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My Ex Has Turned to Alcohol to Numb the Pain — Should I Help? 

Dear Athena,

I left my boyfriend because he cheated and lied the whole time we were together. The truth is, I knew he was a failure and didn't amount to anything. So I got behind him, encouraged him to start up a business, get back to the university and save up money. He had a son and another baby on the way. A year later, he reached out to me indirectly. He blew everything off and has turned to alcohol to numb the pain. On the other hand, I made it in life, I got my degree and my life is really good at the moment. Should I help him, or should I leave him to it? I don't know, really. BTW, I don't want him back at all.


Cautiously Conflicted

Dear Cautiously Conflicted,

Hmm. Conflicted is right, girl. I mean, it's clear you know he's not good for you and has done little for you, and you're on a healthy and happy path without him. Yet he still gnaws at you. And a part of you thinks you can make a difference. Are you sure you don't have some feelings for him? It's OK if you do; it's not easy to wipe the heart completely clean of someone after a breakup, no matter how trying the relationship may have been. Old loves, like old habits, die hard.

Regardless of what you feel for him, though, it will not do you any good to try and help him sort out his mess. You're not his mom or sister or bestie. You don't need him, and who cares whether he needs you? He's trouble.

What's behind your lingering sense of responsibility, anyway? Is it your ego? Don't be so foolish as to believe you can have any lasting effect on this guy. He needs professional counseling. Is it some sort of maternal instinct? Get a dog. Are you a drama seeker? Start a relationship with "Scandal" or "Revenge." Do you feel badly, or even guilty, that after all the help you gave him, he's fallen off the wagon? If so, you're wasting your time. You were a healthy and positive influence then, but he is a challenged person and perhaps always will be. Maybe that sounds cold — it's hard to see someone you care about self-destruct. But he is no longer your problem.

You're instincts are correct: Stay away. You don't need the drama, heartache or disappointment. You don't need to feel responsible — resist the urge to fix things. Focus on yourself, on the results you want in life. And give yourself permission to let go.



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