What is New?


June 23: edited my post on Gaslighting to insert a link to a very good video by psychologist, Ross Rosenberg, explaining how gaslighting starts in childhood, and how to heal from parents who gaslight.

June 6: PBS's Frontline takes on the issue of human sex trafficking of abducted teenage girls in the Phoenix, Arizona area. Click HERE for that.

May 17: Turpin parents get 25 years to life for abusing their children. Final words from children and parents at sentencing. Click HERE for that.

Friday, April 18, 2014

hitting rock bottom in Alanon

name of cartoon/illustration: Hitting Rock Bottom in Alanon
image is ©2014 Lise Winne
(for information regarding licensing any images contact LilacGroveGraphics (att) yahoo.com)

Note: I am writing this post on 3/25/14, though I probably won't publish it until I have finished with some other posts waiting in the wings, so the date published by Blogger for the post will be different from the date I actually wrote it.

When a person starts going to Alcoholics Anonymous, it is said that they have hit rock bottom. 

It is said that when a person finally goes to Alanon, they have hit rock bottom as well. But from what I have noticed personally, it seems to come after a year in the program as the "spinning out of control" keeps gaining momentum, especially as the person in the program learns that he/she cannot control the drinking of the alcoholic -- ever -- and that they need to figure out what kind of life they are going to have (after having gained that knowledge) and how to set boundaries (as alcoholics generally have rage issues, disabilities, work-related issues). The Alanon member has to decide whether they are going to stay or leave the family member with the alcohol problem. Hitting bottom starts when the person realizes he cannot change other people and can no longer take the weight of the dysfunctional communications and relationships and takes the focus off of the alcoholic and the circle of excusers and enablers around the alcoholic. For every alcoholic, their disease directly impacts, on average, 16 other people. It is like a domino effect: the alcoholic's reactions keep radiating out and out and out...  

This is just one instance of how bad things can get by living with an alcoholic (and they can even get worse than that example). Imagine if there are children involved. Now it effects them as well. If they are married with children of their own: more people. It can radiate to children and parents of the alcoholic, siblings of the alcoholic, spouses of the children, spouses of the siblings, the grandchildren, step families, etc).

For instance, an elderly father, Mr. Bean, enables a beloved favorite son, Vincent. To the father, Vincent's drinking isn't as bad as other family members see it. Drink is part of the culture, right? Vincent has a lot of good qualities: honesty, integrity, a good work ethic (or at least he used to -- but to the father those qualities still exist in his son even if it is only in the father's mind). His son never caused any problems while growing up. In fact, he was a helper around the house and seemed to appreciate the father the most, so he also became the favored child. As with a lot of favored children, Vincent had feelings of entitlement, of playing by different rules.

Vincent has a wife, Carly, who he is divorcing because she began to be a constant nag (or at least that is what Vincent believes). Carly insists that Vincent's drinking and violent rages are the cause of the divorce as well as Mr. Bean enabling Vincent.

Carly's bitter complaints about the drinking seem like total nonsense to Mr. Bean, so he sides with his beloved son, Vincent, in this battle (of course).

Vincent also has four sons of his own. He is on speaking terms with two of them; the other two have ceased speaking to him and complain that he is a bully. Of the two that have ceased speaking to him, one believes that the cause is alcoholism, the other believes that the cause rests in the fact that their grandfather, Mr. Bean, is condoning Vincent's behavior. The two that don't speak to their father, also don't speak to each other (one of them is an alcoholic and the other one abstains and goes to Alanon). They had a falling out when their mother, Carly, became the victim of a domestic violence incidence with Vincent, their father, where she ended up in the hospital.

The two other siblings that still speak to their father are not on speaking terms with the ones who don't speak to their father. They reason that perhaps their father wouldn't have taken to the bottle so much if his sons hadn't pulled away from him.

The sibling that is in Alanon has a daughter that he doesn't want exposed to alcoholics, particularly Vincent. Vincent is drunk all of the time over the holidays and constantly groping the little girl.

Vincent's siblings, who have been verbally abused by Vincent, start blaming each other for "not acting right" ("the not acting right", they reason, is "making" Vincent drink: bunk, of course, because no one can make another person drink). On top of it all, the other siblings start resenting the fact that their alcoholic sibling, Vincent, is wrapping Mr. Bean, the patriarch, around his little finger, robbing him blind, getting bailed out by him and excusing everything including believing all of Vincent's lies.  

There are generations and siblings and cousins all being effected by one man's drinking. And all of it continues on and on (getting more and more toxic) while the one family member is in Alanon trying to find a way out of the pain at knowing his family is in shambles.

More about this dynamic from the Dysfunctional Alcoholic Family Wheel of Abuse.

As the family members argue with each other (common), the Alanon member is more and more ostracized. Hitting rock bottom is when the alcoholic and enablers are so toxic that the Alanon member has nowhere else to turn (usually). Healing starts when he stops worrying about what his family members are trying to do to him and each other (or threatening him with), and he starts working on himself, his own life and in building healthier relationships, even if those relationships have to be outside his own family. He can't change his family, he didn't cause the alcoholic to drink and be abusive, and he can't cure his family from engaging in hurtful behaviors like blaming each other.

Beginning the steps and focusing on oneself instead of the alcoholic is when the Alanon member decides to get well and whole again -- and I haven't seen that from most Alanon newbies until they have been in the program for awhile. It takes time to realize that other people (the alcoholic and his circle of enablers) do not want to change and most likely will refuse to change how they are relating and behaving. It takes awhile to deal with the fallout from that realization too: the obvious one is the grieving process of losing ones family (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) and ones place in the family: a group of people who seem to not want to get well or give voice and compassion to those who are suffering the most from the alcoholic's drinking, rage and abuse.  


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