Does it make any sense to try and exercise control over an out-of-control alcoholic? Before I understood what it meant to be powerless over an alcoholic, I was constantly trying to influence their behaviors.
My natural impulse and habit is to try and force change. When I see something wrong in others, I have a tendency to voice my opinion in an attempt to make them better. Who in the world do I think I am that I have any right to judge someone in relation to how they choose to live their life?
I suppose I have this ego that reveals itself the worst when I am driving. Everybody can tend to be an idiot in my eyes when I am behind the wheel of my Volvo.
If I had to condense everything I’ve learned about my part in trying to control an alcoholic, it could be summed up in a few powerful words: “mind your own business.” This is truly where the rubber meets the road or as Gordon Ramsay would say: “that’s SPOT on!”
After much examination of my forceful, idiotic, controlling behaviors from the past, I’ve realized that nothing I tried caused the alcoholics in my life to change. At least none of the methods I used such as crying, begging, pleading, getting angry, confronting the lies, following them around or blaming them for all of “my” so-called problems ever worked.
You know, things like…
- “You are ruining your families lives”
- “You are the reason everyone is so unhappy”
- “If you would quit drinking our lives would be near perfect”
Reality check! Has anything you’ve said made the alcoholic in your life stop drinking? I’m guessing NOT because you are reading this article.
Perhaps there is something to be changed in our personalities that could help us to live a much more peaceful and serene life. In most alcoholism therapy groups it is know as letting go of an alcoholic. The concept works when we realize that we are totally powerless over an alcoholic.
It makes sense doesn’t it? If the things we have been doing for months or perhaps years are having no effect on the alcoholic, meaning they are still getting plastered all of the time, then perhaps, it’s time for us to make a few attitude adjustments. For starters, we could begin being kind to an alcoholic.
“If I am powerless over alcohol, my only reasonable course is to Live and Let Live – to learn to live my own life fully and to let others live theirs. Or, more simply, to mind my own business.” (One Day At A Time In Al-anon-pg. 194)
To relinquish trying to control an alcoholic is going to take many attempts, some will fail and others will succeed. The main thing to remember is that we are trying to make positive changes in relation to the alcoholism that is present in our lives. When we revert to old patterns, we should quickly forgive ourselves, keeping in mind that we are striving to make progress not necessarily perfection.
The most powerful force I have to recon with is my mouth. This is the place where a never ending stream of blame and negativity can be directed toward the alcoholic. I must learn that this out-of-control vessel needs to be tamed. Blaming an alcoholic for all of my problems will accomplish nothing.
The new testament Bible says it this way: “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:5-6 )
With a lot of practice and prayer we can learn to have more self-control with words we speak. The less we say to alcoholics about how they choose to live their lives-the better off we all will be.
All of my efforts to exhort control over an alcoholic in the past did not work. So today I will choose to focus on minding my own business and judging the alcoholic less. The less said the better.