I have heard a lot of people complain about living with an alcoholic. New comers come into a meeting, and most of what is shared is how terrible their life is because they live with a drunk. And they are right. Living with a drunk is pretty terrible. In fact, it is sometimes like being in a living Hell depending on how abusive the drunk is.
If those who come into a meeting are lucky enough to hear something that is akin to peace in the midst of turmoil, they might stick around for more than a few meetings. The problem all too often is that the ears are closed and the mouth is open. Listening is not something most of us do when we find an ear of another who is living with an alcoholic. We want to tell war stories, talk about how awful we have had it, and generally unload all of our anguish and anger on others. And when no one tells us how to fix the alcoholic, we leave to head back to the salt mines.
I know how hard it is to listen when a person is in so much emotional anguish. And blaming the alcoholic is really easy and convenient. After all, aren't they really the cause of our unhappiness? Would not life be better if they did what we wanted? We who are long suffering would then be truly free and happy in our own skin, right?
I don't know about you, but I don't know that I really ever felt comfortable in my own skin. I am much more used to who I am now. I still struggle though with awareness and acceptance of myself. And because I am in a program of recovery that teaches me to take my own inventory and clean up my side of the street, I have gotten better. I no longer beat myself up for my short comings on a daily basis or get mired in the self pity that would last for weeks, months, years.
I read blogs in which people struggle deeply with the alcoholics/addicts in their life. They believe that the alcoholic is to blame for their unhappiness. I thought the same thing, until one day I realized that I was actually at fault also. I was expecting everyone else in my life to do as I wanted because I had the answers for them. I believed that I knew what was best for my wife. "If only, she would stop drinking. If only she would love me like I love her. If only.......". Ad nauseum.
It took me quite a while to realize that my ticket to happiness was not about her. I stubbornly refused to embrace the idea that I was contributing to unhappiness in my life. I thought that I was blameless until I finally got to a place where I could not longer deny my culpability in our failing relationship.
I know that people have to reach a point where the tipping point occurs. It is that point where you finally are so broken, sad, demoralized, and unhappy that you realize you are the one that needs help. And that's when the alcoholic ceases to be the center of your world. That's when you finally surrender and start working on your own life.
Plenty of people, like me, go for decades refusing to admit that they are the ones needing help. I wasn't ready to stop trying to control and change another. No way was I going to stop beating my head against a wall, even though it hurt like Hell. So if you are still out there trying to change the alcoholic and are focusing all of your energy on him/her, then keep on doing it. Eventually, one day if you are lucky you will finally realize that it isn't going to work. Until then, you can keep recanting the same old stuff over and over about how awful life is with an alcoholic. And have the pity parties with other people who are in the same sinking boat.
Keep on with that and see how things end up for you after a few decades. One thing that I am glad for is that I did surrender, and I did finally get into a program of recovery. And so did my wife. That is the miracle of the whole thing. And what has happened for us is an incredible change in how we treat each other. It took us a while to understand that changes don't happen overnight. But with almost a decade in recovery, we know that each day is a gift.
I know that there are other ways to find peace and happiness in your life. Use every tool at your disposal. I didn't happen to find what worked until I got into the rooms of Al-Anon. I do a lot of service work and am willing to help those who want to work the steps or share their solution. But if you decide that you have a load of caveats to recovery, then I suggest that perhaps you aren't willing enough yet. I am working on myself every day. And I am willing to help you along this journey of self-discovery too. I have found happiness living with an alcoholic. And I believe that the happiness is a daily reprieve from the sadness and anxiety that we experienced before we began our journey of recovery.