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Feelings of guilt leaving an alcoholic

Echoes
Community Member

Hi everyone,

I have an overwhelming feeling of guilt after separating from my wife of 10 years. She succumbed to alcohol and was often violent and emotionally abusive towards me when drunk. Despite the suffering and abuse I was under I still feel like I have let her down by leaving her as she has no means of support after losing her high paying job due to alcohol. I know that I was only enabling her to continue her drinking by being there and I feel like I have wasted the past 10 years. I feel like less of a person and a failure as a husband. After several stints in rehab and having to clean soiled sheets and clothes often I lost hope in our relationship. I was totally miserable and after leaving her I am in a slightly better place now. I am now alone and have taken action to protect myself from her by moving away. I am thankful I have no children and sometimes think about what I could have done to help her while crying alone. I know things will get better and I am doing my best but sometimes I think that I will never get over this. My self esteem has been battered and I can’t see how it will ever rebuild. It feels good to write this and I hope that people in similar situations can see that they are not alone in this struggle.

4 Replies 4

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, welcome

Ironically your post mimicked my last relationship in nearly every way, the violence (she'd slap me when drunk), 10 years together, my guilt factor and no control over her drinking.

We expect ourselves to be super human, to "save the world" regardless of the reality of our capabilities of restriction. You and I are the dedicated types that can fix everything, while we ourselves crumble. When we crumble the rest of the world including our ex's aren't there for us...but as we are the"saving" type, the protectors, they expect us to be there all the time. This all flies in the face of "charity begins at home". Meaning you, taking care of yourself. Where do you start with that?

The first step is peace. Your pursuit of inner peace from life's bad experiences is a rebuild of confidence along with removal of guilt. So lets talk about that. Although it is highly recommended you seek therapy of some sort in between appointments you need to undertake the rebuild yourself. Self help like on this forum and reading up is crucial- educating yourself.

The next step is being realistic. Ask yourself "am I being realistic with that thought"? Often people return to a doomed relationship only to realise the reality is- is was never going to be any different, we tend to forget about the trauma and the bad things.

Then there is distraction- basically getting a life, filling it with activities previously out of your comfort zone. In my case I built my own house, a mammoth task, too tired to think about my grief.

Finally spiritual peace if that is what you feel you lack, meditation, digging deeper to free yourself of this trauma.

I've listed below some threads I've written that cover these topics, you only need to read the first post if you like.

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums/staying-well/who-cries-over-spilt-milk-#qt5QuHHzvGGEbv8AAOnT_A

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums/staying-well/the-best-praise-you'll-ever-get#qiHfqnHzvGGEbv8AAOnT_A

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums/anxiety/worry-worry-worry#qhCDHnHzvGGEbv8AAOnT_A

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums/staying-well/depression-distraction-and-variety#qn71W3HzvGGEbv8AAOnT_A

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums/staying-well/guilt-the-tormentor-#qn2_kXHzvGGEbv8AAOnT_A

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/general/search-results?keywords=he%20helped%20me%20for%2025%20years%20maharaji

Reply anytime.

TonyWK

It helps knowing that someone can relate to my situation. Thank you for reading my story and for your supportive advice. I recently saw my GP and have started seeing a psychologist. 2020 is going to be a hard slog and I'll be reaching out when things get too tough to handle on my own.

Mandy_77
Community Member
Thanks for sharing. I hope you can start to heal yourself now that you are free from harm. It is hard to give up on someone whom we had planned to spend our lives with but it is important to look after your own self for a change, before you too become a shadow of them. Good on you for taking such a huge step fwd and for being so strong.
I am glad you did! I wish you the best for your future.

therising
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Echoes

As a legal addictive substance, alcohol can definitely prove highly destructive, as you've witnessed.

Sounds like you've risen so many times to the challenges that alcohol brought to your relationship. If you were to sit down and count out the times, I'm sure you'd be truly stunned by the extent of your efforts. Whilst you may feel guilty leaving, consider what it may take for your wife to wake up to the damage her addiction has brought to life. How many times do you hear 'I never realised how bad things were until I lost everything'. For some, losing everything is the wake up call to change. A harsh reality but true for some.

You do not deserve to suffer forever. You have cared so much and endured so much already. I think one of the hardest challenges to face in life is the challenge that comes with choice. It is sometimes easier to face challenges when we have no choice. We just gotta move through it. When the choice to stay or go is present in a relationship, a long painstaking decision full of self questioning can often be the result. You made the decision to stop questioning and you took action. This is incredibly powerful and definitely life changing. You've risen to such a challenge as a highly conscious and sensitive person. The most powerful kind of person there is.

Whilst the 10 years may feel like a waste, I believe it's important to reflect on how incredible you have been. In the saddest moments, you rose to still be there for her during that time. In the most frustrating and soul destroying moments, you rose to the next challenge the relationship brought. Do you believe you have ever been this strong with this much endurance in any other part of your life? Do you know anyone who would easily nominate you for sainthood? I'd be truly surprised if no one did.

You are highly conscious, deeply caring, capable of amazing states of endurance and you sound like one of the strongest people I know. I believe in giving credit where credit is due. I'm a strong believer in the idea that guilt is a wake up call leading us to ask 'Who am I going to consciously choose to be from this moment onward?' For you, I believe the answer should be 'I am proud of all I have been under sufferance. In my new life, I will continue to be highly conscious, deeply caring, capable of amazing states of endurance and strong, for this is who I am'.

I wish you only the best as you embark on a new life 🙂