Loving an alcoholic is not about taking care of them, but about taking care of you. You have a responsibility to protect yourself from any of the alcoholic’s negative and destructive behavior. Setting boundaries for you is how to become healthy, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. You may have to change a few personal things and schedules around the house a bit to accommodate your boundaries, but this is how you protect yourself from the insidious disease of alcoholism. All the boundaries I suggest are always detaching from the alcoholic in a loving way.
Don’t be around the alcoholic when they are drinking. Does this sound difficult to do. Well it isn’t if you have your own bedroom, or other room, with a television, desk, phone, cell phone, laptop, etc. Be prepared to leave any room the alcoholic is drinking in. When the alcoholic asks you why you are leaving the room, let them know the truth; you are powerless to control their behavior and you do not want to be around them while they are drinking; it’s as simple as that. You are taking care of you!
Don’t argue, plead, or yell at the alcoholic no matter how difficult it gets. This is what the alcoholic wants you to do. If you argue, fuss and fight, it takes the focus off of them and their drinking and on to you. See how that works? This is how the alcoholic drives you into the disease with them. Every time you try and control the alcoholic through words or argument, you actually lose the battle; they won! You stay in control by staying silent. You are in control when the alcoholic wants you to argue with them, but you walk away instead. This is taking care of you!
Don’t give the alcoholic money, booze, or pay their bills. By doing these things it will only enable them to continue drinking and also enable their irresponsibility to the household. If they pay part, or all of a utility that will get shut off if it is not paid, then of course pay it, but keep all receipts so they can pay you back. Let them know you are not taking over their financial responsibilities, but you certainly can’t live without heat or water.
Don’t have sex with a drinking alcoholic. You do not have to have sex with sloppy, booze smelling person, even if it is your spouse? By giving into the drinking alcoholic sexually, you are allowing yourself to be abused in a way that will cause much animosity and resentment later on down the road. Let them know when they are sober they can come to you for sex. And don’t have sex with a cheating alcoholic. This is a no-brainer. Do you want to catch the latest rash of venereal diseases? Set your boundaries.
Remember that setting boundaries for you is not a threat or a way to control the alcoholic. On the contrary, your boundaries have nothing to do with them, and everything to do with you! The alcoholic may not like your new attitude and that is why you explain to them why you have set boundaries. Explain to them that you will not be around an argumentative or abusive alcoholic, but when they are sober, you would love to talk with them. Tell them, “I Love you, but I don’t love the disease.”
For those of you with children, it is your responsibility to talk with your children about the parent with the alcohol addiction. They also need to detach from the drinking alcoholic for their spiritual and mental well-being. They desperately need to know it is not their fault that their mom or dad drinks. Let them know they are still loved by the alcoholic even if they get angry with them.
Search out God for your life in everything that you do. You will need the help of God for the strength, hope and faith to carry out with your boundaries. The minute you stop relying on God is when you will be tempted to give in and allow the alcoholic to trespass against your spirit. Don’t let that happen!
“Progress begins when we stop trying to control the uncontrollable, and when we go on to correct what we have the right to change, (ourselves)”
Quoted from the AL-ANON book.
The bottom line is you set a boundary to define your area, to protect your space – physical, emotional, mental, sexual, spiritual, financial, etc. You set the boundary because it is what you need to do for your self. The great aspect about this whole boundary thing is you will be helping the alcoholic to look at himself for a change and actually see that he does have a drinking problem and he needs to deal with it accordingly.