I met my partner only a few months ago. We didn’t see each other frequently at first because we are both in grad school. I am pretty independent and busy with school, so I didn’t think much of not hearing from him for a few days or longer. He would check in by text which has become such a common form of communication for my generation.
We connected quickly and on a deeper level than I have experienced in a while. Ironically, he is a great communicator. He is also a very caring and thoughtful person and in the beginning I kept thinking…this guy has his shit together. I think he kept his drinking under tighter control for a bit because of me. Once he lost control I quickly put the pieces together and confronted him. I told him that I cared for him, but could not continue our friendship or relationship if he was drinking. I told him if he ever truly wanted help I would do my best to support him and help him find the resources he needed and then I said goodbye.
A few days later he called and asked for help. I drove him to detox and rehab. Now I feel lost. I lost my cousin to alcoholism and my best friend from high school has been clean and sober for 5 years. I know how to set boundaries and have (I think) a fairly health knowledge of how to take care of myself. I am also familiar with the challenges a recovering alcoholic faces in the first year. I want to support my partner (I was/am starting to fall in love) but because the relationship is newer I am concerned that continuing the romantic relationship might not be the best option for either of us. I went to one Al-Anon meeting, but I am not really down with the program. I know it is important to keep trying different meeting groups, but I am really looking for something different.
I feel overwhelmed and need some open minds to talk about this. I know Al-Anon is not ok with addicts staring new relationships at the beginning of recovery, but my partner and I fall into a fuzzy area. I have been through more with this man in the first few months than I have ever before. And while checking him into rehab connected us more deeply, this was by no means the only deep bonding experience we have shared. We haven’t even had sex and I felt a deeper connection with him than most of my partners. I see that he has a positive attitude and tools that a recovering alcoholic needs to be successful. I am cautious and need some resources to help myself. Any suggestions for support groups for families and friends beside Al-Anon? I have searched all week with no luck. I would prefer a support group that is more secular.
Thank you for your input!
It can be tough to discover struggles that your partner has only after beginning to fall in love with the person. It is hard to draw the line and go backwards at that point. However, it is important to ask yourself what is healthy for each of you, despite the feelings that you are experiencing. Keeping a rationale rather than emotional mindset is critical. A person going through rehab is not generally in a healthy place to start a serious relationship. He will likely need time alone to sort through his thoughts and feelings in order to achieve sobriety. Relationships can be very emotional at times. An alcoholic often lacks the coping skills to deal with those emotions. He will need time to develop coping skills outside of substance abuse before being tested within a relationship.
Regarding groups, ask yourself why you do not like Al-Anon. Assess your motives for wanting to find another group. Make sure you are not simply searching for someone to tell you what you want to hear. I am not aware of any formal, national groups for families of alcoholics besides Al-Anon. There are similar groups like Narc-Anon and Co-Dependents Anonymous. If you decide that another type of group is indeed necessary, consider calling local counseling centers and churches to ask them. They will be aware of the resources available in your area.
I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. I have since settled in North Carolina. I have experience working with various stages of addiction, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, trauma, stages of life concerns and relationship concerns.
I tend to use a person-centered approach which simply means that I meet you where you are and work collaboratively to help you identify and work towards accomplishing goals. I will often pull from CBT when appropriate. I do encourage use of mindfulness and meditation and practice these skills in my own life. I believe in treating everyone with respect, sensitivity and compassion.
I recognize that reaching out for help is hard and commend you for taking the first step. We have professionals available who would be happy to help you move closer to reaching your goals related to your drinking concerns. You may reach these professionals by calling 877-322-2694.