Saturday, December 3, 2011

They ALL know how to 'push our buttons'

1. OUR problem is that we so very easily go into shame about how they hurt us ---- when we cannot stop reacting to them.

We often feel shame (even if we are not aware that is what we are is often unconscious) when we 'react' to being hurt.

This kind of shame is a result of our perfectionism.

Our feeling that we are not "doing the program of recovery" well enough or good enough.

It happens when we compare our progress in recovery to others' progress.

2. It also happens when others in recovery kind of imply to us that "we are reacting still, aren't we?!" It's a subtle put-down... a sideways snipe------ and we often feel awful inside, when we hear that from others.

It is a way for others who do that, to make themselves feel temporarily puffed-up about how "much better they are doing than we are"........ at our expense.

They are usually not wanting to actually hurt us-----they are 'just' using us for the moment to feel 'better' about themselves.
They do not usually realize that they are even doing it.
Persons who do that, are usually doing it on a rather regular basis.

When, instead, we receive compassion for our hurting so much, when we are unable to 'be' at a different place in our recovery-------THAT helps us so much to get out of that stuck-place so much easier.

3. And about that perfectionism...... it's one of the family's most difficult issues to remember to think about.

But it happens so frequently that it is usually a knee-jerk reaction for most of us.

It's about the perfectionism that we have towards OURSELVES.

When we are comparing our progress in recovery with others-----we forget to remember that our circumstances are often so difficult------and our histories can be so awful-----that it is so irrelevant to compare ourselves to others.

For instance......... if "Cindy" (not real names) cannot detach from his mouth as easily as "Judy"....... Cindy often goes into shame about it...... but she often forgets that her father did the same junk to her as a little child......and that she is still probably hurting from those years of belittling and abuse. Judy might have had decent parents......and has, then, a history of self-esteem.
For Cindy, it is miles harder.

4. For those of us who have perfectionism in a huge way-------- when we've spilled our guts about our vulnerabilities, we often follow it up with wanting to feel better-than-better to 'make up for it'.
This is usually not a conscious process.

When this happens, is when the put-downs of others often follows, to temporarily feel better.

But, it doesn't really work....... the process is like a bottomless pit. For, when this is going on, it does not fill the void at all.
Other means of feeling better about oneself need to be exchanged for that old behavior.
It takes a lot of self-honesty to see that pattern in oneself.

From Toby Drews, the author of the million-selling "Getting Them Sober'' books, endorsed by 'dear Abby', Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, and Melody Beattie:
phone 410-243-8352

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Irrational guilt when he's being nice, but still drinking.

Alcoholics usually go through MANY times when they want to be nice......and the acting-out // unavailable behavior just is not there.

And that's when we often start to feel like "why am I such a b*tch...thinking badly of him....thinking he's going to do 'it' again.... and he's been so nice!"

We're forgetting about the progression of the disease, when we think like this.

Even with the BEST of intentions-------- the next drink makes the disease of alcoholism progress forward.

And with that progression, brings more brain damage, more broken promises (that he really DID mean to keep).

That's what A.A. means when it says, "POWERLESS over alcoholism".

OF COURSE you don't feel trusting!
You want to trust the MAN------ but it would be silly to trust his DISEASE.

And the disease is what propels his behavior, his feelings, his abilities, his motivation.

As the disease progresses forward, one can usually expect what a friend described so well---------- "Last year, he was nice 5 days a week and nasty for 2 days a week. This year, it has reversed. He's nice 2 days a week, on average.......and nasty 5 days a week, on average. Nothing in his life has changed------except for the fact that he's been drinking for yet another year."

From Toby Drews, the author of the million-selling "Getting Them Sober'' books, endorsed by 'dear Abby', Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, and Melody Beattie:
phone 410-243-8352

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Does Al-Anon say to tell them what they did?

Al-Anon says, "Tell him about his alcoholism one time and don't keep talking to him about it."

a.) If you get a chance to do an intervention that would work------- you have a much higher chance of it working out, if you haven't told him over and over, about what he's doing and what he should be doing and what he has not yet done that he should have done because he's promised, etc.

When you have talked over and over about his drinking---- the intervention often then seems like just another time of lecturing him.

b.) Some alcoholics do listen to what you say-------- and then get help. MOST DO NOT.

Most alcoholics do not listen to what you say------only to what you do.
No matter how much they say they listen to you.

c.) Alcoholics love it when you tell them how to be-------what they should be doing, etc.

I've told the story that Isabel did, on this bulletin board, a year or more ago. It bears repeating.

(Isabel was the co-founder of Al-Anon in Baltimore over 55 years ago.)

She had a neighbor who always 'wagged' her finger at Isabel------even repeatedly told her, "If I had your husband, I'D be able to straighten him out!"

Well, one holiday weekend, Isabel took her up on her offer!

She told her she could 'have' her husband for the weekend. She said there was one thing that must be adhered to-------- The woman could not return him until Monday evening.

The woman readily agreed.

Isabel packed the children's clothes and prepared them to go with her to the beach. She brought her alcoholic husband to her next-door neighbor's house, to be in the custody of the woman and her husband til the following Mon. evening.

Well, the woman sat up and told Isabel's husband all about alcoholism and what it was doing to his brain and his body and his family and his soul......etc etc.

Isabel's husband was very very attentive.

He listened 'seriously' and nodded and told her how much he was learning from her.......and how much some of the information surprised him ....... and how grateful he was.........and how close he felt to her and her husband, now!

The woman glowed with success.

She went to bed. (They had had their talk in the finished basement.)

The next morning, she went to the basement, and saw that he had drank up the entire bar that he found in a cupboard in that finished basement.

She called Isabel, frantic, "take him back!"

Isabel said, "oh no. Our agreement was that he stay there til Monday night."

That was the end of the neighbor's putting Isabel down for not telling her husband in just the right way.
Yes, most alcoholics love it when you talk to them, repeatedly, about their drinking.
They see it as a safety valve for you....... 'go ahead and talk......get it out of your system."

Now, it often is effective if you've been a person who has pretty constantly told the alcoholic off when you "change tactics say it only once" and don't talk about it anymore------- he often then gets scared.

"How come she's not talking about it anymore?!"

It's because you've given the disease back to him.

He then knows he has it all by himself.
The cheese stands alone.

Many an alcoholic has run to A.A. because he got scared because his wife no longer paid any attention to his drinking.

He SAW her detachment-------- her Al-Anon detachment that gave his disease back to him.........And that gave her peace.

d.) Now, there are alcoholics who do respond to your talking to them about how they really are and what they have really done.

But if you've already done it repeatedly, it's what I just wrote------- it's usually counter-productive.

But if your alcoholic has never heard you say what is really going on...... it can be very effective to say it once........ and not again..........until and unless you are prepared to DO something about it if he does not get help.
THAT is an intervention.

e.) What is another kind of intervention? When we let the crises happen (there is a chapter in "Getting Them Sober, volume one" called "let the crises happen) ------- when we let them happen........when we don't clear up the messes.........OFTEN, that is MUCH MUCH louder than ANYTHING you can say to him.

Example......... if he comes home and passes out on the floor------- providing it is not life-threatening -------- it is usually best to let him lie there.

If you pick him up and put him on the sofa......or put an afghan over him------- he'll wake up and think, 'oh, I have no problem'.

But if he wakes up and sees he is lying in his own mess-in-his-pants......... he KNOWS he has a problem.

And if you don't talk about it--------- THAT is loud!........louder than words.

Yes, some alcoholics do get help when you talk with them about alcoholism and what it is doing to them and what they have done that they do not remember-------but MOST do not respond well if you do it more than once.

If it worked to lecture them (and that IS what it is called when you repeatedly tell them what they did and what they should have done and what they do not remember and etc etc) --------- THEN 99% OF ALCOHOLICS WOULD BE SOBER.......because we almost all lectured them all night, night after night after night.

WE lost sleep and had to work the next day.
THEY don't remember most of what we said........and if they do remember our 'talks'------they get upset and just drink again and blot it out.

Some do remember what we say--------- but the longer they drink alcoholically, the sicker they get, and the worse their memory is.

They're often lucky if they remember what year it is.
Often, too, when we 'speak' less about what their problem is----- we usually appear to them as less vulnerable.

When we chronically tell them what is wrong and how it is affecting us----- they somehow often interpret that as they have us 'in their clutches'......i.e., that they have power over us.

The opposite often happens, then........ if we stop the constant telling them they are hurting us------ they often start to get worried that they have LOST that power over us.

They can escalate-------but WE usually get to a point, then, where we realize that we "have seen it all".......... NOT that it doesn't hurt when they 'do it again'.........but they somehow lose the power to totally devastate us anymore.

Not that we don't reel when he does something particularly awful......... but when we are in family recovery, OUR ability to get centered again to what WE need--------- is much quicker ------- and their ability to devastate gets lessened.

Of course, this does not mean we need to stay with them......... this is just what happens when they throw zingers and we are involved with them....and how family recovery does heal us.

Of course, too, even when separated, they throw zingers. (For more on this, you can read the chapters from the "Getting Them Sober, volume 4"
book in the section on this website called "DOZENS of GTS book chapters". (That book is all about the hidden issues when we are separated............. good to know even if you decide to stay with him...... it helps prepare you if you ever do decide to leave).

From Toby Drews, the author of the million-selling "Getting Them Sober'' books, endorsed by 'dear Abby', Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, and Melody Beattie:
phone 410-243-8352

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Divorce settlement--when $//pension//etc. is involved

Sometimes, when there is a divorce from an alcoholic, there are lump-sum settlements options......or one can get the money monthly or in years to come (as in shared pension).

Sometimes, it is an excellent idea to agree to accepting a lump-sum settlement ------- even if the total amount of money is less than what would be if one got it in payments over years.

Alcoholic men die, on an average, around 13 years earlier than other men.

Alcoholic men OFTEN lose their ability to make money, as they progress into late-stage alcoholism.

The brain damage does that.

This is not advice for anyone-------just options to consider in order to protect yourself and your children.

AND------- if there is ever a reconciliation later between the two of you ------- it would be very good to still have half of that money left.

I've heard literally thousands of cases told me ----- where he lost it all----- on booze/women/jewelry and trips to fancy places with women........etc etc.

If you get the half of the money---------while there still IS money left------and while he still can make a living-------- it might be a really good idea to consider.

From Toby Drews, the author of the million-selling "Getting Them Sober'' books, endorsed by 'dear Abby', Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, and Melody Beattie:
phone 410-243-8352

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Is he getting away with rotten behavior if say "disease"?

Why do people not want to believe that alcoholism is a disease?
a.) HMO's and some other insurance companies don't want to believe anything is a disease! Then, they have to pay for it! But, despite this (and believe me, if there were any loophole at all, they would find it!), they find
themselves having to go along with the American Medical Association and admit that it is, indeed a disease.

b.) What about other people? Why do people get angry when "it is called a disease"?

Let me tell a little vignette here. When I was on tour, training
counselors, later that evening in my hotel room, I was watching a talk show on tv. On stage with the host was a group of recovering alcoholics, whose body-language, in each of them, was very arrogant.
The audience looked very angry and got angrier each time that one of them said "he had a disease". I wanted to say to the host at the time, "please just ASK the audience why they feel so angry."

But I knew the answer-------- whenever I've counseled a family member who didn't want to hear "it's a disease", it was because she thought that if she said it was indeed a disease, THEN IT MEANT THAT THE ALCOHOLIC

After all, she thought -- he'd say, "hey I have a disease! I'M NOT

What is the answer to all this?

a.) There is, of course, very valid reason for this anger from the families!
We have seen, over the years, a lot of people who do dastardly things to
other persons, "getting off scott-free" in the courts because they claim they had "bad childhoods" or have other excuses.

I personally remember listening to the cases of women who killed their
children, and thought to myself, "I hope she doesn't get off" ----- NOT
because I "wanted to punish"----- but because I had a mother who was terribly violent since I was born, and who maybe would have succeeded in doing all her children in ------- if she had not been afraid of the legal consequences.

In that same vein, I hoped these violent offenders would not get away with it------ so that the consequences of their actions would hopefully be a
deterrent to other people who otherwise have no inner "stop sign" and who would also harm/kill their children.

b.) But apart from the court system, what are the implications of whether or not we undertand that alcoholism is a disease, as far as treatment goes?

AND, how can we get treatment for the disease of alcoholism-------- and yet not let them get away with awful behavior towards their families because "they have a disease"?

What people often do not know or understand is the DEPTH of understanding that A.A. has about abusive behavior of the alcoholic.

A.A.'s program continually says that this is a 3-part disease.......
physical, mental, and spiritual. And it emphasizes that the alcoholic
jeapordizes his/her sobriety if he or she does not treat all three parts of
his disease.

The A.A. program does NOT say, "hey, I've got a disease....... so get off my back. I'm not responsible."

It is just the opposite...... A.A. says that if you have this disease, the
ONLY way to stay sober is to be responsible // make amends.

c.) What happens if the alcoholic tells you to accept his/her rotten
behavior when they are "sober" because they "have a disease"?

This excerpt is from the "Getting Them Sober, volume one" book ------
"If the alcoholic threatens you by saying "you'd better shape up and accept his behavior just because he's not drinking anymore, then he's not sober, he's just dry. All he's done is remove the booze. True sobriety does not behave like that. Sober people are sane people. They don't threaten their families with abandonment just because they are not drinking. As a matter of fact, it is just the opposite------they are so GRATEFUL to the family for sticking with them ------that they try very hard to MAKE AMENDS to them for all the grief of past years.

"Remember: if he chooses to treat only one-third of his disease -- the
physical addiction -- instead of his whole disease-- then he is one who will
suffer. He is the one who is playing Russian roulette with his life."

From Toby Drews, the author of the million-selling "Getting Them Sober'' books, endorsed by 'dear Abby', Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, and Melody Beattie:
phone 410-243-8352

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

WHY it's important for healing--to not say 'enablers' .

For OUR family healing (and "if it's good for the family, it's good for the alcoholic") ---- it's SO important how we phrase our words-----when we are speaking of our actions.

Here, below, I've "copied and pasted" an excerpt from the "Getting Your Children Sober" book, on the subject of "enabling".


From Toby Drews, the author of the million-selling "Getting Them Sober'' books, endorsed by 'dear Abby', Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, and Melody Beattie:
phone 410-243-8352

More Topics:

Here it is-------

“Enabling” is meant to describe the res­cue opera­tions that the spouse or parent of an alcoholic carries out, when he can’t stand watching the alcoholic suffer the con­se­quences of the disease. When that hap­pens, he “cleans up” the alcoholic’s messes. That way, the alco­holic doesn’t suffer the real conse­quences of his behavior.

A parent (or spouse) must learn, eventually, to get some detach­ment on watching these crises happen in order to stop cleaning up after the alcoholic.
The idea is to allow the disease to hurt the alcoholic/addict so much that he or she wants to get sober. Of course, it takes a partner/parent a lot of time in a healing group such as Al-Anon in order to be able to do this.
And this detach­ment can’t be forced or rushed by counselors.
It is a slow process, and very frightening.

When a mother rescues her alcoholic child and I label her an enabler, she ob­viously is still doing the rescuing behav­iors and is not yet unafraid enough to give them up.
She knows I am being judg­mental when I use this term.
Even when I say it lovingly, I seem to be admonishing her to go faster than she is capable of doing at that time.
And she often feels des­pairing, because she is doing her best.
She may get so discouraged and frustrated and overwhelmed that she stops treatment.

More specifically, the term 'enabler' implies that while the parents did not cause the drinking, their rescue operations con­tributed to the PERPETUATION of the drinking (i.e., that we somehow "contributed" to the disease with our actions).

Such thinking is dangerous; it leads alco­holics, who are already looking for a way to blame others for the drinking, into again placing responsibility for the drink­ing on the family.

Alcoholics do not need any encourage­ment to blame others!

Alcoholism coun­selors spend most of their time trying to crack through the blame-systems of alco­holics.
It is considered to be a major break­through in the wellness process of alcoholics when they begin to acknowl­edge that nothing “got them drunk.”

In contrast, alcoholics who have had relapses and are re-entering treatment are now often heard saying, “I wouldn’t have gone out that time if I hadn’t been enabled!”

The alternative to being labeled enablers is-------- to teach you to end the rescue operations through the simple but effec­tive process of detach­ment.

For, de­tach­ment will help end your fears – and it is your fears that origi­nally caused you to rescue.

And even though, in this book, we are pri­mar­ily talking about par­ents and kids, the detachment process is espe­cially important if you also are married to an alcoholic.

It is important for you to lose your fears of that adult alcoholic so you can get on with your life and become more able to deal with your children-alcoholics.

How does detachment work?

How does it help you to lose your fears of your alcoholic child or spouse?

The general process goes something like this:

1) When you begin to learn ways to stop watching the alcoholic in order to begin the healing process of seeing to your own needs, the alcoholic has ­radar and senses this switch in focus.

2) Much of the “games” stop then, be­cause the alcoholic knows that less attention will be paid to him or her.

3) By continuing to focus on yourself in­stead of the alcoholic, you get an even greater distance (detach­ment) from the threats, and begin to lose your fears of them.

4) Again, the alcoholic senses this. He or she begins to threaten even less.

5) You see that detachment works! You gain more confidence. Many of the illusions in your relationship, are begin­ning to end.

6) You lose much of your preoccupation with the alcoholic.

Your pre­occu­pa­tion was based on your needing to stop him or her from hurting you.

You now see they are much less capable of hurting you than you thought.

They’ve already done most of the damage they can do.

But the game has been to keep up more of the same junk, to keep up the illusion that the alcoholic is powerful.

This no longer works. You have learned not to look at him or her; to walk out of the room; out of the house – to not beg.

7) The alcoholic now stands alone with his or her disease. "The cheese stands alone".

They’ve lost their audience, and therefore drop much of the bullying.

You are not watching it.

The alcoholic can no longer get you to believe you are responsible for his or her drinking and for the resultant craziness of their disease.

9) The alcoholic has a chance to grow up and make a decision to get help.

10) You are free.

When I teach parents and partners of alcoholics, the dynamic of what I have just described, they begin to naturally let go of the disease – to detach, and therefore stop 'enabling' – ­because they are losing their fears of the alcoholics. All of us stop manipu­lating and controlling alcoholics/addicts when we lose our fears of them....and our fears of losing their love.

NOW------ what is a better term for us to use instead of 'enabling'----since our using that term perpetuates the idea that we are to blame.

Using the term "rescuer" instead of "enabler" to describe our actions to bail them out of the consequences of their disease, helps us much more than using the word 'enabler'.

The connotation of the word 'rescuer' is a kind connotation.
Who are rescuers? Fireman, policemen.
When WE say 'we have rescued'------instead of 'we are enablers'----- we are using a term that is kind to us.

And boy do we need to do more of that.

ALSO--------- below, I've copied and pasted one of the Recovery Tips of the Month (from that section of this website) that details this subject.

Here it is------

"September, 2002, Recovery Tip of the Month"

It was about 1984 that I first started noticing the subtle and not-so-subtle attacks on the spouses of alcoholics in some of the literature about alcoholism and the family.

a.) The first launch on the families in some of the literature started calling the families "enablers" instead of "rescuers". (think of the difference in connotation----- the first term has the "feel" of a deliberate act of helping the alcoholic to stay drunk---- the second has a much more gentle "feel" of a family member who is loving and well-meaning but who is using ineffective means to help.)
b.)Then, it got a bit worse -- the spouse of the alcoholic started being called The Chief Enabler..... the connotation there needs almost no explanation. It screams of an almost planned deliberate plan of action to keep the alcoholic sick.
c.) Then, towards the end of the 1980's, there appeared a few articles in journals that claimed that Al-Anon was really only a place for spouses of alcoholics who were basically hopeless......hopelessly attached to the alcoholic and not strong enough to be one of those majority of stronger wives of alcoholics who COULD break away. Around that time, I started receiving hundreds of phone calls from families about these very questions ------ families whose heads were spinning from not knowing what to do when they were confronted by counselors they just met who insisted that they leave decades-long marriages because (they were told) they
were either "enablers" or "too codependent". They were told that if they tried to help their spouses, they were "enablers". If they wanted to stay in their marriages, they were "too codependent". (Around that time, I read an article in the Baltimore Sunpapers about a reporter who watched a film, along with family members, at a local treatment center, entitled "the enablers" ------and the reporter watched the families' angry faces after the film was over. The reporter asked the families, why
are you so angry? One woman put it so well------- "If we're helping, we're enablers; if we're angry, we're b**ches. When do we win?!"

What is very difficult to get some people to understand is, is that this disease of alcoholism ----- this crazymaking, emotionally abusive behavior of the drinking alcoholic ------ is so terrifying to the family, and yet is, at the same time, so cunningly hooking in its way of going from soul-destruction of the family to making the family feel so special, so close -- and back-and-forth and back-and-forth ------- that the result is that the family is so turned on its head and confused and winds up so lacking in self-trust and self-worth that it halfway believes that it will literally fall apart without that alcoholic. (I go more into this in the chapter called "the
irregular behavior of the alcoholic keeps us attached" in the book, "Getting Them Sober, volume 4". This resultant hooking-attachment that occurs is SO strong that it baffles even counselors at battered women's shelters. There is often a huge turnover in personnel at those shelters because they feel so frustrated at why these women go back to abusers.

What is not understood is that when counselors keep asking, "WHY do you stay?!" -- it only adds shame. Shame because the spouse of course knows that "taking it" is awful-----but she cannot leave. And shame does not make one be able to leave the marriage...... it only means she'll leave the counseling. And what the simplistic admonition to "leave the codependent relationship" also does not take into account is what Al-Anon, that God-given program, has always known------ that many marriages that seemed awful can be saved when one person changes. It does not always take two. One person changing his or her behavior can change the entire outlook of the family.

There seems to be two diametrically-opposed "poles" out there, now --- two theoretical concepts that still keep drumming on the families of alcoholics ---- specifically on the spouses -----

a.) that if one is "strong", one does not stay with someone who is emotionally abusive
b.) that if one is truly Christian, one stays with your spouse..... learns communications skills, learns the marriage skills based on true religion that will work to make the marriage successful. When I wrote the first volume of "Getting Them Sober" in the late 1970's that was later published in 1980, I wrote this in the introduction: "This book won't tell you, perhaps like a well-meaning friend might do, to "throw the bum out". Only you know what you can live with and what you cannot live with. On the other hand, I know you don't need any more outsiders telling you to "stop attacking the poor guy"."
Not much has changed, has it?

The point is, what DOES work in helping families of alcoholics to heal is to accept them EXACTLY where they are....... not play God and tell them they should leave OR stay in marriages...... assume they are adults and have the God-given right and dignity to make their own decisions.... and gently help them untangle the huge ball of tangled string of issues at their own pace, in their own time.

Very few people "move" out of any dysfunctional situation if they are shamed for staying. And constantly telling someone that they shouldn't "be taking it anymore" is an IMPLIED shaming. What DOES work? When I am counseling, I stress --

a.) you must, to the best of your ability, not minimize what is going on.
b.) you must, to the best of your ability, not shame yourself for not being able to move in any direction, take any steps, as quickly as you think you should -- or even at all.
c.) you must at least try Al-Anon for 8 meetings..... precisely because it is a spiritual program, when we start to say no to the littlest thing where we did not do so before, an irrational unconscious guilt sets in and that guilt is a real kicker! What saying no even a little bit does to MOST of us spouses of alcoholics is set off guilt ------ so then we try to "make up to the alcoholic" for "being so mean" as to say no, for the first time. We usually do not even know we are having this reaction-response --- we think we are punishing them when we start to say "no" with even a smidgeon of anger in our voices. But when we find a Higher Power that is gentle with us, we get a kind of spiritual "permission" to say no to those things that we used to put up with. Why is that important? Because most of us families of alcoholics have been so beaten down that we need that spiritual permission to allow us to feel like we have the right to ANY dignity without guilt.
d.) When we allow ourselves the TOTAL freedom to stay OR to leave, we then don't feel scared to look at what is really going on...... there's no pressure..... there's no shame........ we're not frozen with terror, just thinking about "having to leave". We know that we have the right to stay or leave or stay and leave and stay
and leave again.......... and when we know that no one is making us feel ashamed or wrong for staying, and if we stay honest with ourselves about the situation, we heal much quicker!
e.) And as Al-Anon so wisely knows------ there are a lot of us who will become emotionally stronger IN that marriage and that strengthening may very well create a dynamic that can eventually result in a total healing of the family. But we cannot discover what is TRULY an authentic choice for ourselves unless we listen to only our inner voices, in our own time, in our own way. Years ago, in my counseling practice, I worked closely with Dr. Max Weisman....many of you will remember his name. He died a few years ago.... he was a real pioneer in this field, a psychiatrist who, decades ago, started a subcommittee on alcoholism in the American Medical Association. He spent summers in Russia and Eastern Europe, training other psychiatrists on how to adapt the 12-step programs in their countries that were essentially atheist in philosophy.... and he succeeded in helping them make that bridge for healing.
I remember him telling me that this field was the only one that he knew of that produced counselors who had the arrogance to tell people that they should break up their marriages. For about twenty years, now, there have been groups that have decried Al-Anon for spawning severe codependence...... and they have gotten followers. For the most part, these followers have been folks who, when you meet them, seem to be pretty strong people. But many of them only became strong after years in gentle groups like Al-Anon, that accepted them for what they were, that offered nothing but kindness and non-shaming help........ and I wonder if most of these now-strong people could have gotten to where they are now, if they had been made to feel so shamed "for staying in an emotionally abusive marriage" when they first walked into the rooms of Al-Anon -- terrified and unable to make a move?
One also hears from these groups that decry Al-Anon, that Al-Anon "is good for awhile, but it keeps people in codependent dead-end marriages". What they are saying is that after a while----- say, after a year or two----- one "should be able to get on with one's life" and leave a marriage where the alcoholic is still drinking.
This is just another variation on the same theme as I spoke of above, but this time, allows the spouse of the alcoholic a little slack -------- allows her/him to have a little time to "be codependent" and then says to her/him, "ok, get on with it..... time to leave".
f.) In my thirty-plus years of working in this field, training counselors, counseling families, I have found that helping families pull apart that big ball of wax of tangled threads----- the threads that are the lies the disease has made us believe ----- and helping the families see them in the light of day ------- helps to actually MELT the fears of the families..... and when those fears are melted........ and when, at the same time, I do not shame them and terrorize them into thinking that they must make moves that they either are not ready for OR THAT THEY SHOULD PROBABLY NOT EVER DO BECAUSE IT IS NOT GOOD FOR THEM FOR SOME REASON THAT I DON'T KNOW AND THAT THEY PROBABLY DO NOT KNOW AT THE TIME I AM COUNSELING THEM ----------- only then do they relax enough to trust enough to "turn it over" and learn, INTERNALLY, what is truly good for them.