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Old 03-17-2011, 07:10 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Can you make someone realize they have a problem?

I have been dating this guy for a year. I knew that he drank from the beginning, but didn't know the seriousness of it at first. He is not from here, so he didn't know many people, and the people that he did know and was living with spend their entire day drunk and living in filth. He would complain about these people on a constant basis and say he doesn't know how they can live like that.

That's the funny thing. He can see when someone else has a problem, but can't see that he is no different from them. And that the things he says about them are equally true about himself.

At the beginning, we would go to my house after work and he would ask me to stop at the bar so he could get a 6 pack. He would drink the entire 6 pack in a very short amount of time. I know a lot of people that can do that and don't have a drinking problem, so I didn't think much of it. Then, when he wasn't with me, he would text me all night long. The later it got, the more the msgs didn't make any sense and were illegible. If I asked him if he was drinking, he would say he had a few, but always denied being drunk. One night, I went out with my friends for a girls night, came home and found him passed out on my couch. I couldn't wake him up for anything. I was shaking him, shouting, slapping him across the face, and nothing. I started to get scared, so I got a spray bottle that I use for the dogs and sprayed him in the face. He finally aroused a little, and I yelled at him, and went to bed. He tried to come to bed with me and I told him to go away. The next morning, he went home, and that night, I told him I wasn't going to deal with it. I told him that I lived with an alcoholic father most of my life, and I wasn't going to be with someone who was like that. He promised he wasn't like that, and that he didn't have a drinking problem, and he could stop whenever he wanted. So, I told him that it was either me or alcohol. He told me that he loved me and nothing was more important than me and that if he had to never drink again to keep me, he would do it. I told him I wanted him to quit because he wanted to, not for me.

Anyways, he quit and was sober from May to November. During that time, he admitted that he had a problem, but that he didn't want to drink, and that his will power was stronger than his desire to drink and that I was so important to him, that he would never risk losing me.

Then it happened. There were several nights when I was talking to him that I sensed he was drinking, but every time I questioned him, he would get mad at me and accuse me of not believing in him. He denied it every time. Then he started avoiding me, and making up excuses to not be around me, and ignoring me for hours on end, then getting mad at me for being upset about it. He then said that maybe we need to take some time to think about what we want. I told him that I knew what I wanted, but if he wasn't sure, then I had no say in that. He kept saying that he loved me more than anything. He finally admitted that he was drinking again, and that he knew it was either me or alcohol. Every other person in his life encouraged him to drink. I was the only person who didn't. He would go hang out with his friends and tell them that he didn't want to drink anymore, that he quit, and they would still always offer him a beer or even go buy it for him so it was there, just in case he wanted it. So, I totally understand how he lost that battle.

I told him at this time that I didn't think it was fair of me to give him an ultimatum and that if he was going to quit drinking, he had to do so on his own, because it was what he wanted for himself, and not for me. I asked him if he was drinking again because he wanted to or if it was because he couldn't control it. He said it was because he wanted to.

I can not figure out why I allowed him back into my life at this point, other than the fact that I am so in love with the man he is when he is sober. But, in summary, he lives with me now, and "only drinks on the weekends". I think this is his way to "prove to himself" that he doesn't have a problem. But, I actually took a second job working on the weekends just so I don't have to be around him. He isn't mean or abusive, but I can't stand being around him when he's drunk. He will buy a 30 pack on Saturday, and it's gone by Sunday. He doesn't stop once he starts. He is sloppy, annoying, is on an emotional roller coaster - one minute he's happy, the next he's depressed. He has spilled his drink on my brand new carpet because he misses when he reaches for it. He is clingy, and doesn't listen, or will get upset if I leave the room to get away from him. He is a 37 year old man who turns into a stupid 18 year old drinking for the first time. He will even take a bag with like 6 beers with him if we go anywhere out of the house. (he is never driving) He even does that if I am going to drop him off at his friend's house - 15 minutes away, and he will drink at least 2 beers on the way there. He always passes out, and there have been times when I hear him snoring, and then he sounds like he is choking, so I run to check on him, or he will stop breathing for a few seconds. His breathing is always slowed, and if he does make it to the bedroom, I usually sleep on the couch because he snores so loud that I can't sleep. He starts coughing, and coughs all night long. I have expressed my concerns over the amount that he drinks and that I worry about him. He always says, I know, I'm sorry. But then does it again.

He wants me to quit my second job so we have time to spend together on the weekends, but I don't want to spend time with him while he is like that. I am embarrassed to take him anywhere. I don't want him around my friends or family, so working is my excuse. But then I think if I wasn't working, maybe we could go out and do something that didn't involve alcohol. But I doubt that.

I just wish there was a way that I could make him realize that just because he only drinks on the weekends doesn't mean he doesn't have a problem, and that if it continues, he will lose me. And, that if it continues, I know one day I'm going to wake up one Sunday morning and find him dead because he drank so much that he choked on his own vomit or something. That is my biggest fear.

But, he won't even discuss it. If I try to bring anything up, he gets defensive, refuses to talk about it, then gets upset if I don't let it go. I think he knows he has a problem, but thinks if he admits it, he will have to do something about it, and he doesn't want to do anything about it. And, now that I have allowed the behavior, he thinks it's ok. I have no idea where to go from here. I am willing to help him, but at this point I am at a loss as to what to do. Do I put my foot down again and tell him that we are over? Do I ask him to get help? Do I ignore him and let him realize that he needs help on his own?

Where do I go from here?
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Old 03-17-2011, 07:29 AM   #2 (permalink)
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What are you getting out of this relationship? You don't want to be around him when he drinks, yet he drinks every weekend. You're embarrassed to take him around your friends. You're afraid you're going to wake up to find him dead because he drinks so much. You sleep on the couch. The guy doesn't want to quit drinking. It doesn't sound like much of a relationship to me. You deserve better.
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Old 03-17-2011, 07:32 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Hi, and

We all can understand your love of your partner, your feelings of frustration, helplessness, and your searching for an answer.

Unfortunately, alcoholism is a challenging, wiley foe.
Remember the 3 c's
You can not control his drinking or anything else about HIM.
You can not change the situation or anything else in HIM.
You can not cure him...but you can work on you.

That seems like nonesense, at this point, I'm sure. But trust me. There is hope in this situation. It comes from learning to make peace with his choices (drinking to excess, lying, hiding it) and making choices for yourself that support YOUR wellbeing.

Do you really want to "make" him change, anyway? Don't you want him to change independent of you?

On the main freinds and family page there are many "stickies" at the top - threads that stay all the time. Start reading your head off!
Consider picking up a copy of Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. It really helped me.
Consider attending an Alanon group. I am in a VERY REMOTE place with no meeting for MILES, but you might be somewhere where a group is meeting. It is SO encouraging to meet with others whose stories are like yours and will support you.

Regardless, WE'LL support you. So there's what I would suggest to do. I know it doesn't seem to touch HIS issues, but the truth is, he's choosing who HE wants to be. You get to work on you.

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Old 03-17-2011, 07:34 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Hi wanttohelp and WELCOME to SR! I'm glad you found this place. There's lots of support to be had here.

I'm going to start by posting for you the 3 C's of addiction, because they seem particularly relevant to your post:
You didn't CAUSE the drinking
You can't CURE the drinking
You can't CONTROL the drinking

So, to answer your post "How do you MAKE someone realize they have a problem?"...you don't. You can't. (Case and point: your bf is quite skilled at putting his hands over his ears, shutting his eyes and yelling out "lalalalala" anytime you bring up his drinking). There's nothing you can say or do to MAKE someone do anything. You simply aren't that powerful. The only power you have is over yourself.

You can decide what you are willing to live with and what you are not, and act accordingly. From reading your post, it seems as though his week-end drunkeness, which will eventually become "every day drunkeness" because it's a progressive disease, is keeping you away from your own home in order to avoid him. You sleep on the couch and are on a constant "death watch" waiting for his drunken apnea to choke him. That's no way to live.

I heartily recommend finding an Al-Anon meeting near you and attending a whole bunch of meetings, to get some IRL support.

I hope you keep posting and reading here as much as you like. SR is always open!
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Old 03-17-2011, 07:51 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I learned a lot from reading here and also by going to AlAnon. I highly recommend it. I have learned to control what I can control and that is me.

I understand that you love him. I also loved mine. But I was not willing to live the rest of my life like I lived when I was with him.
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Old 03-17-2011, 07:58 AM   #6 (permalink)
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RUN AWAY before you have spent a quarter of a century trying to "fix" him. It's not worth it. Find a nice guy who doesn't have these problems. Because at the end of the day, week, or decade, you can't make them understand they have a problem. They think YOU have a problem.
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Old 03-17-2011, 08:00 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Hello, Wanttohelp, and Welcome to SR!!!!

Lots of wisdom here from people who completely understand. I hope you will take some time a read around the boards, especially the "stickies" at the top of each forum.

I guess my short answer to the title of your thread is NO. You cannot make someone realize they have a problem. You CAN learn to detach from the craziness and take care of yourself.

Hugs and prayers, HG
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Old 03-17-2011, 08:02 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Hello and welcome to SR.

This early in the game and you're concerned. I've been down your path. I married my A. Had a child with her. Bought a house. Gave everything I could because I thought she'd grow up or I could help her realize what her problems are and how to fix it.

I was wrong. I lost myself. I've seen a lawyer recently. If I need to, I will divorce her.

My point is that things get far more complicated the longer you stick around. I'm not telling you to leave but that is no way to live. I try to let everyone in similar shoes know that you have a bright future in front of you, so long as you don't let yourself get sucked in any further.

Al-Anon is a pretty standard suggestion. I've also read a book called Codependent No more by Melody Bettie.

Keep posting and keep writing. It helps clear the fog.
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Old 03-17-2011, 08:47 AM   #9 (permalink)
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In answer to the question in your post: No

You can "encourage" the realization by refusing to enable, but beyond that it's up to them. They generally don't want to admit it because then they have to stop doing something that is actually greater than themselves at that moment.

Reminds me of the Wizard of Oz at the end when Glinda tells Dorothy she had the power all along--finally Dorothy "gets it." The Scarecrow says, "I should have known it and told her" and the Tin Man says "I should have felt it in my heart," and Glinda wisely says, "No, she had to learn it on her own."

You might decide to go through the woods facing flying monkeys and witches with your ABF, but in the end, they have to get to the realization on their own.

(Sorry for the cheesy analogy, but it's what came to my mind).

Do keep coming back, and go to Al-Anon for support, encouragement, and strength.
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Old 03-17-2011, 08:55 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoloMio View Post
...You might decide to go through the woods facing flying monkeys and witches with your ABF, but in the end, they have to get to the realization on their own.

(Sorry for the cheesy analogy, but it's what came to my mind).
Spot on. Monkeys throw poo just like As quack.
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:41 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Real quick answer?

No.

What you can do? Make choices about what you want in your life regardless of the fear of losing someone who will not respect those wishes, or boundaries.

When you decide to live more for yourself, and not allow your day, night, week, or, for many of us, decades to be dictated by whether your alcoholic significant other is able to be a respectful person to you, or even to himself...Then you send a very important message to him.

It is not your job to make sure he gets the message.
He may not get the message..., or he may see the message and still roll over and stay passed out on the couch. He may wake up 5 or ten years later and wonder where you went.

Those are 5 or 10 years of your life that pass by as well.

Start thinking about whether you are living the life you want.
Write down what you dont want to live with in a significant other anymore.

Keep posting and reading here. It is invaluable.
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:59 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Thank you all for the replies. I know that I can't make him do anything. I know that it has to be his decision. I tried to walk away from him... more than once. The thing is, I couldn't. I really do love this man, and we have so much in common. If he didn't drink, we would be perfect. I can't give up on that ....yet. I don't want to say that he needs me, but I know without me, he has no one else in his life to encourage him to have a good life.

His issues go way deeper than just drinking. He has no family, and had no one until me. He was kind of a drifter and thought very little of himself. He is just now starting to see that he can be whoever he wants to be and can have whatever he wants. His life has gotten so much better in the past year. I'm not saying I'm great or anything, but if I want something, I work my ass off until I get it. I'm not a quitter, and I don't pity myself, nor do I let others bring me down. I don't think he has ever had much opportunity, and he has never had anyone else believe in him or tell him he can be anything he wants.

I can't say that he is a product of his environment or circumstances, because anyone has the power to do anything that they want. But he is a product of poor self-esteem and lack of self belief. He is just now starting to believe in himself, and other than the drinking, he is a truly amazing man.

I saw a glimmer of hope last weekend. He was with friends while I was working on Saturday. When we got home, he of course was trashed. Usually, he would continue drinking until he passed out. I was in the kitchen doing something. He thought I was making a pot of coffee and asked if I could bring him a cup. So, I made a pot of coffee and brought him a cup. I asked him why he wanted it, and he stammered around the question and then said he didn't want to get more frustrated than he was (he had gotten into an argument with his friend about partying instead of taking care of his family). So, I went out on a whim and asked him if he was saying that he didn't want to drink anymore - that he had had enough? And he said yes, then drank his coffee and didn't have another beer that night.

I'm not trying to enable him, but I know if I walk away, the problem will get worse because every one else he knows will purposefully enable him, as all they care about is partying. When he wasn't with me, he drank every day. At least now, it's only weekends. It has drastically decreased compared to what it used to be.

He has good intentions, and I know he always means well, but I think he is afraid of the truth. He is really a great man, and he wants to be a good person. He just doesn't realize that this is preventing him from doing so. He blames his shakes on too much coffee, blames his upset stomach on something he ate. He just won't see the truth for what it is.

I know that I don't deserve to live this way, and trust me, I do not want to spend my life taking care of him, or avoiding him, or sleeping on the couch. I do take care of myself, and I have a good life. I know that some people never change, I know that walking away is the easy thing to do. I know what my options are. I also know that eventually I will leave. I know that every weekend when I look at him passed out. I know that but I don't know what my last straw is. I keep waiting and hoping for his AHA moment when he see's the truth. I keep waiting for him to say he doesn't want to drink and that he needs help.

But, what I want to know is in situations where your loved one did realize they had a problem and get help - was there anything that happened that triggered their change? Was there anything that you did to motivate them? What made them realize? Did they lose their job, get a dui, get in a fight? I know all of this is out of my control, but I feel that he can change and deep down wants to, but isn't ready to admit it yet.

How do you love someone and be with them without enabling them? How do you let them know that you love them and are always there for them without condoning their behavior?
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Old 03-17-2011, 10:04 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Find and attend Al-anon meetings. If you are determined to stay in the situation, you will need their help. Good luck.
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Old 03-17-2011, 11:15 AM   #14 (permalink)
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ok. Let's go through your post.

If he didn't drink, we would be perfect.

A lot of people come to SR saying this. Heck, I think there's a thread not too far down from the top saying "if he quits drinking, will I be happy?". Ask yourself if you love this man fully and completely, as he is today, drunken/emotional rollercoaster/passed out/chocking/notbreathing AND the sober moments as well? Because that is the only person he is willing to be until HE makes the changes himself. And even then, recovery is a lifetime journey.

His issues go way deeper than just drinking.

You're bang on here. Even if he were to quit drinking, he's got a lot of work to do on himself. That work is for him to do, not for you. If I re-read your post, I see that you are placing yourself in the position of indispensable, or "the rock" in his life. ***MAJOR CODIE ALERT*** It is not your role to lift this man up out of the supposed shackles of his poor childhood and to show him what he could be. That is entirely his job, as the grown man that he is.

Are you willing to spend the next X years of your life waiting for him to achieve this potential? I ask you this as someone who thought she saw potential in a man and devoted 6 years of her life to "being there for him when no one had", to being "his rock", to "helping him". 6 years and a baby later, he is still the same man, and he has not found his bottom. I believe he has now moved on to the next girl, and will undoubtedly find another one after that, each time leaving a child behind.

He has good intentions, and I know he always means well, but I think he is afraid of the truth.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. By staying with this man, by continuing to provide a soft place for him to land, you are robbing him of the opportunity of finding recovery for himself. Doesn't he deserve that dignity?

Instead of thinking that walking away would be akin to "giving up on him", perhaps you need to consider that walking away would be giving him a chance to find his bottom.
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Old 03-17-2011, 11:24 AM   #15 (permalink)
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"But, what I want to know is in situations where your loved one did realize they had a problem and get help - was there anything that happened that triggered their change? Was there anything that you did to motivate them? What made them realize? Did they lose their job, get a dui, get in a fight? I know all of this is out of my control, but I feel that he can change and deep down wants to, but isn't ready to admit it yet. "


My A did not change or "see the light" when our child was born.
He did not change or see the light when I became so sick of him that I could not, at times bear to kiss his mouth.

My A did not change when our son was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and I dealt with all those appointments and decisions alone.

My A did not change after his life had devolved into one of an essentially homeless man, couch surfing and using witless young girls to enable his alcoholism.

The man that I fell in love with was long gone.

My A changed when he wanted to. When he felt sick and tired. When he decided his life was a mess. No number of people telling him it was a mess, or events crashing down on him made any difference. It was his timeline.

I had stopped waiting, and put him into the child support system. His cousin who is his boss, told him his job was at stake. He still forged on, drinking, drinking...

He is now sober, but still a mess.
Stopping drinking is a goal, but not THE goal. There are most likely underlying reasons for his self medication.

Its not your job to figure out whatwill change him.
Its your job to see to your happiness in spite of what he chooses.
Its hard.
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Old 03-17-2011, 11:33 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by wanttohelp0318 View Post
I know that walking away is the easy thing to do.
You're not done till you're done. You've not had enough till you've had enough. Nothing any of us say will change that. Just like nothing you can say or do will change when or if he's had enough of drinking. When the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the fear of changing--that's when we change. And not a moment sooner.

But, don't kid yourself that walking away is the easy thing to do. It's not. And you already know that from experience. Walking away is hard, and the longer you stay, the harder it gets. Deluding yourself into believing things will get better is the easy thing to do.

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Originally Posted by wanttohelp0318 View Post
I tried to walk away from him... more than once. The thing is, I couldn't.
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Old 03-17-2011, 12:07 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I second that please find a meeting and if you are in it for the long term I would find a counselor, books like co-dependent no more. I am currently reading "It Could Never Happen to Me" it is about being raised in an addictive home. I also see a counselor every week, I make sure I do something nice for my self every week. Before my back suregery I went out with friends a couple times a week and took the kids out a couple times a week. What I am saying is that what I read was a lot about him and not much about you. I think that in order to help anyone we need to know who we are first and we need to make ourselves happy and healthy first. My thoughts and prayer will be with you



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Old 03-17-2011, 12:11 PM   #18 (permalink)
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YWhen the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the fear of changing--that's when we change. And not a moment sooner.
Amen.

10 years ago I could have written your post word for word about my AH. I truly believed I was "the one"... the one who could get him on the straight and narrow, the one who would give him reason to want to get sober... if we built a life together it would be enough to make him want sobriety.

We've built an amazing life. Almost 7 years of marriage, two amazing children, both of us own our own businesses, beautiful new house... the list goes on... and so does the drinking. There is no amount of "motivation" I can give him to want sobriety. There are no threats or consequences I can throw at him to get him sober.

And let me tell you... it has NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING to do with loving him enough. I love my husband to pieces, but it's not enough.

You can not fix him. No one but HE can fix him.

Let me put it this way... if you needed to lose weight - could he do it for you? Nope. You'd have to want it bad enough, and take control. How would you feel if he tried to help manage your weight loss? What if he monitored what you ate and "gently" reminded you - "Oh, wanttohelp, that's not really healthy for you! You should make better choices!"

For me, if I want something bad enough, I have to do it myself. Same goes for them, if they want it bad enough - they'll do it. Helping them, or protecting them from the consequences keeps them from getting to a point of wanting it bad enough.

That's why it's called detaching with love. We love them enough to let them live in the moment and experience life on life's terms.

I second what others have said - Al-anon was an absolute lifesaver to help me live with the alcoholism. It helped me to love my husband, and hate the disease.
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Old 03-17-2011, 03:06 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Even if they "realize" they have a problem, that realization doesn't usually last long. My AH randomly admits that he's an alcoholic and has to quit drinking...this is usually followed up by, on average, two weeks of abstinence....sometimes with a good attitude, sometimes with a bad attitude...sometimes so bad, in fact, I just wish he'd have a drink and get it over with...we all know he's going to drink again anyway! How bad is that?!? Other times (particularly after the two weeks that he's "proven" he's not an alcoholic by abstaining), he believes he can only drink on the weekends...this, of course, only lasts for the first weekend b/c he always drinks Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday as well, ad nauseum. Then there are the times that he doesn't care that he's an alcoholic..."he's just not able to be happy enough/get enough enjoyment out of life without it, so he's never going to give it up completely." These three different attitudes have sometimes even been expressed and followed up on within a period of a week or less...mind-boggling! So, can you make them "get it". No! Even when they get it themselves, they don't get it. I mean, I think deep down, my AH knows. He just isn't ready to deal with it yet...
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Old 03-17-2011, 03:39 PM   #20 (permalink)
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There is much knowledge at the fountain of experience here. Many good, honest, and hard earned pearls of wisdom.

Just like you can't make your man do anything, none of us can make you see what we see so clearly. You came here seeking others experiences and opinions, yet haven't found ones that match what you've already decided to do. If you keep asking enough people, certainly some will agree with exactly the path you have self determined. I encourage you to go read through 20 - 30 posts here. read them all. then decide.

You will have to make and live with your decision.

Best wishes.
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