Our Drinking Relationship: A Long Convoluted Story

By Bonnie L.

I have been sober for almost 6 months.  My SO drinks and uses. Our relationship has always been affected by drugs and alcohol. We met in a bar. For the first 10 years I don’t think we ever had sex sober! It defined our social activities, our circle of friends, how we communicated to each other and how we resolved (or attempted to resolve) our interpersonal problems and relationship/family issues. Alcohol was either the basis of our problems or how we dealt with a problem. We have been together for 16 years.

I started getting sober about 5 years ago. I now have almost 6 months. What I have discovered these past 5 years as I went through many relapses was how much my drinking patterns influenced his drinking/using patterns. We tried to outdo each other it seemed. But, when I’m not drinking, his drinking diminishes so much, I wonder if he even has a problem sometimes (I know he does though).

The first time I quit – I did so for 2 years via AA. I was convinced (thanks to my sponsor and other supportive (?) people in AA that if K. didn’t also quit our relationship was doomed. I was told that I needed to go to Al-Anon as well as AA (yikes!!).  I agonized over it, I pleaded with him to come to AA, I threatened him that I would have to leave – all the time crying inside because he is my best friend, and I didn’t want him out of my life.

This time around, my sobriety feels different. I don’t want to dictate to anyone else how they should handle their addiction/problems nor do I want to lay down expectations around when/if alcohol will be allowed in the house. Now, having said that, it’s a struggle – Hell, I’m no saint, I get really annoyed if he has been drinking and absolutely intolerant if he can’t carry on a conversation with me. But I quit ranting and raving (well, most of the time) about it and now I simply tell him he can’t talk properly nor is he making sense and walk away. That has more influence on him than any of my previous pleading, threats, etc.

So, in many ways, it is easier this time around. Because I have changed — not him. My attitude has changed.

I sincerely hope that K. will also quit and, I kinda think he will, but not because of any rule or threat from me. Anyway, that’s my long, convoluted story about drinking and relationships. Now it is time to get out into that beautiful sunshine – what a glorious spring day it is!!

Posted 4/17/99