Detaching From An Alcoholic


What are the ways of detaching from someone who drinks too much? Why would we want to detach form an alcoholic? How can I do this in love when I am so angry at them for being this way? Is loving them still possible after all they have done to me?

This particular subject unfolds into many various roads. I will shed some light and share suggestions on how to separate our emotions from being enmeshed with a problem drinker. Separating ourselves from the way they affect us takes time. It is a process of learning how to do things differently. We don’t really realize it at the time, but our entire lives get all interconnected with everything they are doing and it really affects our behaviors in damaging and negative ways.

Don’t Allow Them to Rent Space in Your Head

You may be thinking; “what does HE mean by that?” Obsessing over an alcoholic is our biggest problem in this situation. The constant looming thoughts in our heads are taking up precious space in our minds. With that being said, don’t allow them to rent space in your head. Find things to do which will change your focus. Read books, exercise, go to the movies or talk to a friend on the phone. Find things that will help your mind DETACH from thinking about them.

Learn to Take Care of Yourself

In the midst of your extremely busy life, learn how to take “out time” for yourself. The alcoholic may not like it that you are doing something to make your SELF happy. That’s OK… do it anyway! When they approach you afterward, just say; “I’m sorry you fell that way” and go into another room.

Understand that alcoholics keep us angry and anxious. We must do things for ourselves in the detachment process regardless of what they think about us. If you are a woman, get your hair and nails done. If you are a man go golfing, fishing or go for a walk. Taking time out to get a massage works really well for relieving stress. You can count on meeting resistance from them, but you have to start taking care of yourself regardless of what they think.

Detaching From What They Think

Because an alcoholic uses anger to try and control us, we must not get upset when they voice their disapproval of when we take care of ourselves. If you get involved with alcoholism support group meetings, the alcoholic will try to goof up your plans. They might say something like; “why are you going to those stupid meetings?” It’s possible they will try to create an argument with you just prior to you leaving for a meeting. It doesn’t matter what they say. Take care of yourself and make your support group meetings and recovery literature the most important part of your life.

Detaching From The Phone

You have a choice…you can either answer the phone or not answer it. You also have another choice. You can either listen to a message they have left you or delete it without listening. YOU DON’T HAVE TO LET THEM UPSET YOU ON THE PHONE. If they are getting out of hand, kindly say; “I’m going to hang up now. I’ll talk to you later.” Then gently hang up the phone. If they leave you nasty messages, don’t listen to them. If the start calling you repeatedly, don’t answer the phone. This is how we detach form the negative influences that an alcoholic has on our lives.

In a sense we are protecting our own emotional self.

How to Stop Arguing With an Alcoholic
Detaching from the old behaviors of arguing with them takes a while. You will have to learn how to keep your mouth shut. When you sense an argument is starting, tell them that you love them or really care about them and then say; “I don’t care to discuss this right now.” You can then go into a different room, close the door and read a book or watch TV. It doesn’t matter what you do…just find something to do other than to argue with them. Learning how to not fight with an alcoholic takes time. This is why it’s important to get involved in support-group meetings for friends and family of alcoholics.

Detaching from the way we have been doing things is a huge subject. We must learn how to separate ourselves from feelings of guilt and shame.

How To Enjoy More Peace and Serenity

  • We learn how to avoid getting into arguments.
  •  We stop getting into the car and driving around to try and find them.
  •  We quit snooping around in their stuff trying to find their stash.
  • We stop obsessing over the alcoholic’s behaviors.
  • We learn how to just get in bed and go to sleep when they aren’t home late at night.
  • We detach from confronting the lies.
  • We learn how to let go and let God deal with them.
  • We stop calling them to check up on them.

There are so many things effecting your life right now from the alcoholic’s behaviors that it’s going to take a while to learn how to do things differently. Little by little, “one day at a time” things will get better as you learn more about how to detach from an alcoholic.

When dealing with an alcoholic, learning loving detachment techniques is vitally important. As we grow in knowledge about alcoholism and how to handle dysfunctional situations better, we start understanding that enabling and detaching are very closely related.

As you continue reading you will learn various methods of separating yourself in a loving way from the destructive behaviors of someone else who is close in your life. These lessons can be applied to many different types of relationships.

The more co-dependent we are and enmeshed with someone, the harder it is to distinguish where we begin and they end. When they are happy, we also are happy. When they are angry our emotions are affected in a negative way as well. We can learn how to not flow with the mood swings of an alcoholic. It’s just going to take making a few changes and doing that “one day at a time.” Remember to go easy on yourself. These changes are all about making progress and not necessarily about doing everything perfectly. If you mess up, just start over.

Let me just trow out a few…

Suggestions That Will Help You Detach from an Alcoholic:

  • Get involved in Al-anon support group meetings. Al-anon is a great organization to try.
  • Read literature on the subject
  • Start developing friendships with people from your support-group meetings
  • Take notes during meetings
  • Start keeping a journal
  • Make this new lifestyle the number one priority in your life

Now here are a few…

Methods of Detaching From A Problem Drinker:

  • Kindly say, ” goodbye” and hang up the phone
  • Refuse to listen to phone messages after you hang up and they frantically call you over and-over again.
  • Quit investigating what they are doing
  • Read books or go visit with friends
  • Shut your mouth when you are angry at them and go into another room
  • Don’t look at them trying to figure out if they’ve been drinking
  • Get your own life by doing things you enjoy doing without them
  • Don’t allow them to rent space in your head,. Stop thinking about them all the time
  • Arguing with an alcoholic accomplishes nothing. Refuse to partake in the chaos
  • Let go of them completely and stop trying to control their behaviors
  • Go for walks
  • Talk on the phone to friends or relatives
  • Take up hobbies again

When We Start Detaching-We Stop Enabling.

This new way of acting will allow the alcoholic to suffer the consequences of their actions and also help them to reach their bottom. In separating ourselves from all of their drama, we in turn,  experience more peace and serenity in our own personal lives. Loving the alcoholic by letting go is the goal of this detachment process that we are learning about.

Separating ourselves as an individual in a co-dependent relationship takes time. As we continue attending alcoholism support group meetings and set goals to better our personal lives, it becomes easier to lovingly remove ourselves from the alcoholic’s behaviors. Being kind to an alcoholic will become easier as we learn how to love them differently. Again, this is not something that will happen overnight.

Avoiding The Sting
As time goes on, we begin to recognize the times in which associating with them would not be a good idea. As we continue to learn detachment methods, the sting of alcoholism occurs less frequently.  This works very much like hanging out around a bee hive. As long as you don’t stick your nose in the hive and keep a safe distance, you won’t get stung.

The hard part of detachment from an alcoholic is breaking habitual patterns that we have been doing for a long time. This “just takes time.”  I’ve heard it said:  “if you walk a hundred miles in the woods,  don’t expect to walk out in an hour.”  The same applies to being obsessed with an alcoholic. It takes time and effort to break free from our destructive behavior patterns that we have become accustomed to.

As we begin to detach more from all of their drama, we quit enabling them to depend upon us. It’s hard to do at first because we are so used to rescuing them from everything. When we quit rescuing them and let them suffer the consequences of their actions, we are less affected by their behaviors.

Detaching from an alcoholic means that we let go of them. It doesn’t mean that we quit loving or caring about them. We just learn how to mind our own business and start living our own lives as they continue to drink. Even though we may still get frustrated with an alcoholic, we will react differently  so that WE will remain more calm and experience greater levels of peace within ourselves.

Today-
Consider making a list of things that you enjoy doing and start doing them. This can help tremendously in the process of changing our focus.

The alcoholic may not like our changes in behavior, OH WELL! We have to be strong as we start doing things differently. This is why we need the support  of  support group meetings and of friends who know how to help us change.

Loving detachment from alcoholism means that we don’t make decisions based upon the alcoholic’s opinions, moods  or advice in relation to our life. We eventually begin to be hardly affected by their destructive behaviors, views and attitudes toward us.

Now …I know I’ve shared a lot in this session, but just remember to do the best that you can “one day at a time.”

Written By: JC

 

 


432 comments to Detaching From An Alcoholic

  • Pez

    Karma–should give you a little joy Julie21–LOL

  • Julie21

    :) Thanks for that thought, Pez.

  • K

    Hi all,

    Just wanted to say hello. It has been about 10 months since I ended the relationship with my alcoholic ex. It has not been an easy road. I moved to New York City to begin a new life for myself, to start fresh. In August I met a man who is the antithesis of my ex. My current boyfriend never yells, does not get drunk, rarely drinks, has a stable and well paying job, and treats me with love and respect. It is amazing how in the past, being with an alcoholic becomes normal and their behavior and your relationship with an alcoholic becomes accepted. My ex and I have not spoken in over 6 months and I am in a better place, having detached with love. Having said that, I still think of him and hope and pray he is doing okay. I am not his friend on Facebook any longer but can see his photos, and his life seems the same. It still makes me sad, because in my heart I know who can be. But being with someone who is a non-addict, someone mature and responsible with similar goals and values, it makes a world of difference in my life. I will always have love for my ex, but I detached with love for me. I hope you all are doing well, I appreciated the support of the people in this thread during and immediately after my relationship with my ex and I am so thankful for that support.

  • Julie21

    K, thank you for sharing your story. it gives me hope that there is a better life than one with an addict who does not want to help tehmselves. :) Godspeed!

  • Pez

    Hello everyone, Just an update on my situation. some know my story and some don’t. I have been broken up with my XAB for 8 months now as he has repeated his error in jumping back with the low-life woman after giving him another ultimatum may 2012. And the story is his life has repeated almost the same as the 1st time, it is amazing it is like a cycle. He has been arrested AGAIN for DV (domestic violence) with the same woman. He is in big time trouble now with 2 counts of DV, about 3 or 4 violation of probation (drinking), has gone through mandatory DV classes and 2 weeks in patient rehab in the last 2 years and they made no difference. He has lost his job, is forbidden to see his minor daughter due to her mental state due to his alcoholism, and the future he may loose his home if he remains in jail and can’t work (hasn’t been sentenced yet). He’s loosing everything.
    As for me I am doing well 8 months out. Every day every month I become more free. I have been keeping no contact but decided to write him a letter in jail that basicly told him that I hope he will have the courage to look at himself straight in the heart, that even though things look grim, with courage he can change his life around and to seek an experience with God cause he’s going to need it to get through all this destruction.
    I did this cause I fear he may kill himself if he gets out and he needs a relationship with his higher power to continue on. So all prayer for him would be appreciated. I no longer want him but I don’t want to hear a tragic story in the future, he has 3 beautiful kids that would be devastated. with detachment (physically and mentally) I have been able to pull myself clear of hurt and bitterness to compassion and concern. but still keeping distance.

  • Mike

    Thanks for the post.

    I am an alcoholic and my brother is an alcoholic too. I have been sober for 9 months going on ten. I attend AA meetings and try to remember and use what I learned in rehab 10 months ago.

    My brother “S” was sent to a hospital in a metropolitan area about two hours away from where we live, which is a smaller more rural community. He as attending AA meetings regularly. But, it seems like his mood changed in the past few days before he went to the hospital. He was irritable, angry, and made my mom and I feel like we were walking on eggshells. He stopped speaking to me for a couple of days. He took a day off from volunteering and didn’t go to a meeting. He then said he needed to go to the hospital. So, off to the ER he went, and then off to the city they shipped him. When we tried calling the ER in the city to find out what his condition was, and if we could speak to him, they told us that he told them not to give out any information. So we were in the dark. We got one text message saying they were doing some tests and not to worry. On the fourth day, we called and patient information said that he was just admitted. So, my guess is that they discharged him, he went out drinking, and ended up back in the ER.

    I am so sick of his pattern. I can see it coming. He starts acting bitchy and being an asshole. Controlling us with his anger. Then, he has a convenient excuse to start drinking. My mom and I have rescued him so many times. We even drove from NM to San Francisco CA (13 hours) several times because he was on the verge of death from drinking. It didn’t matter if we had to leave and not sleep for days, we got there, found him and brought him, nursed him back to health, only for him to start the pattern over again: relapse, sober up, work on it, act out, relapse, be rescued. He is such a selfish person.

    But I can see from this article that the best thing for me to do (I can’t even worry about my mother and how she is reacting) is to let it go. Just let it go and put it in my Higher Power’s hands. I cannot deal with him. I have myself and my own sobriety to consider. As much as I love him, I have to understand that I cannot control him or make him change, or make him “see the light”. He has to find his own way. Today, I will start to try to learn to detach from his drama and focus on my own well being and happiness.

    Thanks for the article.

  • Mary

    Hi Mike,

    I feel your pain. I watched one of my adult sons as alcoholism destroyed his life completely. Then he died driving drunk last May. His brother, who is 19 months older has broken all contact with me and is following his brother down the path of destruction.

    I have attended Al Anon and I attend AA. The pain of losing my son reawakened an urge to drink in me, so I became active in AA. I work the 12 steps. I am powerless over alcohol…for myself, and for my adult children. People have “free choice” and if they choose to drink there is not a thing I can do about it. (I put free choice in quotes because once alcohol took over my son’s life, his powers of reason deteriorated to the point where he was actually insane.) He did things and made choices that were totally off the wall. And this was a man with genius level intelligence and a doctorate level degree!

    The pain of losing my son has faded. I have slowly accepted the fact that my son’s time in this realm ended. I believe he is in a much better place in the next realm, free of the insanity of the disease of alcoholism. I still miss him, yet, what was to miss, really? Every day I got up and prayed he had not killed innocent people driving drunk.

    I have learned to live with an attitude of gratitude. I wake up now and I am thankful to have been granted another day on Planet Earth. I try to do the next right thing as it shows up in my life. I only have to live THIS ONE day. The past is over. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

    I wish you the best. It is a terrible thing to know that those we care about are destroying themselves, one drink at time. The only person we can “fix” is ourselves.

    Mary

  • Mike

    Mary,

    Thank for you sharing your story in your response.

    I think that is the hardest thing to do. To just let go and know that I am powerless of the alcoholism of others. I mean, if I am powerless over my own alcoholism, then there is no way that I can exert any power over another’s alcoholism. For years me and my mom have done all we can. Prayer. Support. Love. Trying to encourage counseling, talk-therapy, traditional indigenous medicine. And the rescuing! Always rescuing! Appeasing him and trying to satisfy him and make him happy. Its been going on for ten years. My mom continues to rescue him. Today, she drove to the city to try and find him. I told her not to go, to stay and let him be – he did, after all tell the hospital not to give anyone, including family, any information concerning his condition. I think as an alcoholic, I know his games and I know how the story is gonna play out. So, I have decided not to let myself get all worked up, running off to the city, investigating.

    Like your son, my brother is smart, went to Harvard, but alcoholism knows no bounds. It affects people regardless of race, class, gender, education etc. I think we have a better understanding of the alcoholic in our lives because we ourselves are alcoholics. My mom doesn’t know any of this so its hard for her to understand. She doesn’t understand the concept of the serenity prayer. Live ant let Live. Powerlessness. Not even the basic concept that alcoholism is a disease not a moral problem or something that can be addressed with more self-control or restraint. But we know these things, and it helps us to work through the situation when we have a someone close to us who is suffering from alcoholism.

    Well, I wish you the best too. THanks for the advise, and I will remember, that with respect to my mom, and with respect to my brother, I will only try and control those things that I can – myself and what I do. Everything else, I will leave in the hands of the Creator.

    M:ike

  • Mary

    Hi Mike,

    The rest of the family was in denial and remains that way. The enabling and rescuing was unbelievable. My now deceased son’s brother bailed him out of jail. His car tires became bald and one tire got a flat, so his dad bought new tires for the car! Someone bought him car insurance and supplied his phone with minutes. His dad gave him cash every week. I wrote to them all and told them my opinion that he was an alcoholic and that we all should go to Al Anon and detach, but it fell on deaf ears. He could never hit any type of decent bottom. His house was in the throes of foreclosure. The rest of the crew are all social drinkers and they all enable the demise of my other son. They are blind to how he is going downhill, but I can see it clearly. At least it won’t blindside ME! It makes me sick to think about it…so I don’t! I maintain my own sobriety and do the best I can to live a decent life, one day at a time. I did not think it could happen, but I have managed to find some type of serenity, peace, and at times, even happiness even though the rest of the family is the biggest mess of dysfunction imaginable! My ex-husband cut all contact with me and asked how it felt to have “alienated” the entire family! This is not actually true because I am still on good terms with my youngest son! (Actually it is very freeing to just admit that I DO NOT WANT to join these people in the sea of denial and rescuing!)

    Mary

  • NancyQ

    Mike, Thank you for sharing about the alcoholism. Hope the best for you, your brother and mother.
    I do have a question, it may not be received well, but.
    Outside of the problems that come along with the need to drink and I am not sure if you have done step 4 in AA yet.
    At the time you were angry, blaming (not for drinking but for just not being accountable for your own feelings,)did you know that you were being mean and insulting to the person you directed your frustration at (wife, daughter,son…). Did you know that the behavior would make the person not like you? Just trying to understand the thinking of an A. A friend of mine says that know they just don’t care about anyone but themselves.
    If anyone gets mad,I understand, it is rather direct question.

  • Mike

    Nancy,

    At the time I was drinking I did not realize what an asshole I was. I acted totally self-centered and still have to check myself. I still have the egotistical its all about me attitude. But, now that I have been in AA and now that I am learning about addiction, I can identify these behaviors and work on them.

    I’m not sure that I understand your question. There is no doubt that I have been guilty of being angry and blaming others for my addiction. To this day, I still have to check my resentments on a daily basis or else they get to me and lead me to want to drink again. Every day I deal with my mother and her problems and her issues, and it annoys me. Same with my brother. But I have to watch myself and not let it get to me. I’m sure that I get to them too – but again, that is not my problem, I can’t control how someone else reacts to me, but I can control how I react to others. And if they don’t like me, they don’t like me.

    I have done step four and I certainly do have my character flaws and defects. I am not perfect by any means. I have made the list, looked long and hard in the mirror and looked inward. And some of those things I probably will not be liked for. But I have tried to make amends where to do otherwise would not do harm, and that is all I can do and leave the rest with my creator. So, thanks for reminding me to have humility, that me, my brother, my mother – we are all human and we all have character defects and flaws. All I can do is work on my own and not become fixated on those of other and the effect it has on me.

    But, since this post is about detaching from alcoholics or addicts in our life, and being overly involved with my brothers problems is a character defect in and of itself, so this is something that I nave to work on.

    Mike

  • Mary

    Hi Nancy,
    As a mother who has lost a son to the disease and has another one caught up in it, and as an alcoholic myself, I can speak to your question. I am a black out drunk. I don’t pass out….I black out and don’t know what I do. That went on in my younger years. I somehow quit drinking but my selfish personality stayed the same. I was what they call a “dry” drunk…someone with the alcoholic personality, minus the alcohol. I was TOTALLY self centered. I had no idea the effect I had on others. I made choices that were not in my children’s best interests. I worked the 12 steps, mostly in AA. I have come to realize how selfish I used to be. I have learned that I can NOT afford to nurture a resentment because resentments set me up to return to drinking.

    I can see this play out as I watch my oldest son destroy himself. We USED to be close. Alcohol has destroyed his personality. The person he was 10 years ago would NEVER have cut off all contact with me at all, let alone after his brother died! Alcohol has made him totally self centered and all he cares about is surrounding himself with other people who drink and who will enable his drinking.

    I hope this helps you to understand. Alcoholics in their cups, or even sober but not working any type of a program, are very sick people who do not behave in a normal way. What a pathetic disease alcoholism is. With the help of my Higher Power and AA, I hope to live sober, one day at a time, doing the next right thing, for the rest of my days on the planet.

    Mary

  • NancyQ

    Mike and Mary THANK YOU so much for answering and being honest. Brings tears to my eyes. I have wanted to ask an recovering alcoholic this for a long time. Even thought about going in undercover to an AA meeting. lol
    Wish both of you the best.
    Mary, I have read that resentment is the number one offender for alcoholics and the reason for relapse. Do you think the resentments are from being selfish, from feeling mistreated or just from feeling. If you know what I mean.
    What a pathetic disease alcoholism is.
    I could not agree more…for everyone involved. Hope your son finds his way.

    FYI Mariel Hemingway has done a documentary
    about her families history of alcoholism and suicide. Oprah will air early 2014. Should be interesting. Thanks again

  • Mary

    Hi Nancy,

    You can go to an AA meeting that is a speakers meeting. I think I learned more in my AA meetings about how to cope with my alcoholic family members than I did in Al Anon.

    I never knew before AA that I had a “choice” about whether or not to develop a resentment. I just developed them. I had the most skewed way of thinking about everything. It was as if I were the “center” of everything and if it did not go the way I thought it should then it was the fault of all these other people who were not going along with my “script” about how they should act.

    In AA I have come to believe that people are all doing about the best they can. No matter how poorly they are acting, I try to think about the fact that this is the best they can do right now.

    I HAVE had some people tour through my life who really did behave badly. I used to think about their less than perfect actions. I thought about their defects A LOT! In fact, I obsessed about their shortcomings! I focused on how “unfair” it was that I had to deal with the fact that they had not treated me the way I thought I deserved to be treated. By doing all these things, I was actually fondling and developing my resentments. I just did not realize that I was engaging in a form of insanity. I had always done this. It was a deeply ingrained habit.

    I now examine my thought patterns. I am getting better at sorting out my thoughts. I now label thought patterns that cause me to develop and cherish a resentment as “emanations from the squirrel cage in my head.”

    My sponsor told me that to get rid of a resentment, I should begin to ask the Higher Power of my understanding to give to the person I resent…every good thing that I would want for myself. If I would like better health, better finances, more friends, more enjoyment…any good thing….then I should pray for this for the person towards whom I was working on a resentment. She said that it did not matter at first whether or not I “meant” it or “felt” it…I should just “do” it. And I was to continue doing it EVERY time I started with the resentment building pattern.

    It took about two weeks for a particularly strong resentment to diminish, but it finally did! The person in question is the same as ever, as far as I know. To my knowledge, that person is still behaving in the exact same ways as ever. (I haven’t seen the person but will see this person this week.) The person stayed the same. I changed. I had to.

    I really do believe that if I engage in resentments it will lead me back to drinking.

    Some dude got on the bus today. He was quite intoxicated. Before, I would have developed a resentment immediately. I actually think the driver had good reason to put the guy off the bus.

    I reminded myself that the “dude” was suffering from the same deadly illness that I have. I have a disease that wants me dead. I have thought patterns that, if followed, will kill me. I have an allergy to alcohol such that once I drink any at all I can not stop. One drink is too many and a thousand drinks are not enough. And I have a curious mental twist such that once I start drinking I am blinded to the fact that the drinking is the problem…not the solution.

    So I prayed for him everything I would want for myself. I prayed that he would reach the point where he would desire a change, and that he would recover and have a life of sobriety and serenity. And I reminded myself that, given the fact that he was in the throes of the illness, he was doing about the best that he could.

    I would like to see my son recover. The odds are not in favor of recovery. The statistics are NOT on my side. Yet, as long as there is still life, there is yet hope.

    Mary

  • Mike

    Thanks Mary, you summed it up very well and helped me to understand how my addiction relates to resentments and how they can cause me to relapse. I will try to be mindful of my though patterns and identify when I am beginning to build up resentments, especially towards my alcoholic brother and my mother. But, as you point out, it can happen with anyone, even someone on the bus.

    Mike

  • Mary

    Hi Mike,

    I learned in AA that sharing our experience, strength and hope IS important.

    I thought I would share part of my thought pattern as it originally began on the bus. Maybe sharing this will help someone.

    The guy got on the bus. His appearance was suboptimal. Immediately I judged him. I thought something like, “Did that person even bother to Look in the mirror before going out in public?” My attitude was that “I”, being so very self important, deserve to look only at well groomed people!

    Then he started to speak, loudly, and I thought, “And no manners, either! Wasn’t he taught be be quiet and respectful on the bus?!!” (Another judgement.)

    Soon it was apparent that he was under the influence. The squirrel cage in my mind went nuts!!! “I”, special-sober-person that I am…should NOT have to put up with loud, drunken, cursing, smelly, poorly groomed and poorly dressed people while “I”, the Queen of Sobriety, ride the city bus!

    After all, I thought, I stay OUT of the clubs and the taverns where people drink. I stay sober one day at a time. I am special. This bus ride is not happening the way I think it should. I will report the bus driver for not putting him off the bus. This is an outrage! On and on my thoughts went!

    I can pick apart my thought pattern and watch how quickly it went from observation to judgements, to being offended, to developing and nurturing a resentment!

    I have also noticed that if a thought pattern like this gets by unnoticed, it seems to gain momentum for another round of similar thoughts. A whole day thinking like this will get my emotional state to such a sorry condition that all I would want to do would be escape from that emotional state and that could lead to a drink!

    AA has all these hokey-sounding sayings, like “Live and Let Live.” At first I thought they were silly. Yet, they were posted on the walls of our AA meeting place and because I saw them so often they began to become a part of my thoughts. That particular saying…Live and Let Live….certainly helped me to break out of my destructive pattern about the guy on the bus!

    I hope my experience is of help.

    Mary

    The ability to do this is HUGE progress for me.

  • Mike

    My brother has been secretly drinking since Saturday, it is now Tuesday. Yesterday he said he was going for a walk and bought some vodka. A few minutes ago he asked our mom to buy him some liquor, to which she said no.

    He justifies his relapse by saying that he has cancer and that he’s going to die like some of our relatives. He also goes on and on about what people say about him and how he is in pain.

    He has been in treatment several times and has had long bouts of sobriety, was going to AA twice a day before he found out that he might have cancer. He hasn’t heard from the hospital on whether its cancer, but that hasn’t stopped him from picking up the bottle. As someone who also has been to treatment and goes to AA meetings, I see this whole situation in a different light than I would have seen it several years ago, before I went to treatment or started going to AA.

    I now realize that I was enabling him all these years. Every time he fell down, I was there to pick him up and rescue him. My mom too. She also plays the martyr and before this relapse was certainly a provoker. This relapse, she made a two hours trip twice. The first time she left she went to go find him and didn’t. When she got home, she had to drive back and go get him. I told her that I wasn’t going to go and she got mad at me. I told her to let him feel the consequences of his actions. But she didn’t listen. I think it gives her something psychologically to rescue him – like she’s showing him and everyone else that she love him. She even got mad at her sister because she didn’t call to check up on “us”. Never mind the fact that when he went to the hospital here in town and was transferred two hours away to the city, he told the hospital not to give anyone, including his family, any information on him. I’m glad that I can identify these behaviors. Before, it would have drove me crazy and I would have been driving around with my mom worried out of my mind. I would be obsessing about whether he is drinking and when he will stop and trying to convince him to stop.

    This time is different. I am not going to let him consume all the space in my head. I will not obsess about whether he is drinking, how much he is drinking, and when he will stop. I will not go into his room and dump out his cups and look for his bottle. I am simply going to go about my day. The only thing that I really can do is check on him. Last night I tried talking to him and he kept repeating himself, it seems that what I was saying was going in one year and out there other. So, even talking to him will have to wait until HE DECIDES to sober up. I cannot do that for him.

    On the one hand I feel really bad for him and a little understanding that he relapsed because of the possibility that he has cancer and that he is in pain. On other, I know that its just a justification or excuse for relapse like any other. We drink when we are down, we drink when we are up. I know that alcohol will not help the situation. In rehab a man said that when his son was murdered and burned in the trunk of a car, he was able to deal with the loss and not relapse. So I know its possible. I don’t know what it feels like to be in his shoes right now, but I do know that he knows, from all the rehabs and the AA meetings that he has gone to over the years, that he could have taken steps to prevent a relapse. So in the end, I see it all as just an excuse to drink, even though it might be cancer, its an excuse just like any other excuse, even more minor ones i.e. my girlfriend or boyfriend dumped me after a month.

    The only thing I can do is detach in a loving way and leave it in God’s hands. I prey that God will take care of him and that he will get back on the horse and reach out.

    Mike

  • Mary

    Hi Mike,

    Your current “take” on the situation is the attitude of sanity. It is the only sane response to the insanity of an alcoholic “in his cups.”

    If a doctor told me I might have cancer, I would be interested in doing research on that type of cancer to determine what might be my best course of action. I would want to spend time with my friends and family because cancer IS a serious disease. I would to to AA meetings to work my program and make sure I did not relapse. If I was in pain, I would talk to my doctor and my pharmacist and make an informed choice about some type of prescribed pain relief that would allow me to function while further tests were done before beginning treatment, if needed.

    One day at a time, turning your brother over to a Higher Power of your understanding, and continuing to work your own program seems like the wise way to deal with the situation.

    I know your agony…my now deceased son put me through this and my oldest son is no doubt “in his cups” but since he has cut off all contact with me I don’t have to watch him slowly destroy himself!

    Mary

  • NancyQ

    Mary, Thank you for responding on my question about resentment. Good Read…really enjoyed the thought pattern post. Your very articulate. Do share more. ;)

    Makes sense after living with a father that was a dry drunk/no AA (stage 3 when he quit) and an xah that was VERY functioning A (I believe he was stage 2).

    Because of my father I have had lots of therapy and attended CODA (Codependency) and ACOA (Adult Children Of Alcoholics) support groups, which is based on the 12 steps.
    This was back in the 80′s, but, the one thing we talked alot about was shame. Dr. Drew and Dr. Phil have said shame is behind every addict…so, I thought I would share a book that has and does help me out.

    Healing The Shame That Binds You
    By John Bradshaw
    This classic book, written 17 years ago but still selling more than 13,000 copies every year, has been completely updated and expanded by the author.

    “I used to drink,” writes John Bradshaw,”to solve the problems caused by drinking. The more I drank to relieve my shame-based loneliness and hurt, the more I felt ashamed.”

    Shame is the motivator behind our toxic behaviors: the compulsion, co-dependency, addiction and drive to superachieve that breaks down the family and destroys personal lives. This book has helped millions identify their personal shame, understand the underlying reasons for it, address these root causes and release themselves from the shame that binds them to their past failures.

  • NancyQ

    Mary, comment about resentments.
    I did hear a recovering A say one time…..
    It’s like my mind looks for resentments to support the resentment I have towards my wife.

  • Mary

    I read John Bradshaw’s book years ago. I should probably re-read it because I have a different perspective on it now.

    I just went to court today to try to do something for my granddaughter. I did not win my case…I wanted a conservatorship and a guardianship to make sure she is properly cared for. However, it was exquisitely satisfying to oblige my granddaughter’s mother to sit quietly and listen to my side of the story about the literal hell she put my granddaughter, myself, and 2 of my sons through with her out of control behavior. I do NOT blame her for my alcoholic son’s death. Yet, at the same time, her treatment of him was wrong and did nothing to help him live a better life.

    If things “go South” in the future with this woman parenting my granddaughter, at least I will have a legal record that I DID inform the courts about how shabbily her mother treated her and that I did at least TRY to get something done on her behalf.

    I am glad that I have a Higher Power of my understanding. I made my best faith effort to help my granddaughter. Now I will turn the situation over to my Higher Power and see what happens next in my own life.

    Mary

  • CB

    It’s 6am where I am. I have been married to a a for 6 years now I have moved to the uk from the usa. I am beginning to come out of denial of living with a A. I am older and have really no life history with this man. But I Am very much affected by his drinking, and I don’t want to be. I am very isolated, and very hard to find and make friends.( I am trying) All of the post on this website are eye opening ,!! Thank you all for sharing your personal journeys. In this relationship I AM just. Another excuse for my husband to drink….even though I can now see he has been a alcoholic for years (in our 50′s ) I can see where my behaviors of having to travel back to the states at times IS one of his Big Excuses.”..he uses stress from his job he uses people he uses the weather.he uses anything for an excuse to keep drinking……I was at first taking some of this personal, but now I am seeing the truth for what it really is. A stressor to get drunk…..now time for me to learn these skills of detachment and get alive for myself…I am so disappointed I completely changed my life moving here from the states.. We have spent thou sands of pounds over the past 6 years for this marriage…..we meet in Alaska.. New each other a few years before I moved here…I can see I have my work cutout for me.”..I am going to start by removing myself from this situation when he is drinking. We have a really nice travel trailer on our property I am going to., create a space for me to go and recoup myself I cannot keep living I this manner any more. My life is worth something …I have a lot to think about…..thank you all I look forward to learning more. CB

  • Laurie

    Thank you everyone for sharing your stories. Somehow it helps to know your not alone. I’ve been married to a very kind alcoholic for 28 years. We have two beautiful daughters. My husband has been in and out of many treatment centers, lost two jobs, attended many AA meetings, goes to church, we pray together, etc…I left him 8 months ago when his drinking was completely out of control. He moved in with his parents (he’s 54) and stayed sober for 6 months. During that time he called and text me positive messages everyday. At Christmas he moved back in. I let all I learned from alanon slip away and put my faith back in him and his sobriety. Last week I was out of town on business for 3 days and came back to him playing with drinking. All the lies, heartache rushed back. The hurt, worry, and fear of my daughters finding out is back driving me to madness. I appreciate finding this sight on the internet. My question is has anyone ever experienced an alcoholic that is loving, kind, and really tries to find sobriety, but continues to destroy himself with his addiction?

  • Mary

    Hi Laurie,
    My son, who died of alcoholism by driving drunk into a tree at the age of 31 last year, WAS a loving and kind human being. Three years before his death he took me into his home when I was unemployed and homeless. I lived there for 6 months during which time I discovered that he had an addiction to a prescription stimulant which he was misusing. We had out over this issue and he asked me to leave.

    As time went on, the disease of alcoholism slowly began to remove more and more of “who he really was” when he was healthy and whole. HE never did come out of denial and admit that he was an alcoholic…and he was a pharmacist!!!

    From my Al-Anon meetings I do know that some people do choose to live with a practicing alcoholic. There is no one right way or wrong way. Whatever a person chooses, it is necessary to detach with love, because the disease of alcoholism is beyond human control. Without some sort of power greater than oneself, we are all powerless over alcohol.

    My advice concerning your daughters would be to take them aside and explain that their father has the disease of alcoholism. When they are teens, there is Al-A-Teen for them to attend.

    I am also a recovering alcoholic myself. My heavy drinking happened before I had children. I was what they called a “dry drunk”. I lived my life in self will run riot WITHOUT drinking, and caused my children a lot of emotional pain because of the way I acted. The urge to drink resurfaced after my son died and I began attending AA meetings.

    My oldest son is also drinking to excess and he has cut off all contact with me. He still has a job. He appears to be a functioning alcoholic. He is 34. I pray for him everyday. There is not much else I can do. He is a grown man and if he wants to drink and to cut his mother out of his life, I can not change this!

    A practicing alcoholic IS functionally insane!! My son took a trip to a foreign country, without telling anyone, leaving the mother of his child without childcare, and causing heartache for many others who had to scramble to fill his responsibilities! If he had been in his right mind he would NEVER have frittered away the last of his resources like that!

    The odds of an alcoholic recovering are NOT good. I heard these numbers mentioned: Out of 10 humans, statistically, 9 can consume alcohol socially and never have a problem with it. For those who fall in the 1 out of 10 category and become alcoholics, the odds are poor. Out of 33 alcoholics who have the disease, statistically, only one will pass through the doors of AA, work the simple but yet demanding 12 steps, and arrest the disease. The other 32 will die of the disease or of its complications.

    You might like like the online blog…The Immortal Alcoholic. It details what happens as the disease progresses. The courageous woman who wrote it chose to take care of her what-she-thought-was-end-stage-alcoholic husband. She did not want her daughter to take him in and she did not want him out driving drunk and endangering others. He defied all odds and lived. He is NOT a normal person and every day is a challenge, even though he has finally sobered out.

    Regardless of what your husband does, there is MUCH HOPE for YOU and for your children! I have learned to live one day at a time. I attend AA meetings and if I get to thinking about my oldest son I go to an Al Anon meeting. I go to Compassionate Friends for those of us who have lost a child of any age.

    I just read the book Coming Back, Rebuilding Lives After Crisis and Loss, by Ann Kaiser Stearns. She says that those who undergo a great crises or loss fall into 3 categories…those who are never the same again, those who grieve but then return to formal levels of function, and those who grieve, go through a period of intense spiritual growth, and then begin functioning at a higher and more joyful level than they were before the loss.

    It is my personal goal to AIM for the 3rd option!! I want to do everything I can, ONE DAY at a time, to make my life as good as I can!

    I have begun a mindful eating program. After my son died I was very dysfunctional and I did not eat properly. I have begun a small but effective exercise program and I also continue to walk and hike.

    I have always wanted to learn Spanish and to learn to knit so I am taking free classes on those things. I decided to KEEP my professional certificate even though I am retired right now and I did the continuing education and renewed the certificate.

    I am forcing myself to become INVOLVED in life again and get out and DO things. The Big Book of AA DOES HAVE a chapter called “Into Action.” It does NOT have a chapter called “Into Thinking.”

    And most importantly, I turn the whole situation over to the Higher Power of my understanding, which I conceive of to be a Being of infinite intelligence, wisdom, and compassion, and seek to do the next right thing, just for today, as directed by that Higher Power.

    I hope that by sharing my journey I have helped you.

    Mary

  • Laurie

    Mary, Thank you for your story! It has helped and I will read it again and again. You have shared your strength and that’s what I need to hear to get out of this pity party. I live in the county near to very small communities that only offer one alanon meeting a week. I use to go and it has helped. I plan on attending this week. I will also check out the blog you suggested!

  • Mary

    Hi Laurie,

    I try to share my story. It seems to be something I can do so that my son’s death is at least an education to other people. He actually had an amazing life and got to do a lot of wonderful things before his untimely death.

    Untreated, the family members of an alcoholic become sick as well. The rest of my family is very dysfunctional. They all drink. The social drinkers enable the alcoholics. They have NO CLUE what they are really doing and how they are enabling the alcoholism to progress. They are blind to the fact that THEY are becoming caught up in the alcoholic web and losing control of their own rights to a healthy life!

    As for me…I choose otherwise!

    Mary

  • Mike

    Everyone,
    I to have an alcoholic girlfriend of 4 years. She has do all the things mentioned in the article and I have done all the wrong things mentioned in the article. Everything would get better and we would make plans a month out but during that moth period it was one drinking episode after another. She is now entertaining a “friend” here in town because he brings her wine and she is driving over an hour and a half to meet her other friend who also provides her with her alcohol fix. I fear they will make sexual advances toward her with dangerous results. Not at all looking forward to the trip. How do I get out of the trip that she says that she will pay for half just so she can go.

  • Bruce

    @ Mike. My alcoholic/drug addict girlfriend would pull the same stunts. She died a little over a year ago from her addictions. Claiming she was seeing friends.She would disappear for a couple of days. It was a way for her to score booze and pills. Do the 2 of you live together? If you 2 do live together is there a way you can go on the trip on your own? I suggest you go alone to clear your head. How much does she drink a day? Can you take an educated guess on the amount she drinks? If she is like what my girlfriend was. Booze will be hidden all over your home. There really is nothing you can do. I believe J.C. has said they won’t quit until they want to. I had to have my girlfriend move out because of her addictions. Could not let her bring me down to her level. I was a social drinker at one time. After going through a relationship with an alcoholic/drug addicted girlfriend I stopped drinking. Been 3 years since I drank. Know matter what. Consider everything she says to be a lie. Scroll this site. You will find a lot of us having the same problems. What ever you do keep your head. DO NOT ARGUE WITH HER. Nothing will be gained by arguing when she is drunk. Let alone when she is sober. Good luck. You have a long journey ahead of you. Bruce

  • mike

    Thank you for your observations………I have been down this same road with my X wife. And here I am again with another alcoholic. My mother was an alcoholic so I am the adult child of an alcoholic. What a mess!!!! According to their research (ACA) I become an alcoholic, marry one or become a para-alcoholic or be attracted to an alcoholic……..The insanity is killing me…….ACA I put up with it because of my fear of abandonment……true. But, I am going to dig my way out of this mess……..I have got to get rid of her and find normal people…..they are out there I know……..what a mess. I am fighting depression tooth and nail…….I am looking at Buddhism for peace of mind….NIRVANA!!!!!!!!!!!

    Stupid me went to her place this morning…..She says she knows she has a problem and will “stop”. I have heard that so many times………And you are all right about the lies……She claims her life is an “open book” but when you ask probing questions she starts the lies………Then she turns it on me…….the fight starts and I LEAVE!!!!!!
    I am so sick of living like this………..Yes I have a long road ahead of me……..

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  • michael

    My girlfriend of 4 years is a confirmed alcoholic. She admits it but is indifferent to taking it seriously and at least trying AA or any other structured program. When she is sober she is awesome to be with but now we fight all the time to the point now that I just leave her for a couple of days then she sweet talks us back together. But now she has gone behind my back and is seeing another man out of town. Someone please tell me how to end this madness and insanity!!!!!!!!!! Please!!!!!!!!

  • Mary Mc Connell

    I am finding some very useful tips in these writings .Thank You .
    It is VITAL for me to attend my Al Anon meetings , I wish this was mentioned more often here .There are meetings all over even on the phone,
    it’s wonderful .

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