Saturday, January 7, 2012


It's a recovery topic post.  There is much talk in Al Anon about how our attempts to control the alcoholic in our lives have made our lives unmanageable.  Many of the examples and discussions revolve around folks dealing with active alcoholism in their lives or homes, trying to cover for their loved one, pouring out booze, ranting at them to "just quit!" and all that.  I can sympathize with those stories, and the persons living those stories, but I can't empathize since that was not my experience.  So I always struggle with getting my head around the idea of where "control" fits for me.  I was completely naive and oblivious the first time my husband was circling the drain - his disclosure of addiction was a complete shock to me and off he went to treatment.  Then, a few years later, when he relapsed, I was deeply in denial.  I asked him a few times if he was using, he lied as addicts do, and I just closed my eyes to it all, until he (we) hit bottom last summer.  Denial yes, attempts to control my loved one?  Not really - certainly nothing like I've heard from others.

And then today, I got a "daily gift" email that I get from the treatment center:

A controller doesn't trust his/her ability to live through the pain and chaos of life. There is no life without pain just as there is no art without submitting to chaos.
--Rita Mae Brown
It is very hard for most of us to see how controlling we are. We may feel uptight or careful, but we haven't seen it as controlling ourselves or controlling how people respond to us.

Talk about an "aha!" moment.  "Controlling ourselves or controlling how people respond to us" -hello!  That is what I do.  Perhaps that is my relationship to "control" in the addiction and co-dependency cycle - I have unhealthily withheld myself from others, to control how those people respond to me.  That is certainly absolutely true in many facets of my life. 


  1. I'm trying to wrap my head around this. As I read it, when you put on a mask so as to control how people see you you are then controlling how they respond to you. Am I getting it?

  2. Yep - I think you've got it. For instance, in the closest example, if I never tell my husband what I am feeling, he never has the opportunity to share that with me - whether to share the joy or commiserate the hurt or comfort the sorrow. I am selfishly keeping it to myself. Two reasons for it, at least as I can identify it in myself - the first is to protect myself (to open yourself up to another person is to allow the opportunity for hurt) and the second is to control him (he can't react to something he knows nothing of, and then I can resent the hell out of him for that).


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