Many families have suffered because of the drinking or drugging of a family member. After years of pleading and angry confrontations the alcoholic or addict finally enters the program. Over time, one can see that they are doing better on many levels. They relatively quickly regain their health. Their work situation also improves as well. The non addict family members breathe a sigh of relief and hopes they can now move forward; closing an unfortunate chapter in their lives.
To their dismay, there are still many problems in their relationship with the now sober spouse, parent or child. Although they put down their drug of choice, an entirely new set of problems begins to emerge. Upon investigation, the “non addict” realizes that addiction was a family disease. Certain family dynamics were established during the years of alcohol, drug or food abuse. Many of the so called “innocent” spouses, parents or children weren’t so innocent after all. Perhaps they were enablers or deniers. They realized that they needed help as well to deal with their role in the family disease of alcoholism and addiction. They needed to admit that they were powerless over their addict family member. That’s when they walked through the doors of Alanon or Naranon and began their own recovery journey.
Personal Reflection: Do I as the non addict work my own program of recovery?
We are going to have our toes stepped on in life. It is totally unavoidable. While we were active, this seemed to happen a lot to us. Very rarely would we immediately forgive someone for a perceived personal affront. Part of the reason this was the case is because we saw intent behind most actions. “You did it to me”‘ we exclaimed. We assumed that whatever had taken place was done on purpose. At a minimum, we gave people the silent treatment. We also often seethed in resentment. If we really felt the victim, we spent time planning our revenge for what you had done to us.
In sobriety these scenarios have largely changed. When things happen to us, we no longer immediately assume they were done on purpose. We accept that sometimes accidents occur. As a result we are quick to forgive others. Even when it appears that someone has truly treated us unfairly, and we find ourselves in resentment, we have tools that help us relieve those feelings. Sharing with our sponsor or at a meeting is especially helpful. We are also able to step back and examine what our role was in creating the issue. We certainly no longer waste time thinking about revenge. We have better things to do with our day.
Personal Reflection: Do thoughts of revenge eat up my day?
Many of us were comfort junkies. For much of our lives we had taken the path of least resistance. Rather than asking our boss for a raise, we avoided the anticipated confrontation. Perhaps we didn’t go to college because we thought it was going to be too much work. Maybe we remained in unhealthy relationships because the thought of breaking up was too painful for us to imagine. And so it went. To assist us in our search for comfort, we found our drug of choice. Whenever we felt distress over something, we immediately turned to alcohol, drugs or food to dampen its impact.
We had a bit of a shock when we entered the program. Other members were not the least bit concerned about their comfort or ours for that matter. We were quickly informed that if we wanted to become sober, we would have to go to any length to do so. That included doing some things that might make us extremely uncomfortable. We went to meetings even when we were dead tired. We called our sponsor even when the topic of conversation might be embarrassing for us. We took a coffee commitment even though it was far below our skill set. As time went on, life began to become a more comfortable experience for us.
Personal Reflection: Do I need to push through my discomfort?
Many of us grew up with feelings of not belonging. We were very uncomfortable in social situations; often finding ourselves tongue tied. As result of these feelings we lacked self confidence. Some of us isolated. Others became extremely co-dependent. Then there were those of us that overcompensated and became the life of the party while still carrying those feelings of not belonging.
Of course all of that changed when we found our drug of choice. It’s not that our discomfort disappeared, it was just covered over by alcohol, drugs or food. Eventually, they stopped working and all of those feeling of not belonging returned.
In sobriety, there is no magic cure. Yes,thing have really gotten better, but we still find ourselves feeling uncomfortable from time to time. It’s just that today we realize that most of what we are feeling is quite normal. There will be situations where we feel some fear or anger. It’s part of everyday life. The difference is that we no longer have to drink or drug over it. We can be comfortable in our discomfort. After that, we utilize the tools of the program to get to a better place.
Personal Reflection: Have I truly become comfortable in my discomfort?
Almost all who came into the program found step one to be quite doable. In step one we simply admitted that our lives had become unmanageable and we were powerless. Given the way our life was going at that time, it wasn’t much of a stretch to accept this step. For many of us, we found step two to be a greater hurdle. How could we believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. What proof did we have that G-d existed anyway. We had never seen or spoken to a Higher Power. Even more to the point, on many occasions we had promised G-d that we would stop using if he got us out of a jam. Either he wasn’t listening or didn’t exist because we took our lumps along the way. And how about the fact that bad things happened to good people. Where was G-d when that happened?
As we gained sobriety, we began to understand that faith was not something which was proof based. Furthermore, there really was no explanation as to why certain things happened in the world. As we accepted our powerlessness our trust in a power greater than ourselves slowly evolved. Trust did not require proof, just an open mind.
Personal Reflection: How deep is my trust in a Higher Power?
Sit in at any meeting and observe the faces of members. For the most part most of of us are in a fairly positive state. This is often in proportion to how rigorously we work the program. Of course, there will be times where life events challenge us. Like anyone else, we feel the stress of these moments. However, once this rough patch has passed, we in short order return to our usual state.
Then there are those who walk around like they lost their best friend. They rarely crack a smile. When they share, they usually end up complaining about their life situation. Usually, they attribute what is happening in their life to others. They feel they are victims of circumstance. If people only understood them and would comply with their wishes, then their lives would finally take a turn for the better. Of course this rarely happens. Even when on occasion it does, they quickly find something else to complain about. Their speech is peppered with negativity and sarcasm. They are miserable and have no problem letting you know it.
In the program we have learned not to attempt to rescue these people. They need to reach their bottom and come to a realization that they are responsible for how they feel. What we can do is pray for them that they have a spiritual awakening.
Personal Reflection: Do I need to pray for anyone who thinks they are a victim?
Everything in this world is in a state of change. Millions of cells in your body are being replaced as you read this. The weather of course varies from day to day and even from moment to moment. Aging is perhaps one of the greatest signposts of change.
Yet, as human beings we often grapple with change. This is particularly evident within our emotional world. Many of us struggle with negative emotions which have dogged us since we were children. That temper tantrum of yesteryear, manifests as road rage today. Perhaps the average person can get away without making changes to some of those negative attributes. Those of us who are addicts or alcoholics can not afford the luxury of complacency. We need to be diligent in identifying our character defects. These very same defects of character, if left unattended will eventually cause us to go out. That is why we make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, to help identify where work needs to take place.. There is also a recognition that left to our own devices; changing or removing our shortcomings is practically impossible. It is for this reason that we call upon our Higher Power on a constant basis to remove those defects of character.
Personal Reflection: How have I changed in recovery?