Living with an ALCOHOLIC Partner
Living with someone who is addicted to alcohol is a complex issue, full of blame and recrimination. How do you manage this situation?
Are you alone? Do you take care of yourself? How do you self soothe?
The alcoholic finds solace by literally drowning out their pain. This of course has a massive impact to those that love them; pushing them away, freezing them out and causing them untold pain. Partners suffer, as do children. No one understands why the person that they love, puts alcohol before them. Many partners feel rejected, believing that they are to blame in some way or another.
They believe that they could have done something to stop them but that is a lie. It is impossible to stop an addict only the addict can do it. You can suggest ways to help but it will still require them to admit and face the truth.
One of the ways that addicts can be helped, is to access support groups: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or recovery groups. They are mutual self-help groups for alcoholics and these groups can inform the partners, as to the journey the alcoholic must face.
The first stage is denial. This stage can take many weeks and that is after the addict has taken themselves to the group, denial is an entrenched belief system.
If you, the person that lives with them, know this denial factor, then maybe you can put down the responsibility that is so often picked up.
Many recovering alcoholics unleash all manner of pain on their family and it is hard for them to own this pain and to take responsibility. Addicts live in denial, lying to themselves and it takes an enormous amount of courage to face it.
Living with an alcoholic may force you to live isolated, with shame and fear preventing you from speaking out.
So here are a few tips to help you manage living with this most awful addiction:
• Talk to someone. It is vitally important that you find a safe person to be real with. We all need perspective.
• Stay safe. If the person is violent when drunk, you should not stay in the same vicinity. Condoning their behaviour and not reporting it, is not helping them, or you.
• Give your children the opportunity to talk too. Either to yourself, or to a professional, or maybe both. It can be hard for parents to
A COMMON THEME TO THOSE THAT HAVE SUFFERED IS A SENSE OF BLAME AND ABANDONMENT.
hear their children’s pain. Children, whose parent condoned the addict’s behaviour, find it much harder to process all that is happening and may develop unhealthy behaviours too.
• Find ways to relax, meditate, seek mindfulness, read a good book or go for a walk.
• Find an AA support group. Individual groups assist alcoholics and those affected by the behaviours of alcoholics. The support needed is very specific.
• This is a hard path and one that needs strength and vitality. Alcoholics
Anonymous, also called Al-Anon, is a world-wide support organisation. Discover the Twelve Steps used in the Association.
Susie Flashman Jarvis is an accredited counsellor, speaker and ambassador for the charity Restored working towards bringing an end to violence against women. Susie’s novel At Therapy’s End tackles the issue of domestic abuse. She is based in the UK and is available for skype sessions. Susie may be contacted via her website.