My boyfriend or my mother?
Hi, I'm going through something of a moral quandary and I'm really not sure what to do... any help would be appreciated
First, a bit of a bio: I'm 23, a major introvert, and very socially inept. I enjoy hiking, playing the guitar, writing, and other art related things. I'm naturally pleased with the little things in life, while, at the same time, prone to despair over matters of philosophy and ethics. I've only ever had one boyfriend.
I've been with my boyfriend for six years and we've literally spent almost every day together. I get frustrated sometimes because he's an alcoholic, but he's a good person and I love him, so I'll stick with him even though I know he'll never get help for it (He's made his decision there, and he's infinitely stubborn and determined to go in a downward spiral of self-pity and regret... so I'll support him how I can, urge him to stop drinking even though I know he won't and be there to help catch him when he stumbles). But that's not the issue, just a little background info.
Eight months ago, my mom decided to move 800 miles away to help her best-friend/love of 30 years... He's dying of cancer. They're both really great people, btw - truly selfless and giving. Anyway, she, herself, is physically handicapped (she walks with a cane and is even less socially equipped than I... I make phone calls for her because she can't handle the pressure and everything she says gets jumbled up so that she can't get her point across because she's bad at organizing her thoughts/gets anxious; I also make most of her meals, do much of her laundry, and do the grocery shopping - she can do a lot of that, but it's really hard for her and she spent so many years while I was a kid taking care of me and her own disabled mother that she really deserves to be taken care of... I should've done more when I was a kid, but I was shamefully lazy and awash in self-pity/self-indulgent misery most of my childhood... now, I can't believe I let my 98 lb mother limp around cleaning up after me while I lounged around eating and reading or playing video games... I'm truly ashamed and I deserve to suffer).
But, anyway, she moved and I needed to come with her to help her with her sick friend. I did it because I thought it was the right thing to do, and because I've always dreamed of travel/ was dying to see something new about the world. About a month ago, I started college because I figured I might as well do something productive while I was stuck out here.
But, unfortunately, that left my boyfriend all alone, back in MI... It's tearing him apart: he's literally breaking out in this horrible itchy, oozing rash that both he and I suspect is from the stress of me being away so long. He says he doesn't know how long he can hold on without me, and I'm afraid something might happen to him. He calls me every night - when he's sober, he says he understands why I had to go; when he's drunk, he pleads with me to come home and he's even cried a few times. We just had another argument, where he begged me to come back, snapped "I see how it is" in a viscous tone when I told him I couldn't, and told me in a voice drenched with self-pity & misery that I should just find someone else because I'd be happier (to which I replied "I want to be with you! I'm sorry I have to be here right now... just because I'm here doesn't mean you don't make me happy!"
. It hurts me to see how much pain he's in - it's not fair to him, and he's handling it better than I probably would if the situation was reversed. I miss him, but it's easier for me not to be miserable b/c I know I'm coming back one day and he just doesn't have that same confidence that I really will. I feel so guilty all of the time - yet I'd feel even more guilty if I abandoned my mom. I want to help both of them, but it's impossible. Now that I've made the mistake of enrolling in college - I momentarily lost sight of things when I saw the local college had music classes that will help me step out on to the stage, culinary classes for my future coffee shop, and botany classes for my plant passion; and I selfishly/impulsively joined at the urging of my mother - it'll be impossible for me to be able to go back for even a visit any time soon.
I just don't know what to do. This angry/dark/childish part of me says to put a gun against my head - I remember my grandpa telling me one time when I was about ten that he'd shoot himself and "then they'd all see" and I understood even then, and I understand even more now. But the larger part of me knows that's just the stress speaking... I'd never do it, because life is opportunity and things always get better if you let them. It's also selfish... as much as that childish part of me says "they'd be better off without you," I realize what it's really saying is "they'll regret what they've done to you," and I really don't wish that kind of pain and hurt on anyone, and I don't desire/ will not allow myself to be that vindictive. But that's the kind of feeling that I'm overwhelmed with when I feel them tugging at me with their chains of love and duty and endless guilt... Though, I'd like to emphasize, I would NEVER actually do that. It's just the... climax-thought, for lack of a better word - the frustrated scream that vents the building rage, guilt, and negativity when they seem to reach their peak. It shocks me back into calmness, because I realize that that's the outcome of those emotions, and I would never do that, so there's no point in letting myself feel the emotions that lead to it and I might as well say "I love you," and go back to finding an actual solution.
Anyway, there it is... If I help one, I'm hurting the other. They're both great people and I love them with all my heart. I'm posting this here because I'm hoping someone who isn't lost in the trees will be able to see the forest as a whole and guide me out. What do I do to make them both happy? He can't come here, because he has his own handicapped mother to take care of (well, he doesn't do everything he should b/c he's kinda in the "self-pity" stage I spoke of earlier, like I was when I was younger... he just has yet to outgrow it b/c he allows the trauma of his dad dying 10 years ago to coax him into depression and drinking, which I understand... but even though he doesn't do everything he should, he's still there in case anything happens to her, even though he wants to be with me, so I commend him for that) and I won't break up with him (the last time I wrote my situation out in a forum all I got were girls saying "dump his drunk a$$!" but he means more to me than that... I'm more interested in how I can help him and my mom... It's time for me to grow up and stop caring about myself...). Sorry about the length and the poor quality of the writing - it just all poured out of me like toxic sweat, and I'm hesitant to change it for fear of covering the raw emotion with pretty words. If you made it through ALL that, congratulations and thank you. Please go cleanse yourself of my negativity with a good joke or a happier story. If you have any advice, though, I'd love to hear it, even if it is just "shut up" or "dump him" or "you think you've got it bad...?"
Thank you. I'm not just saying that, I mean it. Thank you very much.
I was once a drunk for 14 yrs and if it were not the prayers of my wife, I would be dead. I'm now a born again Christian, alive and kicking. Tip: get down on your knees morning and evening, pray for healing for both your BF and mother. I assure you that you'll experience change after some time, maybe one month or 9 yrs like in my case. God guide you accordingly.
I wonder where you got such the exaggerated sense that you have to caretake this man?
Do you know that if you go back to him, you will not be able to do all those things that peak your interest? Like the local college music classes that will help you step out on to the stage, culinary classes for your future coffee shop, and botany classes for your plant passion that you "selfishly/impulsively" joined at the urging of my mother"
Yeah Mom!! You are helping your daughter live her dreams!! And GROW!
"It'll be impossible for me to be able to go back for even a visit any time soon." Sorry, but I say GOOD about this.
This man will drag you intellectually and emotionally and physically with his disease that is now an addiction. Is that the kind of life you want?
He needs someone to take care of him so he can continue his lifestyle the way it is. Otherwise, he MIGHT have to shape up, sober up and take care of himself. Do you really want that job?
Your folks need you now - and it sounds like they have a healthy sense of your needs and directions, and at that same time you are able to give back to them at their high point of need.
Really think about this.
Thank you for taking the time to read and for leaving a thoughtful reply. I do appreciate it, and I see the value in what you're saying. I've had similar thoughts more than once. However, I can't just abandon him because he'll drag me down... throwing away someone just because they're not perfect, just because they have so much pain and lack the tools to deal with it... It's like saying he's worthless just because he has an addiction. It might affect how he behaves, but it doesn't change who he is: He's a good person - he's just a little lost. I love him for who he is... he's kind, and unique, and deserves to be happy. I can see that'll be a lot of work... I can see it'll be a lot of misery... I know I'll have to sacrifice much for him... but I love him so much that I'm willing to do that, because he is worth it. I can still take classes and be with him - my main issue with the college deal is that I've already paid and can't get a refund and I want to finish out this set of classes, because it looks like they're going to be awesome... so it'll be a while before I can see him. I just wish he could be patient and not be as insecure about me being gone - but I understand why he is. It's been eight months -I'd be flippin' out if I was home and he'd been away this long!
Anyway, like I said, his addiction isn't the issue - whether or not I should be with him isn't the issue. I'm going to be there for him because he's there for me; to dump him because "he isn't good for me" is selfish because I'm good for him. Our culture is so self-centered that every time the words "alcoholic boyfriend" come up, the instant response is "dump him! take care of yourself!" I understand that this often comes from a personal experience of pain due to alcoholism... and I realize your advice comes from a good place and that much of what you say is true... but everyone's experience is different. I guess... It was stupid of me to post this. There's really no advice anyone can give me - the options are 'leave/go back, stay here, or dump him', the same options I've been mulling over since I left. I won't dump him. I can't leave my mom. So I guess I'll just have to beg him to be patient - even though it's killing him, even though it's hurting him - and ask him to wait. The right thing to do for him, would be to rush back and be with him - but that would be the wrong thing to do to my mom, and mom does come first. I understand she wants the best for me - and to her "the best" would be dumping him because he's bad for me, so I do think she's been coming up with ways to keep me from visiting him and I forgive/love her for it... but, as I said, it would be selfish of me to give up on someone I love just because it doesn't help ME. I'm not here to help ME. That's not my purpose in life. My sole purpose is to help others. In a way, if I gave up on one of them, I'd be giving up on the other, because it would be saying that my love is only worth something if I'm happy - If I gave up my boyfriend, who is a hurting human being in need of help, then I could also give up on my mom for the same reasons - her emotional dependence is stunting my growth, just as much as his is. My heart loves where it is loved and will not be sold for something as insignificant as my own happiness, especially since my happiness isn't dependent on either of them - I can be just as happy sitting in the gutter as I could sailing on a cruise-ship, it's based on perception alone. I didn't post this for suggestions on how to make me happy (beyond ridding me of the unhappiness I feel about making either of them unhappy)
I guess why I posted this... is that I was just hoping another option would magically materialize and save me from hurting anyone any more. But the real world is pain, and I guess he'll just have to bear it... which is unfair, but so is the world. Anyway, I'd like to thank you again: I don't want you to mistake my passion for anger. It warms me that you cared enough to respond... I can tell from you're response that you're a very good mother to someone
I'm not disregarding your advice... It's sound, and I see the wisdom of it... if I were trying to save myself from getting hurt. But I'm not... I am a guardian and I will take the pain if it helps someone else... I will do my best to not let it embitter and stunt me. But I will not set aside ANYone I decide I love.
Thanks again. I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful life
**I can tell from 'your' response...
Well .. . why can't he join you and your family, then?
Your parents might appreciate the male help around the house and you would be able to see him in a fresh environment and see if he can make it there.
"He can't come here, because he has his own handicapped mother to take care of (well, he doesn't do everything he should b/c he's kinda in the "self-pity" stage I spoke of earlier, like I was when I was younger... he just has yet to outgrow it b/c he allows the trauma of his dad dying 10 years ago to coax him into depression and drinking, which I understand... but even though he doesn't do everything he should, he's still there in case anything happens to her"
"Your parents might appreciate the male help around the house and you would be able to see him in a fresh environment and see if he can make it there."
(Yeah, he could keep their sofa warm and just, you know, 'be there'... in case their heads spontaneously combusted or something.)
"is that I was just hoping another option would magically materialize and save me from hurting anyone any more."
Here you go.
1. a person who protects or defends something.
You're not a guardian, despite you seem to think so. You're an unwitting abuser, type Enabler (and he yours):
- a person or thing that makes something possible.
"the people who run these workshops are crime enablers"
-a person who encourages or enables negative or self-destructive behaviour in another.
"he criticized her role as an enabler in her husband's pathological womanizing"
A PERSON WHO ENCOURAGES OR ENABLES (including via protection and defense) NEGATIVE OR SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOUR IN ANOTHER.
Let me know if you'd like me (or Susiedqqq if she'd prefer) to explain. Susie did already try to point it out ("He needs someone to take care of him so he can continue his lifestyle the way it is. Otherwise, he MIGHT have to shape up, sober up and take care of himself. Do you really want that job?"
But you weren't listening.
Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal/Fate.
Sorry, I wasn't trying to sound high and mighty or anything by using the word guardian... It was just the best way I could describe how I felt. I feel like I have to defend those I love, not abandon them to their demons when they obviously need help dealing with them - he was an alcoholic when I met him, if anything, he's improved since I've been with him and so have I because we're not so desperately alone anymore. I re-read my response to Susie and I can see I responded emotionally rather than logically, and for that, I apologize. I'm not used to conflict or making people unhappy, so I'm not used to having this level of emotional stress.
And I don't enable him - I tell him constantly he should stop drinking, that he's going to kill himself, that he's not doing the people he loves any favors. Are you saying that in order to stop "enabling" him, I have to dump him? I love him! I can't help him without removing him from my life? If he was worse when I wasn't with him, then how is his drinking going to get better when I leave him? I know him, and I know how he responds to deep hurt - he might just drink himself to death if I left. His mom is constantly telling me how she doesn't know what he'd do if I left, how she couldn't handle it on her own... I can tell they both resent me for being gone like this, but they understand at the same time, and I'd say they've both been very tolerant.
Again, I wasn't posting this so people could talk about his alcoholism - not what I needed help with. Whole 'nother can o' worms. I did say to speak your mind, however, no matter your opinion, so I appreciate your response. I understand your opinion - if I didn't know him or myself and understand who we are and what we're going through on a personal level, I might have a similar opinion if I read my post from a stranger's POV. I posted this when I was at the end of my rope, after an argument, so I was emotional and looking for answers where I know I logically can't find them. I wasn't looking for advice on his alcoholism - that's something he's gotta deal with, but I'm not going to dump him just because he's got a problem - I'm going to keep encouraging him to get help and keep loving him, and when/if he's decides he's ready, he'll quit. I suppose the title choice was poor one, cause I'm not going to choose one and get rid of the other. I was just emotional and torn and tired of hearing him in pain because I'm gone and I felt guilty because I chose my mom over him for now even though I know it's the right choice and I don't regret it... It just sucks having to be the bad guy. My whole life, my happiness has stemmed from the approval and happiness of others, so I've always tried to be nice and hurting someone doesn't feel like being nice even if it's for good reason. I'm not saying I'm this wonderful, flawless person who always does whats right: I'm definitely not... I keep a long list of everything I've done wrong throughout my life, and there's alot to hate. But it makes me feel awful not being able to visit him for almost a year - I'm a bad girlfriend, even if I'm an okay daughter. I'm just having to come to terms with the fact you can't make everyone happy and that just because you're doing something good for one person doesn't mean that you're completely doing good all around... I'm doing something moral and something immoral all at once - grey has entered my world of black & white. I wonder what other colors will follow?
Anyway, I want to thank you all for your interest in a stranger's problems, and on your thoughtful responses.
I'm probably not going to be back on here, as I feel a sense of dread every time I see a notification in my email saying I've got a new response and it's really distressing me - in a moment of weakness, I asked for guidance on how I could make them both happy at once, when I know that's not possible b/c I lack the ability to be in two places at once. I realize you all think I'm a bad person and an enabler and I'm sorry I can't be anything other than what I am, and I'm sorry I'm not following your advice, but I can't do that to him. I'll do what can to help him quit, but I'm not going to force him to do it on his own. Thanks again, though
I hope you all lead wonderful, happy lives.
**one more point... I don't have "parents". I have a mom who has a best-friend that she's barely seen in the last 20 years, but whom she cares deeply about. They're not dating, really, they just "are". My mom hasn't had a boyfriend since I've been alive. lol just had to clarify! I know it's unnecessary, but I've never had a dad and don't desire one and felt like I should correct that since there's no way anyone could've known what I meant by bestfriend/love.
**One more last point: I'm sorry I'm so annoying! I annoy myself, if that makes it any better - I'm not oblivious to the fact that my personality is... repulsive, irritating, *insert negative adjective here*. I don't go around thinking I'm awesome or anything... I know I suck. Just didn't want you to think I thought I was something I'm not... I know my writing makes me sound pretentious or preachy sometimes, but I can't seem to help it. So, sorry... again... and thanks... again
You may be finished, but I'm not. You're not Bagpuss.
I wasn't trying to infer you WERE trying to be high and mighty. I was simply stating a fact, in that you are seriously misguided if you think you're helping him in any way. And nobody thinks you're a bad person, don't be so ridiculous. Emotional blackmail may work beautifully on you but some of us have learned to withstand it like water off a duck's back. Want to know how? It's called, practise makes perfect. Read on...
You can't defend someone who insists on staying in a situation where they need defending/rescuing despite all along they could be removing themselves like all other grown, independent adults or those striving to achieve such have to do. All you'll achieve is reinforcing their silly behaviour whilst additionally putting yourself in jeopardy. Put more simply, getting someone out of a deep, dark pit requires your hand and strength to help them up by 50% and their self-pulling strength to 50% to make 100% aka success. Anything less won't work. If that rescue mission fails to achieve its aim the first few attempts due to the 'victim' not helping you to help them, the helpless type in the pit will automatically see it that all that's left on offer to them is to pull you in WITH them (misery loves company).
He's just pulling you in with him, or as Susie put it - dragging you down. And you're letting him.
"I'm not used to conflict or making people unhappy"
Then you are not a rounded person because a rounded person has experienced all there is to experience - rain as well as shine. Your duties in life include sometimes having to be sensible enough to cause or meet conflict and make people unhappy, i.e. not give them what they merely believe or say they want (like I'm doing with you), and learn to handle emotional stress including misplaced guilt, and in the process grow a bit of wisdom. So you'd better start practising before those muscles shrivel up, hadn't you. A non-rounded person CERTAINLY isn't qualified to play anyone else's rescuer!
Telling him stuff is NOT you not playing enabler. ACTIONS speak louder anyway and *your* actions enable. Overall, they take the form of you not leaving him/staying put. As Susie implied, if you're no longer there to tie baby's shoelaces, and if baby wants to survive and, further, prosper, then that is the point where he'll finally learn to tie them himself or perish by keep tripping up and landing on his face. And that's his choice AND DUTY, same as anyone else's.
Or, what, you're saying your boyfriend is only 4 years old or some kind of retard hence doesn't KNOW he should't drink, etc, and therefore needs telling?
So, no, you DON'T have to dump him. You just have to stay away for long enough that he realises he has to attempt to tie those laces himself and commences trying. Berbom. If, despite this absence, he STILL doesn't learn then you at least will have to see the conclusion on the wall: stay with him, stay away - NEITHER works to make him take responsibility for his own shoelaces. In which case - his and his mother's statements to the contrary were total and utter rubbish.
"His mom is constantly telling me how she doesn't know what he'd do if I left, how she couldn't handle it on her own"
THEN SHE SHOULDN'T HAVE HAD A KID OR SHOULD HAVE RAISED HIM PROPERLY WHEN HE WAS AT HIS MOST RECEPTIVE TO LEARNING SO THAT SHE WOULDN'T BE IN THIS 'ROD FOR HER OWN BACK' SITUATION TODAY, SHOULDN'T SHE! So, that's TWO babies who need to be left to learn to finally cope on their own with their own adult duties instead of relying on muggins here, isn't it (including knowing precisely what buttons to press in order to keep her doing their workload, namely those marked Emotional Blackmail - Press Here).
'Both been very tolerant'. HOW DARE THEY! What - tolerant about their personal servant doing what SHE pleases for a change?! Tolerant, my a*se. It's not their right to be IN-tolerant, let alone tolerant!!!
There's you thinking you're some angel when in actual fact you're being a sucker. And you don't even realise it. Because, again, an angel helps those who CAN'T help themselves - literally have no way! Those two have a way. But they're just too lazy or apathetic. Because they don't have to be otherwise whilst there are people like you who'll do it all for them. So, sorry but at this juncture of your life, that makes you a sucker.
Also, we don't care what you think was the issue and what should be talked about. If we can see what your problem is, that's what'll get talked about. We're not here to please, we're here to fix whereupon being pleased follows - quite possibly AFTER you've left this forum.
HERE is your crux problem:
"I suppose the title choice was poor one, cause I'm not going to choose one and get rid of the other."
Get rid of BOTH if you like! The problem is, the *true* immorality going on here, is this: you don't choose ***YOU***. EVER. EVEN WHEN YOU'RE OH-SO MEANT TO BECAUSE THE SIGNS ABOUND! And that's because you don't like yourself (I suck, I'm annoying, I'm this/that). And this is what you and this boy (and his maxi-me) have in common.
Your number 1 duty in this existence is to forge a life of your own, get it down pat, and THEN share it with A.N. Other, not scrape the barrel for someone to stand in your way so you can AVOID that dutiful self-progress.
Are you going to cease and actually WORK for the Rescuer title before you start trying uselessly to put on everyone else's oxygen masks yet only managing a third on, meaning EVERYONE remains gasping, including you?
WHEN you've got your own life sorted and shiny in order to prove yourself capable of taking care of anyone else, having in the run up pumped mental iron as comprises how to withstand stress (including being impervious to emotional manipulation) and thereby leave people to gain a bit of ruddy strength and independence, THEN you can play Rescuer. Meantime, you may as well start walking around a hospital wearing a White coat and calling yourself a doctor, including administering treatments. *That* is what you call pretentious.