I didn’t realize how much I longed for the approval of the alcoholic. They made me feel like there was something wrong with me most of the time. I didn’t really see how they were doing this until I started participating in the Al-anon program and began to write in a journal on a daily basis.
Prior to going to support group meetings all I knew is that the addict in my life periodically made me feel horrible. There were times when they were very critical of me. In my situation, I was seeking approval from an alcoholic who was abusing prescription medications. The ups and downs of their moods were so unpredictable. It was a very unstable relationship to be in.
Once I started learning about why alcoholics act the way they do, I started seeing distinctive behaviors that were occurring repetitively. I encourage you to keep a written account of your interactions with the addict. It’s a good idea to record the events prior to, during and after spending time with them.
Here’s what I discovered once I began to learn about why addicts do some of the things they do. I didn’t have to own the negativity that was being heaped on me. Adapting that sort of attitude was a slow process of transformation. After all, I’d spent a number of years being beaten down by the criticisms of the addict. Common sense tells me it’s going to take a while to change my perceptions of myself because I’ve been so trodden over by the alcoholic’s relentless barrage of criticisms.
Eventually, I stopped owning the degrading things that were projected on me once I realized that most of what the person was saying wasn’t the truth of who I really was. I eventually reached a point where I knew there was nothing wrong with me and saw how sick the addict was. I believe my personal freedom was realized when I truly began to love myself regardless of what the alcoholic thought of me.
Following are a few things that attributed to me realizing that there wasn’t something wrong with me within the wake of the alcoholic’s opinions.
- My attitude change came through learning how to like myself apart from what the alcoholic’s opinion of me was or how they treated me. In 12-step programs we learn to make a list of the good things about our personalities as well as our character defects. I started seeing that even though the addict was telling me I was a horrible father, the truth was that I actually was a great father. I saw that even though the alcoholic said I wasn’t a good provider, I actually was doing the very best that I could to fulfill the role of providing.
- I learned that just because the addict expressed a poor opinion of me that I didn’t have to believe them. This sort of revelation came when I realized that much of what the addict was saying to run my personality in the ground wasn’t the truth.
- When I learned that alcoholics use anger to keep the focus off of themselves that really helped me not own everything they said about me.
- Another thing that helped me was when I learned that alcoholics blame people for many things. I was constantly being blamed for things that were not right in the relationship.
- I learned that an alcoholic will do things to create an uncomfortable atmosphere so that they can escape to go and party.
- Getting involved with a good support group and also taking interest in church activities really helped me discover more of who I was apart from the alcoholic. As I began to use many gifts that I’ve been entrusted with, outside of my relationship with the alcoholic, friends would give me encouragement and praise. This was a far cry from how the addict viewed my talents. The addict would treat me as though there was something wrong with me because I had a dream to be a singer. Yet, my friends encouraged me to do all that I could with the gift of music that I have within.
When I started understanding what many of the characteristics of the alcoholic were, then I was better able to not take things so personally. Much of my problem had to do with insecurities and having low self-esteem. Once I started doing things that I enjoyed doing and interacting with people who celebrated my talents, the alcoholics periodic negative opinion of me didn’t have much of an impact.
- Start keeping a journal of day to day events surrounding your interactions with the addict
- Everything the alcoholic says about you isn’t necessarily true
- Get involved with a support group or other group where you can share common interests and establish friendships apart from the alcoholic/addict
- Learn what the various personality traits of an alcoholic are such as blaming others or telling lies
- Make a list of your character assets
One final tip. It’s a good idea to understand that many alcoholics can’t express love very well. They are mostly engaged in drinking and give their habit more attention than anything else. I’ve heard it said in Al-anon that going to an alcoholic for love is like going to the hardware store to get a loaf of bread. They just don’t have what we are in need of.
It takes a little time to get over thinking that there is something wrong with ourselves when we’ve spent years seeking approval from an alcoholic and gotten very little of it. Check out this article: The Alcoholic Makes Me Feel Worthless. You will find some very helpful information there.
It is very important moment when I realised “alcoholics use anger to keep the focus off of themselves”.
For years, I was painted as a nasty person by the alcoholic in my life when I was angry at his alcohol abuse, trying to save him a longer life. Only left myself very damaged.
I am now no longer angry, stay calm at all time, re-focus on my own well being and life ahead.
This article was very interesting. I just had this issue with my boyfriend. We have been together for 4 years. I am so sick and tired of him verbally abusing me. I give him a place to live. I pay all the bills. He has no where to go. His own family does not want to deal with him when he is drinking. He does not work. I do. But he makes me feel there is something wrong with me. I work and he takes care of the house – such as clean, laundry, cooks and takes care of our cat and dog. He treats me like a queen. I have arthritis, high blood pressure, and I am a diabetic. I am on my feet a lot and sometimes I hurt so bad I can barely walk. .When he drinks he complains I am not cleaning or doing anything for you. I am not taking care of the animals. Plus the name calling. When I try to rest he constantly wakes me up. He keeps trying to push my buttons. He sounds like a broken record. I tell him do not do anything. I do not care. I never said you had to do anything. If I try to take care of the house, do laundry. cook or take care of the animals he gets mad. He makes me a nervous wreak. This article was very helpful. It made me feel a lot better about myself. Thank You
I have a question–
What if your A leaves and goes on to someone else and does not treat this next person the same way? How do you then make sense of this? Is it then not our fault if the next person does not get treated by the A the same way?
How long has he been with the new victim, I mean person? My xah was a very controlled A. I dated him 1 1/2 years before we were living in the same house and NEVER once was he mean and angry. I wished he would have been because I would have stop seeing him then. The dark side came out very slow.
Your x will treat the next person the same way. because, that is who HE is. Unless he has had 10 years of therapy since you. lol
Dr. Phil has a saying (his father was also an A, he said he use to climb out the window when his father came home)…”the best prediction of future behavior is pass behavior.
Gabby, I think they try to be different with the next one (sometimes) and it may work for a little while. But sooner or later we are all tried in relationships,
it’s just the nature of it.
It can be something as small as being misunderstood about why she said something
and he will have to respond. However he responded to you in the situation will be the way he will respond to her.
I like the saying.
Wherever you go, there you are.
Thank you SC but I doubt that I will see this–It always seems to happen to me where I am the one who gets treated this way and the next one gets treated much better. It must be me I keep thinking.
I think when the A’s behavior is jeopardizing his health, job, DUI’s and is impacting the mate’s well-being it may be time to detach from this distructive relationship. I went to Alnon, I went (go) to counseling, I pray for his will and strength to change, some 20 yrs. now. I’ve concluded he has to do it his way. It’s time to let go and let God; get away take care of myself continue to pray; do some living for myself. Maybe we can have a chance if he commits to therapy, AA, out or in-house therapy.
Gabby: So glad you brought this up. I can tell you he will treat her just like you and eventually, even worse. You need to know that so many on this site tell stories that show the A remains the same no matter where he is or she is. They can act for a while. Also, the new person will not let anyone know because most people do not tell friends what is going on.
Hope you are getting out and enjoying your life.
Also, another good clue is talk to an X girlfriend or his X wife!!! I bet you anything they had the same experience!! I found out my X’s X wife dealt with the same attributes–thus a divorce–but to him it was mostly all her fault!! Denial.
Well he drank because he picked up a drink that can’t be your fault
My worst nightmare is seeing my X with someone new. He I assume will look happy and sobre, he will do all the things he wouldn’t with me and of course I assume she will be out of the pages of a magazine!
All that thinking is my nasty chatter box in my head picking away at me. This comes from my issues from childhood and later because of things that led me to low self esteem. I have to turn off that chatter box and remind myself of my good points. Talking with friends who encourage us is good as they seems as we are and not as we see ourselves when we are low
So ok back to him and his new partner and their idyllic life your head chatter is hasting you about :-
Firstly on some level he knows all the mistakes he made with you and most importantly what he has to hide from the new girl. So as he’s probably in denial also he will be bugging himself up to tell himself he’s fine so will put on a great show for her to prove to himself he’s ok. He will probably think she is fab in every way because so far she’s not had a go about his drinking. But ….. Remind yourself about REAL situations you were in with him and ask yourself really and truly what will happen when he’s in that situation with her? If course he will be the same !
The next step is that he will think he’s hidden from her perfectly so he will allow himself to risk drinking a bit more and a bit more and just another one etc etc
At some point all the same things will happen and she too WILL notice and say something. He will be very cheesed off that she had the audacity to complain after all his hard work and so it goes on
So really what I’m saying is that when you think and get upset stop and ask yourself whether what you are thinking is true and what is chatter in your head. I try to then think of a real situation
So I think of how I couldn’t ask him to a family dinner be ausevy 7pm on any day of the year geishas at least ten ciders. FACT. On ten ciders he smells of cider, can’t eat much. Can’t hold a conversation, repeats himself over and over and becomes either dry daft, inappropriate or argumentative. Or passes out. Then I ask myself if his new girlfriend would have the same problem. Of course she would
Keep thinking real stuff gabby I know it’s hard and of course to start with he will appear to be a knight in shining armour. But even they have to take their armour off to relaxe, sleep and show themselves
I’m sure he must have been a knight for a while for you or you wouldn’t be hurting like this now
It’s NOT you lovely, it’s who he is and he will show himself to her in time
I read gabbys questions & also wanted to know a similar situation. What if your A becomes sober (and is now 29 days) still acts a lot of the same way, says they are doing all they can; going to AA, going to a therapist, hasn’t found a sponser yet, just going to lots of meetings. Starts feeling too good about themselves & in turn says that I’m the one who needs help & if I don’t get an appt with a therapist he is done with this relationship & is going to break up with me. Selfish & self centered still seems to be there. I’ve read even though an A becomes sober, the same person is there, the anger issues etc. t
Back to the point, will he treat the new girlfriend better then me? The way I should’ve been treated.
I’m finding it hard to let go, I still love him but when is enough, enough?
Rachel, I didn’t realize how much I needed help until I got into Al-anon. I thought the alcoholic was the one who had all the problems, not me. It took me a while to realize that not only was there something wrong with the alcoholic, there was something really wrong with me too. I was so entangled with my partner that every little thing she did affected me.
Rachel, what would it hurt for you to try going to a therapist or start participating in Al-anon? It could only make “you” a better person.
As far as how he treats you or how he will treat a different girlfriend, I believe that if he stays connected with support groups and really works a recovery program for the rest of his life, you will begin to see a different person emerge.
He’s only been in rehab 29 days, hardly enough time to get the alcohol out of his system.
Rachael, don’t worry about losing him. If you want to stay with him, make a decision to give this relationship your all and get some help for yourself. Love him without conditions.
Gabby, abusers are good at making things look good on the outside of a relationship. You know what the alcoholic is really like. It takes a long time and a lot of rehabilitation for someone to change. He is going to bring the same baggage into the next relationship. Hopefully, you can take time out to work on yourself so you won’t bring baggage into your next relationship.
Alcoholic men in my life were chameleons and only treated me disrespectfully but never treated others that way. From father to 2 relationships, same thing. I fled before I was assaulted when last one broke down the door. The only way to stop this is stop having relationships with them. Since I can’t tell a good one from a bad one–I protect by saying all are bad or have the potential to be bad, especially when it’s with me, because never did one of them ever do these things to others. Shutting down to everyone is safer & = no more hurt. But still want to know what is wrong with me that this is all I ever get?