Five Ways To Protect Your Serenity When Interacting With Alcoholics

Tranquil SettingIf you are not involved in support group meetings designed to help friends and family members of alcoholics, the concept of serenity may be foreign to you. Prior to attending Al-anon on a regular basis my life had little peace and serenity. Most of my time was spent obsessing over everything the addict in my life was doing or not doing.

The tips I will be revealing will lead you into having more peace if you feel as though your life is in constant turmoil due to interacting with an alcoholic.

Here are only a few of many suggestions that will work for you:

Refuse to argue-When we are constantly fighting with the addict in our life there is little room for calm. We must learn how to stop arguing with an alcoholic. The battle in this area for me was learning how to zip my lip. One of the things that helps me do this is a slogan I learned in a twelve step meeting that says: “mind your own business.”

Don’t answer the phone-One of the dominant characteristics of the addict I used to be involved with was she would call me repeatedly after I had told her that I didn’t care to discuss whatever we were talking about anymore. If I answered the phone there would just be a barrage of anger directed toward me. By not answering, I can avoid being even more upset than what I may already be.

calm waterDon’t listen to nasty messages-You know the routine, especially if they are under the influence, they leave horrible messages on the phone when they don’t get their way… I’m giving you permission to delete those messages without listening to them. This is all a part of having tough love with an alcoholic and protecting yourself from the negative influences that accompany interacting with an alcoholic.

Do not integrate them (this is a huge one): The more we learn about letting go of an alcoholic, the more potential we will have to live more serene lives. What the alcoholic does with their time is their business. When we ask them a bunch of questions, the chances are great that they are going to just lie to us anyway. Save your breath, nothing you have said in the past has made a difference in their drinking habits and poking around in their lives isn’t going to make them quit drinking. So, why get all worked up about how many they have had to drink or the certainty you have that they are not telling you the truth about something. Learn to let things go.

Stop snooping around-Have you been going through their mail, checking their email, scrolling through their phone history, listening in on their phone conversations, driving by their place of work or even going through their wallet or purse, if so, stop it! This type of behavior only leads into crazy making in your head.

For more helpful ideas like these check out our 37 lessons on coping with alcoholics.

The more ways that we can learn how to detach from an alcoholic, the greater the serenity will be in our lives. The key to living a healthier and happier life is found in letting go of the things we cannot change. Unfortunately, we have no power over what the alcoholic in our lives chooses to do.

Today you can choose to take care of yourself by valuing your serenity. Strive to find it and once you find peace guard it by focusing on yourself and not on the alcoholic. This is easier said than done. You can have a tremendous amount of peace in your life while living with an alcoholic, but you are going to have to learn how to get it and how to keep it. The quest for peace in the midst of alcoholism is a journey that takes time, but is well worth embarking on.

161 comments to Five Ways To Protect Your Serenity When Interacting With Alcoholics

  • Sandy

    OMG this message could not have come at a better time than today to me; I feel like I’ve fallen down a black hole with my recovering alcoholic husband who in reality is just a dry drunk; the lack of committment to changing and AA is driving me insane, I know I can’t control him but I can’t seem to let go either; I just want to leave him . . the marriage . . I know he’s only sober about 3 months and I need some patience, but nothing is changing . . and my codependency is driving me crazy wanting to run around and yell at him and tell him what he needs to do . . tell him to snap out of it; I am an emotional wreck, plain and simple . .

  • Leann

    So true…I know better but I did argue back with my husband. and the past few days have been like walking on eggshells. It
    is so hard to take the mood swings. One day he loves me and is making plans for the future the next day you find out lies and he don’t love you. I think when he’s drinking he messes with my head. Trying to start a fight so it all looks like my fault..It is so hard to stay strong.If I didn’t have kids I wouldn’t be able to go through this. They keep me focused..I am going to try al anon but there is only 1 local meeting I can get to with the kids schedule. I will have to lie to him to go and he will be furious if he finds out, but I can’t go through this alone much longer.

  • Sandy

    Leann I too have been trying to get to an Al Anon meeting but my AH, even though he is sober, is still so jealous and threatened by me getting any kind of help or getting stronger; he just wigs out – it’s like dealing with a 5 yr old that doesn’t want mommy to leave the house and he’s a 52 yr old man – some days it just gets to be too much . . plain and simple . .

  • Debbi

    Oh God–the snooping part. I stayed away until Sunday night a conversation I should not have listened to probably with another woman. We are divorced as of last week but evidently this was an affair during our divorce proceedings while we were living in the same house.

    I have sunk into that “black hole” Sandy mentioned when I heard him say things like “that’s why I love you so much”, “If I’d have know that, I would have divorced in a heartbeat”.

    I just started to recover and prepare for my divorce when I found out he has used escorts, etc & now 4 days after our divorce & he’s still in the house (has 30 days to move) I had to hear this.

    I felt driven to listen to that conversation and know I wish I had not because now I am back in a deep depression.

  • Sandy

    Debbi – I’m so sorry you heard that and what it’s putting you through; the one thing I’ve learned about alcoholism is that it is a terribly selfish disease and they really have no consideration as to how their actions affect anyone else in their life; they have an attitude that if they are happy nothing else matters – what’s sad is they only think they are happy. You are a better woman than I, after hearing that I’d be telling him to pack his bags and get out, forget the 30 days – may God give you strength and try to keep yourself busy so the time flies quickly . . we are here for you . . God Bless . .

  • Karen Bray

    This is so true…the alcoholic person in my life,whom I am desperatley trying to rid myself of is a selfish person. Everything is about him,nothing in my life matters to him,but he constantly wants to analyze me. His mean comments and degrading remarks are so hurtful and I do not deserve that AT ALL. I am almost tempted to report him to the disability income company to prove that he is not disabled,especially when he can lift and carry a 75lb TV up three flights of stairs with no problem. I have been going to Al-Anon meetings,but I need to go more frequently as I feel like I have fallen into a black hole. I know that my life will be so much better without him.

  • Patricia Kelly

    I left my husband. It is so hard worrying how I can manage moneywise. On top of that he turns up drunk and as I live in a quiet place I can not let him make noise. So I let him in. He era the floor and my settee. Tells me he lives and wants me backm but I know I can’t go bck. I tell him to get help. But I know he won’t. He is now very depressed. But he has to do it himself. I am struggling on my own. I should not answer his calls or texts but I hate to think of anything happening to him. I have to let go but how?

  • maria

    I too have sunk into a black hole. My selfish alcoholic husband has served me with divorce papers. This is to punish me for not accepting his lifestyle. I have never in my life been lonelier married to this cold piece of marble man. Now the house has to be sold and with the little money I will receive I will have to go live with my mother. His punishment to me is to make me homeless. And yes I have legal advice but except for your house he is practically destitute. But at least we had a paid for house. Now he is throwing away the last two things he had left in his life……his house and his wife. He is a loner who never leaves the house, and he lost his looks long ago to alcohol, but strangely his ego and arrogance are huge. He continues to live under my nose acting as though he has not a care in the world. He will not leave the house, not even as we go thru a divorce. Some days I feel like I can survive this, and other days I have a complete mental breakdown and almost suicidal depression. My kids are all grown so at least there are no children involved. I am fit, attractive, a health nut if you will, a book worm, I cooked for him 3 times a day, have never cheated, kept a clean house etc. And still I am being dumped, abandoned, divorced for the crime of complaining about being lonely. Every evening his alcohol and tv were his constant companions. 7 nights a week. And now I am losing my home because of the selfish insane insanity of this very sick man.

  • Julie

    Patricia I know what you are going through. trust in God though. i kicked my husband out for domestic violence and was left to care for our 3 children on my own with my small income that is at poverty level. But things worked out. I did have emotional support from my church group, my family and my neighbors. I hope you have some support somewhere to help you. But I too was afraid of not answering his calls although they always turned into my trying to make him see the truth and his only feeling sorry for himself and blaming me for anything that was going wrong even though i was not there anymore. Try to stop responding. I too am still struggling with that now. He keeps texting different things some mean, some devoted, some declaring love to me and the children whom he left me to care for without support. But I do find that I have more serenity when I am concentrating on my children and my lives and trying to detach from him. It is easier said than done but you need to direct your train of thought. Alanon has really helped me with that.

  • Sally

    Ladies, I feel for each of you. Been there, done all of it and finally, after 5 years, walked away. That was 7 months ago, and my life has gotten nothing but better. I understand the compulsion to feel responsible for the drunk in your lives, but honestly, you can’t be and you aren’t. Take a hard, cold, clear-eyed look at your drunks, and you’ll see men who are quite capable and then some of functioning perfectly well without you. At the same time, you’ll see that you are more than able to function without them in your lives, and you’ll do it much better once you cut the ties you think you have with them. Granted, if there are children involved, it becomes harder, but not impossible.

    There are worse things in life than being poor, as you all know. No one deserves to be treated like a drunk treats the people closest to them, but that’s the only way drunks operate. Hateful, nasty comments, meant to hurt as much as possible are their stock in trade. The business of walking on eggshells because of fear of their moods is crap. Stop and ask yourselves why you’re so afraid of their anger. Yes, it’s uncomfortable and yes they’re mean and say whatever they can to hurt you, but how is that differrent than any other day in your lives with the drunks?

    As for being depressed, I completely understand because I struggle frequently with it. What I also understand is that action is a way out of depression. I read once that depression is anger without a voice. So, the solution is to get angry – but first, forgive yourselves for making the mistake of becoming involved with a career drunk. Then do something each and every day to make your situation better and to get yourselves away from these parasites. Drunks suck every bit of joy out of life, because they’re selfish and jealous and miserable beings who believe if they can’t enjoy life and have peace, neither should anyone else. If you’re in their orbit, they feel it’s their right to drag you down into the gutter with them by any means at their disposal.

    Do what you need to do in order to cut the ties you have with these drunks. Their lives will never be any better unless they make the decision to try. Sadly, statistics show that 75% of all drunks never do anything to help themselves. Please, for your own sakes, don’t make a choice to stay with them. Your lives are worth more than being wasted on trying to help drunks who won’t do the same for themselves. Drunks are lazy as well as everything else. They’ll b*tch you out because their lives are what they are, and they’ll rave at you because YOU aren’t better and aren’t making their lives easier or better or whatever.

    Save yourselves, ladies. You’re all in my thoughts and prayers. There is a better life out there – a peaceful, joyous life, but you have to go get it for yourselves and can’t take anything about your drunks into consideration. Be as selfish for your life as the drunks are about theirs. If you make the choice to stay, please reconsider. Try to imagine another year, 5 years or 20 years living as you are now. Is this really how you want to spent the years of your lives? If the choice is them or you, I pray you chose you.

  • Lizzie

    I agree with Sally. I’m taking steps to move on with what is left of my life. God has a plan for us, and I’m sure it isn’t living next to a person who doesn’t share the same core values, like God, love, family, peace. Binding ourselves to someone who puts alcohol first in life, rather than God and us, is a foolish move that always, always, produces heart breaking results.

  • Ken

    I’ve been divorced for eight years. I have stayed single. Today the amount of peace in my life is unbelievable. When I was with the alcoholic, I had to make a conscious effort to find serenity and keep it. I cultivated a relationship with God during that time that helped tremendously. God is still my source for peace beyond comprehension.

    When I was with the alcoholic, I would try to find time for myself as often as possible. The more time I spent in peaceful places the more serene I would become. I found being active in church activities really helped. I would go to the park and spend time reading or walking. I stayed connected in Al-anon and did things with friends from the Al-anon program.

    It seemed like the more serenity I could infuse myself with outside of the home the more serenity I had when I was around the alcoholic. I had to really make a conscious effort to keep it when I was interacting my ex though. The divorce drug out for nearly two years and thousands of dollars were wasted due to her insane behaviors.

    I still have a battle that occurs in my mind at times. I still hold unforgiveness inside toward her. When I think of how things could have been and how things ended up, I get angry. This obviously steals my serenity at times.

  • Sandy

    WOW Sally – your post couldn’t be anymore real or knowing if it tried, thank you!! I am in a total emotional struggle as to whether I should leave my marriage or not especially since he’s quit drinking, he’s not in recovery but he is sober . . I have a two fold double whammy to deal with emotionally as well since my 87 yr old mother lives with us and my codependency started at the age of 11 when my father, her life, passed away – the minute he died she died emotionally and it not any better 40+ years later at the age of 87 . . I have no serenity, if I’m not dealing with my AH I’m dealing with my Mom – me time is non existant and my body and mind is feeling it . . the only escape I have is when I read and that threatens my husband because he is not educated; I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alone or unhappy . . I know God is with me and there is a lesson to be learned . . I just have to have faith in him to show me the way out of this hell on earth . . and for those of you with children, my heart goes out to you . .

  • maria

    Thanks to everybody for their comments. At this point in my life I have no desire to ever remarry.I wouldn’t even want to date a long timer aa man. I want nothing to do with anyone who has ever struggled with alcohol addiction. I would always be wondering when the addiction will get a hold of him again.

  • Ken

    I wanted to clarify something, I divorced the alcoholic because she had become extremely abusive and I knew without a doubt that God was directing me away from the relationship.

    I had stood in faith believing for a long time that things would change, all the while being strengthened by God to stay. Then there came a place in time where the lessons to be learned were finished and the abuse was too great to be endured anymore.

    I read on this blog somewhere that God hates divorce, but He loves me more than he hates divorce. That brought great peace to my mind when I read that.

    There was serenity found within the storm and now there is serenity because the storm is over.

  • maria

    Ken, I hope to find the serenity you have found someday. But right now it’s a powerful storm of anger and betrayal.

  • Sandy

    Maria – I’m right there with you girlfriend; my AH accuses me of wanting to cheat and find someone else; I’ve flat out told him face to face “if we don’t make it, I don’t care if I ever meet another man, nor do I want one in my life” and right now that is how I feel – I know there are good mean out there so not to offend, but with my track record with men, thats how I feel at this point . . I just want to be alone and at peace . . period . .

  • Sandy

    Ken – I envy your serenity and hope to find it one day myself; but I’m in a storm like Maria – my AH is sober and nice one day and a monster the next – he is physically abusive when drunk and verbally abusive drunk or sober . . it’s a roller coaster ride like no other . . serenity is not part of my vocabulary right now unfortunately . .

  • Ken

    Sandy, my walls of emotional protection got thicker and higher with every abusive word, hit and lie that the alcoholic threw at me. One thing’s is for certain, I gave the relationship my best. When it was finished, I had endured so much abuse that I never…ever…entertained the thought of being with her again.

    It would take a very special person for me to every entrust my heart to again. So much trust was broken in so many ways. I know that a different person would just be that “a different person.” Still, I have so much baggage to get rid of that it would be difficult to not bring mistrust issues into a new relationship.

    I get along with me just fine. It’s when I interact with others, that’s when I start losing serenity.

  • Sandy

    Ken – I can totally understand where you are coming from; it’s so nice to come home and just have to worry about doing what makes yourself happy in lieu of struggling to make an alcoholic happy which is virtually impossible – I miss my old apartment where it was quiet and I was alone and that freedom; I also miss being able to make plans with my girlfriends and do things with them like I used to because my AH is so jealous and untrusting it’s like pulling a tooth to get out of the house; hence why I haven’t been able to get to a face 2 face Al-anon meeting yet either – it’s like life is totally on their terms only . . again, I will say, I envy you and the serenity you have found, I remember what it’s like; I just have to figure out how to get back there again . .

  • Debbi


    My heart goes out to you since yours is also still in the house & so I thank you for your kind words because I know they are from the heart. My co-workers say the same things but when you hear it from someone who is living it, it means the world to you.

    My ex (I can say that now) was not educated & had dyslexia but he “played the victim” about it and everything else, making up stories to gain sympathy & poison me to others.

    You can have that peace you seek though but find a spot to sit and read (since you like that) away from him. Make sure not even within hearing distance. Even it it means taking a walk and sitting somewhere every day for an hour or so. It so helped me–I would read, journal and call my mom and a couple close friends and discuss the events–they put up with me through this and would listen & that’s what’s needed.

    Please keep in touch!

  • Debbi


    Your words of how great your peace is now are inspiring to those of us on the cusp like me–so close to the finish line. I cannot wait until I have that same peace back in my life.

    I’m not sure if mine was abusive and just drank to help him cope with his feelings but all have suffered from abuse as I see in your posts.

    And it’s true–God does not like divorce–it was never his intention but he loves us more and would never want us to suffer at the hands of someone bent on hurting us so he slowly leads us out of the relationship and on to better things.

    I too will be very hesitant to ever trust again–as time goes on I realize my husband was never really my husband because he used me & told one lie after another & that’s not what marriage is supposed to be or not how you treat anyone you profess to love. So you lose your ability to trust after this but I think God can also help in that area also–it will just take us time to heal that part & so better we just enjoy that peace before maybe stepping into another wrong relationship.

    Take care & keep in touch!

  • Debbi


    Is there any way you can buy his half of the house from him? I am doing just that–it can be done. Contact a mortgage rep in your area–Try Wells Fargo, Bank of America or Lincoln Financial is my favorite. They have a USDA program for low-income & since you might be eligible for alimony (if in your state) you could qualify on that. Please try! I just got my first pre-approval and my payments will only be $340 per month & they can be lower based on your income. Don’t lose your house if you don’t want to–you have options.

    I know your feeling of depression & it almost at times being suicidal. I keep having waves of that myself. We need good support groups & support from friends.

    Please hang in there–don’t give up & fight for your house if you want–who’s more entitled to it? My guess is you–if he sat & watched TV you were taking care of the house already so why not continue to do so!

    My prayers are with you–keep in touch.

  • maria

    Debbi, I have no job after raising 5 kids. I doubt I will get much alimony if any because he hardly has money. At one time he was making 100 thou a year we had a big house, etc. Now we live in a small old house we paid cash for. I would love to keep living here but I don’t see a way. To make matters worse, i have my beloved pets, some I will have to put down because they are old and I cannot bring them to my moms. In a fair world, yes he would just leave and I should be allowed to live in peace in little house. I might walk away with about 40 thou and a car. That is all I will have at age 53. I can’t take a chance right now and use it for rent, that’s why I’m going to move in with my mother. Our little house was once worth a lot more but we bought it as a bank owned foreclosure so we paid very little for it. It’s worth more now but not nearly as much as years ago due to recession. I felt so lucky to have a cute little house with a big yard and completely paid for. Now he has pulled the rug out from under me. I would need about 40 thou to buy him out. There is just way I can up with that amount of money. But’s that what my freedom would cost. Actually a small amount in the scheme of things

  • maria

    and……… i was even brainstorming as to someone buying him out and becoming a second owner on house, but I can see that was just wishful thinking and I don’t know anyone who would do that. Plus I guess that would put me right back in a vulnerable position. A lousy 40 thou to save my life almost. What a tragedy.

  • maria

    So spouses of alcoholics, don’t think just because he/she is the alcoholic that you have the upper hand, and it’s up to you if you leave or not. Look what mine did, and any cruel addict could do the same.

  • Sandy

    Well Maria, you touched on something very near and dear to my heart . . pets . . that’s another issue for me as well . . my AH had 2 adorable chihuahuas before we married that I fell in love with; I have an older mini schnauzer, a Lhaso Apso, a cat, and a parakeet – so 4 dogs, cat and a bird in our home; if I left, I’d have to leave the 2 chihuahuas which now would be like leaving 2 of my children . . plus then finding a place to rent with my other 4 pets . . that isn’t going to happen . . so taking this into account, I just don’t know how to deal with it . . my heart goes out to you if you have to put one of your pets down . . it is like losing a member of the family . . my prayers are with you . .

  • Ken

    Maria, it sounds like you have much to be upset about. One thing to hope for is that the divorce will be over quickly. Perhaps your alcoholic husband could buy you out. Sounds crazy I know, but it could be a solution. The main thing with the house is to cut all ties to him, leave nothing attached to your name.

    As I read though a couple of your comments, I was reminded how powerful making a gratitude list can be. Momentary serenity can be found by focusing on the good things in my life.

    Time is moving so quickly. Before you know it you will be free from the icy chill that you are now living in. I’m confident that if you draw near to God you will find a comforting serene warmth in the midst of this difficult time.

  • maria

    Sandy, I also take care of a colony of rescue tnr cats behind my house that live in the alley and irrigation canals. I am the only one that feeds them, they depend on me. I’ve tried to catch them to take them to the humane society, where I know they will put down but at least they won’t starve to death. I can’t seem to catch them and they are too smart to go into a cage. All my problems and all I can think about is those cats starving. Most of them are fixed with their left ears clipped to show that they are fixed. That’s why they are trap, neuter, release cats. The family that used to feed them lost their house and abandoned them. So animal lover that I am I took over. How could I not?

  • maria

    Ken, if my abusive husband finds a way to buy me out, and he doesnt have to move and gets to stay in a house that is paid for and will only go up in value, I will have no will to live. That will be the final insult. I truly do not know how I would make peace with that. I hope he can’t do that. If I have to move, he has to move. He cut off his nose to spite his face in filing for divorce, because he has to find housing too, and I can’t imagine how he can afford to rent.

  • Ken

    Julie, I just read your comment and wanted to say keep your chin up. The key to finding momentary peace and serenity in situations with alcoholics is having discipline in what we focus on. It really takes work to not focus on the idiotic things that alcoholics do to upset us.

    I’ve been reading articles on this blog for about three months now and I always see references to the importance of taking care of ourselves. When we learn that we have little control over the alcoholic, learn how to let go of them, learn how to detach and learn how to enjoy our life apart from them, then a trickle of serenity can be found.

  • maria

    alcoholics don’t care how their actions affect others, it’s all about them and what they want to do. he hates the animals and he is getting great pleasure knowing I am in distress about them.

  • maria

    I suppose if there is any gift in this terrible time in my life, it’s that I no longer care for material things, not one bit. No interest. I have gotten rid of just about everything that I don’t need for survival. I find comfort in minimalist simple living. No “stuff”.

  • Ken

    Maria, these situations can be very frustrating. I totally feel your pain.

    A word of caution, get this divorce over as quickly as possible. When attorneys know there’s a pile of equity in a house, they will drag this thing out and run up the bill to the point of everything being almost gone into their hands, not yours.

  • maria

    Yes, Ken I have educated myself quite well on those issues. I’m not going to let that happen. We hardly have anything left to fight over.

  • Sandy

    Gee Maria – with your every post I am feeling very close to you and what we are going through emotionally anyway; first of all, I share in your fear of abandonment to the cats, the good thing about cats is that they can learn to hunt for mice when they get hungry enough but I know that is absolutely no consulation for you at all, maybe there is a rescue group in your area that could come catch them and relieve that stress?? Now one thing I will say about my AH and his chihuahuas, he loves them with all his heart, he’s better to them than me, and when he’s being bad and I have to threaten the cops again I remind him “you go to jail next time you stay, I will take the boys (chihuahuas) and you will never see them again” and he just dies right in front of me with that threat . .
    and also, your comment about not caring about things anymore . . OMG . . I’m so there with you . . I have so many nice things and furniture but I don’t even want it . . if I leave I’m taking the bare minimum to get by, simplifying my life and getting on with it . . everything but pictures can be replaced . . . we will get through this I promise . .

  • maria

    I wish I had something to threaten my husband with, but he doesnt care about anything or anyone.:/

  • Cynthia

    I have commented before about my alcoholic son and all the pain and suffering he has caused us, his wife and his 4 kids. Now I can share a message of hope. He was very fortunate to have a local pastor take an interest in him. When he recently hit rock bottom (lost job, his home and his wife left all in the same week) the pastor helped him get into a recovery home through another church. It was a true struggle getting him into the home in his belligerent drunken state but we were successful. He detoxed there and spent total of 4 weeks. He has been out only 3 weeks but he is truly a new person. We are not so gullible to think that he has no chance of relapse, but are very hopeful. God has changed him, and through our son, we are all going to church together. Religion was never a factor in our lives before, but we are seeing how it had helped our son, and all of us as a family. So please do not give up hope, and if you have a church near you, don’t overlook the possibility that it can provide serenity, even if your drinker isn’t ready to make that commitment.

  • Sally

    Yes, folks, there is life, and a damn good one, after living with a drunk. I understand your cares and concerns about the people and things in your lives apart from the drunk, and I feel for you. Please be clear about one thing – regardless of who or what you’re concerned about, your first priority is taking care of yourself. Remind yourself constantly that if you don’t take care of you, nobody else will. If you go down with illness or depression, you’re of no help to yourself or to them, and then absolutely nothing will get any better about your lives. The people and things in your lives won’t cheer and applaud you for crawling up on a cross and crucifying yourselves for them. They’ll do just the opposite.

    My view of drunks is no secret. Yes, I understand about the influences of being a child of a drunk and then, sadly, repeating the pattern. Being a drunk is a family trait that somehow seems to have skipped me and all of my brothers and sisters. We certainly give lie to the theory that it’s genetic. None of the 6 of us is a drunk, and we seldom touch the stuff. As children, we learned to live with the madness that is a drunk’s reasoning. Habits are learned, and they can be un-learned.

    So the drunk in your life is jealous of anyone else in your life, your friends or your family. Stand up to the drunk! Take back the basic right to freely associate with people of your choice! Most drunks rant and rave, storm about, slam doors, curse and generally pitch a hissy fit to get and keep their way. Adjust your perspective when yours tries, and keep the picture in your mind that what you’re seeing is a 3-yr old mentality in an old body. I’m not going to say adult body, because drunks are not adults. They’re physically mature human beings, but they aren’t and never will be adults. Get mad! See who you want to see and read what you like! As I told my ex-, just because you can’t read doesn’t mean I can’t, and just because you don’t like to read doesn’t mean you can tell me not to. I’m free and over 21 and I can do as I please, whether you pitch a b*tch fit or not. It took more than a few times going through this with him (on this and other issues), but when it did sink in that he didn’t call the shots for me, he first began being nicer, then got even more whiney. When neither worked, he began to snuggle up with his bottle almost every minute he was awake. I’d made up my mind who was my boss, and it certainly wasn’t someone living in a perpetual alcohol-induced stupor. It was about that time that I quit caring what he said to me or about me. I told myself to be rational – the drunk wasn’t more intelligent or discriminating than me, so why in the world was I giving his opinions of me any weight at all? It’s amazing what a change of viewpoint will do for a person.

    I understand the feeling of not wanting another person in your lives. In my case, it’s not that I don’t trust anyone so much as I know that no one will put my best interest first better than me, nor will anyone ever know what’s in my best interest better than me. I enjoy my friends and family, but I limit my time with them. I am still weary unto my soul from my 5-year experience, and I’m very careful not to tire myself mentally or emotionally when around them. We’re all on this site caretakers by nature, and that’s our weakness. I’ve had to force myself to learn to say “no” when asked for something I couldn’t or didn’t want to give, be it money, things or time, and it hasn’t been easy, but it has been effective. I always ask myself what’s the worst that will happen if I say no? They’ll get mad? Pity. Not my problem. I intentionally refrain from making any comment or offering help when friends and family tell me of their problems. In the past I would have tried to help in any way possible. Now I remind myself that these are adults who are totally capable of solving their problems, whatever they may be, without my help. Perhaps it’s just been my experience, but I don’t hear from friends and family as often as I used to, perhaps precisely because I don’t offer to help. In the past, my offer of help ended up with me doing all the work and putting forth the effort to resolve the problem, while the friend or family member sat on their butts – and then, at times, had the brass to complain that the problem wasn’t resolved to their satisfaction. People, and drunks in particular, are basically either adults, or lazy loafers. Sadly, more people are lazy than not. Caretakers aren’t lazy people, which makes us particularly attractive to them. It’s our job to take care of ourselves and to protect our time and energy (and money) from being used and abused by the lazy. It’s hard, but it can be done. Generally, I love my peace and quiet and I really love not having to rearrange my time to accommodate anyone other than myself. To me, being involved in a relationship is too much work.

    As for the pet issues, I so very much understand. However, once again, it’s a case of doing what’s best for yourself first and foremost in your life. If you cannot give the pets the life you wish, you at the very least owe them a peaceful death. I also had to leave behind a pet that belonged to the drunk I was with. I still grieve, but I know that there is nothing else I could have done. If it’s a case of me or them (human or animal), I am always going to choose me.

    Let go of any bitterness you harbor toward the drunk in your life, or who was in your life at one time. Bitterness is said to be the height of conceit. Forgive yourself and then get on with your life. I still love the drunk that I let into my life, but I know he didn’t love me the same way, so I had to cut him loose or lose my soul. I’m working on forgiving myself and him, but mostly I pity him. I give thanks to God for the strength to plan a way out and follow it, regardless of the cost emotionally or financially. I wish you all the same.

  • Sandy

    Sally – believe you me your points are well made – I only have 2 thoughts to respond and add, I know I need to get out and do what I want to and see my friends and enjoy my life – but, it’s a different story when your husband is physically abusive and throws you against a wall or over a chair, or threatens to hurt your mother while you are gone (she’s 87) or my pets . . he will stand in front of the door and literally will not let me leave the house . . and if I am lucky enought to get out and go somewhere, when I get home it’s a war zone with accusations and anger like no other . . the violence has settled down now that he’s sober, but. . he’s still got issues . . many issues . . and jealousy is a huge one . . I don’t know what I’m waiting for or if I’m waiting for something that will never happen, but financially with my mother to care for too, I’m not in a position to make any changes so I’m turning to God and hoping for the best until I can get an alternate plan figured out; I do have a safe house to go to if need be, but to be honest, I’d rather just have him arrested again and leave him there if it gets to that point . . and as for my pets, it may sound irrational, but they are like my children especially since I don’t have any children; I just don’t know if I could put my safety before my pets; they are the only thing in my life right now keeping me from jumping off a building . . so I’m still searching for options and solutions to my problems; God is there, I feel him, just taking it day by day trying to get where I need to go . .

  • Ken

    WOW Sally, we should call title of your post,”I’m Not Your Door Mat Anymore!” You go girl! The bottom line is that we are responsible for our own happiness and how we deal with the pain that accompanies being in relationships with alcoholics. We can find peace in the midst of these drunken messes if we commit to making changes in our personal lives.

  • Mary M.

    Sandy, your situation sounds awful. It always amazes me how God provides serenity in the middle of situations like yours. Are you connected with an organization who helps people cope with abusive situations like yours?

  • Sandy

    Mary – no, not connected to WEAVE or any other organization other than several online groups like this one that gives me a tremendous amount of stress relief, faith, hope and yes serenity-it’s amazing how much better you feel just knowing there’s other’s you can turn to . . the only caveate I have going for me right now . . and excuse the language, I hope I don’t offend anyone, but my AH says “right now you have me by the balls” and I kinda do. When I had him arrested going on 3 months ago now for domestic abuse; the pleaded it down to a misdemeanor and he’s still going back and forth to court – but the court took it upon themselves to stick a “No Harrassment” order on him since we live together; and this order is VERY strict, if he looks at me crosseyed I remind him I can send him down the river for a very very long time; the county we live in the DA is VERY strict on domestic violence – my husband is a truck driver too that requires his record in every aspect to be clean and his job means a great deal to him . . so he knows, he touches me again his life is over as I’ve set a boundary and been VERY CLEAR . . I have zero tolerance, and I have a zero problem putting him back in jail . . he’s still going through mood swings and cranky, and had a blip one night and had one beer, but he hasn’t touched me . . and I thank God for giving me the courage that night to pick up the phone and dial 911 . . he would have possibly killed me, and he even charged my elderly mother and knocked her over . . and while writing this I’m wondering why why why am I giving him another chance??

  • maria

    Sandy, my pets are like my kids too. Even though I do have kids. One of my cats follows me around all day, very loving. A fine little companion. He’s the only bright spot in my day. I cannot even fathom leaving him. My husband even tried to take my love of animals away from me. As if it was a trait that I was supposed to get rid of to please him. I wasnt allowed to be who I am.

  • Sandy

    Oh Maria – my husband is the same, he has such low self esteem that anything I want to do that doesn’t center around him threatens him; he gets jealous even if I take my Mom to Target or something; I love music, LOVE MUSIC, but it’s become a very small part of my life now, because he doesn’t love it so the only time I get to listen is in the car to and from work – I used to love to go to concerts big and small, listen to live music, you name it . . now nothing – the only thing we really enjoy together are movies and even that can be a struggle . . he’s very closed off from the world and trying new things, his insecurity sometimes makes me want to throw up . . it’s pathetic . . and sad . . and I know I should forgive him and not judge him . . well I’m working on that . .

  • Sally

    Sandy, you have all the prayers I can utter for your safety and your deliverance. I know well the jealousy drunks project onto everyone and everything that takes the focus off of them and their demands for even a minute. Please use the leverage you have against him to buy yourself time to think your plan through and get whatever you need in place so you can move on with your life. I understand wondering why you’re giving him another chance. When drunks are drunk, sorry is never enough, and they actually believe that if they can’t remember what they did, they don’t have any responsibility for the damage they cause by word or deed. When they’re sober, they act as though they should have a parade thrown for them and be praised every second because they’re not being miserable creatures. Sadly, living with a drunk means, sooner or later, having no life of your own at all. It’s either all about them or it’s not happening. Like Maria said, no one living with a drunk can be who they really are. You’re in my thoughts and I’ll be praying that God clears the way for you and your mother.

  • Sandy

    Sally thank you for your wonderful comforting post this morning, it was a great way to start out my Friday and you are so so so right that it’s impossible to be yourself when you are with an alcoholic, they just won’t allow it . . if you do anything for yourself it’s considered a threat against them; it’s so exhausting dealing with that on a daily basis – I have to admit my AH has been pretty good this week, better than usual which unfortunately makes me wonder what he’s up to, isn’t that awful?? But the last few nights have been quiet and relaxing so I’ve got caught up on some rest and feel more grounded today which I’m ALWAYS thankful to God fo . . hopefully this pattern will continue through the 3 day weekend, that would be a true blessing . . thank you for your prayers, and I will keep you in mine as well . .

  • JC

    To all who are commenting here, enjoy every minute of your day! Stay in the moment, stand firm in your faith and do something that you enjoy today. Smile with the fulness of joy in your heart knowing that you are enough. Take time to reach out and let someone know that you love them today. Guard your heart in every situation. Live one day at a time! Avoid fearing the future and refuse to revisit the past. Treat yourself to your favorite ice cream. Go see that movie that you heard was really good. Spend a few hours being saturated in that book you have been longing to read. Take time for a hot bath. Get your nails done. Spend a few hours enjoying your pet. Set aside special time for your kids. Do things today to let your kids know that you love them with everything within you. Every time you recognize that you are obsessing over the alcoholic, do something else.

    Create your own space where serenity rules your life today.

  • Sandy

    JC . . awesome advise . . thank you

  • karen

    Thankyou all so much for this incredible site 🙂 x

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