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Don't Worry: People Won't Be That Surprised

I was on Facebook the other day - which is not a regular thing for me - and saw a post from the wife of an alcoholic who said ( to paraphrase) that she was afraid to leave her alcoholic husband because, in part, everyone thought he was such a "great guy."

I have heard this theme many times. The alcoholic husband is horrible in private and to his wife and family but a pillar in the community. An outstanding guy to his work colleagues, church and any place else where he can hide his truth. This is not all alcoholic husbands, for sure. My husband is a recluse who makes no effort to engage in the outside world beyond what's absolutely necessary. But for women married to the gregarious alcoholic, there can be a genuine fear of looking like the "bad" one, the crazy" woman who left the a great guy. "How could she do that," she anticipates the gossip.

But if this is your situation, let me assure you, people won't be as shocked as you think. The fact is there are more people living their own secrets than people living some idealized, perfect version of life.

I knew a woman once who seemed so "perfect." Her husband seemed so perfect, her kids seems so perfect, her life seemed so perfect. Always neatly dressed. Kids in private Catholic school. Nice

car, big house and good looking, church going husband.

Or so it seemed.

We weren't close - more friendly acquaintances - and after having not seen each other for a considerable amount of time, we ran into each other. She told me she had left her husband and her and her sons' lives were finally on the mend. As I gasped and stammered my shock and told her how "perfect" I thought her life was, she explained to me how very un-perfect it had been. Her husband was emotionally abusive and psychologically manipulative. His games and cruelty were affecting not just her but her sons as well. She had to get out.

But here's the really important part. As I explained how perfect her life had seemed to me, she said,

"Wren, you'd be surprised the people who came out of the woodwork after I left to tell me how bad their marriages were. How broken they were. How horrible their lives had become as the result of a spouse's addiction or abuse. "People," she continued, "you would have sworn had the 'perfect' marriage and life."

It's easy to say "don't worry about what other people think" but we do. We're social people. Our place in our social group matters to us. So I am not going to say "don't worry about it." What I am going to say is you probably have no idea what others around, others who seem to have it all together, who seem to have the "prefect" life, are living with. I heard it said once, "we compare our insides to other people's outsides." We look at all the things it's easy to hide behind - house, job, car, vacations, monochromatic clad family photo shoots - and judge our emotional, mental and spiritual states of being.

If you want/need to leave - leave.

If you want/need to stay - stay.

But don't allow who others seem to be or what their lives seem to be to poison your sense of being. Don't allow what others may think or even say about your choices interfere with those choices. As Wayne Dryer said, "if you care about someone else's opinion about you more than your own, what you are saying is what they think of you matters more than what you think of you."

When you're married to an alcoholic, there is a big enough fox in the hen house of your head. Don't let in even more.

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