Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if he only manages well? Is it not evident to all the rest of the players that these are the things he wants? And do not his actions make each of them wish to retaliate, snatching all they can get out of the show? Is he not, even in his best moments, a producer of confusion rather than harmony? ~ AA p 61
At times there will not be a predictable pattern to the behavior of the wet or dry alcoholic. You will feel like you’re suffering from relationship whiplash. You’ll begin to ask yourself questions like:
- Where did that come from?
- Why can’t I make him happy?
- Why am I always in trouble?
This obvious confusion within the relationship is a by-product of the alcoholic attempting to maintain order and security in his life through managing or controlling. The desire for control extends to anything that doesn’t go the way we expect it to go. I’ve recently realized I’m a typical alcoholic in that I hate surprises. In fact, I don’t know any addicts that like surprises—not unless they’re the one behind the surprise. Surprises and control are opposites, of course.
You already know the alcoholic wants to manage, but just as the quote above states, his actions make you want to retaliate and take back a little of the control for yourself. It’s a tug of war with your independence at stake. If you give away more of the decision-making power than you are comfortable with, then before you know it, you have very little left that you get to decide upon. How is that called a relationship?
In a true relationship, each party brings their wishes to the table and a discussion would take place when there are decisions to make. Unfortunately when one person is too insecure to allow that, then the action precedes the discussion. Things may get mentioned in passing and before you know it, the action happens and your wishes were not even sought or were disregarded. Apply this to any area of family life and you have unbelievable confusion and conflict.
Predictably the alcoholic will claim that there was ample discussion and you misunderstand the good intent of his actions. He will become pouty and choose to give you the cold shoulder or just the opposite, tear into you with verbal abuse.
How do you stop this cycle? Do you feel like you’re in a bad movie and there can’t be a happy ending? Perhaps it’s time to take a good look at your life with the addict.
Here’s what has worked for others:
- In a safe place, start journaling your daily issues.
- Find a support group for friends and family (Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, etc)
- Start sharing your life with others instead of working harder at coping
- Choose a mentor (either a sponsor in the program or any trusted friend)