Unbalanced Personal & Professional Relationships
With numerous headlines reporting varying types and degrees of sexual assault, harassment, misconduct, and other crimes and misdemeanors, it’s not difficult to see that unbalanced relationships exist all over the place. What may be less obvious is that the sexual variety is only one variation on all of the power differentials that also underlay much of alcohol abuse.
Because we work with individuals and couples we see the domestic side of the abuse of power more often than the professional side. We also see a lot of you after you have been victimized in AA or in AA based treatment programs.
Leaving aside the 12 Step manifestations, we are interested in correcting the personal problem areas. These may involve spouses, other family members, one’s social set, or even our own internal struggles. Regardless of the arena, the solution is pretty much the same: Assertiveness Training.
Let’s look at a common example of marital discord. In this domestic drama we find a controlling spouse and spouse rebelling by drinking, a favorite passive-aggressive weapon of choice. I use the term spouse rather than husband and wife because controlling spouses are of either gender in about equal numbers.
Often the “controller” is all in favor of the drinker getting help as they believe that that is how they will gain control over the last area of resistance. If the underdog trots off to AA they may well be right. After all, AA teaches you that you are a powerless, sub-human, victim. Of course what can happen is that the “alcoholic” finds meetings to be the new passive-aggressive tool to wield against the controller.
All of this simply continues the same old cycles in a modified manner just as AA is a slightly modified but still alcohol focused way of life.
Which gets us back to our work with you in this area.
On the continuum, we find: Passive, Passive-Aggressive, Assertive, Aggressive. Most of us live in either the Passive/Passive-Aggressive or the Aggressive modes. Frequently people of one persuasion find themselves with partners in the other. This creates a never ending struggle which will continue until the Passive partner steps up to Assertiveness.
Yes, it will be the Passive partner stepping up because 1) they are the one using alcohol and, 2) Aggressive people never willingly ramp things back to Assertive.
The fact that this is a significant factor is also shown in that Assertiveness Training is anathema to AA and 12 Step based rehab. In fact, being, or becoming, Assertive will get you banished from either. This should give you a significant “Ah Ha” moment, and a glimpse into your own domestic situation.
Want to replace punishing both yourself and others with your drinking? Want to do it in a controlled and effective manner which won’t necessarily destroy your marriage or have you scaring yourself?
Good – that’s what we’re here for.
Becoming Assertive With Yourself
It’s interesting that we frequently find ourselves knowing what we need to do yet never getting around to doing it. Or waiting so long that we lose years in the process.
As a number of you wrote to me, “Yes, I’m sitting here in ‘contemplation hell,’ as you described it, afraid to take the leap.”
We never lack for excuses for not doing something. “I’ll lose my best friend” (alcohol). “I’ll lose all my friends” (drinking buddies). “I’ll never have/enjoy sex again.” “I’ll…..”
The list can be intimidating and go on endlessly. If we were only half as creative in listing the things we’ll gain. “I won’t have to worry about having enough alcohol around or what I say or do.” “I’ll get my voice back with my spouse, children, family.” “I’ll leave a lot of exploitative losers behind.” “I’ll regain much of my physical and mental health.” “I’ll get things done I’ve always meant to do.” “I’ll actually be there when I’m having sex and discover I really, really like it!”
We suggest you write down your own lists and honestly see what your internal imbalance is – and then consider assertively moving from Contemplation to Action.
Time is your only finite resource. How do you want to spend your allotment?
We can help you figure that out too.