Should I Stay or Leave?I’ve been with Tom for eleven years, and it seems like most of that time I have been wondering if I should leave. He’s a binge drinker who isn’t too bad much of the time but when he goes on a bender, watch out! After every binge I promise myself I’m going to leave so that eventually I can be happy. Then I change my mind a hundred times and think things will get better. Until the next time. This past year I’ve talked to a lot of people about it and they’ve been giving me good advice but I don’t seem to be able to make up my mind. What’s your advice?”

There’s actually a classic song by the Clash: “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

Sample lyrics: “This indecision’s killing me… if I go there will be trouble. If I stay it will be double.”

You’re apparently in the advice-gathering stage. Always good to collect opinions from others. But when you feel you’ve talked to enough people, try applying this ‘impact analysis’ to the issue.

Question: “If I left, what would be the likely impact in the following areas?”

Use a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being a big concern for you, and 1 being no concern at all. We’re more interested in the impact on you than the alcoholic.

Family reaction: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

Financial status: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

Dependent children: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

Your personal safety: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

Your emotional state: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

What others outside the family will think: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

Living arrangements: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

Now repeat the exercise, this time with a different question: “If I stay, what will be the likely impact in these areas?”

Family reaction: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

Financial status: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

Dependent children: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

Your personal safety: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

Your emotional state: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

What others outside family will think: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

Living arrangements: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

It does require a bit of thought. For instance, is there the potential for a domestic violence incident if you stay? Are there kids to consider? The exercise allows you to identify what’s most important to you – those are the issues that likely have you stuck in place.

It’s seldom an easy decision, and it deserves some careful analysis.

But here’s the homely truth: you can’t have it both ways. At some point, you have to decide.


6 Comments »

A very difficult decision. For me the question to ask would be: if things stayed the same for ten more years, would I want to stay anyway?? If not, why wait ten years? If yes, find a way to have peace in your present situation just as it is.
A support group will help provide answers.
Blessings!

Comment by Martha — July 31, 2014 @ 7:54 pm

Very practical advice. That is such a hard topic. If there is any history or threat of domestic violence should make this a clear decision. Not an easy one but easy to see. If you are afraid of being hurt it is time to leave and get help!

Comment by Rehabcenternet — November 22, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

These are good things to think about. It’s very painful being on the fence and no one wants to have regrets or guilt later. This post lists things you can do to be sure you’re making the right decision. http://www.whatiscodependency.com/breaking-up-should-you-leave-or-can-you-get-the-change-you-want/
Darlene Lancer, MFT

Comment by Darlene Lancer, MFT — July 19, 2013 @ 9:26 am

My parents drink a lot, and my mom was and still is addicted to alcohol. It’s not just the amount that she drinks, but the way she behaves while drinking and she was miserable without alcohol. It was painful for us to see her drink every night, and after 30 years later, she is still doing it, but she gets angry when I tell her that she has a problem. Her defense is it’s not like she is drinking in the morning. I don’t know your situation, but your dilemma is not uncommon as someone else said..But if you have children with your partner, you should definitely leave to protect your kids.

Comment by Ris — July 11, 2013 @ 6:29 pm

Great exercise to help people identify what is important for them. This is a difficult decision and frequently people get wound up thinking about “everything” and this is a great tool to help them look at specific issues. I would encourage people to take the next step… once you identify the issues that have you stuck and unable to make a decision, start thinking about possible solutions for those concerns.

Comment by Anne — April 30, 2013 @ 12:50 pm

Your dilemma and struggle is not an uncommon one; particularly when faced with a decision that affects other people.

The key question to ask yourself is: “What is important to my serenity?”

Getting support from people who understand what if feels like to live in that place of uncertainty with a problem drinker is essential to your own recovery. Attending Alanon meetings in your area would be a great beginning step.

I wish you peace and serenity on your journey.

Best,
Lisa Knudson, LCSW
http://www.lisaknudsonpsychotherapy,com

Comment by Lisa Knudson — April 12, 2013 @ 8:48 am

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