Loving and Leaving an Alcoholic: Am I Self Centered?

The day after spending Christmas with family, I received a text message from a close relative.

You are a self-centered piece of crap. Good riddance. You’re not welcome here ever again. Period. Everything was planned at our expense.

What the fuck did I plan? What the fuck is everything?

I love my family, my extended family, and my in-laws. However, like most family gatherings during the holidays, tensions can break – especially when you see them only once a year. Lack of regular communication, assumptions, and fantasy-perfect Facebook and Instagram feeds bolster false impressions that build throughout the year. Why no, there are no problems in the family. We’re all perfect, and so are you.

I admit I had a few reservations about attending this family gathering from the beginning. It wasn’t due to the usual family disputes: politics, religion, or family gossip. The real reason? Alcohol. Like most holidays, partying is a big part of the celebration. No biggie unless a beloved family member is an alcoholic. That changes everything. Alcohol abuse ruins families, relationships, careers, and lives. This holiday was no exception – booze flowed freely, as expected. But this family gathering was different. I made a bold statement on Christmas Eve – to everyone.

For me, I wasn’t in the Christmas spirit by any means. For me, it was another drunken night, much like countless others I’ve seen many times before. With a level of unbearable angst, I broke. I left the family celebration – peacefully. I didn’t explode in a fit of anger. I didn’t provoke anyone, nor was I aggressive or belligerent. I quietly stood up, announced I could not watch the alcohol abuse any longer, informed everyone I was leaving, and calmly walked out. I called an Uber, went to a hotel, and flew home on Christmas Day. Although I felt broken, I was hopeful that treatment would be sought because I took a stand and intervened.

Apparently, the timing wasn’t convenient for my family. Last time I checked, most people don’t schedule their breaking point.

You are clearly not a ‘stand up’ kind of guy. Any psychologist would agree. [You were] rude to the hosts. Immature, Dave.
[The family member] was not crazy drunk or anything.

Uh, by any measure, chugging nearly a fifth of Crown Royal whiskey all by you’re lonesome in a couple of hours is a lot of alcohol. Anyone would be quite intoxicated.

Sadly, the family was not fully aware of the severity of the problem. After all, I wasn’t going to broadcast in advance that getting plastered was a regular event. I wasn’t going to call them up beforehand and announce that nearly 200 Crown Royal bags were discovered – stuffed in a cabinet like trophies. I wasn’t going to advertise that the drinking was out of control for the past 18 months. 

This is normal holiday drinking – we all get drunk.  

A week into the new year, extensive outpatient therapy was scheduled for three hours a day, three days a week. I was hopeful. No one wants to see a beloved family member ruin their life with an addiction. After 90 days of treatment, some success was achieved.

With permission, I spoke to the therapist first-hand:

We only scratched the surface; it will take years of therapy to treat the underlying demons.

After hearing this news, I was fearful of the future. I was afraid the demons would rise again. I was in full-time panic mode.

Gradually, the alcohol abuse began all over again – but this time, it was binging on the weekends – nursing an entire bottle of Crown Royal from 8 PM to waking hours the next morning. Desperately, I tried to control and cure the disease. My desperate measures were powerless, though. Loving an alcoholic is a grueling and painful experience.

Although sobriety was short-lived, treatment may have never been sought if I didn’t take a stand and intervene on Christmas Eve. Likely, there would have been job loss and worse consequences. Before the relapse, I was thanked for saving the life of someone I loved so dearly.

Walking out during a family celebration wasn’t easy. And it certainly wasn’t an act of selfishness – it was an act of love – an intervention of hope. It was the most brutal yet the most unselfish thing I’ve ever done.

Yet, the ridicule still echoes:

You’re a self-centered piece of crap.

My apologies. Next time, I’ll be sure to schedule my breaking point at your convenience.

 

“File:Licor (249190917).jpeg”by Rodrigo.Argenton is licensed under CC0 1.0

Dave Pasquel

After living under a rock for nearly 25 years, Dave had his eyes opened wide to the world in 2010 after marrying his crazy cat lady wife. Intrigued by controversy, culture, lifestyle, current events and history, Dave has traveled to 41 states and a handful of foreign countries. Defined as ‘metro’ by his three kids, you will often find him cleaning the house instead of working out in the yard. In his spare time, Dave likes to write sappy love songs but will be the first to admit that he can’t carry a tune.

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