Every time I read a blog post about how bad a living situation is and how much they hate their alcoholic spouse, I feel this rush of anger and want to write: "Get help or get out". It takes a few moments before I remember that I was one of those who felt trapped, lost and hopeless. I stayed for years in the unmanageability of the disease.
There are as many scenarios for staying as there are for leaving. We stay in so much pain because we don't feel that we deserve anything better. And the pain we know is better than the pain that we aren't familiar with in the world away from alcoholism. Staying is sometimes about hope--hoping for the one we love to get sober and be the person that we thought they once were. Staying can be about fear--fear that things won't really be any different when we leave, knowing that the grass isn't always greener. Fear of financial insecurity is another reason to stay--not having a place to go or any means to afford a separate life. Staying can also be about commitment--not wanting to give up on a marriage or relationship even in the face of emotional and sometimes physical pain.
Leaving goes against the psyche of a co-dependent. But at some point, people reach a limit to what they can stand. If there are children involved, then a whole other dimension of complexity is added. Remembering that alcoholism affects the entire family means that there will be repercussions for the children who are raised in an alcoholic home. Those repercussions will echo throughout the lives of those affected by alcoholism. Whether there is physical or emotional abuse, it is especially hard on children who stay in an alcoholic home.
Sticking with the pain is something that is foreign to me today. I have seen the other side where there is joy and peace. But I do understand the reasons for staying. I am glad that we didn't give up on each other before the miracle of recovery happened.
What were your choices when it came to staying or going?
Choices are the hinges of destiny. ~ Pythagoras