Alcoholic Boyfriend, advice?? Support?? Help...

Old 08-05-2010, 03:37 PM
  # 21 (permalink)  
peaceful seabird
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From the Sticky "About Recovery"

We have some wonderful wisdom and experience recorded in the permanent (sticky) posts at the top of this forum.

One of my favorite sections deals with the hooks that keep me in boundaryless relationships. These are a few:
6. Need to be Needed

Maybe you get hooked by the sense of being depended upon or needed by your relationship partners. There is no reason to feel responsible for your relationship partners if they let you know that they are dependent upon and need you for their life to be successful and fulfilled. This is over‑dependency and is unhealthy. It is impossible to have healthy intimacy with overdependent people because there is no give and take. Your relationship partners could be parasites sucking you dry of everything you have intellectually, emotionally and physically. You get nothing in return except the "good feelings" of doing something for your relationship partners. You get no real healthy nurturing, rather you feel the weight of your relationship partners on your shoulders, neck and back. You give and give of yourself to address the needs of your relationship partners and you have nothing left to give to yourself. The rational message needed to establish healthy boundaries from this hook is: "It is unhealthy for me to be so overly depended upon by my relationship partners who are adults. There is a need for me to be clear what I am willing and not willing to do for my relationship partners. There is a need for my relationship partners to become more independent from me so that I can maintain my own sense of identity, worth and personhood. It would be better for me to let go of the need to be needed than to allow my relationship partners to continue to have such dependency on me. I am only responsible for taking care of myself. Human adults are responsible to accept personal responsibility for their own lives. Supporting my relationship partners intellectually, emotionally and physically where I have nothing left to give to myself is unhealthy and not required in healthy relationships and I will be ALERT to when I am doing this and try to stop it immediately."

7. Belief that Time will Make it Better

Maybe you get hooked by the belief that: "If I give it enough time things will change to be the way I want them to be." You have waited a long time to have healthy intimate relationships, you rationalize: "Don't give up on them too soon." Since you are not sure how to have them or how they feel, you rationalize that maybe what the relationships need is more time to become more healthy and intimate. You find yourself giving more and more of yourself and waiting longer and longer for something good to happen and yet things never get better. You find that your wait goes from being counted by days, weeks or months to years. Time passes and things really never get better. What keeps hooking you are those fleeting moments when the relationships approximate what you would like them to be. These fleeting moments feel like centuries and they are sufficient to keep you holding on. The rational message needed to establish healthy boundaries from this hook is: "It is unhealthy for me to sacrifice large portions of my life, invested in relationships which are not going anywhere. It is unhealthy for me to hold on to the belief that things will change if they have not in 1 or more years. It is OK to set time limits in my relationships such as: if in 3 months or 6 months things do not get to be intimately healthier then I am getting out of them or we will need to seek professional help to work it out. It is OK to put time demands on my relationships so that I do not waste away my life waiting for something which in all probability will never happen. It is not OK for me to blow out of proportion those fleeting moments in my relationships which make me believe that there is anything more in them than there really is."

Here is the link to more of the Hooks that keep us in boundary-less relationships:

Your desire to help and support is genuine and admirable. Your desire to help and support in a normal healthy relationship would be beneficial. However, the relationship with an alcoholic is not normal.

Alcoholics are capable of manipulation, lying, blame-shifting, denial, and all around BS. As a recovering alcoholic, I am still capable of those character defects. But I chose to live a healthier lifestyle and sought recovery from my alcoholic behaviors. I needed support from other recovering alcoholics (or a trained professional). They would recognize my BS and call me out on it.

You reached out because you became aware of the difficulty of being in a relationship with an alcoholic. Good! The members that have responded to your post have offered their personal experience. Keep reaching out for the support, experience and help that you need to live your life to it's fullest.

The choice to continue your relationship or end your relationship is yours to make. We will be here to support you in whatever choice you make.
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Old 08-05-2010, 03:37 PM
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Hi there,

Rude one here.

No offense taken, by the way.

I was with an A for years. I had the same notions that you currently possess. Many here have been in your shoes and stayed for decades.

The cost to being with an A...My sense of myself, confidence, child bearing years of my life, lots of money, friends, family, health, ability even now to trust men, pretty much most things I once cheirshed. NO ONE is worth that.

At the 2 month mark, my ex was not doing things that drove me to a site like this one. It was after years of escalating behaviors, loads of denial on my part and finding out he took off with a fellow drunk. They drink to this day and he just lost his house, if that tells you anything.

Whether you want to hear it or not, he is sick and you CANNOT help him. It is a road he must walk alone to get sober. If you walk it with him, he WILL drag you down too. 2 months in you don't understand the disease or the dysfunctional dyanamic yet.

You don't know me and I don't know you, but I know what being in love with an alcoholic does to your life. I would never encourage anyone to stay with an actively drinking A.
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Old 08-05-2010, 03:55 PM
  # 23 (permalink)  
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Hon, we're not meaning to be rude. Most of us were just like you and have been through hell and back trying to help and stand by someone who can only help themselves. We learned that the hard way. I still love my XAH as much as the day we were married but for my own sanity and survival I had to divorce him.

Good luck to you. We all wish you the best. Please stay around and keep reading and posting.
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Old 08-05-2010, 06:34 PM
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I find it interesting that you've chosen "BadChoices" as your name. That tells me you already know you're in a bad place -- somewhere you don't *really* want to be, perhaps?

The very unfortunate *truth* is that an active alcoholic doesn't have the capacity to give you what you need and deserve which is unconditional, full-time, from the heart, "I care about you as much as I do myself", giving, caring love!

Are you willing to settle for morsels instead of waiting to find the guy who can be there for you 100%, because he is healthy and knows and loves himself, and wants to give just as much as he is willing to take?

I have been in your shoes with an A, not once but twice. First with an alcoholic husband for 11 years (when I was young and clueless about the disease) and now years later (after knowing better) with a pothead/alcoholic who I finally broke up with after I realized I had climbed back on the same nasty rollercoaster.

I wish I could tell you that if you hang in there, things will be alright in the end...but the reality is that no one knows what your ABF will choose in the end. You have no control over the situation because it is HIS situation. You do have control over the way you want your life to turn out, however. And you can make it grand and wonderful and YOURS if you wish!!!

People here don't want to offend you or hurt your feelings. They simply have what I wish I had had when I married an alcoholic 22 years ago -- The serenity to accept the things I could not change, the courage to change the things I could, and the wisdom to know the difference! My life would have taken a much different path!

I think Al-Anon is a great idea. I wish you the best, and I hope that you stick around here. There is truly a lot of support from many very wise people who care about your well-being. :ghug3
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Old 08-05-2010, 07:20 PM
  # 25 (permalink)  
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Hi Badchoices, welcome to SR. I hope you will stay and open yourself up to the wisdom offered here. My initial reaction here is sometimes "that was a little harsh!", but there really is very knowledgeable, kind and compassionate people here. We are just trying to offer our experience, strength and hope to you!

Thumper - one thanks is not enough... that was a very insightful post! I saw myself in it.

Badchoices - I have been married to an alcoholic for 22 years and time has given me a lot of insight into how I could have allowed all this destruction to happen to my family. The answer is that it all happened so gradually that one day (20 years in) I took a look at the carnage left of my life and marriage and absolutely did not recognize myself or my husband. In hindsight, I knew my husband needed me and couldn't possibly live without me as early as our very first date (when I bailed him out of jail). I went into my marriage with very strong convictions and very clear boundaries about what I would or would not accept - every time something happened, I erased that line in the sand and drew a new one. I just want to say that I have loved (and still love) my husband as much as humanly possibly and I have done every single thing I could think of to help him for many years. I never felt one second of peace until I accepted the fact that I am powerless over this disease of alcoholism and sought help for myself through al-anon.

Nothing in my life is black & white... I am still married to my AH (who is sober right now because he's in jail, again), I pray for his recovery every single day and I pray that our marriage can somehow be saved. The difference is that I am now developing healthy and realistic boundaries because I know that my AH's recovery is entirely up to him! It's a very sad deal and if I could turn back the clock - I would have gotten out of this relationship about 2 months in.
Take what you like and leave the rest... best wishes to you!
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Old 08-05-2010, 08:12 PM
  # 26 (permalink)  
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I married two alcoholics. The first one got sober a year before we got married, and thirty years later, he is still sober and healthy and a good friend of mine.

The second one I married during a "hiatus" in drinking. He was going to meetings for awhile but quickly relapsed, lost his job, all of this after spending two weeks in a coma from acute alcohol withdrawal. He had liver failure and no health insurance. I had to leave him for my own sake. As far as I know he is still drinking himself to death.

Now, here's something interesting. When the FIRST husband (the one still sober) was still drinking, I finally got fed up with it. I'd encouraged him to go to ONE AA meeting, and he went, thought the people were nice, but, eh, not for him. He kept drinking. I finally told him I needed a break from our relationship. I said I could not and would not live with the drinking anymore.

So I quit seeing him for a couple of months.

In that time, he went, ON HIS OWN, to AA, got serious about his recovery, got a sponsor, worked the steps. We started seeing each other again, and I took a chance by marrying him, but it DID work out. Our later divorce had nothing to do with alcoholism, except that his very excellent recovery made it possible for us to divorce with very little rancor, and, as I said, we are dear friends to this day.

IOW, yes, it sometimes can work out. But if I hadn't stepped away from the relationship, I think it might have taken a lot longer. Because I wouldn't have been able to do anything to help, and I probably would have either nagged and caused more resentment or else continued to be so "helpful" he wouldn't have been motivated to do anything about his drinking. I can't claim to have "caused" him to choose recovery, but I removed some of the props that were making it easy for him to keep drinking.

So it COULD be that your stepping away from the relationship IS the best thing you could do to help him.

Please keep an open mind. I think many alcoholics are very cool people underneath the disease (heck, maybe I'm biased because I'm in AA myself, now), but early sobriety is kinda fragile, and best handled by the recovering person and those who are on the same path.
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Old 08-05-2010, 08:37 PM
  # 27 (permalink)  
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I feel for you BadChoices, I really do. Falling in love is amazing. I remember being on that cloud. You are smarter than I am, I did not know he was an alcoholic until I started spending the night at his house. I thought I'd never been closer to another human being. We talked about absolutely everything.

I couldn't understand why when we shared a bottle of wine over dinner at a restaurant or at my house, he was fine. But somehow it made him drunker at his house. I realized...much later...after I moved in, that it was his hidden stash of vodka that he dipped into when I wasn't looking that was the difference.

Before I almost lost my own sanity, I learned that it is completely impossible to have a close intimate relationship with an active alcoholic. No matter how much you love, or support, or think you are helping. You will lose.

FWIW I left, got kicked out for getting in between him and the vodka, but I am happy, got my sanity, and he is seriously working his program of long-term sobriety.

Don't give up on this site, read everything you can, learn as much as you can. Our stories are all the same. And try Al-Anon; whether you stay with him or not, you will be healthier for it. That's always a good thing.
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Old 08-05-2010, 09:20 PM
  # 28 (permalink)  
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Am I allowed to post URL links? (My apologies if not; I've read the guidelines and can't find anything.)

Below is a very comprehensive description of the patterns, behaviours and thought processes of someone who may be in a relationship with an alcoholic. I certainly saw myself in this article.

Enabling Personality | LIVESTRONG.COM

ETA: here's another one. Are you an Enabler? - Mental Health -
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Old 08-05-2010, 10:26 PM
  # 29 (permalink)  
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Great thread!!!

I can relate to BadChoices....For some outladish reason I thought it would...harmless? to get involved with an active alcoholic, and things with us progressed quicker than they should did his drinking (and found out drug use as well, because once he was drunk...WHERE'S THE COCAINE guy showed up).......Bottom line is, I of all people should have known better but went there anyway.
He held it together for allllmost three months, meaning....He knew I would not spend time with him if he was drinking so he managed to not drink for the couple/few days a week that we spent together. Then of course the drinking increased and soon he could not/would not take those days to be sober in order to see me....SOOO, this is the result. We still spoke regularly, text messaged for a couple months, so (silly me) I thought that, since it's obvious we aren't "together" any longer, we were at least friends......Yeah, no. He just became more and more angry. I'm guessing because he realized that I'm not giving in to go see him and he's DEFINITELY not going to give up his very convenient life style (mom pays for lots of what he does).

So, now I'm left with what I really knew all along.....the minute you are no longer of any use to them, you will be dropped like a hot potato. My guess is my ABF found someone new to occupy his time or he is just so drunk he just can't be bothered with anyone or anything unless it involves drinking....It's been three months since I've seen him and now it's two weeks with no contact.....and I know that everyone here would tell me to be thankful!!! In a way I am, but in a way I feel like a giant loser because in the end, I meant nothing to him and was so easily forgotten.

So, in a nutshell.....Maybe you could conduct a little experiment of your own and perhaps yours will have a better outcome. Try not seeing him or helping him in any way shape or form (unless it was rides to and from meetings)....See how long he sticks around. Good luck and I hope you both get the help you need.
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Old 08-06-2010, 12:29 AM
  # 30 (permalink)  
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Hey Badchoices and welcome (if you're still reading),

This part of your second post struck me:

"I was expecting to find supportive people in similar situations who could commiserate about how hard it is and who would offer tips about what has been helpful for them. It seems like everyone who responded is really looking at things in black and white instead of shades of grey, this is real life it doesn't always go by the book."

For what it's worth, I'm a recovering alcoholic with more than five years sober. I also have an alcoholic ex boyfriend. And about the only thing I know in recovery from both the drinking and the relationship is that alcoholism is, by definition, black and white.

I got sober - it was hard work - and anyone that new to sobriety, who is still relapsing, cannot be present at the starting blocks of a new relationship. I had several years of sobriety under my belt when I, too, fell in love with an alcoholic who had "slips" - and within a year my entire life had become unmanageable.

You're not hearing what you want to - which is that you'll get a pat on the back for wanting to help your boyfriend with his recovery and that there are hints and tips for getting a happy ending. Truth is that attempting to start a relationship right now might actually be jeopardizing his recovery - and you are likely to get more enmeshed in his disease and really badly hurt.

This is a golden opportunity for -you- to try to understand why you're willing to put your own needs second to "help" someone who is in active addiction and can't put you first. Helping others can be a virtue - but selling yourself short with a relationship that has this much baggage at the very beginning (this should be the honeymoon period) is a good indicator that you might want to step back and think through the "why" this relationship, at this early stage, is so attractive to you. Two years ago I would have said it was because my ex was my "soul mate" despite the alcoholism - but I have a long, long family history with this disease and I think that maybe that was part of the attraction - even though it took months for me to realize that he was an alcoholic.

Again, you may have tuned out - but I really hope that you haven't. Keep reading, even if it's hard to take. The folks on this board have decades of experience in trying to "help" someone with this disease - and if the answers are black and white it's because trying to live with shades of gray (which personally I think is about bargaining) is about the only thing we know -doesn't- work.

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Old 08-06-2010, 01:52 AM
  # 31 (permalink)  
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Hi again Badchoices,

None of us want to leave a person in pain or when they are ill, it is mostly human nature, we would not pass a dog injured in the street, we would, most of us anyway stop and see to it. We would then take it to the vet, that is to a person qualified to restore it back to health. If we tried to do this ourself we would cause more hurt and injury because we are not qualified to do so.

You are to be greatly admired for your loyalty and compassion to a person that you have only just started a relationship with and one that you can see is clearly ill, but sadly you are not what your BF needs at this time if he wants to get well.

Already you have become his drinking buddy to some extent, drinking with him as the others have said is not doing any good in helping an alcoholic in anyway, it is infact embedding the illness further into the person.

Everyone of us here knows what you are going through at the moment but none of us have got the answer for you, we can only tell you of our own experiences, successes, failures and opinions, but believe we all do care.

Keep posting, even ranting sometimes helps and keep reading the forums.
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Old 08-06-2010, 07:01 AM
  # 32 (permalink)  
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Hello BadChoices,

Welcome. This forum is a wonderful means of support. You will receive strong words of advice and useful information. Be open to the advice and decide for yourself what path is right for you.

What I found helpful is reading what others experience. Sometimes through reading their story you feel less alone in your struggles and/or appreciative of their tranparency. Someone once shared advice they received from a theraphist that stuck with me. The advice was to be willing to accept a person for who they are now, not who they could potentially become. It really hit home for me because beyond the alcoholic we are in relationship with we ocassionally experience them sober (the potential), on which we hang our hopes. Do you accept where your BF is now? Make your decision out of love for self first.
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Old 08-06-2010, 07:26 AM
  # 33 (permalink)  
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Badchoices - I did something somewhat similar to you only to find out that the new person in my life was faking her way through recovery to get out of the bad situation she was in.

I bailed her out of it. Cleaned her up, got her in a new place etc.

$30,000 and one child later I am still paying for my mistake of getting involved with the wrong person. My child was the only good thing to come of it.

Once I stopped enabling her I was out of the picture and a new man is now in her life who enables her. I became expendable. Tossed aside like a dirty dish cloth. Be ready for a long hard road. Unfortunately her recovery is not happening without me either, because she simply moved on to the new fellow.

All my friends and family were pushed out of her life because they were a threat to her addiction. She surrounds herself only with her enablers.
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Old 08-06-2010, 07:30 AM
  # 34 (permalink)  
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I personally have found that the BEST way to "help" a loved one, alcoholic or not, is to take the BEST care of MYSELF as I possibly can. When I first discovered Recovery, that meant going to my therapist and doctor's appointments as scheduled, attending Al-Anon meetings every day, and basically seeking support from others. Have you given Al-Anon a try?
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Old 08-06-2010, 08:13 AM
  # 35 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by BadChoices View Post
Thank you all for your advice. I know that starting a relationship in these conditions is not ideal but it happened. I'm not going to leave him, I don't see how that is going to help anything. I know that drinking with him is not a good idea ever but if he is going to do it anyway or already is, what am I supposed to do??
The problems with alcohol for my AH didn't really start until many years into our relationship. We met in school and we partied hard, with many of our friends, for many years after that. It was only when others started to settle down (me included) with marriage, careers etc and stopped drinking as much, where I realized he couldn't/ wouldn't.
Even after we bought our house together and went out less, we'd have drinks together on a Friday night, playing trivial pursuit, listening to music, looking at pictures from old days and having a blast. Those days are long gone. I hardly drink anymore because it's caused such problems in our lives. I have the occasional glass of wine with friends at dinner, and just about never with him or in front of him. So if my AH is 'going to do it anyway' I can't join in, because his drinking is an issue for me. I wish we could go back to those happy go lucky days, but I'm looking at my reality. Your reality is that after 2 months, you see he continues to have problems both with drinking and with trying to stop drinking. After 2 months, you are seeking help and advice from online forums, which means you too have some issues with the situation.
No, he doesn't have the plague. But he has a serious path ahead of him one way or another - either he will keep drinking and get sicker, or he will seek recovery. Either path is a lifelong struggle for him and those surrounding him. You must ask yourself why, when faced with some harsh comments, you wrote so definitively that you won't leave him. Do you feel you will make a difference - that you can help him where others have failed, or does he make you feel superneeded like saying he couldn't get through this without you - that you're like no one else and that he could do it with you at his side? If this sounds anything like your case, please read 'codependent no more' - it was eye-opening for me! When I first realized AH's problem, my first reaction was to roll up my sleeves and get to work saving him. I thought I was helping my relationship, and now, years later, tears later, lots of bs later, I have come to realize how that attitude worked against me.

You don't have to leave him - that's the beauty of forums like this. Take what you like and leave the rest. But if the answers bug you, maybe there is a reason why. It's up to you to do what you will with that. We were all there, in that honeymoon phase, and these voices are from those who have walked in your shoes. It would be wonderful for us to have helped someone get on the right path before all the pain, but sometimes we have to walk the path of pain before we get the message.
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Old 08-07-2010, 12:40 PM
  # 36 (permalink)  
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THANK YOU THUMPER you nailed it - brilliant!

FWIW I married a harmless drunk. I learned some things over the years. I can give you tips on how to hide your money, your child's allowance, your checkbook, how to clean up bodily fluids, how to avoid social gatherings, how to detach and not talk to the man you share a life with, how to sneak to bed to avoid him, how to lie to friends and relatives, how to perfect the art of nodding and ignoring, how to cry in the shower, how to pretend there isn't someone passed out in your recliner most nights, how to decline invites from neighbors, how to smile with your mouth and not your eyes, how to 'help' someone until the enabling became so complete we both hated both of us. I can show you what that looks like after a few years. A broken, depressed, exhausted, emotionally dead, rigid, lifeless, controlling, confused, shell of a woman so filled with resentment and rage she could no longer function. I doubt those are the kinds of tips you were hoping to hear but that is what living with a harmless drunk for 16 years is like. I won't start with what it has done to four innocent children
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Old 08-08-2010, 03:59 PM
  # 37 (permalink)  
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Bad Choices, I have found there is lots of projection going on with some about their personal stories with their loved ones who had a drinking problem. But the demonizing and blanket statements get to me as well. It is about boundaries. YOUR boundaries and what you will or won't put up with. I think telling you to 'dump him and get over it' is callous and not realistic. Take the wisdom you can from those who really have insight and leave the drama to the rest. You can't assume that because someone was married to an abusive alkie that will be your story. There are many levels of dysfunction and just as many reasons as to why people drink. To lump them all is overly simplistic. You know him best, you have to protect and take care of you first. Peace.
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Old 08-08-2010, 04:07 PM
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"Take what you like and leave the rest. But if the answers bug you, maybe there is a reason why. It's up to you to do what you will with that. We were all there, in that honeymoon phase, and these voices are from those who have walked in your shoes. It would be wonderful for us to have helped someone get on the right path before all the pain, but sometimes we have to walk the path of pain before we get the message."

The answers probably bug her because they weren't answers to her questions. The projection was also probably bugging her. If it makes it easier to generalize and tell someone your story will be just like mine, then ok but not everyone who has a substance problem is an axe weilding, stealing from baby, running over grandpa type of addict. Geez. And not every woman who deals with one is a slobbering co-dependent. There are many of us who really do have healthy boundaries with those we love. And that comes from having a healthy upbringing, our own accomplishments and an understanding of the complexities of addiction.

Is it a nasty illness? sure. Will he hurt you? probably Can you learn from this? YES. Can you be loving and supportive? From a healthy distance with clear boundaries and limits, yes. The one thing everyone agrees on is that it is very difficult, time consuming and energy draining. Buckle up!
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Old 08-08-2010, 04:41 PM
  # 39 (permalink)  
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"If it makes it easier to generalize and tell someone your story will be just like mine, then ok but not everyone who has a substance problem is an axe weilding, stealing from baby, running over grandpa type of addict. Geez. "

A lot of the people who have responded to this thread, myself included, are alcoholics in recovery. I've never wielded an ax, stolen from a baby or run over a senior. But I have been in early sobriety. And that recommendation that you abstain from starting a relationship for 12 months is golden. When I first got sober it seemed excessive - now that I'm several years down the track it seems pretty moderate.

And one of the best threads I have ever read on here was over on the alcoholics board. It was a poll on whether anyone had dated a newcomer. Lots and lots of people had - most of them only once ;-) Someone posted that they always thought the 12 month recommendation was to protect the newcomer - but that actually it was just as much about protecting the sanity of people who were working good recovery and had some time up.

It's very hard for anyone who has loved an active alcoholic to stay objective about what this disease can do to relationships. That's why there's a whole program just for us to help us stay healthy and keep our side of the street clean. I work two good programs and I'm not interested in throwing stones at anyone. But when someone asks for perspective and I think I have something to add, I'll give it. And I give it as a recovering alcoholic and a lifelong alanonic.

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Old 08-08-2010, 05:34 PM
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A lot of the people who have responded to this thread, myself included, are alcoholics in recovery. I've never wielded an ax, stolen from a baby or run over a senior. But I have been in early sobriety. And that recommendation that you abstain from starting a relationship for 12 months is golden. When I first got sober it seemed excessive - now that I'm several years down the track it seems pretty moderate

I am an alcoholic in recovery, and I was married to an alcoholic/crack addict.
If BadChoices is still reading this thread, and I hope she is, please start to make good choices for yourself.
60 days is not a long term relationship, and getting very close in that short of a time is actually a red flag for both you and your addicted boyfriend. It appears there are no healthy boundaries, and maybe, just maybe you could learn something from the people who have been there and done that.
I have been married to someone I only knew six months, it was a huge mistake, and now I know better. But, I have two children I am grateful for, and they have and are going through their own private hells because their parents were so ill.
Please ask yourself, just because "it happened" why you feel the need to "help" him with his struggles? I know personally, the only person who could get me to stop drinking was me. Simple.

Babyblue, I am not projecting my horror stories on to BadChoices, I am sharing my experience of being married to an alcoholic and being a recovering alcoholic myself.
My hope is that by reading this very thread BadChoices might step back and take a look at herself, and ask herself, "why am I responsible for a grown man?"

Thank you for reading,
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