Carolyn Hax: Partner’s heavy drinking has become impossible to ignore


Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: I’m 57; I met the love of my life about four years ago, and we have lived together for two years. I knew he drank too much before we moved in together. He got drunk by 4 in the afternoon the day he moved in with me. Now he drinks four to six strong beers per day. Before I met him, I drank about one or two drinks per month, and now I drink approximately three per day.

Yes, I’ve been trying to ignore all the red flags. But I don’t want his life or mine cut short because of alcohol effects.

Believe it or not, we have a pretty good relationship, and I have had more happy times with him in three years than I had with my completely sober ex in 12 years. We do talk about drinking; he says that he will cut down and that he wants to be better. He is a pretty high-functioning person with a job and family relationships.

We got a puppy recently; she is 7 months old. He took her for a walk last night and came back with a leash and no dog. She got scared of a garden hose, backed out of her harness and wouldn’t come when called. He said she needed to learn a lesson. See, it was “her” fault. Things are usually someone else’s fault. I could overlook a lot, but I cannot overlook almost losing our dog because he was impatient and not paying attention to her. Luckily, I ran out and found her in about five minutes.

I am planning to attend my first Al-Anon meeting this evening. I am lost and scared, having my codependent life in all its glory coming home to roost. I’m not sure what to do about our relationship. I don’t want things to continue as they are, and I don’t want to break up. I feel really foolish.

Lost and Scared: Don’t. Please. Feeling foolish or ashamed will hold you back from doing what you know you need to do.

And think about it: You didn’t know getting into this how severe his problems are or how susceptible you were to their influence on you. Now you do. So don’t let shame about the stuff you didn’t know or understand back then keep you from dealing with what you know now.

That will just give the person you become four years from now a bunch of things to be ashamed that you didn’t deal with today. Whew.

Cycle-breaking is exhilarating stuff. It’s hard, really hard, but so rewarding. And you’ve already gotten yourself partway through the hardest thing by seeing the uncomfortable feelings as a to-do list, then lining up a trip to Al-Anon. Take your lost and scared feelings with you, because everyone there will have felt those things at some point, too.

By the way: There is no “good” relationship when “things are usually someone else’s fault.” There may be good times, but eventually, inevitably, you will find yourself getting blamed for someone else’s mess.

Labels are hard to remove, especially ones we want so badly to stick. But “love of my life” is a fixed idea, and people are fluid, updating themselves over time. You can commit to someone and still be open to new information.

Source link