Sometimes I get so angry. I live with someone’s alcoholism. I didn’t know about it until two years ago, when the lies and secrets started rearing their ugly heads before me. And then they just grew. And grew. And I went through so many stages. Controlling. Snooping. Grieving. Raging. Crying. One after the other. And back again like a big loop. Found Al-Anon (the 12 steps for us who deal with another’s alcoholism). Discovered on-line forums where I was blown away to discover I’m not the only one. That was good for me because I figured out that at least I’m not crazy.
So yeah, it’s been 2 years of this. And at the root of it all, I’m face-to-face with the realization of just how powerless I am to change other people. And in a way, I’m stuck with having to deal with it alone. It’s not that people aren’t supportive. Heck, I’m surrounded by a bunch of people who express their concern. But yet, they don’t have any more power than I do to change the situation. So, I’m glad for the support. It helps in its own way. But at the same time, it can’t change what I still end up having to find my way through.
Didn’t cause it, can’t cure it, can’t control it. That’s one of the 12-step mantras. I think it nails the core issue of any kind of addiction. But not so much the cause part. That comes up when your alcoholic tries to make you feel like they drink because of you. That one you eventually move past. And not so much the cure part, because it’s chronic. Though you do ask yourself whether you want to live for the rest of your life with the threat of relapses (plural!). But since my alcoholic hasn’t even found recovery the first time, that one’s a non issue right now. No, it’s the control part. Why can’t they understand what they’re doing to themselves and everyone around them? Why do they still blame everyone else for losing their job? Your friends block your calls because they’re tired of your drunk dialing, but you keep on drinking.
So maybe the biggest thing I’m learning is how to wrap my head around that last bit. Not that I’ll understand. Never. But it’s the big immovable force in my life that sits there, demanding that I address it. God’s with me in this, no doubt. My faith is strong, and I feel assurance of it. But I don’t believe for one second that God will change it. I just don’t. I think it’s me, God, and addiction sitting in the same room, and what now? I feel a little reassured to sense God’s presence – that helps a lot. But basically, we’re going to sit like this forever, and the only thing that’s going to change is me, in whatever way my thinking or feeling changes so that I can continue to sit here and be more o.k. than I am right now.
When you read or hear stories about other people in relationships like this, the first thing you ask is why they’re sticking around. Even I do it, despite my own reality. And I could totally leave and put this all behind me. But I just can’t seem to do that right now. Sure, I play little movies in my head where I move out, but then the feeling passes. You get frustrated because you can’t seem to hang on to any convictions. The wisest people I read tend to say that you’ll “just know when it’s time.” Like, when? How? That kind of leaves you feeling more frustrated than hopeful.
I guess today I feel like this it something to place in God’s hands. We always want to focus on taking action, taking control. And let’s be honest, that pretty much works for a lot of Christians, and Christian traditions. Otherwise we’d all be orthodox Lutherans, right? In seminary, I’ve started to come to terms with my image of God. What do I really believe God is. I am aware that I paint God as all-knowing and all-seeing. And that works for me. So I give my unknowing in God, for however God will continue to change who I am. This will not resolve today. Not tomorrow. But some day I really will know that it’s time, and until then I will practice patience.
That’s why I’m posting this. We try to turn God into some kind of answer machine for us. The mystery is in why it sometimes works. My theory is that our imaginations seem to be tied to it. I suppose I prefer a God who remains somewhat unknowable. And I prefer thinking that we have some powerlessness that we must continue to come to terms with. Not in a “I’m so thankful that I get to learn how to be patient.” I think that’s kind of crap and self-delusional (and just another way we try to give ourselves control, so we’re just as curved inward by making it to be about us and how great we’ll be). No, for me, just being patient in-between a rock and a hard place, and discerning how God sits in it with me.