Thursday, April 25, 2013
A letter to the alcoholic from an Al-Anon
I am your family member, lover, friend. I need help. I too have been affected by the disease of alcoholism which has caused me to lose my self-esteem, self-respect and motivation in our relationship. I am learning through Al-Anon to take a stand on behalf of myself as your parent, child, wife, lover or friend.
Don't lie to me because in doing so you only lie to yourself by accepting your lies as truth. The truth may be painful, but I must realize my own truths in rigorous honesty.
I do not have the power to make anyone "entirely ready" to choose recovery. I am choosing recovery for me. If you so choose, you will call on your Higher Power - the god of your understanding for this help.
Don't believe you can outsmart alcoholism. It is a progressive disease that will take you hostage, teach you to avoid responsibility and lose respect for yourself, while others will lose respect for you at the same time. It will break you to the point that you may die.
Don't try to exploit or take advantage of me because I am learning to focus and take care of myself. I have personal boundaries and dignity and won't be an accomplice to your evasion of responsibility. I am taking responsibility for my part by working the Al-Anon program one day at a time and embracing a new way of living.
Don't lecture me, moralize, scold, praise, blame or argue whether you are drunk or sober. I am no longer a doormat. I have moved out of the doorway and you cannot step on me anymore. I am detaching with love: "I'll see you after my meeting. I love you."
Don't make promises you don't intend to keep. Let's be honest with one another. Neither of us is perfect, and I doubt we ever will be. I think that is okay. I accept you as you are. I can take what I like and leave the rest. Can you say the same of me? If we postpone the pain by not working on ourselves, are we happier or just stuck? We can try to run away, but I know that wherever I go, there I am.
Mostly, I am not going to have expectations of who I think you "should" be. For me, I can have expectations that by working the steps I will find peace. I know now that half measures will avail us nothing. Alcoholism drove me to surrender and choose recovery. Are you ready to do the same?
Don't lose your temper with me. I am not going to take what you say personally and am not going to react to your anger by reciprocating with rage and harboring resentments. When I point a finger at you and take your inventory, there are four more fingers pointing back at me. Let's communicate respectfully, and speak in the same manner we would like to be spoken to.
If one of us grows a little quicker than the other, don't let anxiety about this cause us to abandon one another or give up on ourselves because of fear, nor let it compel us to do for one another what we must do for ourselves. Let's not tell one another how to work our programs or make threats if there are program slips or relapses. Let's allow one another the dignity to make our own choices and experience our own consequences.
Also, let us not use words and deeds that would cause us to suffer consequences of criticism, shaming, rejection, or abandonment for not being perfect. It's cruel to attempt to reduce a person through sarcasm and harsh words. Doing so perpetuates a crisis to our new found trust in one another and therefore, exacerbates each of our illnesses. Let's be kind to one another.
Above all, let's not run away from reality. We each have our disease and must never forget that. The journey back to ourselves is a worthwhile one. Alcoholism is an illness, and it can be arrested but never cured. We can start now to learn, understand and plan for our recovery in our respective programs. We may need the help of professionals - a doctor, counselor, or psychologist, another recovering person (a sponsor). But mostly we will need guidance from our Higher Power to recover and restore our being - to make us whole as individuals and with one another. The spirit that was broken can be repaired.
We may hate ourselves yet love one another. To do nothing is the worst choice each of us can make for ourselves and those we love. Instead let's strive together for honesty, openness and willingness.
My hope is that you will see that you are worth the effort of recovery. I know that I am.