I live with an alcoholic and I blame the alcoholism for nearly every problem that’s this had family.
I have a very polarised way of looking at it. When my wife makes a poor decision or acts indecicivly or doesn’t talk about an issue. My internal feeling is, is that she is doing it to protect her alcoholism.
I grew up with alcoholics and I’ve had a number of “friends” who are alcoholics and from my experiences of dealing with them I’ve come to a conclusion that they will do just about anything to ensure that they don’t have to admit that the alcoholism is making them do the wrong thing.
But what’s my excuse? I make poor decisions, I act indecisively, but I don’t have alcoholism as an excuse.
The words that frequently come out of my mouth are “if only” but what is it I’m really saying by saying that?
It’s about blame, I blame her alcoholism, but she can’t blame the alcoholism because in many ways alcoholism has defined her character. So when I’m doing “if only” she doesn’t hear it as a blame of an illness, she hears it as a blame of her. Probably because the two are so intertwined.
This is where we start to make a mistake about alcoholism, we see it as a character flaw, they have that flaw and if only they weren’t an alcoholic they wouldn’t have that flaw (see, yet again, “if only” pops up). But, if only, they didn’t have that flae they wouldn’t be an alcoholic. Either way it doesn’t work.
The next thing is, is that alcoholics have a big issue actually talking about it, it’s not a flaw in their character its just something they do, so when we discuss the alcoholism or talk about it, they think its the person were talking about and not the disease.
So when we blame, what we see as the fault of the alcohol, the alcoholic is hearing themselves be blamed and that helps to perpetuate the drinking cycle.
Damn its complicated. Maybe it’s because the effect alcohol has on the non alcoholic is different to the effect it has on the alcoholic.
So the blame cycle has to stop. You see internally, I blame myself for not being able to help in anyway. The alcohol puts a barrier in the way. Especially as now it’s a known thing. I know she has a problem, she knows she has a problem, but somehow that known problem is a big barrier. I wonder if it is because alcohol and the person are so intertwined, its difficult so separate one from the other.
So I must stop blaming, but any conversation about any issue ends up in a pit of blame, the alcoholic hears the issue as a blame of the illness, which is a blame of them, they are so intertwined.
But what is it I’m actually blaming, its myself. It’s my own character flaws, it’s an inability to get myself heard, its an inability to act on my own advice, its an inability to have an environment which is good and supportive. But I have the ability to create it. So when I fail, I look for a reason to blame and rather than blaming myself, I seek out someone else. The easiest target is the alcoholic in your life. You see the flaws and faults that you see the alcohol creating and latch on to them and target them as being your own character flaws.
This is where the depth of the problem starts, I need to blame someone other than myself, so I blame the alcoholism, the alcoholic feels that their personality is being attacked by hearing the blame and feels hurt and abused, because it was never their intention, but they recognise the “flaw” of alcoholism.
Knowing that flaw, makes them push all of the blame onto themselves and start to blame themselves, so its a double whammy of blame, for the alcoholic with the non alcoholic partner. So there is now a multifaced blame monster, my self blame, my blame of the alcoholism, her feeling blamed and the self blame of alcoholism. It becomes series of blame points, all interlinked, all building a net of blames, that we are tangled in.
So how do we get ourselves out of this net? I accept and don’t blame, she does what? Now this is what I dont know, what is her expectation and what is my expectation. How does she extract herself from the blame, self blame cycle.
The thing is it is the past, back then it was bigger denial about alcoholism, now it’s much less. Going forward, when mistakes happen we deal with them, rectify them as soon as possible and move on to the next set.