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Toxic drunk pauses in the beer aisle

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My fiance is a toxic drunk. The last time he drank, he became verbally, emotionally and very nearly physically abusive toward me.

It was the second time this had happened in our eight-year relationship, so I left him.

I returned only when he promised to quit drinking and get therapy. He has already reneged on the therapy, and today when we went shopping, we walked by the beer aisle and I looked at one beer I wanted to try, but when he also started looking at brands of beer, I felt very upset.

Was this rational, or is this a double standard on my part?

-- Worried

Dear Worried: Therapy isn't only a good idea for "toxic drunks" -- it is also helpful for people coping with the personal and relational fallout from another person's drinking. You should consider therapy for yourself.

Al-anon (al-anon.org) could be particularly helpful to you. At meetings, you would learn from other friends and family members of alcoholics that the anxiety you feel surrounding alcohol and drinking is common -- and, yes, it is rational.

It is also rational for someone trying to give up an addiction to fetishize the objects surrounding their addiction. The smoker loves the look (and smell) of an ashtray; the alcoholic will be drawn to the sensations brought on by beer bottles and brands.

You have the right to live your own life the way you want to. That includes drinking beer. However, if I were in a committed relationship with a mean drunk, I don't think I would spend a lot of time browsing the beer aisles with him. I'm wondering if you might be willing to honor and respect your fiance's healthier choices and challenges, and support his sobriety by avoiding the beer aisle, at least for now.

Dear Amy: I've been with my wife for almost 20 years. We have a 12-year-old son.

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