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"Alcoholic Issues, Why do you still have to go to meetings? "
by Toby Rice Drews
by Toby Rice Drews
In the September, 2003, "recovery tip", I talked about the family member (whose spouse is in A.A.) who sometimes feels, "Why do you STILL have to go to all those meetings?"
What's going on behind those words?
a.) The recovering alcoholic has a lot of "alcoholic issues"------one of them is often feeling like "an egomaniac with an inferiority complex". Now, how can that manifest when he/she is interacting with his/her spouse? The alcoholic was (understandably!) "always wrong" when still drinking....... and when newly-sober, can often have a hurt ego from that memory...... never mind that it is true that the drinking-alcoholic actions were awful-------- it doesn't feel good when one is reminded of it.
SO------- to compensate for it, one often (unconsciously) acts smug when one feels one is "one up" on one's spouse (for a change)........hence, the attitude of "well, I go to A.A. and you're not in a recovery program for the family------------ so I'm doing better than you!" "Maybe some day you'll catch up with me spiritually!"
A lot of this one-ups-manship and hurt feelings can be turned around and the marriage get a bit more healed if one can get the courage to be open about feelings and let the mate know that you've felt awful being "the wrong one" and will try to be a more "eyeball-to-eyeball" ------ i.e., egalitarian ----- mate. In Bill Wilson's book, "As Bill sees it", (he was the co-founder of A.A.), he talks about the fact that one of the most difficult things alcoholics need to do is to become more eyeball-to-eyeball with everyone....... not better than........not worse than, others.
b.) The spouse can get lonely and feels hurt and left out when the newly-sober mate is obviously getting help from others-------when the spouse has literally put YEARS into trying to help........and probably got kicked in the teeth for it.
And now, after "sticking by her man", he's sober---------and sharing his innermost stuff with others, not her. It can sometimes help for the spouse to share just that with her A.A. mate. It can help for the A.A. to try to put the shoe on the other foot and try to feel what the spouse might feel.
(Of course, this can usually only work well if, once there is sobriety, the "alcoholic games" have basically ended........ i.e., if both people feel rather raw and wary, but there is still a lot of love and kindness remaining in the marriage.
If not, if the spouse is too open too soon, this info can be "used" against her/him.)
c.) If the alcoholic has a pattern of adultery // flirting with others ------ then the non-alcoholic spouse can very understandably feel threatened when the alcoholic is "going to so many meetings"-------when he/she often get "dressed up" to go to the meetings-------- comes home late------ gets calls from women in A.A.......whatever the patterns were -----and obviously still are. Add to this, the often-used pattern of denial and crazymaking on top of it-------- like, "what ARE you talking about?! This woman in A.A. who calls me is HURTING, for goodness sake.....what's WRONG with you?!...... have you no compassion?!"
Sexual "games" are often more hurtful to the spouse than the drinking was. There is a saying in A.A. about "don't work the 13th Step." (There are 12 steps in A.A.)
What IS "13-stepping"? Well, the 12th step in A.A. is "working with others"......carrying the message to other alcoholics.
But the wise oldtimers in A.A. tell the newcomers that "men sponsor men" and "women sponsor women"...... they know full-well about A.A. "romances" -- especially when one or both of them is married.
Old patterns die hard....... especially when alcoholic ego's are involved. "An alcoholic will fall madly in love with a parking meter, if it pays attention to him".
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