Friday, May 25, 2012
Do unto others...
I’m a big believer of family programs being offered when an alcoholic comes in for rehabilitation. I believe a solid program should be mandatory as part of the treatment plan. I also believe that any funding via government sources should be reduced if no family program is made available. I also believe that family programs should be covered under private health insurance policies that cover any alcohol treatment programs to the alcoholic. It seems to me that treating the alcoholic without treating the family is similar to removing a damaged appendix without closing the incision. It is a job only halfway done.
One of the misconceptions held by many caregivers or families of alcoholics is that there is some magic set of phrases or some formula that will prevent the alcoholic from returning to drinking. The reality is that there is no such thing. There is only a sense of “doing the right thing.”
I grew up with my grandmother always touting the Golden Rule. Whenever I was angry and wanted to “get back” at someone, I would hear her saying “Do unto others…” She had this keen sense of me wanting to kick over my brother’s truck or pour sand in his boats after they he had done some heinous thing like draw a moustache on my baby dolls face. She knew and she would softly say, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Then I would see her scolding my brother and handing him a cloth to clean the baby dolls face.
Whenever Riley did something heinous to our relationship or to the kids, I always thought out ways to seek my revenge. But, I was never good at it. My attempts often were thwarted by my own hand. I resorted to reason and logic trying to use conversation to make him understand how insane his behavior was. I tried to get him to admit his wrong doings and often he did. He said he was sorry. He said he would try not to do it again. But, more often than not, the bad deed was repeated and I was left with frustration and anger.
I could always hear the words coming from my mouth – things like – he’s a disgrace to fatherhood or a miserable failure as a man or husband. I heard the words and I truly meant each one. But, in the back of my head was my grandmother… “Do unto others…” At those times I thought my grandmother, the strongest woman I have ever known, was just a wimp. I was not about to let some drunk get the better of me. I’d fix him – or tell him just exactly what my thoughts were at that very moment.
20/20 hindsight is a wonderful thing. I can clearly see now that I was not doing anyone any good. I ask myself now, what did I truly want? If I’m honest I would have to say that if he could not be the husband and father that I knew he could be, I rather he just left us. So, if that was what I wanted him to do, why did I not do that myself? Why did I not say – please leave and we can each be on our own?
I know why I didn’t leave for so long. The Navy gave us forced separations for long periods of time. I’m convinced it was the only thing that kept us truly married until I made the decision to not be counterpart anymore. There was also the practicality of it all – money and kids. There are many reasons why we do not leave and they are all very good reasons.
So in staying with the alcoholic, how much good does it do to belittle and badger? NONE! Would I want to be talked to in that manner – absolutely not. Doing unto others also means NOT doing unto them at all. Instead of all the mean hateful things I said, maybe I should have taken a step back and not said anything at all. Maybe I should have found another outlet for my ranting and venting.
Would anything I did keep him from drinking? NO! Nothing I said or did could have kept him from climbing back inside that bottle. Getting back to drunkenness was solely his doing. I had no control over what he does or why he does it. I did not cause him to drink. He might have used me as an excuse, but this responsibility is his and his alone.
If that’s the case, then why am I so adamant about family programs? Because as the family and potential caretaker, we must come to know and understand that we have no control, that we did not cause, nor can we cure the alcoholism. The reason WHY the alcoholic started drinking or what makes them choose alcohol over the family is really of no consideration. An alcoholic drinks because he/she is an alcoholic. It’s that simple which makes it hard to understand.
Family programs can offer insight as to what to do next – after the acceptance that we are not to blame. They can teach us about detachment and offer a means to finding out just what the passion is that lives inside us all outside of the alcoholic insanity. They can remind us of the Golden Rule and they can provide valuable biological insight of alcoholism. If we know what to expect, we are better prepared for the ramifications. Knowledge is the key to survival. Family programs can provide that knowledge.
at 7:30 AM