Wednesday, January 23, 2008

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,

Joe

9 comments:

Lorraine said...

Yay for boundaries! I look forward to our next meeting! I love these letters! Thank you! I feel something stirring within me...it is like waking up for the first time in a long time!

Syd said...

I like the 21 day mental diet. Good stuff to think about. And yes, I guess if I could wave a magic wand, I would want to have all the pain and suffering removed from all the alcoholics and drug addicts and those who have been affected. But it was due to the alcoholic that I found Al-Anon and that was one lucky day for me.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the time to blog for all of us that need to hear what you have to say. I went to my first AlAnon meeting 26 years ago. Won't go into detail but was very active for about 15 years, it saved my life, it really did and somewhere along the way I began to get lazy. Miss meetings, I know where I need to be, I know what I need to do. Why don't I? My daughter has been sending me links, didn't want to use them. Tonight I was moved for some reason to click on your link. Thanks. I'm almost 72 and I have difficulty getting to meetings, I will do something about that but now I know that through links like yours, I can be moved to get back in the wellness program. Old pattern habits die slowly, When not taking care of yourself they reappear

skip said...

Thank you.
You cannot be aware of the depth of my gratitude for your blog site.
I look forward to the meeting this weekend.

Joe said...

To Anonymous - above. In my Al-Anon meeting I go to, my home base, there is a woman who is 84. She is so smart. She is so articulate. I am in awe of her. She is astounding. Every time she speaks, I get ready. I get ready to learn something new and I write it in my mind. If I could write what she has said, without disclosing her, I would do so. I sense, by what you have written, that you will provide us with you insights and "smartness" ... Please join us.

Joe

Joe said...

Skip

The kind words you write, is one reason I keep writing. I figure that if I can write what I am learning, I encode it better in my mind. If I can help someone else, just through my thinking (which is pretty screwed up most of the time -that's self effacing humor, and not very funny), then perhaps I am doing a good deed.

I am so glad you wrote these words. And to the others who have written similar words, thank you.

I have found that comments are the blogger's form of currency. (i.e. it's how we get paid/feel good)

Joe

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Siobhan Lowe said...

Joe, thank you for your site! I've only just stumbled upon it but it is exactly what i need! Your letters to the alcoholic spouse are like a refreshing, wonderful slap in the face. Thank you. I am so sick of the dramas, so sick of the hurt, the anger, the resentment and when i can no longer pretend that i am fine, the depression that follows. Its time for me to turn my life around and stop being caught up in this crap that is not my problem! Bless xx

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe,
I just wanted to thabk you for your blog posts, in particular your letters to a spouse. I finally escaped the alcoholic spuse syndrome some 15 years after getting embroiled in the prison that alcoholism brings to a spouse. I loved my freedom and enjoyed it for 12 years. Then I met and fell for my next partner. I was totally honest about my past life with an alcoholic and when I asked point blank if he had ever had issues with alcohol, he denied it. So I feel in love and gradually I began to realise that he did indeed have problems with alcohol. I tried to stick it out with him for five years. Today, after another night of rowing over his alcohol abuse, I realise I cannot stay in this prison any longer. I cannot fix him, just as I could not fix my ex husband.
Your letters have given me clarity about moving forward and what I need to do. I am now facing a life of freedom again.
Thank you!
From a strong woman who can do this.