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Susan's story



I grew up in an alcoholic home.  I didn't know it at the time because it was always hidden.  But, my father was drinking a lot and verbally abusive to me (and my brother and mother) from around the age of 9 or 10.  Needless to say - the "norm" to me was being uncomfortable, lots of tension, walking on eggshells, with periods of "honeymooning" in between.


I had my first alcoholic relationship when I was 19.  I dated him from 19-21.  He drank, did drugs, hit me, verbally abused me, etc.  I always clung to his "sweet" side - which was rarely there and sometimes I think I created it in my head.  When I was 22 I moved in with another alcoholic/drug addict who was very jealous (which I mistook for love).  He was also physically abusive as well as verbally abusive to me.  However, I managed to stick it out with him for 3 1/2 long years.  I left him and moved on to my next alcoholic relationship quickly.  I noticed that I was going to the next relationship faster and faster.  I needed to feel loved.


This pattern repeated itself a few times.  I survived a suicide attempt after one particular alcoholic dumped me.  I was in rough shape emotionally.   And, turning to my alcoholic family was no help.


I met my ex-husband when I was 28.  He was a pretty severe alcoholic who dabbled in cocaine as well.  We met in a bar and partied together.  He was about to go to jail for his 4th dui so we only had one week together.  He did 90 days.  I went to visit him every day and my codependence thrived.  I felt so loved, so alive in his drama and screwed up life.  


His parents who were very enabling and in the deepest denial I've ever encountered before or since - immediately took me under their wing.  I felt so needed.  It was great.  I tried to minimize the times in jail he would get angry and yell at me over the phone.  He got out of jail and we moved in together.  I noticed his mother was around - a lot.  She seemed to be "watching" constantly.  Calling on the phone. Hovering over us.  I know now she was displaying the sickest and most enabling behavior I've ever seen.  She was literally trying to control her alcoholic son - and to this day - believes she does.


We got engaged the day he got out of jail.  I was finally going to be married.  Someone finally wanted to marry me.  I felt so loved and needed.  We went through 6 months of drinking, drugging, fighting and planning for a wedding.  It's a blur to me still.  I remember his mother picking out and ordering my flowers, the cake, the decorations for the church.  She planned the entire wedding.  In hindsight I see how controlling she was/is.


The real fighting ensued right after our marriage.  His drinking escalated and I found it harder and harder to handle.  He was unpredictable and uncontrollable when drunk.  And, his binges got worse and worse.  He pressured me to get pregnant right away.  A tactic abusers use to "trap you" with them.  But, I took it to mean he loved me and wanted a family.  I got pregnant 5 months after we married.  We had a beautiful baby girl.  The drinking got worse.  I had quit drinking when I got pregnant and now - for the first time since my teen years - was sober.  His drinking and abusiveness became crystal clear.  But, I was uneducated and not emotionally equipped to deal with it.  So, I tried to pretend that it wasn't as bad as it obviously was.  I sunk into denial.


I stayed with him for 4 years after this.  I started going to Al-Anon and counseling the summer of 2000.  This is after we moved into our 2nd house in 3 years - and I found a suitcase in the basement stuffed with 7 cases of empty beer cans.  I went through years of lying, sneaking, verbal abuse, etc.


Our divorce was a nightmare.  He refused to move out of our home.  His controlling and abusive behavior skyrocketed.  He would get drunk every night and follow me and our little 3-year-old daughter around the house.  When I would put her to bed he would stay in the room to bother me - keeping her up and manipulating her to feel sorry for him.  It was absolutely the worst thing I have ever been through.  Watching him inadvertently torture our little girl just to punish me.  He quickly started dating a co-worker and they married 6 months after our divorce.  He had lots of money (his mother is wealthy) and promised to fight me in court for custody.  I eventually settled out of court and moved out into my own home.  We do shared custody and to this day - it is very hard to deal with him.  He calls me all the time and if I "let him" would pull me back into the sick relationship.  It takes conscious effort on my part not to let that happen.


I finally realized that controlling, alcoholic behavior was not love.  And, I am still in my own personal recovery - learning to love myself.  I am worthy and I am deserving of a good life.  A life not filled with tension and abuse.  I have begun setting personal boundaries for myself.  I have learned that no matter how the alcoholic presents himself to the "outside world" - I am the one who has to live with myself.  My ex is very nice to me in front of others - making his behind the scenes verbal abuse harder to handle.  People will often ask me what my problem is, he seems so nice.  Our daughter doesn't understand it at all and he plays on that with her.  He is a very sick man.


I have to keep up my healthy boundaries and just tell them "You don't know him".  And, they don't.  My ex - like many other alcoholic/abusers - is a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality.  But, it's what "I" do that matters.  I have to keep my focus off him and his craziness and on myself and what I can do to make my life healthy.


I hope my story helps you.



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