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"Anger and Alcoholic, Going in circles! "
by Toby Rice Drews
by Toby Rice Drews
The alcoholic pays attention to what the partner does------not what the partner says. The family pays attention to what the alcoholic says------- not what he does.
How does this often "play out"?
a.) The alcoholic/addict 'does it again'. ("It" being drinking/drugging/infidelity/gambling/not showing up for work/losing the paycheck......etc etc.)
The partner gets furious // threatens // yells // cries // lectures him about alcoholism and what it's doing to him and to them....... etc etc
b.) The alcoholic agrees // hangs his head // says he's so sorry // promises to NEVER do it again // says he doesn't blame her if she never sees him again // tells her she's too good for him // says she's the best thing that ever happened to him // tells her he does not deserve her // tells her that she is 'gold' ........etc etc
What happens in a few days or in a few weeks?
a.) Like he never said all of those things ------- instead, now, it's "whaddaya mean, you don't trust me yet?! It's been three weeks and I haven't done anything wrong!"
The alcoholic LOVED it when you got angry------and yelled-----and lectured-----and screamed------and threatened.
He KNEW that as long as you were verbal-----------------you were taking no action.
THE ALCOHOLIC PAYS ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU DO----------NOT WHAT YOU SAY.
What about the partner?
The partner of course hates it when the alcoholic does terrible things. The partner understandably wants something to 'make up for' all the bad behavior. (But we are trained to look for words to 'make up for everything'-----not actions). So------ the partner waits for the magic words that will (temporarily) erase all the hurt ------ "I love you".
The three words that we live for.
The three words that we pay an enormous price for--------- why say 'price'? Because when we're dealing with an alcoholic/addict, the trade-off (in reality) for the partner are the words.
Not the actions.
The actions BY NECESSITY, if the alcoholic/addict continues to ingest mood-altering drugs -------- become worse.
Become worse------ because the disease of addiction is progressive. And any amount------no matter how often or how much-------keeps the disease progressing.
And that does not mean 'just the liver' or 'just the brain' --------- the behaviors become worse.
Why? Because the alcoholic/addict's frontal lobe of the brain is toxic.......and that part of the brain decides what behaviors will be acted upon. ----------------------------------
A good friend who was the co-founder of Al-Anon in Baltimore, many years ago, always had this to say--------- "HIS disease made him promise that he wouldn't drink that day, every time he went out the door in the morning. MY problem was that I believed him."
---------------------------------- Why is it important for us to know how this disease works on the brain? One of the reasons is that once we fully internalize this knowledge, then we spend TONS less energy and time, trying to "make them behave" when they are still-drinking//still-drugging.
When we realize that we cannot change their behavior by verbalizing to them about it, we have more time in our lives!
Now, we OF COURSE get angry when they hurt us! And it does not mean that we don't yell or whatever----------BUT it does mean that we realize, deep down, that we are not "reaching them"........ that, DESPITE their talk about 'how much they understand'---------that their 'understanding' has NOTHING to do with changed actions.
Their behaviors can change when and if they get sober and clean. And almost no alcoholic/addict gets sober/clean because they were lectured about it. They almost always get sober/clean when THEY feel the consequences of their behaviors.......not when we scream to them that WE are feeling the consequences of their behaviors.
Alcoholics don't give two hoots if WE are feeling the consequences of their behaviors.
They SAY they 'care'. But the booze takes away all that caring........and throws them headlong into selfishness once again.
As the A.A. Big Book says, "the HEART of the problem of the alcoholic is selfishness and self-centeredness".
------------------------------------------------- Learning all this does not mean there is no more of a roller-coaster in the relationship.......... it DOES mean that the roller-coaster becomes lower-down.
It becomes shorter, has less depth, and we can get off that roller-coaster much quicker when he 'starts again'.
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