You can love me. There are times I am sure you will hate me. You will repeatedly become exasperated with me. You might be proud of me. You may be embarrassed because of, and by me. You will often want to protect me. Sometimes you will be scared of me.
But regardless of what else you do…
DO NOT TRUST ME because I am an alcoholic.
There are those of you battle hardened by the endless struggle with a loved one suffering from an addiction that will know this. Some of you will have been clued in by Al-Anon or Nar-Anon and are trying to accept this. But there will be a few who read this that will not believe me or think I am just being dramatic and divisive, and it is for these we should say a prayer.
Read more below the fold…
The short version of my definition of an addiction is when someone places a substance or action above all other things in life, including life itself. Many of those without addictions have a very hard time grasping this concept. Putting alcohol above the welfare of their child, shooting up despite the risk of disease and death, or selling one’s self for an intoxicated evening just does not compute. When I was actively feeding my addiction, I would lie, cheat, and steal; anything to enable my drinking habit.
Lying to loved ones and family members was not only easier, it also usually brought the greatest results. One thing I learned as an alcoholic was, the more they love you- the more they want and feel the need to think you are being truthful… and I took advantage of this mercilessly. Yes I did feel bad about it. In fact it made me want to drink even more so I could forget what kind of wretched creature I had become, but it never stopped me from coming back with the lies.
Remember when dealing with those with addictions love should not equal trust, friendship should not equal trust, loyalty should not equal trust, and offering help does not require trust. When dealing with those new to recovery, stick to the rule President Reagan used for the old Soviet Union: Trust but verify. As much as I hate to say it, even for those who are in long term recovery: Trust but stay alert for signs of relapse.
I know this was a horribly depressing entry, but it takes more than tough talk to get through to those exhibiting enabling behavior (wink, wink, this means you).
I know about these things, trust me… I’m an alcoholic.