Last week’s Newsletter focused on “unbalanced” relationships and the way in which assertiveness training can help to address this underlying problem. This week I’d like to drill down to another level – why do we allow unbalanced relationships to develop, continue, and why do we keep going back to them?
To recap just a bit, alcohol abuse is a way to cope with unbalanced, or unfair, relationships. We use it as insulation, retaliation, compensation, and escape. We also know that it works well for those purposes while avoiding fixing the imbalance.
So far, so good.
Drilling down another level usually brings us to the source of the imbalance – loneliness.
Many of us who are smart, sensitive, and mature will attract immature and dependent “others” who recognize us and our vulnerability far sooner than we see their predatory natures. But attracting dependent “others” doesn’t necessarily doom us – we could just walk away. Except we don’t.
The same traits which make us precociously mature: intelligence, sensitivity, a childhood of having to figure things out for ourselves, and more fear than anger in our response mechanisms, make us too “old” for our age. Stated another way, we are older, emotionally and psychologically, than our chronologic peers.
While we don’t understand this – why would we – we do know we don’t “fit”.
That‘s the recipe for loneliness and for tolerating, and medicating, relationships with people who have no capacity to meet our needs for intimacy and equal partnerships. We make do because it appears that there aren’t any other options.
It’s true that finding others who are capable of the sorts of mutually fulfilling connections we need and are capable of is difficult. It’s also true that we may not find these in traditional ways. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t find ways to have meaningful lives, friends, relationships, and activities.
Remember, your life probably hasn’t been “normal” and isn’t at the present time. Why not let us help you create your own idiosyncratic, and much more satisfactory, life? One unhampered by alcohol abuse.
As Oscar Wilde noted, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”
For a long time we have said that the antidote to too much drinking was “doing stuff.” That’s not really a joke, but it is the antithesis of AA’s fixation on NOT DRINKING!!!!
Think about this just briefly. Why would anyone pass out “awards” for not doing something? Yet that is the entire 12 Step focus, awards for not drinking for 30 days, 90 days, 1 year, 50 years. Awards for doing nothing.
Consider, in contrast, do ex-smokers drape themselves with pre-adolescent trinkets for not smoking? Of course not. Take that, at least, from them.
“Doing stuff” can also be defined in a great many ways. It can mean actively pursuing, or discovering, activities that meet some of the needs you are medicating. Or it can be learning more about ourselves and our options.
We suggest to all clients that no one can make informed decisions unless they know where they stand medically, legally, and financially. Do you? That’s a good place for “doing stuff” to start.
From there it’s hard to make progress unless you know where you want to go. So, what areas of your life are satisfactory and which not? Forget the drinking for now and remember that your misuse of alcohol is the symptom, so at least reduce your focus on drinking to its being a clue as to what’s wrong.
And, no, you doing have to fix everything TODAY! That’s another part of our work with you. Sort, prioritize, plan, and proceed.
It’s a revelation to most of us how, when we get involved in managing our lives, our interest in drinking declines. Where once alcohol was the medication that got us through the day, now it’s the impediment to leading our lives.
This is, of course, much simplified and condensed, but the concept remains: get a grip, get a life, and get there by returning to “doing stuff.”
As noted above, it’s your life, live it!