[Alcoholism & Holidays Part I] 10 Steps to Clear Thinking

After celebrating how much better her thinking and relationship had been for her with implementing this work, and that her husband had also been doing much better, one client wrote to me that he had a drinking relapse, got angry, and threw a piece of furniture…. You may think, ‘Well that’s over the top!” but often the more subtle forms of coercion, shaming, or violence we engage in with loved ones under the same roof (but justify and hide even from ourselves) can be even more damaging than a thrown chair. The strategies in this two-part blog post apply to both, with the second post getting into how to stay connected, turn the issue over to the person it belongs to, and not abandon or compromise yourself or your children by staying in the presence of violence of any kind. Since alcoholism has affected the lives of people in our community and sometimes shows up more around holidays, you can read my heartfelt and practical response below (that applies to almost any stressful relationship dynamics!)

TO MY CLIENT: As you start to clear the negative scary projections, things like that will happen often—like your husband seeming more supportive or stating his own intentions to clean up his act. For example, if he does not stop drinking or tries to and fails, you will have the gift of seeing how it is not the drinking that is a problem between you. Instead, it’s your thinking (that it’s a problem) which creates the problem.

I would say that, given lots of time sitting in Al-Anon rooms, the more you stay with the business of your own recovery and really leave his path around his addiction up to him and God (since much is out of our hands, whether or not your husband has good intentions around this issue), the more you will find that your turning it over to him optimizes his chances of success. And you get the joy of loving and supporting this dear human, no matter what turns his addiction takes–even if you decide not to stay with him.

Off the top of my head, here are some things you can start doing, and they can be applied to any kind of acting out or troubling behavior you see others engaging in:

  1. Use the 6 keys and Happiness Hacks tools in The NO-MATTER-WHAT Way to loosen your attachment to the thinking that HE needs to be different in any given moment, and see that so many other possibilities are as true or truer, which confuses the mind and helps it realize it doesn’t really know.
  2. It helps when you see that your pain is always an inside job–the result of believing your thinking–and it is easy to “see through” those driving thoughts. Then there is much hope.
  3. It’s not about making the thinking go away. The thoughts will keep trying to save you for a while. It’s just that we are disconnecting the emotional charge from them–easier to spot now that you no longer are a dyed-in-the-wool believer of everything your mind tells you. You become more like a researcher who is not making any assumptions without first testing the validity of the hypothesis and you will find that you can’t prove the truth of any of it!
  4. Start noticing where you have the thinking that it’s not OK for you to be happy, where your well meaning mind has the story that your suffering is love, or that your fearful projections onto his drinking in some ways are helping or saving or changing the situation for the better.
  5. Your concerns about your daughter’s disability can get entangled in here and create a lack of clarity or a sense that it’s not OK for you to be happy or ask for what you want. HONOR the part of  you that has been trying to save you and your child with those beliefs–don’t shame yourself for having such powerful protective beliefs that create enough anger to throw a chair. Breathe and get very analytical about whether or not these beliefs and fears help at all, so your mind sees through the self-righteous or false ways you believed these thoughts were serving you and others.
  6. Would it be OK for you to be light? Happy? Hopeful? Connected to exactly what shows up? Having fun?  Would your children want you to be anything short of that?  The trick is to find where YOU think you should not be all of that, that you would be a traitor to your cause. Just notice. Question your SURE assumption that your daughter’s life will be hard, and even if it is hard, that that is a bad thing. Keep collecting specific examples of how you believe that as they come up.
  7. Don’t think you have to get rid of the beliefs all at once.  Give them time to see for themselves whether they can know this is true, and ask yourself, “What am I really scared of ?”  It’s OK for you to be scared for yourself. It’s not selfish. Who else’s job is it to care for yourself and your deepest fears if not YOU?
  8. Be curious about what the real story is and don’t shut it down just because it doesn’t seem noble. See him in your mind as NOT the “BAD” person who got too drunk or the one who is going to get worse when he reacts to your choices, BUT as the one who is just as scared and hurting as you are about your child and the overwhelm of life in general and about his alcohol issues.
  9. It may be almost too scary for you to be vulnerable and feel the huge compassion you might have for this man, your husband. Men in our society are even LESS equipped to handle things like this, and don’t have folks like your family and me to help. It may make you want to cry buckets if you really let yourself see HIM as a little child who is lost and struggling. You may recognize the way that you’re like that too and how you are blaming all your desperation on him.
  10. And whether or not you do that, you can question for yourself if being cool toward him has changed anything. You can’t know the drinking will get worse (this small relapse might have been just the wake-up call he needed). If you add your disdain and punishment onto what he already feels, he is probably more likely to make it about you or to want to anesthetize his shame with alcohol–or other activities that take his focus off his pain and his “cluelessness” about how to handle it.

All that doesn’t mean you need to be a doormat either! If there IS violence or emotional abuse, you do not need to stand in the face of it. We are just taking a look at how your stories are driving your own pain and your own violence, as well as your addiction to monitoring his behavior.

Much love,
🙂 Shawn

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[Alcoholism & Holidays Part I] 10 Steps to Clear Thinking