Monday, March 3, 2008

Positive From Negative - Al-Anon Post

(Revised 4PM Monday)
Al-Anon Step 1 work. This weekend I hosted an Al-Anon Meeting that I attend regularly. This made for a record breaking 6 Al-Anon meetings in one week for me. And this is from a person who said, "Couldn't stand the meetings." (Ha!)

I talked about my situation and how I was going to make a "bad" decision or "bad" situation not created by me or my daughter and how to turn it into a good situation. In other words, take something bad and outside of our control and create into something good.

Background and Catch-Up
I spoke of how my wife took off to the lake/mountains while not really considering the consequences of her actions, by not asking my opinion, not telling us how long she would be gone, what time she was leaving and what time she would be back. As you recall from last week's blog posts I was pretty unhappy. I did gain my equilibrium around Tuesday by blogging, hearing from you all, and attending Al-Anon meetings.

So my action to make this a "good thing" was to try and figure out how to spend more time with my daughter. So I looked into going to taking a trip, but wound up going out to a nice dinner at a world famous restaurant (alright may in my world - it was world famous). I was taking my daughter and her friends out to dinner and have a great time.

The Al-Anon Talk
As part of my talk I created a PowerPoint document as a handout. It represents all of the major negative issues we face as family members of alcoholism. And it represents all the positive things we can do to influence our lives (note: I do not say "the alcoholic's life).

To view the diagram . . . . . ----> Click here to view diagram

Someone suggested I publish the talk and diagram in Forum, Al-Anon's magazine that comes out once a month. The conversation started off with, "Joe, I want to talk to you about this diagram." Instantly, fear walked into my mind, conjuring up an image that the Al-Anon police were going to say something about the PowerPoint diagram saying, "It wasn't Al-Anon approved." And of course she would have been right. It's just that I respect this person and did not want to get on a "black list." I fear rejection. Interesting that I am still dealing with this. Then there is a part of me that says, "Screw it." And I do it anyway. Probably some psycho-analysis is needed here for these two divergent and opposing thoughts.

Anyway, she said, "You really ought to consider getting this published in Forum. They could use material like this. I have been trying to condense some of the princples in Al-Anon and this chart helps quite a bit."

So my fear was not even close to appearing real.

Anyway, I will try to explain what the PowerPoint diagram actually depicts. And before I do, I must tell you there are no short cuts. This diagram just represents to me - one thing - we need to work on ourselves and not allow our minds to drift to the negative, as it is so easy for this to happen in the environment in which we live.

The Al-Anon Talk
On the left hand side is where our mind may tend to go and actually live - The Negative Thinking side.

Before I went into describing the diagram, I read from two of the Al-Anon books, as a set up and where a lot of my information is derived. Here are the passages.

From the book "How Al-Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics" p32.

. . . "We don't realize that, by playing our part, we actually contribute to sustaining the disease of alcoholism. We may serve as enabler, rescuing the alcoholic from unpleasant consequences of his or her own making. Or we may play the victim, unwillingly stepping in and covering for the alcoholic who is too drunk or hung over to fulfill job or family responsibilities.

. . . "By recovering from the effects of the disease, we become able to stop playing our part in the family disease. The balance is disrupted. Suddenly it is no longer comfortable for the the alcoholic."

From the book "Hope for Today"
I am doing this from memory, as I do not have the book in front of me. So this is my interpretation. The actual page it is from is page 47 (earlier I said page 99 - not even close);

"We go into our mind, and pass through neighborhoods that are bad, neighborhoods where we should not pass through alone, for we know what these neighborhoods look like because we have been there many times before with poor results.

"This is a time for us to call our sponsor, an Al-Anon friend, read Al-Anon literature, meditate."

The PowerPoint Diagram Explained:
What I am depicting is a representation of where our mind can lead us, and how controlling people, situations and things are outside of our control. And control may be or lead to the factors under "Negative Thinking" - while there are accelerants that continue to harm us and harm us faster as noted under the heading "Feeding Negativity."

You will also notice that the Negative Thinking diagram is a dashed line, representing things "oozing out," like a wound (sorry - that is graphic - it is not what I said by the way).

While under the Reframe which leads to Positive Thinking, the focus is on ourselves and what we really can control, and how focusing on this side actually makes us better. This therefore can disrupt the cycle of addiction - or at least keep us from adding fuel to the addiction and the chaos.

The line around this diagram is solid. It is about keeping the work focused on ourselves. Making it an "inside job." This is not to say we should isolate ourselves.

In this case, it is "all about us." For once. Focus on ourselves. Work on us. It is important to know we matter.

The End. And We All Lived Happy, Normal Lives

OK. That was sarcastic. I need to read more.


More Stuff and Thoughts

Under Miscellaneous

A little humor:
By the way, what if we had bumper stickers made up, with "Stop the Drama" printed up on them? Would others "get it?"

Under the category: Do you think country singers are codependent?

Here's a song title that says it all : "The worst you ever gave me, was the best I ever had."


Our On-Line Al-Anon Weekend Meeting

This weekend's meeting on-line was another smash hit, with user viewing count hovering again at just under 300!

Our Thanks to Catherine for the Finances & Money topic. I learned a lot and saw myself in the comments of many people. Please take a look at this and any one of the other meetings we held on-line for the past several weeks.

You can view this meeting and others by going to the Right Hand side of this blog and look under Past On-Line Meetings. There you will find the dates and the subjects covered.

My Personal Note To You (& Me):
Realize many of us are in pain, for many different reasons. Some of us have been neglected. Some of us have been unloved. Some of us have been abused. Some of us are living in chaos and crisis. Some of us do not know how we are going to make it to the next day. We've all been there in one form or another.

But here are a couple of key points I wish to make:The alcoholic can make you feel like you are the rotten one - the bad person. Here is what a counselor told me one day, and it has stuck in my mind and I think it is appropriate for all of us in our situation, for we all feel shame and blame, but here are his words, exactly:

"You are not an evil one."

I don't use this to blame my spouse, but only to remember that this disease is hideous. There is a saying used by psychologists; "Alcoholism is a cunning, baffling and powerful."

Actually the term comes from AA directly from The Big Book. Near the start of chapter 5 (page 58 ) it says "Remember that we deal with alcohol - cunning, baffling, powerful."

Remember, you are not to blame. And you are not the cause. And you cannot change it nor cure it.


Anonymous said...

Thank you soooo very much for this blog. As a mother and wife, I would not know what to do if I didn't have this to read every day. Sometimes, I come back to it several times a day, just to get an attitude adjustment.

No one knows the pressures of living if they are not in the house with a full-blown alcoholic. Even when they are sober, the mood is aweful. My two children have felt this pressure or something like the "Dark Cloud" article you wrote about a few weeks before. My children have said as much. And they are so young.

It is like an atmospheric pressue system pressing against the house and our state of minds. Like a barometer, it is just horrible.

Is there any way you can discuss or someone discuss the "Dry Drunk?" term I have heard about? Even though my husband says he has been sober for the past 8 weeks, it is still nerve racking.

Syd said...

Joe, my mind can lead me to some bad places but I've learned that I don't have to stay there. I can use the tools of the program to move on. I know how to get out of what hurts me--it's my thinking that takes me down. Thanks for the post.

Francy said...

I am an addict in recovery and grateful for getting well. I was ordered by the court to attend a 6 month residential treatment center for women, because there was an open bed. The clients there are mostly ones right out of prison. I have not ever been to any residential treatment nor have I ever been in trouble for anything to do with drugs. No record or posession, or any drug offense ever. I voluntarilly told the courts that I had used drugs. I did not ever want to go to a program like this. Can I go to the county for a 28 day residential or Drug Rehab treatment instead of a 6 month one with women prisoners? I am very uncomefortable & I have alot to loose, financially & emotionally? Please resond to my e-mail. thanks

Joe said...

Francy - this is out of my knowledge and experience. I would connect with a lawyer or check with one of the counselors there.

I wish you well.

Laurie said...

Joe - Stop the Drama...I get it because I realized it applied to me when I put down the magnifying glass and looked in the mirror instead. I wrote about it in detail on my blog.

Thanks for your openess in sharing your experiences!

Catherine said...

@ anonymous: I've heard the term "dry drunk" used to describe someone who has stopped drinking without the help of the 12 steps. My father-in-law is an example. He drank for 15 or 20 years, and then just quit. This is wonderful for his health, of course, but he hasn't confronted any of the emotional issues associated with being an alcoholic: he's still emotionally unavailable to his family, he avoids anything perceived to be a confrontation, he's never taken responsibility for what he put everyone through, and he still has a codependent woman to cover his ass.

I totally agree that people who have not lived with alcoholism don't really get it. I've found going to meetings a good way for me to relieve the pressure because those people really get it. Good luck to you!

Francy said...

Nice Blog!
Almost all addicts tell themselves in the beginning that they can conquer their addiction on their own without the help of outside resources. Unfortunately, this is not usually the case. When an addict makes an attempt at detoxification and to discontinue drug use without the aid of professional help, statistically the results do not last long. Research into the effects of long-term addiction has shown that substantial changes in the way the brain functions are present long after the addict has stopped using drugs. Realizing that a drug addict who wishes to recover from their addiction needs more than just strong will power is the key to a successful recovery.So I want to go to Drug Rehab. Battling not only cravings for their drug of choice, re-stimulation of their past and changes in the way their brain functions, it is no wonder that quitting drugs without professional help is an uphill battle.

As an organization we are dedicated to finding the correct solution for your specific addiction problem. Our referral list contains over 3,000 resources which encompass the following treatment categories :

Anonymous said...

I've recently become engaged to a substance or alcohol abuser. I'm not sure which is true of him as he hides it so well but the fact that he has begun to steal money, I'm starting to believe it's more than alcohol. I love my fiance very much and I'm trying my hardest to be there for him but I don't know how. I mean he admits he needs help and speaks so positive strong one moment and the next he goes drinking and vomiting for hours. Please give me some advice on how to be there for him and strong for the both of us. I've found an AAA meeting that I plan to take him to as our first step. But when do you say enough is enough. His behavior is becoming increasingly worse.

Joe said...

To Anonymous - if you are still on-line go to the front of this blog and post a comment here. You will get an outpouring of advice.

My advice; Go to Al-Anon. You cannot cure your fiance. He needs to get help. We have all been there. He has an addiction - whether it is drugs or alcohol. It is not him that is bad - but the addiction has created a "new" stronger - different person. You are dealing with 2 people now, bascially. The one you love and the addict. It is not uncommon for an addict to steal. It is the addiction.

You may think you are strong and you can change him/cure him. You cannot. I am waaaay stronger that you. And I cannot cure my wife. (I mean no offense and I don't mean to challenge you to a throwdown wrestling match, but I am 6'3" and 220, and my wife is MUCH smaller. I am also a brilliant, articulate, debator and persuader. AND I get my ass-kicked every time I engage.

Come to today's post and ask for help and advice.

My best to you


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