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to turn my back on my selfish alcoholic friend?

(40 Posts)
glitteryturd Sun 24-Jul-11 11:24:27

The back story. My best friend is a gay man (30 years old) who have I have known for 20 years. We grew up together. He does get heavily involved in the gay scene and I just leave him to it. Not intentionally, but I have a lot of gay friends. They all went through the Manchester scene and then settled down with jobs, houses, partners and pretty settled lives. My friend moved to London to live with his boyfriend 2 years ago and I knew something wasn't quite right but I did visit and keep in touch offering him a way out the second he wanted to come home. He never visited me and he didn't even text me on my 30th. As usual I just made an excuse for him, I can't accept he is that selfish.

So 8 weeks ago my friend drank himself almost into a coma. He was in intensive care and was very, very sick. His family contacted me and brought him home. I found his behavior very strange and a few days after being out of hospital rang me begging for help. He was stranded, drunk miles away and at 2am I had to leave my toddler and husband to find him and make sure he was safe. The following day after spending the night at mine, he seemed ok. Then he went missing. He was missing for 4 days, police involved etc. He was found drunk in Manchester after emptying his bank account and blowing the whole lot on drink (£600!!!!). I rang round the hospitals and found he had been picked up by ambulance and then just got out of the hospital when he woke up. I was beside myself. I spent 4 days crying, going over things, worried he might have killed himself. Driving round with no sleep the whole of the north west desperate to see him and know he was safe. All the time he was getting drunk, not giving anyone else a second thought.

He agreed to a family meeting and asked me to be there to support him. I obliged. He told us all his ex had been abusive and this was the reason for the drinking, for him to forget. He promised never to do anything like this again and would always speak to someone if he felt like he wanted to run away again. He said no more lies and apologised for all the worry and hurt he caused. I blamed myself for not getting him out of London sooner. I took him to a doctor, I pleaded for them to see past the alcoholism and help him and after hours of fighting with them, they did. He got the help he needed and he still has that help today. I have fought his corner every step of the way. Sometimes putting him before my family in the hope it will help him recover. I have excused his lies, deceit, drinking, attitude, behavior every single day to everyone he meets.

He has been doing brilliant. I have seen him most days and given him things to do. When he needs me, I am there no matter what. Sitting at macdonalds at 2am cos he can't sleep, giving him plans so he has a reason to get up in the morning. He has had no money so I have paid for him to do things with us and I have also been the sound board for his family, mainly his mum who is not coping at all with this. Along the way he has lied to me and has stolen wine from my house. I have blamed his illness for this and thought that one day he won't be like this. Of course he has drank, I understand that but each time he has we have talked about it and decided on a plan. I have never been angry, I have always been a rock of support. Always understanding, always seeing the good in him.

Then on Thursday out of the blue, he manages to get a crisis loan (living with parents so no need for any money to live) then goes missing again. Straight to Manchester to the gay village to drink himself into a stuper and sleep with as many men as he can. While I panic that he is missing and his phone is off. After texting him a million times I get a reply telling me that I am the most important thing to him and that he is fine. He refused to tell me where is was. And that was the only thing I heard. So yet another few sleepless night until he was found by one of the many people walking the streets looking for him last night. Drunk and in a gay bar with no thought or care for his family or me, and we are all beside ourselves. I missed my childs bed time so I could sit and talk to his crying mum who was again, scared he would come to harm like he had before.

I am livid. Not angry that he is drunk, not angry he is in Manchester. But angry that he decided to get some money and do this without saying where is was going or when he would be back. Ignoring my texts...the only reason he has credit on his phone is cos I have paid for it. I am not his keeper, I don't demand to know where he is all the time but I would like a bit of mutual respect and acknowledgement at how much I do for him without question, just by the thinking to have let me know he will be away a few days and that he was safe. He didn't say he was going away, he just walked out of his parents house. He had plans with me the next day and he didn't let me know or show up.

The thing that upsets me more than anything is that I am very ill. I have a few serious medical issues going on atm and he knows just how scared I am. But he hasn't for one second thought about me and what effect his behavior has on me. Disappearing off the face of the earth after being so vulnerable and pleading for help leaving us all to be worried sick, just so he can get bladdered and act like a child is proving just a little too much for my nerves, my marriage and my health.

AIBU to wash my hands of him and let him destroy his own life without dragging me down with him? Does anyone have any experience of this kind of thing or where I may get some advice?

Thanks for reading my doom and gloom story. I need bacon big time after that!

schomberg Sun 24-Jul-11 11:27:28

YANBU. By the sound of things your love and support have done nothing to protect him from himself and continuing to provide them might even make the situation worse.

Groovee Sun 24-Jul-11 11:29:16

There is only so much you can do if a person will not help themselves. You're going to end up ruining your own family life. My mum is an alcoholic who won't admit it either and says we are the ones with the problem. I see her when she's sober and leave if she is drinking or drunk. My half siblings do the same with their bio mum too.

IslaValargeone Sun 24-Jul-11 11:32:25

It is difficult enough being involved with an alcoholic when you are a healthy person, let alone being ill yourself, and I hope this doesn't sound unsympathetic, but you are deluded if you think an alcoholic will give a shit about your problems.
I would suggest you distance yourself from him and concentrate on getting yourself well, he will find his own rock bottom (or not) and will decide from there whether he wants to take steps to get better, but you have to leave him to it.

motheroftwoboys Sun 24-Jul-11 11:33:23

YUBU although I totally understand why! grin. Your friend is ill, he is an addict, he needs help and support. it doesn't sound as it he has reached his rock bottom yet and you can only hope he gets there soon. When he does he will need to get treatment - detox and hopefully residential rehab. This takes a long time 6 - 12 months. He will then, probably, need support from a 12 step programme for the rest of his life. Not an easy option. You can get help through alanon. He can get help through AA. Meanwhile read
the Getting them Sober series of books by Toby Rice Drews (available on amazon). They are a Godsend.

Mitmoo Sun 24-Jul-11 11:34:49

YANBU, you've done your best, the man is ill with alcoholism and sounds like he will probably kill himself on it one day, he is freefalling downwards and sadly there is nothing you can do to stop him.

You've been a good friend to him, now be a good friend to your family and use your energies fighting your own illness.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 24-Jul-11 11:35:48

YANBU.. walk away. There's a thread somewhere about 'why are people not sympathetic to addicts' and this is why. They can't be helped if they don't want to be helped, they're selfish, manipulative and they drag everyone into their personal nightmare without a thought for who they hurt. You're ill and you need to look after yourself.

glitteryturd Sun 24-Jul-11 11:36:28

Do you know what Isla, your so right. So right! But why I am I so desperate to think otherwise. What is this game that alcoholics play with your mind. It is hard to see the person I have been so close to all my life turn into this monster that is only fueled by drink. I need to toughen up and treat him how he treats me!

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 24-Jul-11 11:39:17

"What is this game that alcoholics play "

It's called 'manipulation'. They only have one thought and that is to keep feeding the addiciton. So they play up to anyone who they think will enable them to do that and use them until they say 'I've had enough'. We're naturally sympathetic towards people we care about & we want to help. They take advantage of this for as long as they can.

Selks Sun 24-Jul-11 11:41:29

Step away. You have your own responsibilities and needs to take care of. He sounds screwed up sure, but you have tried your very best and his behaviour is now damaging to your own wellbeing. He is being totally selfish and not acting like a friend at all - he doesn't seem to care much for what you might have to be coping with.
He is on a self-destruct mission. You can't save him from that anyway if he wants to do that. He needs to realise for himself, and he may need to do that the hard way. It sounds like you've done everything you can anyway. Let him get on with it, and you focus on your needs and your family. Tell him you'll still be friends with him but can't be so involved, and tell him that you feel hurt that he cares so little for your needs, then step away.

LoveBeingAbleToNamechange Sun 24-Jul-11 11:42:36

You can't make him rake responsibility, maybe losing you will make him sort himself out and maybe not. But you have done over and above and should not feel any guilt.

IslaValargeone Sun 24-Jul-11 11:43:09

I'm not suggesting you treat him like shit or anything, but as Cogito said,you do have to walk away, and think about self preservation. Alcoholics are masters at dragging people down, the mess they can create is unbelievable.
My whole life has been punctuated by periods of havoc as a result of having family members with alcoholism. By all means read motheroftwoboys book suggestions, but only if your friend is taking steps to help himself. Otherwise don't waste your time.

TigerseyeMum Sun 24-Jul-11 11:52:04

I have a friend who was an alcoholic, he is now teetotal. We both tried to help him, put up with his behaviour, took care of him but it was exhausting, and in the end we had to leave him to it.

Sometimes constantly 'helpng' the person is actually 'enabling' them - if someone is always there to prevent them hitting rock bottom it means they don't actually have to change.

I think you need to step away and take care of yourself. The other person makes their choices and will seek help when needed. If they seek genuine help and you are there for them then that's all you can do. You can't make everything OK and it is not your responsibility to do so.

IslaValargeone Sun 24-Jul-11 11:55:49

As rock bottom has now been mentioned twice, I should point out that 'rock bottom' varies hugely, and you may find yourself watching your friend and thinking how low can he go? And my God you'd be surprised.

glitteryturd Sun 24-Jul-11 11:58:29

Glad you brought up that rock bottom thing. Cos I thought he had hit it already. Selling himself for money, stealing and being on life support...I thought that was it. But I must be wrong cos it has made no difference it seems. le sigh

Esta3GG Sun 24-Jul-11 11:59:44

Walk away - but tell him why you are walking away.
I had to do it with a friend who is now 7 years sober and running marathons for fun. He needed to crash and burn on his own before he faced up to it and changed his life - that meant me not rushing to hospital with him and turning him away when he begged for money.
There are some people who will never be able to step back from the abyss though - don't let him pull you down with him.

AnyFucker Sun 24-Jul-11 12:13:28

I think for the sake of your own health, you have to step away

if he destroys himself, your conscience is more than clear

it is shit, and very scary, but he has to take responsibility for his own bad decisions

OrdinaryJo Sun 24-Jul-11 12:41:11

There's a thing called withdrawing with love. You can continue to love him but you don't have to continue to be in his life. If you do continue to be in his life then you're accepting that these things will continue to happen. So, stay or go, but if you go, go with love and no guilt - you have done as much as you can do. Ultimately, you have a DP and a DC and they have to be your priority.

HeyYouJimmy Sun 24-Jul-11 12:42:20

Walk away OP. You cannot stop him from drinking and he will be so wrapped up in what he wants for his addiction that he will literally ignore your problems. A bit like "I'm addicted and you don't have any issues as bad as mine, so you're alright" type thing. Supporting him while he is doing this to you and your family is only enabling him to carry on. Cut off any funds and be prepared for emotional blackmail like "I though you were a good friend GT, I guess you're not as good as I thought you were". That's his addiction driving him to speak like that, so ignore it.

As for why you care so much, well, you're clinging onto the last little atom of hope that he'll see what he's destrying around him and change. I'm afraid to say that he'll only change when he's ready and willing to, so until then he'll carry on with what he's doing. As for the rock bottom idea, some people will not hit rock bottom until they actually kill themselves through their addiction. As we know, by that time it's far too late to pick themselves up and get better. The lucky ones are the people who live to make that change and get better.

I'm saying all this as an ex borderline alcoholic. HTH smile

YellowDinosaur Sun 24-Jul-11 12:58:25

My brother is not an alcoholic, having other issues that make him disappear like your friend, but other than that detail I could have written your post about my brother.

I have recently decided that enough is enough and i am no longer prepared to accept a relationship that is so one sided he thinks it is reasonable to tell me he is thinking of killing himself and then going awol for a couple of weeks and not responding to any form of contact at all (and that was the latest in years of similar not a one off). Sometimes I think you have to be cruel to be kind and agree that actually although it won't feel like it, you have reached the stage where you will be kinder to tell him to f*ck off (and why).

It will not be easy and if something does happen to him you will probably feel really guilty but you have done way more than most already yet it still hasn't worked. So you have NOTHING to feel guilty or responsible about - he is an adult and has to take responsibility of his behaviour and its affect on others

LRDTheFeministNutcase Sun 24-Jul-11 13:01:11

You have to step away.

But YABU to call him selfish. He's ill. I don't quite follow the long bit about him being gay but not the sort of gay your other, nicer friends are - what was the point there?

Jux Sun 24-Jul-11 13:19:32

You must concentrate of yourself and your family now. What you have been doing would help a normal person, you have been fantastic, but you have been treating him like he is rational and he simply isn't. He is ill; he is an addict. He needs specialised care which you cannot provide.

If you do anything more for him, make it Alcoholics Anonymous; and make that the last thing.

Get yourself sorted healthwise. That's your major responsibility, along with your dp/dh and children.

So so sorry. What a horrible situation.

TheMonster Sun 24-Jul-11 13:25:34

He has to be the one to want to change his ways, you can't coerce him into getting help or changing in any way.
YOu sound like you really do care for your friend, but I think you need to stop trying to help help, stop trying to control him. As someone has said, he is not in a position to worry about you, but you need to put yourself first.

glitteryturd Sun 24-Jul-11 13:53:12

LRD I was just waiting for someone to pounce on the gay thing and read something I had not written. I didn't say my other friends were nicer (WTF?), I said they moved away from the gay scene and settled down, as my alcoholic friend did himself for 2 years.

The reason I raised the gay part is because the gay scene plays a massive part in his life and that is where he ends up when he disappears. He lives and breathes it and by this I mean he goes onto gaydar every day to find a few random men he can text sexual things to all day and plan meets. This happens every day and when ever I see him he is texting at least 3 'friends', different ones every day. He never hides it from me cos to me, that is him and he knows I am so accepting. But it all seems a little childish to me, that has nothing to do with him being gay though. Even if he had been doing it with women, I would still think it is an attempt to find self worth and he knows I think that. Aside from anything else that has gone on, I think he needs to grow up instead of acting as we all did when we where 18. Again nothing to do with his sexuality.

So don't even try and tell me I have issues with him being gay. I don't care who he wants to relate with, male, female, whatever. I have known this person since I was a child, his sexuality doesn't come into any feeling I have for him.

Now for him being selfish. He never has thought about anyone but himself and even before he became dependent on alcohol he was selfish. He is selfish. I can't be bothered to list his acts of selfishness on here but he knows he has been selfish for a long time.

AnyFucker Sun 24-Jul-11 13:58:52

he is using sex as an escape, and to punish himself, to my mind

what he is doing is actually dangerous, and will get him badly hurt (emotionally and physically) one day soon (if it hasn't already)

that is not a gay thing, nor a gender thing...any sex and orientation can use promiscuous sex in this risky and self-flagellating way sad

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