They just wont understand

Some alcoholics still have families when they get to AA. This is a place to ask questions and share experiences about relating to family members sober, especially when newly sober. (If you are not an alcoholic, please use the "Our Friends and Families" forum.)

They just wont understand

Postby Timothy3012 » Fri Sep 08, 2017 1:59 am

I wanted to post this topic in the hopes that others might learn from some of my mistakes. This is a long-shot though as I know that, for someone like me, I usually have to actually make the mistakes myself and then learn from the pain I cause myself because of the mistakes!

In my first 6 months of sobriety I spent many an evening trying to explain alcoholism and AA to my family members. Because I was so excited to finally find the thing I had been so desperately seeking since I was very small I wanted everyone close to me to understand. I kept trying to explain the 'hole-in-the-soul' that I seem to have been born with that only a spiritual experience has been able to treat sufficiently.

I see now it actually can be pretty unkind to my loved ones when I go into too much detail. To tell my mother that i have been suicidal, unhappy and discontented since I was a young child is very unfair on her. I'm someone who had a brilliant childhood and was loved and cared for all the way through. With pop-psychology theories these days constantly spinning the line that if we are unhappy someone else MUST be to blame - there MUST be triggers somewhere - the inevitable result of my disclosing to my mother about how I always felt is that she ends up blaming herself and feeling as if she has failed along the way as a parent. (This is just my own opinion as I don't ever know what she is actually thinking. I've spent a good deal of time with my sponsor discussing this topic as it was causing me so much pain for quite a while.)

In my opinion, many of these theories leave out the spiritual life of the person and therefore are working from an incredibly limited view. The Alcoholic's behaviour is truly inexplicable in a modern world where we are taught to believe human understanding is God and is the answer to all problems. A person can be given all the modern advantages known to man (Rolland Hazard's experience within the Big Book), can be medicated on antabuse and antidepressants and also given all the talking therapy they can stand...and still drink again. This is not an unusual story for alcoholics. I seem to suffer from an illness that ONLY a spiritual experience can treat and keep abated.

Don't get me wrong, to this day I still work with medical professionals and value the assistance they can give, I just don't believe they are any where near capable of keeping an alcoholic away from alcohol. No human power seems to be, either the will-power in me or the educational learning in them. The Big Book is clear that we work with professionals and not against them. The doctors in my life are a part of my recovery process, but they will never be capable of being the cause of my recovery process.

I studied Social Work as a degree and have learned a lot within the field of human behaviour. My alcoholism and experience within AA is causing me to question a lot of the THEORIES i used to believe to be gospel. I don't believe my childhood experiences had anything to do with my alcoholism. I just always seemed to be a fearful, negative and self-debasing individual. I 100% do not blame my parents for the way my life has been. Obviously, this is just my own opinion and is just in relation to my own life. Me trying to blame my parents for my alcoholic thinking is like someone trying to blame their parents for type 1 Diabetes. it just doesn't make sense. I have an illness that seems to be non-discriminatory to race, age or social upbringing. Alcoholism truly is the great leveler in this sense, it does not seem to care who the person is in order to cause them to suffer.

I am in the midst of a spiritual experience that is causing MASSIVE changes in the way I think, behave and feel. Since the insane obsession for alcohol has been removed from me through the process of the 12 Steps, there has been space for God to deal with many of the other unhealthy areas of my life. One of those areas is my very unhealthy dependence upon my parents. Without their love and kindness at taking me in when I hit my bottom; I would have become homeless and I am not sure if I would be alive today. However, I am now starting to live in a way where I am dependent upon God to care for me, and am trying not to be overly dependent upon them. It has come to a point where I am trying to stop discussing alcoholism with them in any great detail. I don't need to; I have literally dozens of fellow recovered alcoholics in the rooms who want to discuss this stuff with me because it helps them to stay sober to hear it.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this as it has caused me a huge amount of anxiety and frustration trying to get my non-alcoholic parents to understand me. They don't need to. For them, I think talk is cheap. I spent years telling them I was stopping drinking and then went back on my word. The changes in my life and my actions speak far louder than words. They no longer have to worry about me when they leave the house. They no longer have sleepless nights staying up with me trying to convince me life is worth living...

Actions truly do speak far louder than words.
Last edited by Timothy3012 on Sat Sep 09, 2017 12:50 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: They just wont understand

Postby positrac » Fri Sep 08, 2017 2:34 am

Your post does provide the answers that if we all had understood our future outcomes might of had the chance to re-evacuate the risks vs rewards..... I am a hard head and so I know fire is hot and yet I just gotta touch it to make sure it really is hot! and not just once; but over and over expecting different results.

If you are my friend and I use friend in the sense of closeness of the bonds of friendship and not some mate I meet at the checkout line at the store. I can open up and tell you things of myself in confidence so you'll understand my journey. Judgment is part of the equation and if you judge me then do it and be done because I won't change this part of my life for you just to be friends. Now fam(lies) is one that I was quiet with for a while as my family didn't know of my struggles and the drink was just part of our roots being from Ireland. I joke and say that is one of my prize carry-overs from the "old country"! But I said I don't drink and I am in AA and it made my dad drink more because he knew he was like me as I am his son..... I just learned to compartmentalize what was necessary and what was not and because I didn't live under their roof I did my thing and that was that.

I wish it were easier and that people didn't feel the need to just walk that route that is so worn down by those before them, and yet it is necessary because we have to learn many lessons our own ways in order to grow and to become self sufficient in our journey in life and sobriety.
You must live your life from beginning to end: No one else can do it for you.
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Re: They just wont understand

Postby avaneesh912 » Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:34 am

In my first 6 months of sobriety I spent many an evening trying to explain alcoholism and AA to my family members.


No. It doesn't work. It took a few years after my wife saw some other people kick the bucket to understand the nature of this disease.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Re: They just wont understand

Postby PaigeB » Fri Sep 08, 2017 10:07 am

My husband just doesn't get it. BUT! HE doesn't have to get it. He is content with whatever I feel I need to do to stay sober and happy. It takes a bit of tolerance on my part when new comers talk of family who think they are being left behind by AA... I try to think of how left behind they are by the drinking!

I am not a good Alanon. I do not know what it is like to be them.
If I'm not able to say how I'm working my program today, then I'm not working my program.
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Re: They just wont understand

Postby clouds » Fri Sep 08, 2017 4:10 pm

:lol:
I think youve got the right point of view Paige.
" Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house." page 98 A.A.
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Re: They just wont understand

Postby Brock » Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:27 pm

Timothy3012 wrote:I studied Social Work as a degree and have learned a lot within the field of human behaviour. My alcoholism and experience within AA is causing me to question a lot of the THEORIES i used to believe to be gospel.

In one of your early posts you mentioned leaving your old job, and gave reasons. I don't know if it was in this field, but with the new found knowledge you might be in a position to help many people. In social work I am sure alcoholics are encountered, you would have a special skill set in this area. But you said the carpentry was the work you wanted to pursue, and if that is where you might find the most satisfaction, then more power to you.

I do agree that trying to explain our program to non alcoholics is a waste of time, but I have met a couple of church officials who express an interest in learning about it, maybe they just like anything which helps others to find God. I have also had the privilege of being asked to address medical students a few times, as part of their psychiatry training. They all roll their eyes when I drop the spiritual angle as the solution, but right after I talk about Roland Hazard and Carl Jung, and since the name Jung is one they respect, the eye rolling stops and they become very interested in the AA program.

Thanks for the topic.
The seed has been planted in his mind. He knows that thousands of men, much like himself, have recovered. B.B. P.113
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Re: They just wont understand

Postby Timothy3012 » Sat Sep 09, 2017 12:34 am

Brock wrote:
Timothy3012 wrote:I studied Social Work as a degree and have learned a lot within the field of human behaviour. My alcoholism and experience within AA is causing me to question a lot of the THEORIES i used to believe to be gospel.

In one of your early posts you mentioned leaving your old job, and gave reasons. I don't know if it was in this field, but with the new found knowledge you might be in a position to help many people. In social work I am sure alcoholics are encountered, you would have a special skill set in this area. But you said the carpentry was the work you wanted to pursue, and if that is where you might find the most satisfaction, then more power to you.

I do agree that trying to explain our program to non alcoholics is a waste of time, but I have met a couple of church officials who express an interest in learning about it, maybe they just like anything which helps others to find God. I have also had the privilege of being asked to address medical students a few times, as part of their psychiatry training. They all roll their eyes when I drop the spiritual angle as the solution, but right after I talk about Roland Hazard and Carl Jung, and since the name Jung is one they respect, the eye rolling stops and they become very interested in the AA program.

Thanks for the topic.


Ironically, my old job was a drug, alcohol and mental health support worker...the only problem was that I was severely plummeting in all 3 areas! I've taken a huge step back from the social care side of life. I've known some amazing people in this field who honestly seem to be custom built to do this job well, but, for me, I spent my life listening to everyone else tell me what I would be good at doing. Because I have had zero self-esteem since I was young and life baffled me so much, I always tried to be the person I thought everyone else wanted me to be. A very unexpected side-effect of recovery is that I am actually starting to discover what I like and what I don't like. I have discovered that it's OK for me to say no to others sometimes and to not meet whatever expectations they may have for me. I value my time in support work and social care because the experiences I had within these fields sped up my illness's progression; I believe these very experiences got me into AA quicker than I might otherwise have done if the job I was in wasn't so stressful!
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