My New Love Is a Confessed Alcoholic. I'm a Recently Confessed Codependant. What to do?
I have recently started seeing a man who has been a good friend for about 4 years. I have spent the majority of our relationship in online chat as he works overseas a lot. Our real life social interactions never involved social drinking so it came as a shock when he told me he had a drinking problem 2 months ago.
He had been sober for 3.5 years but 8 months ago reactivated drinking after leaving a serious long-term relationship and grieving the death of a friend from sudden illness. I have left a 5 year relationship in the last month, and this man and I have engaged in some romantic connection.
He is currently away overseas on business and has confessed to me in the last 48 hours that he's been drunk nearly everyday he's been away and he desperately wants some help. He has confessed to teenage self harm and at 37 years old has had problems with alcohol nearly half his life.
He identifies himself as a binge drinker with an addictive personality. I have no experience with alcoholism, but had been in a long-term relationship with a compulsive gambler for 10 years, so I recognise in myself some potentially destructive codependent behaviours starting to pick up with this new man.
I feel a desire to rescue and take control of the situation on his behalf and I am experiencing huge amounts of anxiety that he might not need me and will dispense with me. I feel we are doomed from the start by the burden of truth, I feel love for him, and I feel that before I knew about his alcoholism that we were well matched. I feel heartbroken. Is there anyway back from this?
Truthfully, how can you engage and fully commit to a new relationship within a month of having ended a relationship of 5 years, irrespective of the other factors at play like his alcoholism etc.?
So the question you need to ask yourself - what do you gain from this? It seems that you've found someone else
to rescue ... and so you're simply transferring your codependent
needs to someone else. You feel loved and think you're in love because you feel needed, but does love really stem from neediness?
The only way your boyfriend is going to overcome his alcoholism is by getting professional help and then finding some kind of recovery program to work at so he can maintain his sobriety. And whether or not he does achieve sobriety is something you have no control over - its entirely up to him.
So if you think you can help him or somehow fix him, you're in for a very unpleasant surprise. Only he can help himself. The only person you can do anything about is YOU. So what you need to be concentrating on is trying to address your codependent tendencies through groups like CoDA (coda.org) and Al-Anon, where you'll learn how to develop healthy relationships and deal with being in a relationship with an alcoholic.
It's not to say your relationship can't work - if you both independently focus on your own healing and well-being ... You, on your codependency and he, on his alcoholism. But you can't look for that from each other and you certainly can't try and fix/rescue each other, because otherwise you're setting yourself up for plenty heart-ache and pain.
You should definitely try and get yourself Help Me! I'm In Love With an Addict/Alcoholic
because there is a lot you need to understand that unfortunately we don't have the space to go into here. At the very least, read some more of the stories and Q&A's on this site of others who are involved with alcoholics, and you'll soon get a picture of how hard it is.
If you both commit to your own healing and address your shortcomings, then yes you have a chance. But realistically it's very hard and you only have to read what others have shared to realise that very few relationships make it where alcoholism is involved - because very rarely is the alcoholic ready to do something about their problem.
All the Best