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Establishing Emotional Honesty in Alcoholic Families

Posted by blwood
Barbara Wood is a licensed psychologist who practices in Bethesda, Maryland an
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on Thursday, 27 February 2014
in Co-dependency 0 Comments


Last week I wrote about the power of one parent who remains emotionally sober to preserve the mental and emotional well-being of children growing up in a family struggling with addiction. A colleague,Glenn Richardson who is a trainer and consultant in Texas, responded to my post noted that 12 step guidance about emotional honesty, openness and willingness points the way for parents who are striving for emotional sobriety. I agree with Glenn that emotional honesty is a crucial pillar of emotional sobriety. But what exactly does emotional honesty in an alcoholic family look like? Two things come immediately to my mind.

First of all, there is the classic matter of acknowledging the elephant in the room. Are you (or the family you’re treating) discussing addiction as a central fact of life (perhaps the central fact of life) in the home? Recovering parents often ask me what…or if…they should speak at all about the problem. In fact, I think they must speak and must offer age-appropriate explanations of the addiction, just as families should openly and honestly discuss any other medical disorder that is affecting a loved one. Children who don’t receive important information about problems that are afflicting their parents are left to their own devices to explain the problem and the troubling events that stem from it. They will invent explanations using their own immature cognitive and emotional resources to do so. Children are “ego-centric” in the sense that, lacking the capacity to see the big picture, they seem themselves as the center of most family events. This leads them to believe that they are responsible for the problems–that the adults they love are experiencing distress and behaving badly because of them. This can cause real damage to the sense of self and self-esteem.

Another important aspect of emotional honesty is a willingess on the part of the adults in the family to express their own feelings about important events in the family–in a contained and proportionate way of course. Sadness and anger are natural things to feel about illness of any kind in a family. Children know when their parents are unhappy and worried, even when parents think they are concealing it well. Parents are often surprised at their childrens’ responses when they finally admit that they are sad/or angry about the circumstances the family’s facing. I remember well what happened when one father, who had been keeping a stiff upper lip about his separation from his drug-addicted wife, finally told his young son how sad he felt that his wife had left the home. His normally reserved son began to sob about his own grief. This dad had always believed that his son was temperamentally quiet and limited in his ability to express feelings. However, now it seemed that what he’d needed all along was his dad’s permission to grieve openly about his mother’s departure.

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HELP - Married to an Addict

Posted by sbamagirl8
sbamagirl8 has not set their biography yet
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on Thursday, 04 October 2012
in Drug Addiction 1 Comment
I've always heard that putting your feelings down is suppose to help so here I go. I've never blogged before. I have no idea what I'm doing here. I guess that I am to the end of my rope and I'm hoping that someone may give me some feedback or advice. I am a recovering addict. I've been clean for over 7 years by the grace of God, but I'm not actively in a 12 step program. My husband is also an addict. Actively using as we speak.
He does good for a few weeks and then falls off the wagon and uses for several days. I'm tired of living this life. We have 3 boys who are 15, 13, and 10. The 13 year old is my step-son and doesn't live with us.
I try to keep my husbands using a secret. I don't want my boys to know what their dad is doing because I don't know what kind of effect it will have on them. I also keep it a secret because I am ashamed. I don't want people to know that my husband is using again. I guess I don't want to hear all of the I told you so's.
I am depressed. I don't know what to do. I want him to stop using. I know enough about recovery to know that he isn't doing this because he doesn't love us. I know this but it is so hard to keep this fact in mind. I'm a recovering addict, I know this but it just doesn't seem to help. I know that he love's us as much as he is capable of loving us. But, if he is using then he doesn't love himself. If he doesn't love himself then he can't love anyone else. My husband is such a smart, funny, loving person. I don't want to loose him but I can't keep living this way. I'm tired of the lies. I'm tired of emotions constantly going up and down. I'm tired of waiting for the next slip up. I'm tired of crying. I'm tired of feeling like my heart is being ripped out of my chest. I'm tired of worrying if he has taken too much and won't wake up. I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. I just want a normal life, a normal family.
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It's not all about the addict

Posted by coachbev
coachbev has not set their biography yet
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on Tuesday, 17 January 2012
in Co-dependency 0 Comments

Ever find yourself thinking obsessively about your addicted loved one, wondering where they are, what they are doing, what they are thinking, if they are okay? Ever think that if you stop checking on them something terrible will happen and that if it weren't for them, your life would be so much better?

If so, you are not alone. One of the signs of codependency is being unable to stop thinking, talking, and building your life around your loved one. Notice, I said 'loved one' and not 'addicted loved one'.

In Alanon, there's a saying that you belong here if you are troubled by someone's drinking. In other words, it's not their problem, it is yours. You are troubled.

So the next time you find yourself obsessing about your loved one's drinking, drugging, smoking or other difficult behavior, remember that it truly is NOT about them. It's about YOU. It's about how you are spending the precious seconds, moments, hours and days of YOUR life.

Loving someone who uses is difficult.True. But, how and whether we respond or react to their behavior says more about us and our recovery than it does about theirs.

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