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How to Survive the Blame Game From Addiction and Family Members

How to Survive the Blame Game From Addiction and Family Members

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Read this Mental health stories. Some tips on how to Survive the Blame Game from Addition and Family Members.
Read this Mental health stories. Some tips on how to Survive the Blame Game from Addition and Family Members.

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Published by: Katrina Holgate Miller on Oct 04, 2010
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05/12/2014

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How to Survive the Blame Game fromAddiction and Family Members
Posted onAugust 17, 2010byKatrina Holgate Miller, PhD  Rita was married to Jimmy for twenty years before she finally “got it.” She had beggedJimmy to stop drinking many times, but wordsdid not change his behaviors. Words such as, “if you want a relationship with me, you will haveto stop drinking,” or “If you keep drinking, youwill die young” appeared to be a waste of  breath. He seemed to crave alcohol as much ashungry people crave food.She realized that she was powerless to changeJimmy. It was not fair that she had to live withthe consequences of having an alcoholdependent husband: Bills that didn’t get paid on time, feeling unsupportedemotionally and financially, having to make excuses for all those times Jimmy did notshow up for work. Rita felt humiliated and lonely all the time. She did not want to getup in the mornings to get slapped around again by her life with Jimmy, but someonehad to support the family.One afternoon, Rita’s friend from work invited her to an Al Anon meeting. Al Anonis sponsored by Alcoholics Anonymous but is attended by the families and friends of  people who drink. Rita called Jimmy and told him that she would be home late; sheand a friend were going to spend some time together. She did not give him thereason.
Focus on Changing Self Rather than Changing Others
Rita’s life changed that very night. She met with a group of seven other women whohad the same issues with their spouses that she was having. Most of them werefurther along in the process, and some of them had already had what she had alwayswanted: A sober husband. She learned from the group that night to let go of trying tochange Jimmy, and to focus on what she herself needed to do to have a good life.That thought of finding satisfaction in her own life, while it could not give her a sober husband, gave her hope—something she had not held in her hands for many years.By the time Rita got home that night, she had determined she was going to stop livingapologetically. Her first order of business was to tell Jimmy where she had been. Sheknew he would lash out at her defensively, which would provide her with a goldenopportunity to show him that his lashing out was no longer going to make her fearful.He could no longer manipulate her by raising his voice or making threats.
 
It did not take long. As soon as she walked in the door, Jimmy confronted her aboutnot being home to make dinner. She agreed she had not been home to make dinner rather than argue about her right to go out with friends. Then she let the secret out:“Jimmy, I went with Renee to an Al Anon meeting. I’ve been aware for some timethat I could not keep pretending that you were going to stop drinking by my beggingand pleading. I am going to stop trying to change you. I’m going to change me—andAl Anon can help me change me.” Though she didn’t now know it, she was settingthe scene for a major life transition that very night.“You’d rather go to Al Anon than make dinner for me or your own children?” Heretorted with more than a slight edge in his voice. Rita had anticipated he would dothis.“I’d rather go to Al Anon and not make dinner for you and my own children than livewith an alcoholic husband. Jimmy, the truth is, I can’t live like this any longer. Idon’t know what I am going to do yet, but I’m certain of what I will not do. I will notstay in this house and argue with you every night about drinking.”“So what are you going to do about it?” Though he was quite shocked by the newRita, he did not want to let on that he took her seriously. His voice still had that “nana nanana” taunting quality to it.“I don’t know. I am going to take it one day at a time and try to make choices thatwill get me and the children into a healthier place.”“If you ever go to that meeting again, I’ll leave!” threatened Jimmy.“I guess you’ll have to do what you’ve got to do.” Rita did not argue with him.The next day Jimmy came home from work to find that Rita, the children, and thefurniture were all gone. She had mustered help from a few friends and a movingcompany and put her furniture in storage. She stopped at the bank and withdrew$5,000 from savings to get the family through until she was working again. She picked up her teenagers from school and they drove to a neighboring state, whereRita’s sister lived. By the time Jimmy got home, Rita and the children were eatingsupper at Rita sister’s house.
Do You Want to Do Some Self-Study?
There are many ways to begin the change process that will lead to freeing self andone’s loved ones from an alcoholic lifestyle. Usually, no single action brings aboutall the change that is necessary. Recovery is a long road for the alcohol dependent person and their family. It is important to remind yourself frequently to “never giveup.” We do possess the power to change, and by changing ourselves, others willchange as well.Do you want to do some self-study on how family members can deal effectively withalcoholism? The sources below are sure to help you find some effective ideas:

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