Sunday, June 27, 2010

Renewing Old Good Habits.

Working Step 4 this time around, I've had some powerful revelations about myself and my behaviour choices with regard to those closest to me. Tonight I had a conversation with the alcoholic in which they completely dismissed, negated, invalidated and refused to hear. It was illuminating.

I sat in detached calm, and watched them bob and weave, duck and dance, all in service to their main point - I was wrong, my feelings were wrong, I was never satisfied, I was unreasonable.

After a while of this, a statement of blatant dishonety crossed their lips, and without stopping to think, I stated that I believed they had just told me a lie. Outrage! Martyred victimhood! Off they stomped, and I sighed heavily, and decided that I need to get back into a habit taught me by my first sponsor - with the alcoholic, always always say the full Serenity Prayer to myself before responding.

At least once, and under some circumstances, enough times to temporarily remove my desire for further communication with the alcoholic.

My decision to be completely honest with the alcoholic is causing great strain in the relationship - they're used to a fairly high level of people-pleasing from me, and this is not how it has been, of late.  As I've increased my honesty, they've increased their shaming, ridicule, negating and invalidation.

Tonight, I stood in my kitchen repeating the Serenity Prayer, asking for patience, stamina and to feel loved. When I'm getting that kind of nasty abusive behavior from the alcoholic, I need the love I get from friends in program, and my Higher Power, to see me through. Bless you all.


  1. Cheryl, I could write a book on this behavior. I don't see it so much from my wife anymore. But for such a long time, things were always my fault. Being honest with each other meant that I was the one to accept all the blame. I have tried detaching with love, detaching with anger, walking away, and finally now Al-Anon. Al-Anon tells me that this isn't about me but about the meanderings of a sick alcoholic mind. It still hurts when it occurs though.

  2. I know it's the oldest refrain in the book, but you were clearly in my bedroom last night!
    My problem is that I am so new to Alanon and it's all well and good until the minute the energy starts to ramp up, then I can't tap that tiny reserve of rational calm that would guide me to say a serenity prayer, to NOT respond to win, to NOT take the bait, to NOT be deeply, painfully and personally afronted by the words. I am then left once again with the devastation in the wake of the storm. And the regrets...oh the regrets.
    Thanks to both of you and your writing - it may be the thing that makes the difference for me at least.

  3. cvistak, that was me 7 months ago! It is hard to stop and T.H.I.N.K., but it gets easier the longer I listen and practice using the "tools" and suggestions. I need to keep listening! Thanks for sharing C, hug yourself for me.

  4. Tremendous kudos to you, Cheryl! Being honest and refusing to participate in the alcoholic's denial is tough...and you can bet THEY know it! Part of the unpleasant reaction from them may be an unconscious desire to put a stop to these new and healthy behaviors that we exhibit. As for your statement that you believed you had just been lied to...I think it's perfectly healthy and ok! When my husband participated in outpatient treatment, the counselor said almost that very thing to one of the patients, and told family members that being lied to is a crazy-maker! While we have no control over whether someone lies to us, we can let them know simply and calmly that we're not buying... and then, on with our day. No need to stick around for all the manipulations and angry retorts. There are few as angry as those caught in a lie! That's a great moment to practice detachment :) You're right...the nasty behaviors leave us vulnerable and that's when we need the wisdom and understanding of program friends. Hugs to you, Cheryl. I am working on the same issues. Here's to renewing old good habits!