Tension Associated With Being Around An Alcoholic

Rollercoaster Ride Of AlcoholismThere is a certain amount of tension that surrounds every relationship with an alcoholic. Perhaps you have been living with an alcoholic for so long that it has become a way of life for you to cower. I have identified that when I am around someone with a drinking problem, I have a tendency to drawback in fear. For me, what used to be a very unhealthy fear has now become an indicator that my serenity is being violated and I should be on guard to protect it.

What is it that I am fearing? I believe it is the unexpected confrontation that can arise at any time they are around. There is such an unpredictable element that surrounds their lives all of the time. I do think also that much of the unease I have when they are around is associated with how much I truly value my peace and serenity. I’ve worked hard to get it and know what I need to do in order to protect it. It takes work to be happy while associating with alcohol addicted people.

Identifying The Tension That Surrounds Alcoholic Relationships

Keeping A Journal
This is by far the best way to start seeing very clearly when and why the tension starts. As you document every tense moment that you encounter, you will start to notice recurring behavior patterns that surround the alcoholic relationship you are involved in.

They Create Tense Situations For A Reason
We have an article that explains why alcoholics keep us angry and anxious. This is one of the more dominant personality attributes of the person suffering from the disease of alcoholism. In short, if they can keep everyone around them upset, then they can point the finger at how they are reacting. This helps them to not look at their own problems and creates a false sense of feeling good about themselves.

Alcoholic Relationship TensionThe Unpredictable Element Of The Relationship
We find that from one moment to the next there can be drastic emotional ups and downs when interacting with a problem drinker. In alcoholism support group meetings this is often compared to being on a roller coaster ride. There is a remedy for this that is not so easily applied; it is letting go of the alcoholic. We can choose to get on the roller coaster or not. This is something that you generally cannot do with your present coping skills. It requires that you learn proven methods for coping with alcoholics. The process of letting go of an alcoholic is one that is learned from the wisdom of others who are successful in doing so.

How To Remove The Tension Associated With Alcoholism

There are three things you can start doing immediately to remove the tension:

  1. Get involved in Al-anon
  2. Invest in learning proven methods for coping with an alcoholic.
  3. Make a decision right now to start making changes

I know that last one is hard to swallow because we think that if only the alcoholic would change everything would be all honky-dory. Here’s the reality of your situation. They have been doing the same things repeatedly no matter how hard you have tried to get them to quit drinking. Reality check, what you have been doing IS NOT WORKING. It’s time to start learning from people who can give you sound alcoholic relationship advice. This is your first step in relieving the overwhelming tension associated with interacting with an alcoholic. Nothing changes – if nothing changes. They are not going to change, so the ball is in your court. What are you going to do to make your life better today?

21 comments to Tension Associated With Being Around An Alcoholic

  • After 30+ years of marriage and my husband’s 12 years as an active member in AA and now
    relapsed over 10 yrs ago, I am feeling that I am married to a stranger…I do not even like him anymore…does alcoholism change the person that much? I am wondering if I was in denial right from the beginning…When he got in AA, we had a really good relationship. Now he seems to be very bitter and angry because I am not accepting his bad behavior like lying, drinking and cheating and very bad financial decisions. I have a hard time accepting that after being a devoted wife and mother for all these years, my marriage is over….IS THIS ALL THE RESULTS OF THE DISEASE?

  • Sandy

    I would like to be the one who is sharing stength and hope with you Linda, but I can’t at this time. I feel broken.

    I am 57 yrs old, and not until four years ago did I understand how it was my father’s Alcoholism that was the seed of my life long pain. I have been in therapy most of my life starting at the age of 14, to figure out what was wrong with me and how I looked at the world. It wasn’t until 2 years after I found my “own ” alcoholic to fall deeply in love with, did the ground shake below me and I understood that no, I wasn’t raped as a child and couldn’t remember, or that that i was a masochist… I am the Adult Child of an Alcoholic with all the trimmings that title entails.

    I was with this man 6 yrs. I couldn’t let him go even though he did everything in the book to me. I let him somehow. I lost my dignity. Oh God the fear of abandonment!

    I sit in my apartment, isolating myself for the past month. I even quit my nursing job. He’s gone now. I can’t find solace in denial anymore. Who am I without the “job ” of helping or fixing somebody in return for a salery or love? I want to be whole! THIS TOO IS THE RESULT OF THE DISEASE…the two layer form.

    Lots of love

  • Andy

    Today, now, find a al-anon meeting and GO.

  • deborah tolbert

    I just divored my alcoholic husband. I am so glad I did. I too put up with the lying, cheating,stealing money, taking the tv to the pawn shop. His begging me for money to get high etc. You can’t make someone want to quit. We each have a life to live. I did not want to spend my life watching him kill his self with alcohol. I am glad I left. Good luck and don’t forget to pray.

  • Chloe

    Sandy, one book I can suggest is Eckhardt Tolle’s The Power of Now
    . This book helped to me allow a lot of accumulated past pain and hurts to (emotions of fear, anger, sadness residing within me) come to the surface to be seen, healed, and released. I was not the child of an alcoholic, but can only imagine the terrible pain, fear, and confusion you suffered as a vulnerable innocent child in that situation. In this wonderful book, the author explains how we accumulate pain through our varied life experiences, and this becomes trapped within us. He refers to this trapped life energy as our ” pain bodies.” The bottom line is that we largely live in an insane dysfunctional world because most of humanity operates from the delusion of being separated from God, Spirit, Divine (whatever you choose to call it). It is from this illusion of aloneness and separation that humans resort to all kinds of survival -fear based behaviors to live in this false illusory world. On a collective scale, we have war, greedy financial systems, corrupt governments, and poverty. On an individual scale, like in your father’s case, we have addiction and a milion other vices to make it day by day under the illusion of aloneness, separation, or nonexistance of God. As Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is within.” He also said, “Seek and ye shall find.” This means spiritual connection to God or Divine is within us, our very nature (though what I call “man made religion” teaches it is not, and unfortunately causes great debate..so each can choose what to personally believe, and allow others to do the same), but we get terribly lost from this reality by living in the illusion that we are just carnal humans trying to survive. If you’re interested, try this book. He is an excellent teacher in explaining our pain bodies, and then how to dissolve them over time to be able to live a life of greater connection to God which brings genuine precious love, joy, and peace into our lives. It is this love, joy, and peace that we have been searching for all along (even your dad in drowning himself in alcohol with artificial happiness) which are the ONLY true riches this world has to offer.

    I didn’t mean to be preachy, but just wanted to share this book that helped me so much thinking it could be of help to you too. Cyberhugs!

  • Suzie

    Abandonment….The root of many of our fears. Alcoholism gives us the distorted thinking that we are to blame for everything that goes wrong in the alcoholics life, even in their sobriety. Sobriety does not equate to recovery. There stinkin’ thinkin’ can continue and our we can believe that our reactions will automatically change when they get sober, but reactions to an alcoholic don’t change unless we choose to change our reactions. It doesn’t mean their behavior is better, it just means that even though we may be angry and hurt by the lying, cheating and mean spirited attitudes, that we have a choice on how we react. We aren’t perfect and this is not a perfect program, no matter how much the alcoholic wants to throw your “flaws” in your face. This is their way to divert the focus from their issues to you. That thinking does not change. Some learn through their program that change needs to come with action, not just words. We still tip toe around the pain they have inflicted in our lives and fear the abandonment we expect will appear at any moment that they are “displeased” with OUR behavior. It’s not easy…and Alanon can help, but it’s not the magic bullet. This is an insidious disease that infilitrates our very soul. One foot in front of the other can be a daunting task on some days and I only pray that it can get better at some point. I know the pain can be unbearable on some days and I pray that God will ease your pain.

  • C

    The alcoholic becoming sober does not mean the alcoholic personality is gone, too. The anger at whatever continues. All I have read states that no one should become involved with an alcoholic. All you have to do is read the comments from alcoholics – they admit no one could please them.

    Funny how an alcoholic will tell everyone how to do things or correct them – why aren’t they smart enough to know alcohol can kill!

  • Ross

    Linda, we have so much in common. I have been cheated on and wonder how many other times, when he’d relapsed as well.He acts like a smart a… at times and then says he will always love me. as he leaves and calls another skank.Wow, what a sacrifice i’d made to be dedicated and honorable to my marriage and family, standing beside him. All the while he has treated it like i am the one whose in the wrong.Got to watch that.

  • Karen Bray

    There are so many common factors related to and around the alcoholic,which is very apparent when I read these responses. The alcoholic that I was involved with for only four months was a horrible roller-coaster ride. The lies, excuses, blaming me for whatever is happening at that moment,the degrading comments,and the list goes on. But whenever he wants or needs something he calls me.
    He treats the stray cats that come around better than he treats me. He speaks softly and endearing to them. Then he looks at me and tells me to get the f… out.
    I have now joined Al-Anon and have learned to disconnnect from him. Some days are ok and others are not. But, I do say to myself every morning “What are you going to do for yourself today” I guess for me this is another lesson in life and hopefully I will become a better person. I am looking forward to waking up in the morning with a smile rather than a frown.

  • janet

    I do not know if this helps anyone.
    I was in a relationship with an alcoholic but he broke it off because he knew I could not deal with his drinking. Good news? Right Well not for a few months as I am recovering from heart break.

    I finally realized he was choosing the alcohol over me. But then I realized after doing a lot of reading, he needs the alcohol as much as I need water every day to survive.

    I just feel sadness for him now. He told me this is the way he is.

    Anyway my new life is with friends, church, hobbys and free of worry that he will be drunk tonight and free of obsession that he would rather be drunk than developing a relationship with me. It is his choice to choose to not reach out for help to AA or rehab or God, but I am still praying that he reaches for God. Afterall I did love him ..

  • Karen

    The “A” that was in my life also broke off the relationship with me. I found myself reacting to his behavior and degrading comments which gave him the excuse to blame me for the “negativity” in his life and therefore he let me go. I know in my heart and head that he actually did me a huge favor,but nonetheless,I feel sad at times. He needs his booze and drugs more than he needs a relationship or someone who cares about him. For some reason he is obessed with his mother and she is an alcoholic also. I am doing my best to move on with my life and re-establish my relationships with family and friends. I do not miss the roller coaster ride at all. I do not feel sadness for him,that is a waste of precious “brain” time and I need that “brain” time for me and my healing.

  • Ross

    I can relate to everyone on here. At times, I’m hurt, but mostly now,I can let it go. I haven’t said I want
    to divorce but he has-because he cant afford to support us both in two different residences. Although, in actuality, he doesnt want anything to cut into his drinking. He’d rather divorce me instead. He’s pretty much said that.I havent let him move back in because he was giving false hope that he would quit drinking-with no action.I believe he only wanted to move back home to save expenses because his mispending was catching up to him.I don’t miss the stress of having him in my home. Only what I thought I had. I can’t tell you if what I had was real, or just what I’d wanted it to be.I sometimes am in disbelief that I’m at this stage in my life-AGAIN.I want it good, but after all the things I’ve been through with him. I don’t feel hopeful much. Because we’ve been through this road before and I dont like that….thanks for letting me share.

  • Karen

    To Ross….I read your comment this morning and I agree with you. I have come to accept that the relationship that the “A” and I had was not real and all the loving words,promises,and sex were not real as it was the effects of the alcohol and drugs. I was in total denial and wanted to believe him,but when I would mention to him the things we talked about or did he could not recall them or thought I was making things up and was accused of lying. I thought that I was the crazy one. So every time my mind wants to wonder to those moments I say out loud to myself that it was not real and that brings me back to reality. I am hurt also and have cried…which is good as it lets the mind process things and put them to rest. I do not miss the stress of having him around.

  • Ross

    Yeah, I’m tired of going down that road. I didn’t say I felt strong.I sometimes wish things were different. It’s usually a very long drawn out process when he relapses. I guess it could also be seen as an out to cheat and do all those things he’s not supposed to do when he’s in his right mind?I’ve read how their mind isn’t right. But I can’t go along with his even thinking he gets a pass,because he’s drinking to cheat.What kind of marriage is that? I guess I’ve said it out loud before to myself… I don’t have one, really.I don’t have the companionship, he controlled the money and our finances-which was dumb.Because we never can get out of debt. Now at my age my credit is bad.Not because of my bad decsions, but because I allowed it to happen, I guess. I should have taken control of the debt by going to work to pay it off. But that wouldnt have caused him to fix his bad spending habits. I didn’t want to enable him by fixing his mistakes. But he didn’t either and it is going to affect me now.But I am looking to the future and trying to remind myself that there is good and hope for me out there.I have to climb out of the hole and have a better life than I had. The only way to do that is to change my thinking and get the courage to change. Serenity prayer…help from God.And try to do something each day to make a difference in my situation to make it more favorable.I try to work on priorities each day. Sometimes I do better than others. I try to deal with all problems at once and get overwhelmed and dont accomplish anything. And I try to talk nice to myself.I wrote down what one of you said on here?? Ross,welcome back to your new life.
    I’m striving for it.

  • Linda

    Hi Linda,
    You sound like me…..I two have been in a acholic marriage for 30+ years. this JECKAL HYDE IS Crazy making. ONE WAY IN FRONT OF PEOPLE Another way behind close doors. I KNOW THEIRS BEEN A THIRD PARTY INVOLVED IN ARE RELATIONSHIP. left for a year n left his words suck me back. I believe it was too gaslight me….so I would have a nervouse break down…..NOT understanding why I keep coming back…….Your in my thoughts n prays

  • Debbi

    You are so right about the Jeckal/Hyde crazy making & not sure if you were subject to the fact like in my case where no one believed me because it happened behind closed doors. Everyone else saw the “good guy” and his awful nasty comments & telling me at least weekly he hoped I would die–this no one saw. They only saw the act he put on in public & when I was not around he would make up the most crazy stories about me & all these people believed it right down to police officers. How is it they can be so convincing. . .sometimes even to us when we see the different personalities? Do you think it is more than alcohol that does this? I would like your thoughts.

  • Linda

    Most deffantly, My husband has also confenced people of this.He has brag to me about it. I’m in counseling for myself. he had him peg from when we saw him togetheir. They are so full of shame. It stems all the back to their childhood,Their is issues of resentment,abandoment ect. My huband is gaslighting me. They have their decision made,but don’t what to look like the bad guy……Keeping you in my prays….

  • Debbi


    Thank you–I keep thinking I did horrible things because everyone agreed & believed him in his lies about me & his sister prayed my personality would change and called me the Incredible Hulk” 5 minutes after I got off the phone with her–helping her complete work we do for the same company. How can these people who knew me also believe the things he said. I never saw him drunk & cannot determine now what in God’s name I was dealing with. I just need help to determine it was the alcohol–it would so take the guilt off me. I am sinking into a depression over not knowing.

  • linda

    debbi, Their usually is a mental illness involve with the A. narcissism, They what you to believe its you. Some how they think lying n denying make them wright.

  • janet

    Oh my god my ex is an alcholic and nasty. Blames me for the whole lot to cover himself. Thank god i found this website. I keep my children away from him as much as I could, he told me on the phone last week, and of course blamed me, that its disgusting that our children never call to see him over the years, another its my fault he was never home and if he was he had been drinking, dear o me. On the phone I didnt reply and asked who he wanted to speak to and left it at that.

  • […] might find some things to help with  your situation here as well: Tensions In Alcoholic Relationships Alcoholics Say Mean Things Step Back, Shut Up and […]

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