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Planning to split up with my alcoholic partner but filled with doubt and guilt(209 Posts)
Hello all, I've been with my partner for 12 years now. And it's only just becoming apparent that he's an alcoholic. He's not a falling down type. He works full time. He only drinks in the evenings. But he drinks every night until he's drunk and then goes to sleep. And he smokes about 4-5 joints a day. I feel like I'm being SO unreasonable splitting up with him. I've been wanting to split up since the day he moved in - but it's taken me 12 years to feel strong enough to split up. But we have a 4 and a 7 year old together. The second I think of them and how much this will damage them, I just feel like, no matter how much I want to split up, no matter how miserable I am, this just isn't bad enough to justify ruining their lives. They're both such sensitve girls - the elder one has a terrible temper and gets angry really easily and the younger one can burst into tears when something even slightly goes wrong. But I don't think that's got anything to do with my relationship because from the outside there is NOTHING wrong. It's just me that's miserable. But I keep it all in. I'm not cross with them. I am pretty happy really. My life is great apart from this problem. I take them all over the place doing lots of stuff and we have lots of friends. They don't see him drunk - he doesn't fall down. He might sway abit but that's it. But I've worked my arse off with my own business for the past 18 months only to discover that he's spent £3K on booze in 6 months and was hiding the credit card statements. Basically my business isn't that successful and he's drunk ALL the profit I worked so hard to earn. I also do 99% of all household chores and childcare. I confronted him yesterday, he said he was sorry but that he was planning to stop on Sunday because that's the day before his new job starts, and he got drunk tonight as usual. Even though I'd told him his behaviour had devastated me and he said he was 'sorry'. Isn't that abit..odd?
tribpot I do take your point about 'having' an addiction but I totally disagree - I believe that addicts are born addicts and that the disease of addition is what they 'have'. I don't know why I'm saying 'they' as I'm an addict too. I too believe that I 'have' a disease called addiction and it's bloody unfair to me that other people don't have it. Non-addicts aren't better because they 'choose' not to abuse some substance or other - to me, they haven't achieved anything by not using to excess. If someone is able to choose then they don't 'have the disease of addiction, IMHO. What I would say to non-addicts who think that any type of addict can 'choose' not to use is 'ok hold your breath, do you feel like you need to breathe? That's how an addict feels'. If it isn't like that for you then you're only a 'heavy user' - you can indeed decide whether to use or not. But the 'genuine alcoholic' cannot choose, they have totally lost the power of choice. I would challenge anyone to read the AA Big Book and find anything that contradicts what I'm saying. The guys who founded AA DO make the distinction between heavy drinker and 'true' alcoholic. A true alcoholic 'has' alcoholism. I'm sorry to sound like I've got on a soapbox but it's a topic that is close to my heart. And it's why DP is such an enigma when it comes to alcoholism because I just can't figure out if he 'chooses' to use because he doesn't want to stop or if he can't stop. But I'm tired of trying to figure it out now. Now I'm ready to go.
But the big book is not the ' truth'- it's just one take on alcoholism. I'm on the fence really about what causes addiction.
What I struggle with is if it's a disease is how it can be 'cured' by taking a moral inventory and confessing your sins. That doesn't sit well with me.
Whatever the nature of your DP's alcohol problem and the extent to which he could "help it", and whatever his good qualities, he is still not someone good for you to be in a relationship with or for your DC to live with, and you can't cure him.
Is he likely to make active efforts to find somewhere to go; or stay put and hope you'll change your mind (which would be limbo for all of you)? If you have a mortgage together you'll need legal advice on your options. If it's your place or rental agreement allows, give him a (short) deadline!
I think some people do have addictive personalities - but it is still a choice. My mother kicked heroin, tobacco and alcohol in her time, when she chose to. (Well, I've been told about the heroin - it was before she met my father, so I didn't know about that. But I do remember her giving up smoking when I was 13, and later, drink.)
And wishing you strength to carry it on. It will be better on the other side.
BTW, your DD will still be able to have a good time with her dad (just not spend overnights at his, when you separate - unless he kicks the habit).
It is possible that confronted with losing his family he will clean up his act, so your children may finally have the father they deserve.
At the moment he may be scared but it's not rock bottom yet.
I understand your point about addiction, but that is why alcoholics cannot touch a drop.
Alcoholics may not be able to stop once they start drinking, they may have trouble not drinking if it is offered to them, but yours is still driving (not even going around the corner) to get his booze.
He won't find a place, I don't think, unless you force him to. Keep insisting and, if possible, find him somewhere. Talk to his family if necessary. Or insist he does.
Well, I guess I'll deal with that situation if it happens. I think he'll hate me so much he'll want to get the hell out of here as soon as possible. Re the Big Book not being the 'truth'. I would suggest that it is the 'final truth', the last stop on the line for someone who is truly an alcoholic - you only need to look at the stats - it is the only thing that works for the 'hopeless' alcoholic. Maybe other things/truths work for people that aren't 'hopeless drunks'. I do believe that the only hope for someone like that is a 'spiritual experience/awakening'. That might be unpalatable to some people but anyone who doesn't like it has the luxury of not being in that situation, where your only hope is to be lifted out of your situation by a power greater than yourself because you're literally propelling yourself head-first into the grave, like Gascoigne for instance. The only real choice an alcoholic can make is to walk into an AA meeting, IMHO. But I agree with everything everyone has said about gettng away from DP because, if anything, I'm just stopping him making that choice and in the meantime, he's draining us all.
I've been reading this thread for a few days now too and have been working up to posting (once I start on this topic I struggle to stop and I'm finding this thread v. triggering)
Superamoo - your husband sounds like a younger version of my ex (who was a lot older than me). I left him 9 months ago because of his alcohol dependency.
He drank similarly to your husband (though no weed) and it's just a horrendous way to live. It's not living, it's existing. I was scared he'd be drunk in charge of our DD, scared he'd be drunk and grumpy, scared he'd be drunk and happy, scared of waking him once he passed out on the sofa, scared he'd start a marathon 'let's discuss what's wrong with spud for 8 hours until she is literally incapable of speech or coherent thought' session. I never went out, I refused all invitations, I didn't go out on my own because I didn't want to leave DD with him late. It was horrific. I don't think you can clearly see it until you're out. It felt bad when I was in it, but looking back I just cannot understand why I spent so long in such a negative, painful relationship.
When I asked him to give up alcohol he used to scream 'You've already taken away everything else from me and now you want to take this.' His priority list went 1. Alcohol, 2. Everything else. If he didn't drink he would be physically jittery and uncomfortable as you describe. He would not acknowledge a problem. I left because he picked my daughter up from school when he was so drunk he was slurring and rocking to stay on his feet. I left that day with him screaming 'Everyone will think you're fucking stupid!' as we walked away. No one thought I was fucking stupid. They just thought it was about fucking time.
He still drinks. He still feels incredibly sorry for himself and he still accepts no responsiblity. He cries and texts me all the time to ask 'What did I do?', and tell me that 'We were so happy'. We fucking weren't.
Anyway. Leave. Don't feel guilty. He owns this. Not you. Addiction as a disease or not, you don't (and shouldn't) ruin your one life on all this shit.
Good luck - you sound really strong. I'll keep posting if it's useful, although try and keep it shorter in future....
Sorry Amoo I wil not hijack your thread any further after this post with debate about AA and the big book and I agree that you need to leave him and look after yourself (nor do I wish to be unsupportive) - I am also involved with and am in love with an alcoholic (although I don't live with him) but the stats are that AA has only a 5% cure rate. It is steeped in religion and is not the only way to deal with alcoholism - it is the accepted way though.
google orange papers, stanton peele - there are other methods of recovery such as rational recovery etc which do not involve breaking someone's ego down further and making them feel worse about their situation.
And Gascoigne is a supporter and attends AA I believe which shows it doesn't always work.
My so has been to rehab and has already relapsed twice and has gone very strange! - when I found out what he was actually in doing there - (had no idea prior to him going and have remained supportive throughout) - was horrified and feel that there are better and alternative ways to try to get well. But they must find them for themselves.
I have detached though as I can see it is the only way to deal with the situation.
it is the most harrowing thing I have ever dealt with - I would not wish it on anyone
Poor you sincitylover - thank you for posting. As someone who was totally and utterly 'broken' in rehab and then slowly built back up again, I can say, from my point of view, it was horrendously painful, almost unbearable, but I'm glad that I went through it, because I was rotten to the core and needed a total refurb. It's done me the power of good to go through that process. I know that in AA they're doubly harsh. Anyway, dp coming. got to go.
My DH is similar to yours although some bits of him worse and some better. In the end it doesn't have to come down to the drinking - he just doesn't make you happy and hasn't cared enough about you. My DH moved out 6 weeks ago and my initial feeling was one of relief and weight lifted off my shoulders. Then the guilt crept in. I would get late night alcohol fuelled texts with poetry in - all bullshit - some days then aggressive texts other times - it's all my fault he was in garage all night drinking, smoking and texting as I wasn't interested in him/affectionate to him etc etc. Then saying Please don't leave me. It is hard asking OH to move out as their life is more altered than yours (access to DC, living standards) but you have to remember: we didn't ask for this! We didn't ask them to spend all evening boozing so that they are essentially useless from 8pm til 10am. I certainly don't love him enough any more after 3 years of this shit to want to look after him if he did get an alcohol related illness (he drinks 1-2 bottles of wine every night but can function and hold a job). We have tried to help them. We can't. I keep the texts from him so when he is being nice and normal when he comes to see DC I don't get sucked back in because he has NEVER accepted he has a problem with alcohol or has behaved unreasonably. I found counselling with someone recommended by a friend very helpful. I'm lucky I didn't have childhood issues like you, but it was pretty clear early on in my counselling that my sadness was not internal but all related to him and my mums recent death. Regarding carrying on since he left - apart from having to be a little more organised it's not much different. You need to make a few plans to keep busy but once you get him out I GUARANTEE you will feel better. At least initially and after a few wobbly moments you will move on. He won't come back to you because he won't stop drinking. Another trigger for me was my health issue which has also improved since he left. Also like you, my DH has had several things wrong with him physically which can make you feel sorry for him, but like an infected face wound, some are probably related to not looking after his health. Sorry for rambling.
Thank you HMQ - I feel the same - I'm so sick of it all after all these years that if DP did get ill with alcohol related things, cancer from smoking weed every day or MS related problems, I'd be too eaten up with resentment already to look after him. I have a health condition myself which means that, at some point in the not-to-distant future, I'm going to need help. This is part of the reason I've stuck with this so long - because I've kid myself that DP would be the one to help me. It's slowly dawning on me, that I'd be better off on my own because at least then I'd only have my own health needs to worry about and not his as well. DP went through a phase of 'only drinking wine' and regularly got through 1-2 bottles a night too. Tonight, as promised he didn't drink, because this is the 'new him'. Instead he went out just as I was serving his dinner, to meet his dealer to get more weed. By the time he got back, we'd all eaten and his was cold. Before I'd started this thread, I wouldn't think anything of that. But now, I realise that that isn't a nice thing to do, that I don't deserve to be treated like that. I've decided to leave things as they are just for this week because it's half-term and it's just too complicated. I'm finding it impossible to make any plans not knowing whether DP will still be here or not. But I'm not going backwards. I rent the house we're in from my sister. I told her what's happening and she agree to give us one month rent free so that he can't say he hasn't got any money for the deposit, which is a relief. The rest of the conversation was pretty hurtful though - she has a knack of hurting me, criticising me and generally making me cry. Today was the 'you chose to have two children, now you have to deal with the consequences' themed conversation. She spent the whole conversation telling me I had to take responsibility and sort everything out and I two children to think about. I think if I 'took' any more responsibility for anything I would literally explode
You have had lots of great advice so I will just offer a hug, a handhold and my best wishes.
Sorry your sister has said some unhelpful things. Your family sound complex.....Best filter out some of their views!
That's good in practical/legal terms though, if you rent from your sister, it should be relativeiy straightforward to get him to leave, when you're ready.
Complex that's a good word. My sister came back to me today and started REALLY interferring with the financial side of everything so I've just said forget it we'll just pay rent as normal. It's a shame as it would have helped, but on the other hand it wouldn't have looked good to the housing benefit people if I have a month on my bank statements where no rent has gone out - it will look like the contract between us means nothing. Plus I can't stand her meddling in my life so it's easier this way. Unfortunately she has said that in light of the fact that me and DP can't now buy the house from her, which was our plan in January, she'll be putting the house on the market in Feb. It's really thrown me. It's really made me rethink everything. Do I really want to lose the house for this? When I could just carry on. I could just carry on and just keep trying to get it across to the girls that this isn't a 'normal' situation, that our setup is a bit different to others. I might even just charge DP rent and meals and have him as a kind of lodger. If it meant we could keep the house and not be thrown into financial insecurity. I know this sounds mad because everyone has advised that alcholism gets worse but DP doesn't drink more every day than he did 20 years ago. He just drinks the same every day and it never gets worse or better. Yes I can't leave the children with him, but on my own, I can't leave the children anyway. Yes, he doesn't do anything, but on my own, I'll do everything anyway. Yes he doesn't pay much attention to the children, but that won't change when he moves out. I'm just starting to wonder, why the hell am I doing this? If I just put up with it, we can buy the house from my sister and finally have a fairly secure housing the situation - for the first time in my whole life! We can get the dog that we've been talking about getting for the last TEN years. Lots of things that I could only have dreamt of before, could actually happen now. Why throw it all away just to end up in exactly the SAME situation - doing everything and living as a single parent. I know I must sound mad. I think I sound like an alcoholic rationalising the next drink because they can't remember why they wanted to stop. But I genuinely can't remember why I wanted to get out of this situation now the reality of the alternative is kicking in - poverty, loneliness, having to move into a flat and get rid of all our stuff, the trampoline, the slide, the bench, the bikes, the bodyboards. They'll be nowhere to put anything in the tiny two bed flats that I could afford. I'll have to stop my business because they'll be nowhere to put stock. We'll have to sell the entire contents of the loft. I'll have to sell the piano probably. You talk of childhood trauma but THAT is what I call trauma. Your parents splitting up, having all your stuff sold and moving into a shit flat with no garden far away from your school That is the stuff of nightmares for a child. Not a dad that's bit crap. Don't you think?
I couldn't disagree more absolutely with your last sentences.
Child of an alcoholic dad here- your using the same justification my mum used in your last post. She stayed and my childhood was horrific. That is far more trauma than moving into a smaller flat and losing some stuff.
My relationship with my mother is now poor- I blame her for not protecting us and doing the right thing.
A Dad that's a bit crap? He drinks.
When you've got an alcoholic parent, it's more than s bit crap. It can fuck up your whole life. Material stuff might be nice, but it doesn't make up for it.
Have you spoken to anyone to find out what your financial position would be if you split up? What will it be like if you stay with him and he loses his job?
Anyway, must get going, as I've an appointment with my therapist, whom I've been seeing for a long time to work through the effects of having grown up with a mother who drank, which affects how I interact at work, it affects all my personal relationships and not in a positive way. Is that the sort of legacy you want your children to have?
The last two thirds of your post just show how skewed your thinking still is and you have gone backwards bigtime. That also shows how inured and conditioned you have become to what is happening around you; presumably too your own mother used the same sort of poor justifications to bind you to your own abusive childhood. The roots of your current dysfunction started back then, you were taught and conditioned by them into choosing someone as damaged as your own self.
Your man is certainly not just a bit crap either is he?.
All of those ramblings in the last two thirds of your post is your co-dependency side talking rot.
If you did end up in a two bed flat it would be without your fellow codependent thankfully. He is still meeting some innate needs of yours isn't he, your own need to be loved and needed because your need to be needed trumps everyone else.
Your children would rather be poorer in terms of material things in order to have a happier and not so worried mother in his midst. You can then drop your provoker role in this dysfunctional alcoholic relationship. It would do them a big favour as well not to have such a drunkard for a father in their day to day lives who both sucks the joy out of life and who drinks your profit from your business. He runs you ragged and does this also because he can. This man's only thought is where the next drink is coming from.
Do they really need a trampoline and bodyboards in order to be happy, sell the piano oh calamity!!!. Wake up before your children do not want to see you again or have any sort of relationship with you as adults (he'll likely be long gone by then) because you put this useless waster before them. Who is more important to you ultimately, him or your children?.
Thank you all for posting. The more I read, the clearer things become. The more I post the more I understand how I feel about the situation. DP isn't alcoholic in the sense that most people are posting about. There's no chaos, or unpredictability. There's no covering up for his drinking. There's no visible drunkeness. There's no controlling his drinking - he was able to spend so much money because I don't give a toss about it and don't 'control' it. I mean he drinks exactly the same every night, there isn't any need to control it. The idea that he is 'definitely drunk' after 6-8 bottles of beer is wrong - it is well documented that people have differing abilities to process alcohol - his very high tolerance to alcohol is part of his problem- he can drink quite alot and still get up for work the day and behave normally. The idea that I 'need to be needed' is totally gross to me - the idea makes me want to puke. I can't STAND neediness. That is NOT why I stay. I stay because I've been poor all my life. I grew up in poverty. I just don't want to go back to living in poverty. Staying with DP keeps me out of poverty. I don't understand why that isn't reason enough to want to stay. To say that wouldn't be traumatic for the children to lose the piano, the trampoline, their bikes, alot of our other stuff, is silly. Sorry but it bloody is. I mean that is our LIFE - that is what we do with our lives - we go for bike rides, they play in the garden on the trampoline and on the slide. We go to the beach and use the body boards. We play the piano together and sing silly songs. We'd have to get rid of the pets too. We have their friends round here constantly all day playing. All that would stop. On what planet is that not traumatic - not damaging? How can I justify doing that to them, just because I want to get away from their dad? And not because he drinks, just forget the stupid drinking. But just because I dont like him, because I don't want to look after him and be treated like a maid. Because he thinks there's nothing wrong with having no life and never going outside, but I do. But please, no more posts about how damaged the children are being unless you can REALLY, I mean really show me in WHAT PRECISE WAY they are being damaged by this? And don't say because they've got a miserable mum because that's bullshit. All day I'm happy with them and we do loads of stuff and have fun. I'm miserable when I'm on my own, when I'm near DP which isn't very often as I try to stay out of the house most of the weekend. They never see me upset ever. So this is really a question of morality surely - is it right to fuck up three people's lives just because you're not happy? I know the sexual stuff is pretty grim - millions of women throughout time and throughout the world put up with yucky sex stuff in exchange for financial security dont' they?! So shouldn't I just stop making such a fuss and 'lie back and think of England' as my very old fashioned mother says?! I mean if I really loved my children I would put up with any hardship wouldn't I? Wouldn't you do anything for your children's happiness?
It's entirely up to you, of course.
If you want to work to see it all goes wasted down the drain. Have to do it all yourself at home.
Then, in 20 years risk seeing your DD (if you have one) putting up with the same crap, being a maid and sleeping with a man she doesn't like for money.
Or risk your DS drinking himself to liver failure.
Why do you have to be in poverty without him?
What can you do to make your life better?
Sorry op, you can justify it how you want, but do not use your children as a reason to stay. My mum did, didn't want to uproot us, put us into poverty. My childhood was horrific and as an adult I have a broken relationship with her- I cannot forgive her for it. She should have been the one to shield us from that, remove us from the situation and she didn't because, like you, she was too weak to. And blamed myself and my siblings for staying!
My dad was also someone with a high threshold, held down a job etc. it didn't last. He became more dependant, lost his job. it doesn't plateau, alcoholism gets worse. What happens if you get ill in the future? My mum did and all the care fell to me for my siblings. I remember having to beg my dad for money to buy food in the house to feed us all. His priority was alcohol.
I say this kindly, but look at the bigger picture and be the bigger person here. Material goods don't matter.
I could furnish you with hundreds of examples of how this will affect your children, but I suspect you won't listen.
Ps, my mum tried to hide her emotions, was upset outside of the house etc. we knew. Children are more perceptible than you think. You get one life, don't screw it up for yourself and your children.
Pps, I would have gladly given up anything from my childhood, piano included, to have not had that in my life. It brings me tremendous sadness now.
Why don't you think you deserve to be happy? I think that feeling unhappy is a legitimate reason to leave a relationship. In your situation, you aren't just feeling a little bit unhappy, you are desperately unhappy, stressed and ill.
You seem to be positioning leaving due to your unhappiness as the selfish thing to do. As you have seen, every single person who has replied on your thread (I think) think that is wrong.
You can't see the damage being around him is doing to them because you grew up with similar/worse and think its normal to see an adult behave as your partner does. The most obvious damage it is doing is making his behaviour normal/acceptable to your children so that they replicate either your relationship or his (appalling) coping methods in thier own lives. You want better for them than the life you and P are living at the moment, don't you?
I was going to write out a list of ways that you and your children's lives would be better if you weren't living with someone who is unable or unwilling to act like an adult with cares for and has responsibilities to his partner and children but I suspect that you would nitpick every one, because you aren't ready to accept it. Fundamentally you don't believe you deserve to be happy and safe and you refuse to believe that your children might notice or care that they live with someone who seems to be incapable of loving and caring for them properly.
I understand that the practicalities of being single are daunting and you are terrified of taking action because of the uncertainty incase it makes things worse. No matter how awful the current sitution is for you, you are confident that you are shielding your children from harm. But as defensive as you are on this subject at times, you have also expressed in your posts that you aren't confident that you can go on living like this, that its making you ill, that your bitterness is somewhat shared by the child he doesn't favour etc. I don't think you are able to keep this 'happy families' act up forever, even if you wanted to.
Please consider counselling or therapy for yourself in order to work on that self-worth, and get advice about the financial practicalities of a split so you can make informed decisions.
All this, he's not a (real?!?) alcoholic stuff... it sounds exactly like how the drinker themselves justifies it. If he isn't a real alcoholic, why is his er... hobby of drinking and smoking all evening more important to him and you than him helping around the house or being an effective father? Why does his choice to do this come above your right to be happy. If its not a choice, then he needs help, and if he won't seek it then he's a 'bad enough' alcoholic that its affecting you. He doesn't need to be falling down drunk for it to be bad enough to leave.
You may think he's functioning because he's holding down a job (for now), but he's not functioning after he gets home, is he?
Do you really expect us to say that its okay for you to exchange love, safety and happiness for a tiny bit of financial security (that isn't that secure, many employers will see an alcoholic unwilling to seek treatment) and familiarity? Its not something I'd want for any human being.
If/When you do leave him, you should probably spend some time recovering, going to Al-anon/counselling/freedom programme etc and just enjoying not having the weight of responsibility for his Alcoholism and finding your own, more reliable financial security. But you know, you might one day want to have a relationship with someone else who would do their fair share of the housework, cooking and childcare. Who would treat you with care and consideration. But you'd have to be free of this current (lack of) relationship first.