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"Al-anon, Any Hidden Messages About Marriage To An Alcoholic"
by Toby Rice Drews
by Toby Rice Drews
WHEN YOU'RE TRYING TO "WORK YOUR FAMILY RECOVERY PROGRAM" and TRYING VERY HARD TO DETACH FROM THE DISEASE and TRYING TO STAY IN THE RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR DRINKING-ALCOHOLIC SPOUSE -- but YOU DON'T THINK YOU CAN DO SO BECAUSE HE/SHE IS SO VERBALLY ABUSIVE TO YOU, SO OFTEN --------
There is nothing in 12-step family-recovery programs that says one must stay or one must leave, but there is often pressure from some ministers or therapists or family or in-laws that says loud and clear to you, either "Get out!" or "Make your marriage work!"
But most of us get married to stay married, so we try and we try and we try. And there is something about people who marry alcoholics -- most of us are so very loyal -- we'd be the kinds of people to volunteer to go down with the Titanic.... or beat ourselves up for decades afterwards if we survived, asking, "DID I do enough?!"
And what makes it worse for us -- often more than many other variables -- is something that we are usually not even aware of when we are going through the mental gyrations about it. And that is this -- we compare our recovery path to the recovery path of others.
For instance, Sue, Carol, and Jane (fictitious names) are in Al-Anon. Sue is 34, a CPA, has one child in school, and parents who are very supportive in every way. Carol is 46 years old, has 2 kids in college; she's an operating-room nurse. They are both in Al-Anon and therapy for several years, and both have decided to leave their spouses.
Jane is 63 years old, has never worked outside the home, has one child living 3,000 miles away who left home many years ago, who hates Jane's alcoholic husband and is disgusted with Jane for "putting up with it". Jane's husband has never hit her, but has verbally-abusive outbursts several times a week. Jane has been going to Al-Anon 4 months.
She's learned to detach -- to emotionally and/or physically remove herself from the situation when he acts up -- a little bit since she's been in recovery. She can't imagine staying in the marriage long enough to learn to detach enough to stay with her spouse. She can't imagine how it will make a difference, even if she internalizes the process by which this recovery process work. She just thinks her husband is hopeless and even if she gets better, she figures that he won't.
And she does not want to stay in a marriage where she gets better, and he just acts out worse towards her.
But she can't imagine leaving.
She feels like she's "between a rock and a hard place".
What Jane is not yet realizing is that as she gives the program "time" -- as she gets healthier in recovery -- she will get strength in her emotional-muscles that she cannot yet even imagine is inside of her, waiting to come out. And those emotional muscles will work together with the spiritual strength that will also grow in her, to help her to get through whatever choices she will make.... and the combination will be so strong in ways that she cannot yet imagine...... and it will eventually be so much easier to stay or leave, whichever she will choose.
And the Promise in the 12-steps that says "We will come to know that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves" will come to happen for her. She just needs to "keep coming back" to meetings and let the program wash on over her.
Recovery Communications, Inc. • P.O. Box 19910 • Baltimore, MD 21211
Phone: 410-243-8352 • Fax: 410-243-8558 • e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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