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Worried about my ex

Old 09-04-2010, 12:39 AM
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Worried about my ex

My five year, live in relationship ended two weeks ago. He did it, in the end, but either of us might have. I moved back to my own country. He's in the apartment we shared.

Things were bad, when they were bad. No door in the house unbroken. Verbal abuse, raging. There were some good things, too. Lots of other things got to us, apart from his drinking.

I'm so worried about him now. I mean I love him, basically. (In no way would I want to further compromise my life by throwing my lot in with his - I feel so relieved not to have to face that nightmare.)

But I just so want him to come to terms with this... he's ruining himself. He has so many talents he can't express, because the drinking and its effects make it unrealistic.

He has no friends, now, who want to be around him. They'll put up with him for a bit, now and then, out of obligation. None has the balls to tell him straight up that his behaviour is obnoxious, impossible. A few 'friends' will even drink with him, for a bit, and then just leave when he stops buying the rounds or gets aggressive. He never knows, because he blacks out *every time* he drinks.

When I was with him, I'd secretly wish they'd say something. Not that he'd listen - he'd probably have dismissed it, or just stopped talking to them. But over time, it might have added up. I know some will say it's unfair to expect others to watch over friends - but what are they for, then? I don't think it's codependent to say, 'I am my brother's keeper', when the brother is hell-bent on self-destruction, knowingly or not.

It's not even that... it's blind urge, false beliefs, rationalisation, boredom, and maybe self-medication. An innate need for the heightened experience and 'bonding' that happens with drink... learned, to great extent, from his mother.

He has no family, except his father. (Mother died, no sibs.) His dad knows there's a problem but has been absolutely self-obsessed since his wife died, and can't be bothered to do something about it. I.e., have a real conversation about it with him. To be fair, he did broach it, once - over three bottles of wine. Actually their relationship was always strained (his mother was closer to my ex than her husband).

The after effects of drinking have affected his ability to cope with daily life. He gets irritable, angry, depressed. Struggles at work, with people.

I could kill all the pub landlords who continue to serve him when he's had 6 pints and 3 whiskeys. I'd murder the jerks at the corner shops who sell him 6 cans of lager, after he's left the pub. I wish police would prosecute these people more regularly. It's better here (in the country I'm from) - bartenders are fined for that. In the UK, these dangerous opportunists seem to get away with it, scot-free.

He went to a doctor once, having finally worked up the courage to address it. The doctor said, 'it's because you're drinking that European lager. Drink English ale, and take a B vitamin'. What else would he want to hear? The whole damned country is alcoholic, no one treats it as a problem. ON the contrary. But he's an alcoholic among alcoholics.

He's an atheist, and mistrusts counsellors. AA is highly unlikely.


Like I said, I'm so relieved my part of it is over. But I'll always love him. It breaks my heart to think he's bumbling through this on his own, and that it might not change. I couldn't help him. I wish I could.
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Old 09-04-2010, 01:09 AM
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Detaching and letting go is what you must master now as you
are powerless over you Ex's alcoholism.
If love and desire was enough, those of us who
love an addict would be super-heroes.

If he becomes willing to put his sobriety above all else and do what it takes, only then can you help him with your support.
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Old 09-04-2010, 02:36 AM
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I could kill all the pub landlords who continue to serve him when he's had 6 pints and 3 whiskeys. I'd murder the jerks at the corner shops who sell him 6 cans of lager, after he's left the pub. I wish police would prosecute these people more regularly. It's better here (in the country I'm from) - bartenders are fined for that. In the UK, these dangerous opportunists seem to get away with it, scot-free.
In all likelihood, if the law were enforced, he would buy the 6 cans before he went to the pub, or take a flask of vodka to the pub, or stay at home and drink cheap cider instead. This is from experience. I understand your anger, but it wouldn't change his choices, he's an addict, unless he decides to limit himself, even complete prohibition, wouldn't get between him and a supply of alcohol.

Have you read codependent no more, or looked into al-anon for yourself?
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Old 09-04-2010, 03:35 AM
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Welcome to SR, Notforgotten. It's very hard to separate yourself from the A in your life when you first start practicing detachment. I like your name; it implies that you know YOU are still in there, even though you've been temporarily lost while keeping all your focus on another person. Congratulations on recognizing that YOU don't need to keep a front row seat to his alcoholism in full force. I also highly recommend reading Melody Beattie's "Codependent No More." It was life-changing for me when I was at my rock-bottom worst with my (now ex) AH.

The tendency to want to blame the pub owners I also recognize..."If only, then he would..." and really, it's not up to them to police your alcoholic any more than it is up to you or his friends to police him. In fact, it's the opposite of that notion that is actually true. It's up to your boyfriend to reach HIS bottom and realize that the only person who can help him, is HIM, once he recognizes that drinking brings more pain to his life than charm.

Keeping YOUR focus on him isn't helping him. Give yourself permission to stop thinking about him all day long and worrying about his future. Do you think he sits about thinking of you all day long and worrying about your future?

That is your new job, to try and figure out how to keep your focus on YOU and YOU alone. Let him live his life just as his higher power intends for him to live it, while you remember who you are and what you deserve. You now get the opportunity to design, carve, and create the home YOU have always wanted, filled with peace, serenity, consistency, and safety and love.

It's sad to watch another person take the wrong path and miss the opportunities that everyone knows they could be taking, but we just can't make those decisions for others-it's not within our power. What we can do is not shirk this wonderful life we were given, not waste another minute intentionally dragging ourselves down when we have the power to have beauty, grace, and serenity in our lives.

I'm glad you are here at SR, and I hope you stick around for a while and read, post, share, cry, and learn to laugh and love yourself again. You deserve to have a heart filled with love and joy, and I think you are on your way to that life again. Peace.
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Old 09-04-2010, 08:00 AM
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Welcome to SR, notforgotten - it's a wonderful place full of love, comfort, encouragement and hope.

Like you, I have recently ended my relationship with my ABF and it's not easy to come to terms with it. It's not easy to stay detached from him, both physically and emotionally, but I have to for my sake, my serenity, my well-being.

I still love him but know, after repeated attempts of having my hopes dashed every time he binged then promised to address his addiction, that it's his path to walk and no one, no matter who they are, no matter how much they love someone can lead them to walk that path. It's up to the alcoholic to hit their bottom and want to seek help. I still struggle with this - the urge to help is strong but I know that whatever I say or do falls on deaf ears until he is ready.

As others have said, it's time to focus on you and you alone. Come here often, read the stickies at the top of the page, read Co-Dependent No More and try Al-Anon. Al-Anon saved my sanity at a time when that was in question - the people there have been where you are and it was a great relief to know I wasn't alone in my struggle.

Keep posting, keep coming back, knowing you're not alone and that we all are here for each other.
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Old 09-04-2010, 08:55 AM
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Sadly, there's nothing we can do for someone who has no desire to change.

It doesn't do any good to be angry at the doctors and pubkeepers, either. If he wants to drink, he will find a way to do it, and if he doesn't want to drink, he will find a way to not drink.

I agree that Al-Anon might help you let go of your obsession with him and his disease. Please give it a try.
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Old 09-07-2010, 08:25 PM
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Hi,

Thank you for your responses, and good wishes. It's something to reach out to a stranger in this way...

I'm glad you've found strength and practical help in the sources you have... I guess I have some quibbles with some of the ideas around alcoholism, and codependency.

I'm not obsessed with my ex... I don't think about him all day long. I have my family and friends, and am looking forward to my new life without the ongoing torment between us, and in him. I'm no longer suffocated. I'm grateful. Optimistic, for myself. I have interests, friends, my own world.

For me, codependency means your entire identity revolves around someone else, and their need, as you perceive it; also that you believe you're the only one who can make a difference in their life. When this is not true.

It so happens, in my ex's case, that he literally has no people around him who care. At all. No family. And his friends are toxic or indifferent or absent. And it makes me sad.


I believe family and friends do have an obligation to help someone who's suffering. And my understanding is that many in the recovery field also believe this. For example, from this site:

Total abstinence and avoiding high-risk situations where alcohol is present are the ideal goals for people with alcoholism. A strong social network and family support are important in achieving this.
...

Many people with alcohol problems don't recognize when their drinking gets out of hand. In the past, treatment providers believed that alcoholics should be confronted about their drinking problems. Now research has shown that compassion and empathy are more effective.


No one is being honest with him. He's totally alone. The dynamic between my ex and I didn't allow that to happen. I'm hoping his father steps in.

People at risk of alcholism, from that same article (being lazy):

Are under peer pressure, especially teens and college-aged students
Have depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia
Have easy access to alcohol
Have low self-esteem or problems with relationships
Live a stressful lifestyle
Live in a culture where there is high social acceptance of alcohol use


Access to, and acceptance of alcoholism make a massive difference.

Around bartender liability: the fact is that once someone is already intoxicated, they are no longer in a position to make decisions. Bartenders have, in my province, a legal responsibility not to serve someone who's already p*ssed. And are (rightly, I think) culpable if they do. (The drinker, it's true, has put him/herself in that position. Because of addiction, which most people understand as a disease.)

I don't think anybody should have to 'hit bottom' in order to be helped. (I also realise I can't make him see things the way I'd like him to. I can only talk to him, and maybe to his father, again. He has to know someone cares.)

Studies find that more people enter treatment if their family members or employers are honest with them about their concerns, and try to help them see that drinking is preventing them from reaching their goals.


I'm out of his life, and into my own. But I won't let him twist in the wind.
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Old 09-07-2010, 09:26 PM
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I pretty much feel as you do and I think I've read the same research. I'm about compassion as well and don't think you can apply a few hard and fast rules to every addict. Not every 'patient' reacts to their medication in the same way. Some need more, some less, some need a different kind altogether.

To me codependency is a term that has been distorted and as someone whose family is in latin american, I can tell you that everyone in latin america would be seen as codependent! Not to mention the social stigmas that bring about 'shame' in families. But I take away the general message which is you can only work on yourself and if you expend so much mental and emotional energy on the addict, it doesn't get the addict any closer to treatment and leaves you depleted.

There is nothing anyone can do to change the addict into not being an addict. There is no cure, only treatment and management. But ultimately wanting to manage their illness is an internal struggle within the addict, not one that loved ones or friends can control. Sometimes they do more harm than good actually. It is about boundaries and knowing when to show compassion and when to take care of yourself first. Sadly all the emotions that go along with watching a loved one do this to themselves actually break apart the very families that can be a source of support. Hard to be supportive of someone if they are threatening you with violence or stealing money from your kids.

So that is where compassion has its limits. I can see both sides to the debate.
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Old 09-07-2010, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by notforgotten View Post
I'm out of his life, and into my own. But I won't let him twist in the wind.
I'm curious about this statement. As a practical matter, how can you be out of his life, yet not let him "twist in the wind?"

L
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Old 09-07-2010, 10:51 PM
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Hi L,

I now live on a different continent. I got a reprieve from that painful work of making boundaries. Equally, what I can do from a distance is pretty limited.

I guess all I can mean, is that I will do my best to be his friend from here. Encourage him to move towards the good things in his life. Suspend judgement, when I can. Listen, when I can. Let him know someone loves him and that he's loveable. Stay in at least occasional communication with his dad.

No idea how much impact any of this might have. Probably little, but maybe some.

When I lived with him I was caught up in how his behaviour impacted me, especially at first. Or I'd remind him of things he didn't want to remember - at first, tearfully; later, like a reporter. He blacked out so often he couldn't remember, most times. He's said I made him feel guilty, bad, wrong, even when I stopped criticizing. Then I just detached and stopped commenting - it was easier than dealing with his response.

Now I feel much less invested, personally. I have physical distance, and am busy making and enjoying my life here.

But every now and then, I picture him alone in his apartment, beer cans strewn on the floor, waking up with that sickly sweet smell coming off him. His paranoia and loneliness when no one returns his calls because he's annoyed them, but he can't remember it. His liver and blood pressure.

I guess for the first time, I'm seeing his alcoholism without me in it, and it's scary.

All this is easy for me to say. I never had kids with him. Don't live in the same city. Not judging anyone who right now has to make hard choices on a daily basis, in the middle of madness.
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Old 09-07-2010, 11:21 PM
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Babyblue,

Thanks for framing it so well - appreciate your perspective.


There is nothing anyone can do to change the addict into not being an addict. There is no cure, only treatment and management. But ultimately wanting to manage their illness is an internal struggle within the addict, not one that loved ones or friends can control. Sometimes they do more harm than good actually. It is about boundaries and knowing when to show compassion and when to take care of yourself first. Sadly all the emotions that go along with watching a loved one do this to themselves actually break apart the very families that can be a source of support. Hard to be supportive of someone if they are threatening you with violence or stealing money from your kids.


Indeed. Much, much easier from a distance

(My background is also 'co-dependent' from a Northern/Western point of view.)
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Old 09-08-2010, 06:27 AM
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But every now and then, I picture him alone in his apartment, beer cans strewn on the floor, waking up with that sickly sweet smell coming off him. His paranoia and loneliness when no one returns his calls because he's annoyed them, but he can't remember it. His liver and blood pressure.
It so happens, in my ex's case, that he literally has no people around him who care. At all. No family. And his friends are toxic or indifferent or absent. And it makes me sad.


I believe family and friends do have an obligation to help someone who's suffering. And my understanding is that many in the recovery field also believe this.

Hoo boy. These two beliefs, right here, were at the crux of what kept me feeling "stuck" in my life long after I had divorced my XAH. You also said something about wanting to talk to him to make him feel that he is loved and loveable.

Here's how that worked out for me:

My XAH became convinced that it was just a matter of time before I took him back and we were a happy family again (never mind that we were never a happy family beforehand). He did nothing to change himself, except for dry out for a couple of months here, a couple of months there, and wanted MAJOR kudos from me when he managed to actually work a job--except of course for the fact that he got fired from one after three weeks and quit the other after a month.

Meanwhile, he was always asking me for a handout, either literally (monetary support) or figuratively (wanting me to tell him that we would get back together, which I refused to do). I can't tell you how draining it was having to listen to his manipulation all of the time. And I wasn't always strong enough to resist it, and therefore made some choices that in retrospect, weren't just bad for me, they were bad for him too.

Now I have decided to try the other way, because my way, the kind, soft, supportive way (or so I thought) did NOT work AT ALL to effect any lasting change in my XAH, nor did it make him any happier, and it certainly didn't make me any happier. Now I am working on being OK with letting him go completely, whether he has any other support or not (which I doubt he does, my XAH seems to be in much the same boat as yours with regards to no friends, no family, etc.). Maybe that way, he will be encouraged to seek support from the people who actually COULD help him stay sober--other alcoholics in recovery. Or, if not, I guess he will have to live on the streets or in a hotel room surrounded by beer bottles with that sickly smell coming off of him. He chose it, after all.

Maybe yours won't get as far down as mine. But maybe the day will come for you too where you will have to choose between continuing to be a nice, supportive friend to him or saving yourself. Because hearing about their misery hurts you, too.
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Old 09-10-2010, 07:51 PM
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Hi MamboQueen,

I'm sorry things have gotten to that stage. I'm taking in what you're saying.

Am finding the limits of my concern and compassion, and again, these have been established by him.

I saw some crazy rantings on his FB page, which I know were binge-driven (they just showed up, though I admit to checking in now and then). Tried to contact him by IM over the next few days - he just ignored me. (And already, there's some fast-tempo'd posting on FB from some other woman.)

The distance is sort of freezing time in my head, if you know what I mean.

I could call. He'd only be irritated. So much for all my palaver.

Maybe some of this is coming from guilt. Or from my own need for attachment. (Probably obvious to all of you...) Or just being messed up from the whole thing. I'd like to be there, and he just doesn't want it. Go figure. Will make it easier for me in the long run, I guess.
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Old 10-31-2010, 02:38 AM
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Just want to update. 3 months since breakup.

Not long after I last posted on this thread, I called his dad, who agreed there was a problem. I've no idea whether or how he followed up on it in any way. He did tell my ex we'd spoken.

Ex didn't argue about it, but stopped communicating with me altogether. Until then we'd drop the odd email, or chat briefly, once or twice a week. Then nothing.

A month later, I got a text from him, recalling a lovely shared moment. He told me he'd felt hurt, betrayed, ganged up on, labelled, reduced to a cliche. Then, a bit of honesty - he actually said, 'it [his drinking] was for you and me, I was fine for the rest of the world'. Drunk, of course.

I apologized for making him feel that way, but said I felt strongly that he has more than a quirk, it's a debilitating illness; that I was concerned for his health and well being; that I thought the people who cared about him should face it in earnest. He took it.

Weeks after that, he wrote again, with more honesty than I'd ever witnessed. I don't want to overestimate the impact of my post-hoc 'intervention'. He'd been on a binge, and woken with lower back pains that lasted a week. He's been facing the empty cans on the floor on his own. I don't know what else has happened in his life.

But he'd actually spent time researching alcoholism. Unheard of. Impossible, when I was with him. He recognized that it had something to do with his mood problems. Recognized distorted thinking. Recognized the impact on his body and mind. Talked about seeing a doctor. I have to emphasize that this simply would not have happened when I was with him. He was firmly, firmly in denial.

Like I say, I don't believe my calling necessarily had anything to do with it. He's having to be alone with himself with no patsy. (Mind - I didn't choose that. I might have with time, but he ended it. I can't claim any glory for boundary setting. Net effect (for him, anyway), is aloneness.

I'm glad he feels he can talk about it, even if it's a tiny, tiny step. And that he knows someone who knows his darkest moments is in his corner. I don't need him to talk to me, specifically. If he's getting help from somewhere else, great. But if he needs it, I'll be there, to the degree that I can and want to.

This might sound condescending or dishonest or delusional (again), but I'm dealing with my ambivalence about him *away* from him. Right now, I don't think he's able to handle or my feelings. I wouldn't get what I'd like from him, anyway (like, about a million apologies, for one). I might never get those. I reckon it's senseless to hold him to the standards of a non-diseased person, so I don't.

(Though, I did get validation from him about something else, which I also thought I'd never hear. He finally acknowledged how hard it was for me to live in his country as a foreigner. And apologized for failing to see it before. Previously, he'd say I was being rigid, or playing the victim, or just not working at it enough. I was in shock - a pleasant one, for once.)

The other day, I saw a red faced woman crying/shouting into her cell phone, 'what did i do wrong??'. Got chills. That has been me. And I shuddered when I got those texts from him. I am so relieved I no longer have to live with it. And have vowed I will never, ever put myself in that position again.

I don't know if all this is healthy or not. I feel like I'm doing right. Being thousands of miles away from him helps, I can't deny
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Old 10-31-2010, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by notforgotten View Post
But every now and then, I picture him alone in his apartment, beer cans strewn on the floor, waking up with that sickly sweet smell coming off him. His paranoia and loneliness when no one returns his calls because he's annoyed them, but he can't remember it. His liver and blood pressure.

I guess for the first time, I'm seeing his alcoholism without me in it, and it's scary.
This is exactly where I am right now. I never lived with my ABF but we spent a lot of time at each others houses. Now I refuse to go to his house and spend the night because I would just be a witness to all the drinking, angry talk and passing out. I know how you feel. I think about him alone in his house drinking and passing out or doing something that may cause harm to himself. His father left when he was young and his mother passed away 7 years ago. He does have a sister but they don't talk much. His grandma does call him regularly but I know how hard it is to get a hold of him because he is often drunk and doesn't answer. I guess it is better for me since I am not around the drinking but I also fear for his safety and well-being. I know he is alone and gets upset because people don't call. But he has hurt or disappointed so many people that they do not want contact with him.

Thanks for your post. It made me feel like there is someone out there who gets what I am going through.
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Old 10-31-2010, 10:06 PM
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Hey Starlynn, I'm sorry you're going through this, and glad you felt recognized in what I wrote.

I'm lucky, from the point of view of self-preservation, that I'm not near my ex. There are limits I have no choice but to accept. I don't have to make day to day decisions about how I will respond to his self-destruction (or, his destruction of my life). I don't have to be as strong as you do, right now.

If I were, I'm not sure I'd have the internal resources to try to 'be there', in addition to not going crazy myself. I have a *lot* of support from family. I really, really hope you can find the same for yourself.
I see what's happening to your A, and mine, and all the As out there, as a tragedy. I firmly believe that other people are essential to anyone recovering from anything. The problem is, with yours and mine, you and I don't have credibility with our As as long as we are so directly affected by their lives. Other invested people who care are required, I think.
I agree with most people here that no one can be forced to acknowledge their problem, or to take their own lives seriously enough to try to change things. But, I do think that part of the unravelling of their miserable comfort can start with people who care saying, with as much love as they can manage in pain, that they must.
I don't know how 'interventions' work, apart from what I've seen from the show of that name... do you see some kind of collaboration with his sister and grandmother as possible?
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