Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Common Denominators - Hounding.

My dictionary defines hounding as "to pursue or harass without respite."
It doesn't matter why we do it - whether we are driven by fear or anger - our reason for doing this has not the slightest importance, although I've used that excuse to justify my constant pursuit and harassment of the alcoholics in my life.  I've done it when I had no idea that I was being verbally abusive to keep repeating and repeating and repeating myself, and I've done it when I knew better, but was so angry I was unwilling to stop. I've hounded because I wanted to punish and control.

It was supremely difficult to learn to say it once, and then stop talking. I felt as though I wouldn't be heard were I not to pound my message home with repetition. And therein lies the truth of hounding - we are beating on the other person with our words. I'm sure we've all seen a dog cringing before a furious voice and menacing tone - we don't need to hit to be abusive. We can strike just as vicious a blow with "only words"  - so did I defend myself to my first sponsor. The fact that we don't raise our voice, doesn't justify the use of words to hurt or shame.

I've had sponsees ask me, "But how do I make him see, if I don't repeat myself?" And I've given them that same blunt answer I received when I asked that question:

"You can't."

The 3 "C's" - We didn't cause it, can't control it, can't cure it.

Giving up the illusion of control can be threatening. We may feel as though we're stepping out onto uncertain ground. What we need to understand is that it's not our place to try to walk for someone else. We each walk our own path in this life, and the sooner we grasp that basic truth, the sooner we will be free of illusions which keep us stuck in pain and fear.

Reconsider - do you really need to say what you're thinking? Is it kind? Is it helpful? Is it loving? If it is all of those, then say it once, and stop. If you're afraid you won't be able to do that, either don't start, or when you finish, remove yourself. Go for a walk, have a bath, read your program books or any other, finish a task; whatever works for you, go do it.  Pray for peace - ask your Higher Power for serenity.

Let go. 


  1. I'm really trying to practice the principles. I'm really angry right now and I want to act out. I tried reaching out and no one was available so I started googling Alanon to read. I often provoke my husband knowing what will happen and I do it anyway. Then I play the victim because he is raging with anger. It happened tonight I made a dig then he left to drink or whatever. I want to text and scream and accuse but I know better. It is so hard not to stir the drama I love it then suffer the consequences. It feels like an addiction I know I shouldn't do it, do it anyway then feel bad in the morning. Im sorry my comment is so long. I'm struggling.

  2. I used to do the same thing over and over--nagging my wife to stop drinking or to do this or that. I did purposely try to provoke an argument because I was so angry. I am thankful for Al-Anon and learning to let go. It is a good feeling. And all around me appreciate it, I can assure you.

  3. I remember when I first started meetings. I became aware that I needed to harness my mouth triggered by my emotions.I did a lot of damage, hurt feelings, made myself look immature and foolish. I added a lot of fuel to the fire and it affected my ability to think clearly. I appreciate how this program brings needed insight; how I make a situation worse when I react instead of just being still, calm and quiet, and not saying what I think. AND to see it work. When I get that fighting feeling, I try to keep my opinions to myself in a heated situation. It is a new skill for me.

  4. Another post that hits home for me. I do the exact same things. I'm really looking forward to getting started with Al-Anon to help me find peace.