And for those of you drinking your way through unhappy and destructive marriages and other relationships….
When we began our practice here at Non 12 Step nearly a decade ago, nothing interested us more than the number of clients who were very successful professionally and yet who were also abusing alcohol to a considerable degree. Why were competent, powerful, intelligent, and motivated people doing themselves in with drinking problems?
It didn’t take long to discover the answer. These same men and women, professionally assertive or even aggressive, turned into passive and resentful “Beta boys and girls” in their marriages or other significant personal relationships. Reduced to passivity by aggressive, dominating spouses or partners, they self-medicated to get protection or as a passive aggressive reaction, but also thereby exacerbating their “one down” position and guaranteeing that they’d stay there — abused, exploited, demeaned, and disenfranchised.
Perhaps the greatest stumbling blocks to ending alcohol abuse are the benefits the drinker gets from alcohol, but also the BENEFITS the spouse or partner also derives from the drinking. That is the part of the couples “dance” that is almost never recognized, acknowledged, and corrected.
When people go off to traditional treatment or rehab, the assumption is that they will return and life will go on as before except the “problem” person will no longer drink.
That never happens, except when the drinker actually does go off to AA and the same old, same old, alcohol focused life continues. What does happen?
Mr. or Ms. Problem comes back angry, resentful, and spoiling for a fight, but because they are still “one down” their only weapon is to return to drinking. That ‘ll show them!
Actually fixing the problem?
That would requires creating a new dance. It means replacing alcohol abuse with appropriate assertiveness. It means standing up instead of lying down. It means insisting on regaining one’s vote in family decision making; in refusing to dwell on the past; in no longer tolerating being abused, demeaned, or labeled.
In other words, it means learning to do personally what you already know how to do professionally.
And, yes, we can show you how to accomplish this, either as an individual woman, man, or couple.
Ready to create a life that is better than “normal” – a life that matches your abilities and other accomplishments?
That’s what we thought. So what are you waiting for?
Loneliness – another of the common themes we see with our otherwise competent clients.
The one routine piece of testing we do with clients, and spouses if possible, is Dr. Jane Loevonger’s Washington University Sentence Completion Test. This is, basically, a measure of emotional and psychological maturity and it helps us to quickly understand differences, if any, between spouses, but also how you compare to most of the world. Dr Loevinger is credited with being the first psychologist to define “normal” and excessive drinking is often associated with being either “too old” or “too young” and this is an important factor in designing effective treatment.
Most all of us make the mistake of “generalizing from ourselves,” meaning that we assume that people of similar background, ethnicity, education, age, and gender make decisions or hold values similar to our own. It isn’t so.
We all mature, or fail to mature, for a variety of reasons including intelligence, sensitivity, childhood experiences, how sheltered we were, and whether we tend to respond with either fear or anger. The combination of factors in each of our own lives tends to determine how young or old we are regardless of our chronologic age.
Which brings us back to loneliness – loneliness that results from surrounding ourselves with friends, spouses, family, and others whose “real age” is much younger than ours. People who will never be as capable of emotional and psychological intimacy as you are.
People whom you think you should fit with, so you keep trying to drink your way down (alcohol is a “regressant” and well as a depressant) to their level with only momentary success, if that.
It isn’t going to happen until you learn to recognize your actual peers. Then the loneliness and sadness can begin to abate.
The overall results? People whose emotional and psychological development is arrested at age 11 or 12, with middle school peer- dominated values, tend to do well in AA.
People who mature normally, or find that they are “too old” for their chronologic age, do well with us. Consequently, our website and newsletters are generally designed to appeal to those of you who will benefit from our work – those of you who are true individuals – while screening out the less mature conformists who are best served by heading off to AA.
Again, it isn’t rocket science, but it’s very good treatment science – just the kind that 98% of all treatment programs reject because it works. Not the outcome they are looking for.
But certainly the outcome you, and we, are looking for.