Sunday, September 26, 2010

From my perspective

I received the following comment on a post:

"Let me get this right: you're in recovery from someone else's drinking..?

I don't mean to demean or belittle your experience in any way as it's obviously affected you very deeply, but nothing I've read here describes the dark times you must have gone through.

Would you consider writing about that? I've never read a story of alcoholism from the sober person's perspective. There are quite a few blogs with names like Broken Hearted Mom, Parents of an Addict etc but I've read nothing by an alcohol survivor - that is the person who was at the sharp end of all the mood swings, the bad behaviour, the attitudes. The person who sat by their friend all night just checking they were still breathing..."

I have written a lot on this blog about alcoholism and its effects on me.  I have written about the dark times for the alcoholics in my life and about my dark times as well.  But I don't particularly find that revisiting the worse moments over and over to be helpful to me now.  It is like listening to a drunkalog over and over--after a while everyone knows the story of what happened and what being really drunk is like. 

Eventually there is a downwardly progressing spiral until a physical, emotional and spiritual bottom is reached. It isn't a pleasant ride.  And being the person who watches this happen to a loved one is also unpleasant.  Watching it long enough and trying to control the drinking of another is a good way to drive yourself crazy.  And that's basically what happens after years of living with alcoholism. But where is the solution and where does recovery fit in? That holds a more important message for me than recounting the horrors of living with an alcoholic. 

What I prefer to write about is the solution and not about the pain.  I prefer to dwell on what I am doing in Al-Anon to help focus on myself and not on what the alcoholic is doing. I finally resigned myself to the fact that I couldn't cure anyone elses alcoholism.  They had to do that for themselves with the help of their Higher Power and a program of recovery for them. 

So I work on my recovery from the effects of living with alcoholics.  I have many of the same issues that drove the alcoholic to drink.  I, too, suffer from low self-esteem, anger, fear, and a host of other character defects. Some of these were those that helped me to cope with the dysfunctional family situation when I was a kid. Others have taken hold over the years of being married to an active alcoholic. It isn't an easy thing and eventually I was as sick or sicker than the alcoholic.

Al-Anon's 12 steps have helped me to realize that I can't cure or control another. Because the program is a spiritual one, I have come to believe that another person cannot be my sole focus and that there is a power greater than myself.

I know that misery is based on the choices that I make. I can choose to be happy by getting as much of the drama out of my life as I can. I can choose to live one day at a time and make this day count. I can mind my own business and not get overwhelmed by the problems of others. So it comes down to whether I choose misery or happiness. I like the happiness idea myself. My story isn't unique. It is told over and over by thousands of people who love an alcoholic/addict.

I think that recovery for me is a life long journey.  I have pieced together many hours of serenity and peacefulness since beginning recovery.  I no longer have great anxiety and a lot of desperate thoughts. The people in my life are sober and working on their own recovery. That is their journey.  I am still moving forward with mine.

There is only this one life. And it doesn't have to be filled with heartache and sadness. There is a solution and it is one that involves reaching out for help. I learned that I needed help and took action to do something about it.  I have found that if I simply reach out my hand, there will be someone there to grab it.


  1. A lovely post Syd, and very helpful to anyone with an alcoholic or heavy drinker in their life.

    We all have our own experiences and memories of painful times - I don't need to read anymore about that to know that I have a lot in common with many other people. I visit your blog Syd, because I find it uplifting and you don't dwell on the dark times, but on the happiness of day-to-day living that you share.

  2. i like how you responded...and focusing on the solution is important.

  3. Yes Syd, I have seen what you have written about the despair of active alcoholism and the effect it has on the alcoholic and those whose lives are touched by alcoholism.

    And I do agree that living in the solution rather than dwelling on the problems is a much better road to travel.

  4. Syd we all live in this mortal sphere of existence with pain and promise. With good and ill. You have a handle on that understanding. You need not answer anyone's questioning of you or that understanding.

    As long as you look backwards down the line of your existence and can say it has been a worthwhile journey, you have done well upon it.

  5. Thank you. One of my meetings had a problem recently with a person who was going into great detail about other drug addicts in a child's rehab--how thin and awful they looked, etc. This brings up an old feeling that the world is a dangerous or awful place, and how can I be happy in the face of that. I really enjoy your descriptions of being on the water, gardening, and the other good things in life that we all have a right to enjoy.

  6. you know one suggestion for the blogger who left the comment is to look up a local alanon meeting and go to a speaker meeting or even just a meeting, they will hear what they are looking for, the other side of the coin so to speak. but it almost sounds as if they don't beleive in the damage an alcoholic can do to others spiritually, mentally and physically. maybe if they need something tangible to hear a live meeting would be better to serve it's purpose of openning a mind. i am glad you do not have to relive that any more.

  7. And you are that hand for many, Syd.

  8. Syd, I like your perspective. I am finding that even though we, in recovery, have walked similiar paths, our perspectives on life can still differ, which is ok. I just try to find those who have serenity and peace in their lives (like you) and listen carefully to their perspective. This seems to help me grow spiritually. My sponsor's perspective has saved my life on several occasions while I have allowed the perspectives of others drain my peace of mind.

    I am now learning that I can CHOOSE who's perspective to pay attention to and who's perspective to let go in one ear and out the other... Kind of like how you talked about CHOOSING happiness or misery.

    The love and tolerance in this post is truly a sign of God at work in the center of your recovery program and LIFE! My heart is overflowing with gratitude and awe at the power and loving grace God bestows upon us.

  9. Thumbs up. I'd much rather live in the solution too.

  10. I can recall misery galore, should I choose to.
    I look to the positive: to live joyously, to be grateful.

  11. Everyone has some version of the same story and I feel for new people when they start with the details and someone cuts them off. We want to feel our story is unique but healing comes from being a part of something bigger. In our isolation we only have ourselves for feedback and that isn't good. Our own thoughts got us here in the first place. So I think sad stories should be left for one on one with a sponsor. Meetings and blogs for strength and hope. Only my opinion,take what you like and leave the rest.

  12. You say it better than anyone, Syd. Thanks again.

  13. This is so well said and so true. We cannot run from the past nor should we dwell in it, that only serves up more pain for ourselves and others...
    brilliantly stated Syd.

  14. "We are the makers of our own misery....Avoid, then, the deliberate manufacture of misery." (Big Book)
    There's a good reason that we're admonished to share in three parts: 1)What we were like; 2)What happened; and 3)What we are like now.
    1)People who are curious about what we have to offer need to be able to identify with our experience. 2)What happened tells them that turning points occur, and maybe they have reached one. 3)We no longer have to manufacture our own misery, because we have found a common solution. For me it all comes down to those three important elements: identification, possibility, and hope.
    I'm glad you emphasize possibility and hope. What it was like / What it was like / What it was like ... doesn't offer anything in the way anticipation. Watching YOU recover from a seemingly hopeless state gives ME reason to believe that I can too.

  15. Thanks for focusing on the solution... It can be quite voyeuristic to go trawling for stories of desperation and suffering. It can also mean someone needs to hear their own story... --G

  16. It is way too easy to slip back into the problem. I find also that living in the solution is the way to stay positive and continue to grow. From time to time I refer back to the horror of my addiction, but try to always follow it up with what happened in recovery.

    Nice blog, Syd.

  17. I understand. We actually do not discuss S's drug addiction much here anymore. His lifestyle, addiction, and illness are accepted at this point. Or the situation is anyway. We hope that someday he will get well. In the meantime he is living his life and we are living ours. And about once a week, our lives meet, and we spend a little time together.

    I'm so glad we haved come this far. Very grateful.

  18. So grateful that I found your blog. Your writing is a blessing.


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