Earlier this week I attended an Alanon meeting to support a church member going for the first time. It had been quite a few years, but (just as before) the wisdom of a group of people gathered together to support each other under the guidance of their Higher Power was refreshing and inspiring. The best insight I got from the meeting was a new perspective on the dysfunctional family quoted from the source below. I’ve put it into my words:
The “me”holic manipulates the family with the following methods:
1. Their ability to raise our anxiety, which is their way to get you to do their work for them. We rescue in order to help, but also to reduce our own anxiety. This removes the consequences which are a major force for change.
2. Their ability to raise our anger, which is their way to get us to react to their behavior in a way that relieves their guilt; when we get angry, it lowers us to their level as we lose a perceived moral superiority, and whatever guilt they feel disappears. Causing us to lash out or punish makes them feel that they have suffered or paid the price for their wrong deed. This results in a total loss of the ability to change the situation because the guilt building up that brings change drops to zero. This includes lecturing, blaming and scolding.
3. Their ability, through #1 and #2, to focus us to take responsibility for life which allows them to succeed without changing. When we “fix it” and don’t “fix them” we fix symptoms and not causes. Rescuing allows the meolic to successfully avoid consequences, responsibility, work/effort and commitment.
What we need to do: pull out of the system that supports their decline, that allows them to go downhill without consequences which would stop downward progress. It’s a blessed thing, one person shared, to go to bed at night and rejoice that in that day, she did not contribute to her husbands downfall by her behavior.
Source: A Guide for the Family of The Alcoholic – Pamphlet, 20 pp. Author: Joseph L. Kellermann Publisher: Hazelden Published Year: 1969. Weapons used by the alcoholic to control the family and cover up for consequences of problem drinking are destructive and deadly. Here are ways that the family can defend itself. This pamphlet, written by the author of Alcoholism: A Merry-go-round Named Denial, can help all family members take a look at their involvement and urges family members to seek help from support groups.