Our homes have been battle grounds many an evening. ~ AA p 105
As I stated previously, besides being an alcoholic in recovery, I am a survivor of abuse. Therefore, I know that our personal liberty or freedom is something we must occasionally defend. I’m not talking about politics here, but about relationships.
Defending the freedom for the individual within relationships means that we may have to assert our desire for the power to make choices in our lives.
Sometimes for the Al-Anon, it’s asserting the desire to be free from arbitrary or despotic control by the alcoholic. By despotic I mean one who has so much control that virtually all of the family decision-making sounds like this, What’s this going to cost me if I bring it up! Or I can’t even think about doing that because he will either have a fit or give me the cold shoulder and the ‘look’. It’s just not worth it.
Our conversation reveals a lot about our relationships. What’s your reaction to these statements?
I don’t know if he’ll let me.
I want to discuss that with him and then decide.
You can hear the difference. One is the statement of a victim of control and the other is a statement of someone in a committed relationship where discussion is the method for making decisions together.
In order for me to have liberty I will have to be free to express my thoughts. If someone else makes that process difficult, then I might become hesitant to do it very often, and will start to hold back my opinions or even start to deny I have them. As time goes by, you would think that just keeping my thoughts to myself would become easier. Actually it becomes harder. It’s like repressing water pressure—something’s eventually got to give.
A person who represses not only their opinions but also their feelings and basic emotional needs begins to suffer greatly. The pressure of being suppressed mounts and either gushes out on those around them in anger or begins to leak inwardly, eventually causing a flood of emotional trauma.
Often, the fear of confronting the reality of their situation is so great that the emotional trauma begins to destroy the Al-Anon”s will to continue. They become hopeless as they believe they are helpless to change anything.
Living as a victim of emotional abuse (and that is what this is) becomes living in denial. The longer it continues, the harder it is to admit. Many questions arise:
What are my friends and family going to think?
How do I explain my staying in this situation for so long?
Is anyone going to believe me after all this time?
How will I manage financially/emotionally without the addict?
In fact, these are the questions that keep people in abusive bondage. That’s what it is. Bondage to a person who sadly mistakes their image and control to be more important than God, love, humility or any of the elements that create healthy relationships.
Irish Serenity Prayer
God take and receive my liberty,
my memory, my understanding and will,
All that I am and have He has given me.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.