How Many Times to Forgive

Christ Forgives AlcoholicsIt seems that when we live in a life filled with active drug and alcohol use, there are times when it’s hard to forgive the alcoholic. At one point in my life the pain of the continued let downs by the problem drinker got so intense that I wondered: “how on earth will I ever get over some of the things happening? The good news for me was that I loved the person so much that it was very difficult for me to hold on to a grudge for very long. I do recall at one point having to desperately seek God to help me let go of the anger I was dealing with at the time.

Sadly enough, many family members do hold on to things that they should have let go of a long time ago. When we choose to not forgive the alcoholic there’s a ripple effect that happens throughout the entire family. A root of bitterness is allowed to grow deeper and become what is known as a stronghold in our lives. When this happens, one fall out between a brother and sister could cause many people to be effected, especially if the two of them have children. The bitterness works its way into the lives of everyone interconnected in the family.

Forgiving An AlcoholicI personally think that adopting the teaching from Jesus on this subject of how many times should we forgive an alcoholic would be a good idea for the entire world. When Jesus was asked how many times that we should forgive, he replied: “seventy times seven.” That doesn’t leave any room for unforgiveness.

We must start each day new and fresh by letting go of hurts from the past and looking forward to enjoying the moments in the day we are living in. When we learn how to forgive an alcoholic in this manner, we can live a life free of guilt and shame. Listen, life is full of let-downs and hurts. We are no exception to the rule when it comes to failing in the sight of others. So, who do we think we are holding a grudge against another person for extended periods of time? This is a great article: Expressing Kindness To An Alcoholic

You may be thinking: “but you don’t know what the alcoholic did?” Get over it and forgive them. It’s much better for you and them if you put forth the effort to try and live at peace with them for another day. Listen, no one ever said that loving another person was going to be easy.

One of the ways we can express unconditional love to an alcoholic is through letting go of the wrongs they have done. It’s possible to forgive and love the problem drinker and not interact with them all of the time.

Alcoholic WomanThis is a great quote: “Letting go of negative people does not mean I hate them, it just means I love me.”

So that’s my view on how many times we must forgive an alcoholic. My answer to the question is all of the time… By doing so, we can eliminate resentment and rejection in many peoples lives. We are responsible for our own behavior, why not keep the slat clean by living a life filled with forgiveness.


28 comments to How Many Times to Forgive

  • Silvia

    I know you are probably right on forgiving the alcoholic, but in my heart it seems so unfair that they get to do whatever they want whenever and hurt our feelings constantly without any consequences.

    My alcoholic boyfriend and I just had a baby, she’s now 3 months old and the reason of my life. He thought this baby was going to make him want to be the best himself he could ever be. But the truth was disappointing. I had a horrible pregnancy. He ran off constantly at night, come home drunk and high only to verbally abuse me and upset me so bad that I got physically sick many times. His mom suggested to stay with them until the baby was born and I thought maybe with his parents around he would refrain from screaming at me, but his mom had to constantly intervene to stop the fights. He ran off again, crashed his dad’s car, got a DUI and spent 3000 usd to pay the lawyer while blaming me for everything, threatened to hide our passports, threatened to get me deported and take the baby away within less than one month of the child’s birth. I managed to find the passports while he was passed out and catch my flight to Mexico on time before my visa expired. Now I’m crashing at my parents without a job, money and with a small baby. That was a month ago and He has called several times a day every day asking me when am I going back because he misses us. He acts like nothing happened. I just don’t know how to manage this. I don’t want the baby to not see her father, but I’m even more afraid of him breaking her hearth eventually. (I would never forgive him breaking her hearth).



  • BIll

    Hi Silvia, so sorry to here you are going through a rough time in life. Congratulations on the baby, you must be experiencing “LOVE” like never before.

    You might want to take some time and read this article and go through some of the comments below it:

    http://alcoholicsfriend.com/2010/07/detaching-alcoholic/

    Keep in touch in this website. There’s a community of people here who are willing to help.

  • BIll

    Hey, forgot to ask you. Has anyone suggest that you try going to Al-anon?

  • Silvia

    Thanks for reading me Blll. I am still ashamed of admitting to my parents they were right about the bad guy and I told you so. But now that I feel safe and more calm I’m willing to seek help. Like airplanes you need to put your oxigen mask first before helping anyone else. And you are right my baby’s love is pure and has become the light in my life.

  • Amanda

    So great that you have your baby as a positive thing in your life. This is all good and works for the best in the long run. Your boyfriend is sick and has an illness that you cannot cure. Only he can with help. Focus on your darling baby and yourself. Forgiveness is for your mental health and not his.

  • Sandra

    My boyfriend seems to get angry or anxious a lot and if we fight (and even when we dont) he ends up leaving coming home the next morning very drunk. It happens every 2 weeks approx. Then he blames me for the situation. Is he an alcoholic?
    It affects we so much i have become obsessed and anxious with him and the situation.

  • Amanda

    He may be dealing with anger management issues and using alcohol as a way to lower his stress level. Can you discuss his feelings when he is angry and stay neutral while he is vocal and listen without getting defensive?

  • Sandra

    He wont speak when he is angry at all…it happens similar to this…i ask him any questions about anything even simple like hows your day who did you go for coffee with…he starts screaming that its none of my business and why do i need to know who he had coffee with then he storms out gets drunk…or i may answer the phone too friendly and ill get accused of cheating and he storms out. Sometimes he is just anxious and says hes going for a walk and never comes back..it then became a cycle..i will anticipate it and get scared he will not coming home and i get anxious which he senses and he then blames me when he doesnt come home all night. The end result is the same he comes home 8 to 10 hours later very drunk. I dont know how to handle it or what to say or do but its affecting me so much. I know everyone says leave him and mmove on but maybe im stupid i dont know…he seems to be suffering and i love him but its impacting me a lot

  • Amanda

    I think he is definitely suffering and is ill. Can you talk to a professional about these symptoms and how best you can deal with it for him as well as yourself? It’s hard not to take this behavior personally but I believe that his behavior is not intentionally trying to hurt you.

  • Sandra

    Thanks amanda…im definetly going to try

  • I am 71 and have been married to an alcoholic for 50 years he has put myself and family through troubled times and I wish I could leave but due to financial reasons I cannot. My biggest issue now is my 47 year old son who is also an alcoholic. He has lost his wife and beautiful house, his daughter although he has supervised visits, his job and now his license. He cycles going 5-7 days sober than the same drunk. He calls me constantly when drunk and do not argue with him. He does go to meetings and I thought he was doing better but even goes to meetings drunk. I have been going to alanon and it helps but I am so done with all of it. I am aware of the role I should and should not play in his life and find now I really don’t want to deal anymore. I have no one to rely on.

  • Tess

    Hi Sylvia

    You poor poor soul. Here’s your sister (I don’t have a baby but I know we both deserve so much better).

    Going to alanon will show you how many people have had very traumatic childhoods and relationships because of alcoholics. The reason he drinks and blames you is because he is guilty about his drinking and needs to have an argument to make him feel ok about his drinking. That is why they are so argumentative. It is easier said that done but you are better off not to argue with him. It enables there behaviour. This does not mean that you have to accept unacceptable behaviour.

    i have been bitten, kicked, psychologically and sexually abused. Yet I still love him. However, he has been admitted to psychiatric care. Was allowed out for a weekend and you can guess what he has done. The vodka wins it always will.

    Last January I was supposed to be going to Paris with him on a break. On the way to the airport, cases packed, passports checked etc. he rang me in the car and said turn back you are too good for me. It broke me. Eventually he wore me down and promised he wouldn’t drink again. He didn’t for six weeks. Then it started again.

    In June we went to Madrid. Was a nightmare. He disapeared and eventually I found him in the airport, queuing for the wrong plane. I saw him home safely.

    In October he went to the doctor. He admitted he had a problem and he needed treatment.

    He was taken into psychiatric care in December and he has been allowed home this weekend. He lives with his mother. He text me last night too tired to talk. Talk tomorrow. We were meant to be celebrating his sobriety and doing something really special this weekend. Again its all my fault – he has started drinking again. This is his fifth time in treatment.

    I am in a vicious circle. I know he wants to be sober and has sought the help. Thing is its not working and I am the receiver of his bad behaviour.

    This is one thing that I think you should know. You and your baby are more important. I think its time for you. You will get back on your feet again, but you have to do this yourself. I read ‘codependant no more by melanie beattie. I have a leaflet alanon gave to me when my bf didn’t travel to paris with me and I will post its contents for you. This has nearly broken me. After two years of endless forgiveness I don’t think I can do it anymore. I do love him, but its more about me now I think and my happiness.

  • Tess

    Contents of the Alanon Detachment leaflet I was given if it helps

    Detachment is neither kind nor unkind. it does not imply judgement or condemnation of the person or situation from which we are detaching. Separating ourselves from the adverse effects of another person’s alcoholism can be a means of detaching: this does not necessarily require physical separation. Detachment can help us look at our situations realistically and objectively.

    Alcoholism is a family disease. Living with the effects of someone else’s drinking is too devastating for most people to bear without help.

    In Al-Anon we learn nothing we say or do can cause or stop someone else’s drinking. We are not responsible for another person’s disease or recovery from it (We can still love the person without liking the behaviour).

    Detachment allows us to let go of our obsession with another’s behaviour and begin to lead happier and more manageable lives, lives with dignity and rights, lives guided by a power greater than ourselves.

    In Al-Anon We learn

    -Not to suffer because of the actions or reactions of other people
    -Not to allow ourselves to be used or abused by others in the interest of another’s recovery;
    -Not to do for others what they can do for themselves;
    -Not to manipulate situations so others will eat, go to bed, get up, pay bills, not drink, or behave as we see fit;
    -Not to cover up for another’s mistakes or misdeeds;
    -Not to create a crisis;
    -Not to prevent a crisis if it is in the natural course of events.

    By learning to focus on ourselves, our attitudes and our well-being improve. We allow the alcoholics of our lives to experience the consequences of their own actions.

  • R.D.

    Silvia, I think you did the right thing leaving. Don’t fall for false promises or declarations of love and change. My exbf has sucked me in with that so many times only turn around and do the exact same thing all over again: drink, lie, cheat, spend all his time with others getting drunk and being emotionally abusive towards me. EVERY SINGLE TIME. This time, even though we live in the same area I’m determined to never spend time with him again until he gets into treatment for both his alcoholism and mental health problems and has at least 3 months sober in AA. He probably won’t do it but that rule still works in my favor because it will protect me from being hurt by lies again. It takes a lot of determination and will to change. The way I see it, if he’s serious about it, he can prove it FIRST this time. No more ‘buy now/pay later.’

  • Im so sorry for all your pain. Focus on the positive in your life. You have your baby!!!

    It is such a sickness that affects so many peoples lives not just the addict. I believe we must keep in mind that it is a disease but we also have to look out for ourselves and our loved ones. Draw the line and do not back off. Although it may seem cruel, you may actually be saving his life and more importantly yours and your babys!

    Big hugs.

  • Jill

    It’s not yours to fix! I can tell you’re a very bright young lady. Your responsibility is to yourself and your child, not him. Your both better off without him… unless you want to expose your child to a daily hell because you think some how some way you can fix or change him.
    Live a beautiful life of love, great adventures, and an unbreakable bond with your child (there is your actual gift from the relationship) and don’t look back.
    There are a lot of YouTube videos on co-dependence, no contact, Al-anon, narcissistic behavior etc. that have really helped me love myself more then the alcoholic and his validation. Educate yourself!
    Love to you dear one,
    Jill

  • Tess

    Wow thanks Jill. I just watched a very good video on co-dependence and I am going to watch even more. You are a star.

  • Brenda

    After a while forgiving an alcoholic just becomes a way of enabling him to continue with his stinking behaviour. Run from this situation as fast as you can. If he grows up and gets off alcoholic and joins AA maybe there would be a chance to have a normal life. Otherwise, I beg you move on as fast as you can and ask God for the strength to get you through and he will. God helped me and he can help you too.

  • Laurie

    We try to win a battle by fixing what is not ours to fix,so we are trying to win a battle we will never win.Its the alcoholics battle.By continuing to do all we do we are robbing the alcoholic of their victories. Its not fair!!The disease is not fair,life is not fair.Who are we to punish alcoholics? They punish themselves enough. All we can do is gocus on ourselves,learn tools & learn to love the alcoholic unconditionally. I accept people the way they are. I dont try and mould people into what i think they should be. Al-Anon can help you.

  • Silvia

    Thanks Blll and Tess for all the info on detachment that is another light on.
    Sandra start reading girlfriend this is a long slow process. I’ve been a slow learner I came across this website during a crisis, I was fighting with my drunk boyfriend and crying nonstop feeling like crap and I saw jc on a youtube video talking about how to avoid fighting, he talked about his experience and verbal abuse and other many similar things that were happening to me as well and making me feel guilty and sad and ugly and terrible!!! I started doing those things and it worked!!! Only when things got better I really thought wualla! Problem solved. We did it. Of course the honeymoon said last a long time and I found myself in crisis forgetting all about this site for a year I saw emails and totally ignored them because “I had no time” in the minute that I looked again I found new material to work with and wonderful people who understood and helped. I understand it’s a process and a long way to go.
    Amanda,Maguie, Jill,Brenda,Laurie, thanks for your support it means a lot to have kindness.RJudy Ferrell, R.D. sorry about your pain and thank for sharing your story, there is always many things that we can learn from each othes experiences.

  • Gaynor

    Oh!, I have forgiven and forgotten , for 23 years now. I’ve been through it, mostly verbal, heart breaking words, that really weaken my spirit. Its is an emotional rollercoaster ride. I wake up everyday hoping that today holds the possibility of a miracle. I’ve done the works, spoken to the minister, hidden the bottle, poured some out, put Epsom salts in etc etc etc. I have pleaded , begged, scream and thrown my toys out of the cot many times. He has also committed around three times before to quit, but only to default.
    With hind site I am sure he was like that before I even married him. I have such a wonderful husband, intelligent , hard working, almost perfect, but only one flaw. I don’t exactly know why he does it. Its like he is constantly challenging me to pack and leave. I am also not sure what kind of childhood he had and if it is what is affecting him. It’s like a personality change, a whole different person that he becomes.

  • Tina

    I do feel sorry for alcoholics because it is a terrible disease but the best way you can probably help your boyfriend is to leave him. He may hit rock bottom and go to rehab. The only problem with rehab is that isnt a forever fix on this damn disease. The alcoholic has to want it bad because it is a struggle every minute of their life.

  • Adri

    Gaynor, I might as well copy and paste your story and make it my own!! And I think all the partners of alcoholics may say the same. I’ve been married for 38 years now, with the same verbal abuse etc. What gets to me is when he lies and think I must believe him. I catch him being unfaithful to me and then he would just say it is not true, even if I have proof!! I am never allowed to talk about his problem with him. He also refuse any help – will do it his own way – which never worked before. He went for treatment once but did it for all the wrong reasons. Needles to say: it did not work. The Good Lord have been looking after me and hold me tight all these years. For the past 2 years, I just feel like I can break down any minute and just don’t have the strength to carry on. But every time the Lord just takes my hand and keep me going. I got myself a hobby (baking nice cakes for kiddies) and I just enjoy every minute of it. If I cannot make my husband happy, I can at least make the hearts of kiddies happy and it keeps me happy while playing with the decorations. The word “forgive” does not exist in my vocabulary any more as he does not deserve it. Sorry but it is true. At this stage my biggest fear is that he is financially going to ruin us with his gambling, money spending ….. I will go down with him if I don’t do something. But unfortunately I cannot do anything – my hands are tied. I am desperately looking for a way “out” of this situation. At my age I will never get a job to support myself and do the things I am used to. Good luck to all the woman out there in the same situation. For those of you that got out – good for you!! – as they will never ever change.

  • AM

    It has been 7months since I have spoken to someone who was in my life for nearly 8 years. After all the wonderful things I did to help him and his family, he stopped talking to me. Never told his son and he lied to his daughter what happened. Went to a restaurant that we frequented and lied to the waitresses. In retrospect, the lies and manipulation……. he lied to everyone. As my sister said…. he likes the bottle more than anything. Turned my world upside down. I almost had a breakdown. Still praying and God’s love and the support of wonderful friends has helped me. I took off the rose colored glasses and am trying to share myself with me and those who love me for me. I did make attempts to contact this alcoholic. He ignored them . he is despicable.

  • We all share basically the same story. Our heart break over loving an addict is an emotional experience like no other. I am so glad I found this site as knowing others have experienced the same has helped me to realize I am not crazy and it was okay to finally say “enough” and claim my life back. I will akways love him from afar and pray for him every day and help him if and when he ever reached out for help.

  • Silvia

    It’s been 2 months since I moved to my parents house and they have given me and my 4 month old baby a lot of love. It’s weird to have this feeling of taking advantage of them because of what they give me and pamper us. It makes me ask myself how sick am I to feel I’m getting to much love and I don’t deserve such a royal treatment.
    My ahbf has been calling several times a day every day, most times he cries and says he can’t bare being alone and he needs to see his baby (i believe him)back to desire to change or be better( don’t believe this) when I said no it turns ugly, verbal abuse starts and he even got to the point where he treathened to take me to court and take the child away. Of course that was huge for me. I’m not sure if he’ll ever do it but it destroyed any trust I had left and hurt me to the core. I’m freaking out and probably won’t return to USA until I get double nationality. Crazy dude is screaming that he has the right to see the baby because he sends money (160 usd total to be precise for 2 months). Hello do you know how much diapers are? He says he is broke after paying his lawyer to help with his DUI. But he goes out every otherday with his friends or who knows!! In the meantime I’m thankful to the mexican government for providing free medical for my baby even tough she is American. Today he called, he was very nice and said he got money so he is moving to Mexico and made plans to rent a nice house, buy a car and pay for my flight. Like nothing happened. He says he is truly willing to make our family work and will spend all his money if he has to. Said everything I want to hear and I believe him. He will do it until he won’t. He will drink again or get mad because he is dry and will be mean again. Only this time the baby will be there too. And I will be alone cause he wants me to leave my family and move to another city. Make the math alone, without a job, money, with a baby. I’m signing my slavery. And he doesn’t accept he is sick, “there is no rehab” he says. The problem is I feel guilty of saying no. Because that means he won’t see his daughter and I don’t think is fair either. I pray God please give me an answer to this hard situation. Whatever is best for everyone. Please change his hearth. Please give me strength to stay away from violence and pain. Please keep my baby safe and put the right words in my mouth.

  • Tina

    He will not change unless he stops drinking. PERIOD

  • Tess

    Hi there

    Listen stay strong. Don’t take his calls anymore. He’s trying to emotionally manipulate you to get what he wants. You need to do what it the right thing now as a parent. Protect your child. I do agree he has a right to see his child if he is a responsible, hard-working, sober human being. If he is engaging in addictive behaviors then you can’t expose your baby to that (begging you not to). Tell him if he wants to see his child he can, but you can’t allow him to see the child while is drinking. Leave it up to him – your the one who is the better parent for this child at the moment. My partner went into treatment before Christmas. He is now sober but he’s unbelievable – like an antichrist. I have been ringing / texting no response what so ever. I think we need to be strong and focus on doing well for ourselves.

    Silvia my heart goes out to you but count your blessings. I have no baby. I wanted one but can’t have one. You have a beautiful baby who will love you unconditionally. Perhaps in time he will sort himself out. But until he does you need to be a mother to your own child and protect yourself – keep yourself strong so you can be the mother your baby needs. And your folks. You are lucky to have them. Bless you all xx

    Tess

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