One of the things I learned early on in the alcoholism support group meetings is that I needed to be in good emotional condition when being around the alcoholic. There are good things about avoiding being around them and also bad things.
Sometimes, after gaining a certain level of peace from being away from the problem drinker in my life, I get anxious knowing I will be around them. This can happen on the way home or to meet them somewhere. I’ve learned that the most important thing I can do is protect myself by making sure I am spiritually and emotionally ready to be in their presence.
There are times when I will just drive around the block a few times before going home. I’ve even been a half hour late in meeting them somewhere because I was just not emotionally prepared to meet them at the specified time.
In these types of instances, I feel it’s OK to avoid being around them. The most important person in my life has to be me. This is why my emotional well-being is first and foremost. If I have to avoid an alcoholic to maintain my peace and serenity, then I will.
The Unhealthy Side of Avoidance
Shutting someone out of our lives completely is what I call the bad side of avoidance. In some “abusive” cases it’s totally warranted to NOT be around an alcoholic.
Learning how to set boundaries with an alcoholic is how to keep the proper balance in this issue of avoidance.
What I would consider to be a damaging form of neglect is when we refuse to forgive an alcoholic and keep them blocked out of our lives.
If they have demonstrated a change in lifestyle through staying sober, then they deserve a second chance. They have made a choice to start over in their lives and we can make a choice to forgive and try again. If we avoid them after they have made changes to better themselves, then this can be unhealthy for all involved.
The best way to learn how to not avoid an alcoholic in damaging ways is by attending family alcoholism support group meetings.