Loving an alcoholic, where do I even begin? Alcoholism is such an ugly “disease”, I put disease in quotations because I believe most people who have a drinking problem use it as a crutch…nothing more than another excuse to their shitty behavior. Sure it has a mental and physical affect but just like a heroin addict chose to shoot up the first, second and third time, an alcoholic chooses to lean on alcohol as a cooping mechanism. One thing before I really get into this…alcoholics can be just as bad sober as they can drunk. Most alcoholics get so dependent on liquor they obtain the shakes when they can’t get it into their body, if you don’t believe me read a few facts about alcoholism on here. If you’ve ever watched someone you love shake from withdrawing you know how you felt in that moment, questioning why they do this to themselves again and again. My experience with this was typical the morning after a really bad night with the alcoholic I use to love; he’d promise me he was going to change his ways after he had done something horrible to me the night before in a drunken rage. It seemed like love at the time but if it was love why would he have put me in that situation in the first place? It always came down to Me or Alcohol, as much as he said he wanted to choose me alcohol always took the lead. “So what?” you say, with the next one he won’t do that to her, okay but that’s what I thought too when I heard the story of the 3 girls before me. I (STUPIDLY) thought I could be the one to change him. And here is the honest truth: an alcoholic will not change for anyone, not their child, not their significant other, not their mother, not their little brother or sister. The ONLY person that can make an alcoholic change is themselves. That was one of the hardest pills I’ve ever had to swallow but that is the honest truth. An alcoholic has to be just as selfish to stop as they were to start.
Let’s get something straight…alcoholism isn’t always bottles, it can be shooters that fill a trash can that add up to more than a bottle itself. Alcoholism isn’t always getting fucked up at a bar (or several) and stumbling your way home. Alcoholism is digging through the car for change to buy a double shot for $2, it is not eating to make sure you catch a buzz, it is having to take a double shot before work so your hands don’t shake during the day then taking another one (or two) on lunch. And loving an alcoholic during all of this? Yeah you must think I’m stupid, trust me looking back I constantly wonder why the hell I stayed for so long and put up with what I did. But when you love someone it’s easier said than done. I tried multiple times before I officially packed his things (thanks to the help of my kickass family) and sent all his stuff back to his mom’s house April 22nd, two days after he was arrested for drunkenly harming his mother and daughter. THAT was my breaking point, that was the first time after three years I called the cops to have him arrested. Alcohol can turn someone who you once wanted to create a life and build a home and family with into the most disgusting person you ever knew. But it doesn’t happen like that over night, it doesn’t take just one friend telling you that you’re in a horrible situation for you to realize and leave. It takes time and in that time there are so many cycles you will go through with the alcoholic you’re in love with. Right when you find the courage to put your foot down and leave they will do good long enough to get you to stay, then once they know you’re there for good they will fall right back into the bad part of the cycle; binge drinking to the point they will lose a job (or 6), cheating on you, getting physically angry at you for their failures or life obstacles and so much more. Remember this person usually feels bad about themselves so they throw shit on anyone around them to make themselves feel better.
Loving an alcoholic is so much more than the financial burden they put on you. It is permanent physical, mental and emotional damage. It is months (or years) of therapy (which is so so SO healthy btw) after you leave someone to make sure your body is taken out of survival mode because that’s the condition you’ve unknowingly learned to live in. It is having scars that people question you about and having to relive what that person did to you that one night. Loving an alcoholic is feeling obligated to stay with them, after you’ve realized this is never going to work, because you love their child from their previously failed relationship and want to ensure she is safe when she is at Daddy’s house. It is holding that crying child out in the cold because she is scared and wants to leave after her father had a drunken outburst of anger and you can’t go back inside to even get keys because of the fear of what he will do to you in front of her. It is building forts, baking cookies and cupcakes and decorating them for Daddy when he wakes up from his drunk nap that no one can wake him from. Loving an alcoholic is the reason behind all those mental break downs you’ve had that just leave you laying in a ball on the floor crying because you are so stressed and your life has been taken out of your hands. It’s replacing a dresser the second time after he has destroyed yours again, finding your jewelry scattered across the room days later, it’s spending the day repairing the wall because he put another hole in it. Loving an alcoholic is hiding any proof of abuse from your family even though they have an idea something isn’t right and then eventually avoiding them at all costs so they don’t find out just how bad it really is. It is being afraid to come home after a late night at work because you’re scared he is drunk and you don’t know how drunk yet. Loving an alcoholic is sleeping in the car no matter the weather because you don’t want to have to share with another friend what you’re going through, but don’t want to face what is waiting for you inside the apartment. Loving an alcoholic is a Christmas tree, a now broken tv and presents scattered all over the living room floor because you told him you wouldn’t give him cash for “just a beer.”
This is just the tip of the ice burg, this is just a glimpse of what it’s truly like; there are others who have stayed with someone who has a serious drinking problem for 20 plus years (OR MORE), I’m thankful to have escaped at 3. But the embarrassment, abuse and cycles I went through with my alcoholic ex will never be forgotten. I will always use them to help other women (or men) who feel helpless and stuck to show them life gets better after the storm you just have to learn to let go. It will be one of the hardest things that you will ever do, you’ll wonder what if they actually change this time around, what if they can’t stop drinking and I’m not there and they drink themselves to death, what about his kid when she is on his watch? STOP. There is nothing YOU can do to fix THEIR mistakes anymore, you deserve to live your own life too. You deserve happiness, not fear of what to expect when you get home, a promise of a future with the person you love; you deserve to find peace and safety in the person you love. Loving an alcoholic can teach you so many things about life so therefore I’m thankful; but the number one lesson I took from it is what not to allow another man to do to me in my future relationships. I don’t write this out of anger I write this in hope that someone who is in the same shoes that I was knows they are understood and not alone. Loving an alcoholic is so consuming, it can take everything you’ve ever strived to be and make you not even get the chance to think about it anymore. Loving an alcoholic becomes your life, to be there when they need a ride to the store, to be there when they’ve spent all their own money and now need to “borrow” yours. I don’t want anyone to ever feel what I felt, see what I saw, or go through what I went through. It is draining, it leaves you feeling empty, it is loving an alcoholic.