Unappreciated By An Alcoholic-I Feel Like I’ve Wasted My Life

JC: John, thanks for sharing your story. I can empathize with you being unappreciated by your wife. It seems that I too wasted a lot of my life by staying in a difficult situation.  I stayed so long because of my morals and religious beliefs. Although I share about difficult times on this site, I do have some incredibly good memories of  good times spent with the alcoholic as well.  You might want to take a look at this articles:
How To Take Care Of Myself In An Alcoholic Relationship
Alcoholic Is Getting Worse

Please feel free to leave a comment below the article.

Beautiful Ocean WaterGuest Post By: John

I got married when I was 18 to my wife who was 23 at the time with a disabled son already 5 years old, that was 38 years ago.

The battlefield that has been our marriage has scarred the lives of our 3 normal children and although I care deeply for my wife, I cannot cope anymore with the lies and arguments and my character assassination. So, I have left home again, the fourth time this year, these separations can last anything from 4 days to 4 weeks. By this time I miss her (the occasional nice side), and feel sorry for her as she seems to drink even more when I am not there and I worry for her health if it continues on that scale.

I relate totally with the audios that I have listened to on this website and wish that I had known how to deal with things differently years ago.

My children can remember coming home from school 20 years ago and knowing when they walked in the door whether she had been drinking or not, I seemed unaware of it as I was at work more in those days (she never got to the point of being unsteady on her feet then but she does now), not realizing that it may have been the reason we never seemed to be able to agree on anything and she always seemed keen to start an argument.

Since the children left home about 8 years ago the drinking has become heavier and 7 days a week even in the middle of the night and I cannot bear to watch her killing herself as she now eats very little, sleeps 7.00pm til 2.00 am and then wakes looking for an argument which leaves me exhausted at work.

I tried to join Al Anon but she came to one of the meetings unexpectedly and disrupted it accusing me of having affairs (when I got home) so I have not been back for 2 months. She makes out to other people that I am devious and that she does not trust me, which is completely unfounded.

I recently joined a band and we rehearse each week, which gives me something to look forward to each week, but it is difficult to enjoy yourself when you know your partner is at home drinking themselves silly.

Maybe I should have left permanently years ago, but my children say that they are glad I did not as I was the only reliable stable part of their lives when they were growing up.

Why do I feel like I have wasted my life on someone who does not appreciate me, probably because I have? Would I have done anything differently knowing what I know now, yes. I would not have taken the bait so often to argue trying to defend my character to an alcoholic while they are under the influence.

I know that now there are just the 2 of us living at home, I often feel that I do not want to be there anymore, especially in the middle of the night when she is being threatening. But when I am not there I feel homesick, I don’t know what the solution is, at the moment I feel inclined to go back to Al Anon and just face my wife’s anger and accusations and hope that it subsides with time, I just can’t bring myself to abandon her and leave her to it.

Maybe I’ve got what I deserved for being so easily dominated, in my efforts to keep the peace although that didn’t work either.

JC: If you feel like you are wasting your life with an alcoholic, check out this video by Will Smith. Every time I watch this I am motivated to do more with the time I’ve been given. Remember, there is a way to live with and love an alcoholic.

You Might Also Enjoy:

I’m Afraid To Leave My Alcoholic
Feel Guilty For Leaving An Alcoholic

16 comments to Unappreciated By An Alcoholic-I Feel Like I’ve Wasted My Life

  • Sally

    John, your heartache makes my heart ache for you. Your grief about what is and what was and what could have been is a familiar emotion of those who love or have loved a drunk. Your path has been hard but you have blessings nonetheless. Your children love you. They know and understand and THEY appreciate you. Expecting a drunk to appreciate anything is, sadly, a waste of energy. Drunks truly do have the corner on the selfishness market. Addicts don’t have it in their makeup to think about anyone or anything except their drug. You are being abused by your wife. Keep doing what you’re doing to take care of yourself. Interrupted sleep because she gets drunk and wants to fight is a classic sign of abuse. Sleep deprivation is dangerous to you, your health, and anyone around you. How does your wife manage during these separations? Is she able to function on some level to take care of herself? Feeling guilty about putting distance between your wife and you is a normal reaction. Those of us who have or have had drunks in our lives all know the feeling well. Sadly, there’s not a damn thing we can do to help people who won’t help themselves. If you decide to stay with your wife, you’ll need to learn to set boundaries with her. Disrupting your sleep isn’t something you should have to tolerate. Ditto her other antics. Don’t hesitate to call the police if you don’t feel safe around her. I know how drunks can be when they’re in a “I’ll show you” mood. We can’t help who we fall in love with, but sometimes we have to accept that the people we love aren’t nice people to be around, and they’re usually, in every way, very, very bad for us. Do allow yourself to enjoy rehearsing with the band. Your worrying about your wife won’t help anything. Worry sucks the energy out of life, and it does nothing to solve the problem. Be where you are when you’re there. Enjoy what you love. Pray for your wife, but know that you can only change you. You’ll find much support, understanding and love on this board. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Diane

    Go back to Al-Anon! You don’t have to tell your wife where you’re going. Go to a different meeting. Plus, the folks at Al-Anon don’t care about your wife’s disruptions; they will ask her to be quiet or leave. Remember, your wife can’t embarrass you; she can only embarrass herself. You’re not responsible for her behaviors.

    John, if things are so bad for you that you leave, how is it that you forget so quickly? Your wife knows you’re coming back. All she has to do is wait. There’s no reason for her to change her actions. If you are determined to stay in the marriage, find a way to detach from her behaviors. It won’t be easy, but it can be done. Don’t let her suck all the life out of you, or suck all the joy out of your life.

  • Julie

    JOhn I feel for you and understand. I was married to an abusive alcoholic for 21 years before filing for divorce out of desperation to save myself and my 3 children. Sometimes i wonder and wish i had left him sooner but I realize that I needed to take my time and follow those paths i followed to get to the point when i did leave him. You did not waste your life staying with her. As your own children told you, it was worth it to do what you did and live through whatever you did in order to make life as livable as possible for you and your children. Now you are in a different place in your mind and have learned some coping skills to make things better for yourself. My advice is to move forward, forgive yourself for not knowing what to do in the past. Do not blame yourself for staying too long or reacting inappropriately to the alcoholic. But use the knowledge you are gaining now to change yourself. Focus on doing what you can and do not feel guilty about it. As for your wife, pray for her and only help her in ways that do not allow her to continue to hurt herself. By this i mean that of course if you see that she is physically injured or ill take action. And maybe listen to her when she is not drunk. Listen to what she has to say and offer kind words and options if she is willing to listen. But like Sally said, use boundaries to hopefully not allow her to badger you anymore or take advantage of your kind nature to get you to do things for her etc… I have been there and unfortunately setting boundaries with my ex only made him violent so i had to leave. But hopefully it will work for you and your wife. Focus on you and let her live how she wants but tell her you refuse to be her whipping post. There are articles on this site that can help you set boundaries. I know at first it is difficult to even figure out how to do that, but this site and everyone on here is on your side and understands and we will answer any questions we can from our own experience. So don;t feel like your life was wasted…like I said you had reasons for staying this long with your wife and whether or not you stay with her til the end will not deflate the importance of your staying the many years that you had. God Bless!

  • Ross

    Have you considered a professional intervention? I had one done on my husband
    in 2007.He went into treatment.It is an option and they do negotiate rates, regardless.
    If you do consider it.Make sure you find a reputable company.I have a couple of ones I could recommend
    if you are ever interested.
    Take care of you no matter what.

  • John, I empathize with you. I met my boyfriend when I was 32. His drinking problem was there from the beginning, but I didn’t understand alcoholism. I met him in a bar and he was on his 2nd DWI, drink in hand. I relocated out of state for the relationship three years later and after 5 months at 35….I moved out. I can’t even count how many times we broke up, at first because of lack of commitment (I wanted marriage and family) and he was afraid of having a family…fast forward..I am 56, and though we never married, I loved him so much. He is a very good man and has been very helpful to me through the years. But I hit my rock bottom in April. We had attended a wedding for his nephew. It was the weekend of the bombing attack in Boston, where I live. He got drunk Friday nite, we went to the wedding on Saturday and he got drunk Saturday nite. As I was standing over him, trying to wake him for the 2nd nite in a row, to leave the couch and get to bed…I felt this surge of anger and for the first time in all these years, I wanted to physically hurt him. It isn’t my nature and I didn’t, but I wanted to. At that point,I told him “I’m done”. I think it took the death of both my parents recently, to feel that there was one more loss I had to go through. My boyfriend was emailing me up until 3 weeks ago…no mention on his part of his drinking or what happened. He asked me to dinner and I finally set a boundary for myself that I knew he wouldn’t respect. I told him I would have dinner with him if he wouldn’t drink. His sarcasm, adding to ripping into my about “my problems” ensued. He accused me of having mood swings from menopause and medication I am taking. I told him clearly he is the only one noticing mood swings in me and they are directly related to my dealing with caring about someone who has a Jekyll and Hyde personality for so long. That was the last time I heard from him. I only told my mother and brother a couple of years ago about his drinking problem. My mom was blind and she knew that he was drinking from the loudness of his voice. This was at the time of my dad’s funeral. On Thanksgiving, he passed out in front of my brother…but he thought he just fell asleep. My family is not used to this behavior and it was embarrassing for me. It hurt when my mother would say that I could have met someone else and had a family. I know this and noone knows how much this hurts me but me, I can’t however keep kicking myself over this. I am trying so hard to move on. I am depressed and I know it will take time to grieve. I can’t undo my decisions to keep going back to him with an active drinking problem, not seeking help. To him, the fact that I wasn’t athletic as he was (I have agoraphobia) which stops me from some activities..he would say that I won’t work on changing things about me yet I expect him to. Well I don’t have an alcohol addiction and I don’t see a comparison to my not doing sports. I learned to ride a bike, cross country ski, but I know at the end of the day, no matter what sports I did with him, his drinking just continued. Through the years I dabbled in and out of Alanon. I have been going once a week pretty steadily for the past few months. It does help. I still feel uncomfortable speaking up..but I need to go even if it’s to listen right now and the times I am able to speak up, I do. John, I encourage you as well to go back to Alanon. I never did the problem fully with the steps or a sponsor. I have been reading as much as I can online and going on chat boards and it all helps. Couseling helps too, and I used to go and may seek that again. I found a wonderful social worker who in fact we met with a couple of times…but it didn’t seem as though it would help us as a couple and I knew he was pretty resistant as he is about AA. I have started to think about dating and am making new friends. I go to work, a gym and started yoga classes. I agree that starting something new that makes you feel good, like your band is so important. You have wonderful children and you have a full life ahead of you. For me, I tried for so long to distance myself, and stay with him, but I didn’t want to spend my future that way. I know it’s a dilemma but you have to take care of you first and foremost. I have seen two of my friend’s husbands get very ill and one died from cancer related to drinking and smoking. I work with cancer patients, many of whom still continue those behaviors through diagnosis and treatment. That is how powerful their addictions are.

  • I have friends in their late 50’s and early 60’s who have married for a 2nd time and they are traveling, going out to great restaurants, making new friends and enjoying great romance.

    Think what you want for your life and go for it. You are not coming back! Try not to dwell on what was but what could be.

  • Mike

    I feel like I have been ripped off too.
    Saw all the sings, but wasn’t sure, so I mentally excused them.
    There is no crystal ball and some have a different set of crosses to bear.
    Looking back is so easy.
    You are not alone.
    It feels like a whole waste of a life that God has given me.
    This one time at life, after all the lessons learned, and I ended up in a mess of a relationship.
    Yeah, I feel that too.
    There is a reason for all of this, but I have yet yo understand it.
    Was I the one who would be the only speck of light in her life? Maybe.
    But being the only speck of light sure does suck.
    How do you keep in check, the desire to escape from the life partner you chose?
    I fell your pain/

  • Jean

    Hi John,
    My heart goes out to you, your children, and your wife. I can share with you what has worked for my once 40 year alcoholic and abusive husband and myself who has been both the addict and enabler. I found hope and strength through the church and Al-anon. I went to several Al-anon groups before I found a group that really helped me and I could give back to. I spent years in prayer and seeking what God’s will was for me in all this. The more time I spent seeking Him and reading the bible the stronger I became. I believe that anyone who looks to Him for His help will find the peace and love they long for. He is the Creator of man, woman, marriage, etc., etc. and provided through His word all the guidance and hope we could ever need. He gave me the grace to get through 10 years of abuse and abandonment. Numerous separations and years of fear and anxiety. I found that by learning His ways, the responsibility for me as a wife, taking my eyes off my husband and letting Him deal with him I would find freedom. He told me this one day long ago, “I created him, I can handle him.” There is no limits to the power of God in our lives. Sometimes He gives the grace to stay and sometimes He gives the grace to leave. But as long as I let it be His way it WILL be GOOD!!!! I learned to stop trying to control my husband through different forms of manipulation and had to separate from his abuse when he was drinking. I had to get out of the way and “let go and let God.” He went through 5 treatment centers and near death. It takes what it takes. He has been sober for 1 full year now. The longest he has been sober for those 40 years. God is in the business of changing people. He sure changed me, if you only knew! And also my husband! I pray for His intervention in the lives of you and your family! Someone prayed it for us many years ago! Love and prayers, Jean

  • Debbi

    Me–just shy of 16 years before I divorced & 2nd marriage for me so I’m not young to start over but you will reach a point like many you see here where the unknown is still better than putting up with abuse. Me–I faced a major health concern & my ex took up blatantly with prostitutes & escorts. I lost a lot of money my health insurance but am free to make my own decisions & that’s worth the risk in abusive situations. Think about your choices and where you want to go from here. Really watch the video on Will Smith at the top of page–it is inspiring!

  • Pez

    I never married the XAlcoholic boyfriend but still feel I wasted 4 years of my life and gave him a second chance–jumped to another woman twice! After all my deep love, commitment, sacrifice, etc…. I feel I’ve been played. I wish I had never met him. All we can do is take from the wreckage what we can and help others in the same situation or help them avoid it.

  • Deb

    Dear John,
    I don’t believe you are easily dominated. It sounds like you love your wife. And, it sounds like you have lived pretty heroically. Isn’t that the point to life? I mean if you can write a book about your own life, wouldn’t the best Novel be one where you made choices that were ‘heroic.’ Only you know when you can’t go any further in that situation. You know, I mean when the hero has to take a break and look after their-self for a time. It sounds like you are close to that point. I am so very happy to read of your story. The reason I am happy is because you take Opportunity like you grab a balloon from the air. Most people don’t. Most people see an opportunity and don’t respond or try to grab it and miss it entirely. You saw the opportunity life gave you to ‘do something heroic’ for your children and I think its awesome.

    How bizarre to hear you say ‘you wasted time.’ What would you rather have done, invented a new type of care that doesn’t require oil? Hard to say if that is more important then what you did for you kids. Doesn’t seem you had ‘the opportunity’ to redesign automobiles so, you did what you could. That is all any of us can. Opportunity isn’t yours to ‘order around.’ It is a Mystery that appears and disappears, with no guarantee. You saw one and you ‘were heroic.’ Bravo.

    What is it exactly that you figure you want to do now that you didn’t do before? People are people, maybe you could have found a sober spouse. You would be lucky if you did and its not really your call. I mean Life happens and you ‘respond.’ If you are destined to meet someone else in this life who can be a less troublesome partner, you’ll meet that person. As far as happiness living with an Alcoholic, I completely agree with everything JC has offered in advice and folks who write in. You need to not care.

    You do. You have to grow absolutely cold in your heart about that. You have to find the ‘safe things’ in your life ‘to have your heart open for’ and then you have to have a Dead-bolt, Steel Door for every interaction with The Alcoholic. The less you care the happier you will be. Not easy if its your spouse. Nope. You know what? How old are you? The remaining days of your life (and there is a clock ticking) they don’t belong to The Alcoholic, they belong to you. I hope that you decide that you are important and valuable and that Your life is exactly that. Grab your life with gusto and find that fun you’ve been missing, that joy. Who cares if the Alcoholic wants along for the ride, if you haven’t noticed, they are preoccupied!

  • Pez

    Thanx Deb for your post. Never thought of it that way–being a hero and brave. I tried. Just hope some of the seeds stuck! I envy you for being sooo strong and being able to shut that deadbolt locked door on the alcoholic and still live a happy life. I loved my XA so I Wish I could have had that kind of strength. To accept someone who can never really love you back and know exactly what that means–you have reached a level I don’t know if I ever could. I want that love in return and the consequence is I will probably never be with him again unless God does a miracle> and we know how slim that is. But all things are possible. In the mean time I have to be brave and move on and try to find “the desires of my heart” And maybe then, I won’t despair anymore that he has chosen destruction.

    I enjoy your posts so much Deb! You are highly evolved in your dealings and much wisdom.

  • Deb

    Thank you Pez. I’ll share where you get that strength because I’m not sure if you went as far into the Rabbit Hole as I did. To say I was gutted by my ‘beloved’ is an understatement. I was taken to an absolute place of oblation. I was quite destroyed by my spouse. In that place of such utter misery, I realized that my life was nothing like it had started out to be. I was ambitious, hard working, exercised, a go getter and in the course of 6 years (of misery) I was brought to become an utterly different person. When I looked at myself I woke up!

    I did. This is what happened. I realized it was my spouse who took me here. Its really a eye opener. NO I mean I didn’t think I brought this onto myself or think that I somehow didn’t be a good enough wife, I utterly Knew that the reason I was ‘now who I was’ was because of him. As I stared at that wall I realized something. That ‘who you love’ or who ‘you elect to love’ can destroy you. I don’t mean your life, I mean You. No one has that right. No one on Earth has the right to take that from you. I realized I had a completely screwed up view of what Love was. Six years of this and I thought I was in love. I realized I had a problem. I really did, its a very serious problem and I don’t actually have an answer to this. But I knew that ‘I Do Not Know’ what Love is.

    I don’t. I know how to give it, but I have no idea what it looks like when it comes from someone else. Because I haven’t received this, aside from my parents. If you become Brutally honest with yourself you can face that fact without Wilting. It was Never my fault that I did not receive Love from a beloved. It was Never my fault that I elected to love whom I did and ‘let them come that close to me’ that they could Destroy me. But I knew one thing, I like Life. I Do. I love Life. And, if ‘you’ are not going to love me ‘screw off.’ I mean that. You don’t have the charity in you, the hospitality in you, the consideration in you, the self giving in you..etc to share with me a simple human being born on this Earth what I do absolutely deserve. WE all Deserve love. That is one thing we as Humans DESERVE. Life owes that to us. O yes it does.

    Life may not owe us a nice job, nice clothes, a nice home. But being born as part of this Universe, I do ‘have Every right to Love.’ And, if you want to use love like some kind of control device over me or some kind of leverage over me. If you think Love is a toy or a tool and not What Is Owed to every Human born on Earth then ‘screw off.’ You belong to that other Universe and that Universe is for people like you. I Woke Up. I will Love Myself. I will do that no matter what anyone thinks and I will do it alone or with someone don’t matter. Life is too short.

    As a woman, you have got to know something and know it full and well. If ‘they’ won’t love you, Run Away. Just do it. O at your leisure if you need money from that other or you need time to get your life together. Don’t stress out. But one thing I tell you ‘if humans won’t love you.’ Find the One who will. And, tell the rest to ‘do whatever they want to do.’ I became this way because of how I was Mistreated. If you do some soul searching and you find you Truly gave all you had to give and you did not short change that other. You can Wake up. Take those female hormones, make them settle down and then Live Your Life. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO IT! YOU REALLY DO! Too much B.S out there! Do Not buy it. Find your Niche in life. Find your place. It may not be much by ‘another’s opinion.’ The sooner you stop caring about others opinions, you can live Your Life. NO one else will.

  • Deb

    I am not advocating that you have to leave the one you are with. You can live with that other and create a life very separate. Oddly, if you do that in a way you wonder really ‘what kind of person’ did I marry? Heck, I can create my own personal life and shut them out completely and it does not matter one iota. That is a human who is so very selfish that ‘why get married?’ I have, similar to many women, been treated with less then I deserve. I won’t get into semantics because many men want to argue about ‘being needy’. Your life is not your own. Your life belongs to the whole world and everyone around you. We are supposed to share ourselves with each other (within reason) to assist each other on our walk through this world and as just general enjoyment. Unfortunately there are people out there who are coming from a different starting point. They are not here to share they are here to Kingdom Build. They are here to build their own kingdom and stick you in there somehow along with the pots and pans. They don’t see you as a Living Breathing Being. They are seeing you as an object. Being treated as an object kills if you aren’t an object. After you have given the love and yielding and nurturing of yourself to another to fullness, then you Must become Assertive and begin to do things in an assertive manner. Now, you begin to push and you begin to press and you make that other move out of your way instead of vice versa. Its very uncomfortable but you aren’t doing it right if you are too unbalanced. A balance of Aggression/Taking and Yielding/Serving.

  • Pez

    Thanx for sharing your story Deb. Touching and heartbreaking. I remember starting to feel like an object for the A’s use and it got worse the longer I stayed. I will not be used as an object of his entertainment. It’s hurtful. So, I’m moving on. I know he had love for me but, the more the alcohol takes hold the more the humanity of himself and others disappears.
    Just found out something today if all you believers would say a little prayer. My XA’s X-wife stopped by my work today (we get along) and My XA’s daughter is being very effected buy his alcoholism. The daughter is 17. I think she feels abandoned by her father. The X wife found liquor under her bed. His X wife is getting her back into counseling and maybe trying to form an ala-teen meeting in our town. Pray for this young girl as she is struggling with it all. The back and forth with women, the drunk angry texts at times, coming into her work and embarising her, etc…..Thank You!

  • linda

    They keep us denying are feeling.

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