Learning to Care for Myself

Even though my mind understood that I should not be doing for others what they could and should do for themselves, my heart could not tolerate the pain of watching them suffer. On a regular basis my heart kept saying, maybe just this one more time and then he’ll stop this self-destruction.

Finally, a friend said again, “If you keep softening the bottom, he’ll keep digging.” This time I was finally able to hear the message. By not allowing him to suffer the consequences of his decisions, I was depriving the alcoholic of an opportunity to grow and change. I finally learned that the magic word “no” is a complete sentence. The consequences were grim and potentially fatal, but he finally quit digging. He is not in recovery yet, but he is employed and doing well. He no longer only calls when he needs something.

I am busy living my life now and carrying the message of caring for myself. I am the only one I can change. I have learned to listen with compassion without feeling the need to fix him or others. I only offer suggestions when someone asks for them and let go of the expectation that they will follow them. I am now free to be me and so is he.

By Charlotte L., Georgia

The Forum, February 2018

2018-02-02T14:40:16+00:00January 31, 2018|Categories: Alcoholic Spouse or Partner, The Forum|


  1. Jennifer B. July 2018 at 12:46 am

    How can you possibly maintain an intimate and close relationship with these people?

  2. TJ June 2018 at 4:40 pm

    thank you.

  3. Purplepower April 2018 at 12:53 am

    Thx. At least that is hopeful. I have to figure out the logistics now.

  4. Teresa D. April 2018 at 8:40 am

    My spouse and I have been together thirty years, his job is at stake our marriage as well as his health. I need some help.

  5. Sue April 2018 at 4:38 pm

    …the word no is a complete sentence, brilliant. I will add that to the list of slogans that help get me through the day.

  6. Lynn February 2018 at 12:34 pm

    WOW. What a powerful and educational read especially “if you keep softening …”.
    I didn’t know this after being in Al-Anon for 21 years.
    Thank you.
    Every read is a new experience.

  7. Rivka February 2018 at 7:45 pm

    “If you keep softening the bottom, he’ll keep digging.” I never heard this before – powerful imagery, for a common, painful dilemma! Thank you for putting this out there. To those who are still suffering, Al-Anon is one of the greatest spiritual gifts out there. It’s yours for the taking.

  8. Giselle February 2018 at 9:55 pm

    This is the best and the hardest message of all. Thank you. I printed this out and I will read this daily and whenever I need a reminder.

  9. T. S. February 2018 at 11:24 pm

    Thank you for sharing.

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