Nothing is more discouraging in the process of ending your alcohol abuse than encountering sabotaging spouses, friends, children, colleagues, and others. But it’s a common reality it pays to be prepared for.
-The physician who welcomed his wife home from her stay with us by chilling a dozen bottles of her favorite wine;
-The wife who immediately upped her own alcohol abuse in response to her husband’s success in quitting;
-Children who began acting out themselves at previously unknown levels;
-Parents who upped their meddling into their adult children’s affairs;
-and so on…..
What’s going on here? First, not all of these examples stem from people’s conscious wish to force you back into abusing alcohol. Indeed, most of these people would deny that that’s what they are doing. What they are doing is attempting to re-establish the status qou. It’s the old “security of familiar miseries” problem – we like the “known” better than the unpredictable results of change – even when the “known” is pretty awful.
But there is also another factor in play here. Just as your alcohol abuse affected those around you, so does quitting. Most of the people impacted by your behaviors are unprepared for the reality that they too will have to adjust to your new day-to-day life.
-Adolescents who hated being embarrassed by your drunkenness now hate it even more that you actually remember what you said! They are so used to saying, “you promised….” and you not being able to remember and disagree.
-Spouses are so used to being the “good one” and you not having a vote in family decision making that they really don’t like giving up either the status or power.
-Many spouses also resent the fact that their problems are now bobbing to the surface – problems they previously ignored, problems obscured by you and alcohol being “the problem”.
-Parents may resent no longer being able to meddle in your life. Really, they may need to get a life of their own that doesn’t involve rescuing you, or complaining about it.
-Drinking buddies may also pressure you to revert. After all, if you can quit so could they. Besides you were the one they used to say, “Well, I don’t have a problem. Look at ——, s/he drinks twice as much as I do!”
Yes, quitting affects people around you and most of them will be happy for you and supportive but there will still be glitches – which is why we include spouses in particular – but, really, within a few months everyone, you included, adjust and wonder why you ever abused alcohol at all.
Remember, we address these types of problems with you and see you through them because we want you to succeed and for life to be better for you and those around you too. So give us a call and let’s talk about all of the possibilities, options, choices, and results. That’s the proven way to achieve success and a happier life.
© Copyright 2011 by Edward Wilson, Ph.D., MAC, therapist in Rolling Hills Estates, California. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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