Thursday, January 31, 2008

Online Al-Anon Meeting Friday

This is just a reminder - the Weekend On-line Al-Anon Meeting is Friday 6PM through Sunday evening.

I believe there was a suuggestion to discuss children in our family and how we can help protect them. This is a topic I would like some help with.

Can someone leave a comment that would be the preamble for this weekend? It can be what you feel and think - or a quote from one of the Al-Anon books including Al-Ateen . . . or?

Any way - if someone would/could make the comment - I will cut and paste it into this weekend's meeting blog post.

OK ?



Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Black Cloud of Alcoholic Chaos

REWRITTEN at 4PM ET Wednesday.
The black cloud of alcoholic chaos is when the household is embattled with alcoholism. Here is what happens, at least in my observations in meetings, in our home and my research. It may not fit your experience, but I will bet it comes close.

When the drinking reaches a certain stage for the alcoholic, it is the spouse of the family that is the first one to detect that alcohol may be an issue. It is seen in crazy behavior; missed appointments, calling in sick to work, hidden bottles, abusive language, a lack of responsibility, laziness, insecurity, etc.

We try to help by; keeping the appointments for the alcoholic, accepting the abusive behavior, making excuses, and so on. Soon the situation is unmanageable. But because it's a little bit over time, we barely notice we have accepted behavior we never would have accepted before, and because it's a little over time, we pick up the responsibilities of the alcoholic. The scenario is like the boiling frog in the pan story (I posted this frog story in another post in this blog somewhere).

Help for the alcoholic is almost everywhere. Unfortunately, help for the family is scarce. What we find is that the research, books and articles mostly focus on the behaviors of the alcoholic - (which we ALL read in hopes for us to fix the alcoholic - don't we?).

As the alcoholic's drinking increases, it becomes the primary focus of the alcoholics world. Perhaps even worse, it becomes a major, if not the major focus, of everyone else in the family.

We, as members of the family and other loved ones, are forced by the indirect controlling behaviors of the alcoholic to ignore our own needs. Often, we ignore the needs of our children, in order to keep the household functioning. We don't ignore the needs of our children purposely, but the attention in on the alcoholic. All eyes on his body language. We ask ourselves; "Is he in a good mood?" And, "How much has he had to drink?" And we all hide our feelings or adjust our own feelings and moods to suit his.

Further, we try to put on this facade to the outside world looking in. That is, we hide what is going on in our homes and present to the world that the household is functioning normally. We do this with child who may have to "overachieve" to compensate. This overachievement comes in good grades, star athelete or some other form. Another child might be humorous - the funny little guy, who vys for attention or throws the attention somewhere away from the home. Or the rebel, the child who starts cutting class, or drinks with his or her friends, or smokes pot.

But make no mistake about this. This black cloud places a huge burden on all of us in the family. The more we try to "keep up" the facade, the harder it becomes and bigger the burden we carry. As indiviuals, we put on a mask to hide our problem and our fears in public. In some cases, we avoid going out - we isolate ourslves to escape and cope.

We do not ask for help because we don't want to be found out, we are embarrassed in some cases, we don't think anyone can help us, we are not sure how they could help or could possibly understand. And we are too busy to ask for help, except in the form of help financially when the chips are down, or the bills stack up. May be we ask a neighbor to watch the children if we are lucky. But in the way of help - we are left to fend for ourselves. We are fighting a multi-headed dragon with cooked spagetti. (a bad analogy - but you get the drift)

What we may do is try to talk the alcoholic out of drinking. We try to "fix" the alcoholic. We appear to make progress. But then we are stymied. The world unravels when he or she doesn't show up when the promised, doesn't do what they agreed to, won't go to work, does what they want to when they want etc. They begin to develop this "screw you" attitude.

And whenever we think we are managing "it" all, (barely - we are barely hanging in there), we are thwarted by the unforeseen chaos of the alcoholic. It may come in the form of an unpaid bill, or a traffic ticket or accident, or falling down in the front yard.

And then we have the normal pressures of life. A child gets sick. A child fights in school. A child fails a couple of tests. A child is angry - going through puberty. And we begin to think - "Is this normal?" Or is the child's reactions (sickness, fighting, failing, anger) part of the reaction to what is going on in the house.

So, with the alcoholic focused on the drink, and focused on himself or herself - the pressure is building. And now, after a while - perhaps they hit their 40's or 50's, they slowly or quickly, start to disintegrate. They look old. Their face looks really bad.Their mental processes are not functioning. Their eyesight gets worse. They get RA. They get artheritus. Their body fat breaks down. They are angry most of the time. They are falling apart.

And we literally feel a sense of dread every time we walk back in the house. Especially when the alcoholic is there.

It's like a black cloud hangs over our house. It is in many ways - the house itself feels very heavy. You can feel the dread of everyone involved. It becomes very distressing.

It is - what I call "the chaos of alcoholism" and the ensuing "black cloud" on the home. And no one, but no one, can understand this pain and sickness. There is no judge, no court, no jury, no lawyer, social worker that could ever imagine the sickness going on in the house. You have to be there to feel it. And that's what has to happen. Spend a day or two here and you too know what is going on. It in entirely unmanageable. And incomprehensible.

Next post to this blog - what happens to our children and what roles do they tend to take?

Please provide your feedback. I would be grateful if you think I am accurate in my depiction or not.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Alcoholism and Our Dance with It

I feel compelled to write about our dance with alcoholism. On this post, I risk identifying who I am, a little bit, at least to those who know me from counselling where my wife is in outpatient rehab.

This will be a series. For there is too much information to provide in one post to this blog.

First let me make sure to all, I am like you. I may be a male, while you are a female. I may be a father, whereby you are a mother. I may be a husband, whereby you are a wife. I read a lot on this subject, perhaps too much. I am not a councillor. My knowledge only lies in my living it. I can write about it objectively. But at times, I suck at putting my knowledge into practice. My wife is my qualifier (what a strange word Al-Anon uses for the alcoholic in our lives). My father was also a drinker - I was raised by my mother - who is a SAINT - along with 3 brothers.

We all (my brothers) survived by the way. We are all very successful (success = good jobs, happy, nice looking, well meaning, courteous, etc). We do have our little issues, as I believe everyone does. I write this to provide hope to other moms and dads reading this. We are all scared - and I do mean scared, about the future and how this impacts our children. But I am convinced, we can all be OK in the end.

The counselling session that opened my eyes WIDE.

In one session at family night the therapist (and I will cut this down from an hour to 10 minutes), called a "volunteer" from the circle of 30 people (family members and alcoholics) to stand in the center of the circle (we all sit in chairs in a circle). Then we moved the circle to a "U" shape

This volunteer (A) was the alcoholic. He was placed and stood at the head of the open "U" shape in the front of the room. The therapist placed the volunteer (A) on a big phone book. "What does this represent? He asked. "Represents - he is not grounded." was the answer. Then the therapist placed a glass in the hands of (A).

A wife (or spouse) was called up - another volunteer (S = spouse). While (A) was facing us, (S) stood to his side, facing the alcoholic left side of his shoulder. This made her (S) looking at the (A) and the glass. (S) was standing right next to (A) - very close - eyes on (A) and the glass. Again - the (A) was looking out at us in the U pattern of chairs.

Note - try to visualize this for a second.

Now enter the first child. A volunteer was brought up representing a child. (By the way no children are in the room nor are they allowed - for they are too young.) Volunteer (C1) is the first born. The child was placed - guess where?

(C1) was placed behind mom or (S). This was the "perfect child." Usually first born. But facing mom's back. Helping mom or (S) maintain the household. Getting great grades, star in school. But still facing mom's back - who is looking at the alcoholic.

(I will place a diagram here - later)

Now introduce the rest of the children. C2 was out further in almost like an orbit, as was C3, and C4 (although C4 sat in a chair behind the three in. One child represented the child who acted out. Another was the "lost" child - usually last born who was (C4). The family was all doing it's "thing" to "keep the eyes on the alcoholic."

But the children were playing roles too. They wanted attention and were vying for it.

The message here - again - I risk doing this important example injustice - but this "orbit" and "eyes on the alcoholic and the other children playing supporting roles because of the alcoholic in the family was/is critical."

Breaking the "eyes on the alcoholic" and the dance - in which our entire family is affected - is what we must try to do. I am going to add, "in a loving kind way," for our children and, and this is important, for us too. You and I are important. AND you and I should never forget that or feel guilty for caring about ourselves. And, this is NOT selfishness. I learned this today - the part that you should love yourself and care for yourself - that this is not selfish.

I will show a diagram later - when I can - later this week.

I pray you all are well.

Your friend - Joe


PS - This post was written for me probably more than anyone else today.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Stopping Chaos with the Alcoholic

Stopping the chaos with the alcoholic - at least to me - was really what the subject and focus of the past two weekends topics on Detachment and Boundaries were about.

The problem that I face is when a child is involved.

I struggle with both of these (detachment and boundaries) because my wife, who is my qualifier, likes to run around with no responsibilities. She takes my daughter from place to place, no prioritization, not understanding she has studies and tests for school and she needs some sort of "routine." Unfortunately, my daughter sees this running around as normal. I am trying to break this pattern by exerting and interrupting the cycle of chaos.

Of course, as soon as I write the word "exerting" I know that I have fallen into the trap of controlling. I know, I know. There are some who are reading this and they are smiling, nicely of course, perhaps saying to themselves, "Dear Joseph, don't you learn anything?"

But my daughter is not doing well in school. And anytime I try to sit and study with her, my wife has created "other plans" - like meeting friends, going shopping, etc. My wife can't sit down and study with my daughter - she functions sober with a huge IQ, but very, very little EQ (emotional quotient). My wife has very little ability to sit on the side of the other person and try to figure out what is going on and therefore try and be empathetic or try to "teach" from how others see things. She is very, self-centered. Or self-absorbed. She does not want to or can't - look at things from the other person's perspective. She cannot empathize - sit in the other person's shoes - to feel or try to feel how others may be feeling.

In fact, talking about this self-centeredness or self-absorbtion, when I ask my daughter how her day went, my wife answers! I have gotten to the point to where I even ask specifically by my daughter's name and my wife STILL answers!! It's enough to drive one to - I was going to say "drink" to be comical - but that may be inappropriate.

But back to trying to "fix" things for my daughter and give some sort of routine.

It is hard to set boundaries, especially when your children, where there is this natural bonding between mother and child. When I do start to try to change things by trying to realign the house by trying to focus everyone on the important things (such as school work), and stop the running around which adds to the chaos, I look like the ogre - the big guy who looks like he is being a jerk. My wife does the fun stuff and dad, well dad, is the meany.

One little story about dinner in our house. This is not what I expected from a mother. So, my viewpoint is being shattered. I was a little shocked, because I thought mothers were supposed to be very children centered.

My wife would bring home food, from the mall, you know the food court. She would buy a plate of food from one of those country cooking places. She would get vegetables, because they are "healthy". Of course these vegetables are cooked with sugar, salt and fat to make the food taste good. But never the less, they are vegetables, according to her.

Well, she would bring home a plate just for herself. No other food. I would ask, probably in a little bit of pissy voice, "Where is our food?" Her reply, "Well, you and our daughter [her name here] don't like this." I would reply, "So there is nothing for us?" And of course, there wasn't.

On other occasions, my wife would go to the store and buy already made chicken. She would fix her plate and sit down and start eating. My daughter who was 8 or 9 at the time would come in and say, "Where's my food mommy?" I would come from the office and see this and just stare in disbelief. Of course this is when she was drinking every day - full bore.

Now what she does, is she shops all day. She will hit Target 3 times in one day. Hit Target 3 days back to back. I think this is her way to drink in the car.

I have detached and set boundaries to minimize the chaos - so I am thankful for this. I will admit my boundaries and detachment were not always so great as to the fact I judged and provided my evaluation of the situation at times. And in those times I went toe to toe with alcoholism, and eventually was thwarted at every turn and lost. But over time I have come to use them, the tools of detachment and boundaries, and I would give myself a grade of "fair" today. And, by the way, my wife says that I am setting rules, not boundaries.

Now I am dealing with her (my wife's) inability to tell me what time she is taking my daughter somewhere and what time she will be back. And - is this going somewhere - more important than studying, going to bed at a set time, waking up at a set time, eating at a set time thing. I am trying to set "rules" - and maybe these are rules, for when my daighter should go to bed, eat dinner, what to eat, and when to study. So, not only am I controlling - and trying to exert influence, my wife thwarts it - undermines it - because of her power of being the fun one. And my child suffers. And I feel guilt and yet I know I must try to help.

But I also realize I cannot be the husband, dad, and wage earner AND be the mother. I cannot be the parent for both my wife and my daughter. And frankly, I realize that now more than ever.

So, this past weekend - while there was no out and out chaos - there were missed times when we were to study for a make-up test my daughter is to take today. The times were missed because my wife had friends in town. Then I had to become no longer "detached" - which means I had to intervene on my daughter's behalf to study. Of course my daughter didn't understand - she wanted to hang out with my wife's friends' children at the house where they were all staying. And of course, my wife painted me with the brush that I am a "control freak." But I do not care about the painting or labeling - although in truth it does hurt because I want a partner, not an enemy. And not at the cost of my daughter's education and self-esteem and seeing me as the bad dad - not fun dad - not the loving dad. Because as we all know, children's schooling is important to their self-esteem. My big concern is my daughter failing a grade. So I am forced to get my daughter extra tutoring. And here my wife tries to thwart this, starting off by saying she doesn't need it. Or saying, my daughter is not "getting it" (meaning understanding the school work) not realizing that what she is not getting is because of not studying a little more and that why should she when her mom, a big figure in her life, says it's OK to play all day.

So today, my wife's mother comes to town. She is smart lady. But still my wife's mother. I am going to explain what happened this weekend in detail so she can understand the chaos and the problems we are facing in the midst of alcoholism. This weekend is an example of the chaos and turmoil underway. And the chaos has become normal.

In the end, alcoholism is not just drinking and being drunk. It is a self-centered disease and it sucks the life out of everyone to make the focus on the alcoholic. And the cycle - the cycle of self-centeredness - makes everyone feel they are not fulfilling the role they are supposed to fill if we take the eyes off the alcoholic. And because our eyes and focus have been on the alcoholic for so long it seems normal. We (I) have to break this pattern.

I have started to try to break the pattern. I do not know if I can complete the breaking of the pattern in the current situation without looking like I am the bad guy here. I am in a dilemma. A dilemma is a place where there are just choices of bad alternatives.

I seek a solution. And I pray for serenity this week. And I pray for my daughter to understand as well, that I am not the ogre.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Al-Anon On-line Meeting: Setting Boundaries

On-line Al-Anon Meeting on: Setting Boundaries

If you have found this website you are invited to join us in a weekend long, Al-Anon Meeting. The on-line meeting starts Friday evening 1/25/08 and runs to Sunday 1/27/08 evening.

A Note: To view this post and the comments at the same time, click on the link here (click here) in order to get a better view.

This is where we start. To get us started here is a comment from wm and a quote from the Al-Anon book Courage to Change;

This is from "wm" who left this in a comment to a post Thursday:
When I started al-anon I thought I had set boundaries long ago but I was willing to take a look at it. Oh, yeah sure, I have boundaries.

After a while in the program I began feeling like my husband was stepping all over my boundaries. I wondered why this was happening. So I talked to my sponsor about it. She asked me what I do whenever my husband crosses the line. Wellll, what do you mean? How do you enforce your boundaries?

At this point I began to think about what I was doing when my boundaries were crossed. Reacting, losing my temper, yelling (again).

So I asked her for some suggestions on what to do. Since my husband and I are geographically separated at this point she told me I could politely end the conversation and give him a specific time when I would call him back. For now this seems to work but as with all things in an alcoholic marriage it may have to be adjusted later.

If we were living in the same house I would guess that going for a walk would be an option or just leaving the room would work too.
This is taken from the Al-Anon book, Courage to Change;

Many of us come to Al-Anon confused. We are so focused on our alcoholic loved ones that may not be able to see where they leave off and we begin. We've lost our sense of what is appropriate. How can we distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable behavior when we don't even know what we want or need?

[It talks about Step 4 here, about an inventory, and what our values are or need to be and my new values of what I will accept and not accept]

Where in the past I have allowed unacceptable behavior, I now can choose a different response. I must consistently do what I say I am going to do. Today I have the courage and faith to be true to myself. whether or not others like or agree with me. I must remember that announcing my new ways to others is not nearly as important as knowing what my own limits are and act accordingly.

Today's Reminder
I will remember that knowing my boundaries does not mean forcing others to change; it means that I know my own limits and take care of myself by respecting them. The focus, today, is on me.

There we some really good posts earlier. Feel free to repeat the points you've made on these earlier posts. Please ask any questions and ask for guidance if you have any burning desires.

Let's start the On-Line Al-Anon Meeting on Setting Boundaries

Two Posts Today - The Michigan Study & My RANT

The real post is below. This post just is pure venting. So, my apologies.

It's 7;30AM. My wife just walked into my study (the place where I work when I am not in the basement in my office). She pushed the guilt button about my daughter and her studies. The insinuation was, "She is not doing well because of . . . " I could sense where she was going and she was going to go to the place, "because maybe she has a learning disorder." This is the scapegoat policy of my wife. The "I am never taking responsibility for anything about anyone - including my own actions or inactions." It pisses me off. I told her, that, she needed to leave my office/study and I will take care of my daughter who has a test today. I will help her study, I said. It was not a pleasant exchange. It wasn't a blow up. But my reaction was direct. So much for detachment ladies and gentlemen. I, now, am pissed off. My apologies. My button was pushed. My button is blame and not taking responsibility to correct or address the real issue(s).

My wife won't take the time to study with her. She is "too busy." She does not work. Too busy doing what?! I cannot set a boundary on this one because my daughter suffers.

My wife could have been a contender [okay I stole this from the movie "On the Waterfront" - so sue me! ;-) ] She is smart. Attractive. Articulate. From a great family. But no responsibility. No accountability. What the hell happened? As the Talking Heads song goes, "Well, how did I get here?"

Ok - I am not pissed any more. But here is the important part of this blog post of this morning's RANT.

But if you have been watching the news this week, you have heard all over the news, that fighting couples live longer. Here is a couple of links in case you have been entombed the past two days (it's a slow news week -so it's all over the news)

1. From USA Today click here
2. From Fox News click here

So, with this news, that couples who fight live longer - I now know I am going to live to be 150!

One more thing Michigan . . .
. . . What you fail to report is this: that this life of fighting will provide a long life - but it will be a long life of misery.

Which one do you want? A life of happiness and normal life span? Or a longer life span marked by fighting?

I report. You decide. Thank you for letting me blow off some steam this morning.

The Alcoholic Marriage Part 2

This passage comes from Robert Greenleaf. First a little about Mr. Greenleaf. I studied leadership for a number of years (and still do - until recently) and found Mr. Greenleaf's works of "Servant Leadership." Mr. Greenleaf was one of the early pioneers of leadership studies. And even though he has passed away, his works are well known throughout the best schools, universities and corporations today. Servant Leadership is part of many churches and religious organizations as these teachings are about understanding people and guiding them. His work began at AT&T many years ago, and he is what one would call, a nice man, a very smart man, but someone who understood the human condition, and was compassionate toward all.

So when I found this quote in the back of the book, "The Dilemma of the the Alcoholic Marriage" (an Al-Anon book) I was not only surprised, but was impressed that Al-Anon had done the "research" to have related Mr. Greenleaf's work to our issue.

Here is the quote. I hope it provides meaning to you this day.

Our search should not be so much for a solution to a problem, or a way out of our difficulty, no matter how pressing. The search must be for inspiration, for insight, and one cannot know what he will do with an insight until he gets one.

Part of the necessary condition is to set aside one's own problems and needs, even the urgent and painful ones, and be prepared to receive and act upon the new insight. It may seem to have little relevance to our problem or need, but it may indeed, point to the new way in which our effort must be directed while we continue to bear our old burdens.


To me, this quote is about gaining insights to our problems we are facing. The old way was not working. In fact, the old way, made us sick. These words say it all; "but it (the insight) may indeed, point to the new way in which our effort must be directed."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

REMINDER: Weekend Al-Anon Meeting: Setting Boundaries

This Weekend's On-line Al-Anon Meeting is Going On Starting Friday night at 6PM - ALL WEEKEND long.

Topic: Setting Boundaries

Would someone like to comment here about boundaries and setting them? I will use this as the intro into our meeting this weekend. I did the last one. I don't want to be the "topic hog" . . .


Here's how our Al-Anon Meeting Online Weekend works (aka guidelines);

  1. On weekends we hold an on-line meeting.

  2. Someone suggests a topic on Thursday. First one who suggests the topic will be chosen.

  3. The Meeting starts at Friday 6PM Eastern. It will run through Sunday 6PM Eastern.

  4. I will set up the Topic before 6PM Eastern or right on time (depending where I may be)
    Anyone can join.

  5. Cross-talk is allowed (talking to each other; commenting about what others said, etc) . In fact it is encouraged!

  6. Of course, not evaluating each other negatively. Share the love and faith. Provide ENcouragement (give courage to others).

  7. You can discuss your feelings on the topic set for that weekend or you can talk about something else if you have it on your mind. And of course discuss a burning desire.

  8. Unlike Al-Anon meetings - You can eat will talking.

  9. Unlike Al-Anon meetings - You can comment MULTIPLE times

There may be people from across the US and in other countries around the world who may not have Al-Anon Meetings. This maybe a chance for you to attend a meeting to see what it is like. Of course, it will not have the same affect.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Weekend Online Al-Anon Guidelines

Al-Anon is for those of us who have been affected by someone else's drinking. We are compassionate and understanding. We provide strength, hope, and courage. The on-line version is not a substitute for a real face-to-face meeting. There is power in the rooms, a power of goodness and serenity, that has - incredibily - changed me. Please visit a meeting near you - click here to find an Al-Anon Meeting near you.

How our Weekend Online Al-Anon Meeting works (aka guidelines);

1. On weekends we hold an on-line meeting.

2. Someone suggests a topic on Thursday. First one who suggests the topic will be chosen. If no one selects or suggests a topic, I have to (I get boring after a while - if not sooner)

3. The Meeting starts at Friday approximately - 6PM Eastern. The meeting runs through Sunday evening.

4. You don't have to be expert. Just comment. There are no wrong or right answers. We are not perfect, so you should not worry or fear your imperfection. In fact, embrace it!

5. Anyone can join. Just comment. Cross-talk is allowed (talking to each other; commenting about what others said, etc) . In fact it is encouraged!

6. Of course, not evaluating each other negatively. Share the love and faith. Provide ENcouragement (give courage to others).

7. You can discuss your feelings on the topic set for that weekend or you can talk about something else if you have it on your mind. And of course discuss a burning desire.

8. Unlike Al-Anon meetings - You can eat will talking.

9. Unlike Al-Anon meetings - You can comment MULTIPLE times

10. We try to use only Al-Anon Conference approved material. I have read almost every self-help book available (really, you would not believe how many). Al-Anon works for those who are relatives or friends of alcoholics - who have been affected by someone else's drinking.

11. A translator link; If you are from another country, on the right hand side, further toward the bottom, (the right side-bar), there is a Google Translater link that translates this blog into the language of your country or region. If really works.

To The Alcoholic's Spouse - 3rd Letter

Letter Number 3 (New Day Dawning Series)
Prior Letters:
Letter Number 1 (click here)
Letter Number 2 (click here)

An Open Letter to You (the person living in the chaos of alcoholism);

Date: Today (the Third Day of a New Day Dawning for YOU.)

Alright, we know there is some anger, resentment, hurt, pain and depression in all of us. We grieve. And grieving is OK. But grieving forever is not in our blood. Grieving forever is not in your DNA.

Today is YOUR wake up call. You are not going to talk to the alcoholic about their problem. That is, THEIR problem. So let them handle THEIR problem.

YOUR problem is big enough that YOU need to focus on YOU and YOUR PROBLEM. You do have one don't you? Sure you do. You have been fighting, arguing, trying to control an uncontrollable situation. The hurricane, or tornado comes into the kitchen and you see the tornado and you want to stop it from spinning.

You see all the chaos in the tornado; the cars, the house, the papers, the people, - all the stuff flying around the alcoholic. And, . . . where are you?

Are you in the tornado too? Are you creating part of the spinning? If you are honest, sure you are. Or you have been. But that is in the past for you! Your past words and actions have helped the crap in tornado to spin faster. Again, that's the past. Right?

Two Questions:

  1. What if you can stop it - the tornado? Would you?
  2. What if the same method you used in the past was only adding to the chaos? Would you stop it then?

The answer to both questions is undoubtedly a big bold, screaming; "YESSSSS!!! "

And you might just add; "Of course, damn it!!!" to the sentence.

Let's add another reason to stop it -

You see that little moon over at the side of the blog? It's surrounded by blue skies and yellow stars. It reminds me (me = the author of this blog) of my daughter and her favorite book "Mr. Moon." I am not sure why it reminds me of the book Mr. Moon, but it does.

So like me, you need to get well. You need to get a continuous flow of good days back to back. And the only way to do this, is this, . . . and this is the magic and secret formula. Are you ready? It's not what your natural inclination is to do . . .

Are you sure you can handle it? OK. Here it is;

  1. Step 1. Stop trying to fix the alcoholic!
  2. Step 2. Stop trying to talk the alcoholic into getting sober! This is part of Step 1.
  3. Step 3. Stop helping the alcoholic do the things he can do for himself (herself).
  4. Step 4. Start focusing on your well-being. Start fixing yourself. So, what help have you received today?

Step 4 is the foundation of Steps 1 through 3. And it is a complete reversal of what we think we ought to do. We think if we do Steps 1 thru 3, then we can do Step 4! Nooooooo! It doesn't work that way. In fact, just doing Step 4, and only Step 4, will keep you from doing Steps 1 thru 3. And you won't have to WORK SO HARD!!!!

Stop thinking that you can do it all yourself. You cannot change without getting help. I am not advocating therapy - although finding the right therapist may help you get more help. I am not necessarily advocating Al-Anon, although the right meeting and doing this on a regular basis may help you get more help.

But today, I want you to do these things. First make sure you read letters 1 and 2 and do the actions outlined in Letter 2. Then do the Steps below . . .

Today, you are going to redirect this negative energy you and I know we have. Know that being pissed off, and depressed, takes a lot of energy. It zaps us. And we cannot sleep and we eat stuff that is terrible and it sits in our digestive system making us feel tired, sluggish and snippy (short, hostile, not fun to be around).

We are going to go on a 21 DAY MENTAL DIET. Here is the 21 Day Mental Diet;

  1. I eat only healthy foods and I drink plenty of water. (I stop eating crap). And, I exercise regularly. Alright, this is physical, not mental. (I am not perfect!)
  2. I get up early every morning and read something inspiring. I feed my mind with positive material. For me, for me to get well, I am reading the Al-Anon literature. And right now reading at the same time, psychology books (for me!!!!).
  3. I am attending Al-Anon meetings.
  4. Then I write out my "learnings" (a new word I made up) in a notebook. Writing helps me quiet my mind. I do this in the morning and at night. And maybe for good measure, at lunch time too.
  5. I do not engage in talk about fixing my alcoholic in my life. I stop obsessing about it.
  6. I stop complaining about people and I stop judging people. If I have nothing nice to say, I say nothing.
  7. I stop doing for the alcoholic and others, what they could and should be doing for themselves. This is hard, I know. You are "keeping it together." But today and from now on, you ask, "Can they be doing this themselves? And should they?" If the answer is "Yes" to these, YOU SAY; "No." Or "No, I have other things to do that will prevent me from doing this." No "I am sorry." No reasons and explanation is required.

Try these for just 21 days. These actions will turn your life around. And you will be on the path - if not the highway - to recovery - for YOU. As a by-product, your alcoholic spouse (or grown child if you have a grown child who is an addict) may get well too. But that is not your main purpose. If he or she gets well, then; "Super-de-dooper." If not, then you are well, and you can make a better decision as to where you want your life to go.

And if that's not enough for you, because you have lost your self-esteem, then I am going to manipulate you; then do it for the rest of your family. I work this 21-Day Program every day (not Al-Anon meetings every day) and I write this blog not so much for me, but for the little girl whose favorite book was Mr. Moon. The little girl is my 10 year old daughter. She is beautiful in many ways. I owe my getting well to her. She doesn't need to have two moronic parents running around.

So let's promise each other this; I will succeed. You will succeed. We shall succeed. You shall prevail. AND make no mistake about it - I know who you are. YOU are special. You need to stand up straight. You need to get out of your funk NOW. YOU ARE TOO IMPORTANT. And do not ever, ever, think that you are not.

Sincerely, and I do mean Sincerely, Your Friend,


To The Alcoholic's Spouse - 2nd Letter

Letter Number 2 (New Day Dawning Series)

Prior Letters:
Letter Number 1 (click here)

An Open Letter to You (the person living in the chaos of alcoholism);

Date: Today (the Second day of a New Day Dawning for YOU.)

Dear YOU;

You need a friend. Why? To kick you in the tail. Are you wallowing in self pity? Are you depressed? Down? You are better than this. What did YOU do yesterday? Did you wallow a little bit or a lot?

Here is what your friend might say to you if you asked him or her for advice;

  • Get a life, will you!?

And that's the tone the person would use too, if the person knew they wouldn't hurt your feelings, and not lose you as a friend. You see, they want you as their friend because they see a nice person under the layers of sweaters you are wearing to "cover up" your hurt feelings.

Yes. We feel hurt. We all feel it; How could our spouse (qualifier/son/daughter) do this to us? He (and she!) has lied over and over. "I won't drink anymore." Or how about this one, "I am just going down to the store, I'll be back in a bit." Or . . . . . . .Do you need more examples? No, you don't. We've all heard them. Same story. Different person. Different day. Deja Vu all over again.

We can sit there and feel sorry for ourselves. Yes. We should. And we should cry. And we should be pissed off. OK. We've done that. Are we done yet? No? OK, cry a little more and be pissed off a little more.

But today, you are going to redirect this negative energy.

And it's About Getting the Focus On YOU

Now, what are you going to do for you today? You are a list maker. I know you. You want to control the situation you have no control over. You know this to be true.

Let's redirect that good quality of "fixing things" and instead of aiming that good quality at a target that you cannot control or fix, let's aim it at you. Let's take the "list making" and decisiveness qualities AND HELP YOU.

What are you going to do for YOU today? Make a list. If you are stuck, here is a list you can act upon.

  1. I will take a walk at lunch time. (Run, ski, whatever)
  2. Instead of the potato chips, candy or junk, I will eat an apple, yogurt or something good for me, because I am worth it!
  3. I will call two friends and see if they can have coffee with me (or breakfast or lunch). Now I have two "appointments."
  4. I will not think about how I can fix my husband (wife).
  5. I will not get angry. I will see him (or her) with a disease. This is not an excuse for them. This is to allow us to be compassionate instead of pissed off.
  6. I will be clear in what I want to all I talk to. This is not meaning I will be "hurtful." It just means that I will set the boundaries (you need to read the Al-Anon literature or attend Al-Anon to understand more about this - also look under Labels at the right side of this blog).
  7. Decide to be happy. Psychology says you can Act your way into feeling. Or feel your way into acting. By pretending to be happy, you can make yourself happier. Try this for 15 minutes. Sit - read something inspirational. Say out loud "I am going to be happy!" Several times. THEN SAY "I AM HAPPY!" If you need to add a "Damn it" on the end, do it. WHAT EVER IT TAKES.

YOU DECIDE today what you will bring into your life tomorrow. This letter is to you. But it is not a letter to just be read. It is a call to take ACTION.

Get off you duff. Get yourself back. YOU ARE WORTH IT. People do you love you and they don't know how to tell you to get yourself back. You are losing the battle by feeling this way. And I know something else about you. You are not a loser. Sure, you are worn down a bit. But you are far from a loser. So, get off your duff and take action. Create that list NOW.

So, What are you going to do for you today? Make a list and aim at getting at least three of those key things done today. These are things for yourself - not someone else!!

Sincerely, Your friend -


PS - it doesn't count to have the intention of writing the list. It only counts if you write it out and do at least three things today for yourself.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Alcoholic Open Letter - To YOU

An Open Letter to You (the person living in the chaos of alcoholism);

Date: Today (the new day dawning for you.)

Dear You.

You are a good person. You are a person who cares. You are a person who deserves to be happy. And you are not the cause of the alcoholic's problem and you cannot cure it. Period!

No matter what your qualifier does, his or her drinking or addiction, should not be allowed to take you down. And if you have lost your self-esteem and you feel you don't matter, shame on you. Get it back. And get it back for yourself and/or your children.

You have to get better no matter what your qualifier does. What I mean here is your qualifier may never get well. That is up to him (or her). You cannot fix it. You must work on yourself to get your sanity and health back.

We all feel the effects of alcoholism. It makes us feel "Worthless" and "tired" and "confused" among other feelings.

This loss of self-esteem and being run-down doesn't happen overnight, which makes it dangerous. It happens over time, and it is so gradual we don't notice it occurring. What is abnormal now becomes our "new normal."

If we took you back in time and showed you a video snapshot of the future and a video snapshot of the way life was, you would be surprised at the difference between how you were and how you are. You - in fact - would say probably, "I would never allow that to happen." But because of the gradual changes - we change subtly and over time - we don't notice it and because the changes are a "few inches a day, the changes are drastic."

I have found that going to Al-Anon allows me (and others I have met there), understand this fact of change consciously or unconsciously.

We have to get our sanity back;

  • No more looking for bottles
  • No more calling in sick for the alcoholic
  • No more fighting or arguing - especially when drunk
  • No more threats you cannot enforce or live by
  • No more sacrificing your schedule because the alcoholic didn't live up to their commitment
  • No more allowing ourselves to be called names or made to feel bad
  • No more anger
  • Not checking to see if the alcoholic is feeling OK today to see how we should feel and act

Now we have to do what is really normal that now feels selfish;

  • Eating properly
  • Eating when we are supposed to
  • Exercising
  • Meeting friends for coffee
  • Working
  • Not doing other people's work at work
  • Knowing what "codes of value" we will live by and not allow others to intrude upon
  • Being happy (and not feeling guilty about it)
  • Dressing up/Showering/Getting out of the house
  • Not covering up for our qualifier
  • And so on

Al-Anon allows us to get sanity back after a few months. Then, and this is important, YOU react and respond differently toward the alcoholic. The alcoholic sees that there are changes because of your changes. What he sees is: You don't get mad anymore, you stop taking care of him (remember he is not a child but will act that way to be taken care of). Therefore he HAS to change, but now you don't have to tell him, you show him by your actions. So often we do for the alcoholic what he or she has to do for themselves (parents do this too). This will feel uncomfortable at first. It will seem selfish. But it isn't, it's the most necessary thing you have to do.

Second, and this is important too: Even if he does not get better, you now have the sanity to where you decide - you decide sanely - whether you want to stay in this environment and live the rest of your life this way. Right now, you cannot decide this properly.

Also - last and this is important too, by getting well, you begin attract new people, events and circumstances into your life that will help you and this help gets you well faster.

I hope this helps YOU.


PS - If you look back at my first posts, you will see I was crazy because my qualifier was arrogant, demanding, and deceitful. I was reactionary, hurt, depressed, and did not know the tools of Al-Anon. I am not perfect. But I know I have gotten better. I feel it and I see it from the first posts to today's posts. Again, I am still in recovery and have a lot to learn.

PPS - Remember, there are people who really love you and care for you. You are loved by them and by God. God does not make any junk. You need to love your self again. This is not selfish. Feel it and live it. Today is your turning point. See the new dawn rising.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Alcoholic Marriage

We had a great meeting this weekend on detachment. I learned a lot and we had a lot visitors. To see this Meeting and the comments click on the link here: This Weekend's Meeting is on: Detachment

Today I want to post about something I read from the book - an Al-Anon book - titled "The Dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage." But before I do, I want to tell you how I came across this book, because I do believe there are "forces" in the universe "conspiring to do us good" - if only we pay attention to them. These "forces" knock on our doors, and sometime we do not recognize them, especially if our mind are in a state of turmoil.

A Story About Rescue
There is the story of the man who was caught in a flood and went to the roof of his house, to escape the rising waters which had surrounded his house. There he sat and prayed to God for a rescue and to be saved.

Soon a truck with wheels big enough to go through the water came to the house with the man on the roof, and the occupants of the truck said, "Come with us, we have room in our truck," and the man on the house replied, "No thanks, I have prayed and have asked God to save me."

Later as the water had gotten to a higher level, making it impossible for trucks to get through any longer, a man in a rowboat showed up. The man in the boat said, "Come with me, I have room in my boat," and the man on the house replied, "I have prayed and have asked God to save me."

The water had started to overtake the roof, and the water's torrent was swift, beginning to tear away at the structure ripping parts of the house apart. The man stood up becasue the water had overtaken his roof and he again prayed to God for help. Just then a helicopter came by, and the pilot called down, "We'll send down a rope and save you." The man replied, "I have prayed to God and I am waiting for him to save me."

The helicopter pulled away and soon the man was washed away in the water's torrent and died.

When the man got to heaven he asked God why hadn't God saved him from the rising waters? God replied, "I tried to rescue you three different times, why didn't you take what I sent you?"

We are all sent something - this book (The Dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage) came to my attention through my sponsor at Christmas. I had written it down - but soon forgot about it.
Then at Al-Anon, a woman who is struggling with her husband, who I have known from this meeting for sometime, said to me "Here you ought to read this, this book is really good."

Normally, I would not have gotten the book. But she was very much in my "face" with the book - and she is not that way - pushy I mean - and not a person to cross boundaries. It was a message I believe - to GET THE BOOK. Plus it was only $9.50! What did I have to lose.

Perhaps this quote and post will be your message and help you. Here is the quote or passage I was reading this morning;

"If he is drinking, her (wife) constant protective watchfulness makes it easy for him to sidestep getting help. He has no incentive to get sober. She convinces herself that she's doing her very best for him; she hasn't learned, as she would in Al-Anon, that shielding him from the consequences of his drinking only prolongs its course.

"When he's drunk, her reaction is to reproach him for his behavior, and that's the very worst time to attempt to communicate with him. In fact it can't be done without triggering a family war.

Until she learns what is wrong with her attitude and how to change herself so he will be forced to face his responsibilities, the situation isn't likely to improve."

from "The Dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage"

The book goes on to discuss the importance of communication - good communication - which is vital in a good marriage.
A certain sentence may be read out of context; "Until she learns what is wrong with her attitude . . . " is the sentence.
What this means is; Me, you, us - we have to change our attitude toward the alcoholic. It means "detach" and stop trying to help him or her when they can do it for themselves. This sentence is not to say "we are to blame." You and I are not to blame. We were just doing what we thought was right, because we did not have the tools.
I hope this passage from the book helps you. I also hope, that my message of trying to get peace in your own head helps. Because we need that intuitive side that we all tend to have to come back to us. The intuitive side of us, which I know I have and I know - or suspect you have - needs to come back through quieting our minds. And then when something happens, where someone points to Al-Anon, someone points to a book, someone offers something up to you to accept or not accept, maybe, just maybe there is some force trying to give you guidance, to help you.

I hope this message brings me peace, because I suppressed my intuitive side for the past six months through focusing on the chaos and trying to manage someone elses life.

Make today a good and pleasant, happy day!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Al-Anon Meeting: Detachment

This Weekend's Meeting is on: Detachment
If you have found this website you are invited to join us in a weekend long Al-Anon Meeting. It ends Sunday 1/20/08 at 6PM.

A Note: To view this post and the comments at the same time, click on the link above (This Weekend's Meeting is: On Detachment) or the Title: Al-Anon Weekend Meeting or here (click here) in order to get a better view.

The way Al-Anon Meetings start is someone reads from one of the Al-Anon books, something that was useful or something they used or had meaning to them and they add their feelings or situation. Since the meeting's subject is on "Detachment" I will provide the initial reading just to get the meeting started.

Here's what typically happens: We can comment on what is written below, we can type in a passage from another Al-Anon book, we can type in an experience, a question, or anything else on the topic "Detachment." Or, since someone may be experiencing a difficult time on some other area, or want guidance, you can bring up other questions, points, etc.

There is no "wrong" way to do this. So peace, and let go.

Let's start:
Hello. My Name is Joe. My Wife is my Qualifier. I believe she has been drinking for some time, probably over 20 years. But this is about us.

I still struggle with "detachment." In the beginning it was really hard to detach. I wanted to talk the other person (my wife) into sobering up. I would get angry when she was drinking, I would want to read her the "riot act," she would do something I did not "approve of " or disagreed with, and I would judge her with a look or a word of disapproval.

I would get myself worked up, the dog would slink off to the other room, and I am sure my daughter would hear us. I was "working myself into a lather." So I detached. I detached by giving her the old silent treatment. I then became isolated.

Then I heard "detach with love" at an Al-Anon Meeting. "How preposterous," I thought. And then, I started to apply it.
Let me read from the book,"Courage to Change" . . .
"What does another person's mood, tone of voice, state of inebriation have to do with my course of action? Nothing, unless I decide otherwise.

For example, I have learned that arguing with someone who is intoxicated is like beating my head against a brick wall. Yet, until recently, I would always dive right into the arguments, because that was what the other person seemed to want. In Al-Anon I discovered that I don't have to react just because I have been provoked, and that I don't have to take harsh words to heart. I can remember that they are coming from someone who may be in pain, and try to show a little compassion. I certainly don't have to allow them to provoke me into doing anything I don't want to do.

Today's Reminder
Detachment with love means that I stop depending upon what others do, say, or feel to determine my own well-being or to make my decisions.

Now I open it up for comments. Thank you.

Friday - A Little Humor

I read Steve Martin's autobiography before Christmas, one day when I decided to "get out" and away from my wife. I went to Barnes and Noble and just sat there. I was down in the dumps and my wife was - how should I say "Sober, but aching for a fight"? So, I physically "detached" and removed myself from the dance of alcoholism. Steve Martin's autobiography was interesting in that his life growing up wasn't perfect, and that his "overnight success" took about 20 years.

I forgot how funny he is. So here is some "humor". Click twice to view here. If you click too many times you will have two versions going!

PS - See you at 6PM Today (eastern) for the beginning of the Al-Anon Weekend Meeting ! This will run through Sunday to 6PM. Comment all weekend at any time. See you

Here is Steve Martin - from Johnny Carson. This is a classic. REALLY FUNNY

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Al-Anon Online Meeting Friday

This post has a couple of messages;

First and foremost, the Al-Anon Online Weekend Meeting starts tomorrow Friday! I must admit I am excited. Am I excited about helping others? Is this my codependency coming through? Nope. It's OK to help others. In the helping of others I am finding that I am helping myself and learning more and more about the addiction of alcohol. Press here (click here) to get more information on the meeting.

Second and more, I had a great meeting last night at my wife's Family Night Treatment Center. While this week was strange at the house, I learned last night that I am not crazy. I also learned more about the addiction and to trust my instincts. I will post more on this night later. In fact, I have a lot to post (talk about) and have 8 separate drafts of documents (posts) ready to be published. I just feel that if I publish these right before the Al-Anon Online Weekender, it may diminish the meeting or obscure it.

But I am going to post a really critical link for all to see in the next post. It is a study conducted about Al-Anon and the relapse of alcoholics. It is a very interesting study!

As you may know, finding studies on alcoholism and AA is hard, because they are scarce. Some circles of people (who I must say, turn into doubters, vocal doubters) say AA doesn't work. While there are thousands of therapists and reformed/recovering alcoholics who say it does work. The problem with the thousands of those in recovery, is that they are anonymous.

This turns out to be a conundrum for scientists studying the behavior and rehabilitation of alcoholics. Plus, for a scientific study to be conducted properly, there needs to be a control group (click links for definitions in Wikipedia). A control group is a group who thinks they are taking the "medication" but in fact are not, for they are taking "sugar water" in a double blind experiment (neither group knows which is getting the real medication). For people wanting to learn more about the studies, I can provide sources in a later link or post. (I read wAAy toooo much. But my findings state this, conclusively; AA does work, if it is worked. Al-Anon does work if it is worked.)

But back to this study - I will post a link to it if requested.

Back to number two above. In an earlier post I made a statement something to the affect that I would like God to help me with my answer to my dilemma at home. I am not sure what happened, but I received my answer last night. The post where I actually spoke/wrote my feelings was somewhat embarrassing for me. I even thought about wiping it off this blog for I thought it exposed my "foibles" and my "fragileness." Even as I write this I feel wimpy. My apologies to anyone that reads that I am a wimp. I am 6 feet 4 inches, a pretty big guy, who has been knocked to his knees with this disease. I can just about anything. I have worked construction, I have driven trucks, and I have put myself through college working two and three jobs. I am not exactly wimpy. But with alcoholism and the dance with the alcoholic, it is pretty amazing the power of it over us, and we are not drinking!!!!!! Click here to read my post about asking God for an answer.

Okay. Now this is really, REALLY(!) important. I want to make sure I write this. And I will state this again somewhere later in some post, because it is soooo important.

Here it is: If you can get to an Al-Anon Meeting, you will find FREE literature. I am reminding myself of this fact, because the FREE literature - the little pamphlets are EXCELLENT sources for reading.

I keep going back to the pamphlets for beginners/newcomers and get something new each time I read them. In fact, the last meeting I picked up more free pamphlets.

Let me read you the titles of some of the Al-Anon Literature that is FREE that I just pulled out from my briefcase:

  1. So You Love An Alcoholic?
  2. 3 Views of Al-Anon
  3. Information for the Newcomer
  4. A Guide for the Family of the Alcoholic
  5. How Can I Help My Children?
  6. Does She Drink Too Much?
  7. Does He Drink Too Much?
  8. Understanding Ourselves and Alcoholism
  9. Al-Anon is for Men (I am sure there is one that says for women, although most people who attend are women, so it might be a "given")
  10. Dear Mom & Dad
  11. Purpose and Suggestions
  12. Just for Today (a beautifully written piece and my link is here for the words)

Pretty cool titles - and they are written extremely well. Plus, I missed a couple of pamphlets. I need to find them.

ANY WAY!!!! I have written too much.

See you tomorrow!

PS - The Al-Anon Online Weekend Meeting (AAOW?) will be on "detachment" - what it is, how you have used it, how we can use it better and more!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Al-Anon Meeting Here!

How about this idea? It's borrowed - this is true - so I recognize this already. In fact, my best ideas are someone elses'!

How about an Al-Anon Meeting here this weekend? Every weekend. Here's how I propose it works;

  1. Someone suggests a topic on Thursday. First one who suggests the topic will be chosen.
  2. The Meeting starts at Friday 6PM Eastern. It will run through Sunday 6PM Eastern.
  3. I will set up the Topic before 6PM Eastern or right on time (depending where I may be)
  4. Anyone can join.
  5. Unlike Al-Anon meetings, cross-talk is allowed (talking to each other; commenting about what others said, etc) . In fact it is encouraged!
  6. Of course, not evaluating each other negatively. Share the love and faith. Provide ENcouragement (give courage to others).
  7. You can discuss your feelings on the topic. You can talk about something else if you have it on your mind. And of course discuss a burning desire.
  8. Unlike Al-Anon meetings - You can eat will talking.
  9. Unlike Al-Anon meetings - You can comment MULTIPLE times

Can I get anyone to agree? Or do I have the shortest Al-Anon Meeting in history? Don't leave me hanging friends!

Also, there are people from across the country and in other countries across the world who have contacted me about Al-Anon "thing". . . This maybe a chance for you to attend a meeting to see what it is like (of course, it will not have the same affect.)

Please send your "OK this is interesting and I'd like to try it" or a minimum a Topic!!!

Thanks and God Bless YOU!!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Al-Anon; Self Esteem - Constructive vs Destructive Behavior Patterns

Here is the diagram I created for my Al-Anon meeting this week. Let me see if I can explain it.

First, if we look at the top of the diagram, there is Judgement of Others. This I believe is one of the roots of destructive behavior. We judge others. We judge our spouse. We look for their faults and short comings.

And their is of course, Judgement of Ourselves.

The next destructive behavior is Comparison to Others. Comparison that someone received more than us, someone is more popular, someone is smarter, prettier, etc. We then begin to feel bad.

We then begin to feel bad about ourselves - and then we look for Blame. We blame others. It is not our fault. And we are blaming and criticizing.

Criticizing gets us "Righteous" - that is of course, self-righteous. We get our anger through these destructive behaviors. All of these affect our Self-Esteem and Self-Acceptance in a big way. Maybe not right away - but they are destroyers of our ability to function properly.

After all this, we begin to build resentment. Resentment is the biggest destroyer of all. Resentment is anger harbored in us under the surface - for a long time.

What if we could eliminate Judgement of Others and Comparison to Others from our lives? Try this. Work at it. You will be astounded to hear yourself think compare and judge. If you can catch yourself judging and evaluating and comparing yourself of and to others, you will begin to feel peace and serenity.

If you can catch yourself EARLY in the process and STOP IT, you can substitute it with another thought pattern.

In fact, you can substitute these destructive patterns of behavior with the behaviors like;

Compassion, Courtesy and Courage

Look at this chart again. See how these types of behaviors can be life altering? Can you imagine a life of Peace and Serenity? This I believe can be one of the keys to achieving Peace and Serenity.

Look at the right hand side of the chart. As soon as we start with the destructive behaviors, we are out of control. We are actually contributing to the chaos in our lives.

When we act out of positive constructive behaviors, we actually gain more control, and have more control over our own feelings and emotions.

I hope this makes sense. And I hope you can use this in your life.


PS - of course it is hard. But daily practice makes us better.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Saturday's Al-Anon Meeting

I am very fortunate to have the friends I have at Al-Anon. I held my first discussion this past Saturday. I was given a big applause. I was embarrassed and proud of myself at the same time. Embarrassed because I felt like a child. Proud in that I have come a long, long way. I got hugs again from everyone. Again, I am not a really hugging person. But I am beginning to like it. I even hugged a person on the way out - in fact if I remember correctly I hugged two people - on my own.

I owe these nice people a large debt of gratitude. I attended the meeting - the first meeting - around six months ago. I was knocked to my knees, you see my wife was driving around the busy highways of this town/city drinking wine out of coffee cups, and water bottles - with and without my daughter in the car. I travel a lot and I was not able to "check her out" . . . when I called her on her cell phone and made any observation about her drinking while she was driving, she would hang up on me. It was really frustrating and it pissed me off.

I was at my wits end when I first came to Al-Anon. In fact, I felt so alone, so scared, so VERY much dying on the inside.

Today I am doing better. I do slip into the "hate" and the "disdain" for where I am and for what I feel is a huge amount of distrust between the two of us (my wife and I). She feels resentful that her parents and I have "forced" her to face the drinking by going to AA and go to a treatment center. She blames me. It appears the treatment center has helped in some ways. In other ways, she uses what she has learned against me.

My anger and frustration has popped out in different areas. Last week it was a barking dog - and my neighbor who was arrogant and defensive. The dog barks all the time - hours on end. It keeps me, and our child up at night. I told the dog to "shut up." My neighbor came at me one day. And I should have walked away. But we had an argument. He said "dogs bark, get over it" and I said, "not all the time." We got no where.

I do not have any tolerance for people who manipulative, arrogant or deceitful. When some one is "passive aggressive" I have this tendency to want to "address it" by calling them on it or I just avoid them [Remember the Al-Anon slogan; "You cannot control it, you cannot change it, you didn't cause it."]

I am also putting a lot of pressure on myself - to come up with an answer; Do I stay married and hope the outcome will be positive? And in the meantime, be absolutely miserable, because of the lies of alcoholism and the potential issue of driving and drinking and getting into an accident an injuring someone? And what about my daughter? Should she be subject to be around this alcoholic family situation? This is the hard question. And truthfully I fear making it. I want a lightning bolt from God to help me out by giving me the answer. I seek therapists and no one seems to be able to give me guidance. I love my wife when she is sober and acting like another parent. But she slips into this irresponsible role - almost the role of a child. When I depend on her, she too, acts passive aggressively (she remembers what she thinks she said or agreed to). What do I mean by this? She says she will do X. It never happens and she says she never agreed to it. I have begun to try to clarity and exactness in our conversations. It frustrates us both - I spend a lot of energy by getting clarity - and I wonder if I come across accusatory.

So, in one way, I have come along way in six months since my first Al-Anon Meeting. But I feel like a little bit of an impostor. I may look OK on the outside - but I am on a roller coaster ride to hell and back on the inside. I feel like that duck, you know the metaphor of duck on the water, looking calm on the surface, but paddling like hell to stay afloat.

It was simply wonderful to receive the warmth Saturday from Al-Anon folks. It filled my heart with pride and pleasure when everyone complimented me Saturday. The memory is still with me. I hope I never forget that feeling of acceptance of who I am.

In my next post - I will see if I can post the PowerPoint diagram I made as my handout that was related to Self-Esteem and Self-Acceptance and my talk. (I must admit - it is pretty cool. But it may take explaining).

Have a Good Week

Friday, January 11, 2008

Self Acceptance Self Esteem - Hand in Hand for Our Recovery

This was written this morning before work . . .

Today's blog post is derived from Dr. Robert Anthony’s book Total Self Confidence. I bought this book and multiple copies years ago as part of my recovery in trying to be more successful in my career. The book was helpful then, because I had no training or education on how my mind worked, and how my thinking was affecting my success or lack of success.

Now I read this book and see it needs to be reread from the point of view, how do I become more of myself – in order to stay a successful person - a successful adult in work and at life. I was fortunate. I was not successful, then became successful and I am not drifting (or being sucked into) toward the vortex of self-destruction through the disease of alcoholism. [Note to self; interesting that I wrote “self-destruction.” Is this true? It is interesting that I wrote this – it seems accurate – I am reacting and getting into a negative habit pattern of reacting badly.]

~~~~~~~ We pause here for a brief interlude ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
My wife came downstairs just a second ago. I engaged in a conversation about her “not feeling well" the past two days, where she had a fever, but the temperature was down when I asked her about it. I don’t trust her. I don't believe her when she says something now. So I am sure I asked her this with the tone of not scepticism. But even here I am looking back for this second at how I got sucked into the vortex. I should never have engaged and asked. It was too tempting. I feel angst in the lower part of my abdomen and my shoulders are achy all of a sudden.

Why did I engage? I wanted acceptance from her? Why wouldn’t I? I do care for her. I want acceptance because she is the one I married and the one I want to share my feelings with. I know I cannot do this any longer – because she uses this against me as a tool to push my hot-buttons, and make me feel bad. I know this intellectually. I know not to do this. But I am still “emotionally” wanting that acceptance and feeling of “she cares for me.” I need to work on this. This seems to me, to be crazy. Avoid your wife? Don't show your weaknesses? Don't describe how you are feeling? This is insane. It defies trust and the relationship.

And this is – the exact reason as to why I am typing the next couple of paragraphs.

In his book, page 31 – (Dr Robert Anthony’s book Total Self Confidence), he writes,
“It is a demonstrated fact of life that YOU CAN NEVER BE “BETTER” THAN YOUR OWN SELF-ESTEEM; that is, how you feel about yourself in relation to others, based on your sense of self-acceptance.

And then he writes a little later:
"Positive self-esteem is not the intellectual acceptance of one’s talents or accomplishments. It is personal self-acceptance. Developing positive self-esteem is not an ego trip. You are not in love with yourself in an egotistical sense. You simply realize that you are a truly unique and worthy individual; one who does not need to impress others with your achievements or material possessions."

Here are two statements I pulled out of the above the resonated with me:

  • It is the personal self-acceptance . . . of your talents or accomplishments.
  • You simply realize you are a truly unique and worthy individual.
REVISED - (Previously, it may have read to be self-centered, which it was not intended to be)
We do not need any ones acceptance of how we are as human beings. It is our acceptance of ourselves that really matters. This is not an "ego thing" or arrogance in any shape or form. It is really accepting yourself - ourselves and respecting what and who we are. We are not perfect. What I do is not perfect. But if we look at ourselves, we aren't half bad! Like the old ad, "We've come a long way baby!"

While it would be nice to have an occasional pat on the back, we should try not to become "needing" of that recognition for us to feel good about ourselves. When we begin to "need" that recognition, we place control in the hands of others and the control we give them is about whether we "like ourselves." We don't need to be "approved" of by others. No one has that "seal of approval" and no one has that kind of power.

When someone says, "Nice job," say "Thank you." Simple and sweet and short. Accept the compliment for the project or piece of work. And remember that the project you are working on is not you. Because the project may not work or may fail or it may have defects. What we do is not who we are. If we are evaluated it should be for our actions, or performance at work, but never as a human being.

When someone evaluates you or me, on a personal level, say "Thank you, I am a work in process" with no sarcasm or tone to your voice. Just, ahhhhh (releasing any tension), smiling and in a loving voice, "Thank you, I am a work in process." It will stun people and stop the evaluation. And we can depart without

So, my word to all of us is this; Love yourself unconditionally. Accept who you are. Work from where you are with what you have by working on getting better and better, every day. And last, if you slip, like we all occasionally do, don't beat yourself up about it. Learn the lesson and throw away the experience.

These quotes and statements hit me this morning. I need reminding of this point of self-acceptance every day.
Good Luck - And I hope you are well.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Al-Anon Step Four (4)

As a little bay - I remember that I avoided looking at instructions of toys. I put things together as I thought they should be. As I write this sentence, it looks strange and feels even stranger.

Recently I thought about this and asked myself, "Why did I try to build airplane models without referring to instructions?" It never worked out. I always had an extra piece or two. Even as I got older I put together other things without referring to instructions. Even electronics I hardly looked at the instructions - I just assumed I could work it just by trial and error.

Duh. Pretty dumb . . .

Did I think I could figure things out without referring to any instructions? Was it because I did not want help?

Wow! I did not want help. Is that what I am writing? I still don't want help . . . I don't want to be a bother to people. This can be part of the issue of being affected by alcoholics; doing it on my own. I don't want to bother anyone. I even said that to people who know of my situation and are there for me.

BACK TO STEP 4 - And Tying In the Point Above
I have digressed. Back to the point, but this is related to instructions. I have until this very second resisted working the 12 Steps. And here I want to relate Step 4 and how it could help us and our self-esteem.

When I first heard Step 4 - "Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves" I immediately went negative. I assumed that I would have to list ALL MY DEFECTS. I did not want to list my defects. I don't need to visualize this and harp on my faults. But then I read the Courage to Change book. One of the things the books says is to make a list of your positives.

It is about listing is was working in your life! Wow! This is a firm psychological principle. Work on the positive. Build upon the successful things. It is also something I have learned in consulting and coaching people in business. Build on the positives, mitigate the negatives. Or eliminate the things you don't do well. You may know it if you are in business or work as "Focus on your core competencies." Or as the song says, "Accentuate the positive."

This is not exactly what Step 4 is, but it's pretty darn close!!

In the book, Courage to Change, page 181 - it refers to Step 4 and self-esteem.The passage states that resistance to this Step (or any other) may be something you should look at. See if this resistance is trying to teach you something or tell you something about yourself - that you may need right now.

OK - so let's do this to build our self-esteem;
Make a list of everything you do well! And build from there.

So often we work on what on what we don't do well. And then we get frustrated, quit and stop. And say, "what's the use?"

What if we worked on what we did well? And branched out from these things by seeing how we could enlarge what it is that we do well, that we like to do, and make that circle a little wider? Enlarging the circle over time.

Let's today focus ALL our energies on what we do well and discard past labels of ourselves that we received from parents, friends, bosses, co-workers, relatives, - all the people who thought they were helping us (and some who were probably trying to hurt us because they knew no better).

Let's make a list of all the negative labels we received. Labels like you are lazy, incompetent, slow, not good at sports, don't look good in that bathing suit, and so on . . . Make the list and put it over on the side of the desk.

Now make a list of all the things we do well. Things we like to do. And look at that list. These are your assets! These are the things you like to do and you continue to do well. Keep adding to the list.

Look back at the negative list. You may find one or two items you ought to work on. But not the whole list! There are some things - one, two or three items, that maybe you could and ought to improve on. They just need to be rephrased in the positive. Instead of you are lazy - maybe it is I can do better in managing my time by not volunteering so much; or by making a list; or scheduling better.

Next, take the negative list. Save it for this weekend. And when you wake up Saturday morning - go out in your backyard with a pack of matches and burn it. Hold it in air and let it go! Or build a big fire in your fireplace. Make a ritual of this. Burn it and say good-bye to it. And let's all forget about our labels that someone gave us.

Now look at the positive list and let's review it several times a day. Rewrite the list and use this to go forward - today - tomorrow and forever!!!! Every day rewrite your list in the first person affirmative, like; I am a good reader. I am excellent at work. I am one of the best at . . .

Let's focus on what we do well. That's positive and esteem building!!

Good Luck TODAY!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Closure to a Bad Day - Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense." Ralph Waldo Emerson

I thought there may be someone besides me who could use some closure on the day. We all have bad days. And sometimes we find we don't say or do the best we can do. In our "disease" I have found some of us dwell on; what we did wrong, and didn't do well, and what we said. And God if only we could only take back what we did or said.

I had one of those days. It was smooth sailing. Then someone arrogantly came up to me and said, "You shoulda ...." I let him have it.

He was an ass. But I was an ass too. It was hard to tell who was the first ass.

I beat myself up by feeling regret over taking my pains out on that guy. I was angry with my spouse. She said she wasn't drinking, when I could tell she was. I thought I handled it well with my spouse by saying "I knew differently." Apparently I wasn't over it and used this opportunity to unleash some of my rejection and anger. The guy was a little arrogant. I have a small problem with people who think they are better than others. It probably is because of self-esteem for some reason I cannot see.

I called about an hour later to apologize. He wasn't in. But I left a message to call me. He hasn't called me back yet. I did my part. Now I want closure, which is an apology for the way I behaved. I need no apology from him. I only need to apologize for me and my sake. The sincere apology brings closure. Perhaps it will stop me from the guilt of my behavior

So I leave you and me with the quote again;

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense." Ralph Waldo Emerson