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An addict's autonomy

Old 07-11-2021, 07:40 AM
  # 21 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by dandylion
Oh my, this Detachment can be, for the partner, like tearing flesh from bone. Very scary and threatening---since the modus operandi for the partner is often one of control--control over outcomes. This will usually go deep into the childhood development of the co-dependent partner as a way of coping with their own childhood environment.
It's funny, my mom called this morning to talk about this and about feeling guilt and worry that she essentially trained me into codependency. I told her no she didn't, but I think it's related to your description of the difference that being in an abusive or addictive relationship makes on otherwise healthy things. My parents both always taught me to be caring and considerate of the other person's viewpoint, not to react in anger, trying to reach for compromise and understanding, etc. All of these are good habits when in a healthy relationship where the other person is doing the same. None of us had any experience or skills in dealing with an unhealthy relationship with so much toxicity and manipulation however, leading those same habits to be taken to an unhealthy extreme.

When someone is in active addiction, lying and manipulation are their modus operandi. They lie to themselves about how drinking and not drinking makes them feel, to their loved ones about the effect their drinking has and how much they do it, and to the outside world about the state of their life at home. For the loved one (spouse in my case), continuing to act as if their partner is also acting from a place of honesty leads to those healthy habits being warped and distorted. You try to see things from their point of view without realizing how detached from reality their view is, so when you can't make any sense of their actions, the next logical place is to assume something is wrong with yours.

This creates so much confusion. You were never taught what to do when all the love and support you give gets thrown back in your face. It becomes very easy to internalize the blame that addicts are so good at shifting to you after that.


I think part of the issue I've been trying to point out and feel my way through with this thread is the sense that it often feels like our sayings like the three c's, and insistence that we cannot control our loved one's drinking, feels directly opposed to switching back to talking about codependency and enabling right after. If we truly have no control, where does enabling fit into that equation?

I think for me it comes down to what we've generally agreed upon, that the final choice is up to each individual. That said, our actions do influence them; how couldn't they? None of us exist in a vacuum. Maybe I just take these sayings too literally, but they interest me since control is so integral to the nature of the relationship between addicts and their loved ones. In so many ways it all seems to come back to control, whether by trying to control the outcome of events, our partners, ourselves, our thoughts and emotions, everything really. I think it's most accurate to say we really can't control our addicts, ultimately they will do whatever they choose, but everything we do still has an effect on the world around us. Maybe it's more like the saying "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." Our actions do influence our loved ones, and can influence our personal environments, but at the end of the day they have to choose to drink or not drink.
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Old 07-11-2021, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by schnappi99 View Post
I hope I didn't misrepresent with the "allowing her to opt out" language; its not in the sense of granting her permission to be some way or another, it was meant as me accepting that I don't have control over her choices and behavior, and so no longer trying. I wholly agree that her health is her choice.

As far as other opting out behavior, its kind of the same; let her be the mother she is rather than trying to make her be the one I would prefer, and use the program to avoid getting entangled in irritation and resentment over it.
I know what you mean. Detaching is so tough, and as painful as dandylion said it is. We get so caught up in our vision of how they were, or how we think they could be, and stop seeing them for how they are. It's not like I backed off from suggestions and attempts to help with my AH's treatment because I wanted to make it easier to hide things from me. Just like your detaching want giving your wife the green light to act in a certain way.

I think it's hard to separate the cause and effect relationship for these things. We took an action to stop and detach from our sense of control over our partners. We backed off, and gave them the room to do as they chose. Their action in response to that was to lie more or opt out of the emotional relationship. So we see we took action A, our partners took action X, which resulted in outcome C. C wasn't the outcome we wanted, and we incorrectly attribute that our action has a direct causal relationship with that result. In reality, action A gave our partners options X, Y, and Z, and their choice for X combined with A is what resulted in C. Sure if we'd made choice B, that may have given our partners a new set of options, all possibly branching to a new set of outcomes, but it's impossible to know. We look back on how things went, and judge the choices we made at the time with the current knowledge of how they resulted, and often unfairly judge them as if we should or could have known how things would turn out at the time.


Originally Posted by Eauchiche View Post
His parents were very affirming to the kid, trying their best to comfort him. His obsessions only got worse.

His Mother decided to become a therapist. It was there she learned that affirmation and encouragement were only increasing the kid's anxiety and guilt.

Weird how the human mind works.
It really is weird. Do you know in what way they felt her affirmations were increasing his anxiety? As in, their encouragement of his confessions made him want to do so more? Or that the support coming from them personally was a source of guilt?

It seems this also ties well to dandylion's descriptions about the difference of judgements, real and perceived, between fellow AA members compared to loved ones. Was the fact that it was his mother trying to be this source of support and comfort, vs a third party, the source of the guilt?
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Old 07-11-2021, 10:33 AM
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cookie.....lol...sometimes we can think so hard and so long on a concept that it begins to seem like our brain feels like mashed potatoes. When that happens, I feel like it is best to just walk away from the concept and let it "rest" for a while. Turn our attention to something else--anything else---and come back to the concept at a later time. Much of the time, it will just click into place, if we just give it time.
I have found that, however, some concepts just take a longer time for me to wrap my mind around. There have been some times that I have simply thrown the concept or theory or whatever, on to the pile that I have labeled---"The bogus and defunct pile" lol.
I remember, clearly, something that was presented in a psychology course---Basically it was said that we, as humans, are curious and want to know and seek to have everything "make sense" to us. However, it said that in the course of our lives we will, inevitably, come across some things that seem incongruous with other things that we have experienced and accept to be valid----AND, that a part of living with a peace of mind involves just accepting that some things are simply incongruous. It was suggested that being able to accept some incongruity in life seems to be a product of a certain amount of life experience---coming along with time and maturity.

lol...I'm just saying......
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Old 07-11-2021, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Cookie314 View Post
Our actions do influence our loved ones, and can influence our personal environments, but at the end of the day they have to choose to drink or not drink.
Yes, I think you summed it up well. Everything you do (in terms of your interaction/reaction to the alcoholic, well in fact everyone) has some impact, or very little or none, depends on the person and the relationship.

I believe the question arises when someone might believe:

- I want him to be able to stop and maybe if he sees how much I care and that I make sure he is up for work on time after drinking most of the night and do his laundry and make a nice dinner he will see how good it can be. He will see how much I care, therefore he will stop this self destructive behaviour. I love him, why would I do any less.

Well, as we know, this will probably have little to no impact. Doing something for someone that they can do themselves (in this instance) is not helpful to them (in terms of alcoholism), it's really just helpful to you (in your hope to control the situation). Nothing is changing, it's a fallacy.

Does it have an impact on his life? Absolutely. It makes his life easier, he may even appreciate it, or not, again, depends on the person. It doesn't affect alcoholism though.

So the question is really, as I see it, what effect does it have on you when your plan to show him/control fails? Who is the enabling for, the addict or you (the generic "you", I don't mean you Cookie lol).

When you go to plan B and C and D when A fails, what effect does that have on you?
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Old 07-11-2021, 11:31 AM
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Interesting someone dredged up an old thread on codependency today and I had posted this quote from Melody Beattie:

Originally Posted by trailmix View Post
The Other Side of That Story

"If gaining other people’s approval, guilt or obligation motivate us, likely what we’re doing qualifies us for a read (or re-read) of Codependent Some More. If we’re doing that exact behavior because we want to, because it feels right and because we’ve made a conscious decision to do it, it will likely work out decently.

Whether we take the codependent or lighter road, that behavior will become important in our life. It may bring joy, or we could find a lesson at it when we’re feeling all victimized, used-up, and resentful.

I want to clarify something else about codependency. I dislike the word, can’t stand the sound of it, didn’t invent it and wish another word would have taken its place in the dictionary. The word doesn’t even carry an intonation that speaks to our souls"

https://melodybeattie.com/the-other-side-of-that-story/
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Old 07-11-2021, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by trailmix View Post
Does it have an impact on his life? Absolutely. It makes his life easier, he may even appreciate it, or not, again, depends on the person. It doesn't affect alcoholism though.
I hate to have to make a 3rd post, but I missed something in my post above. While it doesn't affect alcoholism per se - it could have an effect on the alcoholic in that there are no consequences to drinking. If you make it easier to drink, that can (or not) have an impact as well.

But mostly, it has a negative impact on you.


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Old 07-12-2021, 05:03 AM
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Originally Posted by dandylion View Post
However, it said that in the course of our lives we will, inevitably, come across some things that seem incongruous with other things that we have experienced and accept to be valid----AND, that a part of living with a peace of mind involves just accepting that some things are simply incongruous.
What do you mean there's stuff that won't make any sense?! That doesn't make any sense! *twitches uncontrollably*
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Old 07-12-2021, 05:10 AM
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Originally Posted by trailmix View Post
I hate to have to make a 3rd post, but I missed something in my post above. While it doesn't affect alcoholism per se - it could have an effect on the alcoholic in that there are no consequences to drinking. If you make it easier to drink, that can (or not) have an impact as well.

But mostly, it has a negative impact on you.
Yes, definitely. My old therapist from my time in school described it as absorbing his pain for myself. When I stay up late cleaning up after my AH, or cleaning him up directly, making sure he's lying safely, waking him up, etc, he no longer feels the pain or consequences of his actions. I do. I'm the one who lost all my sleep, got stressed out, had to do all of the chores around the house, while he wakes up warm, clean, comfortable, and probably unaware that something even went wrong. Yeah, a pretty direct effect my quitting enabling had was to make drinking feel far less comfortable.
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Old 07-12-2021, 08:03 AM
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Cookie......an example might be---two concepts that appear to be in direct conflict with each other....
a simple example----Message 1. "Always place safety first", Message 2. "Nothing risked--nothing gained"

Here is a link for you, if you are interested

https://www.reference.com/world-view...6f564dcb295cca
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Old 07-12-2021, 12:21 PM
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That is a good reference, though my prior message was supposed to be a joke 😅
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Old 07-12-2021, 01:25 PM
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cookie-----oops! Sometimes we miss nuances of voice tone and body language, with just a keyboard.
I'm glad to see that you have a keen sense of humor, though. That is a god thing to have.
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Old 07-13-2021, 04:39 AM
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Hah, no worries. It's difficult to convey sarcasm and jokes over text, since there's no tone of voice. I did enjoy this thread though. It was nice to see what some of you thought about everything.
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Old 07-17-2021, 02:30 PM
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Cookie, I think it’s useful to turn these thought questions on their side—have I considered how making Choice X will impact me, or only how it will impact my addict loved one?

For myself, my codependency tends to show up in old beliefs that there’s a “right way” to be a good person. I believed if I could intellectually and philosophically understand a situation I could navigate it “correctly” (read: control it and the outcomes, so I was both being “good” and perceived by others as “good” and thereby worthy of love). But I wasn’t loving myself enough to consider how my choices would actually impact me. (I basically didn’t want to take responsibility for my own wants/needs, so I focused instead on everyone else’s wants/needs).

So for instance, the decision to drink at a party with an alcoholic loved one. Obviously, our actions and choices affect others. But also, it’s our partner’s human right (being born with free will!) to choose for themselves how they react to my actions. It can be very condescending to try to “protect people from themselves.” And it’s both of our human responsibilities to have and communicate our own boundaries if we have any. Which means I have to make this decision based on knowing myself, and trusting that my partner is someone who can thrive in the way that is best for them while I am thriving in the way that is best for me. (I think that’s the goal for all relationships, including with compromises, anyways!). So for drinking at a party, what does the non-addict partner really want? If feeling obligated not to drink would make a person feel restricted and subconsciously resentful, it’ll never be sustainable to make that choice for a lifelong relationship. In my case, I don’t like drinking, so I didn’t anyway. And some people will make the choice not to drink because their partner’s comfort is their top priority and they don’t want to change that ever (probably not healthy, but hey, it’s their choice!)

Just like all life, the best we can do is make a choice we stand behind, and weather the positive and negative side effects. When I’m in “codependent mode” I secretly crave the magic ability to make choices that ONLY have positive ripple effects. In other words, control the outcome. I just don’t always realize it’s controlling because it’s dressed up in love and anxiety and hope and pain and all those things. I try to think, at the end of my life, I’M the one who dies for me, and I want to be able to look back and stand by how I lived 😂

All that just to say, rather than worry about what is his fault and what is yours, maybe consider what choices are the right choices for you? And are you making those choices for yourself, or for the hope/expectation that you will get a certain pit come?
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Old 07-17-2021, 02:31 PM
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Cookie, I think it’s useful to turn these thought questions on their side—have I considered how making Choice X will impact me, or only how it will impact my addict loved one?

For myself, my codependency tends to show up in old beliefs that there’s a “right way” to be a good person. I believed if I could intellectually and philosophically understand a situation I could navigate it “correctly” (read: control it and the outcomes, so I was both being “good” and perceived by others as “good” and thereby worthy of love). But I wasn’t loving myself enough to consider how my choices would actually impact me. (I basically didn’t want to take responsibility for my own wants/needs, so I focused instead on everyone else’s wants/needs).

So for instance, the decision to drink at a party with an alcoholic loved one. Obviously, our actions and choices affect others. But also, it’s our partner’s human right (being born with free will!) to choose for themselves how they react to my actions. It can be very condescending to try to “protect people from themselves.” And it’s both of our human responsibilities to have and communicate our own boundaries if we have any. Which means I have to make this decision based on knowing myself, and trusting that my partner is someone who can thrive in the way that is best for them while I am thriving in the way that is best for me. (I think that’s the goal for all relationships, including with compromises, anyways!). So for drinking at a party, what does the non-addict partner really want? If feeling obligated not to drink would make a person feel restricted and subconsciously resentful, it’ll never be sustainable to make that choice for a lifelong relationship. In my case, I don’t like drinking, so I didn’t anyway. And some people will make the choice not to drink because their partner’s comfort is their top priority and they don’t want to change that ever (probably not healthy, but hey, it’s their choice!)

Just like all life, the best we can do is make a choice we stand behind, and weather the positive and negative side effects. When I’m in “codependent mode” I secretly crave the magic ability to make choices that ONLY have positive ripple effects. In other words, control the outcome. I just don’t always realize it’s controlling because it’s dressed up in love and anxiety and hope and pain and all those things. I try to think, at the end of my life, I’M the one who dies for me, and I want to be able to look back and stand by how I lived 😂

All that just to say, rather than worry about what is his fault and what is yours, maybe consider what choices are the right choices for you? And are you making those choices for yourself, or for the hope/expectation that you will get a certain pit come?
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Old 07-17-2021, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by edoering View Post
Just like all life, the best we can do is make a choice we stand behind, and weather the positive and negative side effects. When I’m in “codependent mode” I secretly crave the magic ability to make choices that ONLY have positive ripple effects. In other words, control the outcome. I just don’t always realize it’s controlling because it’s dressed up in love and anxiety and hope and pain and all those things. I try to think, at the end of my life, I’M the one who dies for me, and I want to be able to look back and stand by how I lived 😂

All that just to say, rather than worry about what is his fault and what is yours, maybe consider what choices are the right choices for you? And are you making those choices for yourself, or for the hope/expectation that you will get a certain pit come?
I like that phrasing, of pointing to codependent mode as the hope to only create the positive outcomes you desire. I think you've pinned the base nature of it quite accurately.

I do agree it's better to focus on the things we can control: our own actions; like you pointed out. It's a good way to turn my scenario questions on their heads. Like I mentioned earlier, I thought of the thread because of how incongruous the idea of enabling and having no control over our addict's actions felt. At the end of the day though, we're really only capable of controlling ourselves, and should be choosing for ourselves as well.
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