Sabotaging Spouses (and others)
When you stop drinking there are things neither you nor your spouse are prepared for. But let’s start with expectations.
Almost without exception, spouses and other family members think that nothing is going to change. Everything will go along just like “before” except you won’t be drinking.
To whatever degree you drinking has impacted others, not drinking will affect them as much, or even more.
And partners will be affected the most – positively or negatively – and the degree will depend to some extent on the benefits they have been getting from your drinking. That’s right, benefits.
This becomes particularly obvious in the case of controlling or immature spouses.
Controlling spouses tend to congratulate themselves on the idea that they are finally going to control the one aspect they couldn’t, your rebellious drinking. But to their astonishment you now are becoming assertive, want your vote back in family decision making and are becoming even less manageable!
Additionally, with your “problem” out of the way, theirs begin to emerge and their “get out of jail free” card has expired.
It doesn’t take long for them to decide they preferred the drunken spouse to the sober one.
Immature spouses suddenly “discover” that “you’re no fun” as a sober adult instead of when you were drinking you way down to their childish level (alcohol is, remember, a regressant). You, on the other hand, quickly realize that you’ve been single parent all this time.
Guess what they decide? Yes. They want their fun mommy or daddy back. And they certainly don’t want to grow up themselves.
Please remember, this is not a universal reaction. Many spouses and children of all ages welcome your return to the land of the living. But you need to take a hard look at the benefits everyone around you gets from your drinking and there will always be someone who wants you back doing it again. These are the people we may have to leave behind.
As always, it’s good to be prepared and that is why we work so intensely with you to forearm you in many ways so that you neither sabotage yourself nor allow others to do it to you. It’s just one of the many benefits of our individual attention to, and focus on, you.
Yes, You Have More Options Than You Recognize
When people ask what we really do we note that we grant absolution for the past and permission for the future.
You did not end up misusing alcohol because you are dumb, diseased, immoral, weak, or any of the other negative associations we usually accuse ourselves of. We ended up with a problem because alcohol “works” for relieving all of the things we self-medicate: loneliness, boredom, anxiety, depression, trauma, tragedy, pain, lousy relationships, etc. Until it doesn’t.
Again, that’s the insidious part of alcohol’s medicinal nature – it successfully medicates but not only doesn’t “fix” the problems, it prevents them from being resolved, and it makes all of them worse!
So, you are absolved for having created a “solution” which is a reflection of our normal human inclination to live in the short run and go for the quick fix. That’s why we don’t spend much time mucking around in the past other than figuring out what you are drugging yourself for.
That gets us around to the permission part.
We all have far more options than we perceive. Many more choices than we can objectively recognize and evaluate. Drinking narrows those down to a scant few. People who are “successful” in AA love the fact that they are reassured that they have no choices. Go to meetings, avoid “normies,” give up on life, and all will be well. It’s a child’s definition of security and for those who never want to grow up it “works.”
For the rest of us, alcohol narrows our world to an intolerable degree but we’re afraid to expand it. Most of us have had some pretty bad experiences and are gun shy when it comes to venturing forth again. Better to stay on the sofa and open another bottle.
But if that were satisfactory, that’s what you be doing, not reading this.
If you don’t wish to repeat past mistakes, patterns, lousy choices, nor do you wish to be miserable, the choice comes down to door #3 (#1 is AA, #2 is the security of familiar miseries), trying something new.
That will depend on what you want your life to look like a year from now, how much of an adventure you’re up for, what you’re willing to leave behind, and who’s help you’re willing to enlist.
Perhaps you should start with us and allow us to help you answer the rest? It is, after all, what we do. What do you want/need permission to change? We don’t have the answer, but we do know how to help you find, and implement, yours.