Rehabing myself while he is in rehab
July 25, 2006 4:05 PM   Subscribe

What to do with myself, more about an alcoholic loved one inside.

My boyfriend is a terrible, terrible alcoholic. He started drinking four days ago, its Tuesday and he is still drunk. He has not called into his job and is just sitting at home. This happens about twice a month. The other weekends he just stays sloshed the whole time. We are not talking having a six pack, he has gone through two bottles of liqour and at least 60 beers that I counted. He is going to die if he does this.

He is stealing my youth and my vitality, but I love him dearly. I think I have convinced him to go to a halfway house rehab. He will be able to go to his job then return for the treatment portion. He will have no access to internet or a cell phone, so other than work hours we will have very little contact. He has to commit to at least six months of this.

But what about me? I will be in charge of the house by myself. What about his finances? What about all this anger I have? What about my ever increasing weird hostitiliy towards his two dogs?

Bascially, I would like advice on the practical, eating for one, handling finances, etc. But also advice on how to handle my anger and acheive some kind of zen state accepting that if he does not get better I have to give up my house and my life and move on. I am feeling pretty lost.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (18 answers total)
Do you have health insurance? More specifically, do you have health insurance that pays for therapy at all? It sounds like you could really use a good therapist to help you through your horrible situation. If your employer has an EAP (Employee Assistance Program), you might want to consult them.

Do you have family and friends nearby whom you trust? If so, talk to them. If not, do you have family who can come stay with you for a little while, just to help you through the hardest part?

I feel for you, and I hope things work out for the best.
posted by cerebus19 at 4:21 PM on July 25, 2006

Dont feel sorry for yourself. Move out now. Show him what his mistake was. I mean, if you want respect, get out.

He is stealing my youth and my vitality, but I love him dearly Well steal it back.
posted by wheelieman at 4:24 PM on July 25, 2006

posted by GuyZero at 4:26 PM on July 25, 2006

Al-Anon holds meetings daily in thousands of locations around the world. Go to a meeting. Go back. He'll be doing 90 AA meetings in 90 days if he goes, you may need 20 or 30 Al-Anon meetings to get help you need.

Don't think about it, just go.
posted by paulsc at 4:27 PM on July 25, 2006

Love for him doesn't mean you have to hurt yourself. Keep that in mind. Since you love him and want him to get better, you need to help him get healed of this disease he has. To get healed, he has to want to get healed. Right now it doesn't sound like he REALLY wants to. Maybe if you leave him for a time or he leaves for a while it'll be better for both of you, because he'll seek treatment and you'll start to heal as well.

Seek help also from his family and yours. You're not alone in this. Remember that.

Alanon is for the people whose lives are destroyed by alcoholics. You should start going to meetings as well as starting to see a therapist if you have one available to you.
posted by SpecialK at 4:29 PM on July 25, 2006

Go to a few meetings as suggested above, but in my opinion your best bet is to think up a set of concrete, constructive and realistic demands for your S/O and stick to them.

Confront him (when he is sober), tell him that you love him very much but feel that your life, his life, and your relationship with him are being destroyed by his alcohol abuse. Tell him you want nothing more than to see/help him get better and are willing to do whatever it takes as long as he promises the same.

Give him an equally concrete and reasonable set of consequences that will follow refusal on his part. This is the part you come up with. But make them forceful and most importantly STICK TO THEM. Tell him that you are offering to be there for him through treatment, etc, but that if he is unwilling to accept your help you will be forced to [stop seeing him for a time|move out|break up with him|etc] as much as you don't want to do [whatever].

And if he decides that drinking is more important than you are, you must be prepared to back up your ultimatum with action. The worst thing you could do given my advice is go through all the steps I mentioned but renege on the last.

Good luck!
posted by jckll at 4:37 PM on July 25, 2006

You may well love him enough to deal with this, but unless he loves you back enough to try to fix himself - and your relationship - you will suffer a world of pain and it still won't work.

Does he love you back? Enough? Here's how you find out. Tell him he has to get control of his drinking because it is a real problem: for him, for you, and for the relationship. Tell him he has to either do that under his own volition or with whatever professional help he can get. If he loves you enough to make him worthy of your love, he will do this. If he doesn't, he won't, and your relationship is doomed no matter how much you love him. So you will have to end it - even if only as a last-chance attempt to shock him into action. If that doesn't happen, you will have pain. But you will be free to recover from that pain and love again. No one - no one - is worth sacrificing your entire life and happiness for if they are making you unhappy. No matter how much you love them.

You cannot avoid the pain in this situation, so at least seek to minimise it and make it possible to heal and have a future. You first.
posted by Decani at 4:42 PM on July 25, 2006

I am not a psycologist, yet a relative of mine is in a similar state, even if not as bad as yours boyfriend seems to me. Please do NOT follow my advice (or any other advice) as if it was pure gold...we may be right, but we can't possibly know all the details of your situation. Please consider getting professional help as well as recommendations on the net ; your seeking for help is good, it suggest me you realize you can't handle your situation alone.

About your anger: I think your hostility for his dogs is your way to express anger onto a target that is NOT your boyfriend, YET is closely related to your boyfriend. It's a way to temporarily express anger without directly attacking a person. It may seem insane , but it is's just a way to remove temporarily anger. YET this is NOT good on the long term, because simply the anger (that wasn't present before) is not caused by dog, but most probably by your boyfriend behavior.

About your handling the reality he is a full blown alcoholic: the situation you describe is that of a very heavy drinker who is certainly very very hard to live with and to handle. Some people (apparently that happens more often to women) become co-dependant of alcohol/drug addicted people : you say you love him dearly, yet you realize he is in a wrecked state that is damaging you. You realize he will always be there for you and that he deeply needs you and he is not going to ever escape with another woman, as you realize he is a trainwreck ; yet some people feel they are doing their best and that this is love, giving oneself completely to the other even if the other is barely conscious and hardly can appreciated. Some people even secretely and unconsciously hope their loved one never quit his/her addicition, because this way they will always be there. Obviously, if you ask them, they would flatly DENY that this is true..yet their behavior is that of a person that is sticking to the abuser like glue.

I don't know if this is your case, but consider the possiblity that you may be/become co-dependant : that's why I recommend advice from professional and not only from net or a little group of friends.

As for feeling lost : certainly you need help, every bit of help possible. Unfortunately as I live in Italy I don't know what support group to recommend you, but such groups exist and help each other coping with some aspect of the practical living problems ; I personally would recommend you NOT to seek help of religious groups (of any confession) and but if it is the _only_ help you can get, you certainly should go ahead.

I think no matter how good, able, strong you are , you can't win this war alone. It is not a battle between your will and his will, it is a battle between you and a toxic substance that can render even the stronger person into a puppet devoid of any will or ability to think and it seems he really is deeply into the substance. You can help, but only that much and not much more.
posted by elpapacito at 4:45 PM on July 25, 2006

Not to put too fine a point on it, what you may learn by going to Al-Anon is that he isn't going to get better if you stick around. You can't know that yet, or not, because every relationship is different, and he's still drunk. But it's likely that as much as you may want him sober now, at some time in your relationship, you've assisted him to stay drunk. That's co-dependence, and it works in just as many strange ways as alcoholism.

Every one of an alcoholic's important relationships gets fundamentally changed by getting sober. A lot of significant others find they can't take the changes that have to come about for the alcoholic to stay sober. If that is what happens, the stories you hear and the contacts you make at Al-Anon will help you immensely to carry on with your own life, in a way that won't make you responsible for the alcoholic staying sober, or not.

And that is something important you can best get, only from those that have gone through the process themselves.
posted by paulsc at 4:58 PM on July 25, 2006

You have every right to feel lost, and so don't deny these feelings. Anger is your right but don't let it debilitate you.

You ARE losing your youth, because you are watching some one lose theirs and as a result are losing twice. You have to be on guard about this, and good on ya for noting that this is happening. The anger is a natural consequence based upon your realization that your life plan is different from his. Please know, that until he is absolutely clean for ever and ever, your life will never change. Even if he comes back from rehab, don't expect him to be cured. Every day is a battle for an alcoholic, and your life will change as a result. I speak from painful experience. You will adapt to your new life, and learn. You may decide you can't live without him. You may decide you can. Be prepared to leave however.

Your hostility towards the dogs is in part I would say, to the tremendous strain you are presently under and a superimposing of your anger to your BF. You have significant pressure on you as a result of your life (style) changing. His addiction to alcohol does not make you a lessened person. You still have much to offer the world.

I would suggest that you minimize contact with him while he is in rehab, as he may try to play on your sympathies to help him "get out" early. Be supportive, listening, loving, but not a crutch. Think tough love.

I can't address the practical stuff because I don't believe that I have enough information. I suspect others would be more able than me and will have better ideas. I just know its tough, and I wish you the best in this.
posted by fox_terrier_guy at 5:15 PM on July 25, 2006

Above all, take care of yourself first. That's only the time you can really help others. While not directly applicable, books on adult children of alcoholics (e.g., Struggle for Intimacy, Woititz) might have useful information about this (taking care of yourself) and having healthy expectations/boundaries.

There's a ton of good recipes/ideas for cooking for one and cooking on a budget in the archives. There's also some tips on exercises you can do without a gym, meditation. I found that discovering new interests in music get me past a hard time of sort of starting over.
posted by ejaned8 at 5:19 PM on July 25, 2006

I think you may have to accept that this is not the right man at the right time for you. EVen if he gets his act together it will be so far down the road that you will have lost a lot more youth- a lot of people don't quit till they're in their 40s and the first many years are shaky and full of stress and relapses. Life is full of what ifs and passing ships and missed chances, that is just the way it is.

You care about him and he sounds horribly, horribly depressed but you're obviously not helping him maintain at any kind of healthy level as it is so I urge you not to let him or anyone else guilt you into staying if you do decide to leave. That's not to say you can't help him out as a friend of course.

Good luck.
posted by fshgrl at 9:05 PM on July 25, 2006

ps - don't set yourself up as the "prize" for getting sober. He needs to find the motivation for that within himself and you need a better reason to stay.
posted by fshgrl at 9:06 PM on July 25, 2006

Practical advice: With him gone, regain that vitality. Live for yourself. Someone else is taking care of him. Feel what it feels like to not even be partially bearing the weight of his disease. Find something you liked doing that you couldn't do with him, and thoroughly enjoy it.

The hardest part probably won't be him being gone, but when he comes back. If you really get yourself lifted up, then when he returns, if he goes back to his old ways, you might feel yourself slipping down from that vital state. There will probably be many tiny decisions where you have to choose between your own happiness and your allegiance and love for him. Choose your own happiness, but pick easy ones to start. Let us know how it goes. (My email's in my profile if you want someone to relay messages.)
posted by beatrice at 11:51 PM on July 25, 2006

An oft-made human mistake is to think that we can fix other's problems and that without us they won't/can't make it - effectively making their wellbeing our responsibility. This is a standard trap in addictive/co-dependent relationships and leads to a spiral of depression and self-recriminations. Get out NOW. His recovery is up to him, if he makes it to the other side tell him to meet you there but that you don't have the time for this.
posted by Pressed Rat at 6:46 AM on July 26, 2006

From anon:

Thank you first for all of your concern. I want to state very clearly that while I am loyal I am not sentimental; if he does not do this successfully he knows I am leaving. We both had a good cry about him going to “summer camp” for so long. He is very worried about his dogs. But he is accepting of the fact that if he keeps this up he will lose me, the dogs, the house, his job, and perhaps his life for much longer than six months.

I am mostly still grappling with budget and scheduling issues. These things are not cheap. I am almost wondering if we should sell one of the cars or I should take in roommates for this period. Anyway, thank you for your continued support and advice.
posted by beatrice at 7:45 AM on July 26, 2006

Can his parents chip in? Shouldn't the financial burden fall mostly on him, as a loan (ideally from an institution) if need be? I feel worried that it sounds like you're sharing finances, including a major new financial burden, with someone who isn't going to his job.

Does he have health insurance that might cover it? Does the halfway house have any resources to help people finance their stays (and any general material for partners)? Does he have any friends or family that can help? Maybe take the dogs off your hands? ;) If he has enough friends in the area, could they all chip in a bit? People have been known to organize benefit concerts for major medical expenses (long-shot idea).

I'm concerned selling either car might make it more difficult for you to leave if you end up having to. Also, (I'm assuming that you bought this house together), it sounds like if worst comes to worst, you're planning to move out, but since it seems the house means something to you, could you instead ask him to leave and buy out his share? If that's your intent, you might ask a bank or lawyer how that would work. Taking in roommates now might be a good start toward learning how to live in the house without him, if he doesn't follow through with the program.

Here are several useful food threads.
posted by beatrice at 8:34 AM on July 26, 2006

By all means take in roomates if you need to financially. Roomates can be awesome for cheering you up and getting you to do fun stuff.

I also second the recommendation for health insurance- you never know what they will pay for. Failing that, try County health, they do sponsor some long term programs here (I know becasue I live next door to a halfway house).
posted by fshgrl at 12:04 AM on July 27, 2006

« Older Must... not... lick... Macbook.   |   плохой вахта? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.