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

  • Debbi


    Don’t give up–I settled on a lump sum alimony in exchange for the house–smart move for him (men hate to pay alimony) so he took the deal–you can do this. Contact an attorney and get that settlement started–you may still be able to keep that house in exchange for alimony he would have had to pay.

    By the way I am 55 & I cry alot & sometimes pray to not wake up every morning but when I do I have to say there is a reason & I am supposed to do something.

    I had another setback last night–mine left me a note he’s turning off utilities, leaving for the weekend but note says “I’ll be back” of course can’t get him out of my house yet but not giving up because I woke up again this morning & it’s another chance to keep fighting. He stole all my mail for 5 months so I installed a locked mailbox. Last night he left a piece of mail on the table showing me he is able to break into it. Also yesterday I learned they found another lump in my other breast this time & now I will soon be without health insurance but I am not going down without a fight & you need to fight for yourself and your children–show them what a strong mother they have!

    I’m still not giving up & don’t you either! Together we can hang in there. Email me at I would love to call you and we can encourage each other on!

  • maria

    So get this everybody…… know how an alcoholic won’t take responsibility and always blames someone else for their problems? Well my ah told me that he had “no choice” but to file for divorce, and I had many opportunities since he filed to beg him not to go thru with it. And because I did not do that, it’s my own fault I am getting a divorce.

    So let me get this straight MR.EGO……even though you filled out the paperwork, filed, had me served, YOU are not responsible for why we are getting a divorce, I AM. Why? Because I didnt beg, cry, plead with him for the great privilege of remaining MRS.WIFE OF ALCOHOLIC. Gee, who knew I had so much power to stop my own divorce. All I had to do was throw all self dignity and self worth and any self esteem I had left out the window and become a sobbing,desperate,quivering mess of a woman/ wife grabbing him by his ankles begging him not to leave me as he drags me across the floor. So ladies, if the alcoholic in your life threatens to leave, you now know what to do to keep your prize.

    Debbi, I will call you.

  • maria

    oops, debbi, i mean i will email you…….

  • Sandy

    So simple for me to say NOW, but I have to keep things simple. The pain needs to be felt, the “he did – I said” rehashed sometimes a thousand times, Alanon meetings to go to, and 12 steps to work. When the alcoholic is out of the picture, either within loving detachment or actually out the door, serenity can be found. I have alot of extra time now that I’m not crying, waiting, or giving it my best AGAIN to make him SEE! I went through hell. A childhood of it, and then a relationship steeped in it. I pray that I’ll never be a fallen soldier to this horrific disease again! Regards to all!

  • Sandy

    Different Sandy than previous post – Maria my heart goes out to you, the selfishness and ego as you mentioned of an alcoholic is almost beyond belief, and good for you for not begging, he’s just trying to push your buttons and get you to respond which you did in a healthy way . . on this post and not to him . . good job, I feel our husbands unfortunately have a lot in common. I just got in an argument, of course since things have been quiet for a few days, with mine on the phone; he got off work early which I always have trust issues with him staying sober when that happens . . but he was repeating himself over and over about something and that is an old behavior which he exhibited when he was drinking and I made mention of that and of course he went off on me; which again in turn makes me think “he doth protest too much” . . this is awful to say, but I don’t trust him any further than I can throw him . . and he doesn’t understand that he has to earn my trust back, go figure, he thinks it should be instantanious . . and after this talk with him, all that serenity I posted and was feeling earlier . . GONE . . don’t even want to go home now . . I’m so tired of dreading going to my home that is supposed to be my safe calming haven . .

  • maria

    I can remember years ago curling up in the corner of my closet just to escape and sleep in peace. He would always do something crazy or mean right about bed time and I never could sleep after that. I remember one time I was getting ready for bed and I saw that he had taken out the soap sliver I had thrown away in the garbage while cleaning the shower, and I saw while brushing my teeth that the soap sliver was back in the soap dish. I got that sick heart dropping feeling and felt the usual confusion and despair. I asked him why he took it out of the garbage the next day, and he said, he will decide when his soap is small enough to be thrown away, and also he prefers the sliver to be broken in half before he throws them away. So yes, in his drunken insanity, he dug out a soap sliver out of the garbage and put it on top of new bar of soap. Mental illness combined with alcohol anyone?

    Another time right before bed, he saw that the patio door was opened a little bit, so in his drunken rage he proceeded to grab all kinds of weird things around the house and pile them around the door, mean while cursing me out for not knowing “how to shut a door properly”. I left that weird pile of stuff so he would see it in the morning and I could tell he was embarrassed but he wouldnt talk about it.

  • Sandy

    My AH does weird off the wall things like that too; it’s subsided some now that he’s supposedly “sober” but still all the old learned behaviors from the last 30 years of addiction are there; some days he controls them better than others – what is tearing me apart is why aren’t I working harder to get away from him; I don’t even think I love him anymore . . seriously . . am I that lazy . . or that overwhelmed with all of it?? Financially it’s almost next to impossible to leave right now but I’ve gotten so compromising and just don’t want to deal with it; which scares the hell out of me . . what’s it going to take? BTW Maria, I couldn’t escape him and sleep in a closet if I tried, he’d never allow that . .

  • Ross

    I know what it is like Maria, my husband filed for a seperation, not because of his drinking..
    it was because of me!So he says.All I can say is, I’m tired.

  • Julie

    Ken, Thanks for your supportive words. Yes I am trying and i do find that the longer and stronger I stay away from the crazinesss, the more serenity I find. And it is true that it is the focus of your thoughts and energy that helps you detach and make changes to your life. Everyone stay strong. I am going thru divorce too and my AH is the biggest liar and pretender I have ever seen. Calls me to try to get me to “work with him” on things and then stabs me in the back at the mediations. So I have now decided just to not even respond to him and that is working except for when it comes to the kids and the temporary visitation. 🙁 Still asking God for guidance and HE has been good to us. Prayers sent out to everyone on this forum and stay strong!

  • Sandy

    exactly – I can’t think of anything more exhausting than dealing with an alcoholic husband . . it’s just draining . . literally . . one minute they are nice the next they are monsters . . it just takes everything out of a person; they have nothing left to give . . this is exactly how I feel today too . . my AH is going to play golf with a friend tomorrow and I can’t wait to have some peace and quiet at my home . . what a life . . it will get better . . it has to . . we are all survivors . .

  • Sally

    Oh, Maria, forgive me, but the mind picture of that pile of stuff in front of the door the next morning made me laugh! It’s soooo typical of a drunk! The pictures I have of my ex- drunk lying in the floor, with crowder peas spilled everywhere, and then the mess still in the floor the next morning made me sick at the time, but they make me giggle now. Like your husband, the drunk was stunned and embarrassed when he finally got up the next day. I’d walked around and over the mess while getting my morning coffee and making my lunch and just left it there for him to deal with.

    Ladies, I understand too well the exhaustion drunks cause. The mental exhaustion causes so much damage physically that it can (and has) take months to recover from. I’ve been gone and been living in peace for 7 months, and I’m just beginning to get my old energy level back. I sleep better than ever now that I don’t feel the need to be half awake in case the drunk did something stupid like set the house on fire or crashed through a window.

    Debbi, you might look into getting a mailbox at one of those mailing places, or a post office box. Your husband wouldn’t be able to get into one of those. Contact your utilities and Catholic Social Services and even local churches. Many have funds that they use to help people in emergency circumstances.

    Life does get better, even if you have to wait longer than you think you have strength enough to stand the wait. I know that feeling, too. I planned my exit for the best part of a year before I was able to execute it. The waiting was awful, but I survived it and life is better each day that passes. You’re all in my thoughts and prayers. Stay strong and after you’ve done all you can, turn the rest over to God.

  • sc

    My xah was smart, successful and funny.
    But, when his mood changed, he was mean, would blame, criticize and insult me. It started off slow but became worst as time when on. He was a controlled A, could not SEE that he was drunk.
    He had a kind, caring, emotional side to him.
    You have to bare with me because I’m just writing what I’m thinking.
    As time went by he became angrier. I am not passive, I would call his hand on things (I have had a lot of therapy and went to support groups). He had a lot of resentment towards me, blamed me for the marriage not working.
    He filed for divorce and I found out when I answered the front door and was told “you’ve been served”.
    I am having a hard time moving on. I have always been attractive, dressed nice, taken care of myself. I have also been very independent; my mother raised me that way.
    But now, I don’t feel like I use to. I don’t know where that person went and I don’t know how to find her.
    I feel I have lost hope. I’m 50ish and feel like I don’t believe anymore. After reading all the stories on this site, the knowledge I have from years of therapy, I know I should be glad I’m out of it.
    I have regret for something’s I did or didn’t do
    and I am ashamed for the things I am or I am not. I use to pray for god to help me with the problems in our marriage because ah left it all up to me to fix. He even said towards the end of the relationship, you knew what the problems were why didn’t you do something? I have changed my anti depressions, hoping that will help.
    Some of the things he said to me hit a nerve, meaning they are things I struggle with because of my childhood. And of course, that is where I feel less than, not good enough.
    We had a connection missing; it seemed hard to connect with him on an emotional level. Like his idea of a connection was straight to sex. Is this common with A or was this part of him without alcohol??
    Sorry for being all over the place with my thoughts.
    This is what happens when you have lived with an A, we can’t think straight anymore. I use to say emotional they are driving drunk. lol
    Any thoughts.

  • Cindy N.

    I have to tell you about six months prior to divorce papers being filled, my now ex-husband was demanding that I pack my things and move out of the house. He would spout off in fits of rage every now and again telling me how he was going to divorce me. On one occasions he was trying to push my buttons…I told him that I was not going to argue with him about the matter and that we could discuss it another time when he was more calm. I then grabbed my things and told him I was going to the store and would be back in about an hour. He was in a rage…yelling bla bla bla…When I came back from the store, he had taken all of the cloths out of my drawers and piled them outside of our large sliding glass doors on the large screen enclosed porch. It was during the summer and there really was no harm in leaving them there for a while…so I did just that. I left that huge mound of cloths there for about a week and made a point to keep the blinds open so they could be seen through the sliding glass doors of our bedroom.

    Talk about insane behaviors…Oh boy was our relationship dysfunctional. I had an amazing person in Al-anon who helped me through those really difficult times. I remember telling her about what my husband had done with my cloths and she laughed and laughed saying; “oh they get so mad when you don’t put up with their BS anymore.”

    I remember having a sense of calm knowing that I had refused to argue with him prior to the cloths being thrown outside and afterward. I also remember laughing with my friend about how ridiculous his behavior was. I felt empowered because I was doing things differently and because I was connected with my friend who was mentoring me in how to find serenity and protect it. Having the realization that I had no control over him was really helpful. It’s complicated being in a relationship with an active alcoholic.

    We have been divorced for a long time now and have a lot of peace and serenity in my life today. I’ll never be with another person like him, ever! There are times when I miss the nice guy, but when I recall how crazy he would get, I’m so thankful I am not with him anymore.

    To all who are dealing with the insanity of alcoholism, get plugged into Al-anon and stay there. It will be the best decision you’ve made in a while. There is serenity to be found. I attended Al-anon for five years before my husband finally got so abusive that I had no choice left but to end the relationship.

  • Ben

    God knows the end before the beginning.

  • Kathleen

    @ Maria…If someone treats you without love and leaves you, that person is doing you a favor. Otherwise, you may have stayed w/ them for the rest of your life and suffered one heartache after another..victimized by his/her sickness. Be grateful(if you can) that it is happening now rather than a year or 10 years from now. A closed door may turn your attention to an open window & you have the rest of your life to really LIVE.Best wishes….

  • NM

    Soo this has been a difficult week for me. During one of his episode this week he was questioning our daughter and told her he didn’t love me and was unhappy. He was crying and seemed upset. This bothers me on different levels. Why not say this to me the other adult in this relationship. Why cry to our daughter? She can’t do anything about it. And why not grow some balls and make a move. Tell ME u want to break up. Stop leading me on. Stop allowin me to continue to help u thru this diseasE. I feel hurt and a little stupid. I sound like a broken record. Why doesn’t he love me, why is he mean and abusive, maybe I can help him… Whatever. I rented an aparent that will be ready in 5 weeks. Yesterday he comes home and announces he stopped drinking. Too late. I’m sure he’s just saying that cause it’s a 3 day weekend and he doesn’t want to risk getting a dui. Is it bad of me to say too late?

  • Rash

    Thanks JC …..makes me feel soo much better after reading and relating the stuff I am going through is almost the same as my other friends out here. By da grace of god my hubby has started his AA meetings. I know it’s going to take time and it s a long journey but will have to be patient and watch out.

  • linda

    I am not sure where my comment goes, but for all of the ones i just read i say thank you!!!! for i too have been with, an alcoholic. Not married, but still involved to a lesser degree i know what their innsanity does to whatever sanity we have.;and it is alot!!!!!! the critizing, the blaming, the accussing, taking no accountability for anything, the rejection,the anger, and this is all they will give. We just get more of it with time..7 years have passed andi am battling for self worth again..

  • Karen

    I have only been with my A for about 4 months. I have never been with an alcoholic before and this has been one wild-crazy roller coaster ride. He has blackouts and claims he does not remember what he said or did. He gets a thrill out of degrading me and making fun of me at my expense. He blames me for almost everything that goes wrong.
    He is very attached to his mother,yet his mother is an A also and they argue all the time. He tells me he no more room in his heart to love anyone elso but his mom and for some reason he blames me when he does not spend time with her. How is that ??
    I do find myself constantly thinking about him…so i yell at myself and tell myself to forget him. He is not worthy of someone like me in his life and I do not want or need him in my life. The A is not capable of feeling or caring for anyone except for themselves.They have no flaws only we do.

  • Laureen

    It is 3 years since I reconciled with my Alcoholic and many times I have said” Lord, why did I find myself in this mess again?” until I was introduced to Al-anon and its literature as well as this forum. I can truly say that applying the counsel from both sources have helped tremendously in recovering and maintaining my serenity. Prior to this I had twice walked away from the relationship but returned.
    I have learned to regularly ask myself “How important is it?” whenever I am tempted to react to his argumentative tone, which keeps me from getting into unprofitable squabbles to wreck my peace of mind.After all, can one win a verbal battle with an irrational mind?- which is what the state of the alcoholic mind is.
    I do not allow him to see that his tantrums have any effect on me whatever and I go about my affairs as if his conduct is of no significance. It is not that I am immune to the sarcasm etc but I do not allow him to see that I’m upset. When he gets no response he usually leaves the house. I no longer agonise over where he goes and what he is doing because I realise that I cannot love him more than God does. I have “let go in order to let God”. I have recently discovered Emotional Freedom Technique(EFT) which is a variation of acupressure and can be used to manage stress, anger and other emotional issues and have found it to be very helpful along with applying the advice from this forum.
    I pray God’s strength and comfort on all of us who are in relationships with addicts of one sort or another. God bless.

  • Julie

    NM, It is NOT bad to say too late. Especially since your A may have an alternative for saying he is sobering up. Saying it does not mean doing it. You need to draw the line for yourself and not cross it. Stay strong and see your decision through. If you take him back and do not move forward how can you be sure he won’t be drinking as soon as you come back? Been there done that. Too many times. Now that I have filed for divorce my AH has been saying he has cut down but still won’t take the steps to sober up or get the help he needs. But I am staying on my path for my emotional sanity and for my children’s too. Best wishes and go with God.

  • Julie

    Ben your comment rings true! Some things at the beginning of my divorce seemed as thought they were going the AH’s way. But now near the end they are turning out to be a blessing in disguise. 🙂 God knew that when I was praying for his help and guidance. Sometimes what we think we need is not what is best for us. But HE knows that and it all works out for the best if we are listening to His Word.

  • Ben E.

    NM, I totally agree with Julie. It’s fine to say too late! You know what the say, “the proof is in the pudding.” Alcoholics have a tendency to say the things that they think “we want to hear.” It’s sad that they live a life filled with lies. In order for us to protect our serenity, we must detach from them completely.

    It takes time, as Laureen has implied, to grow to the point of being strong enough to not let the alcoholic’s choice to drink or not to have no effect on us.

    I love the slogan that says, “live and let live.” It’s tough at times, but I have to make a conscious effort to stay present in the moment and enjoy my life whether the AH is drinking or not.

  • Ben E.

    Thanks Julie! That little statement, “God knows the end before the beginning”, has brought great peace to my life many times. It can be very challenging to trust when we are in the middle of a painful mess. In my experience, God was at work delivering me form a very abusive situation. I continually saw things that only God could have made happen that were done purely to help me know that He was present during the storm. There is serenity beyond description when God does something that only He could have done and I recognize it.

  • Sandy

    Well I was offline for the 3 day weekend and I see a lot of posts happened, I’ve read them all and all I can say is we are all a team and if we work together we can all get through this and be healthier happier people on the other side. My AH was actually good this weekend again and still sober; if you are dealing with an “A” in recovery, I wanted to share with you a couple books that are really helping me – the first is actually a 4 book series called “Getting Them Sober: You Can Help!” and its for both after and before recovery, very good – and then the one I’m reading now when recovery actually starts is called “Everything Changes: Help for Families of Newly Recovering Addicts” and the lightbulb has went on several times regarding things in myself I need to change . . God bless everyone and good luck to you all!!

  • ldc

    Boy this all sounds familiar…It seems like all of your A others have at one time or anther have stopped or tried to stop drinking. My AH has never stopped, he admitted about 6 months ago he knows he has a problem and don’t want to do anything about it. He drinks almost 1/2 bottle of vodka every night for a year straight.he has been drinking heavily for about 10 years. He has never said he was sorry after an argument or admitted he was wrong about anything even if I caught him in a straight out lie. He is always right or lies to make it look like he’s right. At what point will he ever try to get help? I have stopped trying to get him to stop it only causes a fight. What can make him realize this is a problem? This is putting a great strain on our marriage.

  • Alex

    Hi guys, first sorry if my English is a mess 😉 I´m from Germany and the reason why i write here is, well my boyfriend is American. I just want you to ask a question. I really love him, let me tell it like this, a love i never experienced before. But he is an alcoholic, and i didn´t knew that before. I dropped him once to let him hit the bottom, and it worked, well at least for 2 months, because the treatment he got was crap and, of course his fault, he didn´t continued to work on it. Anyway, he had a slip back and i cut off the relation again. And it hurts bad. We talk now again briefly, but we talk. I am just confused about the right way. There is still a lot of love, and he never was bad to me although i realized he lied a lot to cover the drinking.But the is part of the sickness i guess. But does it help him if i go on talking, or is it better to stop the contact ?. We are anyway 6000 miles apart at the moment, so all we can do is talking….Please let me know your opinions..Hugs Alex ( if there is still anyone out there 😉

  • JC

    Alex, thanks for posting. It’s been said that alcoholics take hostages. What I mean is that we don’t even realize that our thoughts and lives, ever so slowly, start to revolve around the alcoholics activities. They lie to us and we can’t seem to get the crazy making out of our heads. They go into rehab and we are happy. Yet, all the while somewhere in the back of our minds there’s the looming fear that they will start drinking again. We are constantly focused on if the are drinking or if they are sober. We wonder if the are actually going to work or some other place or if they have lied to us…

    Can you see how the alcoholic gradually starts taking our minds into captivity?

    Only you can decide what is best for your life. Many people succeed at alcoholic relationships and many don’t. The thing you must guard your heart from is being in denial of what you are actually involved in with this man. You must look at the reality of the relationship. If he is drinking then he is a drunk. If he is in recover then there is hope. It is either black and white. You cannot hold onto the sober person that you once knew when he is actively drinking. It’s important to see him exactly the way he is right now.

    Hope this helps…JC
    Coping With Alcoholics

  • Pam

    Wow, I ran across this website this morning. It is so comforting to know that their are others in the same situation that can offer comments, suggestions and hope. I have been attending Al-Anon off and on for 4 years. I just recently have been working the steps. My husband is a recovering alcoholic and has been in recovery for 8 years. He has suppased me in growth and because I have not grown with him while he has been going through this process called recovery, he has ceased to love me. He left me 8 months ago and told me that he loves me, but he is not in love with me. I hurt! I am in pain! I find it very difficult to have a positive outlook and to work on myself, when I never know when the bottom is going to drop out of my relationship. I did resent and have a lot of anger towards my alcoholic. He was never home when he was drunk and now he is never home when he attends meetings. He told me at the very beginning of this process that his recovery comes first. I understand that, but I am still having trouble with him being able to find the balance. I have started sounding like a broken record to him. He says, that I am always trying to fix our relationship and he cannot find peace and serenty when he is with me. Just wanted to share this with you…. I am finding peace and serenity inside of me for me and myself. I just wish I didn’t have to lose my relationship to recovery.

  • Alex

    Thx for your reply JC, and yes it was helpful. You don´t know how ;)…
    I consider myself as a strong personality. And i told my boyfriend many times, that he should look in the mirror, and face his problems. I put some much energy in the fight against this sickness.
    But i forgot to look in the mirror myself. Well, everything happens for a reason, and i thought about my part in that whole story. Long Story short, i looked in the mirror myself, and realized that it is not my fight. In no way. And with every effort to find a solution for him, i just weaken him. And of course loose myself.I can´t cure everyone and make everyone happy and solve the problems of the world !! I have to take care about me ! Hard to believe 😉 I am NOT Supergirl !!
    That is what i told him , and the first time i saw him maybe realize it the hard way. He was sober and it hit him deep. I just talked about me.In the past i only told him what i don´t want from him. Of course not drinking. This time, i made clear what i want for me. And the whole conversation without anger and accusations .
    I hear from many sides, give him up. Forget about him. It is not the man you think he is.
    Maybe that is right, but i need to expierience that myself. And now i found the right distance.
    Of course i hope he will make it, and maybe he is different then and not the man i love. But if i don´t give it a try, i will ever think about it and maybe regret it.
    But the Alcohol is not my business anymore.He need to find the solution, not me.

    Hugz Alex 😉

    btw. great side, with wonderful ppl, communication is a big help…thank you !!!

  • Bill

    Pam, I’ve lost two relationships where I was willing to work on things and the others were not. It was very frustrating to be committed until death do us part and to have the others not have the same commitment. I think it’s wonderful that you want to work on fixing the relationship. That’s how marriages make it to 60 year anniversaries. When a relationship ends that sort of attitude serves us in a very positive way. The great thing about staying plugged into Al-anon is that we don’t ever have to be alone again. I never had the privileged of seeing the alcoholic get sober and commit to working a program to stay that way. I can say this though, when the alcoholic in my life finally decided that divorce was the final word that was the beginning of me have more peace and serenity in my life than I’d had in a very long time. It’s been about eight years now since we divorced and I can honestly say I live a life filled with serenity.

  • JC

    Alex, I think it’s great that you know how you want to proceed forward in this relationship. In order to get serenity and protect it while being in a relationship with an alcoholic there are four foundational things that should be established:

    1-Learn how to not enable the alcoholic
    2-How To Detach From An Alcoholic
    3-How To Let Go Of An Alcoholic
    4-How To Have Unconditional Love With An Alcoholic

    Practice the suggestions in those articles and you will find several paths that will help you find your way to serenity while interacting with the alcoholic.

  • Mary M

    Pam, I too have found this site to be comforting. I thought my situation was unique. After reading through so many of the comments, what I love is there’s no wrong or right answer. Every situation is different, but we have the same two choices, either learn how to live with alcoholism or move on. What I’ve noticed here is that many of the participants genuinely care. I find that if I stop by here ever couple of days, I have more serenity in my life when I leave.

  • Nancy

    Over 3 years in Al-Anon, I have lost my serenity. I have had times when I have felt I have hit bottom and recovered from it. I have been trying to deal with this for several months and it has gotten to this point: my “give a damn” is busted. The filter in my brain and the one leading to my mouth is gone. The tragic thing is that it isn’t only with the active alcoholic it is with everybody. No empathy and no sympathy. I have prayed and prayed about this to no avail. Is there a lesson here to be learned? Are you kidding me?

  • Bill

    Nancy, it’s been my experience that when I get this way, it’s all about change. When things get really uncomfortable, usually there’s a character defect that comes to the surface that really needs to be seen in clarity. For instance, I have been in a relationship for about two months. All of the sudden I started feeling jealous, fearful and irritated. It took about two days of not having serenity that I finally realized that these were old behavior patterns that I most difinatly didn’t want to repeat in this new relationship. I asked God to take them away. After I asked him to do this I studied jealousy for a while and came to a greater understanding of why I was feeling the way I was and learned how to control the emotion better.

  • JC

    Nancy, so sorry to hear you are struggling. I usually increase my Al-anon meetings and time with God when I experience similar things as what you are going through. Don’t give up. Remember you can start over as many times as you need to in a day. This is always about progress not perfection. When this process of change is finished, you will be much stronger than before.

    Here are a few tools that help me stay in serenity:

    Mind my own business
    Live and let live
    Step back, shut-up and smile
    Journal daily

  • Nancy

    Was feeling a little better yesterday after reading the posts here. I talked to “him” on the phone in the evening and things were fine. He went to his buddy’s and was drinking, nothing new. When he got home he turned into a total a**. I didn’t want to have this “discussion” with him so I left the room and went back to reading. He follows me into our bedroom and continues ranting. I tried to Step back, shut-up and smile….didn’t work so good. He finally did pass out and oh my gosh….I wanted to step back, shut-up and shoot him in the back. Not a visual person, but I was picturing that. I have lost my mind….I don’t think I would ever really shoot him but now I am visualizing it. Now it is today, and the things he said are still stinging..I have had some conversation with him, but I surely don’t want too. Should I be letting the things he says just roll off me, not say a thing about it? Yep, I am angry and hurt, again. INSANITY!

  • Cherri

    Remember when we said sticks and stones my hurt my body but words will never hurt me. It only will if you allow it. You are in control of how you feel. Don’t say he made me feel that way because no one can make you do anything. Just remember you have the control of how you feel. Do not let people have that power over you. Pick up the rains and move forward. Hope this helps. I have been in your shoes. My now ex did that same trick to me. But I know better now and I have control.

  • Nancy

    I know what I should be doing, just having a hard time doing it. Questioning my faith. Have lost that feeling of God’s love and comfort. Been reading alot of alanon literature and reading my bible. I have been going through the motions hoping it comes back. Just really frustrated with myself. I really do know that these are my own issues, just trying to figure it out.

  • Sandy

    Nancy- I feel for you, I’m in the same place you are as far as “not giving a damn” . . I’m to a point that no matter what my RAH does it’s not enough; I’m just so sick of the whole situation and being stuck in it that I’m angry all the time and exhausted. He’s not drinking, but he’s not recovering and hopefully that makes sense . . I’m on more of a roller coaster now than I was when he drank . . at least I knew what to expect now . . talk about dual personalities . . my Dr. upped my anti-depressants and that has helped me ALOT but still disgusted with my life; disgusted with myself – I feel so weak when I let him get to me and we argue . . I KNOW BETTER AND I KNOW NOT TO ENGAGE . . but I’m human and it’s impossible to do it all the time. I’m just worried I’ve reached a point of unforgiveness and it’s too little too late . . if that’s the case . . then what? Ugggg Thnx for listening . .

  • Ross

    I identify with you Sandy, I’m concerned that where I’m at is a scary place that I may not can get over it, if so, HOW,or I’m not sure. I wanted my marriage to last, but the games? he plays (like getting along with me to get together and saying things.Or after a bit, flat out avoiding me and not giving me any money for bills.Now im close to almost all my deadlines on my bills.

  • Caitlyn

    I say take a breather out of life and where you are. Go and find yourself by going for quiet walks daily and begin to notice all the beauty that you have managed to shut out of your vision for months I’m guessing. Your serenity will return as you balance out yourself and your life with the alcoholic. In a nutshell, you need ‘me time’ to cope with the daily interaction with the alcoholic. This me time is very important for everyone to centre themselves and find the serenity and calmness required to deal with life with an alcoholic. When you find this inner peace your self control over your feelings and emotions will return. You have just temporarily misplaced it in the haphazzardness of chaos with an alcoholic. Find it through daily me time through a joyful walk and everything will fall into place again as it should. You have control over your feelings, emotions and responses. Your life will feel in control. You will feel centred and balanced. Your serenity and inner peace will have been restored.

    I’m wishing you well here and hold you in my thoughts and prayers. May God bless you with rediscovering your inner peace, santuary and serenity.

    God Bless.

  • Gabby


    Caitlyn’s suggestion of takings walks is excellent–it helped me. I made my walks “Walks of Gratitude” and would only allow myself to think of all the good things in my life I am grateful for & not allow the negative thoughts in during these walks–it helped me get back my peace & serenity.

  • Sandy

    Good morning all – been reading everyone’s comments this morning, needed support after the night I had; and what I can’t believe is how many of our lives have been affected by this horrible disease and people we are “supposed” to love. Not only is my RAH angry, mean, spiteful, disrespectful, lacks compassion, hates the world . . last night he pushed me over the edge with his racism – I’m so so so ashamed of him . . and ashamed of myself for being married to him . . and last night he got to me – I went off like a rocket, the holy spirit was telling me to shut my mouth but could I . . oh no . . and again again again he was able to turn the whole thing around and make it about me . . excuse my language and not meaning to offend but here’s what I told him this morning “you don’t ME to act like a $hit . . then YOU quite being a $hit” . . and I hung up . . I’ve read a few posts about others fantasizing about killing their A’s in their life and I’ve joined the crowd . . I do not know who I am anymore, tired of putting on a happy face pretending things are better – at least when he drank, yea he got physically abusive but he’d pass out . . now he’s bi polar, narcissistic, masochistic, bitter, just fricking mean . . as time goes on he’s getting worse . . then my elderly mother that lives with us told me this morning “why are you getting so upset, you have no intention of leaving him” ARGHHHHHHHHHH thanks for the support Mom . . I asked her if she had the $$ we need to move . . and she said no and I said then shut up!!!!
    I’m at my wits end today . . just want to take my pre packed bag I have here at my office and disappear . . FOREVER!! And yes I know it takes 2 to fight . . I’ve just lost all tolerance . . my will power is ZERO . . again, thnx for listening . .

  • Lisa

    Sandy-I’d have to say that other than being physically abused your situation with your alcoholic sounds pretty close to my own. Also, your feelings mirror mine. I have just recently been investigating living with my functioning alcoholic and so far have found it helpful. I have still yet to attend an Alnon meeting-which I do intend to do-but am still sorting out how to adjust so that I can live happier and give my daughter a happier place to live. It scares me though to see you use “RAH”. Believe this means recovering. I was hoping that once or if my hubby decides to do something about his illness that he will be better not a bigger jerk than he already is. Please tell me that it won’t be worse when he does cause I cannot imagine staying here if that is true.

  • Sandy

    Lisa – first off, when I had my AH arrested last year for abuse, and the became my RAH things were great for about 2 months, the 2 months he went to AA regularly, he was growing, he was humble – he was trying, he fell off the wagon one night and it’s been all downhill since then-no he isn’t drinking and yes I’m sure of it, but his behavior and attitude toward others is getting worse and worse . .especially towards me, I know he resents me and harbors terrible ill will towards me since I called the police on him and he’s not getting help so it’s escalating . . he is a control freak and the fact that I now have the power (due to a no harrassment order the court stuck on him) that all I have to do is pick up the phone and he will be gone for a very long time . . he hates that . . even though he created it but he no longer accepts that he’s responsible . . he is thoroughly convinced that “I’m a cop calling bitch” and that he wouldn’t be in this fix if it wasn’t for me / so Lisa, here’s what I have to say regarding recovery, if they hit a REAL bottom, which mine has not, if they are humble, apologetic and get help . . you have a real chance at a successful recovery yet – but, if they are a very angry person, extremely selfish, won’t accept fault . . and do not get help . . you will no doubt be in the same boat as me – and to make something clear, I am stuck right now due to $$, but there is a VERY SMALL part of me that has hope that one the court ordered ANGER management classes start, he “may” start to get better . . but wow that’s a long shot . . good luck to you Lisa . . I’m with ya girlfriend . . my heart goes out to you . .

  • JC

    Sandy, when I was living in the midst of the battle, I’d go stay in a hotel for a couple of days when I reached the breaking point. I’d take the time to really connect with God and also spend time going to additional Al-anon meetings, church functions, enjoyed long hot baths while reading a new book or connected with friends. One day away for just “me” time can work wonders.

    I actually went to a theme park once and rode roller coasters, the real kind, with a friend all day. Take care of yourself. Use every tool you have to find your serenity and guard it.

    Since you mentioned the Holy Spirit, a face to face encounter with God during a prayer time on my knees always does more for me than anything else. When God says; “peace be still” that’s when authentic serenity happens.

  • Sandy

    Thank you JC, that’s all wonderful advise . . except . . my RAH is so distrusting and jealous unless I’m work he rarely lets me out of his sight, unless I take my Mom shopping which I’m doing tomorrow . . last night, I grabbed my book finally, went in the bathroom, locked the door, turned the fan on to block out his ranting . . sat in there on the toilet for a 1/2 hour reading . . it did calm me down . . I also prayed A LOT while I was in there . . it helped as well . . my RAH has told me today that his anger is building as he has no release like he used to when he’d self medicate with alcohol; ok fine this makes sense . . but it does not excuse his behavior . . my goal is definitely to find that “peace be still” place in my head; detaching does not come easily for me . . nor does walking away and not reacting . . it’s hard not to react to a monster . . but I’m not giving up . .

  • janet

    Can you please help.
    I was dating an alcoholic.
    He can’t stop
    So we ended the relationship
    now he is seeing someone else and its too much for me to bear.

  • Ross

    Hi, everybody.I was reading the posts and wanted to comment.We all are challenged with caring about someone who is addicted.And even though we know/learn things on how to cope.It takes a bit for it to”settle in.”

    That is my experience.That’s where recovery for us comes in.It still is a work in progress and over time and persistence I am gradually getting better with peace and etc..These are things I’ve read and experience.I know you all have read my posts and can see the ups and downs,etc.All and all,I’m in a better place within myself, despite all isn’t EXACTLY as I want it to be.God has worked even in that for me.Teaching me patience and to slow down my thoughts, reactions, expectations.Helped with detachment, acceptance and that gives me peace.That doesn’t mean i don’t acknowledge the fact that i am human and sometimes step ‘outside’ of what i know and fall short of it. But i can get back to my recovery tools and it helps.Its better than where i was at before finding recovery.I still have to deal with crap I wish I didn’t have to.But that is unrealistic to venture too far with my ‘wishbone’.I have to get a ‘backbone’ and learn how to best deal with the situations, because they come and denial just prolongs the damages.

    I have to remind myself that I have been affected and if I want to get better, I must trust that some of my thoughts, actions and reactions, however i can justify them, will not get me what i need.I need re-teaching of how to become healthier so that i can recover from this horrible disease that has affected my spouse and affected us.But if there are very strong statistics about a person hopping into another relationship like the one we’re in. It is going to take more than just my OWN reasoning to get me where i need to be.I guess there must be something to it, that I have something in me that needs fix-in, healing and teaching to get out and stay out, or at the least learn how to get serenity and enjoyment in my life regardless.I’ve witnessed the peace others have spoken about in group and that has inspired hope within me. Not to mention that the things that I have learned, has brought, what was promised…I/it does get better.

    It works.Its FOR us.
    Even if at the time,we are so mixed up and do not see the sense in it.Because we KNOW what they do to us.This thinking doesn’t get me far if i am to get more, become more.It’s about me.Its about us.Keeping my eyes on me I can overcome defeat and wallow in my (no matter how justified) pity and get defeated, depressed and pulled down.Which is exactly what happened.But even though I’ve been through so much bad stuff over 23 yrs.(been separated for 1yr 4 mos. Recovery is bringing me some good,healthy things despite the alcoholic.Oh the h_ll, I’ve been through I wouldn’t wish on anyone.But recovery is slowly giving me my life back and the pace it takes is the pace it takes and I cant change that.That’s the way its supposed to be,I suppose. Because i am relearning a better, more serene, contemplative (healthier )way to live.Living along the way, because God wont let me just jump totally out of all messes.

    He shows me how to live in the midst of messes.Because there will be messes and my reactions and thinking has sabotaged the peace and happiness i wanted.He is showing me(and recovery) how to do it IN A HEALTHIER WAY.Yes, I’m gonna kick and scream and worry and slip and forget.But I will also progress and grow and become more peaceful, become better at not creating more sh-t for myself and blame everybody and everything for not bowing down to my will. Isn’t that unrealistic.I wouldn’t like for anyone to act like that towards me.I need to keep my eyes on myself and the meaning of that will deepen as I grow too, I believe.

    I have a lot to be upset about and a ways to go to get out of it.But changing the way I look at it, and what i CHOOSE to concentrate on will help my life improve.It is the thing that works.I would love to just b*tch slap somebody for the way I have been treated by them.But alas,:)that wont fix a thing.(didn’t work in the past, although it did help them to remember to not be within arms reach!)that was in my younger more sicker days.)

    Hugs, everybody, we have each other that helps me a lot!

Leave a Reply