I met my boyfriend eighteen years ago, and I was aware he was an alcoholic. He stopped drinking two years into our relationship, and did well. But the last two months, he’s been drinking every night again. I’m literally tired of it now. I should be able to help him. Or want to help him – but I really just feel like I’m at the stage where he should help himself. If leaving were easy I would. Any advice would be much appreciated. I’m 40 and he’s 44. MistyK
Watching the one you love drink themselves to death – or at any rate, into a nightly stupor – is a shitty place to be in. But as you know, Misty, no one can save an alcoholic. You can try, you can put all the steps in place, but it’s their call. Very often they can’t save themselves. It’s a tragedy for those on the fringes, but it is what it is.
I thought long and hard about the kind of advice to give you. I could say look at the reasons why he’s relapsed, if this is his first relapse in 16 years (you don’t say in your letter). Find out if he’s open to getting help. See if you can help him get back to the better place he was in before. All of those things are options if you have it in you to keep going. But there’s a note of exhaustion in your letter and I sense you’re looking for more than that. So. Ask yourself – and be brutally honest with your answers, don’t chicken out – what, really, is the likelihood of him changing? Do you believe he can successfully moderate his intake or quit altogether? Is this the life you want to lead? Does he know just how deeply troubled and over it all you are? If not, you need to have that conversation with him. Like, now.
Here’s the thing about leaving. You say if it were easy you would. But it’ll never be easy. Even if he tests or downright smashes every last deal breaker you’ve put in place, that invisible cord that ties us to someone we love at a deep, visceral level can be so very hard to unravel. Even when the little voice in your head is whispering, on a daily or even hourly basis, just go, get the hell out, you deserve better.
You’ve had a long history with this guy, and only you know when enough’s enough. If you’ve got nothing left to give, and if you know at your core that the chances of real change are slim to none, it’s okay to admit that. I won’t lie to you: It’ll hurt. It’ll rip your heart out. His too, probably. Making that decision to go may not strike you as the only decision until long after you’ve grabbed your courage in both hands and walked right out that door. But if you’re being swallowed up by someone else’s crappy choices, you owe it to yourself to choose a more authentic life than this.
Love, reality chick
RC READERS – have any of you been in this situation? Do you agree or have advice of your own to give the letter-writer? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.