Lost my relationship and the man I love to my alcoholism – now what?

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  • #777607 Reply


    I am trying to reconnect with my ex. Our relationship was lost to my alcoholism; it damaged and hurt him deeply. We were together about 2 yrs, broke up about 3 yrs ago. Remained in touch most of that time, though there were stretches of months at a time without contact. He’s had 2 relationships since me, both ended badly. He cheated on both of those women, with me, and I am not proud of that, nor is he. I’ve had 1, which I entered into only to try and get over him and which has not been a very good one and which still is off and on.

    *Note: I have discussed this with my sponsor, and a counselor, and my Psychiatrist. This is not a case of trying to find an answer that I want, that I haven’t received yet. I have already received guidance that supports my efforts in this, should I continue in that direction. What I am looking for are the perspectives and insights of people who don’t know me but have valuable things to share, men and women alike.

    I love my ex more than anything. We are currently back in touch and I saw him for the weekend about one month ago. But we still struggle with our dynamic. Our interactions are fraught with emotion and pain and desire and questions.

    I’m sober and in recovery, daily practicing and living a sober lifestyle. Apart from that, our relationship was amazing. We were very much in love and extremely compatible and loved being together. Even since the break up, there have been camping trips with our dogs, date nights, days/afternoons spent together, Game of Thrones binge sessions…we love just hanging out and being together. These times together were of course all contingent upon my sobriety. If I was drinking, he wanted nothing to do with me. I did relapse. We were spending a lot of time together and getting close again when the relapse happened, and that drove him away again. For the last time, he promised himself.

    My last drink was 6 months ago. We saw each other and spent time together just after my last drink. We went about 3 months or so without any contact at all, and started communicating again about 3 months ago. It has gone well, and it has gone horribly. There have been wonderful, beautiful, positive interactions; there have been horrible, hate-filled, heartbreaking interactions.

    He’s so angry. Very hurt and angry and completely distrustful, as well he should be. I completely get it. He says he still loves me. He says he hates me. He says he wants to be in my life and try a friendship. He says he never wants to see me ever again. He says he’s been lonely since we broke up. He says he will never be able to heal or be with anyone else if I am still in his life.

    At the present moment he has asked for a little time and space. I did see him a month ago – he drove 3 hours each way to see me for the weekend – and it was amazing. But there was another huge misunderstanding the day he left, and some emotional and hurtful exchanges have occurred in the days and weeks that have followed. He said just a few days ago that he wants to come back and see me again but he just needs a little time..some distance from the emotional things that have happened.

    He has broken down crying in a few conversations, as have I. He has asked, why him, why did it have to be him. He thinks it was my choice, and that I consciously chose alcohol over him. There are some intricacies of my disorder that he does not fully understand, and therefore has come to some inaccurate conclusions – I didn’t stop drinking because I didn’t love him enough or at all being one major one. Because of the trust that was destroyed before, he questions my motives now. He lives in constant fear of being manipulated again. He thinks I have an agenda, and is finding it very difficult to believe the things I say to him now. Because he promised himself he would never speak to me or have me in his life again, he said he feels like a fool for breaking that promise to himself. “How does that make me look?”, he will ask me. By allowing me back into his life, he feels like he is rewarding bad behavior. To a large degree, it’s become a matter of principle to him…of pride. And he is VERY principled.

    For the record – there was no cheating or infidelity, not even close. That is very common in alcoholism, but did not happen in this case.

    I need help. I don’t know what to do or how to approach this. This man is tormented and he needs to heal. I would love another shot with him in the future, if trust were to be rebuilt. But not as much as I would love for him to find forgiveness, not for my sake but for his. I feel like I can help him do that, and that I am the only one who can help him, because of how I know him. We have such great chemistry, and have so much fun together, it’s easy when we’re together to forget everything that happened and slide back into a happy, comfortable, enjoyable space. I feel like if I can continue that pattern with him, in time he will find that he has become capable of releasing his anger, and can therefore forgive me, and can therefore let go of it all and truly, fully heal. Whether I remain in his life after that or not, I simply long to see this man healed and whole.

    There are also so many questions that weigh on me. Does he want me in his life or not? Does he still love me? Does he really hate me? Should I go away and leave him alone? And leave him angry and bitter? He says he doesn’t want to trust me because he knows I will just hurt him again. I want to show him he’s wrong about that…I am trying to show him that will never happen again. Do I show him that by not being in his life, after he’s said he wants me to be? Do I show him that by sticking this out and weathering the storms and being patient and steadfast while he sorts through his anger, and purges it?

    He will not go to counseling or therapy or talk to anyone about this. He wants to be a rock…an island. If you aren’t familiar with “I am a Rock” by Simon and Garfunkel, look it up. It’s heartbreaking, and that is how he wants to be now. How he’s trying to be. He admits to me that he is very hurt and that sometimes being around me or talking to me is hard for him because I force him to acknowledge feelings that he does not want to acknowledge.

    He is the love of my life. He is my soulmate and the one I am supposed to be with, I know that with my entire heart and soul. While I did lose the relationship to my disease, I never would have been aware of my real condition had it not been for him, nor would I be sober today without wanting to make amends to him and to do so in the form of my recovery.

    I have zero idea what to do or how to navigate any of this.

    I am desperate for some help and some insight. I need to do what is best for him and what he wants…but it’s hard to know what that is, so I am trying to figure that out. If it were up to me I would want to very slowly start building a new relationship over time where I am earning back his trust. And where it blossoms from there, I don’t know.

    I am committed to my recovery more than anything. I just need for him to know that I love him more than alcohol; that I love him more than anything. And that I did not choose anything over him. I would never choose anything over him.

    My heart is breaking everyday for this man. He is broken, as am I. I believe we can mend each other, slowly, even painstakingly.

    Thoughts? Advice?

    #777608 Reply


    I think you should say goodbye to this man for both of your sake. Too much has happened and your 6 months sobriety is not enough to be sure you can stay sober if triggered. Difficult love situations can be a severe trigger.
    The best advice i can give you is to read the book the outrun by Amy Liptrot. After a decade of boozing, losing everything including the love of her life she makes peace with it going back to her birthplace (the orkney islands) and heals through reconnecting with nature. Its a very inspiring book. Stop focusing on this man and remain to focus on yourself

    #777609 Reply


    Let me add a few things on why i think the book os so significant. The author moves to her birthplace after a year of sobriety to stay sober but meanwhile she gaines more and more knowledge on why she is how she is. For instance she learns that her need to chase and get obsessed is a cause for her alcoholism. So it took her a few years to really have enough insight, stay away from alcohol, to find other ways to live her life. Then she wrote the book. You sound also sort of obsessed now with your ex, trying to heal him (from what?), trying to tell him you do love hom more than alcohol (Which wasnt true at the time because thats what addiction does).
    Im fairly sure both your sponsor and therapist told you to start fresh and not dig in this drama hole again and youre already on the brink of doing just that.
    If this is the man of your life, he will pop up again when youre ready. But im 100% sure you are not ready now or any time soon (say the next 1 1/2 years). I wish you all the best and strenght to stay on your path and find happiness

    #777615 Reply


    I think Newbie gave you excellent advice.

    #777616 Reply


    Congratulations on six months of sobriety. That’s no easy feat when you suffer with addiction. A couple of watch outs I wanted to share with you, though.

    Six months is very early sobriety. You are still fragile and don’t have your sea legs under you yet. The program says no relationships in the first year for a reason. And the reason is exactly what you’re doing.

    You’re switching your obsession with alcohol to an obsession with your ex. You’re focusing on fixing this “broken man” and maybe yourself in the process. No. The program teaches no one can get you sober but you. Same as no one can fix him but him. Offer Al-Anon to him and leave it at that.

    Your hyper focus on healing him is keeping it off of where it should be, healing yourself. There’s a lot more to getting sober than not drinking alcohol. That’s being a dry drunk.

    Take the next year to work on you for you. Don’t be distracted. Be as obsessed about staying sober and understanding yourself better as you were about being able to get to that next drink.

    You have an inner strength you probably had no idea you possessed. You’ve made a great start on a new life. Let him go for one year and stay on track and focused on your recovery. Then maybe revisit this relationship. But not until then as there’s much more healing to come your way.

    You can do it.

    #777617 Reply


    Thanks for your reply. Sorry, have to respectfully disagree on the obsession comment. It’s not anything like that at all. If asking for advice on this site indicates that then I obviously came to the wrong place. The info about my disease and this relapse was only meant to provide some context and reason for the current hardships, not to invite comments about my clean time and what I am or am not on the brink of doing. Sober time before the relapse was expansive. You can’t avoid every situation that might be a potential trigger. EVERYTHING could be. I would never leave my house. My sponsor and other people involved gave me advice opposite of yours, because they know me, and know him, and know the situation. I was curious if people who didn’t know us would agree, or not.
    Thanks again!

    #777619 Reply


    Ugh, SO regret posting this here. Appreciate that Sophia, but again, there’s a lot about my history not included, and therefore a lot of your comments don’t apply. I’m aware of what they say in AA, believe me.

    This was definitely not the appropriate place to post this question. My bad.

    #777622 Reply


    Sophia gave u excellent insight but it sounds as if she struck a nerve for u to become so defensive. I agree with her that u
    are a little obsessed with this man. We all have choices and if he chooses to be autonomous that’s his choice and not up to u to fix. Martyrdom is never attractive, please don’t take the blame for his choices. He’s a big boy and will take care of himself. Your sobriety is most important. All the best to u.

    #777624 Reply


    I feel I advised you the best I could based on what you wrote. If a lot of history wasn’t included of course my points would be off. No offense meant.

    #777628 Reply


    If you were an ex alcoholic you would have understood but youre at another place

    #777629 Reply


    “He admits to me that he is very hurt and that sometimes being around me or talking to me is hard for him because I force him to acknowledge feelings that he does not want to acknowledge.”

    I believe we can mend each other, slowly, even painstakingly…
    It all sounds like wishful thinking and illusions you’re creating in your head because you refuse accept letting this person go. When “I hate you” sounds preetty clear he doesn’t want a relationship with you.

    Let this guy go.

    You hurt him, deeply hurt him. You made a toxic mistake so accept the consequences and make sure it never happens again with anyone. He has to find the forgiveness on his own.

    Continue to do what’s best for you. It seems that is what he is doing for himself.

    #777633 Reply


    If you had bothered to mention sober time was expansive before you fell off the wagon the responses would have been different. You also say the relationship was perfect except for your drinking. Doesn’t seem he remembers it that way.

    #777635 Reply


    Hi M, I’m not sure what you were hoping to hear. Sophia made some very good points it seems like you aren’t ready to consider. Why regret posting here? You asked for outside perspective and you got some thoughtful answers. No one has been rude or disrespectful.

    I’m not clear on why you want to work so hard to stay sober and get yourself on the right track yet stay in a relationship in which you take on the responsibility for fixing someone else. That’s classic codependency. And I mean no disrespect but you do sound borderline obsessed. You are at the very least too attached for your own good, or for his. That isn’t love. Love is when you want the best for someone else and you even feel that way if it means you aren’t in their life.

    I guess you were hoping to hear advice on how to make him behave the way you want him to?

    To answer your question of what to do, you respect that he doesn’t want you in his life now and wish him the best and you go on and be your best self. When you’re not pressuring him and not there all the time, maybe he will rethink things?

    Newbie, there’s no such thing as an ex-alcoholic that I’ve ever met. They describe it as “I’m a recovering alcoholic” because they know it’s possible to start drinking again at any time. As I understand it from recovering alcoholics, this is a disease that can never be cured entirely. There’s always the chance it will come back.

    #777641 Reply


    M – you’re certainly in a tough situation and I can see why you’d be searching for feedback or something that might shed some light on which direction to go. When I saw the topic of this post, I clicked on it immediately and had to read, because I was in a similar situation myself a while back. I too am a grateful recovering alcoholic, and celebrated 5 years this year. By my side at that celebration was the love of my life, the very man I had hurt and damaged and nearly destroyed, all those years ago. So I feel for you. It is not easy, what you’re trying to do, and most people are going to tell you you’re doing the wrong thing…as you have already experienced here. Little surprised at the almost caustic tones of some of these responses actually. The alcoholism stigma is alive and well, recovering or not.

    You do seem a tad defensive though – if people want to make uneducated statements or pass judgements, let them, and let it roll off your back. That’s a part of recovery. You’re fighting for your life and doing work they will never understand. You will encounter that more and more as you continue in your journey, if you haven’t already…maybe you already know this. As someone pointed out, you “didn’t bother” to say your sober time before the relapse. I proudly identify as an alcoholic in recovery, but normies will instantly change their view of you and address you accordingly, whether they can admit it or not, once they see that scarlet A on you. Let them. Is your side of the street clean? Don’t worry about their side, because why? It’s none of your business. You should know that too.

    You came here asking questions about the relationship, and what to do with the information your ex is giving you. Signals are mixed, clearly. Interesting how the responders in this thread focused only on the negatives. Yes, he has said he hates you. My fiancee (yes, we are engaged) said that to me countless times, it was part of his process. Your ex has said he never wants to see you again, and that you force him to acknowledge feelings he doesn’t want to acknowledge (which, newsflash, is not always a bad thing). But that’s not all he said. If what you wrote is true, and it rings true, he said a lot of other things too that are completely contradictory. You guys are taking trips with “our dogs”, and it’s “easy” for you to slide back into a happy, comfortable place? Easy to get to a happy place…just let that sink in a minute. That’s hard for most people.

    And people here so far are saying to turn your back on that? What a shame! You my dear are getting advice I myself did not heed all those years ago, nor would I again today. No offense intended to anyone. But unless you are with THAT person (you know, soul mate or whatever you want to call it) AND you are an addict in recovery, you cannot possibly fathom all the layers and layers and layers of what has gone and is going on here. To that end I will agree that yes, this probably wasn’t the best site to choose to address this. Then again, I may not have seen it had you posted it somewhere else.

    #777644 Reply


    What I see, is that you two want the same thing, to an extent. He wants to NOT feel the feeling of something else being chosen over him. You want to prove to him that you would never do that again. So do that. Obviously, do it in a healthy way. But until he blocks you or ghosts you or tells you nicely you’re parting ways or tells you however he wants to drop dead, you wait. Make sure he knows he can take all the time he needs and then leave him alone while he does, and make sure he knows you’re there and always will be, whenever he’s ready, IF that ever happens. Make sure he knows that, if he does ghost you, if you never hear from him ever again, or if he contacts you again just to say goodbye, you will respect and honor his decision and send him away with love. I know it will be gut wrenching, but if he does reach back out to say you’re parting ways for good and that no relationship or friendship can ever happen, it’s your responsibility to respect that. That will be your living amends to him. Every day that you leave him be and move on with your life without him, you are respecting this man’s decision, and in so doing working your steps, and being true to your new recovering lifestyle.

    My fiancee made me work for it, so hard…there were times when I seriously questioned if my perseverance was sending the right message. But think about it. As much as we remember, there’s so much more we’ve forgotten. Living with knowing how much I had hurt my fiancee was almost enough to kill me. To know that you inflicted such pain and heartbreak on a person you love more than anything is a soul crushing feeling to carry around. And I felt that way based on the things I did that I could remember. There was so much more…so much I don’t remember, because I was out of my mind wasted. He remembers ALL of it. Your ex does too. How do you let someone back into your life that did such things to you? That made you feel such pain?

    Selfless love. That’s how. It’s the only way. If you both have that, there’s always some hope.

    Some of the advice given here is right, in that this has to be for you. Your recovery…walking that walk. It’s for you, first and foremost, or it’s temporary. Get right with that. Make sure you’re good with YOU first. No man can or should be a stand-in for that. Just work your program. Go to meetings, work with your sponsor, read the book, don’t drink. Focus on that, 100%. When he reaches out…IF he reaches out…be there like you said you’d be.

    My fiancee is sitting here next to me as I type this, and it of course is stirring up a lot of memories. He says don’t give up. He says give your ex the space he needs, let him do this his way, but don’t give up. This man deserves to see you work your ass off to prove something to him…he wants to see that…whether you end up together or not. Even if he ultimately doesn’t want anything to do with you, he still deserves this. Show him now what you couldn’t show him then.

    #777646 Reply


    Your ex is scared sh*tless, as well he should be. If you were anything like me, you were a monster. You’re very fortunate he’s open to any contact with you or speaking to you, at all. Even lucky to be on the receiving end of whatever the hate-filled, horrible interactions have been that you said you had. That right there is indicative of where this man’s heart is, at least some of the time. Yes, he’s a big boy. He’s autonomous. He could block you, not respond when you reach out, tell you definitively to back off or leave him alone. Sounds like he has. But according to you, he’s also said he loves you, and wants you around, and he’s afraid of being hurt again. He’s opened up and been vulnerable to you. He thinks you chose alcohol over him. If you walk away now, after he’s opened up and exposed the conflict within him, what message are you sending? You’ll just prove him right. He’s right to be scared, and he’s right to be worried you’ll hurt him again. That’s what your walking away will do. Again.

    #777647 Reply


    Just a side note – someone commented in this thread, somewhat snarkily, something about you not being an ex-alcoholic, or being in a different place than that. I just reread your entire post, and you never said you were an ex alcoholic…probably because you know, that YOU ARE NOT. That is something you will never be. That is something I will never be. We are alcoholics for life. The act of not drinking does not change that. Even being in recovery does not change that. Normies just don’t get it, they never will. But it does mean we are just that…recovering. And recovery is a beautiful, amazing, wonderful, transformative, life changing experience, and it is the best gift you can give to the loved ones still in your life.

    Thank you for sharing your story. My fiance and I are rooting for you. Whether or not things work out for you as a couple, or even a friendship, is pretty much entirely up to your ex and he will have to be so full of grace and love and compassion and then some, for that to happen. But IF that happens…wow.

    #777650 Reply


    I think the OP is gone from this discussion. However, if not, it strikes me that you think you can ‘heal’ your ex. I’m not sure how the approach to your success with your battle against alcoholism has been, but my understanding is no one heals you or is your rescuer. Why do you think your ex needs rescuing or healing from another person? This feels way more codependency than anything else at all.

    #777653 Reply


    Meaghan, I congratulate you on your sobriety and that you and your man are working out but with that, some of us are coming from the *other side* and I see two major issues here being on that other side as well.

    The problem she faces is her sobriety is far too new. She already suffered a relapse and that tells me she has a long way to go before she’s in a position even consider a relationship. I know for a fact that AA and the professionals in this field would not recommend a relationship at this point and time, that the focus needs to be solely on her recovery—taking it “day by day” and step by step until she’s reached the point in her recover to ask others for forgiveness. Any relapse sets her back to ‘day 1’ and it means she has a lot more steps to take and go before people, including him, can or will believe her if they ever do. She wants to leap over critical steps and pretend everything is OK when its not close to being OK—this is not the path to recovery but the road to relapses.

    She is trying to *fix* a sober man! What she doesn’t understand is our suffering is nothing compared to an alcoholic going through recovery. Ours is weaning ourselves from the alcoholic. With some time without the alcoholic in our life our recovery is when we have *embraced* the calm, peace, and tranquility of no longer being with an alcoholic—once WE (non-alcoholics) reach that step its virtually impossible to drag us back into that world. It doesn’t mean we stop loving them, or want them to be happy and sober, we do; however we don’t love them the same way, more of a arms-length friendship level, and that’s what the OP needs to understand but appears to have difficulty understanding how non-alcoholics process it, think or feel.

    #777660 Reply


    “What I am looking for are the perspectives and insights of people who don’t know me but have valuable things to share, men and women alike.”

    OK, so you got perspectives and insights from others that you immediately rejected.

    “There was no cheating…”

    Yes there was, you participated in him cheating on several girlfriends. Not trying to mean or judgmental, just pointing out the truth that you stated.

    If you’re still in the place where you ask for feedback and you get upset when it’s not what you want to hear and you run away, you’ve still got a long, long way to go. It seems like you want to be able to control things – this man, what we have to say here – that you have no control over and you lose your cool when you don’t get exactly what you don’t want and refuse to deal with reality.

    Meaghan, great that you have been able to straighten out your life, get the drinking under control and get with your man. Thing is, M, came here ASKING us “normies” for advice! So unfair to dismiss what we “normies” have to say because we haven’t had the alcohol addiction experience. And only one person has been snarky. Everyone else has been decent.

    There are good reasons people would say she should walk away at this point – I won’t repeat them, they’ve already been well said. Bottom line is, the man asked M for space and the smartest thing she could do IMO is give him and herself the gift of space. She may find after some time that this is not the right person for her, which right now she is completely unwilling to even consider, she’s really hanging for dear life. Recovery changes you, that much I know for sure even though I’m a “normie” and when you change, it’s common for some people to leave your life because your time together is over, for good reasons.

    I’ve only been coming here a short time but it seems a lot of women come here looking for advice on how to fix a situation that would be better off left along, either temporarily or permanently. Only in the minority of the cases do they willingly take the advice to heart, usually they keep arguing their corner even though they say they’re miserable. It’s pretty trippy to watch. So it’s nice your situation with your man worked out, but you’re definitely the exception and not the rule on this site.

    #777665 Reply


    Just to clear up one thing. I didnt post the comment ‘op is an ex alcoholic’. Someone else has been posting as Newbie lately with short comments. I dont know why. But i liked your advice meghan.

    #777747 Reply


    My ex became an alcoholic and he choose alcohol over me.

    You may call it a disease and it is. And you may be sober, and moving on in life and that is WONDERFUL and I am very happy for you.

    But as someone who has been where he is, it’s hard to see beyond that I was second to alcohol. That the drug was more important than me, than our relationship. He’d come home verbally, emotionally and sometimes physically abuse me, none of which he remembered the next day. Every evening I hoped he would come home late enough that I was asleep and just pass out on the couch. I stopped doing things with him because he would get drunk. The last time I remember going out with him he kept pulling on my arm while I was driving, trying to cause a car wreck.

    It took me a solid 3 years to get past the abuse that he refused to acknowledge and the same time frame to stop questioning if I caused the alcoholism.

    I still love him. I want the best for him. But I never want to go thru that pain again up close. He was a wonderful man when sober.

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