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Old 06-18-2017, 04:00 PM   #1 (permalink)
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How did you find the strength to leave an alcoholi spouse


I have done a lot of reading and even went to my first al anon meeting yesterday. My wife is the alcoholic in my life. She has been an alcoholic off and on for 11 years since we have been together, 4 years married. Her alcoholism is getting more and more serious, she has cirrosis of the liver and has been to the ER twice this year for alcohol withdraw seizures. Like many people I have threatened divorce to try and get her to sober up, but after this last seizure I really meant it. She went 2 weeks of being sober but started drinking again.

I have some meetings scheduled this week with some divorce lawyers to see what my options are. Luckily we don't have kids, but I have supported us solely so am worried about what alimony would look like. I constantly find myself going back and forth and she even calls me selfish for not continuing to try and help her get better and giving up even though I have supported us while she hasn't worked ever and paid for her to go to rehab which didnt work back in September. I do still love and care about her which is why I have stuck around for so long but as we get older am realizing she does not really seem to want to get better and we likely will not be able to have a family with her addiction. She constantly promises to go to outpatient rehab, but never ends up following through. One week she will be super understanding and be so regretful for all she has done, another week she will be angry and blame me.

Sorry for rambling, typing it out all out helps see how much has really happened.

For those of you that were able to leave, how did you get over the guilt and the codependency feelings of wanting to help the aloholic. I know al anon says we can only control ourselves which makes sense, but it seems so hard in practice to just drop someone you care about so deeply.
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Old 06-18-2017, 04:16 PM   #2 (permalink)
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welcome seattle jo. sorry for what brings you here, but not a one of us got here on our BEST day! take your time and read around, especially the posts above this thread called stickies.

you are not selfish or heartless - you have acted with love.
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Old 06-18-2017, 04:30 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Welcome, seattlejo. Lots of support here.
Speak to an attorney, preferably one who has experience with addiction and marital assets.
Your way will be clearer after that.
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Old 06-18-2017, 04:48 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Welcome seattle. Part of leaving is remembering why you want to leave. You were certain with the last seizure remember that in order to help you get out the door.

Make steps each.day.to get out the door
Stay active.

Make enjoyable moments for yourself without her. Dream about those enjoyable moments when ever you start questioning yourself.

There is always a different life better if you seek it out
Best wishes.
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Old 06-18-2017, 05:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Dear Seattle
MAN do I fell your pain!
I got a job out of town, and left my mate at that time. Had I still lived with him, I doubt I could have done it.
We have been separated 3 years, and it is still a struggle sometimes to avoid the doldrums. Any kind of recovery is made in steps. I feel like I have taken a few of them. It is only now that I can see how profoundly codependent I am.
I am glad you reached out to us.
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Old 06-18-2017, 05:21 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Hi, and welcome.

The thing to remember is that you HAVE tried to help her. When I left my second husband, who went back to drinking after a near-death experience directly related to his drinking (liver shut down; talk of transplant), I still cared about him. I realized, however, that if anyone was going to save his life it had to be him. I had done all I could. I was not up for repeated deathbed vigils. I imagined myself placing him in the hands of his own Higher Power (which wasn't me), prayed for him, and walked away with no regrets. It was entirely out of my hands.

Alcoholics are very good at blaming others for not "standing by" them as they spiral down on their path of self-destruction. Don't let it get to you. You HAVE stood by her. You HAVE tried to help. You are not God.

If you've been married only four years, you are not going to be burdened with much alimony, if any. Is she disabled (apart from her drinking)? Just because she chooses not to support herself doesn't mean the court will continue to indulge that. Sometimes "rehabilitative" alimony is ordered to give a spouse time to get on her/his feet. But that isn't indefinite, and as I said, with only four years of marriage it might not be a factor at all.

You'll know more once you talk to a lawyer.

Glad you're here--stick around, and keep going to Al-Anon. It was a lifeline for me.
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Old 06-18-2017, 06:09 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks so much for all the quick responses! Has motivated me to go to an al anon meeting tonight . Hopefully will have more clarity once I meet with lawyers.
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Old 06-18-2017, 06:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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For me, I had to ask myself two questions before I made the decision to leave an alcoholic husband:

1. Can I tolerate living the way things are now for the next ten-twenty years?
2. Have I done everything that I can to change the situation (bearing in mind that my ability to change things is very limited - I can't change other people)?

When the answer to 1 was clearly "no" and the answer to 2 was clearly "yes", I knew I had to go.

Only you know whether you are in the same boat. However, it sounds like your wife's condition is not improving and that you will not be able to realize some of your life goals, like having children, if she continues to deteriorate.

You mentioned feeling guilt about "dropping" her. I think there's a difference between "dropping" someone and making the decision to let them go on their own way.
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Old 06-18-2017, 06:59 PM   #9 (permalink)
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One other suggestion--if you are still intimate with her, make SURE you are practicing good contraception. The worst thing that could happen right now would be for her to become pregnant. Not only would it complicate the divorce immeasurably (you'd undoubtedly be fighting for the safety and well-being of your child), but fetal alcohol syndrome is a very serious thing.
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Old 06-18-2017, 07:02 PM   #10 (permalink)
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My daughter gave me the strength to leave her alcoholic father. If it weren't for her, I probably would have tolerated the nonsense he put me through indefinitely. Since you don't have children, you'll have to find your own personal source of strength. It can be something as simple as wanting to trade the sadness in your life for joy. I hope you find it, and I wish you well.
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Old 06-18-2017, 07:21 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I would not exactly define it as strength, but there was an urge, something that simply had to be done. My ex was also emotionally and verbally abusive . And things started rolling, step by step.

First I moved out, but I was hoping deep down inside that he would just say "Please stay, we can work things out." Of course that did not happen. I set a very firm boundary, with myself only and it was, "If he comes to my new place under the influence, I am divorcing him." You know that right now I cannot even remember how I told him I was to divorce him? I know I went to see an attorney, and we talked, and the guy told me how much it would cost, and I was about to suffocate holding back tears and told him that I would be back tomorrow: "I have to talk to my husband." And the husband was like "Sure, fine, whatever, just show me where to sign." I know I was crying a lot that day, like every 15 minutes or so, woke up at 2 am, and cried and cried, but I kept telling myself "You gotta do it." I remember going back to the office, giving my credit card to the secretary. It was a quicky, emergency divorce because I asked for absolutely nothing.

I feel no guilt, because of what happened after. He started ending up in ER almost every month, accumulated huge debt, and the last thing I know is that he lost his job, and is now back at his mom's. So, you can say I got the closure.

I've been divorced for 18 months, single but happy, living my life the way I wanna live it, substance abuse and drama free.

It takes one step at a time. It really does. And let go, and let God.
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Old 06-18-2017, 11:12 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Hiya SeattleJo,

I just joined these forums this week and just took my first step (finding an apartment) in leaving my alcoholic husband. The house we live in is his from before we met, but he's never actually been able to afford it on his own (found out after I moved in that his parents were helping him every month). I'm in a similar position as you in being the primary earner in the marriage. I pay the majority of the mortgage and have invested well over $50k in the house in our 5 years together. In truth, my willingness to (over time) take on so many of the bills is probably what allowed him to be able to afford to start drinking at full capacity.

I'm feeling tremendous guilt over leaving because he seems so vulnerable and weak in life. I have to keep reminding myself that he's in all of these vulnerable positions because of his actions and decisions. I had nothing to do with any of it and yet still feel tremendous responsibility in wanting to make sure he'll be okay, even more than I'm thinking about myself most of the time.

I know I'm going to be supporting both households for a period of time and it stresses me out a lot. But being in this house with him is also so tense I have chest pains every day. I'm picking the lesser of 2 evils, I think.

It's seriously hard though. I am going through mental and emotional gymnastics every day.
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Old 06-19-2017, 04:06 AM   #13 (permalink)
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GirlF, welcome!

Have you talked with a lawyer yet? It seems absurd that if you are the one paying the mortgage, you are the one who has to leave. You might be able to get an interim order giving you temporary possession of the house. I assume the deed is in both of your names?
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Old 06-19-2017, 05:18 AM   #14 (permalink)
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For those of you that were able to leave, how did you get over the guilt and the codependency feelings of wanting to help the aloholic.
I joined this forum and got information. Knowledge is power. I realised his issues would be the same no matter what I did. It was like trying to hold back a tsumani with a bucket. We separated in 2009 but for financial, house related issues, plus 8 kids and his refusal to go, we lived in the same house until 2014. This may have continued indefinitely but things came to a head at the beginning of 2014 when he had two cprs in one weekend, on our dd's birthday, cos of his drinking and I found out he had taken out a loan using our paid off ( by me, he never worked) house as collateral. Something inside me broke. I was raging, heartbroken but ready to face reality. I got all the debt, he got the house...long back story on here somewhere but I never looked back. I don't feel guilt. As far as am concerned he should be the one feeling guilty. He's been in rehab 4 times for extended residential stays but he admitted to one of our sons he's never ever stopped drinking. I don't care. I only remember he still exists if one of my son's mentions him and even they have washed their hands of him now. How I got to this stage was by slowing realisation he is who he is and NOTHING I did was helpful. I was worn out, depressed and anxious all the time and for what? He's perfectly capable of getting sober without me in his life. I regret the 20 years I put up with him tho. It was 19 too long.
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Old 06-19-2017, 07:13 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by seattlejo View Post
For those of you that were able to leave, how did you get over the guilt and the codependency feelings of wanting to help the aloholic. I know al anon says we can only control ourselves which makes sense, but it seems so hard in practice to just drop someone you care about so deeply.
It took me years to be able to leave. I loved my alcoholic husband and the family we created. I felt trapped by that love and concern for all of them.

I found SoberRecovery Friends&Family, which lead me to a book called Codependent No More. Both these things helped me save myself, from myself.

It wasn't a matter of just "dropping" him. I'd been hanging on by my fingernails for a long time. I'd developed a severe anxiety disorder with a side order of insomnia. I was a zombie at work and a basket case at home. My mind never stopped spinning and my chest never stopped hurting. I was constantly scared or angry. I was never happy and sometimes I drank too much. I realized this was not healthy. This shell of a woman was not who I used to be.. was not who I was meant to be.... BUT.... if I stayed with him I was going to spend the rest of my life in that state and I could not bear the thought of it.

I left a 26year relationship to the man I loved because I deserved to be happy and healthy and that was never going to happen for me in a marriage to an alcoholic (who had no true intention of finding recovery) Oh he was happy to lie, deceive, sneak and make false promises... but that behavior just drove me further around the bend.

I was no longer willing to live with active addiction in my life. That is my ultimate boundary. I hold firm to that still, Ive lost friends and family because of it, but never again will I allow that chaos in my life.

I changed because he wasn't willing or wanting to. It wasn't easy. It hurt me, him, our kids, families and friends. But I did not deserve to live in hell along side of someone else who was choosing to do so.

He chose to stay sick. I chose to get healthy. We wanted different things in life. It was for the best that we parted.

Strength, clarity and good luck to you!
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Old 06-19-2017, 07:23 AM   #16 (permalink)
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It took me 5 years to leave. Saving him never worked, and I think I just finally loved myself enough to go ahead and save ME.
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Old 06-19-2017, 07:39 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I think educating myself about alcoholism and addict behaviors helped me fully understand exactly what is was I was dealing with.

You stated your wife has been an alcoholic off and on for 11 years. If you are an alcoholic you will be an alcoholic for life whether or not you are drinking you are still an alcoholic. It is either sober or not sober.

Alcoholism is a progressive disease as you are witnessing and even if she stopped, drinking her disease will still be there.

Quote:
I constantly find myself going back and forth and she even calls me selfish for not continuing to try and help her get better and giving up even though I have supported us while she hasn't worked ever and paid for her to go to rehab which didnt work back in September.
It’s very typical behavior for addicts to put the blame and onus of their drinking or stopping drinking on someone else. That way they don’t have to take any responsibility for it at all.

Rehabs are a tool, an opportunity for them to get sober and learn new coping skills. Most rehabs encourage an after rehab action plan to help them stay sober like AA or counseling, something other then just their own thinking. And rehabs, AA meetings, counseling are never ever going to work long term if the alcoholic doesn’t truly want to get sober.

I think once you talk with an attorney or two or three you will understand where you stand what responsibilities as far as alimony you might be responsible for. And depending on your state alimony may only be temporary.
Alcoholism is life long, even if she were to jump into recovery and actually follow a program she will always be one bad thought away from drinking again.

Knowing the FACTS about alcoholism and studying those FACTS is what helped me to get out of my “emotional” thinking with the heart and accepting the reality of the situation.
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Old 06-19-2017, 10:17 AM   #18 (permalink)
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What helped me is imagining my life in 1, 5, 10 years. Doing exact same thing. Worrying about him driving DS while under influence

I kicked my XAHs rear every step to his PhD

I was his ultimate cheerleader (he did not return the favor)

I was on never ending quest, looking for ways to cheer him up, scheduling date nights, making sure he feels like a man (he chose not to work full time)

What I got in return was stolen money, lies, more lies, rehabs (and lots of hard earned money (by me) flushed down the toilet when he decided to flee his last rehab, most likely with some sort of alchy GF (I did not look much into that matter - but rehab people stated that his wife checked him out lol).

I also happen to be 14 years his junior - I definitely feel that he was not changing and I need to move on.

I have had my weak moments. What helped me is making a list of "why I am letting him go". Revisiting it helped a lot.
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Old 06-19-2017, 02:33 PM   #19 (permalink)
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It took me 5 years to leave. Saving him never worked, and I think I just finally loved myself enough to go ahead and save ME.
Same. When I realized he was spinning his wheels in the same spot for 5 years, same issues, same stories, same lies. I was moving forward and I needed more from him. I was fed up; the respect and trust was shot. And it SUCKED BIG TIME bc we had a lot of chemistry and I know deep down he is a great person.
It helped me to write everything down, e.g. pro/con list, reasons I needed to leave, what I truly needed in a long term partner, my goals, my plan, words that helped me get through it etc. It is still my bible when I am crying and missing him.
Take some time to reflect and do that. It may help give you a push when you see it all on paper. I also wrote a previous post about how I was able to finally leave if you look at my history. It was VERY hard for me.
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Old 06-20-2017, 06:00 AM   #20 (permalink)
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It took me over 5 years to leave. I finally left in April. I just told myself I didn't want to live like this the rest of my life and that's what I would have done. I left the home that I paid for and made home and I now live in a town home in a different town. I'm not saying it's easy he won't sell the house you won't buy me out his enabling parents are paying the mortgage so their baby has a party house - he quit working full-time years ago and is only 54. We're having to fight it out with attorneys but as lonely as I am I truly felt more lonely with him in the house and I don't have to deal with a raging alcoholic . You can do this if it's what you want they're plenty of people here to support you. I wish you the best :-)
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