The following is a letter that appears in the booklet Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism 2009. I found this letter to be particularly moving. It pretty much sums up what I've felt in my relationship with the alcoholic.
You’re an alcoholic. I thought you needed me, that’s why I fell in love with you. It was easier to delve into your drama than to look at my own issues.
I wasn’t the problem; you were. If only I could fix you, we could live like normal people, happily ever after. With blinders on, I didn’t want to acknowledge your alcoholism as a disease. It’s very hard, you see, because you weren’t losing your hair like a cancer. It’s a disease of the soul, and your soul was the last thing I was privy to. Mentally, I know you have an illness. Still, some days it’s hard for me to accept your actions as part of your disease.
I lectured, blamed, and scolded you for not being able to hold onto a job, drinking yourself into oblivion, and making yourself so sick you wanted to die. But I wasn’t accepting you for who you are. I was angry that you didn’t fulfill my lofty expectations and I reacted by attacking you with a torrent of hateful, vindictive words. I was holding onto my need for you to be what I wanted you to be. I should have looked at myself before casting stones. I added to the hatred you already felt for yourself. I am very sorry.
I’m ashamed of the things I did in the name of loving you. I wrote your résumé and set up job interviews. I drove you all over town. I covered for your illness so that your aging parents have no clue to this day that you end each night drunk, with a bottle in your hand, and begin each day with a new bottle. I spent money I didn’t have to give you what I thought you needed. The more loving and helpful I tried to be, the worse you became—and you turned away from me.
I let you use me and exploit me. But what did I get in return? You weren’t there for me when I needed emotional support. Adding insult to injury, you’d lie about where you’ve been or who you
were with. You’d make promises that gave me hope—and I always believed you.
I persevered in our relationship, even in the absence of affection and intimacy. I lied to myself that you loved me anyway. I accepted even the most mediocre gesture of caring. You shredded my heart and yet, I kept that ember of hope alive, thinking that maybe this time it will be
different, maybe this time he will realize just how much I mean to him. I still thought you would become the man I always knew you could be.
Was I in love? Or was I obsessed? You have your alcohol and your demons. I have you. You are my drug of choice. You were my world, you were my life. It was too painful for me to watch you dying before my eyes. I was lost and out of control. My pleas, threats, and ultimatums didn’t work. I had no more strategies to try.
Realizing my powerlessness, I got down on my knees and prayed. By the mercy of God, I found Al‑Anon. In Al-Anon meetings, I shared my story with others and learned that their stories were mine also. By listening to their experiences, I came to understand that you will find your own path, in your own time, without my help.
Whether you’re in my life or not, I still think about you. I still care about you and love you. But I’ve pulled my expectations down from the stratosphere. I’m exploring joy, forgiveness, and gratitude instead. More and more with each day’s passing, I’m finding love for myself and
my own life.
by Gloria R., from Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism 2009