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"Alcoholic Marriage Advice: Don't Say STay Strong, it doesn't help. "
by Toby Rice Drews
by Toby Rice Drews
A.)) Why, on the bulletin board on the www.GettingThemSober.com website......... do it have this ''guideline'' posted-------
"Do not advise others to stay in, or leave, their relationships. And do not give any advice -- direct or implied -- at all. Please just share your own experience, strength, and hope --and others can glean for themselves, what they would like to do. 1/3 of marriages (and more, in alcoholic homes) have domestic violence, and we do NOT know enough about any situation, on the internet, to make suggestions that would, for certain, not put them in danger, if they carried them out."
Part of "..and do not give any advice" includes not telling people to "be strong or stay strong". Why?
What happens when that is done?
a. people think, when reading this, that it is good.......after all, who wants to "be weak"? Or who wants to be considered to "be weak"?.
But, almost all of us are going to vacillate--- go back and forth on feelings, actions, about staying with the alcoholic or leaving him -------- at least 8 times ---or 80 times----- before we 'land' where we want to finally be-----at a place that is good for our own unique situation.
b. Then, what happens after we post for help on the bulletin board ------and we read a reply that says, "stay strong" from a well-meaning person?
We at first, think, 'oh yes --thanks for the reminder! I'll do that!"
Then-----for MOST of us------ reality sets in----the anger dies down for the moment----- and we miss the alcoholic if we have left him --- and we DON'T "stay strong" (whatever that means to you).
And then what?
We feel shame.
We get scared to post on the bulletin board......... tell them that "we reverted"......again.
ESPECIALLY if we have gone back and forth dozens of times-----and we're scared that people are rolling their eyes at us.
What then? Many of us then retreat into silence, and don't post.
We're just too ashamed to let people know that we "were not strong".
c. And------- what do most of us mean when we admonish someone to 'stay strong'? We almost always tell that to someone when they HAVE LEFT a situation...... like, "great! now STAY away!"......or we say it to someone when they 'stood their ground'....... or 'told him off'.
The same shaming applies to all that.
When they again stop telling him off-----or they go back home-----or they tell him they love him-----or they call him------ or whatever----- they do it with shame.......for, they remember that they were told to "stay strong".
And they weren't "being strong".
Please please do not post and tell others to "stay strong".
I do delete posts that say that to people.
For goodness sakes, we ALL know that it does not feel good when we return to yukky situations!
We all know that it feels not-good when we call him-----and he has contempt in his voice when we do so.
THAT feels bad enough.
We don't need to feel shame on top of it.
We will ALL work through our particular dilemmas of whether to stay or leave------or find another option------ WHEN we are allowed to do so WITHOUT PRESSURES OR PERSUASIONS.
Al-Anon is SO wise.
It says, "we do not give advice."
And-----the paradox is, we all find our own ways, in our own time, on our own path-----when we ARE allowed to do so without pressures or persuasions------- SOONER THAN IF WE HAD HEARD THE WELL-MEANING BUT SHAMING WORDS, 'STAY STRONG'.
B)) And-------- alcoholics don't get involved with weak people!
As we all know, it takes a heckuva lotta strength to STAY in a relationship with an alcoholic!
There are SO many reasons why most of us stay with them....... Religious convictions//young children//teenagers who we worry are already alcoholics, who threaten to 'go live with and drink-with dad if you leave'//physical disabilities//financial problems//caring for elderly parents with the help of the alcoholic (yes, many of them do help with that)//having an alcoholic who is nice much of the time//in the midst of life-saving medical treatments....etc etc etc.
No one lives in your shoes.
No one who gives you advice from a bulletin board on the internet, will live through the consequences of whether you stay or leave....except you.
And almost no one posts their ENTIRE situation.
When I am counseling a person, I often find that "a little thing" that I hear from that person, after several sessions, completely changes my evaluation of that relationship.
On a bulletin board on the internet, we have NO idea of the whole situation.
And, it's often not even a conscious not-telling us about the situation------it's often, "oh, I didn't tell you because I didn't think it was important."
We get soooo turned-around and confused and in-shock from living with chronic abuse/alcoholism, that we often overlook very important "details" that would make such a difference in our decisions.
But----if we all totally drop the shaming words----and not drive people into silence----- they will post again and again.......and finally post those important 'details' that they overlooked.
And--THEY will 'hear' their posts!......and THEY will internalize their own words........ and THEY will go 'aha'--------and if necessary, then, alter their paths.
But we ALL need time and patience from others to do that more easily.
And goodness knows, we all need the gentleness to be able to do things more easily...especially us who live with this alcoholic stuff ......as Al-Anon says, "living with an alcoholic is too much for most of us."
But------- how we deal with that sentence in our own lives has got to be only our decision.
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