Anyone who lives with an alcoholic can feel swallowed up. Detach and rediscover the real you!
When you live with an alcoholic, almost inevitably, you become caught up in their drinking behavior. You will find yourself trying to second guess how much they are going to drink, when they will be home, what condition they will be in and what’s going to happen when they does get home. When you live with an alcoholic you’ll find it’s almost a full time job thinking about it and worrying about the drinker and theur drinking.
You probably find yourself thinking about it all through the day. Even if they are not drinking at the moment you will be worried about when they are going to start and, again, what’s going to happen. If you live with an alcoholic, worrying about the alcoholic and their drinking will be taking up much of your time and leaving little time and emotional space for anything else.
When you live with an alcoholic, if you are going to survive, you need to give yourself emotional and sometimes physical space and time away from your drinker. You need to stop worrying about time, planning your life around them and their drinking, thinking about them all the time, being available whenever they need you and generally living your life for the alcoholic. This is what detaching is all about.
However, to stop worrying or thinking about something is very difficult. It is not something that many of us can achieve easily. We can’t just shut off our minds at will, if we could most psychologists would be out of a job.
Instead of stopping doing something we could instead do something different. In the Bottled Up program for people who live with an alcoholic, we strongly advise that you begin to look after yourself. In bottled up we suggest that you take time to find yourself again. Often people who live with an alcoholic feel that they have lost their own identity that the person they once were has been swallowed up, through looking after the alcoholic. Instead we suggest that you rediscover the things that used to interest you, and maybe still do, and find new things to stretch yourself and grow as a person.
Living with alcoholic can also cause you to become isolated. Since you feel there is a need for secrecy, to hide the nature of the problem from the rest of the world, you will very often have stopped talking to the people who can help you most — your friends! In bottled up we strongly suggest that you renew your friendships. In doing that it will give you a sense of perspective, outside interests and a potential support network. In the next article we will discuss some of the barriers to detachment. If you want to learn more about detachment or bottled up why not join the bottled up website.
5 Replies to “Detach and rediscover the real you!”
I just have one burning question. Is my husband a selfish person if he must drink 7 nights a week, even if it’s “just a few” and he leaves me alone, even if it’s in another room? He says he is not and that I am the difficult one. I just have to know if this behavior is selfish or if I am being too sensitive.
I think you already know the answer to that one! What if the roles were reversed and you insisted on doing something 7 nights a week, regardless of what your husband thought or wished, would you regard that as selfish behaviour?
Thanks for your reply, John. I guess I did know the answer….. 🙁
I don’t know how to detach from the worry and fear that has been with me for every social event for 45years. So even if he doesn’t behave badly I have still had the worry of how this particular occasion will play out.
I have read not to rant and rave but inside I think if I say nothing he thinks his behaviour has been ok .
Very confused and am sick of him owning my life I want what is left of it for myself.
Detaching is not easy, especially after such a long time. However, detaching is about empowering yourself by giving yourself options. One way would be to refuse to accompany your drinker to social functions, as you do not want to to be embarrassed yet again. Or you could say that you will accompany him, but if he gets drunk and behaves badly you will leave and go home and he will need to get a taxi. No one will tell you that detaching is easy, but, like most things, it does get easier the more you practice it.