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This article is written by Donna Thompson, publisher of Challenges, in which she writes her featured column, Get A Life®. A publication for people in recovery and their families.

Choosing the Divorce Option

I divorced two alcoholics.

Not until after I was married to the second alcoholic, became active in Al-Anon and also benefitted from private family treatment programs, did I learn the symptoms of alcoholism and realize that the previous husband had also been alcoholic.


I filed for divorce and walked away from an alcoholic who volunteered he was not good marriage material. I also walked away from years of emotional and psychological abuse.

During the years of my intense involvement in Al-Anon, the message I heard--accurately or inaccurately--and what I read in the original ODAT (One Day At A Time) suggested that there was a strong possibility the breaking down of my marriage could be reversed if I would change.

Specifically, the December 30th page cited in the contents under "Divorce" stated: "If I want to make a major change which affects other lives as well, let me first consider the possible outcome. Have I really tried to examine and correct my own faults? Is there a way for me to improve my attitude? I will let the great decision wait until I have tried that!" That was followed by this quote: "The truly wise solution may lie in improving myself."

Because I had already accepted Al-Anon's first step, "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become unmanageable," I found myself trying to make sense out of what seemed to be conflicting messages.

Powerless

I worked hard on my own recovery from having become a co-dependent. I kept my sponsor, talking with her almost daily, but I switched to a different home group. My reading of Al-Anon literature as well as articles and books about alcoholism continued.

Eventually, I came to terms with these beliefs:

1. I was powerless over alcohol.

2. I had stopped enabling.

3. I could stand on my head and spit nickels and have no effect on the alcoholic's behavior.

4. The alcoholic demonstrated no desire to change.

5. The alcoholic appeared to be someone incapable of being honest, least of all with himself.

6. I had stopped feeling and behaving as if I were a victim.

7. I had the emotional strength to leave what had become a travesty of a marriage.

I also recognized the profound meaning behind this statement: "Whatever I do that is correct for me is automatically correct for those around me." This belief is bogus if there is any selfishness lurking within a motive.

I filed for divorce and walked away from an alcoholic who volunteered he was not good marriage material. I also walked away from years of emotional and psychological abuse. I walked away from something that could have been a success. The marriage itself was powerless over alcohol; its many positive ingredients could not withstand persistent doses of alcohol poisoning.

Project: Alcohol & Divorce
A special feature about the effects of alcohol on marriage with Alcoholism Guide Buddy T. and Divorce Support Guide Patricia Gaudette. You can help.

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