Shut your legs!

Joey Garcia

My boyfriend and I grew up in a small town and shared one intensely passionate kiss before our lives went in different directions. In time, we married other people and had children. When his brothers were killed, he coped with the grief by drinking. Eventually, he lost everything and served time in prison for DUIs. We reconnected three years ago; the attraction was still strong, but it is sometimes a nightmare because of his alcoholism and rage. He finally completed a recovery program in June but has fallen off the wagon—a lot. I know that this happens but my heart cannot take it. My ability to trust him is shot. I recently took a business trip and had prearranged with him times to talk while I was away and when we would get together when I returned. He disappeared for the entire time. Still, I have a nagging feeling that it would be a serious mistake to end this relationship permanently. Advice?

If the relationship never changed, if it remained forever what it is, right now, would you stay? Probably not. And that’s why you must leave. Nothing will change as long as your man persists in his addiction. No amount of love or support will make a difference until he chooses another way to live.

When the relationship began, I suspect you conjured those childhood memories to help you concoct “happily-ever-after” dreams about your man. That’s natural. What’s unnatural is to hold on to those dreams in the face of the reality you’re now living with. The belief that he will change, the hope that your nightmare will transform into the dreams you have imagined, is the addiction that keeps you tied to the turmoil. I want you to know that you deserve to be in a relationship where there is mutual respect, love, values and vision for the future. Believe it.

It’s also vital for you to understand that your man’s grief was not the cause of his drinking. Many of us experience the death of loved ones and do not drown our sorrows in drink or drugs. It’s more likely he was already addicted to beliefs like, “People think I’m a loser” or “I’m worthless and no one cares about me.” Then, after the death of his brothers, those internal voices grew louder and more insistent. So your man used alcohol to try to drown them out. It works, temporarily. When a person is drunk, he or she is unable to listen, feel or think well. This denial empowers the chorus of negative internal voices. That’s why your man drank more alcohol more often. Now, he must give up the alcohol and learn tools to confront his painful beliefs about himself.

Your job, right now, is to refuse to continue living in denial about how this relationship makes you feel. The longer you stay, the more you feed your own addiction to denial, chaos and low self-esteem. That’s not healthy for you, or for your children. So tell your man that you must end the relationship but are available for him when he commits to sobriety. If he can’t commit to sobriety, he can’t commit to you.

My relationship with my boyfriend was all ups and downs, but the sex was fantastic. I haven’t met anyone else and so I keep responding to his “booty calls.” It’s like I’m back in the relationship, but have no commitment. I want to meet someone else. Ideas?

If you want closure in your relationship, shut your legs. As long as you’re involved physically with your ex, you’re sending an “I’m unavailable” vibe to other men. So tell your ex it’s over. Then, don’t answer his phone calls or texts. C’mon, you’re an adult. You know how to take care of yourself. Treat yourself as a woman of substance, not a late-night snack.

Meditation of the week
“We pay for money with our time,” Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin wrote in the classic Your Money or Your Life. They believe we trade money for our “life energy.” So are you making a living? Or making a dying?

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