Thursday, February 28, 2008

Engaged - Getting "hooked"

The Meeting - All About Me and My Alcoholic Spouse and how I engaged and broke off. What I learned.

Last night the Meeting turned to me. The counselor allowed me t0: me blah, blah, blah. I was on a roll. I didn't realize I talked sooo long. I cannot tell if he couldn't figure out how to stop me, for he is a kind and generous man, but I think he saw I was critiquing myself and my actions, and was using this as a learning lesson.

I feel a little guilty about it. Hogging the show that is. But the thing that I feel good about is where I have come from and where I am. Not perfect, never will be, but I recognize how I contribute.

So, let's learn and use my experience as the lesson.

I explained how she (spouse) uses me to throw attention away from the alcohol problem. In fact, he told me this on a phone call once. He said, "Do not engage. She will try to draw you into an argument to take the focus off her drinking addiction." WOOOOOOW. Then I saw these same words in one of the Al-Anon books. It's the blue book - it's in the trunk of my car. I will post the passage later this morning/afternoon.

I explained the situation. He said, "Did you hear the first time where you got hooked?"I said, "Yes" with an of course attitude (it was arrogance raising it's head, because I really knew I had no clue although arrogance was telling me, 'Yes of course you know. You are omnipotent." I explained where I asked my wife to go to the finished basement rec area and told her going to the water was affecting my/our/her entire family."

I realized the first time I got hooked, was when my daughter told me that mommy was going to the water with her ex-college roommates.

YIKES. Open brain. Allow new data to flow.

The hook wasn't what I was saying. It was the hook like a fishing hook and line that pulled me into an engagement - but the hook got my emotions and drew me in. MAKE SENSE?

I went on and on. But you all have heard this in previous posts.

I know the next time I get hooked I have to call my sponsor. Stop everything and call my sponsor.

I am learning to call the sponsor sooner - but still after the engagement. I am calling 30 minutes after now (last one was Tuesday morning and you all saw my rants). It used to be a day later, then 2 hours later. So I am making progress. But even still - I know and he knows - I need to call BEFORE the hook is set and I draw myself in.

Simple solution. Complex problem.

The alcoholic wants to blame you. This is what I learned from dinner the other night with the men. There is self-loathing. This self-loathing is anger pointed internally and the projection is onto someone else. For example, ME. It may be on you. This is where you have to Detach. Detach with love if possible. Detach with despise. But detach. Remove yourself from the situation.

Reread the above. Anyone who believes this doesn't have a clue. It is an addiction. It is a disease. if you believe it to be a disease, then it would be like someone saying, "You gave me cancer."

If you don't believe it to be a disease, think of the weakness of the other person then. "Are you saying you are so weak, that you felt compelled to drink and become an alcoholic?" Does the fact that your parent drink and were alcoholics have anything to do with this (Or your uncle/aunt/grandfather etc)?

Of course, do not use the last paragraph as your argument. This is engaging. The alcoholic, and I had engaged this spouse of mine, will twist the words around, juuuuussst ever soooo slightly, and the next thing you know, the winning argument she cannot defend, is now turned to something she can win. It's unbelievable.

I have learned to stop her from twisting the words, by bringing the original words back around and calling her on it - calling it the dance of the alcoholic. When I say this she understands she cannot get away with the twisting.

I also learned - that the trigger for me is the same words I use - The "Dance with the Alcoholic" (it is really the "dance with alcohol" by the way - and is commonly recognized in AA and recovery. I think there is an Al-Anon pamphlet on it - Syd or some others - isn't this right?)

Those words - are my trigger to disengage. That I cannot "win" (make my point and get her to see my side - which maybe a form of control too, for me). But it is my trigger to break off. Maybe the only satisfaction I get in a sick way, is I get the last word in. So, I disengage. I detach. I leave the room.

I am wrong for even engaging. Because my blood pressure goes up. I sense the flight or fight syndrome occurring in my reticular cortex is activated (is that the part of the brain? - there is a part of the brain still with us from prehistoric times -I've read about it a hundred times). And you (me) start to lose "emotional control" because our body is on full alert for war (or some animal ready to kill us). It serves no useful purpose in 2008. It was great in 1200 BC, which I will write about in another post sometime (that wasn't funny, but I tried).

So recognize "the hook." Where does it occur? What trigger words? What tone. With who?

I learned that apportioning guilt and blame is arrogance. Recognize the hook. Practice in your mind the "next time I will do this." Rehearse it like an Olympic Gymnast practices her routines in her mind. Same concept.

Reminder - we have an Al-Anon Weekend Online Meeting on money/finances. And how this affects us.


Anonymous said...

Oh Joe,

How true how one word can pour fuel the fire....

Mine, is "Whatever". Real, real tough for me to leave that one alone.

Peace this Thursday.


Anonymous said...

Good lesson on getting engaged in the "alcoholic dance" and then sharing the info. on letting go of the rope. I am rewriting what you said for myself because it helps me to take it in and own it for myself to remember it and use it. I am still learning even though these are not new concepts for me. I realize I have been ignoring my own "recovery" and falling back into old habits and engaging - giving my spouse just what he is looking for to keep his lifestyle going.

Now what is it that he is giving me which is helping me keep MY lifestyle going? Am I also holding onto the rope for my own reasons to blame someone so I can be the superior one (self-loathing inside projected onto him?). Is this, too, part of the alcoholic dance? Did we find each other because we are the perfect pair?

Thanks for making me think about this one - I have more to go figure out!