Non-abusive alcoholic and fears about being on own

Old 06-13-2011, 07:02 AM
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Unhappy Non-abusive alcoholic and fears about being on own

Hi everyone,
I am new here. Been to a few alanon meetings that were really helpful. But many of the stories I hear of alcoholic spouses include verbal abuse, and my partner doesn't exhibit that behavior.. Is kind, gentle and at worst full of despair and very depressed/self pity. I have stuck it out for 1 year + but he is in a terrible cycle of sober of few days then relapse a couple weeks over and over. He drinks everynight, 8-10 beers a night. Its all very non dramatic. I have/am seriously considering leaving, mainly because it is so hard to watch and very very lonely.
I guess I am wondering if anyone else lived with a kind functioning alcoholic and left anyway? I have tremendous fears about leaving also, because I am 36 and the dream of having kids and a family seems to be less a possibility given my age and the thought of starting over seems unbearable. But do does staying. He has kids already and they adore him. Frustrated with my self in never taking action to leave ( out of fear i suppose) but looking and thinking about it a lot. It is terrible/shameful to realize I may be selfishly staying because I am afraid of being alone and starting over. But I think it may be true. How have people taking the leap of faith and trusted that they will be ok given terrible fears? Seems impossible.
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Old 06-13-2011, 07:32 AM
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Hi Sunshine,

Welcome to SR and good for you for reaching out. Someone on here will be along shortly to give you a proper welcome but in the meantime, I think one of your best resources is the threads on this section of the site. It might be hard to watch and lonely now but alcoholism is progressive and it can (and does) get much, much worse. There are people on here who have invested lots more time than a year in an alcoholic relationship who can give you a better idea of what might be ahead if you stay.

Keep reading and posting, SR is a great resource and there's a lot of experience strength and hope on these boards.


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Old 06-13-2011, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Sunshine3 View Post
It is terrible/shameful to realize I may be selfishly staying because I am afraid of being alone and starting over. But I think it may be true. How have people taking the leap of faith and trusted that they will be ok given terrible fears? Seems impossible.
Good Morning Sunshine3,

I can really relate to what you are feeling. I had those same fears. What I realized was that I was compressing all of my future into tomorrow, rather than dealing One Day At A Time. I also realized that I was assuming that I knew what my future held. And that he was it. My last chance. If I wasn't with him, I would probably die alone with cats eating my eyeballs. Now it sounds bat-%^&* crazy to write it out like that, but that was how I was feeling. Yes, he was high-functioning. No, he was not abusive. But it was only going to get worse.
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Old 06-13-2011, 08:36 AM
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Welcome to SR. I am sure you will find a lot of people and resources here that can help with what you are going through. Many of us have been where you are.

Please read the permanent posts at the top of the page. There is a alot of good information there.

As for moving out. Yeah it can be scary but it was the best thing I ever did. I didn't move out until the pain of staying was greater than the pain of leaving. I really wish I had done it sooner. When dealing with an A you really only have 2 choices, let go or be dragged.

For me moving out was liberating and I feel better than I have felt in years. Making that decision was one of the hardest things I ever did.

You will have to make your own choice based on your own experiences but you will find lots of wisdom and support no matter if you stay or go.

Your friend,
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Old 06-13-2011, 08:58 AM
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Hi Sunshine!
You really seem to have a grip on what's going on. So glad you found us, and glad you found alanon as well.

When I first started Alanon, my qualifier was my alcoholic step father. I used to think that, since he didn't beat me or abuse my physically or sexually, that my upbringing "wasn't that bad", and that I didn't qualify as an adult child of an alcoholic. But I learned there are other types of abuse, some worse than others.

I'm 35, and just left my alcoholic boyfriend (exabf) a couple months ago. I found myself thinking the same things, before i left: "Am I ever going to have kids? Am i ever going to get married and settle down? I mean, was it really that bad?" But i decided it was, because I didn't want to share my life with someone that was hiding from his in a bottle. He was depressed too, played the clown when he got drunk, wanted to be the life of the party. But deep down, i'm pretty sure he hated himself. (He sure acted like he hated himself the next morning when i would tell him what he did the night before.) And I don't want to share my life and have kids with someone who doesn't even like himself.

You didn't cause it, can't control it, and can't cure it... but it seems you realize that already. You're just deciding if you can live with it. And only you can decide that. I heard a story on here a little while ago about a woman whose husband drinks, and once in a while she has to sleep in another room, or if he's really bad, she leaves and goes to a hotel for the night. And she's content living that way. Some people are okay having a marriage like that... some aren't. Everyone has a different level of tolerance for different things. It's just a matter of being honest with yourself on what's acceptable, and what's not, and sticking to those principles in all of your decisions.

Change is hard, even change for the better. I had recently closed a business and moved out of state to follow my ex, and after 5 months realized it was a horrible idea and I needed to cut my losses aspa. So i left... barely any money left after the move (2 moves actually, one there and one back to SC), no job, nothing on the horizon. But I have a supportive family and a great network of friends, most of which were happy that I figured out how toxic he was, and happy to have me back. And only once did i second guess my decision to leave. It was for one night, about 3 days after i got back to SC. It last for one night... less than 12 hours of tears and "oh what have I done". I am confident that my HP has more in store for me than to watch someone sit on the couch and drink themselves to death.

Keep reading, the stickies are great, and there are many stories on here that will show you what the "life with an alcoholic" ride is like. **
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Old 06-13-2011, 09:14 AM
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Welcome to SR Sunshine3.

I encourage you to read all the stickies at the top and continue to read here. I also got a lot out of the book "Codependent No More" by Melody Beattie.

I can really relate to your story. It was my story for many years, only I did have children together with my AH (alcoholic husband). He's an ex now - I did leave.

I was at the spot you are in for a very very long time. I guess I want you to know that alcoholism is progressive. It does eventually get worse, although we can't know how fast or slow. The other thing you should know is that it gets worse for us too. Speaking of my own experience here my boundaries continued to slowly erode, the enabling and enmeshment slowly increased, I felt his feelings but had a hard time feeling my own, the frustration and resentment swelled and replaced the concern and love until it over took me and I became someone I didn't even know. I was living with so much internal confusion and felt so lost and afraid. I didn't even know what I was afraid of. I was afraid of everything.

It is wonderful that you are in al-anon. Definitely continue with that. I wish I would have found al-anon years before I did. It will be helpful to you no matter which every choice you make.

There is so much I want to impart to you since I was in such a similar place. Things about boundaries, identifying your own needs and taking care of them, fear, making decisions, etc. I don't have the words but a a good therapist, one that specializes in addictions, would be a huge benefit to you at this particular time. I saw one very short term and she was worth her weight in gold. I moved out of the area or I'd still be seeing her.

FWIW I decided to leave my xah when I had hit my own personal rock bottom. He went off the deep end a little bit after that but before I decided to leave he was never ever mean or out right abusive. I regret some of the choices I've made but I do not regret leaving. At the time I felt I must leave or completely unravel but I did not understand how foggy I was. I have clarity, peace, security, that I did not before. I did not fully understand how alcoholism was impacting my life until I removed it.
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Old 06-13-2011, 09:21 AM
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You're not a bad person for wanting to be happy, nor a selfish one for being scared.

My ex went through the periods of self pity, feeling like everyone was against him but also that everyone owed him something too. He would frequently sit day after day, night after night with his glass in his hand, curtains drawn, staring at the floor.

At first I was all "oh must make him happy, must make him better" but after a while it was just the most annoying thing. The negativity would bring me down too and the self pity from him used to make me feel sick.

I lost any compassion I had for him because he ended up making my skin crawl.

Fear keeps us stuck. I was scared too, not of being alone, but of struggling financially.

You have a right to a happy and peaceful life. You want children? Don't have them with an alcoholic. I feel guilty every day for bringing an alcoholic into my daughters life. The dysfunction is not good for a child or for yourself.

Don't feel guilty for putting your needs first, few others will, you have to look out for yourself.
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Old 06-13-2011, 09:40 AM
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There are a lot of "not yets" though. He might not be abusive now, and it may never happen but you deserve to be happy.

Welcome, I'm so glad you're here.
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Old 06-13-2011, 09:42 AM
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keep going to AL ANON and or find another group that works for you
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Old 06-13-2011, 09:42 AM
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Sunshine, I understand what you living. I just got to the point where I realized I was all by myself even when he was sitting right next to me. Communication isn't real, they deny they said something, or don't remember ever having the conversation. It all takes a toll, and all your efforts become fruitless.
I actually joined a book club at our local library, and experienced the most sober, intellectual conversation. It was so very refreshing to talk to someone normal. Someone whose judgement is not clouded, and distorted by alcohol.
Do you really want to have children with this man? A parents job is to love and nurture a child. I am certain someone who is impaired by the booze cannot do that, therefore it will on fall on you, and of course more resentment grows.
Save yourself. Love you, good things are ahead. It's all about the choices we make. take care of you.
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Old 06-13-2011, 05:44 PM
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NOTHING is lonelier than living with an active alcoholic. You could have better company if you were a hermit living in a cave at the top of a mountain.

And you do NOT want to have children with an active alcoholic. You can adopt children if your bio-clock runs out, you can volunteer with kids, you can have a great life. But not with an active alcoholic.

In four years you will be forty. Do you want to be stuck with a toddler or two and trying to negotiate a divorce, or, worse yet, trying to raise children with someone whose condition is likely to deteriorate further?

You are still a young woman (geeze, wish I was still 36)--the sooner you leave, the sooner your new life begins. I only say this because you mention that you were thinking about leaving already. A little fear and loneliness in the beginning beats a lifetime of it.
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Old 06-13-2011, 08:12 PM
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I married mine at 36. I am now 5 months shy of 40. We are separated. Luckily, never got to the children part but I subjected my two daughters from my first marriage to some pretty crazy crap. Not a smart thing to do.

I would go back and do it differently if I could. Starting over is AWESOME in that I get control of my life back...but have bad days, too, that's a given. But I am way happier finding my self respect again and believing I can do better than that.

The fear and loneliness ebbs and flows, depending on how much I want to let it control my life. It's been ebbing a lot more these days.
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Old 06-13-2011, 11:14 PM
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You still have LOTS of time. You won't be starting over, you'll be moving forward. You have all sorts of options. The advice above is all very good.

But I'll tell you this. I'm 49, single, no kids. I wanted to be married, to have kids...a lot. But I've finally learned it's OK if it doesn't happen because I'm falling in love with myself. I like MY life, who I am. And who knows, I may meet the right man tomorrow. Maybe in 5 years. Maybe never. I will have lots of fun and great adventures and a full life in the meantime.

What I'm trying to convey here is have no idea what tomorrow holds, or next week or even 10 years down the road. You do know what you have right now. Are you happy? Is this enough? What do YOU want??? Those are the real questions...and YOU have the answer and the key to all of them.
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Old 06-14-2011, 12:15 AM
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I so feel you.
I am finalizing a divorce to a good man.
He's never abused me.
He's smart and thoughtful and rediculously generous.
He's responsible and hard working.
We wanted kids and he is A-MAZING with kids.

He also is addicted to alcohol.
He hides it and drinks in secret and lies about it.
Also, like most alcoholics, he can't really deal with that, so there is a lot of distraction and minimization and sometimes, outright lies.
I think he struggles with depression.
I think he drinks to deal with it - self medication, as they say.

I am now 37. I was pregnant when I figured out how much my AH was drinking (in secret).
I lost the baby, but felt it was a blessing in disguise because when I confronted my AH on his drinking, he flipped his switch.
He was grumpy and snotty and depressed and fatalistic and defensive for months. YUCK-O.

I had been unconciously playing nice with him to keep him relatively happy, but when I rocked the boat, he couldn't deal.

What life is all smooth sailing?

Life has ups and downs.

I realized I needed a partner that could deal with the downs, too. Not by depression and lies and drinking, but by growing.

So, I left him.
Its sad, for sure. Its a huge loss. He's still a good guy.
But he couldn't have dealt with the stress of parenting with me.
He couldn't deal with me being honest about what didn't work for me.
It didn't work.

Its not sunshine and roses now.
I am still grieving.
But I am moving forward.
If I want a family at my age, I have to have my life be open to that. That means I am divorced, have done my emotional work (and will forever) and am open and ready for that.
I'm working on that.
I'm learning to let go.
I'm learning to open to what I deserve.
I'm learning to enjoy me, single.
I'm learning to accept life as it is offered while creating the life I dream of.

I wish us both joy.

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Old 06-14-2011, 04:33 AM
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My exah was what someone would probably describe as a 'high functioning' alcoholic.

He always drank at home. He had this ritual where he would clean the house and cook while drinking. He was always very affectionate and funny. It bothered me that he drank so much but I loved him and had a child with him.

I didn't understand that alcoholism is progressive. I didn't know what that meant.

Now I do.

For my exah, he started drinking earlier and earlier in the day.
He became very paranoid.
I couldn't stand to be near him when he drank.
We became more and more distant.
My exah has been in a pschiatric ward twice because of psychotic episodes. The doctor's could never say what caused the episodes. I believe it was the drinking because as soon as my exah 'dried out' the hallucinations went away.

My exah is just a shell of the man he used to be now.
Its really very sad.

I stopped being in a relationship with him years ago although I stuck around out of a false sense of obligation and duty.

My son considers himself fatherless.
It's heartbreaking.

Maybe you could do a little research about the progressive nature of this disease? I wish I had. I wish I had been better educated about where things were headed. I could have saved myself and my son alot of heartache and suffering.

I wish you the best...
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Old 06-14-2011, 07:34 AM
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My husband could have written this. Neglect is a form of abuse, really. I have terrible guilt over my treatment of my family (small kids and a husband).

Is he willing to go to treatment? Does he want to be sober?

It's hard for me to admit now even though I'm sober that there was nothing my family could have done to get me sober. I had to do it myself.
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Old 06-14-2011, 07:44 AM
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Sunshine, one think to know is many of us here were just a scared about moving out as you are and we still did it. As far as I know not a single one of us regrets it. I know I don't.

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Old 06-14-2011, 09:23 AM
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You took a courageous step in posting. I suspect you've been reading posts for some time before you took the step forward to finally post. I know I did. Ok, that was one step forward.

Keep finding yourself taking one step forward, and you'll find yourself to Peace and Happiness.

My exABF lived with me for years and helped me raise my son. I always wanted a child and a family. exABF was not abusive either. As his alcoholism progressed, though, the negative thoughts and words bled into my positive life, and my son's. I realized my son was starting to learn very negative behaviors. I could not raise an innocent child in a house with this treacherous disease.

I want you to know that one of my friends who is 45 years old, just gave natural birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy last week. Your bio-clock can still be ticking.

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Old 06-14-2011, 09:51 AM
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Please, don't be ashamed. I think most people share the fear of being alone, of what the future will bring. Remember, alcoholism is progressive and this will only get worse. Add to that there's nothing you can do or say to get someone to stop drinking. It's much easier to take those difficult steps with support of people who have been in your shoes....hope you keep coming back.
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Old 06-14-2011, 10:05 AM
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Thank you all so much for responding. I can't tell you the impact reading all of the responses had on me.. Very glad I found this community. After reading it all I think i cried and cried because inside I think I know the truth. For the first time in a long time I feel a bit hopeful about my own future. Knowing you guys have walked through something like this and survived even found new freedom and hope is so so so helpful I can't even tell you.
Dont know if I am able to walk away today, tomorrow or next month, but I feel like now so where inside I know I can.
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