My boyfriend, who is the father of my child, has recently admitted that he is an alcoholic. Couple that with 24 days in jail and he is 100% admitting to his addiction, and his addictive personality. He is attending AA and has a sponsor. So my question is, What do I do now? It has been very difficult to stand by and be part of his verbal abuse, to have been humiliated in front of friends and family. Now he wants to work on our relationship and try to be a family again.
Do I try and do this with him? Live with him or not live with him? Do I drink in front of him? Do I let him go to meetings alone or try and attend one with him?
I’m so lost.
I am sorry to hear of the struggle you have been experiencing with your partner. Your question of what to do next can often feel daunting and scary so I commend you for reaching out. It is important to recognize that you are not responsible for his actions and therefore cannot change them. In this moment, there are steps you can take to feel better prepared for your situation.
First I would begin by educating yourself. Are you familiar with addiction and the impact that it has on a person’s thoughts and actions? Having some basic knowledge about addiction can help you understand what he is experiencing. This can also help you recognize his addictive behaviors. A person in active addiction does not think as they would when they are in recovery. A person in active addiction may miss family events they would usually attend, be irritable and/or angry and may likely cravings. From the outside, we are often able to identify these behaviors more than the person experiencing them which can often lead to conflict.
Attending AA and working with a Sponsor is a great step for him. An option for you would be to attend an Al-Anon meeting. This could be a place where you learn a bit more about addiction and also a place where you can receive support. This is a critical piece to your puzzle. Having support can be from loved ones in your life, however, members of Al-Anon can relate to you in ways that your loved ones may not be able to do. You can find a local meeting by going to al-anon.org.
As for your question about going to a meeting with him, this would be appropriate for you to ask him. You would be able to attend an open meeting with him as closed meetings are only for persons in recovery or active addiction only. Try not to be offended if he wants to go alone – this is his space to receive support and talk about his own struggles. It is recommended that persons in early recovery are not around alcohol, however, some alcoholics and addicts do not want others to change on their behalf.
Another option to consider would be to work with a counselor yourself. Individual counseling can help you work towards finding the answer to the daunting question of what to do next. The goal of a therapist is not to give advice and tell you what to do, but to rather work with you to figure out what is the right track to take. The right therapist would be able to provide a safe, non-judgmental space where you can work through your thoughts. A counselor could also help you improve your communication skills with the goal of effectively sharing your thoughts and concerns in a productive manner.
A common phrase from AA meetings is one day at a time. This phrase is applicable to your situation as well. Staying in the moment and not getting ahead of yourself can help reduce stress. Ask for help, and best of luck!
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.