you are not the same human

from my inbox:

MrB (day 2): “Finally had a long talk and discussion with the husband. It turns out he is very concerned about his own drinking and also wants to stop, which is why he instituted a dry January on his own. It’s so interesting because I always felt under his microscope, that he was watching my consumption, when in reality, he was, but he was comparing it to his own. He eventually got to more than a bottle of red more than 4 nights a week, and it’s just time. Alcoholism runs in his family and he has vowed (very scared) never to become his father (who is drunk every day by 10 a.m.).

It is thrilling and, selfishly, comforting to know I am not alone. It’s also a huge relief now that none of our social plans will involve drinking for a long while. It’s movies and book club versus parties, etc. So, I have a resource, a sounding board, a partner in crime as it were.

But here is the bad part … he has now, for 11 days, quit drinking, quit smoking, started to exercise regularly again, and is eating healthy and vegetarian again. It is simply remarkable and totally infuriating. It hits all my shame gremlins. Now, granted, he is sleeping a lot and essentially just surviving (he is supposed to be looking for work to take some of the pressure off of me, but that’s another story), but still, he’s doing it and it’s inspirational.

It’s inspirational and yet causing me great resentment at the same time. Because it’s just hard for me to flip a 100% switch. I have GAD and I’m a Libra – all or nothing is a disaster for me. With my anxiety, I can’t stop thinking most of the time, and quitting all three of my vices at once makes the voices in my head become a chorus of doubt and panic. The desire is there – I want to be rid of my booze and cigarettes, for me (yes, for my kids etc., but for ME too). To be free, for my health, my sanity, and just to spend time actually figuring out who I am and what I want out of life, without numbing. But I know I can’t do this all at once like he does. Plus I have to survive my stress at work …

It’s so infuriating to me that I have resentment towards him for this. WTF?”

me: it is very common for people in the very early days of sobriety to feel pissed at everyone and everything. we all feel resentful and raw and shitty and irritated. it could be your partner, but if it wasn’t him you’d be irritated with someone or something else. we can always find something EXTERNAL to us to be irritated with.

here’s the truth. you being sober is about you. it’s about no one else. what your husband does or doesn’t do has nothing to do with your sobriety. if you have anxiety issues, you will be taking good medication, seeing a psychiatrist once a year for dosage adjustments, and doing some mentoring with a sober coach. Your husband is doing his own thing, and it has nothing to do with you.

you can feel ashamed if you like, but here’s the thing: you are not the same human. you are not him. you are you.

and you focussing on him is you NOT focussing on you.

being sober isn’t something you think yourself into. it’s something that requires supports and tools and external things. you will want to add some of those. it’s time to try different. it’s not about trying harder. you’ve done harder. you’ve done thinking too much. it’s time to try something else now … hugs


I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • Hi there! i’ve been lurking for a while so really just wanted to check in, and finally come out of the lurking closet. Great advice as i’ve read in your other posts, and so so true to. I’m on day 9 and have spent a fair bit of the time a moody shit. I’m moments of brilliance too, just no pacience and i also seem to get down at nothing. Anyway, i hope to comment more now i’ve started!

  • This post helped me a lot. I was behaving opposite. A friend of mine attempting dry january told me she had wine on the plane when she left town the other day. She bitches and complains ALL the time about how she wants to stop drinking because it’s ruining her business and relationship. I was so fucking mad and felt like yelling “why did you do that? why? I am surviving, can’t you see it’s doable? stop being so weak and man the fuck up” and then i stopped and was like holy SHIT who is this about!?!?!?!!?!? I feel like a huge A-hole. Thank you for this post, it is very helpful and clearly in various perspectives. thank you. Her and I are not the same human and that is more than okay.

    • JamieK, well said! I can so relate! The same thoughts have gone through my head, “Man the Fuck UP!” Thanks for this. Now I will try to picture a giant mirror in front of my face, when I say this in my head.

  • This is an issue for me as well. My husband was going to do dry January because he reminds me constantly that he doesn’t have a problem. He started it and as soon as we were invited to a dinner party, Dry January was out the window. It’s funny, my mojo comes back when I string together some sobriety and I don’t think it always goes over so well. I don’t become a “yes” woman out of guilt, and I speak my mind with confidence. It takes a while to settle on to our new dynamic. It’s usually when my husband wants me to drink.

  • I live in the US. My son-in-law sees his psychiatrist once a year, to talk and get his prescription refilled for the year. Everyone is different and their level of need is different. Calm down.

  • I constantly have to work on not reacting to my husband. He can suck the joy out of my life quicker than anyone. He doesn’t drink and never has. I remind myself that he married me when I was a drunk for a reason. My drinking left him wide open to be selfish and inconsiderate—-which are fundamental aspects of his personality. I’m the one who changed, not him.

    P.S. If there are psychiatrists in other countries who offer this kind of treatment for anxiety disorders, then it sux to be crazy in the USA. We have no medications or psychiatric treatment programs that resemble the annual one described.

    • I think it does vary widely. In Canada we could see a psychiatrist for free (with a referral) and they really do a much better job with medications than a GP can (this is, of course, my opinion, and i am not a specialist about anything). In France, too, i could see someone tomorrow if i wanted to. Medications, once they’re worked out, are more stable. but certainly to begin, it can take a LOT of tweaking and biweekly or monthly visits to find something that works. I wonder if more people don’t try this route, because they think it’ll take too long… and instead have self-diagnosed or worry about telling someone the truth of their situation.

      The other thing with my response to MrB, is that it was directed to him, not to the world. I know him, somewhat, and his situation. I clearly am not equipped to make specific statements about anything.

    • I hear ya Wanda, same with me. I drank when he met and married me. It wasn’t a secret. I am seeing a side of him that isn’t quite so pretty now that the fog has lifted. My not drinking has exposed his dark side and he’s not quite so pleased about that. Even though he wasn’t happy with me drinking either. Guess he’s just not happy. Hmmm. Guess it really doesn’t have anything to do with me at all, HE has his own set of issues. Saying that please realize that I know I have to work on allowing him to work on his issues and butting out. We can really only fix ourselves.

  • If you’re considering Alanon and you have a drinking problem, you MAY want to consider going to an AA meeting …

    We CANNOT think our way into right action, we MUST act our way into right thinking …

    Belle, you often disclaim that you are not a therapist,consider adding psychiatrist to it.

  • Congratulations on both wanting to get the alcohol out of your life and for reaching out. I’d just stick to tackling one addiction right now – alcohol – and worry about the others later. If you can get more comfortable with letting go of alcohol, it will show you that down the road anything is possible. And just think of all the folks around the world cheering you on right now!

  • MrB, for some context, I am doing the 100 day sober journey and my husband is not. Additionally, I eat a mostly vegan diet and my husband and daughter are carnivores. This is not a competion, and I agree with Belle you have to focus on YOU if you want to make any progress. Try flipping your viewpoint and consider yourself lucky. Lucky that you can make one meal to accommodate everyone, lucky that your husband isn’t clinking his ice cubes at you while you’re making tea, and lucky that he isn’t blowing smoke in your face while you’re having a nic fit. His doing well is a GOOD thing – embrace it! 🙂

  • I SO GET what you’re saying. Belle is 2000% right-this is about you only. Follow the steps to self-care. I’m throwing this out there…ever thought of Al-Anon? Helps with another’s drinking/behavior. Even if they stop. You’ll get there. I’m a Libra too. Get the voices. We’re an Air sign-all mind. Give yourself treats that are good for you and stay in the Now.

  • My sober thing is about me, not my husband or anyone else. I have to keep repeating this to myself. I get how frustrating that can be, Mr. B. I stopped drinking (quietly) 22 days ago. When I was 6 days in, my husband announced to me, the kids, my mom, that he was doing Dry January. After a couple days of it, I started guiltily wishing he would drink because he was so crabby all the time. Then a couple days later he did start drinking again without a word to anybody. Again I was mad. Now after several more days, I am just focusing on me and all the good things that being sober are doing for me. We haven’t talked about it and I am going out of my way to be nice and pleasant to him. I guess because I know how much it would suck to announce that and then not do it. I keep reminding myself that my sober thing is just about me. And I am happy to be awake and not hungover on this Sunday morning.

  • Surely you didn’t mean this the way it sounds “if you have anxiety issues, you will be taking good medication, seeing a psychiatrist once a year for dosage adjustments”— good medication???

    There is no “good medication” and there is no psychiatrist who sees patients once a year and writes them out a one-year prescription for good medication that makes everything okay for the next twelve months. Psych professionals see patients monthly and experiment with dosages and they charge thousands and thousands of dollars for this service.
    Stick with sober advice, Belle, because this bad psychiatric advice gives people false hope and misinformation about the efficacy of meds and the availability as well as the practice of psych professionals.

    • Perhaps this was to be taken as a whole, in the sense of you take care of yourself first, reach out for professional/medical help and so on, not to be taken literally, we all know there are no happy pill but do we ever wish there was!!!