Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Character Defect?

"A character defect?" is the title of this post. It is probably better to write "What Can Be A Character Defect?" I read in the Al-Anon book, "Hope for Today" the other night a great passage. And I want to share it with you.

As we all know by now, Al-Anon is for us. The people who are affected by alcoholism. But I believe Al-Anon could be useful for anyone, even those unaffected by alcoholism. For the right meeting is about just good living tools - practical guidelines, that not everyone received growing up.

My Program
I am working on Step 1. Step 1 is about admitting your life in unmanagable because of alcohol. It says very specifically, alcohol - not the alcoholic - not the person.

Step 1 is a hard one for me. It says, "I am powerless." This is hard for me, because it means I have to surrender. I am not a quitter. But everytime I fight the alcoholic - I am really fighting alcohol. When I realize this I am OK.

When you want to fight with the alcholic because he or she acts arrogant and smug, we become locked into a "death dance." We are actually feeding the alcohol and the disease. It is making the alcohol stronger and more righteous. It makes us angry and frustrated. Do you understand this?

Our best defense or offense is to say "We are powerless over alcohol." And therefore not feed it. We - that means you, Joseph - must realize that we have to not address her or the alcohol. Right now we have to remember we are powerless over alcohol.

So, back to the passage. If you go to the index in this book - or any Al-Anon book, (like the labels to the below and to the right, on this Blog) you can find all the readings and issues to help you get over the moment or issue you are struggling with.

So, I go to the index and look for about "Powerlessness." I go to page 59, where I find a great reading. The passage goes like this, and these are my words how I interpret them;

"As a child [or a spouse] of an alcoholic, I was powerless over the criticism [or conflict] Note: my words are in brackets.

To survive this upbringing I had to develop defenses. When I no longer needed these defenses, these defenses became character defects.

As an adult, I was still powerless over the effects of my father's [spouse's] abuse.

It was the effects of alcoholism over which I was powerless!

The awareness helped me take my first step. I realized that my father [spouse] had been just as powerless over his alcoholic father as I had been over him. When my father was a little boy, he didn't say, 'When I grow up, I want to be an alcoholic.' This understanding and insight brought me compassion and forgiveness for my father [spouse]."

This makes sense. What if the crap I learned to shield my self-esteem fighting with alcoholism have become a habit that is now holding me back? They have in essence become "character defects."

This is why I think Al-Anon is good for me. I like insightful things that I haven't considered, even though they are so intuitively obvious now that I have read it.

I must take action to correct these things. The good news is this; that all Al-Anon members are working the same issues. And they support you in getting these things fixed. The key is within you.


Syd said...

In my inventory list I had 51 character defects. I clipped them and put each in my God box. Everyday I'd take out a different one and work on it for that day. Every once in a while I repeat that exercise. It works.

Laurie said...

Ok, I like this post but I keep getting hung up on "We must realize that we have to not address her/him or the alcohol." What does that mean? Not acknowledge them? Not talk to them when they're sober about their drinking or getting help? I'm confused about this...or maybe I'm not getting it in relation to acknowledging I am powerless. I FEEL powerless, but I don't want to be. I need to work on this one!

Joe said...

Laurie - This is great question. It pertains to me - specifically. Right now I am getting into fights/arguments when we talk or say something about anything. I say "white" and I am telling you the truth, she will say, "black."

It feels like a struggle that she is having with me and I think she resents me - especially since she has not been drinking in the past 2 weeks - 3 weeks or if you listen to her 60 days. (I know this sounds like I am angry about the days and according to the rehab guy it doesn't matter).Well it matters to me, because I want the truth. I am tired of the deception.

So, Laurie, my apologies for the confusion. It was me talking to me, not to talk to her and avoid her. Pretty sad.

Thanks Laurie for pointing this out


Laurie said...

Joe, thanks for clarifying. Looking at your post again, I can see you directed that statement to yourself.

Have a great Sunday!