Many of us grew up in homes that were full of turmoil. We experienced a lot of anger and shouting on an almost daily basis. Or perhaps we were witness to one parent giving the other “the cold treatment”. Because we were young we attempted to create meaning to these types of experiences. Unfortunately, we often misinterpreted all of the commotion in our homes by taking responsibility for it. We thought that mommy or daddy were upset because of something we had said or done. This often followed us into adulthood. If someone was angry, resentful or upset, we immediately began to examine our actions to see how we had caused that reaction.
The reality is that just because someone is upset does not mean that we have done something wrong. Quite often people’s negative states have nothing to do with us. Even if we have done something that has upset someone we need to remember that people have choices as to how to react. If we have made our amends and they want to hold onto their feelings, that is their decision. We are no longer the cause of their upset. We just need to keep our side of the street clean.
Personal Reflection: Do I take undue responsibility for the feelings of others?
Many families have suffered because of the drinking or drugging of a family member. After years of pleading and angry confrontations the alcoholic or addict finally enters the program. Over time, one can see that they are doing better on many levels. They relatively quickly regain their health. Their work situation also improves as well. The non addict family members breathe a sigh of relief and hopes they can now move forward; closing an unfortunate chapter in their lives.
To their dismay, there are still many problems in their relationship with the now sober spouse, parent or child. Although they put down their drug of choice, an entirely new set of problems begins to emerge. Upon investigation, the “non addict” realizes that addiction was a family disease. Certain family dynamics were established during the years of alcohol, drug or food abuse. Many of the so called “innocent” spouses, parents or children weren’t so innocent after all. Perhaps they were enablers or deniers. They realized that they needed help as well to deal with their role in the family disease of alcoholism and addiction. They needed to admit that they were powerless over their addict family member. That’s when they walked through the doors of Alanon or Naranon and began their own recovery journey.
Personal Reflection: Do I as the non addict work my own program of recovery?