Sometimes we hit just the right note and a reader responds with their own confirming insights as did “M” from ——- with the following:
“Cheers from ——-! I was with you several years ago during a short Thanksgiving week, and some of the things you said still ring in my ears. I really enjoy your emails and have forwarded them to others who I think might benefit from your counseling.
Your message this week really hit home with me! Thank you!
In particular, the last paragraph expressed what I have a very hard time explaining to my children. My daughter says over and over that I ‘have no life’ and that she’s ‘so worried’ about me. Well, I’m happy! I’ve put alcohol aside, I’m embracing this time in my life when I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, and I only spend time with people who bring me joy.
Other people (even our own loved ones) judge our lives through the prism of their own perspective. I don’t want or need the frantic work/socializing/traveling schedule that makes my daughter happy. I had it 30 years ago! She doesn’t understand that the life I have, as boring and pedestrian as it may seem to her, is the life I’ve chosen. You two told me to become ‘the architect’ of my own life, and I’ve done that.
Thank you for articulating my feelings so clearly! I kind of like the idea of being ‘idiosyncratic’!”
It’s interesting that most of our clients are capable of living their own uniquely and personally designed lives and have little need to “conform” to others’ dictates. That’s known as being a fully mature adult.
Note that it’s the opposite of AA where everyone must conform to a rigid identity (alcoholic), fit into the group, avoid growing up, and becoming actual adults. In other words, you must be a permanent 12 year old.
Your own creative and satisfactory life or “group think”?
For the latter, we recommend AA and the 12 Steps.
For capable, independent adults, we recommend you let us help free you to live a life of your own choosing.
In a variation of the above, another former client dropped by last evening to discuss the changes working with us had precipitated in his life.
His biggest underlying problem was a controlling and unstable spouse – something we see frequently, regardless of the client’s gender. Of course his drinking made him an easy target for her aggression and manipulation.
Really. Alcohol abuse is a readily understandable example of pinning a target on your forehead, handing your partner a loaded gun, and then acting amazed when you get shot.
The other half of this particular dance is that getting blitzed is a superb way of saying FU to a controlling spouse. “Try and control this, ……!”
Once you recognize that this is a “dance” that the two of you have developed it becomes a bit easier to begin to alter it, and the alcohol abuse.
We did not say easy – we said easier. Almost universally, each partner wants the other one to go first.
“Stop being so damn controlling and I’ll stop drinking!”
“Stop drinking and I’ll stop being so controlling!”
And so the dance continues as you both go through well rehearsed steps.
Fix it? First accept that as the drinker you’re going to have to go first. That’s just how it is. You’re the “flag waver” – the “designated problem” – and that’s who has to lead.
Second, just because you keep your half of the bargain doesn’t mean the controller will – because being controlling is their own separate issue, which is why we do a lot assertiveness training in our work with you.
Third, all this takes time to develop in your real life. It’s not going to spring up out of no where like mushrooms on the lawn of a Malibu resort. It’s also why we continue to work with you for as long as necessary after you’ve completed the 5 day intensive foundation work.
Finally, you can both be happier and after a year of learning new “dances” you’ll be amazed at how much your life has changed and how you’ve learned to be responsive to situations rather than reactive.
The day will come when after some crisis, altercation, or family event you’ll realize that it never even occurred to you to reach for a bottle. That is success.