This is a conversation that I had the other day with a double winner (an alcoholic who also goes to Al-Anon) in the program. He and I were talking about how the minds of alcoholics/addicts are so different from that of the non-alcoholic. So we did a little role playing which is something he does with his sponsees who are in Al-Anon to get them to see how the alcoholic thinks. In the role playing A is the alcoholic and M is me. I came away feeling that the energy vampire had sucked the air right out of me. Maybe after reading this, you will see why.
A: I really want you to be with me and I do appreciate all that you do for me. I love you for that, but because you have so much power over me, I hate you as well.
M: But how can there be hate and love combined? It doesn't seem that these two strong emotions can actually co-exist. And how could you hate me? I have always been there for you.
A. They exist for me because I don't want to lose you. You provide me with the things that I need. I don't want to do for myself and realize that without your being here, I would have to get a job, take responsibility, pay bills, and get honest. When you do things for me, it reminds me that I don't want to do for myself and I feel bad. I resent all that you do. And that makes me come to hate you for doing things for me.
M. So you are saying that I need to let you go and leave you to your own devices?
A. That is what you should do but you won't. I only have to crook my finger, say a few things about what a pathetic victim I am and you will come running to help me. Then I have you hooked again, just like a fish on the line. And that is how I keep you hooked. But by continuing to do for me, you are actually killing me. And making me resent you more.
M. So if I don't fall for your self-pity, your whining, your manipulations and let you be, what will you do?
A. I will immediately begin to look for someone else that I can dupe into helping me. There are hundreds of loyal and committed people out there. I will look around and find one just like you and begin to use him just as I have you. You are a dime a dozen.
M. So what we have together would simply vanish? None of the past would matter.
A. I might feel some regrets, but I have to survive and the only way that I can do that is to find another person who is willing to be there for me. I simply move on to hook in the next person and the next person after that. I don't want to take any responsibility and why should I when you take it all.
M. Can any of this change? Is there any hope?
A. There is hope but it would require that I become honest and I am constitutionally incapable of that. I have no conscience when it comes to getting what I need. And you have no ability to understand how I think, so don't even try. You will never beat me at my game because I don't care about your goodness and what you do. I only care about getting what I need.
M. This really makes me feel sad and sick inside. I know these things in my heart but hearing them put so brutally is hard.
A. Try being me sometime. I want to be like you but can't make a move to do anything for myself. I am afraid to ask for help, I am afraid to get a sponsor, I won't work the steps because I would have to look at myself. No one will hire me for a job because I have no skills. My circle of friends is getting smaller. The meetings I go to aren't the way that I want them to be. Nothing is the way that I want it to be. So I simply wait for you to come along and take care of things for me.
M. I don't think that I can live with so much self-hate and negativity.
A. Then why do you stay? You would do us both a favor if you would just go.