Ditch the drunk cheater

Joey Garcia

My husband is a drunk and a loser who cheated on me and moved in with the girl when I kicked him out. As soon as I filed for legal separation, he started calling me and coming on to me. His mother and sister call me, too, all the time. They say that he is straightening up, that he went to Alcoholics Anonymous, and that he just needs to grow up. They say that he tells them how much he loves me. I just want him and his family to leave me alone. They don’t even care that I was cheated on, and they weren’t there for me when I was hurt by him. He went to one AA meeting in two months! He’s still living with that girl, too, while he’s acting hot for me. What should I do?

Be grateful for your strength. You are determined to climb out of a dysfunctional family; I trust you will be free. As you move forward, accept that your husband’s family will not understand your choice. They act as if love means honoring the marital commitment even if your spouse will not. But this is the 21st century: You are not obligated to stay married to an addict.

Being fully met is at the heart of modern marriage. Your husband’s addiction makes him incapable of giving himself fully to you. His affections are split between his passion for self-destruction and his guilt about blowing up his life. That’s the reality of addiction. Addiction and marriage don’t mix, unless the addict is married to another addict, such as someone who is profoundly codependent. A codependent’s desperate need to be needed and to be in control means she or he is hardwired to rescue. Yes, that means a codependent personality will create or contribute to creating scenarios in which he or she swoops in to save the day.

Hopefully, this explanation allows you to see your husband’s family more clearly. Your husband’s mother and sister want you to remain married to him, even if doing so harms you. It’s their way of saving him. They appear committed to protecting him from taking responsibility for his actions (the affair) and inaction (drinking). He responds by checking out of reality (drinking) and checking out of marriage (the affair).

The next time your husband’s mother or sister calls to update you on his life, say “Thank you.” Be thankful that they believe in him, thankful that you are done, and thankful that you can see their unhealthy behavior. Then excuse yourself, hang up the phone and get on with living.

I am so sick of sitting at a concert that I paid top dollar to attend and having to listen to people talk smack at decibel-busting levels about their friends, dates and family. I have turned around and asked them to shut up. I have tried talking over them. I have complained to event organizers. Nothing works. What can I say to get these people to be respectful in public?

Try: “God’s in a meeting. May I help you?” Or: “I’m typing up your problem as we speak, and I’ll send it off to Ask Joey at the Sacramento News & Review. Check the newspaper over the next few weeks for your answer.”

You could also take a page from the man-on-a-train playbook and tweet out the juicy tidbits you overhear. And, if a person you have reprimanded tells you to mind your own business, kindly remind that individual that his or her decibel level ensures your investment in their crisis. Then again, you might just have to accept that we can’t control other people’s failure to be conscious in public spaces.

Meditation of the week
“Chocolate is cheaper than therapy, and you don't need an appointment,” says a little sign on the wall of a friend's office. Let's test that theory together. I'm a judge for the Sacramento Chocolate Salon on Saturday, January 25, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at The Citizen Hotel (926 J Street). Join me!

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