I ran into an ex the other day and it got me thinking about the insanity of dating an alcoholic. As an alcoholic, it is not my place to label anyone else an alcoholic. I will say that he drinks every single day, for most of the day, he blacks out probably everyday, and his connection to reality is minimal. This is also one of the most common topics that people contact me about, either dating someone who drinks too much or married to someone who drinks too much.
I do find it amusing in my own life that after achieving some years of sobriety, I was still attracted to the same type of men that I had always been attracted to. It was unmanageable when I was drunk, and it proved to be even more unmanageable once I got sober. But these preferences or these things that we are drawn to don’t just disappear because we make positive changes in our lives. I spent 15 years dating the same type of person, charismatic, funny, accomplished, driven….and usually drunk. I certainly couldn’t have spent time with someone that didn’t drink as much as I did because I would have considered him boring and it would have cut into my drinking time, and that was unacceptable. And, I worked in a bar from the time that I was very young and became a bartender at 21, so I was always surrounded by people that drank all the time and I really thought it was normal. I truly believed that everybody in the world drank everyday because that was my constant environment. My point is, after doing the same thing for 15 years, I can’t magically change overnight. It takes time for old habits to die. I told my girlfriend yesterday that finally, at 4 1/2 years sober, it has dawned on me to stop dating drunks! It sounds so funny! But it is true, I’m finally there, no more drunks.
I’ll tell you a bit about my most dramatic experience dating an alcoholic. It was tumultuous, difficult, hurtful, and drama-filled. He would make plans with me, then not answer the phone. When he would call the next day he would make up some ridiculous excuse that I knew was not true. He would say, “I’ll call you back in just a minute”, and I wouldn’t hear from him for 3 days. One time, he didn’t call or text for a couple of days, then when he resurfaced, he told me he had gone out of town. The problem was, one minute he said he went one place….and two minutes later he said he went somewhere else!! And he was completely unaware that he changed his story. He would call at all hours of the night, sometimes he would cry to me about his drinking problem and ask for my help. But I can’t do the work for someone. I can lead you the right direction, I can counsel you, I can sponsor you, but I simply can’t do the work for you. He was super sensitive and would get angry in a split second, call me a bitch and storm out. Then he would tell me that I said horrible things to him that I never said, it was my fault he was angry.
I would go through periods of not talking to him, I just got exhausted and there is only so much drama one person can take. Then he would call me and tell me how much he missed me and how much he cared about me and how sorry he was for being an idiot (his words), and we would start it all over again. Then, after a period of not talking for a couple of months, he showed up at my work… with a girl. A girl that I found out was his girlfriend….OF 3 YEARS!!!! I was devastated. I went over and over everything in my mind, every detail. How could I have missed that? I was out all over town with this guy, holding hands, kissing, I stayed at his house, and there was no sign of a girl. All of his friends know me and no one ever bothered to mention a girlfriend. I was absolutely mortified.
I can honestly say that in my active drunkeness, I was just as bad. I was dating a really nice person when I got sober, and although I didn’t take things to the extreme that my ex did, I still wasn’t very nice. We would make plans and if it interfered with my drinking then I would cancel at the last minute. I was extremely selfish and I only cared about what I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it. I never cheated on a boyfriend, but I did have an affair with a married man, and later with someone that had a serious girlfriend. It was like I didn’t care because I didn’t know these women and I didn’t have to face them so it didn’t affect my life. I am not proud of the things that I did then, and I am eternally grateful that I have had the opportunity to change. I would never consider any of that behavior now, and I am proud to be who I am.
I guess what it has taken me 4 1/2 years to learn is that, I don’t deserve to be treated that way. And, I work really hard to constantly evolve and be a better person, why would I want to be with someone who doesn’t strive for anything? Why would I want to be with someone who is willing to look me straight in my face and lie? I also think a lot about the future, and my career and education are soaring, there is no limit for me and what I will achieve, do I want to be with someone who is going to drink their life away?? No way.
The bottom line is that I have built myself a new life, and I am an entirely different person than I was when I was drinking. It is my responsibility to make better choices for myself, to take better care of myself, and dating an alcoholic just doesn’t cut it