Toxic People; Alcoholism & Domestic Abuse – Accountability, Capability, Capacity, Measurement, Feedback and Consequences

Myself and my partner, on the surface, can appear to be very toxic. We both have toxic elements to our personalities, she has an alcohol problem, I am a domestic abuser. What I have noticed from treatment is that it is all managed in silos. There is the silo of her alcoholism and my silo as an abuser. The agencies that we are using to treat these two major problems do not appear to be that interested in a holistic, environmental, cultural approach.

We as a couple have assessed an analysed our situation, yet we are still to join the dots to change the environment and culture that causes our major family problem. Both of our toxic behaviours are intertwined and feed one another. She gets drunk, I become abusive, because I’ve been abusive she gets drunk. A difficult circle to break. The thing is though that this is not a relationship between two people as there is a third entity in this, that of the relationship.

There is one final solution to a situation like ours and I used the phrase final solution because it is evocative of a time when “Final Solution” was a euphemism for total eradication. We could eradicate our relationship, brake the circle completely by separating and move on as individuals. But does that really solve the root problems. I’ll walk away from the relationship, not healed and still with abusive characteristics. She’ll walk away from the relationship still with alcohol abuse issues.

I never though that I would ever become a domestic abuser, it came as a complete surprise to me that I had become one. I though that because of growing up in an abusive family, I would not enact the behaviours I knew as a child. Yet I did and that was a total eye opener to me. I became what I believed I wouldn’t be. On the other hand, my wife entered our relationship with alcohol abuse issues, she’d started abusing alcohol as a teenager.

So each of the agencies that we’ve been involved with to change our behaviours have always gone on about accountability. We each must hold ourselves accountable.

Easier said than done.

What is accountability though and how should we use it? This is what the agencies never go on to describe or show someone what needs to be done.

I came across this article in the Harvard Business Review today

The Right way to hold people accountable from that I then found, 8 Be-Attitudes to Holding people accountable.

The first question any of these agencies who step in to “help” people like myself and my wife should ask is this.

Do we have the capability to do what is asked.

Do I have the capability to stop being a domestic abuser, Does she have the capability to resolve her alcohol problem. I would like both of us to be able to answer yes to those first questions and to follow that with what is our actual capacity to do that.

So am I capable of being mindful, not being aggressively angry and to hold back on all those other micro behaviours that add up to being abusive? I would like to answer yes to that and I am trying very hard to practice that on a hour by hour basis. Sometimes, I stop being mindful and the micro abuses creep in, then I introspect, have a moment of accountability and  stop.

One of the reasons we continue to be together is that I believe that my wife has the capability to manage her alcoholism, many would say to me that I’m being foolish and that people don’t change, but I am an optimist. People do change, I’ve changed dramatically since I was a teenager and I continue to change. I thought I would never change into a domestic abuser having lived through a childhood of it. Now I’m trying to reconcile my childhood (where our core beliefs are set) to what I experience now.

So what can I lean from the HBR article about accountability.

First there is setting clear expectations. My family has the expectation of a life free of domestic abuse, insults, aggression and fear. I have an expectation on myself to behave in such a way and to be mindful of myself so that they do not experience that.

Next there is the clear capability. I have the capability to not behave the way that I have done. I hope that by putting these words down for people to read shows that I have that capability.

The third step in the HBR article is clear measurement. This is a tough one in a family setting, there is no balanced scorecard, no metrics, no KPI’s that can easily be applied to this. The actual measurement will come much later when my wife and children are living the expectations set above. This can’t be easily measured, but the outcomes over time will become a measurement. If in the next few years, I’m still writing about this and I’m being mindfully reactive. Then my expectations have failed, and that will become the measure. In years to come will this period be seen as an aberration or the norm.

Clear feedback, again like the measurement, it a tough one to achieve, people who live in fear of domestic abusers won’t be able to give clear feedback because they will be in fear. So frankly, that actually becomes a measure too. The capacity to give open and honest feedback free of consequences.

Finally, clear consequences. It’s discovering what are the consequences of all this. A wife who can only have sex with me when she’s drunk. Unhappy children who lack confidence. The consequence that our relationship fails, the consequence that I could go on to affect future relationships. The ultimate sanction of going to prison. The consequences are very clear.

So when any agency, counsellor or support group talk about personal accountability, these are the things that they need to explain and and I (or you if your an abuser reading this) have to be mindful of.

 

 

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I must stop blaming an alcoholic for being an alcoholic

I live with an alcoholic and I blame the alcoholism for nearly every problem that’s this had family.

I have a very polarised way of looking at it. When my wife makes a poor decision or acts indecicivly or doesn’t talk about an issue. My internal feeling is, is that she is doing it to protect her alcoholism.

I grew up with alcoholics and I’ve had a number of “friends” who are alcoholics and from my experiences of dealing with them I’ve come to a conclusion that they will do just about anything to ensure that they don’t have to admit that the alcoholism is making them do the wrong thing.

But what’s my excuse? I make poor decisions,  I act indecisively, but I don’t have alcoholism as an excuse.

The words that frequently come out of my mouth are “if only” but what is it I’m really saying by saying that?

It’s about blame, I blame her alcoholism, but she can’t blame the alcoholism because in many ways alcoholism has defined her character. So when I’m doing “if only” she doesn’t hear it as a blame of an illness, she hears it as a blame of her. Probably because the two are so intertwined.

This is where we start to make a mistake about alcoholism, we see it as a character flaw, they have that flaw and if only they weren’t an alcoholic they wouldn’t have that flaw (see, yet again, “if only” pops up). But, if only, they didn’t have that flae they wouldn’t be an alcoholic. Either way it doesn’t work.

The next thing is, is that alcoholics have a big issue actually talking about it, it’s not a flaw in their character its just something they do, so when we discuss the alcoholism or talk about it, they think its the person were talking about and not the disease.

So when we blame, what we see as the fault of the alcohol, the alcoholic is hearing themselves be blamed and that helps to perpetuate the drinking cycle.

Damn its complicated. Maybe it’s because the effect alcohol has on the non alcoholic is different to the effect it has on the alcoholic.

So the blame cycle has to stop. You see internally, I blame myself for not being able to help in anyway. The alcohol puts a barrier in the way. Especially as now it’s a known thing. I know she has a problem, she knows she has a problem, but somehow that known problem is a big barrier. I wonder if it is because alcohol and the person are so intertwined, its difficult so separate one from the other.

So I must stop blaming, but any conversation about any issue ends up in a pit of blame, the alcoholic hears the issue as a blame of the illness, which is a blame of them, they are so intertwined.

But what is it I’m actually blaming, its myself. It’s my own character flaws, it’s an inability to get myself heard, its an inability to act on my own advice, its an inability to have an environment which is good and supportive. But I have the ability to create it. So when I fail, I look for a reason to blame and rather than blaming myself, I seek out someone else. The easiest target is the alcoholic in your life. You see the flaws and faults that you see the alcohol creating and latch on to them and target them as being your own character flaws.

This is where the depth of the problem starts, I need to blame someone other than myself, so I blame the alcoholism, the alcoholic feels that their personality is being attacked by hearing the blame and feels hurt and abused, because it was never their intention, but they recognise the “flaw” of alcoholism.

Knowing that flaw, makes them push all of the blame onto themselves and start to blame themselves, so its a double whammy of blame, for the alcoholic with the non alcoholic partner. So there is now a multifaced blame monster, my self blame, my blame of the alcoholism, her feeling blamed and the self blame of alcoholism. It becomes series of blame points, all interlinked, all building a net of blames, that we are tangled in.

So how do we get ourselves out of this net? I accept and don’t blame, she does what? Now this is what I dont know, what is her expectation and what is my expectation. How does she extract herself from the blame, self blame cycle.

The thing is it is the past, back then it was bigger denial about alcoholism, now it’s much less. Going forward, when mistakes happen we deal with them, rectify them as soon as possible and move on to the next set.

The eve of New Years eve, or New Year’s eve eve

Not long to go till the new year and its a real ness in the Autosoma household.

Debts, there are many! I’ve got to get a grip and sort it out.

No.1 Solicitor fees my wife owes £300.
No.2 Tax bill my wife owes £350
No.3 Council Tax for Walthamstow £1000
No.3 Council Tax for Bournemouth £700
No.5 Electicity Bill Bournemouth £500
No.6 Item in London £5000.
No.7 Water Londo £300
No.8 My unpaid debt £800
No.9 My wifes unpaid debt £700

When I started this blog I didn’t things could get as bad as they are now.

I’m being treated for depression, My wife’s getting treatment for alcoholism.

we’re both unemployed

I need to replan my life’s journey.

Boxing day 4:30 pm

I write my blog mostly from my MotoG and I find they the stock Android 5 keyboard to be absolutely atrocious I guess I should install a better one, but anyway I digress.

There is no simple way to put it, things in my family are fucked. I know my wife is rehabbing and has made a commitment to stop drinking and even though shes on around 12 to 18 units a day at the moment, its still difficult. It still less than two months since she accepted help and is holding herself together.

I still have a knot of resentment which I need to get past. Frankly, we could have a long way still to go. The gravity of alcoholism could still, very easily drag us down. After her last bingeing session I gave up. I find it difficult holding myself together as all the effort I put into keeping us together seemed to be for nothing. I gave up.

Should I continue to give up, I ask myself frequently. Put it behind me or carry on as is. So here are my choices.

Up and leave, put it all behind me and have nothing to do with her and the children (they are becomming behaviorally quite difficult as they have no good role models).

Leave with the children and try to turn things around by myself for them

Or stay and value the changes and make sure they don’t get worse.

I know there are many combinations, not just the three above.

So, I could discuss the pros and cons of staying or going. but I am an optimist, I truely believe that if we choose to make it better it will become better.

For quite some time my wife chose drinking, which made our life worse. Now she’s in the process of reduction and management, I find myself in a pit of resentment and venom.

A few days ago, someone told me that anger is like trying to throw a hot coal. By holding it you damage yourself.

Well, actually that’s not quite right. You’re throwing that burning hot coal at someone to get rid of it, to get rid of the pain. No one ever chooses to have a burning hot coal dumped in their hand, but she did it to me with her drinking.

Anger is a burning coal, but more often thsn not, thst coal is dropped on you and suddenly you’re hurt. You flinch snd react and throw that coal right back from where it came.

Back and forth, this burning hot coal of anger, hate and resentment goes. At some point it must go out, the laws of entropy dictate that. But for something to burn as hot as the anger and pain of a relationship in distress, not only uses up the the lump of coal. It also burns up our personal energy and we’re left empty.

So where are we at? She’s suffering because of my venom and resentment. Frankly, it stems from having an alcoholic mother of my own. I realise now that I had a black hole in my memory. These a time period in my childhood from around 10 to 14 that I have no recollection of. But every time my wife got drunk in charge of the children, it triggered something in me.

I’ve recently been having these illuminating dreams where my mother replaces my wife and I realise that my fears (which results in anger) that come from my childhood are being replayed when I experience my wife drunk.

So I have to move forwards past this and stop putting my wife in a position where she can fall back on bad behaviours because I hold this knot of venom and bitterness.

I have to turn it around for everyones good. But I feel I want something in return. I followed through with many of her failed ideas, mostly against my better judgement… too often I found myself in a position of “I told you so”. This afternoon I listened to her pain. I accept that she’s holding her own pain as well as taking hurts from me.

I promised her I wouldn’t talk about it again for a few days, but I realise that I’ll end up using it as a weapon. When I do talk about our past and she says ” you always go on about it”, I’ll be able to go. Ha! I didn’t talk about it for x number of days. Not good, not good at all.

So I have to find some way to pour the black venom and bile down a drain and leave it be.

Also, there needs to be some way to put the energy back into the relationship, not just for me and not just for my wife but for the children too.

I’m not so sure this time, how to put some vigour back into things. Somehow we’lk fibd a way.

I hope this is the last worse Christmas we have.

Today at half past Eleven we received a Christmas hamper from social services.

How far can a family sink?

Since my last pist things have got worst for us. I started this blog 18 months ago to try to talk about the ways and means of getting my family our of a mire.

Well all I can say is that I have failed spectacularly.

Last Christmas we were very short of cash, having cleared loads of debts, but my wife had a good job at the FT so there was light at the end of the tunnel. This year neither of us have jobs, I’ve had a monster stress and anxiety nervous breakdown and my wife is now getting treatment for her alcohol dependency.

We moved city in August, no longer am I a Londoner, someone who lives in the greatest Alpha city on the planet (sorry, New York, Tokyo), I’m now in a south coast sea side town.

We did this because my wife couldn’t deal with the case workers in London who were at her about her alcoholism. So we ran away from London, rather than do what I wanted which was to face it and deal with it.

So here we are. We now live in a town that is half the population density of my London borough.

Since we moved here her drinking escalated to such an unmanagagble point, that she was staggering around screaming, shouting and raving like a deranged alcoholic. She was a danger, to herself, her children and anyone around her.

She was basically one small step away from drano.

It hasn’t been nice, of course it’s all my fault, I’m either too angry about her drinking, or I don’t care enough, or well, what ever. Anyone who has lived with an alcoholic knows the score. Those of you who haven’t, or who are in denial, who are alcoholics themselves, the best way to describe it is watching a psychological horror movie that never ends. Your constantly tense and on edge.

Well, I’ve lost two jobs since I’ve been here because if that  I’ve broken down and I’m on mirtazapine.

In 7 days 2016 starts. From Rosh Hashana to now it been the worst ever.

Here’s a photo of my “Darling Wife” at her worst. Just prior to this she was staggering around rambling incoherently before collapsing on the floor.

image

She is an absolute shameful disgrace when pissed up.

Three years ago I worked for a grand old Financial Institution, A one minute walk from Lloyd’s of London. I worked with Brokers, Trades, Underwriters and my favourites Actuaries.

Then my wife’s little indiscretions mounted, drinking and debt, they’d catch up with her and she’d dump the problem in my lap. Well, she didn’t really, she’d just never do anything about it.

I struggled paying for the school, I struggled paying the debts, I struggled with poor childcare (we had one nanny who would drug the children as I later found out).

Each time I was left on my own, the messes that my dear wife got us into, she’d walk away from and drink more.

It became too much, one day I punched my wife squarely in the face, because she was drunk and wouldn’t listen to me. I’d only just payed off around 6K of her debts, which she wouldn’t help with at all. The help I asked for was just for her to list all her creditors, which she just wouldn’t do.

During this period as well she was becoming arrogant about her career, how she was earning more than me. So I think you can see why I became so dismayed about things. On one side it felt like she was rubbing my nose in it, on the other I was having to pay for all the debt the spun up. And she continued to drink,

Of course I’d hit her by this point, I’d been arrested, I pleaded guilty to assault because it was true. I had assaulted her.

I was quite fortunate with the police, because I was of good character, no previous charges, my employer and that I showed remorse, I held myself accountable and that they felt there was extenuating circumstances, they mitigated the charge, it was reduced from Grievous Bodily Harm (yes, the punch was that bad) to common assault and I was released with a caution.

But from that point on, when ever I became angry at my wife’s poor behaviours and excessive drinking, she’d threaten to call the police.

A second incident occurred, she got pissed up and called the police, again another night in the cells. This time the police found no evidence of wrong doing in my part, but warned me none the less.

I lost my job and became a stay at home dad, that was three Christmases ago. I worked hard looking after the girls, making sure that the messes that had happened were fixed. Found them a good state school, pulled them from fee paying school, got play therapists for them, started turning things around.

During all this my wife’s drinking went underground, she’d gone to a rehab unit where the other patients showed her how to hide drinking. Just after the second Christmas, she broke her arm. Yes, she’d been drinking when she got on a skateboard. Rather than call the ambulance straight away, she waited trying to contact me. I suspect it was part in parcel of wanting the alcohol to be processed and appear less pissed.

After that I swore we’d never have a bad Christmas, yet here we are.

A care package from social services, sitting in our cupboards, Christmas presents for the children courtesy of social services.

Every criticism you could level at this situation, I’ve already levelled at myself.

Here I am on Christmas eve, being visited by the ghosts of Christmas past and present. This time the ghost of Christmas future isn’t here.

I guess in many ways my life to date us a recipe to be a man who chooses to go his own way. Or an argument for the MRA-ers to say the this is a shining example of why men’s rights are needed.

Well to both, or anyone who wants to tut-tut-tut at this Springer-esque lifestyle, it happened, where as I don’t like my wife personally, I don’t bear her any grudge (even though I sound like I do) because everyone make mistakes, its how we pick up the prices afterwards and move forwards with our lives that makes a difference.

I’m glad that the ghost of Christmas future hadn’t visited, life at the moment is like AA, one day at a time. Perhas that’s what the spirit of future Christmases is for, for life-aholics who need to take it one step at a time to get through life at all.

More anxiety, drinking in a family home

I’m not having a good morning when it comes to anxious thoughts. DW, my wife, drinking is slowly escalating again, presently she’s consuming 10 to 14 units of alcohol on average per evening. That’s between five to seven pints of lager or a half bottle of vodka.

Over a week, that ends up as around 70 units, over a month 300 units, over a year 35,00 units. At an average cost of 20p per unit for over the counter shop retail prices that’s £700 a year (thank fuck! she’s not a pub or wine bar drinker as you could quadruple that cost).

Fuck me that’s a lot of money. Add in the smoking too, that adds a further £2500 per annum, that’s around £3000 (I’m being generous by rounding down costs) up in smoke and down the toilet every year. Throw in inflation and tax increases, that’s an annual retirement savings plan.

Brilliant, I’ve just given myself money anxieties as well as health and alcohol misuse anxiety.

Today I must stop thinking. 

I’m really not getting social anxiety or more to the point I haven’t got it

Social Anxiety (intense nervousness) and self-consciousness arise from a fear of being closely watched, judged, and criticised by others.

Its the last part of that sentence above that annoys me because if we added one word and removed another it would massively change the concept for the better. First, remove the word fear. Then add the word positively, at the end. So we would then have this:

being closely watched, judged, and criticised by others

positively.

So, maybe we could work towards Social Serenity, a feeling of being closely, judged and criticised watched by others in a positive fashion.

Wouldn’t that be a marvellous thing to have. Mostly no one notices other people now-a-days and its often our own minds that are convincing us that people are talking about us. Most people don’t give a shit and quickly forget that you had funny hair or outlandish clothes. Most people don’t notice the old guy sitting in a doorway alone, in the cold with no food or home.

Most people don’t notice the elderly lady  living alone eating every three days and wrapping herself in old newspapers to keep warm. So why do you thing they notice you because your having a struggle coming to terms with your own issues. Its you projecting your own anxiety at yourself onto those around you and thinking that they actually give enough of a shit to criticise and those who do criticise are doing it to hide their own demons by making a song and dance about you.

You don’t need to be strong to solve this, just be yourself by being yourself and be with yourself. If someone is being in your face about it, think to yourself, soon it will be over then I can be myself again with out this.

I know anxiety is a difficult thing I’ve been clinically treated for it, I realise that many will be offended by what I’ve said but all I can wish for is that you find a way to manage it. Alcohol, illicit drug and prescription drugs aren’t the cure, you have the cure with in yourself and I hope you find it.