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"THE CRUX OF THE DYSFUNCTIONAL RELATIONSHIP"
by Toby Rice Drews
by Toby Rice Drews
THIS IS AN INTERVIEW WITH TOBY DREWS, AUTHOR OF THE ''GETTING THEM SOBER'' BOOKS---
WHAT'S THE HEART OF THE RELATIONSHIP PROBLEM BETWEEN THE ALCOHOLIC AND THE SPOUSE? THE CRUX OF THE DYSFUNCTIONAL RELATIONSHIP?
When I'm training counselors, I often first write (on a chalkboard) a bell-curve.
At one end of the bell-curve, I write, 'the crux of the family disease of alcoholism is------- "the alcoholic and the family both believe that the family is to be blamed......and that his needs come first.'
And at the other end of the bell-curve, I write, "the crux of the healing for both of them, is ------ "the alcoholic consistently nurtures and looks to find ways to be giving to the family members---------and the family members enjoy it with no guilt".
And when I wrote that 'both the alcoholic and the family member both believe that ...... his needs come first' ------- this is often not overt.
Often, instead, the family member will say, "oh I don't believe that! I know better! I DO have the right to attend to my own needs, for goodness sake!".
But, when he acts out with fuss/anger when we attend to our needs ------- and if then, we have some measure of deep--down guilt ------- THAT is the key deep-down irrational guilt we must learn to pay attention to, so we can route it from our beings. For even if we get angry at his self-centeredness------it does NOT mean that we are free of its victimization.
We can be angry at it--------- but if it still produces some measure of guilt in us------- we must recognize it for what it is--------- an 'agreement' of sorts (with him) that he does have the right to selfishness and that our job is to make sure that our needs go onto the back burner.
As long as that irrational guilt is there-------as long as his selfishness produces SOME measure of irrational guilt in us -------- we need to look within and route it out......and not fall victim to being ashamed of it still having remnants of it hanging around even if we've been in family recovery for years.
For if we (out of shame) say to ourselves, "oh I'm past all that!" when we really aren't rid of the last shreds of that irrational guilt-------then we are always in danger of staying in that awful muck.
And make no mistake about it--------- that 'stuff' is the HEART of the disease in the family. It will raise its ugly head over and over--------when we're sure it's all gone.
OUR sticking-point is our perfectionism about our own recovery.
We often unconsciously think that we've got to 'present a great front' and say that we're totally rid of xxxx or yyyy stuff.
And often, some things ARE rid of! But others raise up at times--------and when we start to really internalize how terribly we've been hurt down deep to the bone-------and that that kind of damage to us literally takes years and years to be vacuumed out (so to speak) --------then we can start to be gentle to ourselves and stop trashing ourselves emotionally for "still reacting" or "still getting sucked back in" to that awful alcoholism and its "needs".
We FIRST need to stop blaming the victim-------us--------and stop adding insult to ourselves on top of the injuries done to us.
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