How do you deal with unacceptable behavior?

Published by at 11:19 am under Common Concerns

Welcome to “First Steps to Al-Anon Recovery” from Al-Anon Family Groups. This is a series of podcasts to discuss some common concerns for people who have been affected by someone else’s drinking.

Pam, Anna, and Betty are with us today. All are active Al-Anon members who are willing to talk about how they deal with unacceptable behavior.

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164 comments on “How do you deal with unacceptable behavior?”

  1. Khosie says:

    I’ve seen my fiance for 3 years now drinking like there’s no tomorrow.

    He’s got different friends he drinks with. Some of them are thugs. He doesn’t listened to me or his mom. We’re just nothing, I mean nothing to him but a piece of rubbish. Lately every Monday he does not go to work because he’s drunk. During weekends he does not sleep at all til Sunday around 11 pm. I’m deadly tired of everything he does and I won’t be able to assist him because he gets angry whenever I start a conversation.

    There is no communication at all between us.

  2. Janice says:

    I am not sure I should even comment here, as I divorced my husband of 14 years due to his progressive alcoholism. I say progressive because he was not an alcoholic when I married him in my late 20’s. Weekends of BBQ’s and drinking with friends – social occasions that are normal for that age range. It was only after the birth of our first, second and third child that his drinking became progressively worse – more frequent, weekdays, weeknights. Verbal abuse was rampant by him and by me in my defense. I did not learn to walk away from a fight until he got physical a couple of times. Then I did walk away in tears every time. I felt ashamed, belittled, weak. But I knew I was strong inside, but he chipped away at that time and time again. Our fights would escalate, then deflate, then silent treatment. The next day, no apologies, no discussions, no make-up sex. Nothing. This went on for years. Just swept under the rug.

    To say my beloved home was toxic, then loving, then toxic is an understatement. We hid it well from friends and family. Still the picture of a perfect family unit for years. Then he began to start fights with me in front of family. Eventually, we sold the house and he moved out of state. I was absolutely fine with that arrangement. I moved in with my folks, as the kids were still in school. I was emotionally scarred from all the verbal abuse so I sought verbal abuse counseling at a domestic violence center in my area. I was beyond how it looked anymore. I needed serious counseling to remember myself. I also went to church often as well. I did this for 2 years.

    This separation lasted 4 years. I continued to visit him with the kids for summers and winters but he never once agreed to counseling or AA. He wanted a divorce but refused to initiate. Eventually, I did initiate it and saw it through. I have been divorced for 3 years now. He moved back to my area last year but is not the verbally abusive person towards me anymore. I think a lot of time has gone by and even he recognizes what he did to me, to us. Total separation was about 6 years before he moved back here.

    Today, we are friends at arm’s length. He sees the children, who are now teenagers. He has been to detox and rehab for himself and for the first time has broken down in tears and admitted the pain of losing me, the house, our life together. I still don’t trust him but will be supportive if he continues with AA and an outpatient program. However, I will never take him back. I am not emotionally safe with such a loose cannon.

    I don’t regret divorcing him. I was miserable, emotionally hurt all of the time. I could not be the best parent I knew I could be to my 3 beautiful children. He was dragging me down and using me as a target for his verbal backlash. That is no way to live life on this earth. I remember what it feels like when I was younger to be loved and adored. I am still young – late 40’s. I deserve so much more from a partner.

    Alcoholism is a disease and until the person wants to help him/herself, hit rock bottom, there is nothing you can do. My ex-husband hit rock bottom by losing his job and then checked himself into detox and then a residential treatment program. By the time he did this, 20 years had gone by since I first got together with him.

    Sadly, alcoholism and drug addiction are rampant and if not addressed properly, the next generation of family will repeat the same behaviors.

  3. Ale says:

    I’ve been married for 8 years and he was sober for 12 months. He was on a trip from work, didn’t call me all day, not even his kids. When I called him at 10:00 pm, he sounded different and I noticed he sounded drunk. I asked him and he didn’t deny it.

    I feel sad, angry and I can’t trust him anymore. I don’t know what to do. I love him very much. He is a good father, but sucks as a husband. I don’t know what to do anymore!

  4. Anne says:

    I have been going to Al-Anon for 2 months now to try to change my attitude about my husband’s alcoholism and behaviour associated with it.

    It impacts my home and environment greatly in that I feel I have no stability, no home due to the chaos and confusion. I believe I am sicker than he is due to the shame, guilt, repulsion, anger, and dissapointment that lives within me. After a night filled with drama, none of it he can remember, I told him how I felt after shaming comments he made to me. It did not go over well and he decided to focus on one thing in my comments that he took exception to.

    I have systematically decreased exposure to him when he is apt to drink and behave badly.

    No more:
    going on all-inclusive vacations or cruises
    camping with our friends
    going to conferences together
    going out to friends’ houses unless he decides not to drink
    sleeping in the same bed after he has behaved badly and is drunk
    renting movies because he drinks so much that the movie must be paused frequently so that he can go to the bathroom and also get another drink, etc.

    I figure that I am alone anyway when he is drinking; he’s in his own little world, meeting his own needs, and is unable to connect with me in a meaningful way.

    On the bad side, I’m also suffering and not enjoying all the good social things that I could be enjoying. I’m still on Step One and I do hope I can get a change in attitude soon. He is a wonderful man whom I love to be with when he is sober. He is worth it and I’m leaving it to my higher power to hopefully intervene and nudge him toward sobriety. I am hopeful still, but I don’t know if we can endure the insanity on both sides.

  5. Jackie says:

    The podcast was helpful. However, the individuals did not say the actions they took to deal with verbal abuse, despite saying they wouldn’t tolerate it.

    I found out after we were married that my husband is a dry drunk and we are living separately. He has changed since we got married. He is always blaming others for his problems and so angry all the time. We had an argument which led to him screaming, cursing and demeaning me. I warned him that I won’t tolerate the verbal abuse any longer.

    I set boundaries that he must work on his issues, specifically his anger issues if there is to be any possible future for us. I have lost my trust in him and do not feel safe. So far he has done little to work on his anger and refuses to accept he is an alcoholic/addict and this is influencing his attitudes. I will protect myself with healthy boundaries, which are not ultimatums. I know ultimatums are looked at in Al-Anon as controlling behavior but this is different. My boundaries are for my own protection and not an effort to control him.

    I have placed a boundary up for my safety–address your anger issues in measureable, action-based ways (whether it’s reopening his mental-health case or whatever). I need to be sure I will not be abused by him if he comes home.

    I have been in verbally abusive relationships with other alcoholics and I will not remain in one and allow myself to get abused once more. I fought too hard to regain my self-esteem and I have my own sobriety of 23 years to protect. I love him, but there are some people that constitutionally can’t get honest. It is his path to walk and he must walk it, whether it’s with or without me.

  6. Linda says:

    I have been married for just over 3 years. My husband has parents, a brother, and a sister, who are all functioning alcoholics. Before we got married, I asked if he had a problem, which he said no, just a very social drinker. Found out he is a full-blown alcoholic.

    It wasn’t noticeable until a year ago when his dad died. Up and down mood swings, drinking vodka from the bottle before going to work–and everybody thinks he’s just the sweetest, most gentle person around–well, unfortunately they don’t live with him. Mood swings, up and down, verbally abusive to me, calling me stupid and low-down foul names, belittling me. Then he passes out and in the morning it’s like nothing happened.

    The other day I went out of town for a few hours and he called to ask where I was. I told him and said I’d be home in an hour or so. Arrived home to find him furious that I took so long, said I must have driven slow on purpose, went on to berate me and said to get on my knees and apologize for lying to him. Even when I break down crying, nothing phases him. Yesterday morning was up-and-down mood swings, then mid-afternoon he was saying he was going to commit suicide, said I was to blame, said that I would have to live with that. Tried talking to him, but everything I said or did was wrong–couldn’t help him see how much I loved him.

    Last night he moved all his things downstairs and was moving out/then talking suicide. Called his family to say goodbye and that he was committing suicide and it was all my fault for being so stupid. This is a man who is 57 years old and has a good heart when sober. He was getting verbally abusive and confrontational, and I asked him to leave and said he wouldn’t. Said I needed to call 911 if I wanted to get him out. I did and he was furious, telling me to hang up the phone. When I got off the phone he said, “This is it, I’m killing myself tonight.” He ran downstairs with me behind him yelling at him to stop, he ran into the garage and tried closing the door–he grabbed a blowtorch and was trying to get the torch close to his face. Where my strength came from I don’t know, but I pulled it from his hands. Then he proceeded to grab a spike tool and was trying to stab his head.

    I am so emotionally drained and exhausted. The police came and by that time he had calmed down and told the police that he had been having issues with me because I was too emotional lately, and he had been having problems with me–so many lies being married to an alcoholic! I am not into drama, I work in health-care and am so done now. This is the third time in 1 1/2 months that I have had to call the police and it’s the last time. I love him, but not his behavior when he’s drinking, and not his addiction.

    I deserve better in life–dreaming of coming home to a quiet house, with no issues of walking on eggshells, no worrying about what mood he is going to be in, no verbal abuse of how terrible and stupid a person I am. I have a nursing career, but belittles me on that also. A person deserves a life of happiness, of tranquility and joy–I’m getting none of those.

    As hard as it is to see him leave, and I will miss him on many levels, had so many good times, but the bad are outing the good now–he needs help! He has to come to realize that and make changes, and that we can’t be living in the same household while he does that. I’ll be there for him, but at a distance. Not going to miss the smell of vodka or sherry anymore–or his cigars that went with it. He always denies that he drinks, always has ginger ale around, but have found stashes in his garage, and a full bottle of vodka is gone in a few hours. I’m tired of living like this. I deserve so much more.

  7. Pamela says:

    I’ve been in a relationship with an alcoholic for the last 3 years and today I say I don’t want it anymore. The disease has caused me to lose self-confidence, because he is verbally abusive. I love this man, but I can’t keep putting my kids and my own future at risk because of this man’s addiction. It’s a very unhealthy relationship being with an alcoholic.

  8. gail says:

    My husband is drinking again. He managed to stay sober for 3 years. I am so sad. I was just starting to feel in love again. He says it was just tonight, but I know what happens next–drugs, more booze, and verbal abuse. I am going to be packing my bags and leaving as soon as he falls asleep. I will be closing the door to my home and my 28 years of marriage. I just can’t forgive anymore.

  9. Cheryl R. says:

    I was in a relationship with an alcoholic 30 years ago for 7 years. I never drink. My 20’s were ruined by this man. I saw it go from 6 beers to 12 a day. I can’t even stand the sound of a can being opened (even if it’s a soda). It’s so much better to be alone than in the web of an alcoholic.

  10. Ashley says:

    I have been married 7 years and for the last 5 it has been a tremendous roller coaster. He has been to 8 inpatient treatments and sober living for 3.5 months. Every single time he has immediately relapsed, either at the airport on his way home or the day after. He has been to countless detox’s and still manages to get so dependent on alcohol almost immediately. He has done so many reckless things, the list goes on.

    He is only 33 years old and as of last year had stage-1 cirrhosis. The doctor said if he continued to drink he would have 1-5 years left to live. This is a severely addicted man with no end in sight. We have a 2 and 4-year-old and for the last 3 years I have been the sole provider for our whole family. We have lived apart for the past 3 months and the chaos got even worse.

    I have decided that I am moving out of our family home because he uses it to dangle over my head. I feel I’m being held hostage because of the house. Thankfully after years of tears and stress I was able to see a way out. I finally got my own house and the kids and I will be moving.

    He is currently in the hospital with a severe infection from an incident while drunk. I have been going to see him daily and brought the kids to see him yesterday. I felt I owed the kids a sober visit with their father.

    He was being ok the first few days then he started being mean from what I assume is active withdraw. Why am I upset about this? I am the one who finally had the courage to move out and this is all my decision. Why does it hurt when he says for me to stay away? I still care for him as I understand he is a very ill man. Still, this is a very hard situation to deal with. I hope what I’m doing is right.

  11. julie says:

    I am married to an alcoholic who binge-drinks every week and becomes violent. I am tired of him saying to me that this is his last time and he will never do it again.

    I feel helpless and angry.

  12. stephanie says:

    I’m a 22-year-old with a 4-year-old and another one on the way. My husband began drinking daily a little over a year ago. I am not a drinker.

    Once the drinking started nothing seemed to change, then we started fighting more. The last six months have been nothing but daily fights and inappropriate behavior. Leaving me to feel like I have some kind of problem, or as if I am doing something wrong.

    Last night he landed himself in jail, and I hated him. Then he calls with promises of a better relationship, more involved parenting, working a program–I want to believe it, but I feel I’m just gearing up for another battle. One I don’t want to have again.

  13. Katy says:

    My cross-addicted partner, alcoholic, took an overdose three weeks ago. I called the ambulance service when he told me what he had done and he ended up in hospital. Hours later and after psychological assessment he was discharged and wanted to come home with me because he felt safe here. However, his suicidal thoughts have predominated since and although not drinkingsince–I have strong boundaries about his drinking in my home–his behaviour has taken on that of a dry drunk–rude, abusive, angry etc.

    He took himself off yesterday to see his adult children and has apparently been telling them what belongings he wants them to have after he dies. I know he is drinking again as he told me so when we spoke on the phone this evening. I have notified his mental health support of all this but it seems nothing can be done. He is an adult and has choices.

    I am in the the unenviable position of “damned if i do and damned if I don’t!” It’s a case of “heads he wins, tails I lose.” He is returning here on Friday supposedly. I could of course say no to that. We watched “When Love Is Not Enough,” the story of Bill and Lois W. I thought it wonderful. He said that it was rubbish. Enough said!

  14. carolyn says:

    I have been married 23 years. Husband drinks 12-20 every day. I’m tired. He is up and down and up and down. Nice/happy but manic/ then angry/sullen/argumentative. I wish he would hit me so I could say that’s it.

    I am so tired of the drama and the waiting for shoe to drop and hoping things will be somehow different. The other day he said he was going to start a program to stop drinking–with our pastor. It made me mad because I cannot muster up the appropriate behavior (supportive compassionate) because I doubt his sincerity. I look like a bad person. He pretended to have withdrawal symptoms in front of me/parents and pastor—and then the next day I found 15 cans in recycling bin. He hadn’t even stopped. I addressed this with him after I found them and he got angry.

    I’m tired. My grown son told me yesterday that he wanted me to leave 3 years ago. This was a surprise to me because I have only recently started to let myself acknowledge what a huge problem this really is.

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