It’s sometimes difficult being a positive life-affirming person when you’re cohabitating with an alcoholic who is bent on self-destruction and is trying to do their best to shorten their lifespan.
The suicide for Baby Boomers has risen significantly. However, I’m not talking about someone who “accidentally” hung himself in a closet like David Carradine.
“Was it a sex accident Grasshopper?”
I’m talking about a person who’s subtly taking their own life through substance abuse. We saw many in our Baby Boomer generation do this in the ’60s and ’70s. They abused drugs and occasionally flew out of windows on LSD. Sex wasn’t officially dangerous until the early ’80s. However, some Baby Boomers are still abusing substances, having unsafe sex, or drinking themselves into a pickle. (literally)
I make it a point to write positive and encouraging articles about longevity, healthy eating, and happiness. But it’s also important to discuss the struggles we all go through in life. They take a huge toll on us. In this post, I’m putting myself way out there and making a statement that’s difficult to say out loud.
I lived with an alcoholic bent on self-destruction.
There. My . . . gulp . . . admission is now streaming out on the blogosphere. The entire world now knows I’m not a perfect human being.
“What do you mean? He’s got the problem, not you.”
“Yeah, but I’m the one who got myself stuck with it.”
Sometimes I secretly called him Otis. If you came of age in the 1960’s you know who Otis was. He was that “funny” drunk Andy Griffith would put in jail every night so he wouldn’t hurt himself or harass his wife. I’m sure Otis’s wife appreciated having a break from his stinky booze breath. Andy always released him to get drunk again the next day. In reality, “real” drunks are much more dangerous than Otis, especially if they’re driving a car. I end up being the designated driver most of the time. I hate to say this, but I secretly wished my Otis got charged with a DUI as a wake-up call before he hurt someone, or himself.
The reality of living with a drunk
You can’t help an alcoholic who’s choosing to die slowly by their own hand. You have to focus on helping yourself instead and work to achieve your own happiness.
Alcoholics and other substance abusers have to make the choice to help themselves. You can try throwing all the booze in the trash, but then you’ll find some hidden away in a closet. You may end up being the only one in the house not drinking. That happened to me. Otis was stashing away bottles of vodka and my son, who was a teen at the time, was having a few beers in the garage with his friends. I was the only one in the house prudently sipping tea. Silly me. My son straightened up. Otis did not.
I eventually gave up hiding his alcohol. I like to have a relaxing glass of wine now and then and resented not being able to drink because Otis couldn’t control himself. One glass is usually it for me. Otis, on the other hand, will drink the entire bottle then pop another one open and down most of it. Fortunately, he wasn’t abusive, like some alcoholics are. If he was I would have left immediately.
If you like an occasional glass of wine or a cocktail here’s a good rule of thumb: Drink no more than 1 glass of wine (5 oz) per day if you’re a woman and 2 glasses if you’re a man. Red wine has antioxidants and helps prevent heart disease if consumed in moderation. An alcoholic doesn’t know what that means. If you know someone who is still drinking like a 20-year-old frat boy they won’t last long. They need to get help immediately and go into rehab.
Diseases caused by heavy drinking include anemia, cancer, cardiovascular disease, cirrhosis, dementia, depression, seizures, gout, high blood pressure, infectious disease, nerve damage, and pancreatitis.
The Substance Abuser and You
In most cases, an alcoholic or other substance abuser doesn’t think about the fact that someone else will have to care for them once their body breaks down. They’re in denial that they have a problem at all.
What they don’t realize is:
“We can smell you a mile away.”
Okay, enough said about people who are self-destructive.
As I said, an alcoholic or anyone else with a substance dependency has to want to help themselves. If you live with or know someone like that, how are you coping with it? How is it affecting your life and your health? Is it stressing you out? Is it causing your anxiety?
Of course, it is.
If you let it, it can shorten your own life simply because of the stress you endure dealing with it.
If this is you, you’re probably saying to yourself,
“What the hell is wrong with me? Why don’t I just leave and run away from this idiot?”
In my case, it was a financial issue. Life is complicated. What can I say? It’s true. I didn’t have a Plan B at the time and it was scary. He could roll his car over a cliff and then what?
Instead, I focused on my health and happiness, even though his drinking problem was more than annoying at times.
People are put through all sorts of challenges and they still manage to keep their sanity. I’d already dealt with a husband who died of a terminal illness and was able to carry on. Others have endured way worse tragedies than I have and still lead happy and productive lives. If you’re in the midst of a difficult situation, you can overcome it too.
- focus on your own goals
- keep out of harm’s way
- to remain positive
It’s important to be aware of what’s happening. It’s just as stressful to shove a bad situation under the rug and pretend it doesn’t exist. You have to take steps to find the best way to deal with it. It’s also important to talk to someone you trust about it.
One way I’ve found to maintain my mental health was to write about it. I also repeated positive affirmations that helped me visualize myself living the way I wanted my life to be as if it were already happening. I can attest that this practice made a tremendous impact on my life in multiple ways. It helped me achieve personal and financial goals as well as maintain my health, fitness, and sanity.
Don’t let someone cause you to go into self-destruction mode yourself
You can overcome any challenge that comes your way. Strive for your own happiness and live a long and fulfilling life.
Update: The alcoholic I referenced died in Feb 2020 after a long battle with Pancreatic Cancer that I believe was exacerbated by his alcoholism. I am now free to live life without that burden. There were many good things I liked about him even though love went out the window years before. We traveled, went to fun events, and had some good times when he wasn’t drunk. But the bad times outweighed the good and I wish I hadn’t been hypnotized by his charms at the beginning.
I later discovered some things he did during the time we were together that were pretty shady and were a result of his addictive tendencies. I also regret what I put my children through when they were living with us. Thankfully, they both turned out well. We all make bad decisions but we can’t beat ourselves up about it.
I am looking forward to the life I deserve with lessons learned and hope you are too.
Do you live with someone bent on self-destruction? How are you coping with it? Please leave a comment below.