Cheers! The Narcissist and Alcohol

 

 cheers

Alcohol is a pervasive drug. A Bloody Mary prior to lunch, a liquid lunch to conduct business, afternoon drinks because it feels like skipping school, drinks straight from work which turn into a session, celebratory drinks for a birthday, a deal done well, an anniversary or just because it is Friday. Drinks at the golf club, prior to the big game, at the BBQ, at the funeral wake, a night cap, a toast, a cheeky snifter before heading home, one for the road, a hair of the dog to shift the hangover. Drink is everywhere and is deemed socially acceptable despite the misery that its excessive consumption causes.

What part does alcohol play in the narcissist dynamic? I do not mean the occasional drink with an excellent meal or the social beers in a bar with friends, the regulated and moderate drinking which does not bring with it problems. I am referring to alcoholism, where there is a reliance and a dependence on alcohol. How does that factor into the narcissistic dynamic?

At the outset it is necessary to distinguish between the alcoholic who is a not a narcissist and the narcissist who is an alcoholic. This is important because narcissism and alcoholism actually share similar traits.

–         There is the deceit that is involved in engaging in excessive drinking and engaging in narcissistic behaviour;

–         Both have sufferers who lack any insight that they have a problem;

–         Both require the manipulation of other people to achieve their aim. The narcissist manipulates to gain fuel, the alcoholic manipulates to drink.

–         Both engage in telling lies on a repeated basis about what they have been doing, where they have been, how much they have had to drink, whether they have had a drink;

–         Both result in selfish behaviour;

–         Other people find themselves being put second on a repeated basis to the needs of either the narcissist or the alcoholic;

–         Both engage in switching behaviour, being pleasant and likeable one moment and then suddenly abusive; and

–         The pursuit of the end game (fuel/drink) becomes the sole concern of the relevant individual

Accordingly, the behaviours of the narcissist and the alcoholic appear most similar. The alcoholic may present with narcissistic traits (as described above) but a sober alcoholic will see those narcissistic traits fall away to reveal that he or she is an alcoholic but not a narcissist. The addition of alcohol to this individual causes them to become narcissistic but they are not a narcissist.

The narcissist however who is also an alcoholic may stop drinking but the narcissism will remain. Indeed, there are many occasions where a victim will realise that they are involved with an alcoholic but they will not realise that this person is actually a narcissist who is also an alcoholic since alcoholism is far more readily identifiable than narcissism.

Narcissism leads to alcoholism. Not in every instance. I am not an alcoholic. I like to drink, in fact I enjoy it very much and I can consume significant amounts but I do not become blind drunk because I do not want to lose control. I have seen the narcissist who is an alcoholic and that is my Uncle Robert. His aged frame and bitterness are a clear testament to the aging that comes with a lifetime of downing his first gin and tonic at 11am and not stopping until the stupor arrives sometime after 9pm. Watching him as I was younger, observing his behaviours arising from his drinking (and later understanding that this was a layer upon his rampant narcissism) this served as a useful warning to me to ensure that I used drink for my purposes and did not allow it to consume me. I am fortunate I have that self-control and discipline, since many of our kind do not.

Alcoholism is a symptom of a certain mind set and narcissism is a mindset which lends itself to alcoholism occurring. Narcissists are creatures of addiction. We are addicted primarily to fuel. This is our drug, but being this way also means that we have a susceptibility to other addictive behaviours. This is why we engage in taking recreational drugs, shop with complete disregard for the financial repercussions, engage in workaholism, gamble and drive like maniacs. Not all will be present but there is a propensity for our kind to engage in these kind of behaviour because of our vulnerability to addiction.

The traits of our narcissism lend themselves to fostering alcoholism. Not only are we prone to addictive behaviour per se, the existence of these traits means that we become even more vulnerable to alcoholism occurring.

  1. Our magical thinking, our sense of superiority and omnipotence means that we believe that we can deal with alcohol better than the “little people”. We can drink more, we can handle that drink better and we can drink all manner of different types.
  2. The broad range of types of alcohol, the rich and varied culture that accompanies appeals to us as we show off our knowledge about it. The Cerebral Narcissist can boast about his extensive knowledge about particular wines or whiskies. The Somatic can brag about how much he has spent on a magnum of champagne and the Elite will do both.
  3. Our hunting grounds for our victims invariably involve the consumption of alcohol. The Somatic Narcissist who find his prey in the night club and amidst the chrome and neon lights of upmarket bars is going to be exposed to alcohol repeatedly.
  4. Our lack of accountability means that we can drink when we want, with who we want, where we want and we do not suffer the consequences. We can drink at lunchtime before making a presentation and believe we are immune to any such repercussion. We will take the wheel of a car having consumed alcohol because the laws are not applicable to us. We will not suffer any downside from drinking, we are a super man and able to cope with the toxins we are pouring into our throats.
  5. The desire to be centre stage. The provision of alcohol acts (at first) as an accelerant to our grandiose behaviour, our sense of showing off and performance and therefore slugging it down as we hold court in a bar, show off with our dancing and engage in our flirtations all assist ensuring that we are at centre stage and remain there.
  6. Blame-Shifting One. You make us drink. If you did as we wanted you to, then we would not be forced to have to drink to numb ourselves from the tedium that you cause. If you loved us properly we would not embrace the bottle. It is your fault that we drink so much.
  7. Blame-Shifting Two. The repercussions and consequences of drinking are your fault as well. If you had not made me leave the car after I had been drinking, it would not have a got a ticket. The final warning, I received because I was drunk on the job was down to you making me go into work because we need the money (even though you begged me to stay at home). Our abusive behaviour to people when drunk is down to you making us that way. You should have stopped us.
  8. Refuge. The consumption of alcohol by our kind allows us to take refuge. The Mid-Ranger who is innocuous turns into a raging Elvis impersonator as his grandiosity soars through the repeated application of drink. Drinking allows our kind to become ebullient, impressive and charismatic as it bridges the gap between what we really are and what we want the world to see. Alcohol removes the shackles which this cruel world seeks to impose on us and allows us to be who we want to be and who we want the world to see. We are freed of the terror of rejection since nobody can resist us when we are buoyed by this alcoholic uplift. The whisperings of the Creature are silenced by the pouring of another glass. How marvellous alcohol is to allow us to be what we want to be and to take away all the other concerns, limitations and problems that plague us.
  9. Removal of the mask. The lower functioning of our kind find a sense of relief in no longing needing to adopt a mask but rather allow the mask of alcohol and drunkenness to enable them to show what they are really like without fearing for the repercussions of rejection and criticism.
  10. Alcohol is a fuel enabler. It allows our kind to become better and more brilliant and in turn gather the fuel with greater ease, whether this is through impressing someone with confident conversation, sparkling wit and repartee orthe descent into abusive behaviour as time wears on and the drink mounts up.

The fact that so many traits of ours are geared towards the consumption of alcohol and the fact that this consumption enables us to achieve our goals with greater apparent ease added to the fact that we have an inherent susceptibility towards addiction for the reason explained above, means that this cocktail increases considerably the risk that a narcissist will be an alcoholic.

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73 thoughts on “Cheers! The Narcissist and Alcohol”

  1. HG
    Very nice piece. My mother and father and all my siblings are alcoholics. The siblings use alcohol to drown there pain. My dad I am sure did the same thing. He could hold his liquor well. My mother is a disaster. We all new we had to stay away after 3 pm.
    The weird thing is my mother when drunk acts loving and motherly and cries all the time. When not drinking she is miserable. You can feel all the hate. I hated her either way. Drunk she wanted affection from her kids. Since I hate touching that would send me overboard. When she was sober I hated how mean she was. Again my black and white thinking was very well developed before I was a teen. I was the only one who excaped the bottle. I saw what it was doing to everyone and I didn’t like it.

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  2. Wonderful article. Explains my next door neighbor and her nonstop partying with her posse of ” highly discriminating wine connoisseurs.” When you’re talking about say a lower or mid-range narcaholic and he is not a social butterfly like my neighbor but rather someone who gets drunk and just lays around his house or apartment watching Netflicks, ( in other words there is no false self to parade for other people) what is the impetus to drink here — just to keep the demon imprisoned in the cellar?

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  3. Interesting blog. Ive had so many alcoholics in my family. My dad, an uncle, a grandpa and the one that comes to mind the most is my grandma. My grandma was a heavy alcoholic. She was so abusive to my mum and i think is the reason my mum is a narc today. When i was born she was ultimatumed into quitting and was sober for 30 yrs until mouth cancer and other pain drugs got her back into drinking. She died as a result. Looking back i suspect she was a narc as she always had to be in control and ruled by force and threats. She had family members doing as she wanted and if they didnt there was hell to pay. I still remember her awful temper and just hearing her heavy footsteps sent anxiety thru me. She was my favorite grandma but i did see that side to her. She helped many a person during her sobriety sponsering and helping out in prisons. She had a good heart but it had a flipside to it and she could be so controlling and uncontrollable.
    Looking at my family history i see a lot of addiction and do wonder if theres a genetic component. Ive never been addicted to alcohol or drugs but i have a love addiction or to people. Its the same in a lot of ways. The dependance and reliance. Needing that hit of validation and the feelings of frantic when it wears off or disappears. Losing oneself and alienating from family and friends bc you only think about needing that person and what they give you which is the validation and comfort you feel you get from them.
    I can see where narcissists are prone to addictions bc the very disorder of narcissism is an addiction to people and what you can extract from them. It only makes sense that other addictions could be picked up to either aid that addiction or compliment it.
    My narc i suspect has a sex addiction and more or less admitted it when we met. At that time i had no idea what a narc was and didnt see the connection between his constant need of sex and this disorder. I think its just another way to fill the big void.

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  4. OMG HG. I have been reading your articles with interest over the last few months, and this one really hit home that I had to comment. The non-person (please don’t be offended HG) in my life is I think an alcoholic. He drinks a lot, when he is with friends and on his own. He likes to brag about it but also want sympathy from me because his life is a mess…all of his own doing. He also drinks and drives because obviously alcohol doesn’t effect him like it does others. I used to feel sorry for him and try to help but, after having this thrown back in my face on so many occasions I just see him as a pathetic creature.

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  5. It is very interesting to consider that all alcoholics may not be narcissists. My married family has much alcoholism and it is the general consensus in the family that if a person sobers up and shows signs of empathy that they were never really a true alcoholic. I can see how this thinking could have arisen as there are even more narcs than alcoholics, and as you point out, narcs are extra prone to alcoholism. As usual, you make me think.

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  6. Now I’m wondering if it might be more difficult for a narcissist who is an alcoholic to sober up and stay sober than for a non-narcissist alcoholic? Do you have any idea, HG? Oh, and thank you for making me think! 😊

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  7. Yes HG- the most societal held notion that is the very wrecking ball of an accepted form of self-harm yet mostly unlabelled as such. Combine the two and it is dynamite. Not sure what came first, the chicken or the egg but it is a lethal combination nevertheless. Does the narcissist develop further narcissistic traits through their addiction to alcohol or does alcohol unleash/awaken the narcissist? Both have very similar if not same outputs. Is alcoholism directly correlated with narcissistic pd as a cause or trigger? Are all alcoholics narcissists? Are all narcissists alcoholics? No. The alcoholic manipulates the presence of alcohol in the lives of others eg: Family getting ready to go for a bbq, making salads etc for the bbq but the alcoholic is centered toward getting ice, visiting the candy store (liquor outlet) on the way to select the best candy for the event. Alcoholic not satisfied to wait until arriving and is beamed up before visiting the candy store. The alcohol is referred to as the demon drink and rightfully so in many cases but as the years go on, the demon (monster inside, beast whatever we call it) takes the place of the person and that persons narcissistic traits are left in place of the person. The individual is not a person they are a complete syndrome if you will, a disordered mess no matter how high functioning from my experience that is what I see and what I have observed as the selfishness that opened the gate to the full blown malignant narcissist. No generosity left, nothing I can positively attribute to him. McScrooge nasty manipulative mean and vulgar demon in his place. The grinch who tried to steal Christmas and gave nothing and I have no empathy for him and the stench of his uric acid, lingers as I try to rid myself of the distinctive odour using bleach. Finally his body is telling him that his self harm has caught up with him and finally as he limps out the door with gout filled toes comes to the realisation he was not as invincible as he protests to be! Yes, I am to blame of course and he states he lived his life as a ***t and he will die a ***t and I despise that word but wanted to demonstrate just how boasting he is about being a complete ****!

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    1. Ostensibly yes, but I will be writing about our relationship with drugs separately.
      (It is just so damn difficult when there is a purple elephant sat on my keyboard playing the saxophone)

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  8. He was always drinking. Always had a drink in his hand. No matter the place or time of day…but… I never saw him drunk! No slurred words, no stumbling. I wondered if he was an alcoholic even though it wasn’t obvious to me. Yes… I do believe now he has a serious problem. Thank you, again, for helping me see this HG. WOW…the more I learn the more shocked I am. There is no bottom to this dark pit is there?

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      1. Yes indeed HG. I am amazed daily by things you reveal that I didn’t even realize was part of this “malady”. Is there a bottom to your dark pit HG? Is there a “bottom” for the narcissist?

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  9. Stepnarc was not an alcoholic and did not drink often but when he did it was devastating.
    The morning after a particularly vicious night I presented myself to him to address his behaviour:

    Me: you hurt us. All the time but worse when you drink.
    Him: staring at me
    Me: why do you do it?
    Him (after a lengthy silence): well when I drink I can say things that I can’t normally say
    Me: when you drink nobody wants to hear them. So now that I have told you that when you drink you hurt us, I will know that when you drink from now on that you are CHOOSING to hurt us

    He was silent and I walked away

    I was 11 yrs old

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      1. LOVE

        Thanks. You cant miss what you dont know but it appears to have saved me a lot of heartache later on. I dont really feel when I recall those moments- its just like watching a short film and taking note.

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      2. I dance and perform where I get to wear a lot of bling and feathers and headpieces with high heels- a girl’s dream come true. I also watch animation movies, and treat myself to fun vacations where I frolic in the sand, do handstands in the water.
        And I eat ice cream sometimes.

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      3. LOVE

        Oooohhhh!!! Bling, feathers, and heels sound like fun. I like leather and heels and my bling may be a little different but any dressing up is fun. I have never tried or been requested to do a headstand……..but I love ice cream! ( anything but vanilla).

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      4. Well there you go NA. Be a kid again by doing hand and headstands while eating non-vanilla ice cream!

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  10. As soon as it got a drink in it’s hand the mask started to slip he was a ticking time bomb . The pattern was always the same.

    Smiley drunk.
    Happy drunk.
    I’m gods gift to women drunk
    I rule the world drunk .
    I’m right & every single person on this planet is wrong drunk .
    I can break your things without giving a fuck about them drunk . Verbally abusive drunk .

    Violent drunk! ….

    Mask on the floor drunk .

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      1. Exhausted . Reading your comment makes me very sad .

        I’m assuming you’re still in the relationship? ( apologies I don’t know your history)

        If you are then I know how difficult it is to break free, but what I can say is that the abuse & the frequency of it just gets worse .
        It doesn’t matter how hard you try to calm the situation down it won’t happen.

        I understand now ( though I didn’t realise at the time ) that the escalating violence was as a result of his devaluation of me at the same time he was idealising his new target . As such he was getting fuel from us both, only in my case I was so mentally exhausted & drained I’d practically given up on caring if I lived or died & I started fighting back knowing full well what the consequences would be . ( all fuel & control for him of course) Other than a few childish fights at school had I laid a finger on anyone !
        The last time I was injured by him he assaulted me three times in the space of a few hours . I thought that night was going to be my last .

        Exhausted . I know we all think were are somewhat different & we can change them, find the good person we once knew & fell in love with but as HGs mentioned many times here, that person was an illusion, the person you are with now is the real one . I hope with the help & information here if you haven’t escaped then you’ll find the strength to.

        He won’t change because he can’t.

        Hugs! No So Sad. x

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  11. NA I am sorry but that made me laugh as to many time that was the reason I brought hell down on me, my statements of truth.

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  12. Everything…every tiny thing about Narcissism is heartbreaking. It is the hopeless, helpless feeling. At some point my head will convince my heart. Sometimes I abhor this Empath curse. At times I want to throw up my hands and say f**k it and simply walk away…leaving all emotion in the muck and slime they have so carefully created. I’m getting there… Thank you HG…for the dark understanding. There truly are monsters out there. They are the wiindigo. A disease, a virus of the soul. I will shed my last tear at midnight on the 31st of December 2016. I will purge him from my being. I will walk away from the illusion. I hope.

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    1. Truly sorry for your pain and understand entirely about the empath curse. No matter how hard I maintain a hard shell and even to the point of coming across like a total bitch, so he truly has reason to hate now instead of the confusing state I used to get in and try harder and harder for what, less and less reciprocated from the the crumb giver. Will be thinking of you New years eve, and crying comes with the curse I am afraid to say. If only we could dispatch our feelings off so instantaneously as do narcissists then perhaps we would all find a cure to our position on the spectrum and if they could get some of us and we some of them, I guess we would at least be somewhere on middle ground and even.

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  13. Thank you for explaining the difference between a narcissist who is also an alcoholic and an alcoholic who is not a narcissist.

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  14. This topic is a hard one for me, as I have loved so many with addictions and lost one to death (secondary to his addiction) this year. When you add narcissism to the mix, it becomes like a tornado that has hit a sword shop.
    A dangerous mix that is quite difficult to diagnose correctly as a clinician, unless you have known the person for years and gather information from other sources. They get diagnosed with Bipolar, Addiction, Depression, Anxiety, anger issues…and everything is felt to hang onto whether they got sober or not. Oh, if they got sober, people say, oh they would be sooo much more successful, so much more of a nicer person, etc etc…Complete horse-shat. It is even harder to treat. When sobriety and medications still do not help….and they resist counseling…or owning responsibility. Well, that throws out all the 12 steps. Can’t have a higher power, if YOU think YOU are the higher power.

    The mix of the self centered view of omnipotence and immortality….and the added fuel that alcohol and drugs give. There is minimal motivation to stop drinking/using. Hitting bottom is harder to do as well. Especially if you have a bunch of co-dependents in the family that keep the addict from hitting bottom and taking responsibility for their actions. What looks like caretaking is actually putting the nail into the coffin, eventually. Yep, caretaking kills–Two people instead of one.

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      1. Thanks Love. It has been an emotionally draining year for sure.
        I have that Sia song in my head, Chandelier. 1-2-3, 1-2-3 drink…it breathes life into the pain I feel when I think of someone struggling with emotion and addiction. I cry every time I hear that song.

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      2. Why does Maddie Ziegler dance in all her videos? The one with Shia LaBeouf (Elastic Heart) was bizarre. She’s only 14.

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      3. It’s a good question. My guess is that she represents Sia when Sia was a youngster. I think part of the symbolism indicates she went through some serious stuff as s kid…just a guess though.

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    1. So true and so dynamite the combo. I agree with all you say and it cannot be forced on them, they will find it elsewhere and refuse to yield toward a place that they know will be daily misery anyway. No one can do it for them, they have to want to help themselves perhaps after a scare for a short period but it is a legal substance and our cultures and norms hand it out with pretty labels and no health warnings on the bottles. We all suffer the alcoholics shifts and swings and yes when or how narcissistic traits arise with some alcoholics it is lethal to everyone in close range.

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  15. No more tears Indy.
    Next year has to be better for you. You have suffered a lot this year.
    I am flying right over you in a couple of weeks to Florida. Come on down and I’ll buy you a drink there. 😀🌴🍹
    I have learned so much about addictions this year. From me to the narc and the narc to me and all about alcoholism.
    I’m going to start going to Al-anon next year to see what they have to say.

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    1. Yes Snow, here’s to the new year!!! Coincidentally, at that approximate same time I am going to D.C. Close to my birthday week woot!!!! Have a drink or two for us, sweet Snow ❤️🍎🍎🍎

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      1. I will Indy! I will enjoy the ocean and will be on high alert for the sharks/narcs out there. Lol
        My birthday is at the end of January.
        That will require that we have a birthday toast 🍻 lol
        Is your travel for work?

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  16. What to say…. I don’t want to dishonor my husband, but I’m believing more and more he may have had narcissistic tendencies of the lower variety. Very much passive aggressive, under the radar, but it was definitely felt. He was a high functioning alcoholic who never felt appreciated and never spoke up for himself. He drank himself to passing out for years, but in the last year tried, or told me he was trying, to quit. I was portrayed as the nag when I finally asked him to stop and be a part of the family he had been missing out on for years. He took his own life, telling me a while before that I’d surely not like it when he wss gone. I am left knowing I loved him and tried for years, but this last mind game of his is taking its toll. I am trying to be positive, but it’s as if he still has control through the ongoing mind games he had played most of our 20 year marriage. Most of what you wrote is so true. He, being covert style, was more of a sorry drunk, who, although wasn’t grandiose, surely was emboldened by drink. Thank you so much for your exposures. It’s been helpful throughout the grieving and to be honest, the relief.

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    1. Hope, you stated: “He took his own life… ”
      I am so sorry. My narc is covert also and talks about taking his life. I am so afraid he may do it one day. I would not be able to tolerate it. I hope you can grieve and heal.

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      1. We are healing (we had many kids). One thing I had/ have to realize, is that I was, in an unhealthy way, as addicted to trying to save him, as he was to his drugs and alcohol, and to not needing a saviour. I recently found old letters of his from before I knew him. Same story. He’d use his sadness and pity to get affection. Then be irritated that he did. It’s such a vicious cycle. I’d been in counselling a year before it happened. He attributed our no longer getting along to my changing. I was trying to bring health to our relationship. I never wanted to leave, I wanted him to get better. I was seeing how my empathy was misguided. I had not been showing compassion by trying to fix everything, by smoothing over the problems and ignoring how he was abandoning us to alcohol. I thought it was respectful to stay with him, love him, and let him decide. I really thought he’d feel enough love and respect that he would be compelled to enjoy his family more than his alcohol. It never happened. There were good moments. Those glimpses of hope kept me addicted like a gambler.
        Well, no contact now. I’m finding it easier daily, as I realize he was as bent on ending his pain as I was on rescuing him from it.

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      2. Hope, i am a bit confused. You stated that he took his own life. I think i misunderstood and actually thought he took his own life (i pray that this never happens if it has not). In your recent post, you stated that you are no contact. So he is hopefully alive and reasonably healthy (apart frm the alcoholism)? Again, pardon my confusion.

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      3. He had tried and talked about it for years while we were married, and I recently found out even before I knew him. It was draining. We’d call the authorities, they recommend counseling. He’d not go, or start and stop. Claim nobody could help him. I’m glad I found him and not my kids. I was initially shocked, but looking back confess I felt it was coming at some point. We are doing alright now.

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      4. Hope, thank you for the clarification. And i apologize for my confusion. It is a relief that you found him rather than your kids, although it must have been so difficult for you. I am glad you and your family are slowly healing. I am sending warm wishes your way. 💗

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    1. Thank you. I appreciate your sympathy. There have been many blessings in this as well, and I refuse to let this trauma rule the rest of my life. I loved him very deeply. He loved as he could, he played a lot of mind games, but we are unraveling from those now. I do believe he tried to make changes, but it seems as is the usual predicament, he was hardwired. He was a hardworking man, never left a bill unpaid. Because we had life insurance for many years, it was still valid and the house is now paid. I am not going to lie, besides the grief felt for his sadness and lost hope, and my kids losing a father right when he had started becoming more involved in their lives, there has also been relief. We no longer search for a passed out man at night, no longer wonder if he’ll hurt someone in an accident, are no longer embarrassed by crude, offensive behavior, and can have peace knowing the mind games are about over. We have some things to process, some healthier ways to learn, but we’ve been covered by so much love and support from our friends and family,we feel God careing for us through this tragedy.

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  17. Sorry, I deflect with humor, sometimes too dark. He hung himself, therefore, I am ‘No Contact,’ by definition, for the rest of my life. The lingering, ‘maybe if only I had done…., what if I had been more…., why didn’t I….. did I push him too far?’ are the thoughts that I have still, once in a while. I must remind myself that it was not my choice. I have been in counselling for more than a year. It happened only months ago, so I believe I was grieving before it ever happened. I’ve always used humor to get by while surviving through the years. I’m sorry if it was offensive.

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    1. HOPE
      I am far from offended by your humour, but encouraged that you are finding your way out with it. I just wrote a post about this to Ava101 on HGs post: To have and to hold. I believe when you start to laugh to start to heal.

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  18. I see now, rereading my post, where it is confusing. I meant I was glad I found him hanging and not any of my kids, and it appears like ‘we’ are doing alright now may have meant my husband and I. I was referring to the kids and I. We are moving forward, our hope is not lost. ♡

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