ROCK BOTTOM is what it usually takes to bring someone to the realization that they have nowhere else to go, but to seek help. Becoming vulnerable enough to recognize that this has become a much more powerful “monster” than you can manage alone. But what was “rock bottom”? In many cases, its when the elastic band of enabling and tolerance from others in your life has finally snapped. Whether it be family, friends, workplace or in some cases – Court ordered mandate… the time has come. A local meeting is found and the beginning of the accountability journey follows shortly after.
Now don’t get me wrong, I applaud AA and its worldwide chapters, they’re the saving grace for countless. I’m the daughter of a 26+yr recovering alcoholic and have attended many meetings supporting my Dad on his annual anniversaries. Alcoholism has controlled males on both my Mother and Fathers side for generations. Unfortunately, only my Father decided to seek help. His sobriety saved his life and his relationship with myself and my siblings.
My last partner (Narcissist) was also an alcoholic – during one of our many endings where I couldn’t take anymore… he reached out and advised he was attending AA and recognized he had a “disease”. He requested, yet again, we work together to be the “greatest love story we were always supposed to be”. He must have changed right?!? (I now know without question that it was his employer that gave him a choice to seek help or be fired). I went back to him again, being his biggest support and was so proud he decided to do the work with his self care.
I could write chapters on “him” and the abusive, damaged monster that he was with or without alcohol… that isn’t what this blog post is about. This is about the damage done to those effected by alcoholism.
Now I’m aware of Al-Anon – the support to those effected by addiction…. this has more to do with AA itself. When someone makes the choice to attend meetings, chooses every minute not to give in to the addiction, this is about them. Its life altering and essential…. what I have an issue with after a lifetime of being exposed to alcoholic males, is not the support provided…. but calling it an “illness”, a “disease”, an “allergy”. This is a watered down version of what it is – which is a prior trauma, that was left untreated and became an unhealthy coping mechanism to mask pain.
Becoming sober takes incredible strength, I respect this and my father is living proof that having a strong support system with a group of peers who can relate is monumental to recovery, but it doesn’t deal with the mental health aspect of the root of the problem.
I chatted with my Dad on Fathers Day this year a little bit about this. His childhood traumas have never been faced, he buried them deep – but they’re always there…. we spoke a little about my last relationship – who used his alcoholism as a free pass for the incredible abuse my daughters and I experienced, what his ex-wife and his own children I KNOW suffered unimaginable hell because of… but as he often joked at his meetings that I went to as often as I could “I didn’t need alcohol to be an asshole, it just made me a bigger asshole”… and the room laughed, validating him. AA likely saved his career, but it certainly never made him accountable for his behaviour.
I shared with my Dad, “Its amazing support Dad, I’m so grateful it was there for you and for others, but despite the 12 steps, alcoholics in many cases can’t remember the trauma they caused others. The emotional, psychological and in some cases, physical scars their victims are left to carry. Family, friends & the workplace support revering addicts, we praise them, listen to them, but the reality is Dad… you can’t be sorry for the times you can’t remember, and you haven’t ever healed from the source of why you were drawn to alcohol as your “therapy’ of choice. We were victims, we suffered… and then are expected to forgive and support addicts on their path to recovery… but what about ours? Don’t you wonder why I’ve always been drawn to extremely dominant men, the last one being the absolute most toxic, damaged of them all? Its all I’ve ever known, to be the the “fixer”? Dad stared into the distance, his eyes welling up, fighting back tears – and his response meant everything… “Baby, you’re absolutely right, I’ve never ever thought of it this way. God dammit, you’re right. I’m so sorry”. (he also reminded me that if I want my ex “handled”, he can make it happen ” I know people”… which made us both laugh).
My point is this, ACCOUNTABILITY. Recognizing you’re an addict, seeking help and remaining sober is wonderful, and does take strength. Facing the reasons why you ever became one – is courage, and this will bring the much needed systemic change.