If there is one thing that my clients have reported through my years of counseling is the common thread or hue and cry that they don't like whom they have become, what they have turned into since dealing with their loved one's addiction issues. They have trouble recognizing themselves and are convinced that there is a wicked witch sprouting out of every orifice.
Rest easy -- this witch has not been lying dormant and isn't really who you are, but what you might have become as desperation and frustration has taken over your senses of all normalcy.
So what are some of the reasons that we have gone from the caring, respectful and kind person that we know we are and all of our friends can attest to?
• Frustration -- Nothing is more exasperating than when the alcoholic/addict refuses to accept his addictive situation fully. Yes, there may be the half-baked commitment to cut back on drinking, going to a few meetings, but ultimately they know best and can handle whatever needs to be addressed or changed themselves. At the end of the day, nothing has changed, or if it has it has had minimal success or been short lived. We listen to the same reasons for relapsing and the same drone about revisiting the recovery path. We don't want to get frustrated as it doesn't serve us or the alcoholic/addict any good, but we are spent and out of gas. We are frustrated that the credibility factor is down to the size of a gnat as these probably well intended proclamations are never fulfilled.
• Poor communication -- Communication is almost non-existent. We think we are having a normal, calm conversation and even taking some responsibility for our part of the street that needs examining, only to find the alcoholic/addict virtually ignoring whatever we are putting on the table. I have had so many clients that write these long, beautiful letters to their loved ones recanting the good days, how much they love them and miss what they had, professing that they will stand by them while they get recovery, only to get zero response from them or find them grabbing onto whatever foible that was discussed and honing in on it as that being the reason why they have an addiction problem or have relapsed.
• Broken promises -- A kissing cousin to frustration, we can find ourselves crying endlessly, ranting and raving about yet another broken promise. Keep in mind that these promises can be as small as what time to meet you downtown for dinner to yet another failed attempt at recovery.
• Attitude -- So often the alcoholic/addict, whether in recovery or not, can sport a pompous, arrogant attitude. It doesn't matter what it's about, but it's obnoxious, and we watch or listen incredulously in awe as we wonder how they get the right to lecture or pontificate on anything.
All the above culminated one day for me when I was once again being confronted with the anger and unbridled, supercilious attitude from my alcoholic husband that I just popped. He was building up steam and I was starting to get concerned for my physical well being. No, I didn't shoot him or stab him, but I threatened to call the police on a domestic violence charge, and with that hook he was off and running. Baiting me, calling me every name in the book and a little too close for my physical comfort, I hit 911. Two minutes later he was being carted off to jail.
Once the adrenaline rush was over, I sat down, cried like there was no tomorrow and wondered where my life had taken me and who this person was inside that was either very evil or taking care of herself? Some of my friends applauded me for my boundaries; others thought I was a terrible wife going to such an extreme that would ultimately be a boatload of trouble for my husband. And of course the ones that wondered what I had done to cause such an explosion. Those people obviously don't share their life with an alcoholic/addict or they wouldn't have asked such a stupid question.
Was I being punished, or tested, or what? I certainly didn't grow up having learned to let someone treat me as horribly as I was being treated. Both of my parents had passed away and I was honestly embarrassed that they were look down and wondering why I would allow such anger in my life.
Living, loving and sharing daily life with an alcoholic/addict is often times like dealing with a child.
All the dispositions I have listed above can turn anyone from a decent, caring, loving human being to a raving, out of control Cruella de Vil (the female villain in 101 Dalmatians). However, all is not lost and your own self will return when you either incorporate some very strong personal boundaries between you and the alcoholic/addict or leave the situation all together.
Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.
If I can be of service, please visit my website www.familyrecoverysolutions.com and I invite you to explore my book Reclaim Your Life -- You and the Alcoholic/Addict. It can be purchased through PayPal or at Amazon. In addition, my book is available as an audio through PayPal only.
For more by Carole Bennett, MA, click here.
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