Q. Longtime lurker finally writing. I’ve been in a two-plus year relationship that when good, is really good. When it’s bad, it just is awful. The reason? Alcohol. He drinks while driving, drinks excessively, regularly, and is starting to miss work. I tried to offer what I could in terms of support — counseling, AA, not drinking myself, learning about the disease, and not bringing anything tempting home — only to find out that, in the end, I didn’t do enough in his eyes.
It’s become a black and white situation at this point, meaning, I say “black” and he says “white.” Fast forward to my having had enough of a mean drunk who is capable of saying such nasty things. I’ve ended things, or am in the long, arduous process of trying to end this relationship with the alcoholic. What’s your best advice in dealing with the fallout resulting from ending a relationship with an alcoholic — dealing with the guilt that they put upon the departing partner for not wanting to work it out anymore? He’s threatened to leave so many times because he “is who he is” and likes to drink. I finally just said “OK, pack your stuff and go.”
I can in good conscience say that there was not one thing more I could offer or do to support him and I finally reached that fully depleted state. How do I release myself from the guilt-riddled tantrums that he’s put on me? How do I brush off the guilt he tried to attach to me while absolving himself of any responsibility?
A. “I can in good conscience say that there was not one thing more I could offer or do to support him.”
You know that. You believe that. You’re sure you want out.
The best way to deal with this situation is to finish the breakup. I understand why it’s a long and arduous process, but . . . how long and arduous? You’ve decided that you’re not compatible. He isn’t happy either. Is there a deadline for his move-out? Is the place yours — or could you leave to expedite the process? It’s time to say, with some kindness, “Hey, it’s clear we want different things. I want us both to be happy. Let’s stop discussing this and do what we need to do to move on.”
Once he’s out of your hair, you can consider Al-Anon or therapy or both — or maybe without the tantrums, you’ll have the peace you need. Because really, you seem to understand what happened here and why this isn’t your fault. You know that you did what you could and that he’s not going to change.
Get him out of your living space. Like, within days, not weeks. The problem is that the breakup is taking too long.
Simply say “this is over and for my own emotional well-being, I will not be responding or discussing anything further with you.” Stay firm and do not buckle. You have to go on radio silence.
Assuming you’re living together, do the break-up outside in a public place. Be prepared to just walk away (ie, have your passport and valuables with you).
You need to realize that the guilt he has put on you actually has nothing at all to do with you. Stop letting him get in your head like that.