Years ago we had an exasperated family member call. For years the family had been trying to get Mother to go to AA and fix her drinking problem. Finally she succumbed to the pressure and agreed, looked up a women’s meeting and went off to test the waters.
She returned after a couple of hours and reported that they were a very nice group of women and it had been an interesting evening and they had agreed to add her to their waiting list should they ever have an opening.
As bogus as her story is, it does reveal an interesting fact. People who don’t want to change don’t, though they can be coerced into placating spouses, children, employers, and whoever else is applying the pressure.
But don’t expect any change to actually occur.
It’s one of the things we attempt to sort out ahead of time and we don’t take placaters as clients. We’re not in the business of helping you pretend – that’s what traditional rehab is for. And it’s one of the reasons “rehab” has such dismal “success” rates. But they don’t care as long as your payment clears. Too few concerned people understand this reality.
And so the dance continues. The drinker has no credibility that they are actually going to address the problem. Everyone agrees on that.
Less often noted is that the concerned “others” don’t have any either.
That’s the dance – they pretend that they want to change and you tolerate the fact that they don’t.
Guess what? Someone here needs to get some credibility and it usually starts with whoever has been tolerating the drinker’s choices. And it’s a lot easier when you get past the AA “it’s a disease” mythology and move on to “it’s a personal choice” reality.
Yes, it’s a series of choices that have gotten out of hand, but one still has the choice to reverse the process, work one’s way back out of the condition. Sufficiently motivated, most people do in fact recover from over indulging in self-medication.
How and when brings me to our next topic.
All of us waste way too much time and too many years in that pre-action stage Mary Ellen and I call “Contemplation Hell.” We know we should address our drinking problem, or lose those extra pounds, or quit smoking, or…..
But even though we know this, and have done the research, we still postpone actually pulling the trigger.
Because we all hate change and prefer the “security of familiar miseries.”
After all, continuing to do what we’ve always done has predictable results, even if those are results we don’t want. But they are predictable! What would happen if we did something else? Something new? Something different?
That fear of the unknown consequence is paralyzing.
So we keep on drinking, smoking, eating and enduring miserable marriages and other relationships, dead end jobs, and a host of other conditions which we then medicate.
The especially weird part about this is that most decisions, except suicide, are reversible. You can try not drinking or over-eating, or smoking, and if your life isn’t better you can go back. You can try going to the gym and if you don’t like it, quit. You can try living your marriage the way you think it should be for you and if nothing changes you can decide it’s either your lot in life or you can start finding someone more attuned to your preferences.
But at least you will find out what your choices really are.
Most of the time we discover that change makes our lives better.
So why not give it a try? Talk to us about modifying your drinking life and see what might actually improve your existence to the point where you don’t want to go back to living in an alcohol induced fog.
And if you find you prefer the fog? Well at least you can quit worrying about whether or not you should move out of it. Then you can just settle back, comforted by knowing that you gave it a shot and life without drinking isn’t for you.
One way or another, knowing beats living in contemplation hell. Trust us on that.