"Sobriety means getting rid of the bottle and the baby." Those words are from a physician who directs a fine alcoholism treatment center. What does he mean? The still-sick alcoholic not only has a problem with alcohol, but with immaturity -- to the point of infantile social behavior.
One of the ways this irresponsibility manifests itself is in the alcoholic's high degree of selfishness -- an infantile narcissism which means that, after the booze, he is the important one. It's a long way down the line before anyone or anything else is truly important, except that which helps him get momentarily puffed up -- serving his illusions of grandeur. This is not an exaggeration of facts, merely a statement of them as they are, part and parcel of his disease....
Unfortunately, the facts don't seem to indicate he's going to, on his own, have a great change of heart and become a caring person. The facts say he is a very sick man, not just occasionally, but always, as long as he drinks -- and that his disease is a progressive one. This means he will most definitely be getting sicker if he does not get well. It further means he will be in even worse shape to help you, should you become ill.
There is one paradoxical fact that could, and would improve the situation for you. The sooner you stop centering your life around him; the sooner you give his whole disease back to him; the sooner you let go of his problem; the better chances will be that he will treat you well!
Getting them Sober, Vol. 1 by Toby Rice Drews, pages 91-92
I think the sample I copied is legal under the fair use doctrine. But even if it exceeds those lengths, I need to write it here for me and for others. The book is copyright 1980 and out of print, but it's worth getting it and the sequels on EBay or any way you can.
So, why does this Al-Anon advice ring true to me? Let me count the ways:
- As soon as I'm back in my disease, I'm acting childishly and the center of my universe is ME.
- Those I care for who are not in the program who belittle me and disdain me are acting this out -- they're not intentionally saying I mean nothing, they just don't see it, don't get down that far on the list very often if at all.
- When I have spent my life as a people-pleaser, being the childish person who picks wildflowers and brings them inside fifty times because the first time they got a smile and a kind word, persisting in the behaviors that are supposed to please, expected to create a smile -- just don't. And never will.
- My creating a distance, stopping feeling like "The Help" not only isn't selfish, it's beneficial to the other -- when and if the "other" gets over his pity-party.
- And that last sentence. The last phase. What I've spent decades trying for. I've been trying all wrong.
- That's the big one. That's the thing I cannot change. God, give me wisdom! And serenity!