Part of recovery means learning to share ourselves with other people. We learn to admit our mistakes and expose our imperfections - not so that others can fix us, rescue us, or feel sorry for us, but so we can love and accept ourselves. This sharing is a catalyst in healing and changing.
Many of us are fearful of sharing our imperfections because that makes us vulnerable. Some of us have tried being vulnerable in the past, and people tried to control, manipulate, or exploit us, or they made us feel ashamed.
Some of us in recovery have hurt ourselves by being vulnerable. We may have shared things with people who didn't respect our confidence. Or we may have told the wrong people at an inappropriate time, and scared them away.
We learn from our mistakes - and despite our mistakes, it is still a good thing to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and honest. We can learn to choose safe people with whom to share ourselves. We can learn to share appropriately, so we don't scare or push people away. We can also learn to let others be vulnerable with us.
Today, God, help me learn to be appropriately vulnerable. I will not let others exploit or shame me for being vulnerable, and I will not exploit myself.
I Found A Healthy Way To Relate To My Dad
I’d be glad to share what’s helped me deal with Dad’s drinking since the intervention five and a half years ago—let him live the way he wants, without my interference (as painful as that is to say). The paradox I’ve learned is that the best way to help Dad is to not help him (lol).
I’ve learned that what’s most helpful for an alcoholic I love (such as Dad) and for myself, is not to get in the way of him hitting bottom. Cleaning up Dad’s messes only encouraged him to believe he could continue his destructive behavior without consequences. Meanwhile, I observe that it makes everyone around him who are cleaning up for him more resentful. Letting him experience the full consequences of his behavior is the goal I’m working towards—even if it means loss of his health, money, or reputation. The only way he will want to change is if the consequences of his drinking become too much for him to bear.
I admit today that I can’t motivate Dad. It’s got to come from within him. But what I can do is let him hit that bottom, so that motivation becomes a possibility for him. He may die before that happens, but if he does hit his bottom, he’ll truly want recovery for himself, rather than feel forced.
As a family member, throughout my life I have relieved him of the consequences of his actions by trying to force or manipulate him to get help. I’ve made excuses for his appalling behavior, and covered up his irresponsible acts. I’m working to change that.
As I said in my previous e-mail, that is my goal today—to stay out of the drama of Dad’s and other family members’ lives, and start living my own life. I’m just beginning this process, but I find that I am getting better. I feel better, calmer, and saner.
I learned all this in Al‑Anon. It’s simply people getting together and sharing from their heart their experiences of what helped them deal with the alcoholics in their lives. In Al‑Anon, I found a level of honesty, compassion, empathy, and support that I’ve never found before in my life. It was such a comfort when they said to me that anything I said there would be kept in confidence, even the fact that I attended the meeting.
What I do on the outside doesn’t matter at all, nor do I need to mention it. I’m an equal in there. There’s no requirement for membership either, except that there’s alcoholism in a relative or friend. It doesn’t cost anything. Anything contributed is voluntary. From my first meeting five and a half years ago, I felt my life changed dramatically from that moment. I’m not alone anymore with my issues, feelings, and thoughts.
I needed a day-to-day program to help me cope with Dad. That’s where Al‑Anon has helped me tremendously. It’s giving me a new way to relate to Dad that doesn’t make me crazy.
Hope that helps. I love you brother and I wish you all the best.
This is my response to my brother’s e-mail asking me to help him plan a second intervention for our father (the alcoholic) who has refused help in the past, and is still active in his alcoholism. While I found help six years ago in Al‑Anon and have learned to detach from my dad, my brother is still caught up in trying to save
Jamison B., Ontario November 2013
Reprinted with permission of The Forum
Al-Anon Family Groups Incorporated, Virginia Beach, VA
Today's Hope is an Al-Anon themed site and is not affiliated with Al-Anon's World Service Office. The daily sharings contain a reading from Al-Anon's Conference Approved publication The Forum, an inspirational quote/saying and a recovery based reading/meditation. The intent of Today's Hope is to share experience, strength and hope. Please take what you like and leave the rest.