I left my alcoholic husband after 15 years together and 3 children. Why do I feel guilty? How many 'last chances' does he deserve?

When is it justified to leave forever?
Is alcoholism really out of the addict's control? Do alcoholics deserve compassion as any ill person does? If yes, I am right to be so furious for all the tears and fears he brought me?

(He's a functional alcoholic, drinking to the limit every single night, infuriated for no reason and verbally abusive.)

Comments for I left my alcoholic husband after 15 years together and 3 children. Why do I feel guilty? How many 'last chances' does he deserve?

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Mar 19, 2020

by: Admin

I’m sorry that you are struggling with such guilt right now. Regardless of the reasons, separation and divorce are never easy. When we choose to marry someone, we envision entangled lives of happily-ever-after. We imagine golden hazes of building life together, of moving through old age and leaving a legacy for the next generation. We don’t imagine it falling apart, and we don’t imagine divorce.

Being married to an alcoholic can be downright traumatic. You never know what mood your spouse is going to be in when you get home. You don’t know if it’s going to be a "good night" or a "bad night." You walk on eggshells in your own home- you love the man, but you hate how the drinking has destroyed the person who means the most to you.

When you have children, alcoholism creates a whole new host of problems. Maybe you worry about what your children see and hear in the home. Maybe you feel concerned about their physical and emotional safety. Perhaps the child-rearing duties are now your responsibility because your husband is either intoxicated or hungover. You know that they need a loving and attentive father, and even if he can be "super-dad" to the outside world, a dark secret lurks within the walls of your house.

Something (or many things) provoked you to leave your husband. You are justified in your reasoning. Your feelings were real, and your decision was valid. You are allowed to fight for a better life for yourself. You are allowed to vouch for your children and for their well-being. You are allowed to feel anger, sadness, and confusion over what happened.

Unfortunately, the guilt may take some time to subside. It’s only normal to question and ask yourself, what-if? What if he had chosen to stop drinking? What if you had decided to stay and things finally got better? What if something bad happens now that you’re gone?

Again, we commit to another person when we commit to marriage. In the face of divorce, our life circumstances change. You now have a new identity and sense of purpose. While this may feel exciting, it may also feel terrifying. You may be feeling insecure and alone as you navigate this new terrain.

Allow yourself to feel the feelings. Scream if you need to scream. Write down what happened. Write down everything he ever did to you in case you start to forget. Remind yourself why you’re choosing to forge your own path.

Finally, take care of yourself. Meditate. Exercise. Sign up for a new class. Take a trip. Spend time playing and loving on your kids. Reflect without judgment. And don’t forget to talk to someone. Share what’s going on. Ask for help when you are struggling. Find someone who will listen to you without judgment or unsolicited advice. Be kind to yourself. You are wounded, but you are healing. You feel guilty because you loved deeply. Trust that, with time, this guilt will fade. It will turn into empowerment and confidence. You will smile again. You will find yourself again.

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