Alcohol is cunning, baffling and powerful – and the disease, alcoholism, is a crippler, and a killer of friends, spouses, parents and our children. Why can’t they just leave it alone? We may have a hard time believing they can’t just stop it. We don’t know, or forget that addiction isn’t a choice. Watching those we love succumb – breaks our hearts, and can drive us crazy, too
Living with an active substance abuser, whatever their drug of choice is, is not easy. Whatever guilt we inflict on ourselves, our loved ones can heap more, until we feel we are responsible for getting them to stop. If we were smarter, better, more persuasive, then they wouldn’t feel the need to use and abuse alcohol, drugs, and pornography – or, whatever.
It can be humiliating and hurtful, and we may act and react badly, blaming the alcoholic – and off we go on another merry-go-round ride, often fueled by denial, dismay and despair. 1
AlAnon suggests a way off this ride.
When folks suggested I might need to change, I couldn’t understand: I was not the one with the problem! It took me a while after going to my first ALANON meeting to admit that my mental health could use a tune-up. I had kept on doing the same things, saying the same things but expecting a different outcome — the very definition of insanity.
Pride that I knew the answers to my loved one’s problems kept tripping me up. So did thinking about what if all the time.
I learned I couldn’t control another person’s choices. But God could.
I learned I can’t cure anybody’s alcoholism – not matter how good my intentions or reasonable my demands.
Finally, I learned that I could contribute to recovery – theirs and mine – through a changed attitude towards alcoholism — it’s a disease, three-fold: mental, spiritual and physical. Figuring out the why’s and wherefore’s of alcoholism is a waste of time.
Recently I heard an adult daughter simply say of her mom: My mother was a beautiful woman with an ugly disease.
The people we love have an ugly disease. Often all that goes with the territory known as active alcoholism — or drug abuse – blinds us to seeing that beneath all their suffering, and the pain they inflict, an alcoholic is a child of God, who, but for God’s grace, I might be; who needs the love and respect and compassion I think is my right and due.
We didn’t cause another’s alcoholism; we surely can’t control it or cure it. But changing our attitude — being willing to learn about the disease, and our part in recovery — may help to bring about recovery, as we learn to detach with love, and let go and let God work His will – not ours — in the lives of those we love.