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The line between enabling and full acceptance

I’m still trying to figure it out.

I’m a firm believer in unconditional love. If you love someone, it’s warts and all, or nothing at all. That said, what do you do when the person you love is an alcoholic who has not only repeatedly hurt him or herself, but hurt you and your family in the process?

I’ve been told that I am an enabler by some people when, for years, I would take calls and just listen to a person every. Single. Day. As he or she repeated the same thing over and over, drunkenly complained, and generally took up hours of my day. I would know it was coming and even do laundry or something while it happened just so I wouldn’t feel like I “lost” time. That said, others have said that I was supportive doing the same thing, which has left me feeling so confused.

Today I have places to be and people to see, but after discovering that said person, sober for months after a particularly violent and scary act, has not been for weeks just last night, I am a complete and utter mess. I am sick to my stomach, I am having chest pains, and all I want to do is curl up in a ball and pretend that none of this is happening. I am thinking of locating an Al-Anon to attend, something I once toyed with but didn’t go because I was in denial; I refused to see my loved one in that light, just as my loved one did. Since I’ve been admitting it, it’s been like getting a huge weight off my soul, admitting to half a lifetime of pain and denial; yet part of the catharsis was also the celebration of sobriety.

My house is a wreck; I sort of wrecked some of it last night during a crying fit. My heart is a wreck; that’s a given. I just don’t know what to do. One loved one says we should just ignore people and move away as soon as we can; go figure. Friends have suggested the same thing, if only for a little while. Others have simply said that we cannot force people to do anything they don’t want to do, which is true—so how do I unconditionally love this person without hurting every moment of every day? And how do I survive without allowing that complete immersion into it all again that had me in such an emotionally harrowing state before—and protect my daughter from having to be in it, to even see it, as well?