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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Alberta, Canada

    Default The Desolation of Grog

    Hi everyone,

    I hope some get the pun I'm an old fan of J.R.R. Tolkien.

    My story begins years ago. The biggest incident was September 8, 2011 when my dad died of lung collapse in front of me. I clearly remember writing his eulogy while watching the twin towers come down on TV. That's not the success I want to discuss but it's where my journey began in using alcohol beyond moderation.

    I was introduced to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy about 2005 and used it in a somewhat helpful way but not with great success. My doctor introduced me to "Feeling Good" by David Burns in 2010 and I had more success. I was not considering that my alcohol was a major issue but I've dealt with depressive episodes my whole adult life. 32 years of it now with 5 major episodes and some minor. I believe my alcohol was my attempt to cope with depression and other issues.

    In 2011 I admitted to myself, family, and doctor that I had an alcohol problem. I called myself an "alcoholic" then. I tried local meetings, detoxing on my own, and eventually did a 18 day in patient treatment here in Canada. I came out of treatment a new man and had great plans for my sobriety! I started lapsing within weeks and relapsed completely within 3 months. I joined SMART then, spent some time online, made a tool binder and did tools and then put all that into a filing cabinet. In some ways, I kept working on things. I started new alcohol free hobbies, joined new clubs, changed my career. But I still drank daily. It was less but still a lot.

    And now we come to the recent story. On January 5, 2015, I woke up at 4:00 am to hear my wife on the phone to someone. To make that story short, she had met a man by phone and had been spending many hours with him by phone and text. I confronted her and she told me "I can not live with you anymore. I can not live with your drinking." She asked me to move out, go get sober, and perhaps we would reconsider our marriage in a year or so.

    That day I poured out my remaining alcohol. I then went to emergency for help with bad thoughts. The doctor looked me over, talked to me, and gave me prescriptions to get back on my prior depression treatment. And he released me saying "You are doing all the right things! You can do this." I went to my government Addictions service, met a counselor, renewed my file. I phoned my mom and sister and talked to them to arrange a place to stay. I moved out the next day.

    Day 2 I went to work and asked for 2 weeks medical leave. My request was that I started new medications and my job is driving bus so I could not drive until the medications settled. This was true but not the whole story. They actually terminated me a couple weeks later saying I quit so I was then unemployed, homeless, and living off the charity of my family. It's important to understand that in 2012 my wife separated our finances so that my money went in to the joint account but hers was in her private account. So I was penniless as well unless she gave me money.

    But I stayed sober! I jumped hard at SMART, started job search, spent hours in chat and local meetings and online meetings. I put everything into recovery. I also got a lawyer, discussed my rights under our law for divorce, wrote a basic separation agreement and was a busy busy guy. Looking back, I turned my one addiction in to another. And due to my trust issues about the affair, I started snooping on my wife. I read her journal, monitored her computer use, and such. I hacked her bank but did not make any changes. I also locked up all my private computer and paper files. At that point, I expected we were headed to a contested divorce.

    My wife and I had some very nasty arguments in that time with threats made on both sides about child custody, who gets the house, and similar things. It was unpleasant. We did agree on some things. We wanted to spare our children the worst of the pain so got them into personal counseling and attempted to spare them our fights.

    But my living out of a bag with family was not successful. My wife called me to come home for her night shifts to watch the kids so I began going back and forth. This was very stressful and impractical. After a couple weeks we agreed that due to our finances we could not get two homes so we split within the house. We acted like polite roommates (most of the time) in front of the children and I slept in the basement.

    And then I made a decision. A very big decision. I did my Heirarchy of Values. Prior to that I went sober without a plan. I just did it by willpower. But I was starting to work the Point 1 of SMART. And the HOV brought some things very clearly to light. My first HOV had 3 top issues. 1) My recovery 2) My kids and 3) My marriage. As things began to get better with recovery and it got a bit easier I shifted those priorities. And I made the decision. I loved, worshipped, and wanted my wife! As my partner. And under a new relationship. So I began wooing her. I stopped snooping. I stopped trying to control her (not instantly). And I told her I loved her, bought her small gifts or did small things like a special birthday meal in February. I would not divorce her. Not until and if I had tried everything in my power to repair our marriage. And I told her that.

    And then I found the Friends and Family program. So I was working many tools in SMART. The HOV, CBA, ABC and others. And the deeper ones like Acceptance, Musty thinking, cognitive distortions. But the friends and family handbook and meetings took me to a new place. It brought me another set of tools to use: boundaries, PIUS communication, and more on trust. My wife had asked for a boundary from me. "Please don't touch me or tell me you love me." I tried to somewhat respect it, but I did not stop telling her I loved her. And I once in a while touched her in passing. But I did avoid hugs, kisses or other things.

    This situation went on into late April. I took the facilitator training at SMART and loved it. And I kept working on communication with my wife and family. I pushed hard and in hindsight I pushed a bit too hard. But in late April one night she seemed more relaxed. And I simply asked "Can I hug you?" She said yes. The next day she asked in a conversation "What do you want?" I replied "I want you!" And "I would like a kiss." We had a nice gentle kiss and hug. And a day later we renegotiated that boundary. It was okay now to kiss and hug. Not much more but at least that.

    A week later we started sharing a bed again and well, without excess detail, returned to a loving relationship. It was very exciting! We were like back at where we met. We'd been disconnected emotionally for years. Functional at the operation of a home and family at a base level but living separate lives. And now it was like dating again. An all new woman. And I think my wife felt it was like an all new man.

    I forgot a bit. In February I got lucky. I was doing substitute school bus driving locally but it was infrequent and not reliable. But I got offered a full time route. This means a guarantee of 4 hours a day plus option to do more hours for charter as required. My income doubled and my schedule became regular. And I could take my kids along if needed. It was a huge relief. Much less strain on us financially.

    We sort of motored along peacefully until late May. Then I got sick. It was frightening and strange. I felt depressed, lethargic, physically weak. I went to my doctor and he diagnosed it based on some previous times this winter as Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. There is no real treatment except keep doing self care, eat well, rest etc. For 3 weeks I shut down all extra activities and focused on my family and work. I finished my SMART training but let the garden, housework, and hobbies slide.

    Then I began having severe mood swings. I asked my wife if she could help me with that. This resulted in a very hard time. From talks since, this scared her a lot. I think she was afraid of relapse or hospitalization. We had numerous arguments. Talks that were intended to be about simple things like paying bills, going camping, or getting the kids to summer camp blew up. But we kept trying and we eventually, after two weeks, made up a plan to avoid escalation in conversation. I've posted much of that in the F&F subforum for those interested. And in the last 6 days it's started to work! We had a few more discussions that went rough, but we have both pulled back from the brink. On Sunday I slept separately to get a break. But Monday we were back in love I would say And we are doing very well again.

    When I hear people talk about possible ending a relationship in recovery I really want to say, do your self care. Take care of yourself first. But don't give up hope! Both can change and if you invite your loved one along on this new wonderful journey, there is a good chance they will come with you! It's very hard work. And it's often very painful. But don't give up too easy. I think the key to my statement is INVITE them. "Please come with me into our new future. It will be different! And we can define it together."

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    smack dab where Time begins


    I got the pun, good to see you broke your hobbit

    Congratulations on the changes you made happen and best wishes for the future as well.
    Wherever you go, there you are

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2008


    What a great story! Congrats.
    I'm not telling you it is going to be easy, I'm telling you it's going to be worth it.

  4. #4


    Wow. Your post really gives me hope for my LO and our relationship. Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2015


    Maer, this also gives me hope for my relationship with my boyfriend. Thanks for sharing.

    PS - Absolutely got the Hobbit reference!

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