Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rewriting History.

From Courage to Change, page 139:

"Life doesn't always go smoothly or peacefully, even though I might wish it would. In the past, when something bothered me, I'd say nothing, rather than face an argument. It seemed better for me to be upset than to risk upsetting someone else. The results were usually disastrous. I would become irritable and unreasonable as I let resentment fester."

I've been realising over the last year or so, just how much enabling I've been doing with an alcoholic, in precisely the way described above. When I've mentioned something I don't like, which this person has said or done, and they have rewritten history and completely denied it, I've usually become so frustrated and annoyed that I've just let it drop. This has taught the person that rewriting history and denial works as a defense mechanism.

Lately,  I've been calmly refusing to be derailed by irritation, and continuing to make my feelings politely known - I've stopped allowing the rewriting of history to be an acceptable way of dealing with conflict. If I have to use what I call "broken record" (distilling what I have to say down to one sentence, then calmly and courteously restating  my sentence until it is heard and acknowledged - this can often take up to 4-5-6 repititions, before the other person understands that I am not following them down the side roads they're beckoning for me to take) then that's what I do.

It's my responsibility to ensure that I'm treated with respect. This may mean that I must be willing to recognise, name and question that which is offered to me, with outright refusal also being an option.

There are days when I just don't want to do this - I want the other person to do it for me, without being asked, and with perfect compliance to my wishes. I may be tired, vulnerable, ill, or bored to death with having to struggle when I'm not in the mood for it.
That's fine, that's my human frailties coming to the fore. However, if I am not willing to stand up for myself, how can I ask for respect from another? One line from an Al-Anon reading which has always stayed with me, is:

"If I don't want to be a doormat, I have to get up off the floor."

Oh, right. (Me, you mean? As in, God helps those who help themselves?) I've spent years  trying to make the floor more comfortable to lie on - getting up  was not in my worldview.

If I want change, I must be willing to suffer the inherent discomfort, while the change is being manifested. I work to be grateful for whatever I can, right now - I can always find something to be grateful for - that's a blessing, and a reminder.


  1. So very true. I have walked on egg shells for years. But Al-Anon has shown me that I don't need to do that and can take care of myself. It can be met with resistance from others (and myself) but gradually I get used to standing up for myself.

  2. I find it difficult to stay focussed when the alcoholic "rewrites history". It feels like I've just parachuted onto another planet! I've learned to trust the accompanying ill-feeling as a prompt to detach.
    My alcoholic identifies my attempts to be heard as "nagging". It's never easy but I'm grateful for Alanon, AA, sobriety, and an ever-evolving, healthier relationship. Progress not perfection for us all.

  3. If I want change, I must be willing to suffer the inherent discomfort, while the change is being manifested.


    I've likened all the discomfort that I've felt to growing pains. Or hunger pains in the middle of a much needed healthy eating phase.

    But the discomfort is even more powerful than that. I can almost feel my brain move in the old direction, and then buck against me when I choose a different path.

    Great post :)