Friday, November 1, 2013

A victim of self-centered fear

Today an old friend celebrated 23 years without a drink.  A lot has happened in the last couple of years for him.  He was out of work for about three years but now has a steady job.  He also seldom goes to AA meetings anymore.  Most likely, he will go to one to pick up his medallion.  I remember when he would go to 3-4 meetings a week.  And now he probably hasn't been to one is over six months.

I know that he suffers from ADHD.  And he still has a lot of the "isms" in spite of all those years of sobriety.  But what he does with his recovery isn't any of my business.  I am glad that he has celebrated another year of sobriety.  I can't help but wonder what he would be like if he were attending meetings and had a sponsor.  But I keep my mouth shut and wonder at the power of alcoholism that manages to have a hold on someone even after so many years without a drink.

Self-centered fear is described as being "the chief activator of our defects" in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous.  The fear stems from thinking "that we would lose something we already possessed or would fail to get something we demanded. Living upon a basis of unsatisfied demands, we were in a state of continual disturbance and frustration." I see my friend as having a lot of fear and frustration.

Being a victim of circumstances in life and exuding negative energy makes a person difficult to be around.  I see how the self-centered alcoholic thinking narrows the universe down to just what is in their sphere.  I used to wonder how alcoholics could only be concerned about themselves.  Now I see that being a victim, whether alcoholic or not,  tends to make a person think mostly about what their problems are.  People who are victims seldom seem interested in what others are doing because all the focus is on their own situation.

What if a person decided to stop being a victim and focus outside of themselves, broadening the world to include others and inquire after their happiness?  I think that is where a real difference can be made towards having a life that is full and rewarding versus one that is confined and negative.  But it takes a real change in attitude and behavior.

I don't know if my friend has victim mentality.  I know that I did for a long time.  I blamed the alcoholic for most of my unhappiness, until I began to wonder who had erected the prison that I was living in.  No one was forcing me to stick around for emotional abuse.  I did that willingly.  When I came face to face with my own victim mentality,  I began to see that the walls of isolation and self-pity were erected by me.

Moving away from being a victim and accepting my part was key to having healthy relationships with others.  I have no one to blame but myself if I stick around for abuse.  I am glad to have stopped wondering who is doing what to me and why.  I can look at what I am doing which has made a huge difference in my life.


  1. its hard once you slip into that victim mentality to let it go...being in it though def sucks because you are without power and at th whim of life and the world around you...and your own anger and frustration only push others away further and it becomes a vicious cycle...

  2. I'm glad I'm not the only Al- Anon person brave enough to have a blog about it. I enjoy your style and candor.

  3. Such an insightful post Syd -- if we don't move away from the clinging and grasping and the underlying fear behind that, we stay in thrall to whatever substance or possession or sensation we believe can ease the pain.

  4. Sometimes I think I am the victim of myself. I have become enlightened enough to know that no one is forcing me to be one way or another. It is all of my own doing. And that is what I need to work on. It's sort of never-ending, isn't it?

  5. So hard to knock off the victim mentality! Totally claim it for myself, and all it's toxic effects. Trying, trying... Going to Al-anon, daily journalling, praying, reaching out to others, exercise, actually dealing with my problems (courage to change), flossing... :) Still find it hard to push beyond the Poor LIttle Old Me thoughts.

  6. What a great post. No one creates your world except you. Once I "got" that on a visceral level, I realized I was truly 100% responsible for my experiences. Nothing "out there", be it an alcoholic family member or the rude person sitting next to me on the train, has any actual power over me. And while it may seem that it takes a lot more work to be completely responsible, it really is so much more exhausting being a victim. It is a hamster wheel that just keeps turning and turning.

    1. So true Belle! Like the hamster-wheel metaphor. :)

  7. In June I celebrated 24 years in AA. Since I got the Shingles I have had to cut back on night meetings but I make sure to go to 2 daytime meeting a week. I find it critical to do that to stay "spiritually fit". When "old timers" don't go to meetings they seem to sour, in my estimation.

  8. Dear Syd,

    I've been attending meetings regularly for the past two years. I'm an "old timer", my first Al-Anon meeting was over 20 years ago, I wasn't ready at the time, though. Now, I'm convinced, I know that I need Al-Anon as a diabetic needs insulin or to cut his consume of sugar. But yesterday I was drowning in self-pity until I read your post. What I'm trying to say with my bad english is that when ever I forget how silent and devastating my disease can be, I go down again. Luckly I have tools now and there's people like you reminding me that I can be better, that there's a medicine, that I already know which is it and where it is.
    Thank you for your post.

  9. Giving up the victim is my story line and it was handed down from generations with a big glass of Seagrams on the side. Grateful today that I have choices and an ability to see and appreciate their presence. Just for today well tonight as far as that goes...

  10. Syd, you write with the insight only a "seasoned" (grin!), practicing, long-time Alanon could. My wife (sober 28 years and 9 years Alanon) read over my shoulder and said, Syd has got "IT".

    "Selfishness--self centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles" BB p62
    Thanks for still being here with your words of wisdom--NO grin.


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