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Carole Bennett, MA

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When It's Over, It's Over -- The Sad Relief of the Final Chapter With the Alcoholic/Addict

Posted: 12/08/11 12:17 PM ET

This blog is somewhat similar to a previous one I wrote titled "When is it time to throw in the towel?" -- but the difference is that this one stems from my own personal archive and experience.

A year ago marks the anniversary of that final realization that life or a partnership with my alcoholic/addict was not to be. It was a double whammy sucker punch, as not only was it on the heels of a supposed festive holiday season, but Thanksgiving had for years been the earmark of countless reconciliations.

I had kept the light in my imaginary window going for years, believing again and again that this new recovery after yet another relapse would be the one that would stick to the wall. Ok... what is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again hoping for different results, yet each time I believed a new recovery strategy would be the one that worked.

I wanted so badly to believe that the reality of the situation was becoming cloudier and cloudier to me. And of course I had invested so much time and cared so deeply for this person that I couldn't just abandon or question his belief in himself, or I was told I wasn't being supportive.

So, how did I finally get that last bit of unrealistic, happily-ever-after gum off my shoe that my loved one was FINALLY going to get the notion that life with me and sobriety was better than drinking?

Over the years there had been as many relapses as attempts at recovery. Each time, there was the promise of a different sponsor, a more formidable sober living house, a new job and the teary proclamation that if he didn't stop he would surely die. The relationship started stalling out as we went from cohabiting to being exclusive with each other though living separately, to friendship and then to ground zero.

The last relapse proved to be my final emotional breaking point. We so often hear that the alcoholic/addict needs to hit their bottom; well, the family member (or silent majority as I call this group) hits their bottom as well. When I realized that any intimate relationship with him was always going to be shaky for me, built more on quicksand than terra firma and that friendship was all I could safely offer, it was more reality than he could handle.

So, a few days after this revelation sank in, I wasn't surprised when the raging alcoholic (what a common phrase... and so aptly descriptive) starting texting me what a horrible person I was, no one liked me and my family could barely stand the sight of me, I knew he was off and running with his best friend Jack Daniels.

Like a ton of bricks I had all of the sudden hit my bottom as I realized that this was now one relapse too many and even a friendship could not survive.

With one quick engagement of words, he asked why I cared if he had relapsed. I said I didn't and it was none of my business, but the fallout of his intoxication was more than I was willing to continue to entertain and therefore a friendship was no longer in the offering, as friends didn't treat friends the way he was treating me.

I had lost the last shred of respect for him and could not get my arms around the self-destructive, self-sabotage that he was going through at great lengths to accomplish; and he was accomplishing it very successfully. All of this came crashing down around me as I realized that there was sadly nothing left for me and even a friendship was now tattered to shreds.

I had been with this gentleman for many years and there was no question that I was distressed and felt a hollow in my stomach; however, I was relieved. He was no longer in my wheel house or radar screen where I was hoping that he had a good day or nailed one more week of sobriety together toward a better life for him and a caring, honest friendship between us.

After I realized that the little flicker was permanently blown out, I packed up his personal belongings that I had been storing for him while he was in sober living and sent them to his mother. His clothes, bike and other odds and ends I sold and took the profits to the Humane Society as a donation. I felt that the animals would be far more grateful for another chance at life than he apparently was at least at this moment.

The pictures and boatloads of cards and letters were not burned as I felt that would be an act of resentment and I wasn't resentful, just plain finished. I tossed them in the recycle with no fanfare attached.

I needed a clean sweep and believed I could audibly hear my home and heart take a sigh of relief as a long-time burden had finally been lifted. It's easy for me to slap myself on the forehead and wonder what I was thinking all those years sprinkled with dozens of relapses and recoveries, but I guess I wasn't ready to emotionally pack up and move on.

So now I can look back and appreciate what I have learned not only about me, but about the difficulty with having a healthy relationship with someone who can't or isn't able to have a healthy relationship with themselves.

I do not harbor any grudges and will continue to pray for his well-being nightly; but it is a prayer for any human being that is on a constant merry-go-round of self destruction and not for someone that I had been so emotionally attached to in an unhealthy way.

If I can be of service, please visit my website www.familyrecoverysolutions.com, and I invite you to explore my new book "Reclaim Your Life - You and the Alcoholic/Addict" at www.reclaimyourlifebook.com or on Amazon.