Thursday, October 25, 2007

It's not all about me?

When we are drinking, the world tends to revolve around us. It's about our problems, our insecurities, our irresponsibility. Many times, we are so deep into ourselves that the impact of our alcoholism on those around us tends to become trivialized.

I remember being told by friends and particular family members that they thought I may have a drinking problem early on. One example, in college, when a group of friends got me in a room and pressed me to curb my wildness. I did not comply. Another time, a family member threatened to oust me if I did not seek help. Again, I did not comply. I simply blew them off. What did they know? They couldn't POSSIBLY understand my needs and turmoil. My thinking was that no one person understood my desperate attempts to avoid my life. As my addiction progressed, my failure to heed any advice became more apparent and I simply avoided anyone who tried to help.

Toward the very end of my drinking life, I found myself secluding myself completely. I was angry at everyone and trusted no one, including myself. And, in alcoholism, it was about me. It was entirely up to me to end my life as an irresponsible woman. It was entirely my choice to stop drinking, because I finally saw what everyone else had been seeing for years. A confused, angry, depressed child who never let go of her past mistakes and misgivings. And that realization is what caused me to move my life in a different direction.

So many times, people who are close to or live with an alcoholic ask me "What can I do to get him or her to stop?" or "What can I do differently?" and "I feel so responsible".

In reality, the person who is responsible for his or her drinking is also the person responsible for getting sober. As someone close to him or her, it is easy to confuse enabling an alcoholic with helping them. It affects every one's life and it is so difficult to know that someone is going through such tumultuous cycles and there is little the outside person can do. There are ways to cope, however. Support groups, on-line resources and books to just help the non-alcoholic deal with the alcoholic. And those resources are for you to know that you are not alone.

From this side, I wish I had listened to all the people that had told me. I regret it every day of my life. I regret the pain and anguish I caused so many different relationships throughout the years. And I cringe at times at all the worry and stress I inflicted on those who loved me so much. But I also know that nothing mattered to me but erasing everyone from my addictive mind. I was so desperate to be helped but so deep into myself that I didn't know how to get out.

From your side, it becomes a matter of providing as much support as you are able. If an alcoholic is all about them, they may take your advice but the denial may be too great.

Today, I have someone in my life who has a drinking problem and I am now on this side. I worry and think about this person every day, hearing reports about a stint with sobriety that usually doesn't last very long. I go to sleep at night and pray that I will not have a message on my phone. I comb the papers everyday to ensure this person is still alive. And the emotional toll is great because I caused pain to this person in my days of drinking, leading to the demise in our relationship. But, there is a point in which I had to understand that everyone makes their own choices. As much time as I spend worrying, this person is where I was a long time ago....inside their own addiction. Ideally, if this person approached me, I would be there. If this person needed anything, I would be there. The only thing I can do is keep that door open, hold this to my heart and hope that the day will come when life begins for this person as well.

Hope and faith in people's strength is amazing. We know that change needs to come, at times, we just need to find the strength within ourselves.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I just wanna say thanks so much for these blogs. I just read them and it puts so much of what I'm feeling into words. I'm 20 and after over 7 years of destroying myself and everyone around me through alcohol and drugs I realise its just not right. I've only been clean for 7 weeks but I feel hopeful...thank you.