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.

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



544 comments to Detaching From An Alcoholic

  • Bruce

    Mary: I like your poem. My girlfriend passed away 2 and 1/2 weeks ago. Do to alcoholism and drugs. There is nothing anybody could do. They make the choice to drink or quit. Wish my girlfriend would have made a better choice. Like you I am down to crying spells. Sometimes I’m just mad at her. I do hope to see her in heaven. God willing. Stay on this site. It does help.

  • Mary

    Hi Bruce,

    My lady friend who is end stage was more than a regular friend. She was like a sister to me. We went through EVERYTHING together…good times, bad times. We met in college. We were both going to be doctors. She got closer than I did to that goal as a registered nurse. I am a retired pharmacy tech. We were both runners and hikers. I am 60; she is only 55. I thought we would be hiking the mountain trails together when we were 90.

    She has made it clear that she does not want me around now. I hear that her friends and some of her family look after her. So every day I get up and look online at the local obituaries to see if she has passed away yet. How sick is that? What a thing to have to do every day.

    I signed up for a free grief class. When I signed up for it I assumed my friend would have passed before the class started. But she rallied somehow so I was in the class that was really meant for people who had already lost someone. The class still helped me. I learned a lot about how to grieve.


  • L.

    Marie, You rock! Light and Love on your walk …

  • Debbi

    Your words are the best explanation for the A lying I have heard yet–you are “spot on”!
    “He tells others lies about me, I now think it was just to keep people from getting close to me so I wouldn’t be able to let them know I am dealing with an alcoholic.”
    Mine drove my friends away & had his family thinking I was “nuts”.

    Your Counselor was absolutely right with those words “But the person we abandon even more is OURSELVES!” It’s great to see you hiking & moving on–I need to follow your wonderful example–you have 2 A’s in your life and a son suffering from mental illness–yet you go on & inspire all of us!

    Where would I have been without you & your inspiring words these last 9 months. My story so different than yours–mine drank at home & hid it so no one stuck up for me–his lies about me were to his family, & my friends to break up friendships. But although our A’s are different the basics of what you have been “drumming into my head” is right–Take Care of Me!–You are truly another one of my heroes for listening & putting up with me!

    Thank you to 3 Heroic Women–God Bless You for keeping me on the right path!

  • Mary

    Hi everyone,

    I have been helping out a close friend who is going through rough times. I let my own “chores” in my living space go…to help out and also to go hike while the weather was good. Then I got the news that my son with mental health problems was in the hospital…twice…back to back.

    The news took all the wind out of my sails. I was physically exhausted from hiking.

    When things are going well, I am a force to be reckoned with. I may be 60 years old but on a good day I can outwork people a third my age.

    I have had disturbed sleep with awful dreams. I dreamed I went hiking with my son who has the mental health issues and he was talking nonsense and I let him wander away from me. The other family members showed up in the dream and I felt SO guilty because I did not stay with him. It was such a relief to wake up from that dream.

    So I did something out of character for me! I decided to be kind to myself and not expect so much from myself. I went back to bed this morning and took a morning nap. I guess I finally got enough sleep to feel “normal” and now I feel that I can recreate some order in my living space. Before the nap I felt exhausted and mentally worn out and I just could not seem to develop a game plan for putting things away.

    I guess my new insight is that while keeping on top of my chores and such is ONE way to take care of myself, cutting myself some slack after receiving devasting news is another way to take care of myself.

    I realized yesterday that I had a lot of weird thoughts going on about my son. I tried something I learned in my grief class. I got 2 pieces of paper and wrote down the weird thoughts on the first page. Here is what I wrote: (note: “George” is NOT my son’s real name!”

    1. I will never get to hear “George” play guitar again.
    2. George will always have the delusion that I am the enemy.
    3. George will hurt other people.
    4. George will hurt himself.

    I looked at what I had written. It is all my mind thinking of worst case scenarios. I labelled everything on the page as “unhelpful garbage” and I tore the page into little pieces.

    On the other page I wrote:

    1. George will, with therapy and treatment return to his former self, and I will get to spend time with him and he will play the guitar.
    2. George will experience a return to rational thinking and realize that I care about him and try my best to help him.
    3. George has always been a peaceful person. He will keep other people safe.
    4. George will return to mental health and practice self care.

    What a difference!

    The old thoughts sometimes still surface but I remind myself that I threw those thought patterns into the trash yesterday so I don’t need to think them anymore.

    I understand that things may not turn out as rosy as I wrote them on the second page. But I figure I will do better if I concentrate on the outcomes I would like to see manifest. If it does not turn out quite that nicely I can deal with that when the time comes.

    And now I believe I will endeavor to create a small area of order in my living space!


  • mace

    I am feeling much better about myself and allowing the hurt to do just that..hurt. I am smart with an advanced degree and just don’t know how I allowed myself to get tangled up with him.

    I did try calling, but with his lack of funds, the phone is cut off, and the water was cut off last week. Of course it was the water company’s fault. The gas was cut off in March, and I helped with the bill.

    His mortgage is behind, desperately, but I now see the pattern because he got fired, but of course it was the company’s fault again. The blame is just unbelievable, but until I found this website, I didn’t know that that was a sign of an alcoholic!!

    It’s Mother’s Day and I can’t physically be with my kids or Mom or him..SAD! I am obsessing a little bit because this is so new, less than a week since I MADE the decision to get out. He says he doesn’t want a relationship because he has nothing to give but friendship. He really can’t give that because he drinks a pint of cheap liquor in the morning with 22oz of beer, and the same at night, and anything in-between if he can get his hands on it.

    The light bulb moment came when a mutual friend said that “he would drink anything..even rubbing alcohol.” Wow..what a statement!!

    I guess I fear him trying to return..I KNOW he will. Just praying for strength to get to a meeting in my area, cause while online is great, I need a shoulder to cry on..really.

  • Mary

    Hi Mace,

    Holidays are always difficult.

    I have 3 adult sons. The oldest still functions but drinks too much in my opinion. The middle son is in about the same boat that you describe in your email…he is out of work, drinking like a fish, about to be evicted from his house, and facing legal battles because of things he has done, all alcohol or addiction related. I hear he accepted a plea bargain that includes two overlapping treatment programs. That is the only good news. It remains to be seen whether he will comply with the programs and work them

    My youngest son has a mental illness. He just completed two back to back 3 day hospitalizations for anger management problems. AND he is NOT on medication and NOT seeking professional advice. He is delusional and one of his delusions is that his mother and father hate him and cause all his problems. (When in fact his problems are now caused by his untreated mental illness.)

    My oldest son is in denial about the fact that the middle son is an alcoholic.

    I went through a “phase” when things were better where I experimented with “not celebrating” holidays. It began a pattern where my 3 sons just do not communicate with me at all. Now I am sorry I made this choice.

    A part of me would like to spend time with my sons on Mother’s Day. But then I examine this “desire to spend time.” I ask myself: Do you REALLY want to spend time with your oldest son, given the fact that any time he is not at work he is drinking? Do you REALLY want to spend time with your middle son who is still in denial about his addictions? Do you REALLY want to try and spend time with your delusional, violent (he was NOT violent before the mental illness!) son with the mental illness? (He punched a little female nurse. He could punch me, too!)

    My older two sons both have doctorate level degrees. Addiction has no respect for anything, including education! I have a number of job skills and quite a bit of college. And yet here I am in this position.

    I have a guy friend who offered to “hang out” with me some today. I am going to accept the offer. That is a mixed bag as well. We have been “an item” for about 3 years. He is younger than me and showing signs of being ready to move on. He is talking about joining the military. In my intellectual mind I know I will find a way to carry on without him. But it is a painful thing to think about, especially on Mother’s Day.

    I have a nice email friend and HE sent me an email and wished me Happy Mother’s Day.

    If it has only been a week, then I should think it would be NORMAL for you to be in pain now. And the only way I know out of the pain is THROUGH the pain.

    I have done a lot of research on both alcoholism and on mental health issues. It seems to help me to UNDERSTAND these topics so I can make sense of what is happening around me. I had my public library order a copy of AA/s “Big Book” and I read it from cover to cover. I go to Al Anon meetings as needed. Years ago I drank heavily for about 2 years. Sometimes I go to an AA meeting as well to make sure “I” don’t fall into the problem as an escape from my pain. Did you know that if the meeting is an open meeting and it is a speaker’s night, you could go to an AA meeting? I tried that and hearing someone tell all the things he had done before his recovery someone helped me to deal with the sad reality of my son’s life. My son was once a practicing health care professional with everything going for him. Now he is about to be homeless. This is what an addiction can do to a person.

    We don’t cause the addiction and we can not cure it. The addiction is inborn in the person’s biochemistry. All it takes is exposure to the chemical of choice and the addiction process begins.

    I thought up this idea and maybe it will help you. When I went to my first Al Anon meeting, my son’s alcohol problems were my entire thought pattern. If my life and my thoughts were thought of as a meal, his problem was my WHOLE MEAL.

    As I worked a 12 step program myself through Al Anon, his problem began to take on less importance. At first it was most of my meal. Then I began recreating MY OWN life. It felt really weird. I felt like a traitor. But I did it anyway…I went on with my life.

    Now? My life meal is all mine except for a tiny sliver (maybe 1/16th of a pie!) of a dessert that I do not even have to partake of on a given day.

    This thing happened slowly over time. I was in college when I realized my son had a severe drinking problem. That was last fall. I ended up dropping out of college because I had no mental focus at all. I cried all the time. I found a therapist. I am still in therapy to deal with all my losses.

    I would predict that he WILL return. Addicted people always try again if they have had success with getting support for their habit in the past. The only kind thing to do is to be honest and tell him that unless he cleans himself up, you will no longer enable his lifestyle.

    If you want some advice for today, this is what I would suggest. Decide how much time you think is reasonable to grieve. Use that time to be as sad or angry or whatever. Then choose something nice to do for yourself that you think you can actually DO…and do it. And make a list of everything you are grateful for.

    I still count myself as grateful that my 3 sons are still alive on Planet Earth. As long as they are alive, there is yet hope!

    I have my health and I intend to make use of it! I still hike and camp. I am toying with the idea of hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2014. I will be 61 years old then. I hiked for 6 hours yesterday. (I find if I am really tired I sleep better.)

    I hope my ramblings were of some help to you.


  • mace

    Wow! Problems in life are certainly a matter of perspective.

    I do feel better and the main thing I got was with only one week into this, of course it hurts and is very difficult. I am standing my ground, cause it’s just no fun being with him, the lies, the blame and the lack of respect.

    Thanks..I’m so glad this forum is available.

  • Bruce

    Hello Mary: Thank you for the your well written comment! To all of the Mothers out there. Have Blessed And Happy Mothers Day!

  • Mon

    Hello, 🙂
    It has been about a month I left him and after reading this I come to see he could very well be an alcoholic. He tried to break up a few of my friendships, would drink a lot when we were together now that I look back, he initially told me his mother had cancer (lie) then [insert different illness here] THEN he told me she was/is an alcoholic. I’ve never been around any alcoholics so i was so ignorant to this. He also began to show more anger towards the end, got violent by punching things, slamming the breaks suddenly to where my phone flew and majority of his lies surfaced but he never admitted to them but I knew. I’m having a difficult time because he works for the same company as me. I was such a good girlfriend to him. I was always there with a open heart as well as a wallet (smh) and did everything genuinely as I’ve been raised. I guess you can say I was “ride or die”. I know his upbringing was tough but mine was not so I tried to show him better. And he said he’s never been treated so well by anyone (not sure if that was a line). We were together a year and he was hinting to us living together. He knew I wouldn’t because I want to be married before I do that. After I broke up with him he tried to tell me he’d be a better man but the lies I brought up he still denied. I knew it wouldn’t be different and I stuck to my decision. He started giving me dirty looks at work, throwing documents he had to hand over to me and then tried to ask me if I wanted anything to eat. I declined politely. He would go from hot to cold within seconds. My main point to writing to you is to ask you how and what the best method is? I really always like to help people and as much hurt and pain he’s caused me I see him as a person with an illness. I am reading, blogging and spending time with my family/friends. I still find it difficult and find myself in tears. I would like to move on completely and find peace again. He made me very anger which is not part of my nature. Thank you in advance.

  • K

    Hi Mon,

    It has been a little less than 3 months since I left my alcoholic boyfriend and I still am struggling and have times when I am in tearsand miss him terribly…I know I still love him but understand his illness is dominant and the person he can be is trapped under it. Ultimately, there is nothing we can do. I have no doubt you were a wonderful girlfriend. I was as well! My ex knew I was and admitted he sabotaged things and that he just “enjoys” drinking too much. Anyways, I know here you’re coming from…alcoholics have the same patterns and sadly we cannot truly help them. They need to want help. Detaching is so hard. I texted him a week after we broke up and he admitted he had been binging nonstop the entire week. Now, I can only imagine he is sleeping around, drinking his income and being exactly the same. Even if we love them, we have to let them go. It is a process and even though I still feel in love with him,I don’t speak to him and I focus on me and doing things I love, and spending time with friends and my dog. We have to find our strength frm something and remember we always have something to be thankful for. We can pray and hope for their recovery but involving ourselves only hurts us more than brings us joy. We think if we love them enough they will change or that we mean enough to them to want to change. But my ex burned bridges with family and past relationships, friendships, lost jobs. All to alcoholism, yet he drinks. It is a disease of the mind and body and we unfortunately have no control. I never want to be involved with an alcoholic or heavy drinker again. I need someone stable, loving, and someone who can be fully present for me. I wish it were him, but he can’t. It makes me angry, but anger is just a mask for hurt… But it is not about us. Take care of you and in time it will be ok.

  • Mon

    Hi K!
    After reading your response (which I thank you for btw bc it was so honest and appreciated) I found many tears streaming down my face. I felt so alone in this because no one around me has dealt with anyone like him. He is ignoring everyone and anyone at our job that has anything to do with me. I feel bad bc they have no fault in this but I guess it’s what he chooses. I know I don’t know you but I just know you also were a great girlfriend! I know how that goes too well. There’s nothing but truth to what you said and at my strongest I feel what you wrote about. I came across this article a few days ago and if I may suggest something to you as I feel it’s made a little bit of a difference for me. The article stated to look in the mirror 3 times a day and say the following 25 times(I know it’s plenty lol) ” I let go of [exs name here] with love and free myself from the chains of my past to allow new love to enter my life.” I’ve been doing it and can honestly say I feel better. A very small bit but its suppose to increase as the days go by. Positive affirmation! 🙂 One again thank you. 🙂 I wish you to a speedy recovery from this and a healthy relationship in the near future for you. You take care and stay strong. You’ve come a long way. And it is THEIR issue. We could have only helped if they were willing to help themselves.

  • K

    That is a great affirmation, I will definitely do it. Thank you for the suggestion 🙂 and you are welcome, I wish the same for you 🙂

  • Mary

    I need a little support here. My son was an alcoholic. He drove drunk. He did it one time too many and wrapped his car around a tree and died. It has been a week. I KNEW this was apt to happen. He died painlessly and instantly from a neck/brain injury. It was a majestic and merciful release from the disease of alcoholism.

    He was involved with a sociopath who is the mother of my grandchild. They have been apart for over 2 years. My now deceased son broke contact with her because she is so violent and hateful. My oldest son has decided to befriend the woman even though she caused my now deceased son endless pain. His intentions are good but the woman will cut everyone to shreds. She has already insulted me many times while I was going through my son’s belongings. I said nothing and left. My oldest son thinks if he is nice to her she will let the family see my granddaughter. I know that this will only happen at her convenience and when she gets tired of it she will do as she pleases. My oldest son has involved her in the memorial service and she took it over and it is now HER service. My son who died would flip out if he knew she was developing and running the upcoming service! He would flip out if he knew she was inside his house, insulting his mother!

    I looked up sociopaths online and learned that the only way to deal is to avoid them. So I will NOT be going to my son’s memorial service. I am in enough pain now without subjecting myself to her and her insults.

    I guess I will have to create my own private memorial service with a few of my friends and that will have to suffice for me.

    This is so hard. I raised my sons mostly as a single parent. To lose my son when he was only 31 and then to be disrespected as his mother and have this woman that my son was NOT on speaking terms run the memorial service SUCKS.

  • K

    Hi Mary,

    I am so very sorry to hear about your son’s passing. What a fear we all have for those suffering from alcoholism. My heart is heavy for you and I will keep you and your son in my thoughts and prayers.

    I am sorry as well that someone other than you is taking over the service. It is hard in those times to put your foot down especially if there are mixed opinions(like with your other son). Ultimately, you have to do what is best for you although I am saddened you will not be at his service. But your son knows and loves you and like you said, would not want her running it! When you have a small service for him, that will mean the most. I hope that it may bring you some peace. I am so sorry. I worried and continue to worry about my ex boyfriend, who drives drunk and who had done so with me in the car(terrible). Sometimes we will never fully understand but like you have said, your son is at peace and free from this horrible disease. Please take care and know you are in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Mary

    Hi K,

    I discovered that my son drove drunk routinely last fall. I was in school. I became clinically depressed and dropped out. I went to Al Anon meetings. I did achieve serenity…the sense that whatever my son did, I would somehow be alright. I got a therapist. I attended a grief group to learn how to grieve.

    It still was devastating. I cried for 24 hours straight except for 2 hours when I slept. I cried so much I thought my face might fall off. My eyes and nose were all swollen.

    I could see this possibility developing. It became more of a probability than a possibility. Every day I got up and prayed he had not killed innocent people overnight. At least it was just him.

    My son had just been court ordered into a treatment program. Before the supervision (random pee tests, etc.) and treatment could begin this happened. I thought we were going to get recovery and reconciliation but instead we got removal. Maybe he would not have complied with the treatment and gone to jail. Who knows.

    Thanks for you kind words.

    My oldest son “thinks” he is acting in my granddaughter’s best interests. I know his attempt will fail but I have to let him at least try.

    The obituary was in the paper today. I wrote it along with my oldest son. At least I got to do that much for my son who is now gone. I know that my refusal to participate in that memorial service would mean something to my son who is gone.

    What a mess.

    My son spent his last evening in a local place to eat, listen to music and drink. I am a recovered alcoholic myself (recovered WAY before I had my kids) so I can NOT drink. I went to the place on Friday evening and listened to music and ate a meal. I felt my son’s presence. It was peaceful. I am glad he spent his last night on Earth in a place he liked to be. I just wish he would have called a cab instead of driving home.

  • mace

    Weeping may endure for a night, but joy will come in the morning!

    I applaude you for NOT going and staying strong, even though it must hurt. Letting go is the hard part. I hope you can continue to be a part of your grandchild’s life. It sounds like her mother is a real trip. I’ve learned to let go and let God handle crazy folks.

    Karma..what goes up, must come down. Be patience, keep praying, keep posting, and know that we have been through all types of alcoholic behaviors with the ones we love.

    My deepest sympathy to you..

  • Mary

    Hi Mace,

    This all turn a turn for the unexpected. I got together with my other 2 sons and they CONVINCED me that they NEED me there. I met with the family members who are hosting the memorial service and found out that I AM the one on the “inside” here….the attitude that my son’s ex had such that SHE was running the memorial were all her blowing smoke. She ALWAYS “thinks” SHE is the center of everything.

    My sons promised to stand by me. I found out about LOTS of people who are coming…there may be 100 people there.

    I would never have expected the degree of support I am getting from all the people around me. Everyone already knows how my son’s ex treated him. SHE is the “only” person there with an axe to grind against me. Everyone else will honor me as a grieving mother.

    So I soldier forward with hope.

    Thanks for your encouragement!


  • mace

    That is so very good and I am happy for you. I only wanted to support your previous decision of not going. Of course, you should be there!!
    Support is out there, and at least you have some in your other children.

    Keep pressing on. I am with or without my alcoholic 😉

  • Mary

    Hi Mace,

    There is a blog online called The Immortal Alcoholic. It says on that blog that even when alcoholics enter treatment, many relapse anyway. I remember this fact and it stops my mind from wishing we had all done an intervention on my son’s behalf.

    I had already reached a point of serenity about my son’s alcoholic behavior. I knew I would be able to press on, regardless of whether or not he recovered. OF COURSE I had hoped for recovery. It just was not meant to be for my son.

    I found a nice scholarly report online about parents who lose a child. The report said that parents who have more than one child and can maintain a relationship with their remaining children do better than parents who only had one child.

    Then, it said that parents who can find meaning in their child’s life, in their child’s death, and a new meaning and purpose in their own life as they carry on after the death, have the best outcomes.

    I lost my father when I was 16 years old. Life went on, to my great surprise and delight.

    I definitely find meaning in my son’s life. He lived BIG. He went to college and got a doctorate level degree. He had a highly paid and highly respected position as a health care provider. He was GOOD at what he did! At one point he was living the American dream, with the lovely house in a protected neighborhood, a new car, and all the comforts life can provide. I lived with him for a while and my granddaughter asked if we “lived posh.” I told her that we did!

    My son’s death was instant and painless. It was a merciful release from the agony of alcoholism.

    I still have lots of hopes and dreams and desired activities left in my life.

    So, according to the article I will fare well.

    Now, if I can just find a way to sleep in one 8 hour unbroken stretch again, maybe life will begin to assume a “new normal”.


  • Mon

    Hello All,

    I have just broken up with my bf of 1 year. I have suspected he is an alcoholic. He told me his mother is after initially telling me she had cancer followed by MS. He lied to me numerously, was disrespectful and in the end began to be loud and violent. Mostly getting in my face and throwing things. He admitted he drank for four nights straight to be able to sleep and I had not one clue(we live separate)and I asked if he thought he had a alcohol problem a d he answered no. I know many people in his family have passed die to alcoholism. I have never been around this disease and I just wanna ask based off what I have mentioned does he seem to be an alcoholic? I left him. Saying I don’t love him would be a lie. We also work at the same facility. While he was with me I influenced him positively with school, family, life and God. He stopped coming to church towards the end. I do not want to be in the relationship with him because I do not feel safe as I once did but he doesn’t have support around him. His biological father never was around and he does not have many friends. I just want to ask if he does sound like an alcoholic should I try to help him or not and if so how? I’d love to hear any suggestions.

  • Coreen

    Mon: You got out with your self-esteem and clear head. Believe me when I tell you, spending more time with him would have ruined your personality and quite possibly your life if you spent years with him.

    Maybe you should put on paper just what caused you to leave. Write down his behavior and how it affected you. It only gets worse with a drinker and you are the main person he would take out his anger caused by the drinking. He has an alcoholic personality. Even with sobriety, his behavior would likely continue as it has been.

    If you will go on the internet, you will find articles that tell you to “run” when you meet an alcoholic. You have only one life – make it the best – laugh a lot and travel.

  • Mary

    The odds of an alcoholic recovering are slim. I heard in an AA meeting that statistically, out of 23 alcoholics, 22 will die of the disease, and only 1 will walk through the doors of a 12 step program and remain sober. You might try reading the blog The Immortal Alcoholic if you would like to learn what would lie ahead if you stayed with him.

  • Bruce

    Mon: Listen to Coreen. Get out . Follow your gut feeling. It will get worse if he is an alcoholic. My AG would not quit. We had her funeral(alcohol & drugs) a little over 2 months ago. She was only 38. If you don’t get out you will be brought down by him. It will be tough to do. But if you are sure he is an alcoholic end it. For your sake!!!

  • Mary

    I agree that you should get out.

    My 31 year old son, an addict and an alcoholic (formerly a pharmacist who practiced for 3 years!) drove drunk one time too many and on May 19th of this year slammed his car into a tree and died. His brother is 33, also a pharmacist, and also drinks and drives. This continues even AFTER his brother’s death. The aftermath caused my youngest son, 25 to make 2 suicide attempts.

    I am an alcoholic with 5 years of sobriety. The pain of losing my son has awakened an urge to drink within me to escape the pain. So I attend AA meetings on a regular basis. I can do nothing for my children because they are adults and they have freedom of choice. For me, I can work a 12 step program and stay sober, one day at a time. I also am going to a grief group through the local hospice to help me mourn the loss of my wonderful son. My son was wonderful…the disease of alcoholism is NOT wonderful.

  • Mon

    Coreen,Bruce, Mary: hank you all for your responses! I appreciate your wise words and support. I have no problem not contacting him. He’s the ones who’d always initiated it when I’ve left. This time around I’m not going to accept when he says he’ll change. He’s still in denial. Mary: I’m very sorry for your loss. You are doing all the right things for you and your health. I pray for you and your recovery. Stay strong. Bruce:I’m sorry for your loss. I agree with all you said. It would have only gone south with him. As hard as it is for me to not help someone in need I have to make this the exception and try to not feel guilty. I mean this is my life here and I can’t share it with someone who I don’t trust and can’t admit they are sick. I pray for your healing. Coreen:: Youre right when you say I left with my self esteem. I am feeling my sanity return. I think staying with him would have damaged me beyond repair. Im thankful I got out before it went from bac to worse. Thanks again! Take care, everyone!

  • Keep ItWhether or not you are current, and if you have been denied a debt
    counselling by any other financial transaction.
    No to be pessimist, but you must have made many changes to the way you dress.

  • Mike

    I want to detach so much, that I want to be alone again.
    I can make wise remarks and try to make myself feel good, but none of it works.
    I am tired, and thinking of the rest of my life with her depresses me.
    I wish someone would have showed me the REAL life that occurs when you marry an alcoholic.
    I thought that she could stop instantly like I did 16 years ago.
    I didn’t realize that I was a freak in doing that.
    If I could go back one year, I would have never married her.
    We need to educate people about alcoholism, so that we can save others from marrying into a nightmare of a life.
    Alcoholics do not want to stop and the sooner we admit that, the better we can become.
    Never marry into addiction.

  • Debbi

    I totally agree Mike–I hate the day I met my ex husband & get mad at myself for not seeing the alcohol, or even just seeing his behavior showed signs of abnormality that should have raised the flag to me. My life feels ruined because of what he did to me and left me battling an illness with no insurance–still not sure why I’m alive because it might have been better if I had not survived.

  • Mike:

    Thank you so much for your brave post. You clearly spell out how life is with an alcoholic and I am sorry you are having a very difficult time. I absolutely have been there although I did not marry him – he never stopped drinking no matter what dire situation I presented – dying horrible death, losing contact with friends and family, etc.

    I have never liked the taste of any alcohol, so it is impossible for me to get that people can’t stop drinking it. It makes me so angry to see people act out in restaurants/bars and expect others to accept the behavior. I am done with drinkers!

  • My dear friend died unexpectedly early in July. We had become very close over the past 7 years. He was a kind, compassionate, and intelligent man. I found out early on in our friendship that he was an alcoholic. I did my best to stay detached. I set up boundaries to protect myself. I did not help him find his car when he couldn’t remember where he left it. I would not come and get him and drive him home because he was too drunk. If he was too drunk to go somewhere with me, then i just went without him. His alcoholism was the reason i would not consider a more intimate, romantic relationship with him. G was never angry or abusive while drinking. Over time, he began drinking more and more. In February, he had to go on disability due to back problems. He filled his time up with drinking. His father and I both told him he needed to get some help. He was at my house two weeks before he died. He had to run to the bathroom to throw up. Instead of reaching out and saying “are you okay?” or “what’s going on?” i said to myself “that’s pathetic.” I judged him. He said he’d call me later and i just said “yeah.” That was the last time i ever saw him or spoke to him. I am feeling guilty over this. I feel like i should have talked with him about this problem long ago, instead of waiting until it escalated. I feel that by protecting myself, i failed my friend.

  • Bruce

    Ruthie: You did the right thing. I lost my girlfriend back in April unexpectedly too! She was an alcoholic and drug abuser. She died in her pj’s on the couch watching tv. Her poor body just gave out. She was only 38. You can only do so much for an alcoholic/drug abuser. Until they decide to get help, all you can really do is watch. I know this sounds coldhearted. Until they are ready to quit nothing will happen. Regardless of what you do. I spoke to my girlfriend about her problems. Argued, took her to AA meetings,counseling with our minister. Nothing worked. You can not babysit them. You did not fail your friend. Your friend failed himself. I wish you well in your recovery from your loss.

  • Ruthie:

    You have been a wonderful friend. You were supportive but you just can’t see it. You know you could not have stopped him from drinking – it was his right to conduct his life his way. The only thing you could have done is throw him in a car or ambulance and take him to a hospital for evaluation – he would have fought that, and he would have stayed home with the booze.

    I am so terribly sad right now knowing there are so many people living with an alcoholic who will never stop drinking and will eventually die a terrible death. Alcohol should be handed out by doctors! What else can we do? Having liquor stores open in all states is killing a lot of people. I, for one, only buy a bottle of wine or whatever if friends are coming over. My friends barely drink – one male friend has only 2 beers on a Saturday night at the yacht club – he has seen what can happen by the addiction to alcohol.

    Please go on a trip – meet new people in your local coffee shop – try a new sport – go to Disney World and be a kid again. Celebrate your life right now – we have one chance, and you are to stop feeling like you failed your friend- please.

  • I know i was wise to stay detached. I cared for this man very deeply. He was a great match for me in every other way. I knew that living with him would be a disaster, and i have a son that i would not expose to that situation. When we weren’t together, I didn’t obsess about what he might be doing/if he were drinking. He was never abusive or mean, he was always kind and compassionate to everyone who knew him. but he did tell me so many lies – all about his drinking. I always knew they were lies because that’s what addicts do.I just thought there was still time to get help,but he didn’t and his drinking killed him. he died alone in his home and wasn’t found for several days. His neighbor called to tell me. There was no service or visitation. he was cremated quickly.It’s like he just vanished. It’s hard to accept that he isn’t going to call any day now. I miss him every day. I know it will get better in time but right now, it just really hurts.Bruce, i am so sorry for your loss. I know how it hurt you to watch her destroy herself.

  • Ellyn

    I posted earlier in a different section but wanted to post here too.

    I’m having trouble detaching. I recently cried for 2 weeks straight then got angry after my AH picked a fight at 2am on a work night that lasted an hour and a half.
    Now I feel sad again. I don’t want it to end. I texted him today saying that I loved him and got no response.
    Has he stopped loving me? I ask myself. Is he trying to detach? (he said that he was moving out Oct. 1st during a fight but hasn’t mentioned anything since).
    He still sleeps in the same bed as I do. I’m just really confused.

    Any suggestions? I’m seeing my talk therapist tonight but wanted some feedback from people who have gone through it as well.

    (PS…he just texted back saying Love you too).

  • Mary

    It is your choice whether or not to continue relating to your AH. I am sure that in his own way he probably does love you.

    I lost my middle son in May. He was an alcoholic and he drove drunk one time too many and had a fatal car accident. He had broken contact with me because we butted heads over his drinking lifestyle. So I had little contact with him the last 9 months of his life. It is very sad.

    My oldest son is also an alcoholic and he is fighting me tooth and nail as I attempt to bring my deceased son’s estate into compliance with estate law. His drinking has removed all common sense from his brain. He just offered to break all contact with me once the estate is settled. It sucks to have one son die and another one choose drinking and spiteful actions over his mother. But that is part of the disease of alcoholism.

    I attend Al Anon and AA meetings. I can tell you this. With an AH, alcohol comes FIRST. It is the person’s first love. Alcoholics drink because they can not stop. Without a program like AA, they will pursue their addiction to insanity and death.

    I cried A LOT after my middle son broke contact with me. I knew he was killing himself. But I was a wet blanket on his drinking, partying lifestyle and he wanted nothing to do with me. I did sent him emails and u.s. mails and I told him that I loved him. Love was not enough. He still died.

    I wish you all the best.


  • Mary – love is never enough. My alcoholic friend G loved me, i know. But i also knew he couldn’t stop drinking, no matter how much he loved me or i loved him. This man was kind, gentle and intelligent. But he could not be convinced to get treatment for his illness. He insisted it was a habit and he just had to quit.i did everything “right” – i detached, i didn’t enable, i didn’t allow myself to get sucked under with him. I kept some distance when he was drinking. But i still lost him. I recently discovered that he somehow managed to convince a doctor to give him methadone for his back pain. I don’t know how he did it, because his regular doctor knew he was a very heavy drinker. His regular doc had also given him anticonvulsants to take so he could quit without having seizures – not to be taken while drinking. But he continued to drink, and i can’t believe with his history these doctors wouldn’t know that. He died at home in July and wasn’t discovered for several days. I don’t believe they could do an autopsy because of the decomposition. I have yet to hear a definitive cause of death from his dad. I assume he accidentally OD’d. I know that only he is to blame for this, not his doctors, not me or anyone else. But i still love him and miss him. G and i never “butted heads” over his drinking – he knew he needed to quit, he just couldn’t and couldn’t admit that he couldn’t just will himself to stop. i guess i am lucky that i never lost contact with him and we were friends until the end. the hardest part is that when i last saw him, he was walking out my door, down my steps. and that was the last time i saw him. He was cremated without any service or visitation. I am still having trouble even believing or accepting his death. I still imagine that he is here with me. probably not healthy. Even if your alcoholic loves you and knows that you worry and knows that his drinking is going to kill him eventually, he won’t stop drinking; he can’t without help. Sorry that i am going on and on about my story. Ellyn, i am sorry you are going through this. It is hard to love someone and just watch them destroy themselves. i am glad you are seeing a therapist. Just don’t put yourself in harm’s way. Keep safe and take care of yourself. You can’t take care of him, no matter how much you want to. And Mary, i’m so sorry for your loss(es). Losing a child is the absolute worse. I cannot imagine how to even begin to deal with that. I will keep you in my thoughts. And i say keep posting as long as you need to – even if you’ve said it before. Sometimes your own friends just don’t want to hear about it anymore, even if you aren’t done needing to talk about it. lobe and luck to you both. Stay strong and take care of yourselves.

  • Pez

    Mary, thanx for your lead to the site the immortal alcoholic. I asked for more understanding/compassion for the disease/addiction and this site helped. The mothers blog on her husband Riley is heartbreaking and tragic. It is unbelievable the power of this addiction over someones own life and breath. It really is beyond comprehension for the non-alcoholic. But at least I can see a little more.

  • Susan

    I am so grateful for this site! I am not always able to get to Alanon meetings and the information here is a tremendous help. After 32 years of marriage to an alcoholic, i woke up one day and decided to break free. I was going through a very sad time where I decided I didn’t want it in my life any longer. Learning that we were going to once again lose another house because of lies about money, I decided that at 51 years of age I was going to start my life over. I was scared but jubilant!! I had not been “on my own” since 19. My wonderful parents threw their doors open for me and my fur baby. I was about to embark on a new life. My kids were shocked. I had shielded them all of these years from my own pain, although they had enough of their own from a dad who showed them conditional, incomplete and immature love. The 3 of them missed out on the kind of live they deserved. I thrived at my parents home. After 2 months of waiting for him to contact me or realize what he needed to do to get help, I decided that I had waited 31 years too long- WHY am I giving him one more day of my life?? I filed for divorce. I was absolutely free of him physically. Now I go to work on the emotional issues. My self esteem was in the gutter. But God held me in his arms like a crying infant and nurtured me through. I met a wonderful, healthy man, dated for 15 months and decided to get married. Our first few months of marriage were great – just the normal newlywed ups and downs of getting used to living together. I moved about45 mins away from my family which presents a challenge. And then we found out that my youngest son, 25, who is good at hiding, was a full blown alcoholic. My oldest son knew. But was afraid to tell me. He lived with his girlfriend who was also hiding it. He called me, having what he called a melt down, and I took him to the dr. Because I thought he was having a panic attack! The dr took one look at him and said he suspects alcohol withdrawal! I started crying because I was so panicked- here that ugly monster was right back our lives. He admitted that he was trying to detox himself. I brought him home with me thinking he could detox at my house with medication and the dr agreed as long as he was supervised. What followed was unbelievable. He was in psychosis- having full blown conversations with people not there, serving drinks to people in my kitchen, changing his outfit every 1/2 hour- it was like he was dreaming with his eyes wide open. He even saw Mexican drug lords with AK47s in my front yard! It was scary yet amazing- something I have never witnessed. He was up 24 hours a day and never slept. I feared for his safety. 2 days of that and we took him back to the dr and admitted him to the hospital. After detox, we allowed him to come to our house with boundaries and rules. That lasted 2 days when his girlfriend drove out to get him and we didn’t see him for 36 hours. When she dropped him off at 2 am he was locked out. She called me to tell me what a horrible mother I was and I told her she can just take him right back home with her. I didn’t hear from him for a week. That was when she kicked him out and dropped him off at his grandmother’s house. Shes 79 my dad is 80. They were beside themselves. I was far away and we decided he could spend the night and we will take action the next day. He helped himself to the vodka there and turned into an angry fit. I got to my parents and escorted him out of there, drove him to his brothers, which on the ride there he attempted to jump out if moving car, talked to him about treatment and he made the call – but I think, looking back it was only because he had no other options at that moment. It took 2 weeks to get him in the center( no health insurance). What happened during that rime is another novel. He came out of there ready to fight for his life but he hated the half-way house he was staying in and started drinking after 1 week. Every excuse in the book was made, classic of course- they are heroin addicts, they don’t dress like me their music is different, I’m a square peg in a round hole blah blah blah. So he got kicked out of there, spent a night outside in the rain until my sister and brother-in-law went out and rescued him. My anxiety has been full blown . I’m learning to breath and take care of myself and made the choice not to call him to make sure he is ok. It’s a daily choice to detach and I am learning as I go. God is faithful! This journey will never be over. It’s just learning to take care of myself so I can live.

  • Hello to all….I have been reading all the letters on this site for months and they have helped me deal with my situation with my husband which has been disastrous for at least the last 12 years of our 34 year
    marriage…I never thought I would be in this place at this time in my life but I am sure nobody else did
    either….many people are much worse off than I am and I feel bad for them….but that does not always help
    when my husband is abusing me with his nasty name calling and the fact that I have to accept that my marriage is over and I have lost the love of my life…it is just like he is dead but his body is still here walking around…he has done many sick things and I have been humiliated and disrespected royally.
    THE HURT IS SOMETIMES UNBEARABLE…..I now know that there is nothing that I can do to fix things like I had tried to do for years….VERY SAD….I know that I had nothing to do with my failed marriage…BUT IT
    STILL HURTS REAL BAD….I am trying to keep myself together for my 2 grown is in the program and doing very well….THANK GOD… this is what keeps me going..they do not need to lose both parents.
    Thank you for all your letters and keep writing and helping each other….

  • Debbi

    To Linda:
    You are so right–IT HURTS. But it seems like you are starting to move on. Your two grown sons see that you will not take any disrespect from your husband. He will still be their father but I’ll bet they both just gained a lot more respect of you and this gives them a good example for them to follow as well–You are doing the best & most admirable thing you can to protect your family and stand your ground. You should be proud and I’ll bet your sons are proud of you too!

  • Mike

    Divorce is the best detachment.

  • Julie21

    Mike it was a very difficult decision for me to make for a number of reasons and one big one being that i did not want to give up and feel guilty for ending my marriage. But you are correct, at least in my case. Without the divorce i was attached to him in many ways. Now that we are divorced I do not feel responsible for his bills or consequences or have to use the house/family funds to pay for his mistakes (like court fines etc…) Divorce has given me a freedom from attachment to him. Although i must say it has not stopped him from trying to make me feel responsible for him or his woes. And it was only the not speaking to him or responding to his pleas that has freed me from his harrassment. And not one of his pleas were a cry for help to stop his addiction btw. They were all pleas to ask me to pay for his bills and his court fines and even voicemails asking me to bring him beers (unbelievable) when he lost his job and had no money. And the way he would ask was more like a demand and a statement that i owed him or that i was a b***h if i did not help him. These things may have confused me and made me react in the past but now i am happy to say i see how ridiculous these demands are and i turn a deaf ear and do not even respond. If i was still in my marriage and living with him that would be impossible without abusive consequences to me and the children if i did not do as he asked. That is exactly why i agree with you Mike.

  • Heather

    I have been in this relationship for 7 years now. He told me he was an alcoholic in the first couple weeks of seeing each other. I believed him when he told me he did not want to drink forever. So, being the naive person I was, I stayed in the relationship with him, waiting for the day he decided to quit. Three years went by and we decided to have a child. Our little boy was born six days after my 25th birthday. As the next four years have come and gone I’ve been questioning on and off weather or not to stay in this relationship. I’ve gone to a few Al Anon meetings about two years ago. Of course I got the third degree for going, not only from him but, from his mother, who believes recovery is a one and done thing and disagreed with the counselors who had helped him in his first attempt to get sober (he had been in a treatment program just after his divorce). She pretty much said the meetings made a person narcissistic, I took that as her not wanting me to leave her son so, I stopped going. The thing that has me wanting to leave this relationship even more now than ever is the fact that he used my weakness (my desire for him to be sober) against me to spent quite a bit of money on a “toy” he wanted. “I know money is tight, I’ll quit drinking if I can get this” Dumb me, I gave in and let him get the toy. I’m mad at myself for giving in to his empty promise. I did not fully know about the “Insanity of alcoholism” until I did a search about something relating to an alcoholic (finding the, I found this site on Pintrest). I am having a hard time figuring out what to do. I know there are steps to follow in the Al Anon program, I just don’t know if I have the time, I can not handle living in the same house as him anymore. He is very distant, not just to me but, to our son. He would rather sit in front of the TV and drink his beer then spend quality time with us. He is not violent, just makes the typical irrational alcoholic decisions and cuts me down to our son while under the influence. I know I am a very co-dependent person and looking back, I have been all of my life. I do not fully understand how to detach with love, I’ve read about it and to me it seems to me I must leave to fully detach. I do not want to take our son away from the only home he has ever know but, that is looking more and more like the only option. My abilities to be a mother are affected by being in the same house as him. Leaving seems like the only option and I am really have to do some soul searching here in the next couple of weeks. I am confused and hurt.

  • Sally

    Heather, you know the answer to your questions. Deep down in your gut, you know. Two years ago next week, I acted on what I’d known for a long time HAD to happen if I was to survive and know real love again. When I first left, it was just about survival. As bad as it was, the one thing that made it possible to fight my way through the pain and heartache was not having to spend energy dealing with the drunk’s crazy-making behavior. The hateful comments, the incredible tension that’s 24/7, the total coldness that comes with living with and loving a drunk.

    Your description of your drunk’s preferring alcohol to spending time with his amazing, sweet son is a picture of the rest of your life – and, sadly, your son’s. You have to make a choice – your drunk or your son. It’s that simple. Your son will imitate your drunk in everything – the way he treats you and, more likely than not, in becoming a drunk. I’ve seen this first-hand. My drunk turned his son into his drinking buddy. Raised him to be one. It made me sick. I couldn’t take it any more. I had no respect for him. Destroying himself with booze was one thing, but encouraging his son to drink which was destroying son’s life was beyond anything I could sit by and watch.

    Ask yourself a question. Do you want the life you have now for another year? Can you see what your life will be in 5 years? 20 years? If you don’t act, what you have now is more than you’ll have left in the years to come.

    You can’t do a thing to change your drunk. It’s his decision and his alone. Know that he’ll say anything and everything to keep you where you are, making life easy for him while he drinks and doesn’t have to deal with adult life. Heather, you can love many people in your life, and many will be in your life forever. Many will not. That’s just life. Your drunk is one of those people you have to love but let go.

    You and your son are in my thoughts and prayers. Perhaps one day I’ll post the story of my 5 years with my drunk. I still love him and still miss the sober, charming him, but I know my life is better without him anywhere in it other than my thoughts. God bless.

  • J

    I struggle a bit with detachment. When I spend time with my ah b/f I am very close and loving to him, we touch alot and are very tight when things are going well. But then when he starts being a pain, I get triggered with all my stuff and then I just want space from him. I swing from one way of being to another. I can go from feeling in love with him to hating his guts and wishing him very unwell. I am new into my recovery with Al-anon – and am learning huge amounts about myself. I grew up with an alcoholic mother and a father who drank every night but whom I never considered as being an alcoholic. My mother presented typically with mood swings, nasty, sometimes nice, lure me in only to use the info against me in her next attack. I learnt to not trust people, I learnt to believe I was unlovable, powerless and many other painful thoughts/experiences.
    So now I look at myself…..I understand that the alcoholic needs love just like everyone else. (At times I hate him and want him to suffer). I find my boundaries are very cold towards him. Currently I won’t speak to him in person because I am too afraid of being triggered. The lies are incredible. I feel so unsafe around the lies. I’m not sure what he is up to with his ex and this is a major trigger point for my feelings of unsafety.
    The last couple of days I have texted him a bit more, and managed to stay a little bit more loving. I stand clear in my boundary around not talking in person on the phone. I don’t answer his calls. He is begging me to answer his calls. “just to hear my voice” he pleads. And I do get some sort of power trip from this. But I want to protect myself from going into my terrible painful trigger point. I can’t control myself once I go there and I feel so full of hate and murderous vengeance.
    I have used text to try and re-assure him that my lack of willingness to talk in person is because of my trigger and that I am trying to protect him and myself from further harm. It is hard for him to accept. He wants what he wants. I want what I want. Two people. Currently I am getting what I want which is space.
    He thinks I am up to no good with another man, that’s why I won’t talk. This is a repeated conversation that has been ever present in our time together.
    I’m not up to no good. So my side of the street is clear with that.
    How do you show love to an alcoholic? Without getting hurt? When you have major triggers yourself? What does showing love to an alcoholic look like?

  • Mary

    Alcoholism is such a nasty disease. It tears families apart and destroys relationships.

    I am an alcoholic. I have 6 years sober now. I drank when I was 19 and 20…in the state of Michigan at that time it was legal. I was a black out drunk immediately…I did not pass out, I blacked out and woke up with no idea what I had done or how I got where I was. Everyone I hung out with drank and I just thought it was great fun.

    After that I only drank socially once in a while. But…I lived my entire life as self will run riot. I provided an atmosphere of tolerance to alcohol. Sadly, 2 of my 3 sons are alcoholics. One died of the disease by driving drunk one time too many. In May of 2013 he wrapped his car around a tree and died instantly from the impact. His brother is now “out there” drinking to excess and making a huge mess of his life. He cut off all contact with me.

    My conclusion after spending time in AA and time in Al-Anon is that there is not a lot of common ground between sober people and those who are alcoholic and “out there” drinking. People in a recovery program live a life of spiritual growth. Growing as a person seems to be a needed part (at least for me) of moving away from the way I used to conduct myself.

    What I did when my son was drinking himself to death was send him emails, and U.S. mails that simply said, “I love you.” One time I made him one of those hemp necklaces (he did wear that type of thing) with a nice stone…and enclosed a note saying that I loved him. When he passed away at least I had expressed my love to him.

    For my son who has cut off all contact, I DID write one letter expressing everything I would say to him that is positive if I knew I was going to pass away myself the next day. (I didn’t, obviously!)I told him how much I love him and how proud I am of all his accomplishments. This way, no matter what happens I know that he does understand that I love him. I made him some cookies for Christmas and gave them to my youngest son to give to my son that cut off all contact.

    I pray for my remaining alcoholic son every day. I ask only for the best possible outcome for him. Alcoholism is a deadly disease and the statistics are NOT in favor of his recovery. Just the same, I have hope…because every day I go to at least one AA meeting and meet people who ARE recovering from the disease, one day at a time, just like me.

    You might enjoy going to an “open” AA meeting and/or a speakers meeting. My alcoholic story is not the most common. Most people are self will run riot AND drinking to excess. I have learned a lot about what happened to my son from being “in the rooms” as they say.

    I have an entirely different life now that I work a 12 step program.

    I need a lot of space. I have my own apartment. I have friends…but not live in friends. I need time to depressurized from life and I can not do this with another human being underfoot all the time. It took me 60 years to realize this about myself!

    I hope what I have shared is of value to you.


  • Rell

    This website is a Godsend. I have been married to an alcoholic for over 30 years. And for all those years I’ve been trying to get him to quit, trying to control his obsession, trying to find his stash to prove him wrong (he says he’s not drinking), and trying to leave. Last week we had an argument at his parents house on Christmas along with his brother and wife. I tried to have an “intervention”, but it backfired with the family blaming me because I shouldn’t be working, but be home with him (he’s retired) and not leave him alone. I have gone to a few AlAnon meetings, must keep going I know. I have decided not to leave, but it’s so hard, and hard to detach. So, I’m getting alot of good advice from this website. I’ll keep reading and listening to all of you, my new strength.

  • Pez

    Rell, Just be wise to the “blame game”. Of course you are not responsible for his drinking in any way–and the family takes his side as well!! Shame on them! So many of us that left our A’s and they are still drinking causing havoc in peoples lives including their own!! Lies all lies.

  • Julie21

    I am finding that family will take the A’s side because they do not want to own any of their responsibility in the disease. In my case his family is blaming me because they have to deal with him now that he is no longer living with me. And his alcoholic abusive misogynist father does not want to admit that he taught his son to be this way that led him down this path. And all the times i asked for help and they told me he was my problem now not theirs. Well now he is their problem and not mine. So much easier for them to blame me.

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