Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I've heard it said that an alcoholic will stop maturing emotionally, at approximately the same age they began to drink. I have seen ample proof of this - men and women who are in middle age, yet act as though they'd never made it past puberty. They can be champion sulkers, have trouble with authority figures, be stubborn in self-defeating ways, all manner of childish behavior.

This can be one of the most infuriating issues with which those who love them, we co-dependents, have to deal. Some days, I could be a public service ad for the way Al-Anon helps us to mature - I keep my cool, I repeat what I have to say calmly and clearly until I am heard ( broken record) I detach with love. Other days, I do not manage it near so well. I become irritated and begin to get sucked into the circular reasoning, and I feel self-pityingly angry that I'm still dealing with this, at my age! It's not fair! (now that is a child's cry, if ever I've heard one)

I backslide, I lose my focus, I just can't cope with it. Tonight, I arrived home after having been out doing a favour for the alcoholic, feeling exhausted, cold and wet. I wanted to be met with care and concern - being met with another demand before I'd even taken off my coat and shoes felt intolerable - and I said so, knowing as I spoke, that I'd probably be punished for this later on with an angry outburst on some other topic.

True to form, this did take place. I was hungry, angry, lonely and tired. I sat on a kitchen chair, feeling completely done in - emptied out, with nothing to give myself, or anyone else. I thought of my having agreed to meet a sponsee for coffee and a talk in a few hours, and wished I could stay home and collapse. I forced myself into the shower, made a salad I didn't have time to eat, shoved it into the fridge for later, and off I went to meet my sponsee.

I drove to the coffeehouse feeling sad, exhausted, self-pitying, irritated, and probably "unreasonable without knowing it." But I love this woman I was going to meet - she has a delicious sense of humour, and a kind heart, so I knew I'd feel better after being with her for a while. I knew we'd cover lots of ground, and it would all be good. And it was, of course, in the way it always is - we receive a thousand times more than we ever give to those we sponsor, if they only knew it.

I drove home 2 hours later, feeling immense gratitude. I was going home to a delicious salad (mandarin orange slices, mmmm!) which I was going to eat in a warm room with two beautiful canine companions. My alcoholic may be relatively new to AA - but he is there, and he's working his program as best he can - there's hope in my home.

When I'm hungry/angry/lonely/tired, life's problems can feel monumental. I can feel as if there is no way on earth for me to manage or surmount them. Self-care isn't just bubblebaths and manicures.

Self-care is not allowing the view of the world which presents itself to us when we are at our lowest point, to be accepted as the one and only truth.


  1. The childish and selfish behavior of some alcoholics I know can really be a bummer, if I let it. Hard not to though, especially when I am not at my best spiritually or emotionally. Glad that you found a solution. Being around those who are focusing on the solution really helps me to get out of my own pitying condition.

  2. Thank you. I needed this so much. I could relate to so much. My job situation just changed...which I will be blogging about later this afternoon :o) and I am thinking of taking a break for a while to take care of myself. I will still work of course but not the 50-60 hour weeks that I was working. I especially related to the walking in the door, not having your coat or shoes off and the requests are already lining up!

    Thank you for sharing....I will be re-reading this one several more times.

  3. I think I'm in love with you. Or, at least, your blog. Thank you for your clear, consistent message of recovery (which includes occasions of non-so-much-recovery, too, and then rebalancing afterwords).

  4. This post was wonderful to read as I am dealing with, "all manner of childish behavior" from my alcoholic husband. Christmas is always a stressor at our house and we have hosted a huge family Christmas the last 2 years. It is easy to lose my balance, perspective and sanity during the holidays and it was so nice having your concrete examples of how your regained yours! Thank you! Thank you!!