The Spanish philosopher, Ortega, observed that, “Life is fired at us point-blank, and we must choose.”
That is both our curse and our blessing and it’s also called “Free Will.” Yet most of us usually decide not to choose, side-stepping the fact that that too is a choice.
Or we decide that we must make the “right” choice even though we’re usually stuck with making choices between options that are both good.
For example, spend more time with my spouse, or make more money. Or both distasteful, keep on drinking, or invest the effort and discomfort it takes to stop.
I love the sign in my mechanic’s garage, “Good, Fast, Cheap – Pick Any Two.”
That really sums up the circumstances we all face – having to make choices and, no, we can’t have it all. No one can.
Do you want the fame and attention and money a celebrity gets? Want to sacrifice every grain of privacy you ever had? That is the price.
Want the benefits of drinking? Temporary escape from loneliness, anxiety, boredom, pain, and responsibility? Willing to pay with divorce, guilt, a negative self-image?
The choice to end your alcohol abuse is usually a fairly easy one. The difficulties? Choosing how, when, and where.
Measured over time, programs based on AA and the “Steps” have the same success rate as you’d get by just going to AA. 5% or less.
Research based programs do much better as the University of New Mexico’s studies noted in assessing effectiveness. You can read the results in Ending Alcohol Abuse: What Works.
As always, it’s your choice – but we suggest that you not follow either Bill W. or Scruffy…
Scruffy, our office canine, is a great friend but a lousy role model. Please find another example to emulate and keep your head out of the sand.
A ‘sabot’ is a Dutch wooden shoe that workers threw into the machinery that was taking their jobs and hence the derivation of the word “sabotage.”
Sabotage is also what others do when you quit drinking. Yes, even when they are the ones who have been threatening, nagging, and begging you to get some help.
What’s going on here?
It all comes down to benefits – the ones they have been getting from your drinking.
While spouses often act dumbfounded when we ask them to list the benefits they get from your drinking, it doesn’t take long for us to compile a list with you that usually includes things like:
- the drinker loses their vote in family decision making;
- the spouse looks like a saint;
- the spouse’s problems get hidden behind the drinker’s more obvious (though not necessarily less serious) problems;
- the children find it easy to manipulate the parent;
- the drinker excuses behaviors in others they would never tolerate or accommodate if they weren’t feeling guilty;
- drinking peers lose their reference (“I don’t have a problem. Compared to X my drinking is obviously normal!”).
And so it goes.
While the sabotage is frequently unconscious, it is nonetheless real and we do help prepare clients for it. Mostly it’s a matter of hanging in there long enough for those around you to either give in and accommodate or go away. Mostly family members adjust, though drinking buddies disappear, but that’s hardly much of a loss.
It’s also one of the benefits of our follow-up work – we can help you recognize and resist the sabotage, usually with a combination of assertiveness, good humor, and the realization that this phase too will pass.
Need specifics about your particular situation? Just call and we’ll see what we can help you figure out.
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