When is it time to leave?

Old 01-10-2011, 12:17 AM
  # 21 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by timinamama View Post
Can any of you share your moments when you stopped hesitating and finally left your alcoholic spouses? And how you've done it - the logistics of it?
I was struggling in my relationship for quite some time. He was lying to me all the time, he was emotionally and physically not available to me, he was selfish, and I felt alone. I didn't know what to do and for a long time I didn't even see the drinking as an issue. I was in denial that it was a problem. I figured everyone has their issues and this life, this marriage was "good enough."

I found that I wasn't capable of being angry for long and I too forgave him over and over again. I was getting tired, though, and with two young kids to take care of I was running out of energy. He wasn't there to help me and taking care of him and figuring out the solutions to the additional problems he was creating in my life (specifically financial ruin) was wearing me slowly away.

Then came the last straw for me. We went camping and we didn't have any money for beer (or to really go camping for that matter) and he freaked out about it. He threw a tantrum and was sulking around the camp. My family came and my mom to keep the peace bought him beer. He got trashed, stayed up all night, and the next afternoon woke up hungover. I said something wrong and he went off on me (he asked me the same question repeatedly in his drunkenness and I got annoyed when he asked again). He followed me around the campground screaming at me. He even got into it with my mom when she tried to get him to leave me alone. He wouldn't let up, I couldn't escape from it for almost an hour. The surrounding campers watching the whole time. I was humiliated...I had never felt so worthless in my life. That was my bottom. I thought to myself, who am I to let someone treat me like this? It felt like coming out of a fog and awakening to myself. I deserved something out of my life and I wasn't going to stand for this. For the first time in ten years I think I truly felt angry at him and I wasn't going to do it anymore.

As far as the logistics...even that wasn't enough to outright leave. Instead, I gave him an ultimatum to cut down and then an ultimatum to quit..I tried in the house for two months to change (see also control) his behavior. I used to just ignore it (see also denial) and this new tactic wasn't working any better.

This role of standing up to him was too much for me though and my anxiety was so bad I could barely function. I had trouble eating, sleeping and caring for myself and my kids. So I decided to take a vacation and I went to stay at my mom's for a while. I thought it would be temporary and I would go back when I came up with a better plan to deal with our problems. A plan that seemed manageable never came to me so I decided to extend my "vacation."

We started marriage counseling because I wanted to find someone else to fix things for us, but nothing was changing and even if it was I think I would have just kept finding reasons not to go back.

I started slowly moving things out that I needed. I was happier without the stress of taking care of him and worrying about his problems. I became even happier when we split our finances and I was really on my own. In our separation I came to realize I wasn't afraid of being alone because I had already been alone for a long time. Yet still, I was trying to save things because I didn't want my marriage to end.

I think the reason I stayed so long is because I believe in commitment and because I believe you don't walk out on family, but I didn't really want to be with him anymore I just keep being there because it was "good enough" and even sometimes because "it wasn't that bad." I know now that I can still love him and see him as family and not be in a relationship with him, but by not walking out on him I was walking out on myself and on my ability to feel. Finally I faced my truths, though, and after months of ups and downs I finally called it quits.

I think when the time to leave comes you will know, but the hesitation is tough to break away from. The tricky part for me was trusting myself enough to believe it.
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Old 01-10-2011, 05:57 AM
  # 22 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by lillamy View Post
I can't tell you when you know. I lived through many situations that "normal" people would be shocked to find that I was experiencing (because from the outside, we looked like the perfect couple). The night I left, the line that was crossed put me in outright physical danger -- and there was no doubt, and I've never once looked back. I knew. In retrospect, I think I knew years earlier, but I was still fighting the same thing your A is using -- you're all he has.
Couldn't have said it better, Lill. I went through 13 years of progressive alcoholism/addiction with my XA. I navigated the gamut of excuses: he needs to outgrow it, it's his friends, he just can't control his social drinking, he needs me for strength, I have more control over my money/children/home if I'm married to him...etc. I have put up with so many behaviors I never would have thought I'd tolerate: draining our bank accounts (we eventually had to file BK), lies, lies, lies, blame, opiate use, more lies, more blame, drinking and driving, DUI, constant lies, stealing.

Oddly, it wasn't necessarily anything new that was the final straw. I found out that he was using pain meds again and had taken out a $5K loan without my knowledge. Unlike other times, instead of responding with immediate rage, I took 24 hours to line up care for the boys, notify his parents that he'd be looking for a place to live, and arrange for support if necessary (it did get slightly physical). Now, that being said, I did find out 2 minutes before our "discussion" that he was having an affair and that really drove it home. But overall, it was just something I was so mentally prepared and READY for that I just knew.

Guess what? I don't have less control over what happens with my kiddos, I have more. I also realized that the guilt I felt about taking them away from HIM was more guilt for taking him away from them. It IS hard for kids...I won't lie. But as hard as it is, when he shows up to pick them up reeking of last night's beer, I know I have made the right choice.

I do have to say, I second guessed myself for about 2 weeks after it happened. Like Rayn said, sometimes you have to get some physical distance before you settle into it and can begin to move forward. It sort of felt like an out-of-body experience for me when I told him to leave. My heart was thinking of all the reasons why I COULDN'T do it but I let my head take the lead and think of why I SHOULD. After he was gone for two weeks, I began to feel an unfamiliar sense of peace in the house. A few weeks after that, I decided that I wanted to keep it.

I won't say it's easy. I am struggling financially and I have to endure random verbal attacks from him (sometimes anger, sometimes guilt trips) but I keep coming here, working AlAnon steps and reading (Codependent No More, Too Good to Leave-Too Bad to Stay). I am agnostic and AlAnon has been a stretch for me, but I have found some great secular versions of the steps that have helped me wrap my mind around them (seriously...I read them and thought "OH!!! Now THIS I can do!") I'm happy to share if you'd like. The support and peace I gain through AlAnon far outweighs any struggles with the religious basis, IMHO.

Keep coming back and keep moving forward!
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Old 01-10-2011, 06:43 AM
  # 23 (permalink)  
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I agree with the others that abuse changes everything.

It makes the situation scarier for you and your son. I think you already know the answer to whether your son is learning aggression as a way of handling conflict. Please seek some help for the two of you - copunseling, al-anon (don't worry about the steps now - just go and listen. it isn't crying on someone's shoulder. it's way more helpful than that.

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Old 01-10-2011, 06:53 AM
  # 24 (permalink)  
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I just read about the abuse. Please get some immediate support and be careful.
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