I grew up in an alcoholic household. My dad was a blackout drinker who could not quit. My mom drank too, but mostly struggled heavily with the issues that pertain to living with an alcoholic.
(PS: Both my parents are long dead, so it isn’t going to bother them that I am sharing this.)
As I got older I found myself struggling, too: at work and in my personal life I found myself caring too much about certain people, or tortured by situations that I knew I could not control. I found help in a lot of places but one place in particular really made a difference in my life. Al-Anon.
I am posting some advice from a wonderful pamphlet I have been carrying around for almost 20 years. I found it at an Al-Anon group and I am sharing it in the chance you or someone you know might find it as useful as I did.
Al-Anon is an anonymous, non-profit group that helps the families living with the disease of alcoholism.
Alcoholism is a family disease. Living with the effects of someone else’s drinking is too devastating for most people to bear without help. In Al-Anon we learn individuals are not responsible for another person’s disease or recovery from it. We let go of our obsession with another’s behavior and begin to lead happier and more manageable lives, guided with dignity and rights; lives guided by a power greater than ourselves.
In Al-Anon we learn:
Not to suffer because of the actions or reactions of other people; not to allow ourselves to be used or abused by other’s in the interest of another’s recovery; not to do for other’s what they could do for themselves; not to manipulate situations so other’s will eat, go to bed, get up, pay bills, not drink; not to cover up for anyone’s mistakes or misdeeds; not to create a crisis; not to prevent a crisis if it is in the natural course of events.
Detachment is neither kind or unkind. It does not imply judgement or condemnation of the person from which we are detaching. It is simply a means that allows us to separate ourselves from the adverse effects that another person’s alcoholism can have upon our lives.
Detachment helps families look at their situations realistically and objectively, thereby making intelligent decisions possible.