Whether you are in a new relationship or one that is decades old, you might be starting to see and question certain new characteristics about your mate that maybe you never noticed before. In my book Reclaim Your Life -- You and the Alcoholic/Addict I talk about The Pyramid of Change: a six-tier personal check list as you process some growing concerns about your loved one's new disposition toward addictive behavior.
• Tier #1 -- Somewhere, sometimes out of the blue, you start to observe unfamiliar behavioral patterns. You witness little, almost insignificant spikes of illogical behavior that you accept as mood swings, a phase or simple frustrations regarding work, school or just daily occurrences. No big deal, a passing interruption and you just ignore it and move on.
• Tier #2 -- Broken promises and questionable behavior start creeping up more and more. You accept your loved one's excuses and reasoning, and they relay that as soon as "A, B or C" is taken care of, then this rocky ship will stabilize. He/she begrudgingly admits that they should cut back on their alcohol intake.
• Tier #3 -- The situation has become more untenable or out of control, and their actions are now interfering with your life. Financial and/or legal ramifications may now be part of the landscape. The prospective alcoholic concedes that their behavior has caused more problems and commits to right the wrong. You trust them, as you feel you have no choice; you are uneasy and uncertain, but hope for the best.
• Tier #4 -- It seems that over time the commitment made in Tier #3 is losing momentum and the addictive disposition is starting to creep back. Bad choices equal bad outcomes. Substantial wreckage is starting to accumulate. Your patience is wearing thin and the physical and emotional toll this behavior is causing is eroding the trust and respect of the relationship. The alcoholic professes their need for professional treatment and cannot get clean and sober without your help, support and understanding. You can't abandon them and their heartfelt conviction toward learning to live a clean and sober lifestyle grabs your emotional fiber.
• Tier #5 -- Regardless of what kind of rehabilitation program your loved one is in, or how strong they are committed to it, somewhere along the way the sobriety of the alcoholic will be tested. Often the person truly believes they have a strong handle on a clean and sober lifestyle, yet they may start to take it for granted and become complacent. Instead of committing to the hard, cold fact of never again forming an alliance with the bottle or can, they might convince themselves and you that they have a grip on their addiction and can drink responsibly or in moderation. You are anxious about this statement as by now you know better and have been down this road more than once. You have had your own counseling, read books and sadly realize that this is just the beginning to an old downward spiral back to addiction. You find yourself walking on emotional eggshells as you have no idea what tomorrow will bring and if your mate will be clean and sober or close to black out.
• Tier #6 -- The alcoholic has unfortunately returned to their full-blown addiction. Hopefully, you have had enough of bumping along the bottom with broken promises and unfulfilled commitments. As heartbreaking as this is, it is time to present your loved one with a final ultimatum; they need to decide whether to live a clean and sober life style on their own terms, their own way without your involvement or an alcohol-infested life. You proclaim enough is enough and feel confident that you have done all that you could with support, patience and love. Whether it is your child, spouse, sibling, relative or friend, you are out of gas. You have been down every road imaginable to help your loved one conquer their addiction but are now a shell of yourself and barely have the energy to put one foot in front of the other anymore. You state, through a veil of tears, that you love the person deeply, but can no longer be part of that life until they have taken control of their addiction once and for all. You both know that all credibility has been lost and it is time to start over at square one if there is to be any possibility of re-establishing a relationship in the future.
There is no question that when one loves an alcoholic/addict and watches them blindly traveling 90 miles an hour toward a brick wall of self-destruction, we want to do anything in our power to thwart off the impact. But, please remember, it's your life, too, and one can take only so much. We have often heard that until the alcoholic/addict has hit their bottom then they won't be ready for recovery. But, we have our bottom, too, and our recovery is just as important as theirs is. And, maybe if we can blaze the trail to an honest, healthy recovery maybe, just maybe they will follow suit or gain strength and confidence from our wake.
If I can be of service, please visit my website www.familyrecoverysolutions.com, and I invite you to explore my new book Reclaim Your Life -- You and the Alcoholic/Addict at www.reclaimyourlifebook.com or on Amazon. In addition, my book is available as an audio on my website only.
For more by Carole Bennett, M.A., click here.
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