Friday, March 13, 2009

Anger, And Trust.

Untreated alcoholism destroys intimacy - it's that simple.

When we've been let down enough times, even the most co-dependent of us will lose trust in the drinker; restoring trust can be a mammoth undertaking. Some of us learn to live with a level of distrust which would appear psychotic to a person not in a relationship with an alcoholic. The alcoholic promises, and we smile, and nod, and agree, but to ourselves, mutter, "Right. That's likely."
Or worse, we believe them. We believe them, we put our faith in the event taking place, and when it doesn't, we are outraged and infuriated all over again - how dare they break their promise?
It can take a fair bit of "reasoning things out with someone else" to recognise our own patterns in this area, as they can be so deeply ingrained, we act them out almost by rote.

I've had a tendency to act out the following:
-decide I want the alcoholic to do a specific thing.
- approach them and ask if they will do this thing.
-meet their initial resistance with a dozen well-argued reasons why they should do this thing.(I've thought this all out ahead of time, they're only hearing it for the first time, so I'm at an advantage here.)
-extract a promise that they will do this thing, in fact, hound them until they agree.

Many of you will be able to see the outcome of this a mile away: they don't do it, I become angry.

Who is at fault? This depends who you ask, (and I'm not just joking around here, we can view this sort of encounter very differently, when we have some program time behind us.)

When I was new to Al-Anon, had I been presented with that scenario, I may have felt a touch of unease upon reaching the bit about hounding the alcoholic into agreement, but it would have seemed fairly clear to me that they bore sole responsibility.
 They made a promise and didn't keep it, right? Well, yes, that's true, but it was a promise extracted under duress.

When we aren't demonising the drinker, we can see that self-image and self-esteem are battered almost beyond recognition for them, and many are people-pleasers just as we are. Part of addiction is the inability to deal with conflict or stress - and we, as co-dependents, can be excellent manipulators.

I am a stubborn creature, and get me fixated on an outcome, and I will move heaven and earth to achieve it. This isn't a character defect unless I am using it for all the wrong reasons, such as getting my own way. When I am determined to get my own way, I am a freight train of "You should's" and "I want you to's" and I barrel over my alcoholics at full speed, and carry them along with me, on the cowcatcher. I know darn well they don't want to do whatever it is, and I think I also know darn well that they aren't going to do it, so just what am I playing at here?

I set myself up to be angry. I set myself up to carry an expectation which will result in disappointment, hurt feelings, and distress on both sides.

I need to be more honest about my part in this scenario - and be willing to take "no" for an answer. That's being respectful.

1 comment:

  1. Amen to this post. I wanted my way. And like you said, I would do what I could to get my way. I didn't realize how controlling it all was. I see now that I was such a mess. Mutual respect is important and understanding that No is a sentence. Thanks!