While it’s hard to fathom, some people, including those who have implored you to stop the alcohol abuse, will sabotage your progress towards a less medicated life. These will too often include spouses, children, other family members, friends, colleagues, and others with whom you associate.
Sometimes the reasons are obvious as in the case of a client who received an endless stream of texts from bartenders and waitresses. With his $5,000 a month tab, the reason for their “concern” was obvious.
With your spouse, not so much. Indeed, they may find it mystifying themselves, though not always.
In preparing your defense against attempts to nudge you back to your old habits, you need to consider the following question: What are the benefits your spouse gets out of your drinking?
The immediate response, at least from them, will be an emphatic, “NONE!”
To which we respond, “Phooey. If you weren’t benefiting, you’d have left.”
So what are the most common benefits? Let’s start with those we see all the time:
- As the drinker, you lose your vote in family decision making;
- Your “problem” covers up their problems which may be as bad or even worse than yours;
- Being a drunk allows them to avoid intimacy – psychological, emotional, physical – which they may not want or may be incapable of;
- They get to be the automatic “good guy”;
- In any dispute, from spending to child rearing and/or custody, you automatically lose;
- They have the freedom to create whatever life they want unfettered by any consideration of you.
- No benefits? We think not.
Moving along to your adolescent children, who admittedly hate having a drunk for a parent, but who:
Do like being able to manipulate you (“Last night you said I could!” and you, not remembering accede);
We’re pretty sure you can add other examples from their history of leveraging your guilt and faulty memory.
Moving along to family members. They have similar vested interests in keeping you as a scapegoat, denying the validity of any complaints you might have, and leaving you out in the cold.
Colleagues like that you aren’t a threat, as do some employers, supervisors, and even underlings.
Friends appreciate you for making their drinking look moderate.
That’s a lot of benefits across the board.
As much as that adds up to, most of the opposition to you sobering up will evaporate over the course of a year if you are careful about asserting yourself:
- start small;
- allow people time to adjust;
- develop some credibility;
- build slowly.
Remember, you unconsciously trained all of these people in how they could use you and treat you. Now you will be consciously retraining them as you are yourself. You all need, and deserve, some time to process, learn new ways of interacting, and to find new benefits within changing relationships.
Yes, we help with that too.
Relapse? Another Destructive 12 Step Myth
We always advise clients to delete a number of self-destructive words from their working vocabulary. These include “alcoholic,” “alcoholism,” “in recovery,” and, particularly, “relapse.”
“Alcoholic” and “alcoholism” have no meaningful definition other than it’s a label I paste on you to demean and abuse you, or I paste on myself to avoid taking any responsibility for my drinking.
Likewise, “in recovery” is just a way to blackmail spouses and others by pretending to be doing something about a problem you have no intention of ever fixing. As in, “don’t you be messing with my recovery or it’ll be your fault when…”
Back to benefits, all three are convenient ways to avoid taking responsibility for one’s own choice not to recover.
Which brings us to “relapse,” easily the best route to avoid actually recovering.
According to AA, a “relapse” occurs when you indulge in anything on their current list of no-no’s and you must immediately assume the mantle of ignominy and retreat to Step 1, “I am a powerless alcoholic.”
So what’s the story with all of the millions of people who get over their drinking problems and return to “normal” drinking?
According to AA, it just means that they weren’t really alcoholics.
Let me see if I’ve got this right. If I drink too much I am either an alcoholic or an alcoholic in denial? But if I fix it, whether I abstain or moderate, without AA, then I was just masquerading as an alcoholic?
And this is our culture’s accepted wisdom?
Many of you who have been clients, and many more who may be, have discovered that when they address the real problems they have also been able to return to social drinking with a reasonable amount of self-monitoring.
Others have learned that they can’t, but it was worth finding out and they had merely regressed to an old habit pattern and that it wasn’t much of a problem to pick back up where they’d left off.
Soooo, why not recover?
And having done so, if you want to find out about drinking responsibly, find out?
Whether you can or can’t you’ll know more about yourself and your choices and can proceed to live your life unfettered by 12 Step brainwashing and propaganda.
Want to expand your options in life? That’s what we help you do. Expand – NOT contract. Your choice?