sober, I have the ability to stand by my decision and actions, and know that I am doing the best I can.


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28 Comments Add yours

  1. robertlfs says:

    Thanks very much for sharing. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place! That certainly was a tough call on whether you should take your daughter to see him in intensive care or not.

    Congratulations on making it through the situation with your sobriety intact. Your comments are quite articulate and appear a solid assessment of the situation. Can you imagine how that might have all been different if you were drinking?

    I have come to believe that we need to go through these experiences in sobriety simply to learn how to deal with complex issues – something perhaps “normal” people learned very early on, but I missed those classes in life lessons.

    I have been particularly amazed at the setting boundary issue. What I have enjoyed in sobriety is that I have learned from each event, and act a bit better when the next one comes along. However, each event has its own set of details, and life never repeats exactly. I have also found that what is the right action in one context might not be the right action in the next.

    What I feel good about in such situations is that I can honestly say that I have dealt with the issue in a very mindful and intentional manner, with complete benefit of my sobriety. What I enjoy is that I find the benefits of processing these events through in sobriety is cumulative. It is truly a process and not event.

    Congratulations on dealing with the issue so effectively. I am confident that the experiences
    you describe in your post will help you feel even more comfortable about your actions when the situation repeats in some form.

    Best,

    Robert

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Robert! This is a wonderful comment! I have learned a bit from other situations and that is why I knew that I needed to keep my boundary in tact. That was the very first thing I learned. Because I am naturally a people pleaser and I tend to do what I think will make the other person like me. But that’s no good, because in the end I get hurt. And when his sister was saying “that’s not what he said.” I was in the middle. I have backed out almost totally. Have only done the nightly call for my daughter.

      Like

  2. UnPickled says:

    Oh, this is some hard stuff. I’m glad you wrote about it – to help you process and so we can learn along with you. Here. Please borrow my mental headphones so you can listen to the “good sayings soundtrack” I have looping constantly these days: ….Not my circus, not my monkeys….detach with love….when going through hell keep going…..hurt people hurt people…..oh, look, ice cream……

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I absolutely love this! I was signing it several times and passed it on to several people! I especially love the ice cream part of course! Thank you so much. Big Hugs!

      Like

  3. mishedup says:

    oh Maggie,..

    so so hard.
    I have not had this experience but can imagine it, because I know so many who are dealing with situations like this.
    It sounds like you did the best you could and now have a clearer idea of what your boundaries must be in the future…that’s a win in my book, even tho i wish you hadn’t have had to go through all of this.
    i will keep you and your daughter in my thoughts….
    sometimes growth is a bitch, no?

    I’m sorry..you are doing great!

    Like

    1. Yes, growth is a bitch! But being sober so I can have the growth is awesome! I can’t even imagine this whole thing if I was drinking. Well, in reality I wouldn’t even be in it really, because no one could depend on me back than, whatsoever. I tell you things sure got easier once I placed that boundary – this is a great tool in any situation, figuring out how much you’re willing to do and what is the real right thing to do.

      Thank you Mishedup! Hugs.

      Like

  4. Hey Maggie, so sorry for the difficult situation that you and your daughter are going through. Hope she is OK – she must have been very shaken up by this experience. It is so good that she has a stable life at home to help her cope with this. Tough stuff to understand when you’re a kid, but as long as she has lots of love and support at home, I’m sure she will be fine. Well done you on getting your own support working before you got sucked in too deeply with your ex’s problems. Your daughter is lucky to have a strong mom. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! She was, we had several talks talks by now and I reassured her that she did the right thing and that her dad is safe in the hospital.

      And really the support network is soooo very important! I don’t work well on just my own ideas and often I can’t maneuver through the situation while I am in it neck deep. And I don’t know it all, so I know that someone will give me some advice that will be crucial. And all of your comments here, were so helpful too!

      Thank you! Hugs!

      Like

  5. Hi Maggie, you have sober courage my friend! Congratulations for staying present and self-aware during such a hard time. You’re an inspiration Maggie, really. Sending love to you and your daughter. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Sending many hugs back! I am glad I found my self awareness before it was too deep in! Lol! Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. iceman18 says:

    You’re aware of boundaries early in sobriety and that’s great. Practice not perfection. You’ll get it. But considering the circumstances, you jumped into action and helped out.

    You helped out temporarily. Now you can set some boundaries if you chose. Your second to last paragraph says it all. Turn the responsibility over to his family…done. Then put your time and energy into your daughter. Document the fact that there was a change to the medical record. You may need it at a later time if you have to seek full time custody in order to protect your daughter. Good luck!

    Like

    1. Thank you for this sound advice! It seems like I am in early sobriety because this is a new situation to me. And I sort of feel like it too. This is why I try to keep an open mind and keep teachable! Just because I am sober for a while doesn’t mean that I know it all! I most definitely don’t. But sobriety gives me the ability to learn and grow and focus on the important stuff!

      Thank you! Hugs.

      Like

  7. lifecorked says:

    Thanks for sharing Maggie. I can only imagine how hard it must be for you. But, you’re right it’s not your journey or your responsibility. All you can so is be there for your daughter and treat everyone else with kindness. Not easy for those of us who like to have control!

    Like

    1. Hi Chenoa! Thank you. Oh yes, the control! And being the fixer! It’s all a dangerous territory, isn’t it! But the less I try to control the smoother things go, that I know for sure!

      Hugs!

      Like

  8. Hi everybody! I haven’t had a chance to respond but I have read all your beautiful comments and will respond to each when I get some free time. But I wanted to leave a quick note and thank you all for the support and tips! I have a feeling that his might be a long journey. And I am so very grateful for all of you and this great community! I will need you guys, as we need each other! Hugs.

    Like

  9. Maggie, I was thinking the same thing before I read the comments (yep, don’t think this is quite over for her yet), and then read your comment at the bottom. Whew, what a week! You did good, girl, and congrats on keeping your sobriety intact through it all (not to mention being their for your daughter, your ex, undoubtedly your other kids and husband…). I’m praying for you, and for your ex, that he finds the help he needs.

    Love you, Maggie 🙂

    Like

    1. Thank you Josie! Yes, it’s definitely not over. He maybe released today but they are transferring him to a rehabilitation place, not for alcoholism, for the other issues. But nevertheless he will be there for a while as he needs to get well to have hip surgery. He had one done a year and a half ago but there were complications — he has fallen before. Anyway. My daughter is safe. He is in good hands. I am where I should be. All good. Thank you for the prayers. Hugs!

      Like

  10. Viatoday says:

    Real life is so full of challenges, tricky situations, emotional ups and downs. It is just so hard sometimes. You should be proud of yourself for how you have handled this situation and how you helped. And you should be proud of yourself for reaching your conclusion: “Today, my head and my heart are in agreement. My number one concern is my sobriety and safety for my daughter.” And your last sentence, “Today, because I am sober, I have the ability to stand by my decision and actions, and know that I am doing the best I can.” Very helpful to me. Thank you.

    Like

    1. Thank you! Life can be freaky for sure. It was good to re-read that line. I have to keep remembering the important part, because it’s quite easy for me to get back into it. I am cut ally feeling like I am not doing enough right now. But that’s not true. His family has taken over and I don’t need to be involved.

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      1. Autocorrect! I meant I am currently feeling like I am not…

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  11. wheatism says:

    Thanks so much for this honest post. My heart goes out to you. Sadly I’m no longer living with my son and that’s one of the reasons why I faced up to my alcoholism and will never drink again. In short you hit the nail on the head when you say:
    “My number one concern is my sobriety and safety for my daughter. He is not my responsibility”.
    That’s it. Hard as it is sometimes we have to be selfish in our recovery

    Like

    1. I know what you mean! My daughter lived with my ex for a while when I was in rehab and getting sober. It feels like the shoe is on the other foot. And I couldn’t be more grateful to be sober. I am not sure what would be happening if I wasn’t. I definitely would not be able to manage this, I would be just getting drunk over it! Ugh. Sobriety is a true gift. Hang in and keep moving forward. Sending many hugs.

      Like

  12. Tracy says:

    Yay for you!!! You put your daughter and your sobriety first! It’s not easy protecting boundaries…but you did it!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Tracy! It really isn’t. But by now I know that sobriety and my kids are #1, so I start there!

      Like

  13. We can care ABOUT the alcoholic, but not care FOR them. I always come back to that one (thanks Alanon) because it does set the boundary. But this was a tough one, Maggie. Tough. I like what a lot of the commenters said, and in the end, you are right – it’s your journey as his is his. This kind of stuff is a learning curve for all of us, eh? It seems that you walked away from this wiser and stronger in many ways.

    Blessings to you and your daughter…and your ex. I hope he finds the help he needs.

    Like

    1. Thanks Paul! Yes a learning experience for sure. I think it’s so important to be able to stand back and review the situation. Talking to others really helped with that. Sometimes you can’t see what you’re doing while you’re doing it! Lol!

      Hugs!

      Like

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