The following is a guest post by Carolyn Hughes, a freelance writer with special interest in alcohol issues. Carolyn is currently writing The Hurt Healer, a novel based on her own experiences of abuse and alcoholism, and lives in Northern Ireland with her husband and their two daughters. She celebrates 13 years sobriety and says, “My proudest achievement is that my children have never seen me take alcohol or had to live with a drunken mother.” Carolyn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and be sure to visit Carolyn’s blog, The Hurt Healer, to read more of her insightful posts.
Stop Blaming, Start Living by Carolyn Hughes
Alcohol abuse isn’t just a problem for the user but for families too and it’s easy to put life on hold while you play the blame game. Here’s why you need to stop blaming and start living.
If you have been struggling with a drink problem for some time or you are the relation of a drinker, it is likely that you will at some point play the ‘blame game’. That is, blaming the addiction for the life’s problems.
Throughout my 20 years as an alcoholic, I played the blame game constantly to justify my excess and to avoid seeking treatment. Basically, I blamed my mother’s abandonment of me as an infant and my father’s subsequent abuse and neglect for my dependency on drink. As far as I was concerned I had good reason to indulge and no one had the right to judge me. Of course, the reality was that although I had been through a traumatic childhood that didn’t entitle me to self destruct.
As my need for alcohol increased so did my denial, and my excuses for drinking became more varied and ridiculous. In the end if I wanted to take a drink I would blame anything – I drank because I was happy. I drank because I was sad. I drank because it was sunny. I drank because it was raining.
My biggest fear as an alcoholic was that I would have to give up drinking completely because this would involve getting to the root of the problem and I would no longer be able to blame my past.
The terrifying thought of life without self-medication became a reality for me when an alcohol induced suicide attempt nearly ended my life.
It was time to do what many addicts fail to do and that was to take responsibility for my life. I chose to face the demons, make a commitment to sobriety, become accountable for my actions and stop playing the blame game. In doing so I reclaimed my life.
But what if you’re the victim of someone else’s drink problem?
As a family member dealing with the daily financial, emotional and social chaos caused by an alcohol dependant relation, you may feel entitled to play the blame game. After all, it is their problem and their addiction. Indeed it is, but this doesn’t automatically mean a life of constant suffering because of the actions and behaviour of someone else.
The difficulty for anyone who has been living with a drinker for any length of time is the likelihood of learning only to react to situations and striving to keep the peace. However, avoiding confrontation for fear of a verbal or physical retaliation, covering up for the addicts behaviour to friends and work colleagues, refusing social invitations or stopping people from visiting because of the inevitable embarrassing scenes are all signs of enabling. The downward spiral of alcoholism becomes normality and it becomes increasingly difficult to put your own needs first.
Blaming the other person for lack of self-esteem and confidence issues are natural in this situation, yet just as the alcoholic can choose to change, so can you. Even though what you experience is damaging, it is sometimes easier to cling to the familiar out of fear of change, but this continues the game of blame.
“Why should I change, when I’m not addict?” The truth is that denial may prevent the addict from moving forward but this doesn’t have to prevent anyone else from taking some positive steps to change their own circumstances.
Seeking support and making a conscious decision to take responsibility for your emotional well being, physical health and financial situation will help free you from the negative state that you find yourself in. Establish positive connections and make friendships with those who will listen, value and assist you as you cross over from victim to survivor.
So whether you are dependent on drink or dependent on the drinker, take charge of your life. Now is the time to stop blaming and start living!