It’s the classic missed connection: I was your soulmate, you were an alcoholic.
Alcoholics can be charming and fun in an unconscious kind of way. As the daughter of a bipolar dad who was extremely charismatic and completely over the moon until he . . . just wasn’t, I’m never more at home than with a person who is screaming from the rooftops that we’re soul mates moments before going mysteriously . . . missing.
Turning up later to offer vague explanations like “my job . . . my sister” — you know, the kind of cryptic non-sentences that trail off into non-excuses that only bring up more questions.
Sure, I get the inclination to cling to a broke-down jalopy in hopes that he will one day become the Mercedes he initially presented himself to be . . . and I certainly understand the gravitational pull of the seeming security blanket of something that feels familiar. But the truth is relationships with these people are not security blankets. They are insecurity blankets, filthy and filled with holes where your self-esteem and sparkle will fall out. They are illusions that only exist as long as you choose to fuel them with your denial.
In other words, sometimes reality is what’s actually happening.
The sad truth for most alcoholics is that unless they arrest their alcoholism with recovery they will die, some faster than others, and they will destroy most things in their path — including you — on their way down. The only girl who could stay in a crazy-making situation like this is a girl who loves feeling crazy.
Look, there’s no reason to blame an alcoholic for having a disease, they can’t help it and it’s not personal. Often times they don’t even know or think they have it, explaining away their behavior like true masters of evasion. Forgive them, wish them well with their pursuits, and move on.
Instead: Try looking at you. Recognize that you chose to date someone who’s unavailable due to their deeply committed relationship to killing themselves. And that for some reason you enjoy the pain, you get something out of it, so that makes it your drug.
So just stop. It’s sad, it’s boring, and I’ll tell you right now, your friends will lose respect for you if you keep this up. They may not say it, but eventually they will drop off. Because it takes a certain kind of sickness to keep enabling sickness and healthy friends scatter.
Here are some examples of more positive choices you might make for yourself moving forward:
1) Get off drugs.
You may be like, “But I’m not the one addicted to anything!” Well clearly you’re addicted to the fantasy that people can be something they’re not. As in there for you. Or wearing pants at appropriate times.
2) Do things that feel good instead of awful. Such as:
A) Try liking yourself!
B) If you can’t do it for you, think of yourself as a role model for the young people in your life. Give them an example of a woman who respects herself enough to be treated well. These old sayings are popular because they’re true: We teach others how to treat us, and you get what you settle for.
C) Date other people immediately. (And don’t talk about your ex on the dates.)
D) Eat healthy/exercise (this is, like, duh, but totally works.)
3) Don’t take that first think.
When an opp to talk or think about him comes up, just change the channel to (for instance) a project that when you put energy into it, flourishes. Because we all know dating an alcoholic is one project that, despite all your best efforts, won’t ever flourish. Here are some examples of other things you could choose to say or think:
A) I’m so excited to be finishing my script (even if you haven’t or aren’t finishing or even starting your script/book/haiku, set that positive intention in motion by saying it out loud and working toward it).
B) I feel great because I’m healthy and have great friends who are choosing to live instead of die.
4) Change his name in your phone to (for instance):
A) Don’t answer. Finish your script instead.
B) Don’t answer. Aim higher.
C) Whisky dick
D) Wet brain
5) Remember who you are. You’re a good person who makes an effort to do good things in the world. Just look at all you’ve accomplished. You help a lot of people. So why don’t you help yourself on out of this relationship and hold out for something legit.
This week I hope you can give yourself the Valentine's Day gift of letting go of that deeply tragic alcoholic who is cock blocking your entire life and be open to what else is out there for you because that’s something you can do to really show up for yourself. As you set that example you will attract others who show up for you as well. You deserve serenity, sanity, and joy.
It may feel like you’re going to die without this person’s half-assed love, but let me remind you that you came into this world alone and you will leave it alone, so how you choose to spend the time between is the real question.
And if he’s really the guy for you, maybe he’ll get his act together, get sober, and come back for you within the year (but don’t hold your breath). And in the interim, your fabulous life is waiting!