I've posted about this over the years.......and we've all posted about how our alcoholics are 'that way'.
But it takes a long time in family recovery for us to REALLY internalize HOW DEEP that selfishness and self-centeredness runs.
Because, since the alcoholism is, (as the A.A. Big Book says again), "alcoholism is cunning, baffling, and powerful."
SO HOW ARE THOSE THINGS CONNECTED? HOW IS "HIS SELFISHNESS AND SELF-CENTEREDNESS BEING CENTRAL TO HIS BEING" CONNECTED TO OUR TAKING A LONG TIME TO INTERNALIZE THE TRUTH ABOUT THAT?
a.) What comes out his mouth has -------A COOKIE-CUTTER EFFECT.
To give examples----- over the years, I've received letters from India, Switzerland, New Zealand, etc etc........ from spouses of alcoholics who say THEIR ALCOHOLICS ALL SAY THE SAME THINGS AS IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE, IN THE "GETTING THEM SOBER" BOOKS----- IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY'S LANGUAGE! THE SAME EXACT WORDS! NOT ONE VARIATION!
Years ago, received a letter (before the Iron Curtain fell) from Poland-----a group of wives of alcoholics were meeting secretly to study "Getting Them Sober, volume one".......and their husbands ALL said the same thing-----in Polish. (They had to meet secretly because the book has prayers in it.)
The point is--------- the ALCOHOLIC is not so smart that he can 'run circles around you'--------they ALL run circles around us--------even the street-sweeper-borderline-retarded alcoholic husbands use THE SAME WORDS as the alcoholic husband who is a university professor.
Yes--------- the A.A. Big Book is a God-given book that TOTALLY describes the alcoholic....... and his supposedly 'cunning and powerful and baffling' way he "gets around us and confuses us".
It's his ALCOHOLISM that is baffling, cunning, and confuses us.
To know this is FREEING. It is EMPOWERING to us.
IT MAKES HIM MORE RIGHT-SIZED....... IT'S NOT HIM THAT IS 'SO SMART' THE WAY HE GETS AROUND US......... IT'S HIS ALCOHOLISM.
b.) So------- WHY does it take us so long to REALLY INTERNALIZE all this------EVEN WHEN WE LEARN THAT IT IS THE "DISEASE TALKING"?
WHY DO WE CONTINUE TO THINK 'HE' IS SO SMART AND CAN RUN CIRCLES AROUND US--------RATHER THAN "IT'S THE DISEASE THAT RUNS CIRCLES AROUND US"?
1. Because of the Charm that most alcoholics have. They love to charm us.
(We love to be charmed. UNTIL IT GETS OLD.)
2. Because of the back-and-forth nice-to-not-nice that he dishes out.
We get 'sucked in' when he's nice and sweet---------and OF COURSE hurt again when he's awful.
But--------his DISEASE knows JUST when to be sweet again-------to get us sucked back in.
Yes---------that DISEASE is very smart.......... baffling, cunning and powerful.
BUT OUR FAMILY RECOVERY IS MORE POWERFUL THAN THAT DISEASE.
And over time------- we slowly DO recover.
One more thing--------- PLEASE DON'T COMPARE YOUR PROGRESS IN RECOVERY TO THE PROGRESS IN RECOVERY OF OTHERS WHO ARE IN DIFFERENT SITUATIONS.
(It's akin to one person saying, "Oh, I don't worry about money anymore!" Like she's "so spiritual"--------ah, yes, she may be------- but she often NOW has enough money REGULARLY coming in! If your situation is that of wondering if you'll have enough milk money for the children--------- and if there is NO way you have enough to buy even day-old bread--------OF COURSE you are concerned! And OF COURSE you will worry! Your neighbor who 'stopped worrying' may very well be someone who NOW has food stamps! OF COURSE she now no longer worries about getting SOME food on the table tomorrow.
(AND------ of course praying does help to take away much worry----but we are not robots----and difficult situations ARE difficult).
WE NEED TO STOP SHAMING OURSELVES FOR HAVING FEELINGS WHEN THINGS ARE VERY TOUGH ON US.
WE NEED TO STOP COMPARING OURSELVES TO OTHERS...WE ALWAYS WIND UP 'FEELING LESS' WHEN WE DO THAT.
The lady in the Al-Anon group who is now not living with her alcoholic who was physically abusive, and he's in jail for the next 35 years------ is OF COURSE no longer afraid of being hurt tomorrow by him!
DON'T COMPARE YOURSELF TO HER WHEN YOUR ALCOHOLIC IS VIOLENT AND HE LIVES NEARBY AND HAS YOUR ADDRESS. OF COURSE YOU ARE NERVOUS!
Life is hard enough when we are involved with alcoholics.
And when we are mostly no longer involved with them---------it is much much easier to 'detach' from them.
I find that myself.
When others tell me that "Oh, Toby, you don't get upset by that alcoholic anymore because you are so terrific!"--------- I TRY TO BE VERY QUICK TO REMIND THAT PERSON THAT OF COURSE IT IS EASY FOR ME TO NOT GET THAT EMBROILED WITH THEM. I CAN HANG UP THE PHONE.......I DON'T LIVE WITH THEM.
It does not mean I don't have feelings!!
I can be affected...........I AM A HUMAN BEING.
(As my good buddy, Isabel, says (she co-founded Al-Anon in Baltimore, about 60 years ago)---------- "If I am stuck with a pin, I bleed!"
But--------- I KNOW when you say that to me, you are comparing yourself to my progress in family recovery. And I feel your hurt when you do that.
I CRINGE when you compare your recovery to mine or to anyone else's.
I KNOW what it feels like to feel "lesser" because I feel you are "doing better".
WHEN WE FEEL LESSER THAN OTHERS-------IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT WE ARE NOT HAPPY FOR THEM.
THAT CONFUSES PEOPLE.
They often think "If I am feeling lesser than that person-------I must not be happy for them. And not only am I lesser than them------now, I must be small-minded and not happy for them, either. How awful of me."
NO---------- we CAN feel happy for others-------and STILL compare ourselves to them.........and come out feeling "lesser" than them.
You know, over the years, I've posted many times how it is IMPERATIVE for our recovery that we STOP COMPARING OUR PROGRESS IN RECOVERY TO OTHERS-------AND STOP THINKING "HOW COME SHE CAN LEAVE HIM AND I CANNOT DO SO?"
You might be partially disabled-------you might have no ability to make the kind of money she makes------ you might have several children you are still trying to raise------ you might have elderly parents you have taken in-------in other words, HER SITUATION IS UTTERLY DIFFERENT FROM YOURS.
IF SHE IS NOT MARRIED TO HIM........HAS NO CHILDREN WITH HIM.......HAS A GREAT PROFESSION AND MAKES GOOD MONEY....... why in the world are you comparing your feeling that you cannot leave the home, even though he is "occasionally violent"-------when you have 5 kids and no way to make a living?
And---- we ALL have different childhood histories--------
a. some of us are members of a religion that teaches us that divorce is tantamount to going to hell
b. some of us have been so abandoned by awful parents------ that we are terrified when the thought of being alone comes in our heads
c. some of us are approaching old age and scared to death to be alone, no matter what
etc etc etc etc etc etc etc..........................
THAT is all why I wrote (in the Guidelines box above) that on this bulletin board, we cannot tell others to leave their relationships.
BUT------we need to remind ourselves OVER AND OVER------ that we ALL have the right to find OUR OWN WAY-------IN OUR OWN TIME-------- TO STAY OR LEAVE ANY RELATIONSHIP.
We need to give ourselves time to "find our own wiggle room" to see what WE really want to do.
Also because--------- things can change!!!
SOMETIMES --------- God intervenes and things change--------and we are SOOOOO glad that we stayed to see the change!
NO ONE knows the future.... and if we try to base what OUR decisions are becased on how someone else handled THEIR OWN situation------- we are doomed to fail.
To successfully do what WE need to do------- we need to follow ONLY our own hearts.
AND--------FOLKS-------NO ONE WRITES THE WHOLE SITUATION ON THE INTERNET........... SO WHEN YOU THINK THAT YOU WANT YOURSELF TO DO WHAT SOMEONE ELSE HAS DONE-------- YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT'S REALLY GONE ON------BEHIND THE SCENES.
When I am counseling ANYONE------- I find that ALMOST ALL THE TIME------ what they "present" at first--------is SOOOOO different from what is REALLY going on........ and they often don't even know it until it comes out in the counseling.
And when they discover what has been hidden EVEN FROM THEM------often changes what they thought they wanted to do, before........ love to all, Toby