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

  • Ross

    Janet I hope you are going to al-anon.If not I suggest it.It will help so much.
    I understand your pain.Married for a long time and mine cheated and was with the skank for a short time.Their sick mind/judgement is way off and they are controlled by their addiction to alcohol.
    That doesn’t justify his choices and you set a boundary and he had a consequence to his choices which is what he needs.Please educate yourself all you can.It will pay off, even though you are hurting right now.It does hurt.Just don’t let him be your drug to make the pain go away.As we know, drugs in any form doesn’t solve any problems, but learning an effective way to deal with people who have addictions will help you greatly.

    These things don’t magically come to you,because there is a whole set of rules that apply to an addicted person.Simply reasoning as if you are talking to a well person wont get you far.You got to learn the ropes to deal with this issue.And if you don’t grasp that you will likely suffer if you don’t.Like we all have who try to figure it out on our own.Nonetheless, you have been affected, of course,and there is healing for you in your own recovery.Thank God!!!

  • janet

    Thank you Ross I just felt so alone in my feelings.
    I never thought I would date an alcoholic.
    And he was so mean to me its so hard to recover.
    But your words helped.

  • janet

    When you said do not let him be your drug
    Does that mean don’t keep feeling bad because I do not have him anymore.

  • Ross

    I wouldn’t base my happiness, peace ,esteem on what he will or will not do.Having said that, I am here because thats what i did do.And sometimes have to redirect myself still.And learning recovery for myself has helped me to do that and find more peace and happiness.
    You are more than that.If theres a problem within yourself with those things, you might want
    to consider learning about codependency.I am sharing what i understand from working on MY life, and
    one of the main things that i keep hearing is…Get your focus off them and focus on YOU.
    I used to think people who shared with me the tools of recovery, were annoying and that they were robotically repeated phrases of a group.And that they didn’t understand what i was going through.Now after a little time later.I see the wisdom in why we’re encouraged to follow a recovery program for ourselves.
    Of course you feel bad.If you cared about him and their disease does affect people.You may be experiencing
    some grief.(I’m guess?)
    I wish you much luck in finding recovery for yourself.You are worth it and theres support out there for you.

  • janet

    yes Ross I am totally grieving to the point I would put myself back in the disease in a second if he contacts me. I know I am codependent. The only thing that keeps pulling me out every time is that I love my son too much to stay in it too long.
    I just don’t know how to love myself to tell myself I am worth being out of it.
    Thanx for your kind words. I am not annoyed by most of what people suggest I just really loved him but am heart broke because he can’t love me back.

  • Ross

    I’m sure you can tell by now that many of us can identify with the love and pain of this kind of relationship.Getting recovery for yourself is one of the best things you can do to ensure you are strong enough to do what you feel needs to be done and your recovery will greatly help your son.Recovery addresses
    issues like you mentioned about self esteem.There is so much to learn, but it s good.I hope you’ll consider finding an Al-Anon group and get to it!You can get better one small step at a time, if that is all you are capable of right now.I can say that is how it has been for me.Time, something i was afraid of, has been a gift.I was afraid I’d lose him if we stayed apart, that he would cheat,etc…But i have no control over that.I dont have to trade my values to have a man.And yes, I did.And you know what it got me? more of the bad stuff.He couldnt respect me because i didnt respect myself enough to draw the line.I had to learn that too.And that is another gift, I’ve gotten from my recovery..

  • Lisa

    Well Sandy maybe there is hope-maybe not. Mine has not hit any kind of bottom. He has attempted to “cut down” which lasted all of about a week. After that he started hiding some of his drinking from me. He is very verbally abusive. Rants and raves. Shows no respect for me or anyone. Very sarcastic and seems to pride himself in verbally cutting everyone down to the point of tears. Complains and comments about what he sees about everyone elses shortcomings. That includes myself and my three children. Nothing anyone ever does is good enough or as far as he is concerned is the right way to do something-the way he would have done it. Except of course when he first gets up in the morning. When he is his most sober. During the morning he is who he used to be before the drinking. Which of course deteriorates throughout the day. Fortunately or maybe unfortunately he owns his own business and drinks there. So no matter if it is a work day he is always drinking.
    Besides the fact that he is an alcoholic – I’m not really sure if there is a relationship with him when or if he recovers. I want him to at least be right for our children and for himself but sometimes I almost don’t give a D*mn if he drops dead – recovers – or grows a tail and fins. That makes me disappointed in myself. I find it hard to feel sorry for him sometimes and this feels so not me. Scares me to think that if he becomes a RAH status that he could possibly be a bigger jerk than he already is. AHHHH!!! So frustrated. From everything I’ve read so far I am codependent and need to make sure I find a way not to be. Not there yet though.
    I do need to say though that I am at least proud of myself. I am trying real hard to not engage when he rants. To not anticipate what kind of evening I will have. Not great at it but I keep trying and have noticed that I at least feel a bit more sane and less depressed.
    Stay strong!

  • Sandy

    It is all about choices completely 100% you either chose to join the dance or walk away; there must be a part of me that thrives on the dance unfortunately which I’m working on very hard – I heard a sermon yesterday on trying to listen to the voice inside more as it’s our higher power guiding us . . and I am going to try very hard to be better at then because it’s when I don’t listen that I get into trouble – my RAH was good this weekend, we actually enjoyed our time together; thought it’s rare I’m thankful when it happens . . the struggle to focus on myself is an ongoing battle in lieu of him; I’ll get there . . we all will . . sometimes I think the loved ones of the alcholic have it worse than the alcoholic, because we are aware of what’s happening and they are oblivious . . but it’s sites like this one that will get us through it . .

  • Caitlyn

    I was thinking along the same lines as JC suggested. Getting yourself away for a brief (or long) holiday to recouperate. Reading your reply I can understand and appreciate that this is just not possible for you. So I have a suggestion. Tell your alcoholic you need space and time to yourself away from him and the madness and calamity that he brings to your life. Tell him as he is so mistrusting that the only answer for peace in your life is to create a “Sandy zone”. What this “Sandy zone” is, and you need to spell out the rules and boundaries and make him understand it’s non-negotiable, you get a room to yourself (or the garden or whatever works for you) and when you go in there you are entitled to lock the room with you in it (physically lock it if you must to really give yourself the feeling of time and space to yourself). In here he is not to disturb you AT ALL. That is the rule not to be broken. You can set up other rules and restraints and tell him this is how it is or else you do get to go away to an outside place for a recovery holiday. Take your mum if you must. Or if that’s a burden, look at other options for taking care of your mum while you are absent. Not sure how dependent she is on you.

    Hope this idea works for you. Good luck. Wishing you recouperation and serenity into your life you really need it.
    God bless you.

  • Sandy

    Caitlyn . . thank you for your insight and the great idea about a Sandy zone; it’s really cool that you mentioned this because I’ve kinda already been thinking about this . . we have a spare bedroom filled with “stuff” for lack of a better word, I told my RAH that I am going to clean it out, put a daybed in there, put a little stereo and I may even hook up a TV so I have an escape; he was not too hot on the idea but he didn’t say no . . I posted a couple pieces of the furniture I want to get rid of on craigs list today too . . it is a very sticky situation with my Momma living with us, she will be 88 in April, she’s still in ok shape, but fragile and she definitely needs my help to get by . . plus we have pets too . . no children but other complications . . but I love your idea, and saying that this is “non negotiable” he would understand that . . I feel like I have a light at the end of the tunnel . .

  • Bill

    Sandy, if he would understand that you need your own space, go for it. This idea of creating a “Sandy Serenity Space” is wonderful. I really like the idea of establishing boundaries, especially when the alcoholic would understand.

    The wisdom that gets shared on this site amazes me.

  • charice

    hi jc, you said not to argue with an alcoholic especially when they are drunk coz you’ll never win and you’ll only be hurt. that’ s what i’m doing. but last night he yells at me it’s because he misunderstood what i said. so i answered him back and released to him all my sentiments only to end up looser saying what is it am i sharing in the household expenses coz per him he shoulder most of the expenses. its always like that when we argue. but i guess he’s too much. why do we need to tolerate them. they might think they are always right . why do we need to be kind with them when they don’t recognize our importance?

  • Mia

    Hi there

    The serenity thing is great. Using the deescalating phrases are fab. Retaining our happy mood because their mood isn’t our mood. Seeing other people, going away and spending time with friends instead of the alcoholic are the best ideas. It works a treat and I feel calm, happy, chilled , totally at peace with my situation and he even starts drinking less. It’s almost like he finds this new me so shocking he’s no longer able to focus on me and all my faults cos … Hey look she’s happy, she has a life and she’s clearly not going to take my shit so I better shape up or I will be shipped out.

    So that’s the good news !!!!!! The bad news is that a couple of weeks ago I got notice from my landlord and had to find a new home. He liked this bit looking at new places. Mainly cos he could see himself enjoying a new nicer place with and at no extra cost to him . Clever huh ? Then after finding lively place it all fell through and I was therefore homeless as of 16th Feb. I then got very emotional and scared, he didn’t understand …. According to him it was all going to be fine. I was trying to run my business and find another home which he said he’d help with but didn’t. He said he’d home hunt while I was at work but he didn’t. He did come to viewings with me and he did start washing the dishes . But he also became very demanding when I didn’t feel like making love cos I was so uptight I couldn’t relax. Plus this out of work idiot was claiming he watched tv most of the day and didn’t work cos he was taking care of me!

    I did tell him to go take a running jump after another day of him lying on the sofa . The sofa I reminded him was mine and if he wanted to keep using it I needed sone help to keep my shop open and find a home.

    Then the usual excuses started . He’s a past master at thinking up excuses . I then had to go take care if my son who has a autistic syndrome and spend a day with him but when I got back he didn’t ask how my son was or say have a safe trip . I came home to him going on about how long the dishes took him to do!

    So we got past that one and then I said I would need time in my new home on my own to make it mine and time alone with my son when he comes to visit. Oh my Gish ! He hit the roof !!! He pays no rent or anything, he cooks, drinks and washes dishes and somehow always spends All his time here. Apparently the cooking and dishes is a massive amount instead if paying rent . Be a use of this he says I don’t need to be taken out or bought birthday Christmas or valentines gifts because he treats me so well at home everyday its a birthday for me constantly ! Crackers !!

    We had a great day yesterday cos I joined him doing nothing but watch movies on my day off and snuggled with him.

    However last night he asked again to borrow money and again I said no

    More drama!

    Today I’ve worked hard all day packing up my home . He made tea, sandwich for me and did the dishes, again!

    I was working solidly, he was here he said to help me do wouldn’t job hunt today. But he wouldn’t take the dog out, empty the rubbish or other things I asked . He said he thought he’d done his share by waging up and needed a map . I was cleaning, packing , moving furniture as he relaxed and refused to help

    I lost my serenity and forgot all the phrases and I lost my rag. I said he was a lazy loafer and completely unhelpful.

    We argued fantastically !!! I guess the neighbors will be glad when I’ve gone. I talk, he shouts, rants, runs me down etc etc etc he threw every personal trust information I’ve told him right in my face and at this point my calm quite voice turned into a fishwife . Erghhhhh

    I told him to go home and leave me to get on with things alone . He spent two hours shouting etc etc as I continued to work . After two hours he said he’d help. After the insults and pure exhaustion I really didn’t want his help or him.

    After a smother half hour he finally left twisting the truth etc

    So he’s gone and I’ve had a quiet calm evening finishing packing. It’s 1 am now and I’ve remembered something I think we forgot.

    It’s so easy to do things with serenity when our lives are jogging sling and we can give these overgrown babies our attention.

    Trouble is if we need them and our lives take a dive they can’t support us and we explode.

    I can only say don’t be hard on yourself. We need our alcoholic to be normal and support and help us. Just like they want us to accept the drinking.

    I’m not proud or making excuses, but I think sometimes we expect too much of ourselves and maybe we just at these times need to say “oh well, I lost it! I’m allowed to trip up, just go to sleep and start again tomorrow.”

    At least it’s quiet, I’ve got the packing done and he’s somewhere else dealing with consequences . I’m too tired to care how he feels but I know I will miss him and I will calm down, but not yet.

    He has done fine qualities and is a blessing mostly, but it’s so tough when everything we build up gets trashed as soon as I’ve got slot on my plate and need support that he just can’t give.


  • Lisa

    Why do I find it so hard to keep my mouth shut and just smile, nod and say as little as possible when he is ranting? I wish I would get better at this faster. It’s so hard not to anticipate my day, or check to see how much he has drunk. Ahhhh

  • Timothy

    Lisa, JC just posted a video/article today about communication, . There’s a suggestion he made about picturing the alcoholic in a diaper when they are on a rant. Maybe that will help you smile a little. I think we just always have to be on our guard and ready to not react in the face of the alcoholic’s badgering. It’s so hard at times because they can be incredibly relentless when they get into that negative mindset. There’s no doubt about it, staying in a relationship with an alcoholic takes work.

  • JC

    Mia, it sounds like you are really stressing right now. I try to stay present in the moment and try to enjoy every moment as well. You may get some helpful tips for this article: How To Stop Focusing On The Alcoholic.

  • JC

    Hi Charice, thanks for sharing with us. In answer to your questions:

    Why do we tolerate them?
    We all have different reasons for staying in relationships with alcoholics. Some people stay because the have faith and hope that the alcoholic will get sober and life will be better. Others stay married to alcoholics because they do not believe in divorce and have faith to believe that God can intervene and things may change for the better. I’ve heard plenty of our readers say that they stay because the are not financially sound enough to separate from the alcoholic and get their own place. Charice, only you can know why you are committed to this person.

    You have two choices, change your attitude or change your address BECAUSE the alcoholic is not going to change until they hit bottom and get involved in a recovery program.

    Why do we need to be kind to them?
    It’s been my experience that when I am mean to people, I am riddled with feelings of guilt for the way I have behaved. Only when I am kind to people do I truly feel good about myself. Some people are addicted to the adrenalin rush they get from arguing and fighting and they like living in the middle of chaos, I don’t. I try to live life doing unto others as I would want them to do unto me.

    Here’s the important thing though, being nice to an alcoholic doesn’t mean that we let them step on us like we are a doormat. I had to learn how to say what I meant without saying it in a mean way. I had to learn how to set boundaries with the alcoholic and how to stop enabling them to treat me poorly. These are all things we teach in our course on Coping With Alcoholics.

    I hope this helps.

  • C

    JC: I love reading your post that you would go to a hotel for a night. Also, how wonderful that you went to a park and rode the rides. I love amusements – I keep thinking of spending 3 days in Florida at Disney World to clear my head!

    I am thankful for all the posts on this site. It is clear that all of us are frustrated with those who are alcoholics in our lives. I think the alcoholic lives in their own world, and I will never be a part of their lala land!
    It only gets worse.

  • charice

    thanks jc for the wonderful advice. the matter with me when we have fight and arguments it takes too long for me to recover thinking over and over why. i feel sick and seems something heavy is in my heart coz i dont deserve to be humiliated. but after that he seems to be kind like nothing happen. god bless..

  • Lisa

    Thank you Timothy for pointing out that video. It helps to review how to handle him. I think I need to work on smiling more and picturing that diaper!

  • janet

    I was recently in an alcoholic relationship
    Do you know why they can’t give us emotional support.
    I’m grieving and trying to gain serenity because I could not make it work.

  • janet

    In your posting, it said something that they just can’t give to us.
    I could not communicate and every time I tried to talk he made me feel
    like something was wrong with me.

  • Phyllis

    KNOW THYSELF!!!Do you want to live this way for the rest of your life or his or not? How do his actions effect you? Are you able to detach or not? Or do you even want to? I have read the alanon detachmnet is the opposite of what a healty relationship should be. I do not want it, But others may choose it.

  • Sandy

    Just want to comment on a few prior posts that I have read today; one of them saying that in the morning their AH is a completely different person than he is when he gets home; he’s like normal in the morning and by night back to being Mr. Hyde so to speak; this is my life daily even though mine has quit drinking . . up until about noon, he’s rational, calm, not selfish, has compassion . . as the day wears on and we come home at night; he most days has turned into that old person he was when he was drinking and as I’ve mentioned mine is a complete stereotypical DRY DRUNK and it’s sooooooooooooo frustrating to have the same person sober that you had drunk with the exception of the violence – I struggle with the attitude of being nice to the alcoholic, but just like forgiveness, it’s for our peace of mind and sanity, NOT FOR THE ALCOHOLIC’S benefit and I need to really inbread this into my mind . . because I have to tell you, when I walk away and don’t engage him when he’s raging, things quiet down quickly and I don’t turn into an emotional wreck . . but their ability to push buttons is mind boggling to me . . they just “know” what to say to get you going . . it’s a daily struggle . .

  • JC

    Sandy, what you have said is so true. There’s nothing simple about staying involved with an alcoholic or a dry drunk personality. Then again though, nothing in life seems to be simple. These methods of not arguing and engaging with the alcoholic really do work in helping us have more serenity in our lives. It sounds like life for you with the sober one is better than it used to be.

    I think the key to overcoming the button pushing is knowing what it is they do to get us going. Once we see “clearly” the push we can stop reacting.

    It takes work to stay in difficult places, but some men and women are worth the work involved in staying with them. Even though there are bad qualities, hopefully the good out weighs the bad.

  • janet


    Thank you for sharing this.
    I too not longer want to live like this.
    I am grieving which is just as hard as being in an unhealthy relationship
    but I know its temporary or at least I hope so.

    I have found moments of having myself back but only moments.
    The moments I cherish because I don’t feel insane all the time.

    I love him but my son needs me and I will not be the helpful caring person I am to him
    if I am caught up in an addiction because I am codependent very codependent.

  • Sandy

    JC – I guess I’m still weighing the bad against the good, but I still have hope because even though he’s not doing AA he is going to have to start court appointed anger management classes in the next month or so and even though he fights things like this tooth and nail, he does seem open to advise as long as it isn’t from me . . so time will tell – and you are so right about figuring out what buttons he’s pushing etc. there are times my mind knows this and other times if I’m tired or had a stressful day I just can’t comprehend it . . but each time I do well I pat myself on the back . . just like when he does good I pat his too . . I try very hard to be supportive but I will not be a doormat never ever again . .

  • Debbi

    To All of you:

    I sure wish I had found this site much sooner than I did because you all have such great suggestions that would have helped me possibly sooner. I had to leave the relationship because he crossed a boundary I just could not tolerate and so I stopped all contact while still living with him facing a divorce.

    I read all your good suggestions and think I made a mistake possibly “bailing” too soon but the emotional hurt was so great because my love was still there and sometimes still is and so those verbal assaults cut like knives.

    So do know that every attempt you all try, while it may work for some but not others–applaud yourselves because then you at least won’t end it if you have to with such regrets like me. The pain is still unbearable & those “movies” keep playing over & over but my conscious mind tells me that the physical risk was too great to stay.

    Any of you have suggestions to now get over it once it’s over?

  • Sandy

    Debbi – if there was physical risk involved which I’m assuming that means physical abuse . . you did the right thing by getting out . . I regret staying when I was going through the abuse . . this disease is a disease of guilt . . that is what motivates most of my choices I know that . . my RAH is sober and the physical abuse has stopped; buttttttttt I had to put him in jail for that to occur . . you did the right thing . .

  • Mia

    Hi Janet

    Well I think to be with an alcaholic you have to be incredibly independent of them at the same time. I believe they can’t give support because their lives are so tough all they can do is think about themselves as everyday is a battle against drink while hating it deep down they have to justify it to others . If they didn’t justify it they’d have to change and they think they can’t . They therefore need support, the abuse they send out is basically making you have the problem do they can say its not their fault . It’s kind of like they can’t deal with and resent how we are fine and they aren’t. My boyfriend adores my strength and success as it means he doesn’t have to help me that way. He lives the fact I smoke cos in his world that means I have an addiction also do we are the same ! When I try to give up smoking he hates it cis then I won’t have an addiction he can throw at me . It’s crazy really. I’ve found a way to be with hin because I’ve spent ten years single and I have myself, my friends and family when I need support or just go back to how I did things before if he goes AWOL ! It’s not great and it’s not how I’d like it to be but it works. Until I have pressures and he can’t be supportive . That’s when I calmly tell him to go to his place and leave me to deal with things on my own and I will call him when it’s sorted. That always causes a fight be ause he wants to support nd and feels hurt and angry I don’t feel he is supporting me. I just say, well I’m dirty you feel that way but the support I need is what I need and if you can’t do it I will call on friends. You being here right now is not helping me its making it harder. I need to focus on my problems now. They are not yours they are mine. I’d like you’d help but if you can’t help in the way I need it’s fine but I’m best left alone to get on with it.

    I think it’s all about figuring out what is each others need and taking responsibility for that . Figuring out what is my stuff and what’s his. Letting go of his stuff and keeping mind is key.

    I think if you felt you were the best girlfriend you could be that you did it right . If you got hurt by his behaviour you got hurt. We can’t turn off how we feel cos it’s our inner self hiding us to look after ourselves

    The funny part though is that when you accept this is them and you get the relationship on a level it can only reach I find I begin to be turned off by an out if work lazy drinking all day bloke. Yes he is very affectionate and adores me most if the time but as I said to him the other day. Part of what makes a man sexy to me is when he is working hard and supportive to me. When he shows spore Ustinov and respect to me and does nice things. I said to him, ok this is fine for now but if you don’t cut the drink back more and get a job I can’t see myself with you long term because coming home after a hard days work seeing you drunk on my couch is a bit of a turn off . If that’s his you want to live your life that’s fine and you have every right to live as you choose . I’m just saying that I’m beginning to see this won’t be a long term relationship if that’s how you live because it’s putting me off you. I want to be with someone who I can save our money together and go on a holiday with. Someone that won’t be drunk e ety day on that holiday and someone who won’t argue every time I put my view across

    He doesn’t like that much as he wants me to support him doing sweet FA and it annoys him I won’t do it. He can’t support me emotionally cos he can’t cope with emotions . He can’t deal with his own emotions and that’s why he drinks .

    It will last until he gets bored of not getting his way all the time and when he realises that will never happen . It will last until I’ve lost any attraction to him cos he hasn’t changed

    Why am I still with him, because I still love him and there’s alot there I still find wonderful and there are still little glimmers of hope . They are fading but I know for me I need to stay in this til that’s all gone cos that’s when it won’t hurt so much

    It’s no way to live but it’s my way and my choice cos I know me and how I can detach from this without being in bits

    You can only do what you can do and you can only worry about you and your serenity. Just remember when you think of things he said that hurt you . Would your friends and family say those things , unlikely , they know you best and they have this view of you without drink making their decision

    He needed it to be your fault maybe be ause he couldn’t cope with dealing with another thing he’d fine badly cis of drink . If he knew it was hin he’d have to get sobre and for slit of alcaholics that’s just too hard do any chance to make drinking not that bad and blaming others is just easy way for them to deny they have a problem

    Lots of love

  • janet

    Thanx Mia,
    It helps to put into perspective.
    I did not like that he drank but i loved him thats why I kept trying.

    But everytime I got upset he got upset. Then I would leave because
    it looked stressed out.

    So I guess I am not what he needs if he is going to keep drinking
    because I can’t deny my feelings I need to be able to talk to him and with him
    I just cant. It makes me very sad. But I think I am finding little glimpse
    of hope that I can still live my life without him. I never loved anyone this much.

  • Lisa

    I got an attachment from Timothy on Communicating with the alcoholic. I was able to apply it last night when mine was in a rant. It was hard but really felt good and empowering. I smiled – alot – and used short phrases. It ended a little sooner than it normally does and I’d like to think that it was because of how I handled it. 🙂 I tried during it to pay attention to his button pushing and he is simply amazing at it. It is weird how the alcoholic can so easily make it seem like it is you that has the problems and how they are right and you are sooo wrong. But I am very proud of myself and will do my very best to use this tool. Thank you again Timothy!!

  • Mia

    Hi Debbi

    Healing takes time , loss is always painful . I discovered something interesting the last time I broke up with my boyfriend ! That time I didn’t feel heart broken and the only difference was that we broke up with him ranting and me being calm and keeping my serenity . I found that really interesting as every time it ended with me also shouting I felt broken hearted ! I guess its be ause I knew I’d done everything I could and it was clear he was out of control .

    When my dad died I was devastated and a friend bought me half a dozen boxes of tissues . When I asked her why she said ” well… One box won’t be enough and after two boxes you will feel it will never end but I guarantee you after six boxes you won’t need them anymore , I got you all six at the sane time so when you feel it will never end you can see light at the end of the tunnel !” and amazingly it kind of worked and was a very sweet way to show me to not expect it to stop hurting overnight but one day it would end.

    My alcaholic boyfriend gets better every time we get back together and he’s drinking less each time but it leaves a crack that can’t be filled . I don’t know where it will end so I just take it day at a time and try really hard to remember that if I keep calm and serenity prayer aware then if it ends I will have a really good chance to get over it . It’s a bit like when someone dies and the last times you spent being good and everything loving said . It’s easier but losing someone on bad terms is so much harder so really it’s not us letting them get away with bad behaviour it’s us making sure we are ready for the fall out cos we took care of ourselves by being the best we can be . It’s so so hard but I know it’s the only way even though I feel like screaming and bring really mean to him when he pushes my buttons .

    Another trick is never ever trust them with personal info cos it’s like giving them ammunition . If they know it hurts you they will use it to hurt you . Sad but true . My boyfriend is very cagey about his personal stuff
    Even though I’ve never done it to him I think he assumes everyone works this way . He loves a fight and I can be great at giving him the fight , erghhhh! It’s like a battle of wills ! It’s great though when I do get it right cos he calms right down and it’s quite funny how confused he looks when I don’t bite back

  • Debbi


    You are very insightful & I loved your “tissue box” story.

    I ended mine very quietly with no fanfare & did absolute no contact while still living in the same house but watching him take up with another & making phone calls to her right under my nose so painful but I kept to myself.

    You are also so right about keeping your personal information to yourself because since his departure he has taken my personal information and forwarded mail, gotten credit cards, and I believe even coming to my home and leaving “calling cards” so to speak to irritate me. What that does though is stupidly make me think that maybe he’s sorry he left and the grass is not so good on the other side and I need to just keep the focus on me.

    Thank you for your kind words.

  • Sandy

    I totally agree, this is one of the ways to protect ourselves from this disease – I have only been married to my RAH for a little over a year; one thing I told him from the get go is we will NOT combined bank accounts, nor will I take his name – he’s given me a rash of crap over this but I’ve stood my ground; I knew before I married him that this may end up being an unhealthy relationship for me as I’m good at finding those it seems . . and now I’m sooooooooooo thankful I never gave in to his pressure . . he has no access to my money I work so hard for . . nor do I have to be embaressed when he does something irrational and introduce myself with his last name . . this may seem cold and calculating and maybe it is . . but . . I’m protecting me not him . .

  • Debbi

    Very smart of you to keep finances separate. I did it 10 years into the marriage when I saw him only depositing part of his paycheck into joint while all of mine went in & then he started with the withdrawals. I even got separate car insurance in the event of an accident & the amount of damages might be over his coverage. . .this way attorneys & insurance companies cannot come after joint holdings since the insurance would only be in his name.

    So sad when I think back that this was NO marriage just a roommate situation where I did all the work & he got to do all the “playing”.

    Why does it hurt still so much when one person in the relationship cares & then gets dumped when the other is done with you. Although 1 month into our divorce & mediation he told the mediator he wanted to reconcile & even went to a counselor but my suspicious mind tells me it was just to prolong so he could hide more assets/money.

    I sit here on Valentine’s Day & wonder if he is giving an engagement ring to the new one like he did to me 20 years ago on Valentine’s Day & it makes me very sad. Then I wonder will he do the same to her? My opinion of myself right now is so low I have to believe he only did it to me and never will do the same to someone else.

  • Sandy

    It hurts still because they rip your heart and walk all over it and don’t give it a second thought, you are not in this alone – there are many of us that feel the same way. I had not thought about keeping the insurance seperate because of the marriage credit but it’s not a bad idea and I may consider it, that’ll send him on another tirade – last night, my RAH was pulling his dry drunk crap and upset me so bad I ripped up the Valentine’s Day cards I bought for him and threw them at him; now today I felt guilty so went and bought a replacement . . what kind of life is this? I’ts a nightmare . . I keep hoping and hoping but that’s dwindling away . . I’m about ready to walk and call it quits . . life’s too short . .

  • janet

    I think it was you that said enjoy the serenity now that I am out of the relationship
    that was hurting me so.

    Can I ask you for help?

  • janet

    Well it helped me tremendously because I am noticing I too am painting my kitchen, and rooms in my house, scrapbooking, paying more attention really focusing on my son.
    But I have moments when I think of him of when I was intimate with him and it makes me want
    to call him

  • Ross

    Janet, i may have overlooked it..did you say you have went to Al-Anon before or are you currently going?
    If not, I highly recommend it.It can really help you deal with all the things that you are dealing with.In addition to having online support for n between meetings.Reading books from al-anon.And sites like these!(God bless you all!)
    If there is no way at all to get to face to face meetings in al-anon. I would suggest reading books on codependency or any al-anon books that you may be able to check out at the library or purchase at used book stores, searching online for families of alcoholics/addicts.Keep sharing it really helps.There is no quick fix for the healing you need.Sadly, but taking one day at a time is not really a bad thing. It has saved me many times and having the fellowship of others in a group has been a blessing.You are not alone, no matter if you ever feel that you are.Recovery for yourself is very important.I have a good ways to travel on my road in recovery.I have ups and downs.But the tools that i have learned help me get a better more positive perspective and life has seemed better.I have more hope.I am like all the others who have sought help.You will be ok as long as you get recovery for yourself and you will see.

  • Elisabeth

    I have no problem with detaching in a general basis, even when the A is drinking. What is new for me and far more difficult is his so-far “emotional” affair. It may go further, I don’t know. How do you detach when that is going on?

  • Debbi

    Elisabeth & Janet:

    Your detachment is difficult for both of you because in addition to the alcoholic behavior you’re dealing with. . .in comes unfaithfulness. That’s when it “gets you in the gut” and it becomes even harder to detach. I know because I am in the same place as you although I am now divorced but you can’t tell that to your heart and so detachment gets harder.

    Snooping, calling them, staying focused on them is what keeps the obsession going. I’ve gone so far as wearing a rubber band on my wrist and when I catch myself obsessing about it, I snap that rubber band & try to re-train my brain and emotions to focus on something else. At Christmas I tried liing to my brain. My ex stole all the decorations. . .even heirlooms from my family over 100 years ago made by my grandfather. So when I went to get out the decorations it just broke my heart realizing he took them. . .I’m sure just to be mean. Soooo. . .I told myself & lied to myself there was a fire in the house and they were destroyed so I could never think I will ever get them back.

    I’m trying that same tactic in other areas–gosh maybe I can convince myself he’s passed away and not with another woman or many women while I got left with all the bills. Who knows. Try whatever works.

  • janet


    Well I decided to sell my house and move.
    Its the only thing that makes sense and give me peace.
    Janet HUgs to you If I receover you can also.
    I just know I would be sick in the end if I stayed very sick.
    Its just not worth it the pain now is worth having myself back.
    Praise God. If he tried to get sober it would be diff but thats not the case.

  • Bruce

    Don’t know where to start. But here goes. My estranged girlfriend wanted me to come over for dinner tonight. She has a bad drinking and pill habit. For almost a month she would not return my calls or texts. She has a severe hearing loss. So I called her Mom to see if she was okay. She wouldn’t return my calls either. When I did see her last week at her Mom’s 2nd home she made me leave after she got a phone call she claimed was from her sister. Said her sister was on her way over. She said her family hates me and I should leave. So I left. Today she text and said they love me. And wanted me to come over for dinner tonight. She said she was trying to make an effort. Then said I turn her down when she does try. I declined. Did I do the right thing? I do love her. Should I continue with tough love? Or is there a better way? Tried Al-Anon. Didn’t work. Went to several meetings in different locations. Same guy ran them. He was always late. So i quit going. I do have to give her credit for one thing. Because of her alcoholism I have not drank in 17 months. Thank you JC for this site.

  • karen

    Hello everyone,
    Yes, it has been awhile since I have written anything, but I have been reading the incidents and the comments on this site.
    First and foremost I will say with a healthy heart, that this site has workded wonders for me and in my time of need the responses that I got were amazing. Personally, the Al Anon meetings did nothing for me as I did not want to learn how to have or sustain a relationship with an AA person.
    I have not spoken to the ABF that was in my life for 3 months now. I have SERENITY in my life now and I am truly thankful. Yes, there have been some difficult days and nights, but in the long run, I am calmer, happier, peaceful and re-establishing my friendships with people that I let fall by the way-side.
    I no longer feel like I am in the amuzement park on the continous roller coaster ride. I am no longer blamed, yelled at, made to feel like I am unimportant or forgotten.
    I am so much more better off without him than I was when I was with him.
    I still battle with some anger, as he blamed me for all that went wrong between us and I find myself questioning myself…but I always come to the conclusion that I am the sane one and refuse to feel guilty that I an any way contributed to the “blame” game.
    I realize that some of yous choose to stay in the relationship and I in some small way respect that thought…but my strong advice is to “get” out while the geeting is good.
    Believe me the feeling of freedom from all that we go thru with them far exceeds staying with them, it is exhilerating.
    I still have a long ways to go to repair myself from the damage done, but, I only have one life to live and I do not want to live it out that way…with an AA
    My thoughts and prayers and well wishes go out to all of yous.

  • Lisa

    Some me history 1st. I am currently living with my x husband and have been since 2002. We were divorced and were apart for 5 years before I came back. There were many reasons why our marriage did not work but him being an A was not one of them. He took up the drinking after the divorce and has been doing so since 98. I had no idea how he was until after I got back and have now been sticking to it and trying to cope because I believed that it was best for our children to be in a family with both of us together. My two oldest children are out on their own now and got out of here as quickly as possible and now it is just myself and my 16 yr old daughter. About two months ago I found myself being drawn down in to a familiar feeling of depression and this is something that I promised myself I would never let happen to me again. I knew, with what I go through daily, that it was because of the circumstances of living with him and decided at that point to investigate and do what ever I need to so I could protect my sanity and help my daughter also. I found a book on my kindle for living with a functioning alcoholic and then discovered this web site. I slowly feel myself coming out from depression but I have a couple problems. I feel like such a chicken because I cannot bring myself to sit him down when he is most sober and explain to him exactly how I feel and lay out some boundries and so forth. It’s not that I cannot do it I just don’t want to deal with the fallout of once he is drunk he will be throwing it in my face and making me feel like I am nuts. Also, I want to attend alnon meetings but this is something I know he will just use as a tool to throw in my face. Another problem I have is that when I sit down and think about him possibly trying to stop drinking that I may not have it in my heart to still be with him. It is to the point were anything that comes out of his mouth just disgust me. Also I am so sick of his nasty trash mouth and his computer porn. He just doesn’t seem to think that it is a form of cheating. But to me it is and it is disgusting. I’m starting to feel defeated even before I begin. It has been a long 10 years:(

  • Elisabeth

    Karen – Thank you for your post! I, too, don’t want to live with my A anymore but whenever I get close to pulling the plug, I get all sentimental or guilty or afraid and don’t do anything. I believe he is no longer interested in this relationship which has led to how I now feel, but instead of owning up to it, he keeps putting it on me. “Oh, so you want to break up? Is that what’s happening, we’re breaking up?” That started off our conversation last night as he told me he was going to the grocery store around midnight, no wait – he’s looking for an AA meeting (when I call him at 130am – although I can’t find any AA meetings later than 10pm), oh no, he’s just driving around trying not to drink and feeling overwhelmed by life. We had a long discussion about our relationship which was a lot of him throwing things back at me – the hurtful way he’s behaved towards me since he met this girl at work that he denies being interested in (this was the first time he denied it, all other times he said nothing) is apparently my fault and maybe I should be looking at myself to see what’s wrong. Not that I have been perfect, mind you. I know my faults but I own up to my mistakes in the relationship. What we both know is that I have always been guarded, held back some of myself this entire 15 year relationship because I knew his drinking was a problem, even though I had no evidence and no knowledge of alcoholism at the time. I had a hard time totally giving myself emotionally when I felt like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Does that make any sense?

    The funny thing is that our relationship was in a pretty good place a few months back, although he had fallen off the wagon big time, before he met this girl. I am so very hurt and I know and have known for a long time that this is not a healthy relationship because he’s not healthy, but have always been too chicken to get out of it. And now, there’s a big part of me that wants him to take responsibility for something at least once – for him to be the one to say it’s over, I’m moving on, instead of playing the victim card.

    I think I’ve stayed with him all these years because I like having someone in my life and when things are good between us, they are really great. Even though the bad times have outweighed the good. I guess I also don’t want to be alone. But lately, alone is all I am with or without him. Thank God I have close friends and family with whom I spend my time, as well as my own interests.

    I’ve probably droned on and on here, but you all are the only people who understand what this is like and I need to express myself. I also tried Al Anon and it didn’t work for me. The groups I went to just told stories, when what I really wanted was some give and take in the conversations. I wanted advice. This site has given me that.

  • Debbi


    If selling is the right thing for you then by all means. . .just make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. . .for you and your son and that you feel it would be best. Don’t make any rash decisions when your emotions are running up & down because you may regret those decisions.

    Whatever you decide to do. . .stay in touch on this site. It has helped so many others, helped me and I know it can help you also.

    ((HUGS TO YOU!))

  • Debbi


    I had pretty much the same success (or lack of) with Al Anon myself so I too dropped off.

    I believe you did the right thing in declining. Maybe when you can get to the point you can look at things objectively it would be safe to accept an invitation to dinner and see if your girlfriend is making an attempt to straighten out her life.

    But when we get entagled with their “push-pull”, (I love you, I hate you from one minute to the next) it wrecks havoc on our emotional state.

    I am 5 months out from divorce and when he packed up and moved and still my emotions are on the roller coaster trying to sort things out so for myself I need to stay clear of him until I become stable again. He is already on to someone else anyway so this gives me the time I need to heal.

    So take your time. . .you don’t have to decide to invite her back into your life until you are ready & sure that this is what you want but I would never do it unless you see some definite changes or you will be back at that “amusement park”

    My prayers are with you as you sort out your decisions.

  • Debbi


    Boy I liked & related to your post “made to feel unimportant” and that was done to me. I even said to my ex once you put your family & every one else at the top of the list & I’m at the bottom. Then after some time I told him that now I wasn’t on his list at all & it hurt.

    I want to get to where you’re at and not harbor the guilt of being the one at fault since he always blamed me.

    Glad you are getting your serenity back & I’m hoping that will help me. I talk to 2 friends and my mother and no one can understand this and why I can’t seem to get over it but until it happens to you they just don’t “get it”!

    Thank gosh for this site with people like you that can relate to us going through this and never mind that we sometimes have to keep “rehashing” the same thing over and over until we can reach that peaceful state.

    Thanks for your post to let us all know that it will get better!

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