Treated as an Alcoholic/Addict or Weirdo During the Holidays
In time they will see that he is a new man and in their own way they will let him know it. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 134)
With the holidays whizzing by us at a pace that is too much for many of us to handle, that statement is one that every one of us who has ever used alcohol or drugs must keep in the front of our minds. In time, our loved ones (and some not so loved ones) will finally understand that we are new people. In time those around you will believe that you are a completely different person than you were when you were using. That is, if in fact you have actually been changed through recovery, which is clearly implied as the objective in this passage.
I find that the words that need to be keyed in on the most in this passage are the words “in time.” The implied fact being that it will take some time and will not be immediate because you tell those closest to you that you did some recovery things and now think you are all better.
The flip side of that statement is the idea that there will be a period of time (possibly a long one) where the people around you will not believe that you are a new person and will treat you in a way that you will have to be reminded that “in time” they will see you as a new person and act differently.
Guess what that means for gatherings of family and friends. That means they may treat as the most jacked up person in the room because of your past or because of what they think your past means.
As each member of a resentful family begins to see his shortcomings and admits them to the others, he lays a basis for helpful discussion. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 127)
Notice that the passage does not say: “As each member of a resentful family tells other members to admit their shortcomings. The passage speaks of “each member” admitting his/her own difficulties to the others. Each person is responsible to admit his/her own difficulties regardless of what the other people are doing in the hopes that sooner or later a conversation will occur that has no criticism or resentment but is actually constructive to everyone involved. This could mean years of gatherings and talks before it is helpful at that level.
There was a saying when I was a child (I believe it came from the television show Baretta’s theme song): “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.” That I believe to be a fitting statement for this topic.
The crime is becoming an alcoholic/addict and the time is the seemingly insane amount of effort it takes to be free of this seemingly inescapable bondage. That makes the saying: Don’t become an alcoholic/addict if you cannot handle the insane amount of effort and discomfort it takes to later get free.
I know that may be a little on the harsh side and that those of us who are already alcoholics/addicts reading this get that now, but it still has to be stated. In talking to the proverbial “man of the house” alcoholic in the Alcoholics Anonymous book this idea is stated:
The head of the house ought to remember that he is mainly to blame for what befell his home. He can scarcely square the account in his lifetime. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 127)
The “head of the house” here did the crime so he has to do the time, however much it is because no amount of time is enough and any amount of time is being let off easy.
I you are treated as an alcoholic/addict or weirdo during the holidays, whose fault is that really? Is it the fault of the people who think you are an alcoholic/addict or is it the fact that you have been the alcoholic/addict they suspect you still are?
Such it is with all of our loved ones. Is it possible that we may find some or all of those closest to us seemingly unfairly looking down on us or otherwise treating us badly. ABSOLUTELY! Is it our responsibility to desperately try (for however long it takes) to clean up what we did either directly or indirectly to them:
Yes, there is a long period of reconstruction ahead. We must take the lead. A remorseful mumbling that we are sorry won’t fill the bill at all. We ought to sit down with the family and frankly analyze the past as we now see it, being very careful not to criticize them. Their defects may be glaring, but the chances are that our own actions are partly responsible. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 83)
We focus of what it takes for us to get better and not on what it will take to make them stop doing this or that. We are to focus on undoing what we did to them and on what is wrong with ourselves. That probably means, lots of uncomfortable, family gatherings, conversations and interactions, but that is a part of the price we pay for freedom.
Some of us have family and loved ones that can already accept that we are completely different. How awesome that is and we need to continue changing so as not to dash those hopes and make it considerably harder for them to trust change in us later.
Those of us who have family and loved ones that have yet to accept you as completely changed, start with the BIG question first: AM I REALLY A COMPLETELY CHANGED PERSON OR AM I JUST THE SAME PERSON TRYING TO BE ABSTINENT? Because, if you are the same, it is insanity to expect people to see you as different! The same person, thinking in the same way will sooner or later do the same things.
If you are convinced that you are a totally different person on a completely different footing then the fact that others do not believe it is actually part of the process of continuing to change. It is a matter of time. Time in which you sustain this change to the point that those around you can actually and honestly say, that the old you is completely gone and clearly will never return. If you used heavily, that might be a bit of time because of what those around you saw from you. If you even consider the concept of a person being an alcoholic or addict, then you have to accept that even the words convey the idea that change is elusive and should be trusted with caution.
In case nobody has ever told you: DO NOT TRUST EVERY PERSON WHO IS AN ALCOHOLIC/ADDICT WHO SAYS THEY HAVE BEEN THROUGH RECOVERY AND ARE COMPLETELY CHANGED. The proof is in the test of time.
It is also true of each one of us. So, if your family and loved ones do not fully accept that you are a different person, do not be angry at them. In actuality that would do more to prove their disbelief to be true. Stand strong in knowing that you are one day closer to the day that each one of them will believe and be thankful for the opportunity to grow.
Happy Holidays and Stay Sober My Friends;
- Sober is “But a Beginning”? (wadehrecoverynetwork.wordpress.com)
- Truly Letting Go – Starting at the Bottom (wadehrecoverynetwork.wordpress.com)
- Repairing Relationships After Addiction (everydayhealth.com)
- The Idiot in My Mirror (wadehrecoverynetwork.wordpress.com)
- Joy, Freedom and True Happiness Under Pressure and Difficulty (wadehrecoverynetwork.wordpress.com)