M(3), 6/27/16: Breaking the Chain

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Already we are heading into the month of July… incredible!

Because it is the end of the month, we read from the book Forming True Partnerships:  How AA members use the program to improve relationships.  The story was from the chapter “The Family,” and talked about the author’s relationship with her alcoholic father in three stages:

I.  When her father was actively drinking and she was a child

II.  When her father got sober and her drinking took off

III.  The relationship they were able to build in sobriety.

A fascinating read for most everyone; even the attendees who did not have alcoholic parents could relate, as everyone in the room had someone in their family who suffers/suffered from the disease of addiction.

Part I mirrored my own childhood:  the shame that goes along with a parent’s alcoholic behavior, the sure knowledge of a personality change the moment a drink is consumed, the uncertainty of knowing which personality would be walking in the door each evening.

I loved reading about the beautiful relationship the author was able to build with her father once she started getting sober.  My father passed away years before even my active addiction, but I have daydreamed often about how he and I might relate now that I am sober.  I’d like to think we would have forged a deeper and more meaningful relationship that we ever had.

And I also believe that he is proud of me, wherever he is.

Some of the other members of the meeting touched on childhood shame surrounding parents and alcoholism, and learning how to discern between the person and the disease.  Several with alcoholic parents remarked that they were always able to do this; they could love their mother or father but hate the effects alcohol had on him or her.

This point stood out to me, as I recently had a discussion with a close friend about this very idea:  loving the person, but hating the disease.  It made me wonder if I had been able to make this distinction with my own father.

The truth is, I’m not sure I ever thought consciously about it while he was alive; I just hadn’t developed enough self-awareness at that young an age.

Then I thought to myself:  do I make that distinction for myself, and my addiction?  I will have to ponder this some more, but I’m sorry to say I’m not sure I do.  At this point, a few years into sobriety, I can say I no longer experience the raw shame of my actions in active addiction, but I think that is because I feel like I’ve rectified to the best of my ability by living each of these past 1600 or so days sober.  And as I thought about it further, and considered some of the “lesser” demons I’m trying to conquer, I’m not sure I am separating myself from my actions.  When I intend to eat well, exercise and drink lots of water, then fail to do so, I feel bad about myself, I don’t separate out the action from the person.

And as I write that I see it for the old thinking that it is, and I realize there is work yet for me to do.  Good thing I wasn’t looking to graduate anytime soon.


There were two women new to sobriety present at the meeting, and both are experiencing struggles as they try to navigate life sober.  One woman’s story in particular spoke to me.  She has less than a month sober, and is battling a few things at once.  First, she has adult children living in her home who still drink.  So there is the challenge of going into the fridge for a bottle of water, and finding it standing next to a six-pack of beer.

Due to a medical condition, she is responsible for driving her husband everywhere he needs to go, and thus finds social situations that involve drinking to be a challenge.

Finally, her adult children want to know why, even though she has been to rehab, been to outpatient therapy, been to a counselor, and is attending meetings, why would she still be sad and struggling?

I am indignant on this woman’s behalf, which of course does her no good.  What I could do, and what a couple of us did after the meeting, is share what worked for us in early sobriety.  Probably the greatest piece of advice I can give (completely and utterly from the rear view mirror, mind you) is this:  ask for help.  Tell people what you need.  Set some boundaries.  People who aren’t afflicted with the disease have zero concept of its trials and tribulations, and it is wrong for us to think otherwise.

Do whatever you need to stay sober, even if it feels selfish to the extreme.  Early sobriety is not a life sentence; you will get more comfortable with time.  But to acquire that time you need to put yourself first.  Failing to do so puts your sobriety in peril.

I’m hoping to see my friend next week with a report that she was able to negotiate some breathing room for herself.

That’s all I’ve got this beautiful summer day!

Today’s Miracle:

I will count mindful organization as the miracle of the moment.  There’s a lot going on in my household this week, and what’s keeping me sane is a list, and reminding myself to stay in the moment.  It truly is a miracle when you take the time to appreciate the here and now!

Posted on June 27, 2016, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Yikes–the end of June already! A great post, really needed this today 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome advice.
    So often we are unwilling to vocalize our needs. We don’t want to make a fuss or show weakness. But, I know when I act like this, a small part of me desperately cries to be seen.
    How can anyone see what we hide? Confusing and frustrating for all.

    I’ve been learning to ask for help, and to stop justifying why I need it. I just do.

    Thanks!

    Anne

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I blimmin’love reading your posts every Monday. (My ‘take away’ from your post this week is…mindful organisation. I could do with it!) Sincere thanks for sharing each week. Love from The Sober Garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you, Josie!
    Other people don’t understand how hard it is, and how much courage it takes to get and stay sober.
    xo
    Wendy

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Asking for help. Staking out some personal space. Boundaries. Separating yourself from your affliction…all such sage, life-affirming advice…I love reading your blog each week Josie.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Serenity now! Thank you for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The thing about her adult children wondering why she’s still struggling struck a nerve here. I’ve had that same experience with a still-drinking loved one and remember feeling defective at the time. Maybe they feel powerless or they just don’t get it. We get it though, those of us who are also sober. I’m reading this and grateful for your meeting and that this woman found it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know a bunch of people, both in meetings and in the blogosphere, that share this issue. I can only imagine the challenge it presents to have a loved one who seems to doubt the struggle (is real, you know I had to write it!). In this particular case she has A LOT more power than she realizes, she is just hesitant to use it for whatever reason. I’m sure it helps a lot to know that there are many in this world made sobriety happen in spite of obstacles such as these. It’s an even greater accomplishment! Thanks for the comment, as always, hope you are enjoying your holiday!

      Like

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