Category Archives: steps to a better life

A Guide to Living With An Alcoholic

Practical guide and tips for partners and spouses of alcoholics

Some good news for a change!!

I have finally finished the book that I have been developing for 3 years! It is a practical guide to living your life to the full while still living with an alcoholic loved one. By following the action plan, written exercises and advice which I followed, you too will find a better more fulfilling life, and as a result your loved one may find sobriety.  It is thanks to the feedback I have got from all you who have visited this blog over the years that I have stuck at this project. So thank you and I hope you find it useful. A print version will soon be available.

(I have kept the price low, but if you can’t afford it, please let me know and I will send you a copy free of charge. )

Remember, you’re not alone – there’s lots of us in this ‘secret club’!

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Caring for an Alcoholic

It is human nature to shield, protect and nurture the ones we love. Living with an alcoholic loved one challenges this instinct. A lot of things go wrong in the lives of drinkers: taking care of their home, work, family, appointments, etc., all tend to suffer in various degrees. Human nature kicks in and our help often consists in solving the things that go wrong, like running errands for the person, buying them drink to get them through a bad period, cleaning up after them, making excuses to work and friends or cancelling appointments.

When it comes to loving and caring for an alcoholic we tend to help them through their day whatever way we can so we can survive and live with hope. We adopt their responsibilities as our own. In the short term, this is helpful for the drinker, and they appreciate our help because without it life as an alcoholic would be so much more difficult.  Think about how you help your alcoholic partner.  Now start asking yourself what your help and support is actually doing for the drinker. Does your help make it easier or more difficult for the person to keep drinking? Are you enabling his bad behaviour by not letting him see what he is doing?

Think about it, if your partner’s bottles, spillages and mess are all cleaned up and tidied away by the time he sobers up he has no evidence of how bad his drinking is. His mind will tell him, ‘look around everything is fine and lovely, your drinking is in control so it’s okay for you to continue drinking.’

If he does not have to answer to people about his behavior because you have picked up the pieces, made excuses on his behalf and swam oceans to cover up for him – he doesn’t have to face up to awkward questions.

In other words he does not have to face consequences for his behavior or actions because you have already cushioned the blow or stopped it in its tracks for him.

So if he does not have to face up to the fact that his drinking is causing problems in his life, well then why should he stop drinking? He has no motivation to do so. You will continue to make sure life continues as is, solving his problems and so he can continue his life as is, ie. drinking. Why not? It isn’t causing any harm! What you are doing is, is putting off the inevitable. Things are not going to improve but only going to get worse if you continue to enable their bad behavior. So it may be better for him to face things that go wrong, so that he realizes what he is doing.

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Alcoholic Partner and Gossip

Sometimes we can become obsessed by other people’s problems and drama. By talking about it to others our own life problems seem trivial, ‘at least my life is not that bad.’ It also can give us comfort that other people’s lives are not perfect. We do this because we have a low opinion of ourselves. If you find yourself doing this stop and ask yourself and ask ‘what is going on with my life?’

When someone insults you, criticizes you or points out faults they believe you have, it can make you feel low and you can believe them. If someone tells you that you have two heads for long enough you could actually begin to believe it. If everyone you meet points out that you have two heads you should have a look in the mirror! What one person tells you may not be fact or correct, that is why it is important to reach out to others and explore the limiting beliefs one person has made you feel about yourself. By doing this we can shed these negative views we have of ourselves and start exploring the real us. When we have been treated with cruel words for years, it is easy for us to do the same to others. For a short period it can make us feel better about ourselves.

Other peoples limiting behavior does not mean we have to drop our standards. Learning to take responsibility does not only mean take responsibility for your actions but also your words. By changing this behavior you are forming another part of yourself that you can be proud of. This has a knock on effect because you start to feel good about yourself and people who feel genuinely good about themselves no longer feel the need to assault other people’s character, that includes our alcoholic partner.

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married to an alcoholic

Married To An Alcoholic

You want your alcoholic to take responsibility for their actions and stop their current behaviour that is wasting away their life, don’t you? However for you to be of assistance to them in this endeavour you need to apply the same formula to your own life.

You want them to stop behaving the way they do? Well to achieve this, you need to stop behaving the way you do and blaming them for your resulting unhappy life. If you don’t want to be a doormat then get up off the floor!

Your life path or your quality of life is not their fault or a result in their actions. It is a result of your reactions. This is the same in reverse; their drinking, quality of life or life choices are not a result of your actions. Their drinking is not your fault, their actions are not your fault, their quality of life is not your fault. They are an adult and they are responsible for their day to day life choices. The same as you are responsible for your day to day life choices.

Look at your partner’s life… think about how they are wasting precious days of their life. Now think about your own life, how many days recently have you spent looking after your own dreams and happiness? If the answer is none, then those days that you just existed or existed to deal with the results of their addiction were also wasted.

You don’t have to do anything drastic – just small steps. For instance this week why not  take time out to meet a friend for a few hours or to go to an al anon meeting without letting your mind race about what your partner might be doing while you are out, without worrying if  they will be drunk or sober when you get back. Without feeling you have to get back home to ‘control’ their behavior. Turn off your phone so they can’t harass you with calls and don’t call them to check on them. They are an adult, you are an adult! The first few times you do this, you probably won’t be able to focus on relaxing and being you, but with practice you will learn that they coped without you.

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loving an alcoholic

Live YOUR Life

It’s been a couple of months since I visited this blog. I was shocked to see how many people had posted messages, most of you in similar desparate situations – living with an active alcoholic. I can relate to you all because I was the same only a few months ago. He has been sober for nearly 3 months now and the desparate times seem a distant memory. He had been sober for 4 years previously and then over the course of a year or two, an odd drink turned into beers every night and then WHAM, it seemed literally in the space of a week he became worse than he ever was. I believe he actually died twice during that week, ie. he chocked on his own vomit and stopped breathing and he took an overdose. What did I do – what is the secret to getting your partner sober? Stop trying to change them. Instead Change yourself. That is the secret.

I left. You can too. All of you have given reasons not to – the kids (I have kids too), financially strapped (I have very little income too – during the worst of it I was on social welfare, he was on social welfare. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you have you are probably are all in the same boat –  any spare cash has been spent on booze and debt has built because of booze), the bills won’t get paid (I have a mortgage, utilities too and loans too all have been put on the long finger or renegotiated), they will die without you (I left my hsuband twice, I didn’t threaten to leave I just packed up and as soon as he knew I was serious he threatened suicide I still walked out that door – once with a shotgun in his mouth and once with enough pills beside his bed to kill a small elephant).

I had got to a stage where I decided enough was enough I was not prepared to go on ‘surviving’ this precious thing called life. Your life is your own and is precious. You need to make it what you want it to be. Yes sure it would be perfect if your partner woke up sober, felt great about it and became that person you love again. But why should they change and become that person? As long as life tips along the way it is and you don’t change your ways, what motivation do they have to change? Why would they want to change what they are doing today when there is always tomorrow with you there to pick up the pieces and keep them in their comfort zone.

Stop trying to control what they are doing and start controling what you are doing, what you want to achieve. Talk to people – this is very important. Don’t be embarrassed, everyone haschallenges in their lives and this is yours. If leaving seems too drastic a move for you, start with small steps. Instead of dreading a ground hog day scenario of their drunk behaviour every evening arrange to go out to meet a friend and have a laugh, go to the cinema, join an evening class, do something for yourself. Do not make a big deal about it by telling your partner this is your intention and you are doing it because of them, etc. Just do it and do it for you – not to spite them or show them a lesson. Don’t keep calling them during your time out. It will be hard but you have to let go and let things start to evolve.

I left – I was back within 2-4 days each time – not because of false promises. I knew he was serious – an appointment had been made and kept with a counsellor/doctor or rehab centre which we attended together. He got his act together. He is finding it tougher this time than the last but he knows what he will loose if he goes back there, why? because he knows I am serious about his sobriety and that I am not prepared to go thorugh that again. I love him to bits, but I also love our kids and myself and to live under the same roof, our sanity depends on his sobriety. The alternative is that we don’t live together, it’s his choice to drink or not to drink. If he drinks then it is my choice to live seperately somehow. We are in a good place at the moment and I take one day at a time and am thankful for each sober day. Stay strong and love yourself and your life.