How do you move past a relationship with an alcoholic? - SoberRecovery : Alcoholism Drug Addiction Help and Information
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Old 07-13-2018, 08:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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How do you move past a relationship with an alcoholic?


Hi. I'm new here. I wrote a similar post in a different forum, but I think it's more appropriate here.

I broke up (for good) with my boyfriend of 2.5 years about a month ago, and I'm having a difficult time working through everything that happened over the course of the relationship. We were both graduate students and are now 30 years old. Early on in our relationship there were several incidents were my ex got extremely drunk in inappropriate situations. But he would apologize and I would forgive him. He's very intelligent, hard-working, driven and passionate about his work, good-looking, and can be very sweet and complimentary (overly so) when he needs to be, but also could be disrespectful if he felt like I was “attacking” him, which usually meant I was upset about his drinking. When he drank he was never physically or verbally abusive, but seemed to go from sober to sloppy drunk very quickly. He also never had any tangible losses from drinking (that I know of), but did have a reputation with friends and colleagues for drinking too much.

Over the 2.5 years we were together, there were a lot of other inappropriate incidents. For example, one time he was out drinking with a friend and they brought two girls back from the bar to the friend’s apartment and they all spent the night there. He told me about it a week later in passing. I don't think he drank every day for the first 2 years that we were together. Sometimes he could have a couple drinks and stop. But there were many times (maybe 40 in 2.5 years), where he got obliterated and I had to babysit. Sometimes he would fall asleep in bars or during social events or disappear for 20 minutes or so and come back tipsier or go for a drive and come back buzzed. We had soooo many long and serious conversations about these incidents and each time he promised he was working on getting it under control, that that was the last time, that our relationship was more important than drinking—all the things I wanted to hear. But, it always would happen again.

When we moved in together, I saw that he drank 2-6 beers most nights of the week and usually quite a bit more on Saturday and Sunday. He would drink before going out, and after getting home, often bringing a beer or a glass of wine to bed with him. I started to realize that this wasn’t entirely an issue of growing out of a phase, but more of a serious problem. I pushed him to get some type of help and became more “controlling” (confronting, monitoring). He started to hide it more (hiding beer in a towel to take to the shower, emptying the recycling at midnight after I had gone to bed, staying up later to drink by himself, denying drinking, excusing himself to go the restroom while actually sneaking up to bar to have a secret drink or two, etc.).

We ended up going through this horrible year of semi-break-ups and make-ups, during much of which I was pissed off and he was drunk (binging at home in the spare room for days on end). He moved to a different city for his career about 6 months ago and we kept in contact on and off. He wanted to try to reconcile. Fed me all the lines (I love you so much, you're the person I want to marry, I'm so sorry for the hell I put you through, etc.). But a month ago, I told him that I didn't trust him at this point and there was no chance of us getting back together unless and until he had been sober and seeking help for 1 year. Well, of course, his response was that the relationship would never work, and he didn't want to have any contact. I didn't even really care anymore at that moment. I was so exhausted.

I know I should be happy that I dodged a bullet, but I still get these feelings of guilt, like maybe I was too critical or controlling (he certainly said these things). Maybe I made him unhappy, and the drinking got worse because of that. Maybe if I would have been more compassionate or empathetic he would have sought out treatment (I was compassionate at first though). I know that it's not my fault, but I'm finding it so hard to stop second guessing everything. I did love him and we had a lot of great times. But I don't think I'm wrong in feeling like I just cannot trust him anymore, that he had a serious problem, and that I wasn't overreacting? To be clear, I have no thoughts of contacting him or trying to reconcile (I physically, mentally, and emotionally cannot go on this roller-coaster again), but I'm having a really hard time not replaying and analyzing everything that happened over and over in my head. It's like I have to understand how the relationship took such a huge nosedive and that I need further validation that I made the right decision (probably why I'm writing this now). How do I stop these thoughts, put this behind me, and move on?
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Old 07-13-2018, 09:36 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Liz, let me reassure you (and I won't be the first) you did *nothing* wrong. Nothing you could've said or done differently would've made any difference. His drinking is on him, 100%.

No matter what he said that made it sound like you are even a little tiny bit responsible - you are not. If you read around this forum you'll see it's textbook for alcoholics to blame anyone and anything for their drinking.

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But I don't think I'm wrong in feeling like I just cannot trust him anymore, that he had a serious problem, and that I wasn't overreacting?
You're absolutely right that you cannot trust him. He *showed* you, over and over again with all the ways he tried to hide his drinking. Binging for days on end, lying about drinking, hiding bottles, getting obliterated, driving drunk: YES this is a a serious problem! But it's his problem to deal with. Or not.

I'm glad you got out before it got worse and it *will* get worse for him unless he decides to be serious about recovery. You sound like an intelligent woman with a bright future, and it'll be much brighter without an alcoholic partner.
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Old 07-13-2018, 09:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Welcome to Soberrecovery Lizanon. I'm glad you found us and hope you find lots of support here.

I'm sorry/happy to say that you have done the absolutely the right thing. He may someday recover from this but the odds are not great.

Leaving a relationship like this is usually super painful. Please take extra good care of yourself: eat well, get exercise, and circle the wagons of support.

Most of us see Melody Beattie's book Codependent No More as a bit of a bible around here so you might look for a copy. Also Alanon has been helpful to many.

Courage and healing to you fine human!
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Old 07-13-2018, 10:30 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Hi, LizAnon, and welcome to SR. First of all, let me applaud you for knowing that this man was not going to be the partner you wanted and ending the relationship. Then let me offer further kudos to you for realizing that your feelings were mixed and you were confused and then seeking out help and clarification to base future actions on. Good work!

I think if you read around the forum as much as you can, making sure not to miss the stickies at the top of the page, you'll find a lot of insight and clarification about your situation. Once I saw that my situation was not unique, that my then-husband and I were only doing the same dance of alcoholism and codependence as so many others had done, it changed everything. It still took me a long time to come to terms w/the reality of the situation and end the marriage, but that was where it all started. You may find a similar realization, and may also be set free by it.

My X, on the night I decided we needed to convert the separation to a divorce, said he'd "give it all up if he could have just ONE MOMENT, ONE LITTLE BIT of compassion" from me. Apparently the preceding 19 years were not enough....and as you astutely observed, your XBF's accusation about needing compassion from you was equally untrue.

I hope you find both education and inspiration here, LizAnon, and I wish you happiness and peace going forward.
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Old 07-14-2018, 06:04 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I found a counselor very helpful to objectively and at times obsessively review my relationship. I too recommend Codependent No More.

The best thing I found was turning the energy of what ifs towards self reflection and self change. There is wisdom to working only on what you can change ~ you.

I really found several of these articles very helpful in understanding and letting go on all the addict’s lies and deceptions. In the end, I was most angry with myself for accepting a relationship for so long where the booze was a mistress.

Take the time for you. You deserve it.

Addiction, Lies and Relationships
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Old 07-14-2018, 08:49 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Lizanon, I gotta add one note: moving on from a LTR like this requires time and grieving. And unfortunately, time takes time.

Courage to you lady.
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Old 07-14-2018, 10:51 AM   #7 (permalink)
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My sponsor gave me great advice: let go or be dragged. Alanon was a huge help. Eventually you'll see that there is nothing you or anyone else can say or do that will affect an alcoholic's drinking. We're powerless over them and their disease. A big hug.
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