Should I cut an ex, who may or may not be an alcoholic out of my life?
June 27, 2019 6:58 AM   Subscribe

Several months ago I posted a (very long winded) question about whether or not my boyfriend was an alcoholic, and I received many thoughtful answers from kind strangers. With these comments in mind and through therapy, I decided to end the relationship. At first I felt relieved, but for the most part, I have spent the following months extremely depressed, lonely, and even missing him. We tried to stay friends, which led to the same type of behavior from him that made me want to end the relationship - weird late night texts and drunk phone calls. I finally blocked him on social media, because seeing him make his life seem great to everyone else just ended up making me feel even more isolated, sad, and angry. De-friending him from Facebook led to another series of hurtful texts, in which he cursed at me and tried to make me feel guilty. He called me a bad person and brought up his mom’s passing, etc. I called him the morning after this one particular series of horrible texts; actually told him to get his shit together or he would be dead in 5 years. He called me later that day to tell me he has contacts in AA and he was going to “get himself right”. The pain in my voice and that comment really got to him he said, and this time truly felt different. For the first time, I really believed him and trusted that he was going to at least try to get better. Things shortly took a turn (more details inside) and now I don’t know how to help; if I should try to help; or if in fact I am part of the problem.

He called me a few days into his so called sobriety. He was struggling with wanting to drink; he was sweating and shaking. He sounded out of it but not drunk. I talked to him through my tears, apologizing for not knowing how to help him. But he assured me that he had the help he needed elsewhere and that he was going to get therapy too. I told him I wouldn’t contact him because I didn’t know how recovery works and I didn’t want to interfere with the process - he has sometimes made it seem like some things I say or do are triggers for him. But I let him know that I would always be here to do anything I could do to help him. I didn’t hear from him for a week.

The following weekend after our last phone call, a mutual friend of ours saw him out - with another woman - at a bar. I am not proud of my reaction and what then followed, which was an angry confrontational phone call. Shamefully, I was initially more upset about the date and almost forgot about the part where just a week earlier I was trying to talk him off the ledge regarding his drinking problem. He said he was told by counselors at AA that he can’t go through the program for me, and that he only went on a date to try and get over me. He said he figures I just now see him as a loser, and he just wanted to try and be happy. He said that he went out with this woman to get over me; that he still loves me and only wants me in his life; and that his drinking is only to self-medicate his other issues, which he’s going to therapy for. Basically, his drinking problem is not the huge problem I made it out to be.

I am a confused wreck. I no longer know which parts of his story are real; if anything we’ve ever experienced together was real. Maybe I have just been making the whole drinking problem up, or maybe I really am the problem? This other woman doesn’t see his drinking as a problem, and they’ve known each other for years. Our mutual acquaintances don’t seem to think he has a problem either, just that I’ve broken his heart. (He is telling people I suddenly ended the relationship but of course he does not provide the details as to why. And no one has reached out to hear my side - not that I’d provide details either- or to see if I’m ok). Maybe I just don’t fit into his lifestyle. But at the same time, then why am I jealous that this new woman and others do fit in? That they get the good and fun parts of him? Is it only because I have been left alone with the emotional mess he left behind?

Deep down I feel that I could never have a truly meaningful relationship with this man, but it still hurts like hell. We do have some sort of connection I don’t have with many people. I’m having a really hard time self-esteem wise, and thinking that everything he ever told me was a lie. I really thought I was the first person he ever truly loved and that I was a reason he would finally get his act together. And the worst part, I’m still so very attracted to him and afraid to cut him out completely.

Should I try to keep him in my life, maybe as a friend and see how that unfolds? Should I press the drinking issue, because I can’t forget it all happened, or should I just let it go because maybe I really was making him think he had a serious problem when he really doesn’t? Or should I cut all ties again; maybe reach out to sister with my concerns? Or would I only be doing that with the hope that I might receive some sort of validation for my feelings?

I know I should return to therapy, but until then, if anyone has experienced a situation like this, I would really appreciate your insight. I’m struggling.
posted by Camrain to Human Relations (42 answers total)
 
Detach. With love. Take care of yourself. Elements of this sound a little codependent. Have you ever been to an Al-Anon meeting? I feel like that could give you some tools to use to understand the situation and find yourself some peace.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:03 AM on June 27, 2019 [10 favorites]


Please take care of yourself. You have done a lot for this person already, and they have a lot of work to do themselves. Spend some time with friends who love you, or just spend some time in daylight, outdoors. Let your emotions happen but try not to keep producing them, if that makes sense. Disengage.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 7:25 AM on June 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm reminded of this quote, which pertains to a slightly different situation, but might be relevant here:
“When a child is young, you can catch him if he falls. Then he gets a little older and falls from a higher place. Maybe you can still catch him. But finally he’s a full-grown adult and falls off the top of a building—then you have to decide: either get out of the way or be crushed.” – the father of an alcoholic / drug addict, in the book, The Splendid Things We Planned, by Blake Bailey
The point is that you have to take care of yourself and not let this situation crush you.
posted by alex1965 at 7:28 AM on June 27, 2019 [32 favorites]


GO TO AL-ANON. Seriously. Your life is being affected by someone else's drinking. (Mine too.) Every meeting is different. If you don't like the first one, try another. There are meetings all day and into the evening. They're all over the place. GO. When they ask for newcomers, raise your hand. Put a dollar in the bowl when it goes by. Participate if you can, but if you can't, just listen. There is help available for you, my friend, and you can start today.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:28 AM on June 27, 2019 [25 favorites]


There is nothing good here for you. Go no-contact, try Al-Anon, get therapy.
posted by ottereroticist at 7:36 AM on June 27, 2019 [6 favorites]


Every single thing you describe that he has done is WHAT. ADDICTS. DO. Yes, detach yourself. If you stay in contact with him, you are only prolonging his denial about how bad his problem is. He is saying to himself, "see, someone still is talking to me! Therefore, I am not that much of an addict."

Your feelings are completely valid; talk to your sister, to Al-Alon, to anyone else who can listen to you.

I'm so sorry this is happening to you. It happened to me 25 years ago, and the wounds are still there.
posted by Melismata at 7:37 AM on June 27, 2019 [21 favorites]


I have been though pretty much this exact situation. You need to cut the intimacy ties with him completely. For me I could not cut all ties because of the larger friend group, so I understand that complication—but no more calls or texts one-on-one. When he’s drunk and wants to talk to you about how much he misses you and how special you are together and how you’re the only one who really gets him—walk away from that conversation. When he’s drunk and wants to yell and cry at you for not caring about him because you left—walk away from that conversation too.

We do have some sort of connection I don’t have with many people.

I believe you and this is how it was for me too. That connection also explains this:

This other woman doesn’t see his drinking as a problem, and they’ve known each other for years. Our mutual acquaintances don’t seem to think he has a problem either, just that I’ve broken his heart.

There are some people who are the life of the party, and they provide the fun factor in the lives of everyone around them, and those people—as much as they might think they care about their super-fun friend as a person—never want the party to stop. They don’t understand that he has a drinking problem because they don’t see below the surface fun guy he presents to the world. Because of your connection with him, I think you can see the problem that other people can’t and don’t want to see. And he is probably terrified that if he stops being The Fun Guy that no one will like him anymore, and this is also why he’s so scared that you are going to walk away, because he knows you love him even when he’s not The Fun Guy—but that is a journey he needs to take for himself. You can’t help him figure that out.

I know you care about this guy but you also need to care for yourself. You can’t fix him. And all the love you have for this guy is going to eat away at you if you keep pouring effort into trying to fix him and then watching as he keeps hurting himself.
posted by sallybrown at 7:44 AM on June 27, 2019 [15 favorites]


Cut all ties, do not engage, block him.

It's hard, I've been there, but this man is an alcoholic and you weren't happy in a relationship with him, he gets mean when he's drunk, he's not there for you, that is enough and it doesn't matter that you feel differently than his friends, trust your gut here. The fantasy is that he will love you enough to change and the intensity and drama of all of this is sucking you in. He may love you, but he has a drinking problem, you need some therapy and time off from dating and then you can find a nice supportive partner who you won't feel compelled to save.
posted by lafemma at 7:56 AM on June 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


You cannot help him. He is using you as an excuse, and the life-saving favor you can do him at this point is remove yourself from being a prop in his manufactured dramas.

Stop worrying about the other woman, or the women that will come next, and what it all meeeeeeans. It means his ship is sinking and he's grabbing onto anything that a) looks like it will float b) will tell him everything is fine and it's just raining really hard.

If you'd get some distance, 6 weeks from now you will have a very different perspective on all this. Leave him alone, leave his family and friends alone. Go to AlAnon or at least read some of their literature.

Connection is nice when it works out but it too doesn't meeeean anything. Women feel incredible connection with men who ultimately kill them, it means nothing compared to facts.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:00 AM on June 27, 2019 [26 favorites]


Time to get out of the car as soon as it stops; now is that time.
posted by Afghan Stan at 8:12 AM on June 27, 2019 [4 favorites]


Go to AlAnon. They know everything you're going through and will support you in your efforts to get free. He has one other woman that you know of, and is using you to feed his ego. Get as far away as you can from him. Likely once you are free of his orbit you will find true friends who don't drain you of your energy and confidence. You deserve better than this tangled skein of fuckupedness.
posted by Enid Lareg at 8:18 AM on June 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


It seems very clear that this situation can't keep going on like it is -- it's tearing you up, and as other people point out, he seems to be using you as a crutch.

If it helps, think about how taking space from him now is essential if you want to have any kind of friendship with him down the road, once he's sorted himself out, and you've extracted yourself emotionally. I suspect that with some time/space you might not crave this friendship so strongly... but it might be less distressing right now to tell yourself that you're taking a break from communicating with him in any way for six months so you can re-set your relationship and possibly set a stronger foundation to maintain the connection in a less damaging, fraught way. Best of luck to you. This sounds really tough.
posted by attentionplease at 8:24 AM on June 27, 2019


Go no contact and get therapy or attend Al-Anon.

You will recreate the drama, chaos and angst you've already experienced in your relationship if you don't change your behavior because he hasn't changed his.

You will expel more energy, time and emotional labor for something he needs to do for himself when he's hit bottom.

He hasn't hit bottom.
posted by IndigoOnTheGo at 8:26 AM on June 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


I don't know you or this guy, but whether the god of the universe officially certifies him as an alcoholic, his drinking is a problem for you and your relationship, so...it's a problem and the label is not the point.

He's dating other women and IN A BAR a week after telling you he's going to get himself right?? DETACH. For your sake and his. He's distracting himself with women and drinking and is obviously not ready yet to face his problems and you have no credible information about how long it will be before he is ready.

My suggestion is for you to read up on what it means to detach and then do it as much as possible from this person, including distancing yourself from mutual friends if necessary. People who abuse alcohol are often very manipulative (though they are also lovable, which is why detaching is so hard). Go to AlAnon--I think it saved my Mom when she would have otherwise been a broken, extremely anxious, depressed person dealing with the alcoholics she loved.

I'm familiar with the upheaval this causes in people's lives, and I'm sorry you're going through it.
posted by kochenta at 8:30 AM on June 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


Cut ties and let go. As long as you keep this person in your life, you won’t have room for anyone else with whom you can have that deep, mutually fulfilling connection. This is a never ending cycle of manipulation by him and misery for you... Ask me how I know.
posted by sm1tten at 8:36 AM on June 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


As a Friend of Bill and as a person who treated several women this way while in the throes of alcoholism, my advice to you is to cut ties immediately and fully and seek therapy for your own well-being. Go to Al Anon and seek guidance from them. I am so, so sorry you're going through this, but this is textbook alcoholic behavior.

I was a self-loathing, misogynistic asshole who sought self-worth in sex and booze. The best thing that happened to me? When someone I loved raised concerns about my drinking, cut me off completely and moved on with her life and I voluntarily went to AA. (Yup, I broke my anonymity.)

tl;dr - cut ties, seek therapy, go to Al Anon, move on as best as you can.
posted by theseventhstranger at 9:10 AM on June 27, 2019 [13 favorites]


We do have some sort of connection I don’t have with many people.

This is the root of so many questions like this, questions about the mix of suffering and sublime that some people bring into our lives. It's an uncomfortable spot to be in, for sure, because it can feel very ambiguous--hot one minute and cold the next. That uncertainty is a breeding ground for grief and anxiety and, yes, for many people the professional advice is that the grief and anxiety might be bad enough that you should consider whether the bad outweighs the good.

This is an incredibly personal decision. Some people are more comfortable with complicated relationship dynamics. Some people need much clearer, unambiguous boundaries. You're your own best judge, and, yes, maybe therapy can help you ask yourself the best questions about these conflicting feelings. At the forefront, it's helpful to ask yourself: what do you want, and what is in your control along the way to what you want? As others have mentioned, Al-Anon might be a helpful (non-therapy) approach to hear, again and again, the reminder that someone else's behavior is not in your control.

Perhaps there's work to be done here, between the two of you, to get yourselves on solid footing for a relationship--platonic or otherwise. Perhaps there's nothing to be done now, and if so you can explore loving detachment with Al-Anon and/or a therapist.

But know you're not alone. This is the human condition and you'll always be able to find people who are willing to talk to you with empathy about the difficult situation you're in.

Be well.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:25 AM on June 27, 2019 [4 favorites]


This other woman doesn’t see his drinking as a problem, and they’ve known each other for years.

right, she doesn't know because she's not the one he calls when he's sweating and shaking from needing a drink so badly. you are. when you're not there to take his calls and be his secret witness anymore, someone else will eventually figure it out.

people say a lot of dehumanizing things about addicts but the simplest way to look at it is not that your past was a lie, or that he didn't love you. just that he loves himself more. he loves himself most. if he wasn't the way he is, loving himself best might still be selfish but it wouldn't have to mean hurting you so much. but he is, so it does.

people can go on living like this for decades or for a lifetime. don't wait.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:25 AM on June 27, 2019 [16 favorites]


He said that he only went on a date to try and get over me. He said he figures I just now see him as a loser, and he just wanted to try and be happy. He said that he went out with this woman to get over me; that he still loves me and only wants me in his life

To me, this sounds like just another way he's trying to make you feel responsible for him, and it isn't fair.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 9:31 AM on June 27, 2019 [7 favorites]


his drinking is only to self-medicate his other issues, which he’s going to therapy for.

This is typical bullshit that alcoholics or addicts tell themselves. Lots of people have terrible problems and don't turn to substance abuse. He has those issues AND he's an alcoholic. Look, even suppose, for the sake of argument, that this is how he came to abuse alcohol - to self-medicate depression or anxiety or whatever. That is not absurd on its face. The idea that you can resolve those issues in therapy, and then that will magically fix your drinking, is total fantasy. First of all, your chances of really getting better with anything are about zero as long as you are drunk all the time. Second of all, even imagine you could fix every other issue - then you'd still be an alcoholic.

People don't want to confront their shit and work on it sober because it is difficult and unpleasant to do so. I knew I was an alcoholic, and needed to never drink at all, for at least ten years before I got sober, and that is not unusual at all.
posted by thelonius at 9:31 AM on June 27, 2019 [9 favorites]


Bottom line this guy causes all sorts of bad feelings in you. It doesn't matter if the drinking is actually a problem (hint, likely it is), it doesn't matter if he loves you, if sometimes you connect. It drives you to write long asks, keeps you worried , makes you analyze all your interactions. It's not worth it.

A healthy relationship can be so so much more. Stop talking to him for you.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:32 AM on June 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


I think you made it so hard for yourself by trying to stay friends. You're still feeling in a relationship place with him and it's confusing. As much as it hurts, it makes sense to put the friends part on hold until he can really be your friend. With his substance abuse (and associated) issues, that may be a while. You need to get over him and he needs to make some progress before you can be friends to each other. The drama is distracting you but it's not helping you get over him.
posted by *s at 10:21 AM on June 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


The feelings evoked by alcoholism (especially romance/heartbreak/melancholy/despair) are super intense and heady, both for the drunks and those around them. Nothing that has happened is your fault and nothing more that you do can be useful here. It’s like he’s under an evil enchantment and if you try to interact in any way you’re just going to get a bit more of that enchantment slopped over on you.

I know you are hurt and drawn to him, but I would block his number and stop talking to him. When I thought of him I would do a sincere wish that he and all beings stop suffering, and then I would redirect into the other parts of my day. I’m sorry, I know it totally sucks! Please be kind to yourself. Go out with friends, go sit under a tree, cook a delicious meal, read a good book.
posted by hungrytiger at 11:24 AM on June 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


You ask "should I try to keep him in life?" No. Absolutely not. Cut all ties, do not engage. There's a lot of focus on his alcoholism in your question and the answers. But the vibe I get from your question is that this is not a nice person who is mean to you and manipulative. He's probably an alcoholic (and there is nothing you can do about that), but he's definitely a jerk, at least to you. You sound like a kind person and deserve so, so much better.
posted by emd3737 at 11:51 AM on June 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


and that his drinking is only to self-medicate his other issues, which he’s going to therapy for. Basically, his drinking problem is not the huge problem I made it out to be.

Alcoholics say a lot of things that are new to the people trapped in their lives with them but old hat to the people whose lives have been affected by others' alcoholism. This is a classic. If his drinking isn't such a big deal and he loves you soooo much, he could quit if he wasn't an addict.

We do have some sort of connection I don’t have with many people.

Yep. Drunks are often incredibly charming and can make you really feel connected to them. Go to Al-Anon and you'll meet a dozen people who can say this exact same thing about the person who is ruining their life.
posted by jessamyn at 11:57 AM on June 27, 2019 [15 favorites]


This other woman doesn’t see his drinking as a problem, and they’ve known each other for years. Our mutual acquaintances don’t seem to think he has a problem either...

Who cares what they think or whether he technically meets the criteria of some definition of alcoholism? You're clear that drinking causes him to behave in ways that are unacceptable to you: hurtful and harmful to your well-being. Cased closed: detach.
posted by carmicha at 12:12 PM on June 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


Hi there. Recovering (non-alcohol-related) addict here. As everyone has said, this is how addicts keep getting to do their thing. They charm and they cajole and they yell. They tell different people different things, depending on what they think that person needs to hear to continue letting the addict do what the addict wants.

There's a saying in the group I'm in - "Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others". Your biggest responsibility needs to be yourself. Do the self-care things you need to do to help yourself be stable, and the very first one of those needs to be go no-contact with this guy. I know, that's a huge and scary thought to have, but start with thinking that it doesn't have to be a permanent thing. Tell yourself something like "OK, today is Thursday the 27th. I am going to block him and not reach out to him until July 5th, and then I will assess how I feel", and DO IT. Then, take the week to do self-care things - reach out to a therapist or a therapy group, and talk to them about what's going on. Find an Al-Anon meeting, or a Co-Dependents Anonymous meeting, and go and just listen. Hear the stories of the people there and see if those stories feel like yours.

After a week, look at what you're feeling and see if you want to contact him. If you don't want to right now, tell yourself "I'll leave him blocked until next Friday, and then I will assess how I feel". Talk to your therapist, and your friends how aren't involved with him, and the folks from Al-Anon or CoDA. Keep doing things for yourself, keep reassessing if you NEED to talk to him, and see where you end up.
posted by hanov3r at 12:16 PM on June 27, 2019 [5 favorites]


This was so hard for me to read, as a person about 2 years seperated from an extremely similar secnario.


I am a confused wreck. I no longer know which parts of his story are real; if anything we’ve ever experienced together was real.

Deep down I feel that I could never have a truly meaningful relationship with this man, but it still hurts like hell


Damn, still, two years later, that stirs shit up and feels REAL.

That said - detaching is the best thing you can do right now. It hurts and feels confusing and you will have tons of feelings.

You can hope that a person gets better and still not be the right person to guide them through helping them to achieve that.
posted by nuclear_soup at 12:18 PM on June 27, 2019 [4 favorites]


Recovering alcoholic here, sober for a very very long time and married to another recovered alcoholic for a very, very long time.

We can be extraordinarily manipulative, and we expend immense effort on making other people around us doubt their version of reality. We will do anything we can to keep drinking because we are hopelessly addicted and don't want to think we are, and honestly a lot of it isn't personal - it's not about you - even though it feels as if it is, because we're desperately trying to make you feel things so we don't have to. And we want to hold onto some of our relationships because we think if only we get that right, then the drinking problem won't be a drinking problem.

When we're sober we can actually be great people, which makes it even harder to deal with us; when we're drunk we act like someone entirely different, and half the time the effect of alcohol on the hippocampus wipes out every memory of what we did, so we don't know anything about what we said. We make things up in a panic.

People who get involved with us genuinely think if only they can do the right thing, say the right thing, they can make us better, and we love that kind of person. They enable us to keep drinking.

Even if we get sober and get our lives together, we'll still try to manipulate you.

You have been warned :)
posted by Peach at 12:54 PM on June 27, 2019 [12 favorites]


he has sometimes made it seem like some things I say or do are triggers for him

He's going all offender-turned-victim by making you seem the bad person. Run away: doesn't matter where to, just away.
posted by scruss at 3:17 PM on June 27, 2019 [7 favorites]


This other woman doesn’t see his drinking as a problem, and they’ve known each other for years. Our mutual acquaintances don’t seem to think he has a problem either...

I have been you, and in my experience this can be about people wanting to justify their own problematic behavior around alcohol. When I was involved with an alcoholic, we had friends who would brag about getting really drunk but being "practically sober" compared to him.

I have also heard the whole, "SHE doesn't think I have a drinking problem" spiel. Which - maybe she doesn't - maybe she's in for an unpleasant surprise. Or maybe she just says she doesn't; that dysfunctional idea of being The One They Decide to Change For can be very seductive, and alcoholics will use it to manipulate their SOs. Cut him off - it will be painful, but in the long run you will be much healthier for it. You don't need him gaslighting you about your experiences with him, and as long as he continues to surround himself with people who tell him what he wants to hear you're just a reminder of the denial he's in.
posted by camyram at 3:58 PM on June 27, 2019 [4 favorites]


You can't save this guy. The only person you can save from his drinking--or whatever his ultimate problem is-- is yourself.

It's normal to be conflicted in this situation when you're human and you care about the situation, but you need to have your own back on this one. Al Anon and/or therapy can help you do this.
posted by rpfields at 4:34 PM on June 27, 2019


You may not be involved physically, but it sounds like you are still in a relationship as long as you are in touch, and you have a high level of emotional intimacy. If you truly want to end this relationship and move on, you need to cut contact with him. Block his number, block him on social media. Tell him you are doing this, but then make it so he can't reach out.

This sounds cruel and hurtful, but you'll continue hurting each other until you do this. You can be a real friend to him now in a way that's healthy for either of you.

You need to move on for real from this man. Good luck.
posted by bluedaisy at 4:36 PM on June 27, 2019


Deep down I feel that I could never have a truly meaningful relationship with this man, but it still hurts like hell. We do have some sort of connection I don’t have with many people. I’m having a really hard time self-esteem wise, and thinking that everything he ever told me was a lie. I really thought I was the first person he ever truly loved and that I was a reason he would finally get his act together. And the worst part, I’m still so very attracted to him and afraid to cut him out completely.

Also, I want to send you hugs and empathy for this. Does it help it all to hear that all of these things can be true? That you can be very attracted to him and afraid to lose him and also still pretty angry at him? And also know you can't really have a real relationship? Yes, it hurts. You're not really going to be able to move past that hurt until you aren't in touch with him anymore. You're calling him an ex, but you're still in a relationship. Good luck with moving on.
posted by bluedaisy at 4:54 PM on June 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


Recovering alcoholic, for many years now.
When our friends start thinking we drink too much, we just find new friends that drink as much as we do. Hence, going to a bar with this woman.
He's right in one thing, or the people who told him are right - that he can't get sober for someone else. As above, he hasn't hit bottom. He may never hit bottom.
There are three outcomes for alcoholics.
Locked up (Jail or mental ward, see "wet brain")
Covered up (with dirt)
Sobered up.
Not all of us make it. You don't need to hang around to see which way he goes. As said above, he may use your contact as an excuse that he hasn't hit bottom yet.
If you want to do something for him, cut contact. Seriously, it is the best thing you could do for him. The Al-Anon folks will tell you that sometimes you just need to let people experience the full consequences of their action.
posted by rudd135 at 5:30 PM on June 27, 2019 [5 favorites]


Al-Anon. There's probably a meeting really close to you within the next few days. This could really help you, it helped me.

Also, go to the library and get this book: Codependent No More, by Melody Beattie, and if possible the workbook. THis will help until you can get back into therapy, on your own schedule and free.
posted by Miko at 8:04 PM on June 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


I want to thank you all for taking the time to respond to me. I do understand that his issues are his issues to deal with but I do so wish I handled many things differently. I “knew” he had a problem for over a year and yet I stayed. And that is where the guilt and responsibility feelings come from. I should have never called him about this other woman when he had given me the perfect opportunity to walk away. I never imagined being in a situation like this and I am so sorry that so many of you have gone through something similar, on both sides.
posted by Camrain at 4:29 AM on June 28, 2019 [3 favorites]


Every minute you spend thinking about him is one you could be helping yourself grow. Refocus. What happened is a symptom - if you start doing some of the work on yourself recommended above, you won't get reeled in so easily in future.
posted by Miko at 7:17 AM on June 28, 2019 [4 favorites]


I want to thank you all for taking the time to respond to me. I do understand that his issues are his issues to deal with but I do so wish I handled many things differently. I “knew” he had a problem for over a year and yet I stayed. And that is where the guilt and responsibility feelings come from. I should have never called him about this other woman when he had given me the perfect opportunity to walk away. I never imagined being in a situation like this and I am so sorry that so many of you have gone through something similar, on both sides.

I "knew" for WAY longer and I stayed, too, and put up with some real bullshit in the process. When I look back at it now, I am so embarrassed and frustrated. I never imagined it for myself either, but narratives about abusive behavior and substance abuse sometimes simplify things, and you don't really know how complicated it can all be until you're in it. give yourself grace. Good luck.
posted by nuclear_soup at 8:37 AM on June 28, 2019 [5 favorites]


I “knew” he had a problem for over a year and yet I stayed. And that is where the guilt and responsibility feelings come from.

So why are you centering him here? You've made a series of choices that you're unhappy about, and you keep floating the solution of making more, because of...guilt and responsibility? Responsibility for...him?

Just as a journaling exercise for yourself, open a google doc or something and explore this. Take some long walks in fresh air and think about it. Why are you SO determined to make this about him? What is it you're not wanting to confront in yourself?

Look: many people, especially women people, are trained from infancy to be responsible for other people (often, but not exclusively, men) so those other people don't have to be responsible for themselves. We're trained to not even notice we're doing it and sometimes we do it over and over and over until something happens. The wheels fall off, something gets way out of hand, we hit our own rock bottom. And from there we can learn to shake off that training and do better and tend to ourselves in the way we were told we didn't deserve and had to give to someone else.

This is your moment. This could, if you'll confront it, change your life completely. Step one is understanding that he is individually insignificant here. The thing with him is done and over, and all that's left of him for you should be to analyze the responses you had to him and his behavior. You can even try to find a place of gratitude for him, entirely hands-off no-contact gratitude, for being the one to do it so badly you couldn't overlook it anymore.

The process of emerging out of this pattern is hard and scary and you may end up confronting some huge old trauma and processing anger so intense you aren't sure what to do with it (therapy and punching things in an acceptable manner). But doing that is a million million times more satisfying than staying where you are right now crying over a man who does not deserve the waste of water.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:55 AM on June 28, 2019 [12 favorites]


We alcoholics do our best to make you stay. We do our best to make you feel guilty. It is not your fault. But it will be your fault if you try to go back and be responsible. You are not responsible for his choices.
posted by Peach at 10:30 AM on June 28, 2019 [2 favorites]


Forgive yourself for staying "too long." There is nothing shameful about it. Being an addict doesn't disqualify people from having redeeming qualities and watching a loved one go down a substance abuse spiral is a special kind of horrible. It puts the witness in the extremely painful and unenviable position of constantly weighing their own self-preservation against abandoning a person they care about who is clearly unwell and destructing in every area of their life. You did your best with what you knew, and now you know more.

Please consider al-anon. It's been recommended many times here for a reason. It was created for people going through exactly what you are going through right now, and will likely help you feel less alone at the barest minimum.

I can't tell you whether to stay in contact or not. I'd lean toward no, but that's just me based on my experiences and the content of these few paragraphs. What I do recommend you do is take time to assess the standards you maintain for the people you allow inside of your life. Once you decide on what those standards should be, advocate for them in all of your relationships, including this one. It's ok if people don't want to meet them. That is their choice. Similarly, it is ok if you don't want to change your standards to accept less. That is your choice.

That also creates a whole new scenario - the one where you aren't abandoning him, but giving him a set of requirements as to how he can have you in his life. At that point, he is in the driver's seat.
posted by amycup at 5:08 PM on July 1, 2019 [4 favorites]


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