A Family Disease

I am an alcoholic and I am an addict. I also have bipolar illness. So I’m a lot of trouble.

I do really seriously take responsibility for my problems, my sins, shortcomings, character defects and downright ugliness. I have ruined all kinds of relationships, there is no doubt.

I think one of the ways AA is successful is because you are right there with all the other assholes and nobody will put up with bullshit.

They will also accept you, befriend you, be there for you night and day, 24 hours a day. If you are having trouble staying away from a drink you can easily get 5 AA members to come to your home and help you stay sober another day.

There is very little coddling; however. We know each other.  We know all the games, deceit, lies, and denials.

Because that is true, a person who has a speck of willingness can come in and be loved until they love themselves.

It’s affirming, it’s healing. It’s a way to get through the shame and hurt. Outside of the rooms of AA, there is just a lot of judgment, a lack of understanding, caring, tolerance, assistance, genuine concern…I can go on.

I don’t say these things with anger or bitterness really. I feel passive right now as I write this. I say it because I have a deep, profound gratitude for AA and this gratitude is very very new to me after all of these years.

We alkies cause a lot of destruction in our wake. Funny, I’m reading the book I mentioned previously by Henry Cloud called ‘Integrity: the Courage to Face the Demands of Reality,’  It discusses what we leave in our wake: ‘At the end of the day, we must look back and see if the wake of our work is profitable or not. If it isn’t, it is time to ask ourselves some hard questions. The wake is the results we leave behind. And the wake doesn’t lie and it doesn’t care about excuses. It is what it is. No matter what we try to do to explain why, or to justify what the wake is, it still remains. It is what we leave behind and is our record.’

So, that’s what it is about being an alcoholic. The other thing that AA offers that it absolutely gives you hope. There are people there day after day, week after week, year after year. I’ve met people with 50 years of sobriety and they have led lives of integrity, with depth and purpose. They lead the way.I’ve prefaced this to tack on the way other family members can get skills to put the family back in order. The alcoholic is not responsible for all of the dynamics. The other people in the family behaved in destructive ways and learned poor communication skills. Thank God AA and Alanon.

I have been to Alanon meetings and they are worth going to, even as the designated problem child.

Alanon focuses on how to communicate in healthy ways. How to love truly without being accommodating.

I find my communication usually comes with an agenda. What would be ideal from my point of view is that my agenda is to be understood without being pushy, to understand and affirm,  Basically I want my communication to facilitate positive change.

That’s a tall order, but I wouldn’t want to set the bar lower than that. If I don’t succeed, I will have improved each time I try and I will get that with calm persistence.

My knee jerk reaction when others are being what I perceive to be unkind is to resort to anger. Sometimes that anger is justifiable, but my response isn’t. Controlling my responses is the thing I have to work on.

I would love for my family to embrace Alanon or therapy or SOMETHING. But I can’t depend on that. I can’t demand it. I can only hope and pray for it.

I have to be very careful that my desire for them to learn to communicate isn’t just because I want them to behave ‘my way.’ The goal I have for my kids is that they become able to respond to difficult situations in their lives effectively and effortlessly.

I can’t make that happen, I can only point that way and pray for them. So I do.

A Family Disease

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