Family and the Change

Some alcoholics still have families when they get to AA. This is a place to ask questions and share experiences about relating to family members sober, especially when newly sober. (If you are not an alcoholic, please use the "Our Friends and Families" forum.)

Family and the Change

Postby Dave21043 » Sat Aug 22, 2015 11:14 am

Good Day,

This is my first post to this forum and I thought what a better place to get some guidance and advice. I just celebrated my 2 months of sobriety. My sobriety date is 6/20/2015. Since I have told my family about my going to AA, it seems that have made my recovery about them. For years, my wife has tried telling me that my mother has been very controlling and manipulative. It was not until my sobriety that I was able to see things clearly.

Growing up it was always my mother, brother, and I. My father was an alcoholic and was kicked out when I was either 4 or 5 years old. Growing up I was always isolated. I would either stay in my room or the basement where all my stuff was (I wasn't the creature under the stairs). I am now 37 and I feel like I am living in an episode of "Everyone Loves Raymond." My mother is always contacting me.

Well since coming into AA, she has been hounding me about talking to my brother about his drinking. My sponsor informed me that I was in no place to give guidance and I agreed. Since then, my family has always wanted me to fix my brother. It seemed that nothing I was going through was important for them. It was always about my brother. Right now my brother is a lost soul. He does have a drinking problem but won't come to admit it. Therefore, there is nothing anyone can do.

During these two months, however, I have seen a change about me. I have become calmer, more patient, and pleasant. I have no anxiety and I am "live and let living." I am not worrying about what is coming in the months and years ahead. That said, my family doesn't care for this change in me. My mother informed me that "this is a very big change for ME and you are going to have to be patient."

My wife was beside herself when she heard that. My wife said this was MY recovery and had nothing to do with them.

I know by having an alcoholic mind my thinking is distorted, but is my mother right in this regard?

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Re: Family and the Change

Postby ezdzit247 » Sat Aug 22, 2015 12:12 pm

Hi David and welcome.

Congratulations on 2 months of sobriety!

I totally agree with your wife. Your recovery from alcoholism is about you and your journey in achieving physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual sobriety in the AA program. You are an adult male with your own family and do not need your mother's or anyone else's permission or approval to make decisions or changes in your lifestyle. If your mother is having trouble dealing with or adjusting to the new assertive you, that's her problem, not your problem. You can't help her do that but the Alanon fellowship can if she is willing to accept help from others who have an alcoholic family member.

I also agree with your sponsor. There's nothing you can do to help your brother and you need to focus on helping yourself. He has to find his own bottom just like you did, and become willing to accept responsibility for himself and his own drinking problem. No one can do that for him or for anyone else.

Keep coming back....
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of leave the world a better know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Re: Family and the Change

Postby PaigeB » Sat Aug 22, 2015 12:17 pm

It is a big change for everybody. I had an alanon tell me once, "You are only doing what you should have been doing all along!" That person also cried for herself. Ouch to me! My ego wanted applause for my abstinence. But, our drinking taught these people how to act - we taught them every trick in the book about selfishness & self centered fear. After enough drunken times hearing me scream, "Look at all I have done for ___insert name___, I deserve a drink!" They picked up on that rally cry and feel they deserve some time of their own. Perhaps they do. I am slowly learning that I am the only one I can change, they are the only ones who can change them.

My mom went to Alanon for a while, maybe that will help your mom too.

Send a couple non-related AA friends to talk to your brother if he lands in the hospital or if he see how well you are doing and wants to know how you did it!

There is a story in the back of the book Called Acceptance Was the Answer. The man who wrote it talks a lot about his relationship with his wife. You might want to check it out. It is often quoted in meeting rooms!

Keep coming back!
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Re: Family and the Change

Postby Niagara » Sat Aug 22, 2015 3:21 pm

A passage from 'the family afterwards' in the AA big book

The alcoholic, his wife, his children, his 'in laws', Each one is likely to have fixed ideas about the familys attitude towards himself or herself. Each is interested in having his or her wishes respected. We find the more one member of the family demand that the others concede to him, the more resentful they become. This makes for discord and unhappiness.

And why? Is it not because each wants to play the lead? Is not each trying to arrange the family show to his liking? Is he not unconsciously trying to see what he can take from the family life, rather than give?

Cessation of drinking is but the first step away from a highly strained, abnormal condition. A doctor said to us, 'years of living with an alcoholic is almost sure to make any wife or child neurotic. The entire family is to some extent, ill'.

Now, it's been my own experience that though my parents were not alcoholic, they carried many of the behavioural traits...controlling and manipulative being just a couple of them. We were all trying to control and manipulate each other. In different ways, of course. I was a rampant people pleaser....'please love me, if you love me, it might fix me' And if that didn't work I'd turn the tears on 'you're so mean, nobody loves me'. In sobriety, I had to stop doing this. I had to start putting boundaries in for my own good, and that often meant saying no - standing up for myself. People who have been around me many years (my parents, all my life) they are used to me bending myself into a pretzel to seek love and approval from them. Understandably, they got a bit rattled when I stopped doing that..even in small ways. They didn't like it when I got assertiveness, even in a small quantity...because that shakes up their world. They don't know how to deal with that from me. They are accustomed to me behaving in a way that pleases them......because that's all I ever tried to do as a kid, and as an adult. We would argue, and I'd end up apologizing even if I wasn't the one in the wrong, because I couldn't stand the fact that they were upset with me. My mum could tear me to shreds, and I'd say one thing back to her and I'd have my father come down on me like a ton of bricks 'how dare you upset your mother etc etc'. Daren't upset the parents. Because they are also controlling and manipulative (I had great teachers) it REALLY throws them off course, know what I mean? More than it would if they were regular joe, well balanced people. I'm out of their control now, and they don't like that.
For a time, they pretended they were happy I was getting well (even though they would tell me I couldn't possibly be alcoholic, and pat me on the head as if this was my latest obsession and I'd get over it soon enough), then they tried to up their game...trying still harder to run the show...then they got dismissive, now we haven't spoken in a couple of months....and they've turned that behaviour onto my sister who was always the golden child.

We are all, at the end of the day, actors trying to run the show to our own liking...and the sad thing is, it really just doesn't work. It just breeds resentment. All I can do with the situation with my parents is focus on my recovery. I don't know what will happen in the future. Let go and let God, is what I've had to do. I can't afford to try to force them to understand. I can't force them to be pleased I'm getting well, but equally I can't return to past behaviours to keep them happy. It's up to them to look at their own behaviours, and I don't know if they will ever do that, without the great motivator that is alcohol kicking their butts. Why would they? As far as they are concerned,they are sorted, and that's ok. That's their business. I've made my amends to them as best I can. I keep my side of the street clean where they are concerned. My only 'sin' was to calmly and assertively say 'that's not acceptable to me'...which isn't a sin at all.

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.

We didn't get in this mess overnight,nor will things be set straight overnight. Your recovery comes above all else though, or nothing will be set straight, in the end.

Best wishes
If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month -
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Re: Family and the Change

Postby Layne » Sat Aug 22, 2015 7:16 pm

Dave21043 wrote: My mother informed me that "this is a very big change for ME and you are going to have to be patient."
... is my mother right in this regard?

Your mother is right about her. Your change is a big change for her, but that has nothing to do with your recovery unless you let it. Keep doing what you need to do. Who knows maybe some of it will rub off in a positive ripple effect. :D
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Re: Family and the Change

Postby Dave21043 » Sat Aug 22, 2015 7:44 pm

Amazing replies everyone. Thank you so much. I'm so thankful I found this forum.

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Re: Family and the Change

Postby ann2 » Sun Aug 23, 2015 4:56 am

I was asked to talk to a family member about A.A. I was at the time over 25 years sober and I still hesitated. I know that 12 stepping family members is really not a good idea. Plus, it's so important that the person come to their own opinion about whether or not they need A.A. However, I wanted to listen to my mother. She's a pretty sharp lady, and I owe her a lot. So I made a very delicate approach and I made sure to leave all judgement out of it. I left it totally up to the person involved. I was ready to accept whatever result.

Definitely wait on this, is my opinion. I found it extremely tricky. Your brother has a HP and in my opinion your getting sober is really the most awesome contribution you can make.

"If I don't take twenty walks, Billy Beane send me to Mexico" -- Miguel Tejada
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