But what about bullying due to alcoholism? I have heard about it in meetings and actually experienced it first hand. My experience was related to how I acted around the alcoholic, and not how she acted to me. I would intentionally try to get her to react because I was angry. I would nag her about her drinking. I never thought at the time that I was bullying, but by repetitively goading her and arguing with her when she was drinking, I was indeed bullying.
I have also experienced the flip side in which the alcoholic is the bully. I have a friend who sets boundaries and expects them to be respected by all. However, he has no problem disregarding the boundaries of others. I restate my boundaries with him, but his hearing is selective. We are on much better footing now than before when his angry outbursts were emotionally exhausting. As my recovery has progressed, I have been able to not take his bullying personally. I restate my boundaries and firmly tell him that I won't be present when he throws a tantrum.
I read an assessment of bullying behavior which stated that bullies are emotionally, physically and mentally needy. They are often rudest to those that care about and love them. Bullies are ready to point out the faults of others but deny that they have any problems. A bully likes to be the director of others, telling them what to do and what they did wrong. A negative out look on life and a judging persona is the hall mark of a bully.
Not surprising, Al-Anon has shown me that my bullying was motivated by fear. Fear seems to be the basis for so many behaviors. Once I learned to detach and let go, no longer trying to control the alcoholic, so much of the dynamics in the relationship changed. We both heaved an enormous sigh of relief.
And the same thing is true with my friend. By setting clear boundaries and not accepting excuses for "dry" drunk behavior, our friendship is not strained. I also don't react with anger to his angry outbursts. I do my best to walk away and realize that none of what he is angry about has anything to do with me.
Here are some other helpful ways to cope with bullying alcoholic behavior:
1. Don't excuse the behavior or defend it. Walk away and let the bully accept responsibility.
2. Take care of yourself by not responding to every request for help. Repetitive demands don't need to be taken on by me. I don't need to do for others what they can do for themselves.
3. Lower expectations and realize that my detachment is for me. Expecting the alcoholic to change is unreasonable on my part.
4. Do something for yourself that is fun. Find a place of solace and an activity that you enjoy. Leave the bully to fume. Don't be intimidated into living in misery.
5. Find someone to share with, whether it be a good friend, a 12 step group or a therapist. I was not only amazed that alcoholism had made me a bully, but I was equally amazed that I could get help and deal with my fears around the disease by being in Al-Anon.
Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke. ~Benjamin Disraeli
Be open. Stand in our truth. Trust what you know. And refuse to buy into denial, nonsense, bullying, or coercion that would like to take you off course. ~Melodie Beattie