Wednesday, January 28, 2015
I was honored to have participated in Perri Peltz’s Show on SiriusXM Stars yesterday. I was in excellent company with Peter Santoro of LESC, Dr. Mark Willenbring of Alltyr, and Dr. George Koob of the NIAAA. I want to send out a special thank you to Perri Peltz for inviting me to her show.
Over the next few posts I’m going to be expounding on the questions I was asked during the program. The answers as so much deeper than a few seconds response can cover. This particular post is also a bit of a continuation to my previous post “What’s normal anyway…”
I was asked why spouses/families stay or continue to try to help the alcoholic in their life. My simplified answer was that it was like the Frog Soup Syndrome. In case you are not familiar the theory is that if you put a frog in a pan of hot water it will jump out immediately. If you put the same frog in a pan of cold water and slowly bring the water to a boil the frog will stay in the pan and eventually become frog soup.
By the same theory if we think what we are doing is “normal” and continues to do what feels normal but add a few things here and there it will continue to be normal for us. After years of being on that particular level of normalcy, we may eventually discover that we are actually so far away from normal that we don’t even recognize the state we are really in. It could possibly be the state of frog soup. That’s when the spouse hits themselves on the forehead and screams “What was I thinking?”
Often times the hit on the forehead is accompanied with the realization that the alcoholic is now too sick to be on his/her own. Leaving him/her now would be like leaving a person dying of some incurable disease along the side of the road and driving off. It often feels immoral to just walk away.
There are a lot of reasons why people stay with in a relationship riddled with alcoholic insanity. Some stay because they love the alcoholic – or rather – the person the alcoholic was before the alcohol took over the brain. Others stay for practical reasons such as being unable to afford to live without a joint income. Many spouses say they took vows when they married and to leave would be in violation of those vows. And still others stay because they can’t find a way to climb out of that pan of frog soup.
I took my husband back into my home to protect my daughter from moving her nearly-dead alcoholic father into her home. I had stayed married to him and he was my responsibility – not hers.
The bottom line is that the answer is not cut and dry. There is no absolute correct path. There are as many reasons for a person staying in (or going from) a relationship with an alcoholic as there are reasons for doing anything we do in life. Sometimes we make choices about staying or going even when it may appear that we are doing nothing. Doing nothing puts us in a position of choosing to be in that pan of hot water that’s getting hotter by the minute.
at 8:11 AM