Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I realise how far I have come in Al-Anon, when I read a blog in which contempt is expressed towards the alcoholic, and feel saddened by it. I recall that place all too well. I felt enormous contempt for my ex when I entered 12-step, and expressed it to him and to anyone else who would listen, at any and every opportunity. I believed I had the right to feel that way, after all, look at what he'd done to me!

I was so far down my own road to insanity, that it hadn't occurred to me that perhaps demonstrating contempt wasn't the way to motivate him to want to quit drinking. (Would I want to give up an anaesthetic substance myself, if I were faced with contempt from the person who professed to love me most, every time I surfaced from my stupor, shaking and sick?)

I believed, because I was a scorekeeper, that because he'd inflicted this much pain upon me, I was allowed to show this much rage and contempt towards him. It was blow-for-blow, emotionally, and it was a downward spiral of wretchedness.

I had many conversations with my sponsor, (and I've had about the same number with various sponsees) regarding the concept that perhaps keeping track of, and then retaliating for, all of the pain we felt was "the alcoholic's fault," wasn't the best expenditure of our energy.

My sponsor asked me, time and again, did I really want to be a person who was daily steeped in a bath of contempt and resentment; I was marinating myself in those negative emotions, and what did I think the effect was upon me?

I had no idea, I'd never considered that. I'd also never considered the fact that this was a choice I was making. I didn't see it that way - he hurt me, I was hurt, I lashed out - that was normal, wasn't it? It was normal for how I was raised, at least.

It was a long, hard haul up the mountain, to reach a place from which I could see with clarity, my limited viewpoint, and comprehend that alternatives were available to me. I could live with active drinking, and not lose my serenity? I could live with verbal abuse, and not be affected by it? I could reach a place of compassion for the alcoholic?

I had to take all that on faith, because it all sounded thoroughly unlikely. But I will never forget standing in my kitchen, and the alcoholic was trying to apologise, and for the very first time in the marriage, I could feel sorrow for his torment, instead of resentment for my own. I could see the person behind the shaking wreck. I could state my feelings calmly, with no attempt to manipulate or guilt-trip. I could say it, and let it go, and go on with my day, instead of chewing it over endlessly.

We didn't stay together, but when we did part, it was on loving terms, and the last time I saw him, we had a good laugh together, and a warm conversation, and thanked each other for the love and the time we'd each given. It was a peaceful resolution, and for that, I'm truly grateful.

1 comment:

  1. Your posts are so refreshing, so well stated. I grow so weary of reading blogs where people living with addicts and alcoholics whine and whine and whine. AHHHHHH!jeNN