One of the choices I struggled with was whether to break up with my addicted partner or not.
With hindsight I realize that the answer to this question had always been present within myself.
But I needed or wanted to get the answer from others.
If only someone would tell me that I should put an end to the relationship, this would give me the reason, the justification to do so. Obviously this is insane.
I am responsible for my own choices. But why did I want an external reason or approval? The superficial answer is “guilt”, the deeper reason is “fear”.
When you have been trying to help or to save the addict in your life for years, walking away from this situation is extremely difficult.
Without sometimes even realizing it, the addiction does not just change the addict’s behavior, but yours too. In my case it became my “mission” to cure the addict, to solve the problem.
This went from counting bottles, dumping booze, checking up on my partner, anger, arguments to “playing” the therapist or psychological blackmail (“if you don’t drink, I’ll pay off that debt” or “if you don’t stop drinking, I will divorce you”).
I neglected the relationships with my children, my parents, family and colleagues; I became isolated and felt frustrated, angry, desperate and I felt chronically exhausted. As the years passed, this got worse.
So it is very logical, that the decision to break up or to leave the relationship with an addict is difficult.
Basically you are admitting that in spite of all the efforts and emotions you have “failed”. In addition, you have become so “addicted”, so used to behaving the way you do, that separation is frightening. You will have to find your “normal” natural behavior back.
When your addict is your spouse, partner or loved one, saying goodbye is even more difficult.
Step 1 in the al-anon program says “Accepted that we are powerless over alcohol, and that our lives have become unmanageable.”
It wasn’t until I took this step in full consciousness that everything started to make sense.
I kept trying to make my addict change her behavior, instead of accepting that I couldn’t. My acceptance of powerlessness over addiction came by listening to the stories of other al-anon members. The problems and emotions I experienced, others did too. And others too explained their difficulties in taking the 1st step.
Once I came to the point of truly accepting my powerlessness over the addiction and the disharmonious unmanagability of my life it had caused, I could start making my choices in serenity and in a loving positive spirit.