We frequently see clients who are feeling disempowered, or at least diminished, in their personal relationships. Usually this is with regard to spouses but can also be with families, parents, in-laws, and others. It can happen to both men and women and, unhappily, we can do it to ourselves.
Some of this pattern, and it is a pattern, usually starts in childhood when we are, in fact, powerless. With maturation we become more empowered and gain control over more of our personal lives – remember the effect a driver’s license had?
But sometimes events, controlling parents, bullying peers, accidents, or other inexplicable occurrences leave us feeling more helpless than we really are.
Then we resort to drinking to medicate learned helplessness, real or imagined victimization, or as a passive-aggressive weapon against real or imagined oppressors. All of which constitutes pinning a target on our forehead and either figuratively shooting ourselves or handing someone else the “gun” and acting surprised at the results.
The most common form of this self-sabotage is drinking, of course, which both demonstrates our “independence” (“try and control this you S.O.B.”) while preventing us from actually obtaining any. Doesn’t help that we keep giving everyone else a “get out of jail free card” since we repeatedly demonstrate that our drinking is the problem.
But since we know the drinking is a symptom which prevents the real problems from even being defined, much less addressed, it’s clear that the misuse of alcohol needs cleared out of the way before anything productive is going to happen.
That may not seem fair, and often isn’t, but given the myths our culture has been infected with by the Steppers, it’s inevitable that you, the drinker, are going to have to go first and quit giving everyone else an excuse to ignore you, blame you, and escalate the conditions that led to the drinking in the first place.
Yes, we’ll help you sort out what is actually going on, how to prioritize re-empowering yourself, and where to find the assertiveness to confront rather than avoid and evade.
It will take time. You have zero credibility at this point that you’re even capable of giving up the alcohol, much less that you will follow through on the issues which actually exist. But you can and when you do you will feel so much better about yourself and your life.
Like the ex-smoker who suddenly discovers smells and tastes he or she had totally forgotten about, or the cataract surgery recipient who had forgotten about seeing clearly as the visual fog slowly descended, you too will revive a dormant self who is engaged, involved, independent, and, yes, alive once again.
“Vast Reservoirs of Untapped Potential”
Nothing fuels alcohol abuse quite as effectively as failing to use the abilities we have. Many of you can relate to the analogy of being “the Corvette up on blocks in the garage with the engine running, going nowhere.”
Ironically, nothing keeps the Corvette up on blocks quite as effectively as over-indulging in alcohol or joining the cult of powerlessness.
Still, knocking the blocks out from under the car and getting back on the road is more challenging than it may, at first, appear. That old garage has grown pretty comfortable, and the “road” awfully scary since we last ventured forth.
Yet frequently the fears are unfounded. And for most of us, what we fear most is rarely what befalls us. Instead, we paralyze ourselves with imaginary catastrophes in order to stay stuck in our present, though comfortingly familiar, misery.
In so doing we do indeed leave our “vast reservoirs of untapped potential” untapped and our unique lives unlived.
Thoreau noted that he most feared coming to the end of his life only to discover that “he had not lived.”
Katherine Hepburn’s mother advised, “Don’t die wondering.”
Need a little prodding? Read. Try Wild, Travels with Charlie, Blue Highways, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and extrapolate to you own potential travels which need not be geographic but more like Thoreau’s internal mappings.
But do something, if only to decide that you really do wish to spend your days up on blocks, or being the ship which never leaves the harbor, but make it an informed choice, not one draped in regret.
Need a travel planner? We do that.
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