To Be In Love With An Alcoholic
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To Be In Love With An Alcoholic

An Ode To Sarah McCandless

To Be In Love With An Alcoholic
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Last week, I was reading through my community’s content on the Odyssey’s website. I did this because I was seeing what was common for SUNY Oswego’s writers, what seemed interesting, and possible ideas.

And then I saw “What It’s Like To Be In Love With An Alcoholic” by Sarah McCandless, written in 2015. You can read the article here.

This article is well written but incredibly sad and for me, relatable. McCandless writes her personal experience and a few how-to’s regarding dealing with your alcoholic lover. She writes that what they are feeling is not your fault and how to nurse a hangover. She tells her readers to be strong. Perhaps for her, this wasn’t so sad as she was writing it. For me, it reminded me of when I used to tell myself dating an alcoholic is okay.

I, too, have an experience with being in love with an alcoholic. Before going into the relationship, I knew from a mutual friend that he is quite the drinker. I thought this was okay because I drink, too. At the time we were both in college (he has since graduated) and part of the way we got to know each other was going out with friends when one of us visited the other (we were long-distance).

At the time, I guess I didn’t realize how dependent he is on alcohol. I also didn’t realize how this would affect me and why it is important that it did affect our relationship and what it caused me to realize as our relationship came to an end.

In the beginning, we had so much fun and I know he loved me more than anything. Except for maybe his late dog and alcohol. But I had noticed pretty early on that he drank about 4-12 beers every night depending on if it was a weeknight or a weekend. If it was a weekend, he ordered alcohol with every meal. If we went out, there were shots and mixed drinks involved. I told myself this was okay. Sarah told herself this was okay, but it’s not.

Drinking everyday is unhealthy. It can make you cognitively slower, gain weight and insult, but simultaneously be dependent on your girlfriend. I’m not writing this with scientific data as a backup but I am writing this from my own experience.

The part that really upset me after a while is that he would deny that he was an alcoholic, yet get aches and headaches when he “took a break” for two days.

I would beg him to come to bed with me and wake up in the morning to him asleep on the couch with a beer spilled all over his jeans. I would ask him not to be short with me or say mean things and somehow, it was my fault. The alcohol told him to never take responsibility for his actions or the words he would say. He would promise me not to drink that night and I would ultimately catch him in yet another lie.

The beers were his friends, the liquor was his lover and the wine was the blanket on his bed when he finally, finally passed out.

And there I was, trying to be in what Sarah calls a “polygamist relationship” with my boyfriend and his alcohol. It was exhausting and hurtful. I felt like I was trying to fix someone who didn’t want to be fixed. Or maybe I wasn’t the right answer.

Eventually I told him that if he didn’t stop drinking after one horrible, horrible night, I would break up with him. I recorded him on video so he couldn’t tell me he didn’t remember like so many mornings before. He cried the whole next day and kept asking me “but why.”

But why do I have to stop.

But why, what did I do last night.

But why does this affect you.

And trust me, I tried everything before this. I tried to force myself to be okay with this because I loved him. I tried to get him water in the morning and take him to breakfast to make him feel less depressed. I tried to remind myself to not take what he says to heart because he doesn’t mean it, it’s the alcohol. I tried telling him not to drink.

I realized in the six months he was sober it wasn’t just alcohol. He needed drugs to do anything and everything. He was addicted to being under the influence and I realized I can’t take care of someone all the time. I need someone to take care of me from time to time, too. I wanted someone who would remember if they said something mean and apologize the next day, not because I was crying and begging but because they realized their actions have consequences. I wanted someone who didn’t get bored when they were sober. I wanted someone who wouldn’t drink a 12-pack at my parents house. I wanted someone who didn’t need me as a babysitter and did everything, even remind them to brush their teeth, for them.

I wanted someone who wasn’t an addict, and that’s okay.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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