Monday, November 30, 2009
I listened to a sponsee talk today about his frustration over the alcoholic in his life. After a stint in rehab, the loved one has started drinking again. He spent a few minutes reflecting on how angry he used to be but how now he is resigned that a fate of death will occur soon.
The sponsee talked about beginning to spiritually detach and move on. Yet, he still wonders whether there is any hope for this person who he doesn't want to see die. He asked me what he should do.
I know that there are "hopeless" cases. But I also know that the hopeless cases may decide that they need help. These are questions that I don't have answers to. I could give him the answer that I so often hear which is to detach with love, keep the focus on yourself, and move on with living your own life. Those are good answers but seemed somehow hollow today when faced with the horrors of an alcoholic death.
So I told him what I knew: That no amount of judging, condemning, and arguing would get an alcoholic to stop drinking. It didn't work for those years that I tried with my wife. In fact, my efforts to control her drinking only set up resentments, frustration, and more denial. As a non-alcoholic, my attempts to help an alcoholic actually did more harm than good.
But an alcoholic, who has a desire to stop drinking, will usually listen to another alcoholic. There is no judgment, no resentment, no fear but just plain straightforward information about what the disease will do. So I suggested that he contact the local AA intergroup and ask for a couple of AA members to make a 12th step call. It would be a couple of alcoholics talking to another who may be in dire enough straits to want to quit.
I knew from attending open AA meetings, listening to speakers, reading blogs, and being in Al-Anon that there are many called "hopeless" who have found recovery. I like what Fr. Wigmore wrote:
"The human ego has an almost infinite capacity to bypass reality. But life has its own ways of grinding us down and bringing us to the gates of a different reality. In the Big Book it is called the Great Reality – the 4th dimension of our own existence. It exists inside each of us and awaits our call. It provides hope for the hopeless. It always has and it always will. Rarely have we seen a person fail to find it who has experienced his own hopelessness and made the call."
I said that there is always hope.