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.
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 Google +
I detached from my alcoholic husband and he left. This article is very informative as I did let him “rent space in my head”. I love the person I met but I hate the person he is now.
This article has shed so much light on a difficult subject. I am going to read it daily and practice this. Thanks to the author.
I too try detaching. I am still not sure what it means. He tells me that he is sober for 11 years. He works and lives in another town, does not call me unless I call him. Leads a secretive life. It seems that he is detaching from me. Is this what they learn in AA as well?
Sara….try harder, get out now. It will not get bettter…only worse I promise you….I know from experience
My husband has made endless promises about quitting his drinking for the entire 7 years of our marriage. I used to spend every weekend and every holiday crying about his alcoholism and the horrible way he treated me when he is drunk. His drinking has not changed – he consumes enormous amounts of alcohol evey day and persists in being cruel and hostile. I have chosen to detach, and no longer cry about what he puts me through. I am hoping one day I will be angry enough and strong enough to ask him to leave.
My boyfriend is an alcoholic. I haven’t talked to him in days, and I don’t think he’s even noticed. It’s tough, but I have to detach so that I can move on….
My husbands best friend is an alcoholic and because of my husband’s enabling, has become an alcoholic himself. The friends family have washed their hands of their son and my husband has made himself totally responsible for this person (managing his finances, bringing him food). I have shared with him the many articles about the danger of his enabling to no avail. The friend has no job, has just missed a narrow escape from needing a liver transplant. My husband is a respected Executive in the community. I want my husband back. I am going to Ala Non meetings. It is obvious my husband is co dependent on this person. They are both only children. Is divorce the only solution to get my life back?
LeeLee, keep going to support group meetings. People in AL-anon can teach you how to enjoy your life and be happy, even if the alcoholic is still drinking or not.
My life has been intertwined with an alcoholic for six years. I have experianced everything from the lies to taking my car and being gone for days. Then the behavior of nothing happened and you should forgive me for what I done, and when I do that something else happens. I read this article just the other day because I am over the behavior and the lies and the everything is okay attitude of this person. They dont realize how much hurt they put us threw and I trully believe they dont care. It amazes me how they can do so many mean things and act like we should just forgive them because they are who they are and we love them. After reading this article and praying to God to give me the strength to quit being an enabler and to detach myself I have become much stronger! I want to thank you and praise God for helping. I can say no if I dont want to see this person, I have the strength to tell him that I am not going to put up with his behavior and I dont answer calls and dont feel guilty about it any more!
They always promise to change but I realize that it is I who needs to change!
I just found out that the man in my life who I have loved for 17years has been drinking. Again. The real shock is that it has been for nearly 2 years! I feel so stupid. We don’t live together, but I helped him with his bills, went to his AA meetings, sat through his leads, drove him when he lost his drivers license, etc. during his years of recovery. This December would have been his 11th year of soberiety. My heart is breaking. How do I go on? Please God – I need strength.
Thanks for sharing Beverly. You have the first part right already, asking God for help. The first three steps in the Al-anon program can be translated like this;
Step 1-I can’t
Step 2-He can
Step 3- So I’ll let him
Your story reinforces what we hear in AA meetings often, alcoholism is cunning, baffling and powerful.
I believe you will find the help and friendship that is needed through getting involved in a recovery program designed to assist friends and family members of alcoholics. Al-anon seems to be the recognized authority for teaching people how to cope with situations such as yours.
Thank you. I have been attending Al-anon meetings. I have a long way to go, but I know I’ll get there. My friend will be attending his first AA meeting tonight after a long absence. I will we attending an Al-anon meeting at the same time. I told him I am proud to walk in with him.
Thanks for your words of support.
My story is a little different. I’ve been married for 33 years to a wonderful man. We raised our daughter now 25, he worked 30+ years and made an excellent living. When we first met 34 years ago, he was a heavy drinker but we were in our early 20’s and didn’t give it much thought. We came to an impasse early in our marriage, his drinking or our marriage. He chose our marriage and we had a happy 25 years.
About 7 years ago the drinking began again, troubles at work were the source. Then his mother passed away, his father (whom he had no relationship with except for childhood abuse) was diagnosed with cancer, on the day his dad went into hospice, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
My husband was often incoherent, drinking whiskey/vodka daily and going through a fifth within a day or two. This resulted in 2 DUIs, jail time, and no license….the first while I was in the midst of chemo. He is never angry, never abusive, never threatening… just slowly killing himself and our marriage with his addiction.
I always thought the strong silent type was the sexiest. Now I have realized that the silent type holds a lot of hurts, disappointments and pain without the desire to relate to anyone about it. He would rather die than talk to a professional, he would rather die than get help.
I’m helpless in this situation and mesmerized as though I were watching a train wreck happening in slow motion. I am trying to detach and WILL succeed. I am moving forward by being back in school at 56 🙂 though I am always looking over my shoulder wondering if he will move forward with me or are we nearing the end.
When I step out of this world of alcoholism, I’m amazed, there are people NOT in crisis, there are people who laugh and I go for hours and not think of alcohol.
God has called us to live our lives in honor of him. It is not honoring Him to hover and count, beg and plead, rant and rave, weep and wail and expend all our energies and emotions trying to fix what we have no power over. So this is what I’ve learned….walk on. It may be sad, disappointing and even devastating but we need to walk on…
Sandy, thanks for sharing your life’s story. As I read, I was thinking about how alcoholism is cunning, baffling and powerful.
I was also thinking about how God is the most constant in our lives. His name is “Faithful.” He has promised to never leave us. Although people will let us down, God will not abandon us.
I am praying for you now!
i havnt heard from my partner now for nearly three days and am so worried for him and myself. i fear he isletting go of me and feel tremendous pain after nearly ten years. he now lives in another town for two years so i cannot just go to him. he threw me out on new years day, he is consuming alcohol beyong belief and has been doing now for one month non stop. he is urinating constantly on the carpet, it is foul in his bedsit. i know i cant stop him, i just want him to be sober and love me truly from his heart but i fear this is too much to ask for. i pray to God for his help always.
I’ve read and re-read about detachment and I find it difficult at times when I feel the “need” to rely on my husband to watch after our 3 little ones. For example, I try and schedule my therapy or doctor appointments first thing in the mornings before my husband needs to either drive into the office or work from home. Most often my 2 year old twins are still asleep before I need to leave the house, however my 8 month old is usually up. I worry if my husband drank the night before, staying up late watching “movies” and if he’ll even be able to functionally care for our little ones. I could wake up my my little ones and take them with me to my appointments. Don’t think my therapy sessions would be too productive though. :-/ I could not have my therapy appointments but that surely wouldn’t be productive for me.
So ya, I feel the need to know what my husband is up to from time to time, only if I know he’s going to be needing to watch after our little ones. How do I detach from that? I haven’t figured that out yet.
I’ve read about others being able to “stick it out” with their marriage but I wonder if that’s even the right thing for me to do being we have 5 kids (ages 17 years old to 8 months old). Our 15 year old daughter has alread experimented with alcohol, sex and pot. I can’t allow this sort of behavior and “influence” from my husband. It’s just SO wrong in so many ways.
I’m currently on the path to “give it all” to God.
My husband seems to believe our kids would be worse off living in a “broken home.” That’s because he doesn’t see that he has a drinking problem and anger issues.
Any suggestions Folks?
I have been married to my alcoholic husband for nearly 25 years – together 28 years. I knew he drank when I met him, but of course, back then, it wasn’t the problem it progressively over those 28 years has become. Both of us would say we had a good marriage – but his alcoholism, over the course of the past few years, has turned him from a decent, kind, caring man, into a monster. I would have never in my wildest dreams believed him capable of some of the things he has done to me and said to me.
Although I do believe his alcoholism caused him to do what he has done, and say the vile things he has said to me, I do not know that I will ever completely recover from all the hurt.
Never in all the years together did he ever treat me so horribly. That is why it has been two and a half years of trauma and extreme pain, trying to dig myself out of such mental turmoil I honestly believed I would not survive.
My father passed away from advanced cancer within two months of his diagnosis during this awful time. My husband, who has always gotten along with my family, was not a participant in helping my father in his last months. He was too busy being drunk and having affairs. This is not the man I married – I do not recognize him anymore. Although he has “curtailed” his drinking somewhat (and I have stopped crying and asking him why), and has expressed remorse for his cruelty and abuse, he has not stopped drinking.
I am a shell of the person I used to be. I have lost interest in things that I cared about. I have gone to Al-Anon, I have all the literature, and I see a therapist. There is not enough space on this page for me to list all of his alcoholic shenanigans (and he was taking antidepressants, anti-anxiety and possibly some illegal drugs during the most hellish of this time) he has done.
I continue to detach as best I can but my faith is not as strong as it needs to me – why can’t I rise above what happened?
I know I didn’t do anything wrong and my husband has told others that he “destroyed a good woman and good wife.” He says he doesn’t know why he was cruel, why he did the things he did. I know alcohol changed him, and he was hanging around other alcoholic losers who influenced him and pulled him down to their level.
His behavior has been terrifying – like he was possessed by Satan. My journey of healing from the losses in my life continues – but I just can’t seem to let it all go – it was just too shocking what he put me and our children through. I do try very hard to “be still” and give it to God.
I need to find peace in order to go on with my life and know some happiness again. Losing my dad during this awful time mixed in with the grief of losing my husband to alcoholism. It’s such a mix of loss, I just don’t know how to process it all.
My husband drinks one 750 bottle of wine a day and alternates some day drinking about 16 oz of Whiskey – straight. He always starts drinking by 5 PM. Typically he appears functional to me. He’s not raging. He actually is quiet and doesn’t try to converse. He is never hungry so we do not eat meals together, other than if we are entertaining. He is always outgoing and the center of attention at a party. At home he never talks to me. I avoid interaction with him so we don’t get in an argument.
You know all those “lessons” on proper communications; adult to adult, the ones where you always say, ” I feel…”? If I say how I feel he will always belittle me and say, “You…it’s always about you. Do it your way or the highway.”
We are now at the point where I know there is nothing safe to say other than if it is stroking his huge ego.
None of our many friends know that our lives are anything less than ideal. He is an intelligent man, but also manipulative. He seems to sets up scenarios which appears to others that he is a hero. He buys lovely homes, horses, and creates situations that demand work. Then says that it was for me so I should do all the work. If I ask his help he will balk and say I am controlling him. After he spends a lot of money, which we can afford, he uses the purchase to accuse me of causing our financial demand and wants me to sell what we just bought. This is usually real estate which is not selling in a down market.
If I try to talk to him early in the day before he starts drinking, he may agree on something, but then will also turn on me with passive aggressive actions.
He says he drinks a little socially and that he, like 90 % of adults enjoys a few drinks in his home. So, I have gone on line to find how much drinking constitutes too much. What constitutes an alcoholic. My reason is that I wonder if he is an alcoholic or just a jerk! It surprised me when i read on line that a bottle of wine is not that much booze.
I also was surprised when I figured out how much My husband
was drinking. Two 30 packs every other day. What was
more insidious he is a bright, creative fun loving kind of
a guy. IN THE BEGINNING. Not so today. I wake up in the morning wondering who I will be talking to in the evening
Jeckle or Hyde. Neither one the friendly sort. Both are
angry souls living inside his body. He also refuses to give up drinking or smoking. He feels it is life and he will do with it what he darn well pleases. He tells me to
get a life and get out of his. Tough to take but it is the way it is.
The alcohol takes over the brain. The brain sends confusing messages because it cannot function
normally to instructions given it when chemicals in
the alcohol creates meaness. They have no control over their reactions. Truly they want to control you because they cannot control themselves. I am not making
excuses for the alcoholic, I just have to remind myself
once in a while that the alcohol is the boss. Over him and me if I allow it.
The whole issue of alcoholism is frustrating, hard to understand and quality of life just seems to go down
the toilet. The dreams I had for our lives when we were young has had to change as quickly as the alcohol changes them.
Changing me has helped a lot. I slip back ocassionally
because the magic words while dodgeing the mouth bullets of
my husband do not always come to my mind fast enough.
So I make mistakes too. Not only do you have to continually forgive the alcoholic you must above all
else forgive your self for not handling the daily stuff
God is there and I pray for tomorrow to be a better day.
Look for the things in your day that had nothing to do
with the alcoholic. Loving looks from your pet, friendly
wave from a neighbor and the colors in your flowers that
you had not taken time to look at for a while. Life
is good in many many ways if we find the little things
that bring heart felt joy.
To all of us, joy in the Lord and tomorrow a better day.
I started attending Al-Anon in early June 2011. One day at an Al-Anon meeting I asked if we could talk about detachment. Apparently I struck a cord with folks there. Everyone laughed, and someone said “Do you mean detachment with love or amputation?”
Whew! What a relief it was for me to her these experienced people say ‘amputation’. It was like I got permission to think in those terms.
I’ve learned that alcoholics really do get a kick out of eliciting certain reactions from others. I view it as a subtle, sneaky, inner power-kick they have. That is sick. In an open AA meeting, I even heard an alcoholic talk about how he had resisted in the urge to do that to someone. That was like a light bulb going off for me! Alcoholics really DO have hostages instead of relationships! For me, understanding this as a fact of alcoholism has been liberating. Even just remembering it and writing it here helps me, and gives me encouragement to break out of captivity.
I am grateful for this site and the sharing that goes on here!
ALL of it helps me so much!
May we all receive the strength and guidance we need to detach or amputate, and thus break out of the alcoholic’s captivity.
Please tell me how it is determined if a person is an alcoholic or just a drinker? How much is too much? Where is the line in the sand that determines when a person goes from enjoying a “few” drinks every day to the illness of alcoholism?
Everyone, I am grateful to all of you who have commented on how this website is helping you.
You have truly touched my heart!
I read all of your comments this morning and have been deeply moved with compassion for all of you. I’ve lived in the battle zone of alcoholism for many years. I do understand the hurt, confusion and frustration that many of you are experiencing.
If I can offer anything today, please do the best you can to continue learning how to let go of the alcoholic and start taking care of yourself. It’s difficult in the beginning, but I promise there is hope of living a much better life.
I’d just like to say that we cannot detach from an alcoholic in our own strength. 12-Step programs teach us that we are powerless over alcoholism. This doesn’t mean that we cannot become empowered to live in the midst of alcoholism. It can be done, but it takes learning a new way of living.
When we ban together, through attending support-group meetings and sharing with one another, we become empowered to endure the devastation that accompanies living with an alcoholic. This is why so many of our readers suggest that people get involved in Al-anon.
Finally, as I write this, I am making a decision to be the loving person that I want to be to my children, family members and friends today. This means I will focus my attention on loving them through spending quality time with them.
May I suggest we all make a list of ways we can love those around us today and do a few of those things…even be kind to the alcoholics in our lives.
Even though they may not appreciate our love, we may just find ourselves smiling on the inside.
Thiaa, I can only give MY experience.
My husband was drinking 3-8 drinks per day. Every day. And flat out denying that his is an alcoholic…he still deies it.
If he isn’t open to the thought that he may be an alcoholic, he probably is one.
If he wants you to leave him alone, get off his back, or such about it then he probably is one.
If he cannot seem to connect on a deeply emaotional level then he probably is one.
If he deflects blame then he probably is one
If there is predictability to his drinking then he probably is one.
It isn’t the qnatity that makes one an alcoholic.
These are merely my understandings as I have worked on my own recovery.
There came a point that I had to just start approaching it as if he was an alcoholic (not a healthy regular person)..then I could escape the confusion and start looking at the disease more as an outsider and objectively; also more compassionately.
I was were you are only a couple of months ago.
In my mind he is either a really horrible SOB or an alcoholic. I have made a concious decision to chose the alcohol diagnosis for him because it is the only one that helped me view him and the whole situation more clearly.
Perhaps doing that will help you also.
Just my experience, strength, and hope to share.
Keep moving forward. It seems you are on the right track.
After more than 5 years of living with an alcoholic, I made the choice to leave. He knows he’s an alcoholic, and tells me it’s a sickness, an addiction. Yes, it is. The difference being that sick people seek help. He was waiting to go to a rehab center, but one cannot live an entire life in a rehab center. I’m familiar with the miserable holiday memories, the hateful, hurtful comments, the damage to home and property and the effect it began to have on me. Detachment sounds great in theory, but if I’m going to live my life mentally and emotionally detached, I’d rather live completely detached – in another house, away from him. Detachment makes it impossible to have a real relationship with someone. Three months ago I told him I wasn’t wasting another minute of my life dealing with a drunk. I knew what the result would be, and had already begun making exit plans. I waffled about leaving until Christmas night. He’d been pretty good about not drinking – at least, around me. After spending the day with my family, I went to his son’s for Christmas supper with the grandkids. It was no surprise that they were both drunk, father and son. After an hour and a half, I headed home, so sad that yet another holiday memory was trashed by alcoholic stupidity, and sadder that I knew what my decision about moving had to be.
For those who believe that an alcoholic can’t help what they say and do when they’re drunk, here’s something to think about. The hateful, mean things they say and do have their roots somewhere, and it’s in the heart and mind of the alcoholic. They really do feel like that about you, your family, your…. but simply don’t have the backbone to say those things when they’re sober. As a friend of mine told me once, “A drunk can’t lie.”
When it came down to a choice of him or me, I chose me. I read somewhere that 75% of alcoholics never seek treatment. Well, that’s their choice. Mine is to live a peaceful, happy life without him. I wish you all the best in your journeys to sanity, but you’ll never find it as long as you allow an alcoholic to be a part of your lives. You want to save someone? Save yourselves. Leave the alcoholics to save themselves, or not. It’s all about choices. Choose you.
The powerful, baffling world of alcoholism. It shatters lives of those who suffer directly in its web and shatters the lives of those who love them. I have been on both sides of the fence and there is hope in recovery programs such as AA and Alanon. A true active alcoholic will drink no matter what until they reach their bottom…there’s more to it than just putting a plug in the jug…if it were that simple, it wouldnt be such a tragic problem.
I pray for the alcoholic who suffers and for the families, friends and loved ones who lives are literally turned upside down from this disease. If you love someone who is an alcoholic, I cannot say enough about Alanon…there you will find peace of mind and a way out of living with the obsessing and madness that goes hand in hand in dealing with every day life which includes witnessing the madness of this disease. Learning to surrender all to a Higher Power and learning to live believing in one, makes an enormous difference in letting go. As for trying to have some sort of control at all over their condition…simply there is no control you can have whatsoever for them, but you can have control over you and your life. There is comfort in itself knowing that you are not alone and you dont ever have to be. Also thank you to this forum as it has truly helped me see things in a clearer light.
Thiaa, Alcoholism many times is not as specific as you may wish it to be. If you are the spouse, and love your
husband, we close our eyes and pretend it is not happening.
I did closed my eyes.
Our doctor put it this way. Four beers a week, yes per week, when socializing is more than plenty and if you are
susceptible to the disease four will be to many.
When I had to actually wake up and face the music he had
developed a pre cancerous condition in his mouth. Being
a pipe smoker the combination in the mouth creates the chemicals that produce this precancerous condition. He tried slowing down the drinking and the smoking. Was not
long I caught him smoking. The only good that came out of
that was I used the opportunity to tell him that he cannot
smoke in the house. So he lives most of his day in his garage where he smokes and drinks sight unseem.
Then he started having explosive diahrrea. I mean a mess
from here to hell. He was told to quit drinking and smoking. His attitude of it being his life and he would live it
Sally, thanks for sharing your experience. There are many roots of bitterness that grow in both the alcoholic and us. The dysfunction touches all involved.
There is healing for the alcoholic, the family members and friends who have been touched by this devastating illness.
There was a tremendous amount of wisdom shared in Judy’s comment found HERE.
I need some advice from those who have learned to detach. I asked my fiance to move out a month ago due to his round the clock drinking. He will tell you he likes to drink but is not an alcoholic. Whatever. His brother with whom he is currently living, called me tonight to tell me that he will no longer buy booze for his brother and that he will probably start the withdrawals soon. Now I know what those withdrawals can do; I’m a nurse. The question is, if he ends up in the emergency room for a seizure or heart attack, would you go or stay detached? I talk to him every day so we are still attached, but i can hang up when i dont like the direction of the conversation. Advise please?
I applaud you for sharing your story which is very much like mine. It is never wrong to protect oneself from the crazymaking that an alcoholic inflicts upon the emotions of their spouse and children. He is truly a Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde and I nearly had a nervous breakdown because of trying to cope with his total denial, his rages, lying, blaming me and his explosive evil anger. I still love the good in my husband but i remind myself that THIS is not the man I fell in love with. I pray for him to wake up to what he’s doing to himself and to those who love him. Al-anon is a great thing to teach us how to see things in a healthy way. Self work is a great thing to learn why we gravitated to these types in the first place. There is much to learn about ourselves in all this.
God bless you as you move forward.
Thank you Karen. May I ask where you are at with your spouse? Have you decided to remain in the relationship despite your husband’s continued abuse? Whatever your choice is, or is yet to be made, I feel your grief. It is like grieving the loss of yourself and all you truly meant to be. I am beginning to understand “detachment” but for myself I would pray for the strength to detach with “amputation,” since the other alternative to me seems to be selling yourself short. In a relationship with an alcoholic there is not a true intimate relationship.
You are a brave, powerful and strong person. Sometimes moving forward on our own is the only answer. Leave the door of opportunity open for your husband, only ever give him kind words and loving actions but keep marching forward for yourself. Kind words and loving thoughts will free you up to live and be the person you were born to be.
Wishing you well on your new road of the unknown.
It is possible to be in the same room as the alcoholic. What you detatch from is the behaviour and the negative emotional influence on you. If you are a nurse, treat the alcoholic situation with a businesslike attitude as you would with a difficult patient of yours. Calm, methodical in conducting yourself yet outwardly unemotional and inwardly with emotions in control[or rather keeping your emotions in check]. This is detatchment. The concept of detatchment is not necessarily a physical thing alone. It can be emotional detatchment where you can still be in close proximity to the alcoholic but your emotions are tightly reigned in to save yourself.
Hope this helps.
Thea, I WANTED to add more to my letter but my alcoholic
hubbie came in and it was easier to just close down.
In addition he has avascular necrosis of the hip that required surgery. Before he was through therapy the other
hip started acting up and therapy was discontinued. He will eventually will need surgery. In the mean time, he
had surgery for stenosis in his back in 2008 and they feel
that part of the problems in his hip may be pain from the nerves in his back. All because he will not quit either
the smoking or drinking. I really feel like I am on the back burner of his life. Handy if you need something but of not much value to him. I feel like I am beginning
a new attitude and life. Soon my 95 year old father will be in assisted living. He has been with us for 4 1/2 years
and He does not need to be in the middle of this mess. He
never drank that I know of. Caring for my parents since 1999 (mom is in another home with alzheimers} I am at the
end of my emotional rope. This Website confirms my
personal insight of alcoholism. We are not the crazy person the alcoholic believes us to be. I do not know
exactly what I want to do with this 26 yr relationship.
Old dogs do learn new tricks and I want to take some
very precious time to figure out what makes me happy.
This decision does not have to be made today, I just
don’t want to jump out and make a bigger mistake and having
to live with it.
Kim, the thing I’ve learned about loving detachment is to allow the alcoholic to feel the sting of their situation, but still love them.
I suppose, “if” this situation happened to me, I would visit, BUT not pay for the hospital bill.
I would visit, but not get entangled in fulfilling all of the requests that he “might” try and place upon me in asking me to help him out.
Detachment and boundaries go hand – in – hand. We learn how to LOVE WITH LIMITS.
I also thought of different ways we can love people:
-Calling on the phone and telling them you heard about what happened and just wanted to let them know you hope they get better soon.
-Praying for them.
I always have to protect myself in the moment in order to maintain my serenity…THAT IS MY NUMBER ONE PRIORITY!
I also keep in mind that the things I do today can either breed peace or turmoil within in ME in the future. To avoid wrestling with guilt and shame in the future, I have to know what my morals are.
I like to live my life by the slogan: “do the next right thing.”
Hope this helps and thanks for commenting.
My alcoholic husband spends his life in the garage too so I was also put on the back burner by him. Out there they are alone, smoking, drinking, thinking and avoiding. Real life cannot be lived in a garage but he doesn’t seem to want real. The rejection loved ones feel by alcoholism is overwhelming until we realize and accept that we cannot bring the changes needed in them. We can only live our lives the best way we know how and learn to live it better each day by the grace of God. I left my husband several months ago and am just getting my nerves back to health. Not everyone has the emotional health to stay and suffer the abuse the alcoholics inflict on those around them especially if the alcoholic gets mean. General rules are general. Some alcoholics get dangerous. Safety is the main thing for the spouse and family. Physical safety and emotional safety.
My alcoholic husband has not spoken to me in a month. I do not exist. He punishes me with silent treatment. Xmas, new years, our aniversary, not one word spoken. I do not have a job, he is home all day, i am basically trapped in my room. I try to get out as much as possible, but i still have to come home eventually. He threatens me with divorce and sends me divorce proposals by email, but does not act on them. He only communicates by email with me, even though we are both home all day in a small house. I have stopped communicating with him by email, as I realized how sick it was, and how sick i am to allow him to do that. I go to alanon twice a week, it does help. I know I have to somehow find my way out this, but my depression keeps pulling me down. If not for housing and financial problems i would have left. I tried to reach out to him which took courage, and I was met with extreme cruelty and rejection. I can’t go thru that again. I only relief is at 4pm when he disappears into his room with his box of wine, which happens 7 nights a week. As opposed to other women who are deciding to leave or not, my alcoholic does the opposite, and threatens to leave me as unworthy of him.
Louisa, Louisa, please keep going to alanon and visiting
these web sights. We know how you are feeling and thinking. My heart goes out to you. BUT…girl friend,
check out your emotional closet for a pair of boots, you are going to
need them. (Salvation Army has a few). Pull them up and head high walk outside for a breath of fresh air. As long
as he can push you around by threatening to leave the more
power he has over you. You know better than to accept his
threats or tauntings. Go inside your mind, deeply and start to erase those ugly things he says and find your self. When you slip back ,remember where you put those imaginary boots and pull them back on. I am learning
to do this. Our power is in how we can ignore his meaningless opinion. what he says to you is because he is speaking about how he feels about himself. He just turns it ,tries to make you suffer like he chooses to make himself suffer because he cannot control the alcohol.
We must get ourselves back before we stay or leave.
You learn to become tougher, and that is what I mean about
pulling up our imaginary boot straps and in our mind develop the
strength to get through this.
I am so thankful for this website. I’ve been married for 37 years and for the past 20 have been dealing with this progressive disease. I’m just realizing that I NEED HELP… I’ve avoided Ala-non for years, going to a meeting here or there, and walking away feeling like…that’s not us. Pppfffttt…who’s in denial? ME I recently thought about our marriage, and couldn’t come up with one GOOD time we had in the past 10 years. I too decided he’s just a real SOB…and enough is enough. THen…this past NYE my son’s band was playing a very huge event- thousands of people. When it came time to leave my husband couldn’t even button his shirt… I’ve take him along before, tried to hide his condition, but told him I’d never go out with him in public in that shape again. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but I turned away and said No …you can not go with me. He was crying and then went into the rage, continued with the nasty phone calls all the way down to the show…but honestly …what gave me the strength…I didn’t want to embarrass my son and daughter in law. I looked up right before the band went on …and there was my husband…staggering, smirking hardly able to stand up. My daughter had taken pity on him and gone by and gave him a ride. I still stayed a distance from him, because I knew he would be nasty and I didn’t want him to start anything. Soooo… after a long day of crying and texting with the kids… I started researching alcoholism and co-dependency… and guess what ….the shoe fit.I feel like I had clarity for the first time. Clarity. I’m going to find an Ala-non group, and stay connected here as well… the lessons already have given me tons of direction. This is my first step… I’ll be praying for you all. What I’ve discovered there is hope and we’re not in this alone. Somehow that’s comforting…
I can understand loving an alcoholic, but I can’t understand staying with one. I tried to imagine another year, 5 years, 20 years living as I have for the last 5, and I knew I had to end it. Regardless of how many ties a couple has, there’s no good that can come from continuing to subject yourself, family and friends to the kind of abuse an alcoholic dumps on everyone. I’m more in the tough love camp. Leave them and let them fall on their *** or whatever. Adults have choices to make every day. I chose to live a real life, not one affected in any way by the stupidity and hatefulness of a drunk. Like Debi, I can’t remember the last truly happy time we spent together. As I said to him when I told him I was leaving, the fact that he doesn’t remember any of the horror doesn’t mean a thing to me, because I remember all of it. I choose to live a life with no more awful memories of times that should be good and happy. Love him I do, but not more than I love myself. He can choose to get help or he can choose to continue to be a drunk. Either way, I’m no longer involved with the walking train wreck that is his life.
It sure helps knowing that I am not alone, that other people understand what life with an alcoholic is like. My common-law husband of 11 years has barely spoken to me for the past two days because I would not pay for the interlock device to be put on his truck so he could drive again.
A couple of years ago, when my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told him that I wanted him to quit drinking for one month. And he did. It was an enlightening experience for our friends as they had never seen him this way before. He was affectionate, funny, he got things accomplished and seemed so happy, life was very good for that month. I had hoped that this extremely positive experience for him would make him want to live this way all the time. It seemed so easy for him to stop for that month that I thought that I must have been wrong about him being an alcoholic.
I sleep in a reclining chair because I was sick and tired of waking up soaked in his urine. I watch him lie to me and others. I have been told so many times that if I don’t like it why don’t I just leave. I have seen conversations he has had with other women of a sexual nature. I have had my heart drop when a police car showed up in the morning thinking they were going to tell me he was dead from drinking and driving after he was gone all night. They were giving him a ride home because he was in jail all night.
My first step to stop the enabling was to refuse to drive him to, or to stop at, any beer store. I did this for me, not for him. I prepared him for it by telling him in advance that I would not do this for him anymore. He asked me to stop a few times after that and I refused every time. He would get so angry and would scream let me out, which I did. I would then drive away and leave him to it.
It’s so hard sometimes to love an alcoholic, it hurts watching them slowly kill themselves. When it gets really hard to be here, I think back to that month he was sober and know that there is hope. that the sober man is still in there somewhere.
I have been following your advice and is really starting to make ME feel better. At first I was susing your techniques as a new way of changing my addict! You see I still couldn’t give up on the idea of getting into his head and MAKING HIM SEE!
Anyway I used the detaching methods thinking he would change… but along the way the real detaching started to work on me. and seeing him as a seperate person who I can’t control has helped me not take things personally and my self esteem has improved.
I don’t try and prove he is lying any more. Why do I need to prove it. I trust my own judgement and let it go.
Thanks will post more if any further developements in him or me!
My alcoholic wife left me for a week and commited adultery with another man after only 7 months of marriage and it really broke my heart. She asked me to forgive her and I took her back foolishly because I love he deeply. But, along with everything else, it boiled over one night and we had a very confrontational fight when we arrived at a hotel where I finally ended up slapping her face twice because a drunk cannot lie! I asked her How many men have you slept with since we have been married? I was staggered at the answer. The constant deceit she had practised was very shocking. And it seems that me, her husband, isn’t “family” but her sister is ” family “, so my wife steals from me and gives to her sister… whose boyfriend takes the money and gambles it on cockfights! I feel completely disgusted!!! Of course, my wife stormed off after I slapped her face and has been asking for a divorce over the phone. In complete disgust I left and drove back to my home in the south. I wasn’t home more than a day when my wife called and we somewhat straightened things out. I sent her some money so she could buy a plane ticket to come back, but bearing in mind she is alcoholic, she could very well go on a drinking binge and I’m now sitting here at home waiting to see what is coming next!!!
So, you are probably sitting there reading this wondering why I’m putting up with all this? Well, I love my new wife very deeply and understand that she has a disease called alcoholism which makes her do very outrageous things. She is also an absolute beauty and can wake up from an alcoholic binge looking calm and serene, how she does it I don’t know. She is only 30 years old!
I’m painted into a corner right now But, other than the above, I still have my sanity, just about. I’m sitting at home now to see if my worthless wife shows up. If she doesn’t I’ll just have to be patient and maybe write everything off, cut my losses and go make a start some place else. As Shakespeare said, “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all…!” Which is fine but it is really painful to break up with my darling wife. We have been together for only 14 months! As I said, my wife has a disease and it’s basically wrecking our lives as she just can’t stop drinking!!! If I walk away she is going to go down and down and eventually hit rock bottom, maybe even die. She has threatened to kill herself when I tried to leave her in the past…so I feel rather stuck with the situation. She has also been diagnosed with BPD, Borderline Personality disorder, which can be summrd up in four words. “I hate you, don’t leave me”. People say there is no cure for alcoholism so I am contemplating walking away. I know she’ll end up in the gutter so it’s so hard. Thing is, I still love her very deeply and unfortunately she uses this to get control and I’m still the enabler because I give her money! How to get out of this vicious citcle? I pray to God, only He knows the answer!
@Ross – Thank you for sharing your story. I don’t have any advice other then the obvious (divorce) so I won’t pretend to know what you should or shouldn’t do. I do hear your pain, sadness and frustration. 🙁
You may want to consider getting checked for STD’s though. :-/
May God give you the strength to do what’s healthy for YOU.
I hear your pain and want to encourage you and your life. Love, especially in the beginning, always seems
so delightful. Your walking on cloud 9 and you have had
a big major fall back to reality. There is no magic
answer anyone can give you but in time you will figure it
out. You have well evaluated the turmoil you are facing.
Yet, your love for her is like putting blinders on the truth. Do not feel alone, all of us have to face harsh
realities. It is the alcoholism, her problem that you cannot cure. There are many alcoholics that eventually
cut back and better yet quit drinking. It takes quite
a while and you may want them to quit and they just may not
be able to. One of the web sights offers a book WHY DON’T THEY JUST QUIT, I cannot remember the author and rather
than the miserable confrontation it would cause I have
read the book and quickly got it out of the house. It
was a beginning point for me to look at things with my
eyes wide open. It helped a lot.
You sound like a very level headed kind of person
Take care of your self. I long ago forgot that there
was a me in this mess too. Things will work out for the better as time goes on you will know what you need to do for you and she will have to find her own way, with or with out you. Detatchment takes time.especially when
you have a long term relationship to consider. Good luck
and God be with you and guide your way. K
It is amazing when reading through our stories how similar they are and at the same time how different. Recently I was fortunate enough to be able to take a Christian counseling course through Liberty University and it helped me tremendously in trying to work through the issues of my life attached to an alcoholic. Dr. Tim Clinton in his lecture on Helping Distressed Couples used a term called “the anger of hope”. I realized this is exactly how I felt, the anger of hope is feeling that I can somehow get hold of you and shake this out of you and get you to change! Surely, you will see the destructiveness of this addiction and you will want to stop hurting yourself and your family. The Anger of Hope becomes the anger of hopelessness when it doesn’t work and with addiction, I have yet to see it work. Hopelessness weakens us and pulls us into this cycle of dysfunction. We often don’t even know where to begin to break the destructive cycle WE are in. Dr. Gary Oliver in Growth Focused Therapy had a great plan…. Its called SPAMO (easy to remember that way) We need to think of what we CAN do and stop looking at the alcoholic asking what will THEY do? We need to focus on moving forward, as opposed to just stopping something. For instance, I will stop trying to figure out if my spouse has been drinking today…. ok but will I DO? Here is where spamo comes in. In setting a goal for the day I will make it S-small and specific. P-positive (what can I do today thats positive) A-achievable M-measurable and O-observable. Small goals we can do!! Today I WILL move forward, I WILL go to work and crank up my music and choose not to dwell on what I cannot control. Today, I will read for an hour even if I have to sit in a park to do it (which is often the case…I prefer my peace with a Starbucks latte) Today, I will focus on a small, positive, achievable, measurable and observable goal and I WILL feel good about something I have control over!!
Sandy -yes I see and feell myself in each if these posts. Thank you sharing Hopeful Anger …I just was sharing how I keep thinking I’m going to say something that’s going to make his eyes open …and never look back. …but it doesn’t happen. Guess that part of my insanity . I’m learning
Thank you for the kind words and encouragement. You know. at first the term detaching from the alcoholic just went over my head. I was so involved in worrying about my wife whom I love so deeply. Where was she, is she in a bar drinking with another man, in a hotel room having sex, is she passed out somewhere, should I take the car and go look for her? That I never even thought about where I fit in. It was only after friends and people on the forum said to me “Hey, what about YOU, buddy?” Stop worrying about her and start taking care of you! That’s when the coin dropped and I realised that I had to let go and stop worrying and obsessing about my alcoholic wife. I hope she hits bottom and comes to her senses. I hope I don’t have to lose her but hey, I have to come through this. Thank you for all your support and encouragement.
I was surprised! I really felt very alone with this problem of an alcoholic wife whom I love deeply but who is totally out of control! I’m really pleased and grateful that there are folks out there who have been or are in the same position as me and who really care. I really am very moved by their kind words and concern.
I can see very clearly that as a wealth husband I am my wife’s enabler even though I don’t mean or want to be. I sent her money for a plane ticket to come home two days ago. Only to realise she is probably out drinking it away on a binge somewhere. She hasn’t shown up or made any attempt to come home. I was frantic for a day or so until I did what everyone told me to do. Stop obsessing and start detaching. I have managed to achieve that and found peace of mind at last! I really cannot control her and worrying just doesn’t change anything, and certainly won’t stop her drinking, so I had to let it go.
So, that’s where I am right now. I would love to attend one of these Al-non meeting but I live in Hua Hin, Thailand. That’s about 2 hours south of Bangkok. I think the nearest meeting take place in Bangkok and it’s a rather long way from here.
I took my wife to 3 AA meetings, took her to 2 marriage councillors who also suggested I attend Al non, a hospital psychiatrist, got her medication which she was always too drunk to take. The whole shebang. Result: she is constantly vanishing on binges, pawns all her jewelry. On the way home from the 3rd AA meeting my wife said “What’s wrong with drinking” and “I don’t want to stop drinking” I was shattered.
Oh the favourite trick here recently is that my wife’s “friends” ply her with booze, usually whisky, laugh and joke with her till she passes out. Then proceed to lift all her gold and vanish. She wakes up hours or days later and all her jewelry is gone. She then says to me “Oh, I lost it!”. Bullshit! I so often say “Your “Friends” are NOT your friends!” It falls on deaf ears.
So, let her get on with it. I’m going to stop enabling by refusing to give her any more money in any shape or form. It’s a real question of respect. There’s no respect of me her husband, my hard earned money, nor the material gifts and symbols of her marriage to me, ie her wedding and engagement rings which have either been stolen or end up in the pawn shop (6 times) so she can get money, so she can drink with her “friends”.
I could go on to tell you how her “friend” want to destroy her marriage through jealousy by introducing my wife to other men, who she proceeds to get drunk with and often ends up in bed with! Of course I get angry and I want to finish with her. Her “friend” are very please to see her fail and seem to derive great pleasure in destroying another persons happiness because fundamentally they themselves lead empty lives and are equally unhappy. Nice people these Thais!!!
Please let me know if there is an Al non meeting anywhere near where I am. I could really do with talking all this crap out. I need to let it out or I’m gonna go down to a bar with a sub machine gun and shoot all the drunks. Don’t worry, just kidding! But I do hate drunks so much as I don’t drink, period. So I can’t get my head around those inadequate people who do.
Lastly, my wife is gorgeous, intelligent, speaks fluent English and is young with everything going for her. So, my question, why does she drink and drink to excess? I can’t understand!!!!!!! It seems to have something to do with her past, the poverty she came from, doesn’t want to meet “rich people”. Some kind of defence mechanism gone very wrong! Can’t get my head around it. With me she has a future, a chance to be a great success which she has potential for but chooses to throw it all away from a bottle of whisky! Strange, crazy. I just don’t understand!
Hang in there Ross. If you “fall” (enable her again) pick yourself right back up and try again. Sounds like YOU have a lot going for yourself. It’s not an easy or simple task living with and or being in love with an alcoholic.
My husband is an alcoholic and we have 5 kids ages 17, 15, 2 year old twins, and an 8 month old. I’ve had a very difficult time with obsessing about his drinking and detachment due to times I need my husband to take responsibility for our kids when I’m out of the house for doctor & therapy appointments, going to church, running errands, etc. I have not wanted to get a divorce but I honestly do not see my husbands drinking, anger and negativity being healthy for our kids or myself. I will most likely file for a divorce but can take things (the process) slow if need be. I so wish and pray he would just “see the light”. It’s just so sad to see him miss out on so much with our little ones growing up so fast and not knowing how to interact with our teenagers in a healthy manor. 🙁
Best of luck to you Ross.
You’ll never know how much I appreciate your kind words. You are right, it’s got to be the hardest thing in the world to love an alcoholic. I think Saint Peter, when I knock on the heavenly gates, is going to say, “You were married to an alcoholic for how long?…Well Come right on in brother and take a cloud…the harps are over there, because You have earned your place in heaven!!!”
I will try and try again because I was taught that there is one word in the Bible which comes up again and again and again! It isn’t Love, nor is it Forgiveness. It’s the Word STEADFAST, STEADFAST, STEADFAST!. People ask me why I don’t divorce my wife? I tell them simply, “Because I love her too much and I know she has a disease”.
I.m going to try and try and try to help her if she’s ever ready herself to stop drinking. Because if I fail and she goes under or she kills herself with drink, I will never have to look at myself in the mirrow and be ashamed at who I see there,,,I will be steadfast to the end.
Good luck and God blees you. I hope you too will be steadfast and try to avoid divocing the man you loved and married. Just like the father of the Prodical Son, who never gave up loving, no matter how bad a loved one can be to us. This reflects God’s love for us all, no matter how bad we are, He never stops loving us.