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When is it time to leave?

Old 01-09-2011, 09:01 AM
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When is it time to leave?

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've been waiting for a "last drop" for so long and still cannot make up my mind. When my AH is drunk, I'm ready to pack up and leave. I don't have any friends or family to go to, so it's not that easy for me. I actually have to make arrangements, rent an apartment, etc. to do that. Then he gets sober and I feel sorry for him. I know, it's not right. I know he's responsible. I don't even have any hopes for him to get better any more. I just can't accept it in my mind. I've finally realized that his "normal" time is not when he is sober, and he has benders in between. It's the other way around - he is normal only when drunk, and when he's sober, he just survives. Even though he keeps struggling to get normal, takes up sports, goes to school, etc., but the underlying issue of his alcoholism still remains untouched. He would go to a doctor and ask to have naltrexone prescribed, but take it only when he doesn't want to drink. Or go to a therapist and go straight to a bar after a session. But I still feel like if I leave he won't even have any more reasons to fight it. He always said that I and our son are all he has in life. But I can't help! My being near doesn't stop him from drinking! It's been going on for so many years. I just can't take it any more.. because he is drunk right now. When he gets sober, I'll forgive him again. And I won't have the guts to tell him to leave or to leave myself.
I don't go to al-anon, I've never been there. I can't accept 12 steps because I'm an atheist. I just don't get it. Just going there to cry on someone's shoulder is not enough. Besides, I've learned to keep it inside. Do I have to go through therapy to make up my mind and leave? Or do I need to wait for something horrible to happen? But then it may be too late?
Sorry for rambling.
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Old 01-09-2011, 09:13 AM
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Sorry you are feeling so confused you are not alone I am in the same boat as are many. I really have come close on a couple of occasions of telling him to leave, and I found out about his addiction only few months ago. I have read on this site many times people with much more experience that when enough is enough you will know. I am finally feeling not so frantic about it and just taking my time making plans. I want things to be in order if I decide we need to separate.

Also you do not have to believe in God to go to a meeting. I would like to tell you I do go and do not agree with some of what is stated, but still get some understanding from it. I also go to a counselor every week which has helped a lot. I have also read so many articles and information online to educate myself.
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Old 01-09-2011, 09:25 AM
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I am sorry that you are feeling so low.

Take some time to focus on yourself. I am currently reading "Codependent No More" by Melody Beattie, and am finding it so inspirational, and helpful in understanding who I am, and what I want out of life.

You sound so sad, and I was where you are. I finally left my exabf when it became clear that he was blaming me for his drinking. I was already reading here at SR, and reading Al-anon literature, so I knew enough that things were only going to get worse.

Two weeks after I left, he sought recovery, and he is doing well. You never know what may change, when you change the way you are living your own life.

Take care of yourself no matter what your AH is doing.
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Old 01-09-2011, 09:49 AM
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First of all, you can be an athiest and work the steps, lots of people do.All you need is to have a "higher power" to hand things over to.For alot of people it is Nature/the universe/circle of life..I mean nature is truly more powerful than any of us.It really is just an aid in letting go...there are lots of old threads here that you can look up on that subject if you'd like.
Some of the things you said are so right on..like YOU are NOT helping his drinking..that is manipulation to get you to stay plain and simple.Alanon can really help you see more clearly what is enabling and how to take care of yourself..also agree with the Codependant No More suggestion.
As for when to leave, only you can decide that, but maybe when you want more for yourself, want a serene home for your little one, when the pain of staying is greater than the pain of leaving....
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Old 01-09-2011, 10:16 AM
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how about god=good orderly direction?
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Old 01-09-2011, 11:11 AM
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After the man I married (who had almost died from alcohol-related causes before marriage) went back to drinking after being told his life would be threatened, I was initially in a panic.

I went to LOTS of Al-Anon meetings, gradually concluded that for whatever reason he was not ready to quit drinking, and began to make plans.

I did not give a definite ultimatum, though I did give him warning that I would probably leave if he did not get serious about his recovery. Meantime, I prepared for leaving by quietly gathering important personal papers and documents. I made inquiries about things like insurance and other legal issues. I found a friend willing to hold some of my important personal belongings for a few weeks. I gave those to her a few days in advance.

I needed some time alone to think and plan, so I packed up and went to a cheap motel for a few days. My brother agreed to let me stay with him for a couple of weeks. By then I had an apartment lined up.

Everything went fine. It was sad, it wasn't easy, but it was exactly what I needed to do. I had no children with him, we had few debts or assets that needed to be untangled, and a few months later I started divorce proceedings, which were simple enough I didn't need a lawyer.

Things are more complicated, of course, when there are children or significant joint assets or debt, but with proper planning and good legal advice those can be handled.

Incidentally, I didn't work all the Steps when I was in Al-Anon (though I'm doing them now in AA), but it helps tremendously to be with others who share their experience, strength and hope. I know lots of people in AA and Al-Anon who are agnostics and even a few atheists. Don't let that stop you from using this enormously helpful resource.
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Old 01-09-2011, 11:11 AM
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it was a slow penny to drop to realise that my AEXBF was an alcoholic, as we didn't live near each other and skyped a lot - but initially, when I saw that he'd gone through a big bottle of gin in 3 days and he would sometimes fall asleep when we were supposed to be talking, he would talk rubbish and be totally paranoid and always suffering panic attacks. The penny dropped so I ended the relationship, but I really loved him so when he said he would get help, give up if would I give him another chance as if he has to choose between me and drink - I won hands down - so i agreed. I would send him congratulatory emails at important milestone, I even once walked a mile in 6 inches of snow to send him some vitamins and detox herbals, I would listen to him for hours on how he was feeling, every day. But it went wrong very very quickly. Initially I think he did try very hard to give up, but into week 3 he looked drunk, some of his behaviour reverted to the "drunk" him, then he made a stupid comment about trying a beer in a few weeks to see how it affected his shakes, I tackled him but he denied and denied and denied but in a very cold and mechanical way. It also became apparent that he didn't want to work ever, I equally didn't want to keep him. He also became one of the most negative people I had ever met, whereas I am very bubbly and positive, but Christmas was ruined by this - I felt myself becoming miserable and snappy as well.

I decided that the trust was lost in this relationship and there was too many areas that didn't make me happy, whilst I still love him, I no longer thought that there was a longer term future for us, too many differences, too many doubts. So I ended it, he was fine about it, in fact he couldn't care less and was going to end it if I hadn't. I have since found out (as is often the case - people coming out of the woodwork) that he targets women with good jobs and means to support themselves - this was described as looking for a "meal ticket" to me, he's got someone else - a week after splitting from me. This wasn't his first attempt at sobriety - tried 3 years ago with campral and failed, hasn't worked for years and years with no intentions of working and no desire to give up drink - just telling me what he thought I wanted to hear - actually I would have respected him more if he had said "this is me accept it or move on".

So whilst my story, isn't as sad or harrowing as others, its still sad to me - I had high hopes that he was "the one" but was taken in by a very good and experienced liar. But I am determined to take something positive from this, I will recover, i will get over this and be happy and bubbly once again.
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Old 01-09-2011, 11:27 AM
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I'm still trying to answer the question when to leave. It took me a lot of years to understand that the man I'd raised my sons with was gone. My best friend was gone and in his place was this shell of a person with a compromised brain damaged by alcohol. My husband didn't start drinking problematically until we'd been together over 20 years. Our boys were in their late teens. They are all grown up now.

What about your son? What is his father's drinking doing to him?

I'm currently putting together a plan to leave. I've collected and copied important documents. I'm stashing cash. I have it all hidden in a safe place. I'll be starting financial research this week (that ought to take about 10 minutes). Anyway, when the day comes that I choose to leave, I'll be able to pick up and be out of here in a few minutes.

I'm at the point where I don't know if I'll miss my husband much or at all. But I really don't want to walk away from my garden, my kitchen, my sewing room. I know. I know that's all stuff but not really. I'm at my best in my garden and my kitchen.

I assume your husband isn't physically abusive. My husband isn't either but often (not always) when he drinks he has a nasty mouth. When he sobers-up and sweetens-up, I'd say to myself "well, he doesn't really mean to talk like that." Now I think "He doesn't mean it but by golly he does it and I deserve better".

I wonder why should I leave? Why can't he? Hmmm. I need to figure out how to get that to happen.

There are plenty of checklists on line so you can plan how to get out of your situation. There are some good links at the top of the Friends/Family of Alcoholics forum in the "sticky" section.
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Old 01-09-2011, 12:00 PM
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This is a difficult decision and there is no right or wrong answer. The best advice I've ever seen is Dear Abby's: "Are you better off with him or without him?"

I do want to mention that 12 step groups are definitely not for everyone. Just as with the alcoholic/addict, many people find that the religious elements of 12 step programs are simply incompatible with their world views. Some atheists can get beyond this, but others simply can't.

It's important, therefore, to know that there are sources of support that do not rely on the 12 step approach. SMART Recovery, for example, has a forum for family and friends on its website. And of course ST provides great help too. You do not need to go to Al-Anon.

OTT
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Old 01-09-2011, 12:00 PM
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I left because I had hit my bottom. I felt like it was really the only option I had. I agree with the person that said I left when staying became more painful then leaving but I think I stuck around a long time after that point before I finally left.

Here is a good thread from the sticky section. http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...2-leaving.html

There are a lot of good threads in the sticky section - I read them many times.
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Old 01-09-2011, 12:09 PM
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I too am at a crossroads about leaving/staying/later/now ... I cannot be of much support for that except for the fact that I feel I can survive now becuase of alanon.

I totally understand why you are shying away. I'm not athiest ... I'm just nothing. I have family members strong in different churches and I started to resent organized religion as my life was falling to alcohol. My doctor said I should go to alanon and I looked it up online and was turned off by the religious side ... I already had enough stress, guilt and shame (due to alcoholism) I didn't want to feel that becuase I didn't "have religion". That was in Dec. '08 and I finally went in May '09 when my husband was in the hospital with a failing liver. I went to a couple different meetings and found a couple good ones for me. I've been going since. I still don't "have religion" but I've gained respect for others beliefs and I think of my higher power as being my intuition and when I feel weak ... I believe it's the sun and I enjoy quiet moments sitting in sunshine (can be difficult this time of hear)

I hope that you can give it a try and try different meetings ... see if it's a good fit for you. I've found great insight, widsom and understanding on this site too - amazing group of people that I'm very thankful for.

I can't quote it well but one of alanon's sayings is to "take what you want and leave the rest". Not every meeting supplies me with relevant information and sometimes I don't agree with what someone said but I've found tools in alanon that allow me to JUST listen - to not argue with them, not try to change their mind but to accept their feelings and actions as theirs - not mine. It was a huge relief for me to stop trying to fix everybody I met!

Be well and take care of your self. I just received this same information on this site ... it applies to all of us.
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Old 01-09-2011, 05:14 PM
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When I expressed the desire to stay with my functioning AH, one thing my counselor told me was to make a list of behaviors I would find unacceptable. She said it's easy for the line to get blurred.

While that helped somewhat, I think it's time to leave when you can't imagine living with them for one more day. When you can no longer bear to be with them sober or drunk. At least that's what is turning into my measuring stick at the moment. I'm actually tired of hearing myself speak about his latest stunt to my friends and family. It's time to leave when you are actually willing to push through because you can't wait to see what's on the other side after being unhappy and confined for so long.

I wish us both safe journeys!
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Old 01-09-2011, 06:03 PM
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Thank you so much to everyone who has replied! I guess the best thing for me to do right now is to calm down and start preparing. I was going to begin with opening a new bank account and starting to keep my money separately. It's long overdue now anyway, it's been so painful to watch my hard-earned money going down the drain (sometimes literally, when I pour the beer away). And thanks to whereisitgoing for the advise to create a list of unacceptable behaviors. I'll definitely do that, hopefully it'll help me realize what he's doing to me.
Somehow I don't worry much about my son's reaction right now. It's funny, but he once asked me why wouldn't I and daddy live in different houses, because all his friends' parents do.. It turns out all his friends have divorced parents! So at least he would probably take it as if it was normal. I worry more about what would happen to him if I stay. Although my husband is mostly verbally abusive, sometimes he may hit. I don't know if it was a consequence, but my son hit me yesterday on the face and busted my lip. He's 6 and has been a very sweet boy, so it was so shocking to me, and I though it could be a follow up to what his dad did to me just a few days ago, when he pushed me into a wall really hard.
It's so weird to see how easily normal people get together and separate, some having multiple divorces under their belts, and I cannot walk away from a miserable alcoholic for almost 10 years!
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Old 01-09-2011, 06:46 PM
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I did not realize that he had been physically abusive. Please take care of yourself and your son.

I am glad you are formulating a plan to get away from him. Please be careful.
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Old 01-09-2011, 06:51 PM
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I'm not an atheist, but I have to tell you, even though "my" Al-Anon group meets in a church, there's no talk about God, with a capital or lower-case g. There's rarely mention of a "higher power" except when we've specifically talked about that step -- and the times we have, there's usually at least half the group that says, "well, I don't believe in any kind of god so I see the group awareness as my higher power" or something along those lines. Honestly, I wouldn't let atheism stop me from trying it out -- there's no "missioning" going on in any way... I've never been in another environment that's so completely lacking in people trying to tell others what to think... and that's what I love about it. It's the one place I was able to be myself -- cry, be mad, laugh at the stupidity of my situation, etc.

I didn't have my escape planned. Or rather, I had a plan and a timeline. I was going to establish my economy, stash some money away, involve a few close friends in the plan... and then one night, he crossed a line and I left. I called my closest friend who said, "I'm sorry, I can't take you in." So I called a coworker I didn't even know real well, and she said, "come on over."

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.

I will also say this: If you had told me even 2 hours before I left that the man I married would be threatening my life, I would have laughed at you. Things changed in a millisecond. And when I realized my life was in danger, the fact that I didn't have money or a place to go didn't matter.
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Old 01-09-2011, 06:52 PM
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Verbal and physical abuse does change everything. Please phone your local women's domestic violence center and schedule some counseling. this leaves long lasting devastating scars.

there are also some stickies to read at the top of the forum.

Please be careful and have a safe plan.
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Old 01-09-2011, 07:00 PM
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I didn't see the part about abuse either. I lived with verbal and emotional abuse, but there was no physical abuse before the death threat.

Be very careful. You could also contact a local women's shelter and ask for advice. Big hugs.
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Old 01-09-2011, 07:01 PM
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Please read the articles in this section:

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...out-abuse.html

There is a safety plan to follow and DV hotline numbers. Please call one and know you are not alone. I wish you and your kid the best! please be careful.
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Old 01-09-2011, 09:32 PM
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I knew before I married my XAH (now deceased) that he drank too much. I told him I could never marry hime because of his drinking, but....well, naturally for me anyway, I thought that if he settled down and had a home of his own then he wouldn't need to drink so much. I married him in 1978. The drinking continued and became worse. We had many, many terrible arguements and disagreements about it. I nagged constantly and most likely made the drinking worse by upsetting him. Anyway I left him 2 or 3 times over the years but only stayed away for as long as 6 months, and that time is was on the other side of the country. Still I eventually went back to him. I missed my home. I missed the times when we were good together and we did have some of those times. Fortunately we did not have children. It just never happened, although he wanted to be a father. He would have been a really bad father because he was very possesive. Sometimes he would hold me against my will and sometimes he held dogs and cats that we had against their wills. I hated it. As time went on we ended up sleeping seperately. I would occasionally try to be close to him but it was always awful. Nothing worse than being mauled by a drunk. By the time we had been married for about twenty years he had lost his job. The drinking became worse. I would come home from work and he would be drunk and slobbering. He began to fall and hurt himself. During the last 5 years of our relationship he was in and out of hospital several times. Doctors warned him of his drinking and health problems many times. He denied that he had a problem and refused to get any help. Eventually a new female doctor phoned me and asked to see me with him. She told me he had diabetes and other serious health problems. I asked her if she was aware of his drinking and she said that she wasn't. He was right there with me in her office and still he claimed he didn't have a problem. The diabetes progressed rapidly and he was hospitalized twice due to drinking and self medicating. He abused the insulin by not following the procedures, always thinking that he knew better. Finally after a long hospitalization to control the diabetes he tried to quit drinking and we worked together to maintain his blood sugar levels with properly following the injection procedures. He seemed to be doing well, but about 6 weeks after quitting he came upstairs from the rec room area where he spent most of his time watching TV and being on the computer, and he said to me that he was going to the liquor store to get some beer. I asked him to please reconsider. He said he was going anyway and I told him that if he did then I would be going to a lawyer on Monday. He said" You can be replaced you know" and left for the liquor store. I knew that I had to follow through and not just let it be another idle threat. I was scared but I did go to a lawyer on the monday as I said that I would and started seperation and divorce proceedings. It was a very horrible time. I had not planned in advance. I thought that things were working out. I did not want to leave our home as I had been advised years before that if I did it could be construed as me abandoning him. So I stayed and it was truly a nightmare. He locked himself down in the basement rec room, slept down there, drank beer nonstop, tried to keep me awake at night, became totally irrational, and overall scared me. I tried to keep my job, but after a few weeks I couldn't handle it. He would contact me at work and tell me not to come home. It was winter and we lived in Calgary. It was often minus 25-30 degrees celcius and I had to take the bus. He tried to sabotage my car and wouldn't let me keep it in the garage anymore where it wouldn't freeze up. I had to ask for police protection twice. I tried to have him hospitalized. The paramedics took him to hospital but he checked himself out and came home on the bus in freezing weather in only his socks and light clothing. He was completely deranged and I was terrified for him. Eventually I was able to get an emergency room doctor to keep him in for a psychiatric evaluation for 48 hours. They couldn't keep him against his will and didn't see that he was dangerous to himself !!!! So he came home once more and he was furious. He got in his car and went right to the liquor store. My brothers in BC and Ontario felt that I should leave to be safe. I was able to get the lawyer to have him served with the legal seperation papers the day that I had a moving company come to put some of my things in storage. My brother flew to Calgary and drove me back here to BC in my car because I was too nervous to drive through the mountains by myself. I have never been a confident driver. Once I made the decision to get out it all happened very quickly, all in one day. My friend came to the house to help me load up my car and she was there with me while I packed and while the movers were loading my things for storage, and also when the process server came and handed my XAH the separation papers. It broke my heart. I hated myself for hurting him and I still do. We were officially divorced October 2004. He did everything he could to sabotage the process and he drank nonstop while his health continued to deteriorate. After I left he took in 3 young teens to live in the house with him and help him out. They were hoodlums. They partied and wrecked the house. They fought and punched holes in walls and doors. He fell down the stairs and lay for 3 days in the basement and finally a neighbour asked one of the teens where he was and they said he was on the floor and they couldn't get him up. The neighbour called emergency and he was taken to hospital with a brain injury. Then I was contacted and my brother and his wife and I flew from BC to Calgary to see how we could help. Believe me it was really awful to see the state he was in sitting in a wheelchair in a diaper, but still cocky enough to give us a bad time. We evicted the teens from the house and I stayed there to clean it up. I had the locks changed and an alarm system installed. I had an old Power of attorney and was able to access his money to pay his bills and get the house fixed up. My family returned to BC and I stayed to see how my XAH would make out because there was a possibilty tjat he wouldn't be able to care for himself any longer. He was in a Brain Injury section of a major hospital in Calgary for more than 2 months. He was assesed to be able to go home and care for himself. I offered to stay to help him if he would agree to not drink and get help, but he declined and said he didn't want me to be with him. I drove him home and left to spend the night in a motel before returning to BC. His driver's licence was suspended due to the brain injury, but he got in his car and drove to the liquor store to buy himself some beer. I returned to BC and have been here ever since. He eventually sold the house and moved back to his family on the east coast where he died December 2005. I never saw him again. I have a photo of his grave sent to me by his sister. It was the worst time of my life and even though I know I did everything I could for him I STILL feel as if I kicked a man when he was down. No one will ever know how much I loved that man and how much I would have done to help him.
I say that if anyone finds themselves involved with an alcoholic or anyone doing drugs then the sooner you get out the better. They are hard to love and live with, and even harder to leave. They will take you down with them. After I left him and returned to BC I began attending Alanon. I had been to meetings before, but this time I really needed help and understanding. Mostly I just listened and it helped a lot to hear of others experiences because then I knew that I was not alone and that I had truly done the best that I could do. I am not religious. I just looked at the bigger picture and accepted the higher power of the group consiousness, awareness and acceptance. It does help. Family and friends cannot listen and understand as well as others experiencing the same troubles. That is why I come back to Sober Recovery as well. Reading these Posts helps me to remember and to keep things in perspective. I still miss him. We would have been married 25 years when I finally left him in 2003.
Strength and love to everyone who is dealing with Alcoholism and or drugs.
Apologies for the length of this post and for all the typos. Just wanted to tell the story as much as possible.

Last edited by CSHNow; 01-09-2011 at 09:46 PM. Reason: Typos
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Old 01-09-2011, 10:55 PM
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I put up with my xah for 10 years. He drank when we got together and would say things like "I don't think I could live with out you." I was young and naive and believed it. I even married him after an instance of drunken sexual abuse. But I didn't know how to get out of the situation. In staying with him I honestly thought I was saving him. What I didn't know at the time was that I was slowly killing myself.

One night in 2007 there was a second instance of sexual abuse. I realized that night that if I didn't leave it was only going to get worse. By this time he was punching holes in the walls and that sort of thing. I started planning then but didnt tell him until Mothers Day weekend. I just wanted that extra time to get things in order. He of course didn't want the divorce. He tried to tell me the same thing about not being able to live with out me and all that sort of thing, but it was just his attempt at manipulation.

Your ah and possibly others will try to convince you that you should stay. But stick to your guns on your decision. Definitely get some sort of support, whether its Alanon or someplace else. It's always nice to have a neutral opinion since we are not always in the calmest nonemotional state of mind. Just do what you have to do to keep you and your son safe. Good luck to you!
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