Sunday, November 16, 2014

Don't lecture, blame, or scold me......

Open Letter from the Alcoholic
I am an alcoholic. I need your help.

Don't lecture, blame or scold me. You wouldn't be angry with me for having cancer or diabetes. Alcoholism is a disease, too.

Don't pour out my liquor; it's just a waste because I can always find ways of getting more.

Don't let me provoke your anger. If you attack me verbally or physically, you will only confirm my bad opinion abut myself. I hate myself enough already.

Don't let your love and anxiety for me lead you into doing what I ought to do for myself. If you assume my responsibilities, you make my failure to assume them permanent. My sense of guilt will be increased, and you will feel resentful.

Don't accept my promises. I'll promise anything to get off the hook. But the nature of my illness prevents me from keeping my promises, even though I mean them at the time.

Don't make empty threats. Once you have made a decision, stick to it.

Don't believe everything I tell you; it may be a lie. Denial of reality is a symptom of my illness. Moreover, I'm likely to lose respect for those I can fool too easily.

Don't let me take advantage of you or exploit you in any way. Love cannot exist for long without the dimension of justice.

Don't cover up for me or try in any way to spare me the consequences of my drinking. Don't lie for me, pay my bills, or meet my obligations. It may avert or reduce the very crisis that would prompt me to seek help. I can continue to deny that I have a drinking problem as long as you provide an automatic escape for the consequences of my drinking.

Above all, do learn all you can about alcoholism and your role in relation to me. Go to open AA meetings when you can. Attend Al-Anon meetings regularly, read the literature and keep in touch with Al-Anon members. They're the people who can help you see the whole situation clearly.

I love you.

Your Alcoholic

This is a piece of literature from my Alanon program....obviously some of us need to replace the word "alcohol" with drugs....or whatever our loved ones drug of choice is. The words that have been playing over and over in my head this time around are, "don't lecture, blame or scold me." And then...."I already hate myself enough."

I used to be a big lecturer, blamer and scolder and it got us absolutely no where. It didn't change a pin dot of anything.....except to add a heavier burden of guilt to my girl, and a heavier burden of anger and frustration to me. We both would leave each other feeling miserable, mad and guilty and shamed.

So this time especially, any contact I have with her, I have that sentence running through my mind. It must be a God thing....because I certainly haven't willed it to be so. "Accept her, don't lecture, blame, or scold her. She feels bad enough about herself already."

That means that a lot of the time I am quiet, or I say those stock phrases that we learn... "I know honey, I'm so sorry." Or "That sounds like its really hard." Or "I know you can figure this out."

The other night we had a dinner date planned. I was to pick her up on my way up from work. I got to the pick up spot and she wasn't there. I texted her and she had forgotten and had some reasons why etc and asked me if I wanted to come to where she was.....miles away from the meeting spot. In my early years, I would have dashed off to get there and see her as fast as I could. This time I said, "No, its ok. We will try again another night. I love you sweet girl, be safe." She answered with, "Ok mama. I'm sorry." It really was ok though. Her behavior is that of a person who is stuck in the sickness of addiction. Why would I expect any different at this point? Why would I think that if I yell loud enough at her, or scold her, or lecture her, pointing out all of the trouble she has caused and the danger she is putting herself in.....why would I think that would change anything? Even when her behavior is inappropriate or rough or loud....I don't have to join in. I can be quiet.

I know that receiving love, grace and compassion when I felt like I least deserved it, changed me. I am not God and I can't change her heart....but I can be a conduit of His love, grace, and compassion for her if I am willing to lay down my own ideas of how it should all be done and just do what is in front of me....and that is to keep loving my girl. To firmly but gently set my boundaries in love. To detach *from her disease* with love.



Anonymous said...

Annette, I agree that lectures, scolding and blaming don't work. However, with my son, reasoning and simple, normal conversations don't seem to work very well either. We don't have the natural give and take that I have in communication with other people. This is so frustrating to me. He keeps himself ignorant by not listening to other people.


Anonymous said...

Just lovely, Annette. I could so identify with that letter. To a "T". It is written out of love, and I am so glad that it is used in Alanon.

Even more lovely was how you handled things in your situation. You didn't lay blame, or get emotional or attack. You accepted (not always easy) and just detached. You are certainly living the program and it shows. Wonderful.


SoberMomWrites said...

We really do hate ourselves so I love that you have that running through your head when you are dealing with your beautiful girl. I also love when you say "receiving love, grace and compassion when I felt like I least deserved it, changed me" because that's what made me finally put down the glass...the unconditional love of my family.

I've got tears in my eyes remembering what that did for me and how it felt. I hope your girl can feel it also.


Annette said...

Holly, I understand. Drug addicts are often unreasonable and their perceptions are off due to so many factors. I think though, that its more about me. Its not so much about their response anymore. They are going to do what they are going to do...but I can choose how to respond. For today I am choosing not to lecture, blame, or scold and to keep loving unconditionally.

Honey said...

This post was so timely for me today Annette! I read quite a few blogs and find that the one's with the most insight are written by the people with their own recovery program. As you know, I don't blog myself but I would love to email you some time and "chat". Bless you and your Family on this most beautiful day.

Syd said...

The Letter from the Alcoholic is one of my favorite pieces of literature. Very powerful. And there is nothing I can or have said that makes a difference with someone who is in the throes of alcoholism. I can only detach with love. I know that now but it took me a very long time to get it.