Changing My Attitude Toward The Alcoholic

Finding myself highly elevated above the alcoholic in my life was a huge eye opener. Changing my attitude was time consuming. It took me a while to catch on to the concept that I was not better than them. Prior to grasping the fact that I had become filled with self righteous behavior, I had the attitude that everything wrong in my life was because of how the alcoholic was living their life.

I regularly would project all of life’s disappointments toward their behaviors. Honestly, I took very little responsibility for my life and was constantly placing blame on the alcoholic for my unhappiness.

Ahhh… if they would just quit drinking everything in life would be perfect. Somehow I thought that it was OK for me to lord over them by telling them how they should be living their life.

In my frustration, at a moments notice, I could call them a degrading name. When they would break engagements, I would always tell them how awful they had treated me.

I blamed them for all of our relationship problems and financial difficulties. When the electric bill couldn’t get paid because she didn’t work for three days, it was all her fault. My attention was always focused on the alcoholic judging what they were doing or not doing.

I would get high on my judgement throne and confront every single lie, telling them I know you are not telling me the truth. When things didn’t go the way I thought they should have, I could never keep a handle on my mouth or emotions. I would just blurt out anything that came to mind about how she was behaving.

I had become the master of criticism, disapproval and ridicule towards her. I also had very little self-control. Nothing that I have shared so far sounds like a healthy person living with another healthy person. Actually, the truth is that before I learned how to change my behaviors, I was really not well at all.

I have a friend who says: “one sick person, judging another sick person is sick, sick, sick.”

Learning to be more humble took a lot of practice over a couple of years. Changing my attitude toward an alcoholic was a challenging task. I knew I could do it because the alcoholism support group members I was associating with at the time had done it. Here’s where I feel the root of my problem was, I needed to love myself. Once I started liking me, I didn’t need the approval of my alcoholic for much of anything.

I was able to have stable emotions because my opinion of myself was not dependent upon the alcoholic’s behaviors.

Somehow I began to realize that my happiness was totally dependent upon my attitude in life and had nothing to do with how the alcoholic was behaving. I was responsible for my own happiness. It was all about changing my attitude.

Here are a few things I did in order to not be so high and mighty over her:

  • Quit calling her names
  • Never just hung up the phone without saying goodbye
  • Stopped confronting the lies
  •  Refused to argue – Got a life of my own and quit keeping tabs on her all of the time
  • Expressed my love to her more than my frustrations with her
  • Vented my irritations with the alcoholic on my support group friends rather than to my alcoholic spouse
  • Quit thinking that I was always right and actually told her that she might be right once in a while
  • Lived by the slogan: “How Important Is It?”
  • Quit blaming her for my unhappiness and started getting happy on my own
  • Discovered the freedom in letting go of the problem drinker

In short, the way I stopped being the high and mighty self righteous one was, I quit pointing the finger at what the alcoholic was doing all of the time. I started minding my own business and taking responsibility for my own life.

What were the results of my changes in behavior? I am a much happier person now. I most definitely smile more often, argue less and enjoy life more

12 comments to Changing My Attitude Toward The Alcoholic

  • Sandy

    You have no idea how much I needed to read this article today; my codependancy with my alcoholic husband has reared my ugly head and I’m trying to put everything off on him and control him like there is no tomorrow; and all it’s doing is making me crazy literally . . I need to detach . . plain and simple . . thank you so so much . .

  • Janice Marquis

    I can say at some of these behaviours. But Im in a situation where I moved to a new city and have been with the alcoholic for 5 years and I have no one else in my life but him, other than one female friend I dont see much. I dont bother criticizing him much or blaming him for any of my things-because he is either too drunk or doesnt care to listen. I did two things that helped me alot: I no long ‘pickup’ any beer for him- I did this all the time and it then if I have a few-and I blame him for drinking he can say I picked it up and I drank too! I have been out of work for most of our relationship, but we dont live together since 2 yrs ago (we lost that due to him not paying rent on time and a few fits he had)…I also dont give him any more money, he used to suck 25 a day from me every day when he is the one working ft- and he also borrowed from his dad. Two times I needed the money back he gave it to his dad first and left me stranded-I had to call my family to pay Dec rent (from Dec 23 until Jan 10 he borrowed 360 from me-to date I have only got 20 back!. SO this is the other reason I wont lend him anymore money. So in the meantime he’s not treating me very good. I can’t find work and can’t pay rent for April here as I cant get welfare either. His dad said I could move in with him and Dave (Dave now lives there with his dad as his mom is dying)…but Dave said DAD is worried about you and wants you to move here-shouldn’t he be worried? He is my boyfriend! I find he looks down at me when I’m in a bad situation-and in this case it’s the economy not me!! I find he is being more responsible becasue he has to take care of things………

  • admin

    Thanks for sharing Janice. What is it that you would like to have happen with your life, apart from the alcoholic? I had to wonder as I was reading if you wanted to stay with him or perhaps move back to where your family is.

    I also wonder if your boyfriend’s drinking is getting progressively worse along with his attitude toward you being a bit more negative? Sounds like he is dealing with a lot with his mom being ill.

    Has he always drank a lot?

    We have had several articles submitted by our readers relating to boyfriends:

    Alcoholic Boyfriend Taking Advantage Of His Girlfriend
    Enabling An Alcoholic Boyfriend

  • maryfran07

    I blamed my ex for my terrible life. When we divorced and he wasn’t around, my life was still in shambles and that was a very rude awakening!! I was sicker than he was. I went to counseling and group meetings, alanon, anything that would help me get better. I was very humbled by this.

  • Karens

    After a long time of dealing with an alcoholic it takes
    a lot of time and effort to realize just how sick we
    become. You have made the beginning of your opportunity
    for better health. Both physically and emotionally. Try
    not to blame him or yourself. What is done is done. Now
    you can grow and become the person you were meant to be.
    Good Luck Fran.

    Staying with an alcoholic and growing is very difficult.
    The control from the alcoholic will always be there. Learning how to avoid confrontation has become easier
    and easier. Not perfect, but then neither am I.

  • Linda

    Don’t mean to take someone elses inventory! But would like to share what I have learn from my alcoholic sharing his life with me. His father died when he was 11,from their he raised himself.Became very self center, just to survive. Does not know how or can’t show empathy.(His whole family is like this.No one maders but them N their feeling.)Sad!His family has never been thier for him.(talk the Talk)His Family’s gathering were sitting n telling all the dirt they could find on each other.Never anything positive..Abondoned my husband when he went to rehab. With this all said;so much more ! Just whated to share, my husband is a hero!

  • darkocean

    Good stuff 😀 my bf is very sweet but an alcoholic.. more then anything else I “Expressed my love to her more than my frustrations” I follow this rule. He has to get to the point were he stops right then and there. My hope is that by reminding him what a wonderful, caring and smart guy he is that it will help him want to quit at some point. Hopefully he will and even if he doesn’t then I know I’ve made his days a little brighter (as everyone else eater and given up on him, enables or pretends the problem doesn’t exist.) I will not how ever move in with i’m/ let him move in with me as my ex was also an alcoholic. (and a MEAN one at that. I’d go on to say evil. *shutters*) Some people might wonder why we get involved with alcoholics in the in the first place. You can’t really chose who you fall in love with :/ it just happens. Sober hes very sweet, kind thoughtful funny person. My boundary is no drinking around myself or my little boy. So far (most of the time not all sadly.) He’s chosen to come over to my place sober and have cuddle time , or just go to sleep as he’s exhausted from work (functioning ah maybe?) It can be bitter sweet some times as when hes not here I wonder if he’s drinking … but were does that get me? Nowhere!

    The best thing my mother and my arms worker has thought me is that I can not control other peoples action. So people as you can’t control them stop worrying about it and detract your self with something. a 4 year old will work. (haw haw! XD) Love, laughter and life, be your best self around them and if we are all lucky they might quit. If I was a praying person i’d pay too.

  • Karens

    To all, staying with my husband of 28 years has pushed me to a breaking point. His 44 year old daughter is living with us now for the last two years, with addiction issues. He scared me,he softly put his
    hands on my neck,gently turning or sliding his hands around my neck. Much to my surprise he started saying, “where is that soft
    spot on your neck” and pressed hard on my wind pipe. I could tell
    this was no ordinary game he was playing, I feared for my life.
    Fortunately, I was able to break free. Laughing he “said I just
    wanted to see what that felt like. What would you do next?

    I am scared and yes, the honey moon period is good but this ordinarily sweet, fun loving guy is changing. He has pushed and
    shoved before but never this. Love will not heal this man and
    yet I have stayed and loved and he is getting worse. Decisions
    are difficult at this time of year. I am trying to face the reality that it is my life and his drinking that will destroy
    both of us. Good luck, at 71 financial issues are astronomical and no one believes this kind, loving, carefree fellow would do
    what he did. Life is not always perfect but there is a big boundary in my heart that he has crossed. Thanks for listening.

  • Julie

    Karen: He has definitely crossed the boundary. My ex-husband did the same thing on more than one occasion. Once that happens, you can NEVER trust them again, even if they kid around and say they were only fooling. They were not! They were acting on their true impulses. You may be 71 years old, but you need to get out of there. If you don’t know anyone, go to a battered women’s shelter. They will help you. Based on my experience with my ex-husband, I believe you may be in danger. At least talk to a counselor who is experienced in dealing with domestic violence. Save yourself.

  • Sandy

    Karen – I agree with Julie 100%, it sounds like you are in danger – if he’s joking about injuring you, then that means he’s thinking about it and it’s only a matter of time. My AH never joked about it, he was always right in my face so to speak about it . . luckily there haven’t been any more incidents in over a year since he quit drinking . . but I still can’t trust him, it just takes something away from the relationship . . and if your husband is doing this and still actively drinking, no wonder you are afraid – you wouldn’t be normal if you weren’t. 71 is still young in today’s world, start taking care of YOU!!! That’s what is important . . good luck . .

  • Karens

    Thankyou for your comments. Keeping me aware of his thinking
    helps. There is no trust after this experience and I am
    sitting on a fence. Do I wait and see and take the risk or
    run, as fast as I can and loose my house. I know my home
    is material thing but it is mine.

    What ever card he would use to win in a court of law. Lord
    only knows. Thanks for your comments.

  • Anne

    I think these helpful tips are very important in learning how to “detach” in a constructive manner. My issue is not a spouse, but a brother (we both are middle aged adults living with our mother) who literally & figuratively, is always, “breaking down” my door-to form me into some downward dysfunctional relationship with me. He wants, expects, me to be his help-mate-girlfriend, ego booster, “play house”, friend, buddy, work, pay him money, be his consumer/nurse, support system, listen to him, “care” about him, fix his problems, or be some total deformed thing sacrificing everything so he can continue his “lifestyle” in comfort.
    He would definitely be some abusive wife beater type- but is such a loser he latches onto his younger sister instead ( me) to serve all those purposes. It is absolute hell living with & interacting with him on every level. If it was another person, would have cut them out of my life after 3 times. For him, it’s a thousand and more each day. Cause were “family” I guess I don’t get a “choice” in the matter. I don’t even get to say, no, I don’t want zany interaction, I don’t want you in my life, I don’t care to hear, anything at all you have to say about anything.
    I guess I don’t have that right, but I wish I did. I am with my mom & living here for my own reasons & right to. I don’t know why I should or have to “deal” with this person at all & would like some protection .
    I was born in the same family, yes, but he has not earned, but ruined any trust I had for this Familar relationship. No, I would never “choose” or interact with him in any other way, as a co-worker or ” buddy ” or a thing-a person, you would want to clear yourself from, no interaction & protect yourself from.
    He will NEVER stop. People around are simply to be used & destroyed to the fullest extent for his purposes only. Don ‘t tell me. I’ve have been through this with him a hundred times. As much as a single time. Sometimes saying no, doesn’t matter to a person who really doesn’t respect that of others, that others are simply for their use. He is such a person. Can I say “enough”?
    He masquerades and impersonates ” normal” emotions and needs. Like a hundred times stronger, but is always manipulative.
    Even though born in the same family, & still will be connected & have to interact- how do you say “no” to a person who doesn’t take it as an answer?
    How do I protect myself & my life?

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