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 rate for Baby Boomers has risen significantly. But, in this post, I’m not talking about someone who has or who has attempted suicide.
It’s about those who are subtly trying to take their own lives because of some type of substance abuse. Many Baby Boomers generation did drugs and abused alcohol during the ’60s and ’70s. Some even occasionally flew out of windows on LSD.
Unfortunately, many Baby Boomers are still abusing substances, having unsafe sex, or drinking themselves into a pickle. (literally)
I prefer to write positive, encouraging, and fun posts on this blog, but sometimes it’s important to discuss the struggles we all go through in life. They take a huge toll on us. So this time, I’m putting myself out there to talk about something that’s hard to talk about.
I lived with an alcoholic who was bent on self-destruction.
There. My . . . gulp . . . admission has now been streamed into the blogosphere. Now, the entire world knows I’m not a perfect human being.
“What do you mean? He had the problem, not you.”
“Yeah, but I’m the one who got myself stuck with it.”
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 at 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.
But, Andy would always release him after he sobered up so he could get drunk again. Otis may have been funny but a real drunk is not so nice, especially if they’re out there on the road. I was the designated driver most of the time and secretly wished my Otis would get charged with a DUI as a wake-up call before he hurt someone else, 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.
I eventually gave up hiding his alcohol. I liked having a relaxing glass of wine once in a while and resented not being able to drink because he couldn’t control himself.
Fortunately for me, he wasn’t physically abusive, like some alcoholics are. If he was I would have left immediately. When he was drunk he could be mentally abusive and that takes a toll on your self-esteem after a while.
An alcoholic doesn’t know what drinking in moderation means. If you know someone who is still drinking like a 20-year-old frat boy at 50 + they won’t last long. Their only hope is 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 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. 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 life because of the stress you have to 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. 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 unbearable at times.
People are put through all sorts of challenges and they still manage to keep their sanity. 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
- remain positive
Still, you can’t just shove it 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 important to talk to someone you can trust or join a support group. Do what works for you. In my case, I attended a couple of “meetings” and they weren’t for me. I preferred to work it out myself and did okay. But, that may not be right for you.
Don’t go into self-destruction mode yourself
You can overcome any challenge that comes your way. One thing they tell you at Al-Anon and other groups is to work on your own happiness because there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to live a happy and fulfilling life.
Update: The alcoholic I referenced died after a long battle with Pancreatic Cancer. I believe his condition was exacerbated by his alcoholism. It was a tough challenge for him and me, as his caregiver, to go through, but now I’m 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 good times when he wasn’t drunk. But, the bad times outweighed the good and I wish I had been able to break free much sooner.
Alcoholics tend to have other addictions as I found out before and after he died. Addiction is a disease that must be treated and may be caused by something that happened in the past or is just part of an addict’s DNA.
I regret what I put my children through when they were living with the two of us. Thankfully, both kids 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, that if you are in the same situation, you will find happiness too.
Do you live with an alcoholic or addict? How are you coping with it? Please leave a comment below.