Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A List of Observations

While Uncle Terry was here, we were able to talk to him about his ministry to addicts and alcoholics. Even with experiences we've had personally, there's always more to learn. In fact, some of the things he said made sense to me for the first time!

Why is it that some can drink and others can't?

What are some signs that one has alcoholic tendencies?

What can we do if our loved one is an alcoholic?

I can say that I have been to AA meetings and Al-Anon meetings. I have learned much, but there's nothing like one-on-one information from a person who knows.

1. Why is it that some can drink and others can't? I am convinced, through my own experience and discussions with Uncle Terry, that alcoholism is a disease. If someone had cancer or MS or cerebral palsy, it's easy to have compassion and offer support. The disease of alcoholism seems to be much more selfish and self-inflicted, but it's no less destructive.

However, I firmly believe it is within reach for alcoholics to change their lives. They don't have to live as drunks. This doesn't mean they'll never again want a drink or that they'll stop having the disease of alcoholism. This is why at an AA meeting with people who have been sober for 20 years, they'll introduce themselves as alcoholics, not as used-to-be-an-alcoholic.

I could drink if I wanted to with no ill effects. Himself cannot. Which leads us to the next question:

2. What are some signs that one has alcoholic tendencies? This may be different with every person, but as Uncle Terry spoke I realized how glaring the signs actually are.

Firstly, an alcoholic loses the ability to listen. There's a reason for the saying, "Never argue with a drunk!" Don't argue, because an alcoholic won't hear what you're saying. A word or two just may penetrate during a moment of sobriety, though, if spoken in love.

In my own early marriage, Himself had lost his ability to listen. I, on the other hand, was hurting and needing my husband to hear me. God alone preserved our marriage through this.

Secondly, an alcoholic changes when drinking. That is to say, alcohol changes them. Himself and I got along perfectly during the week. When he began drinking, he became offensive and I became offended. In fact, I couldn't stand to be around him at that time and eventually chose not to.

There are people who drink and never change. Yes, they may be tipsy and twittery or extremely mellow, but their personality doesn't change.

Thirdly; to an alcoholic it's all about the booze. When I would go to a party, I was mainly interested in seeing my friends, playing games, laughing, and having a good time. When Himself went to the same party, he was focused on what there was to drink. Was there going to be a keg? How about the hard stuff? What type of booze should he bring, and how could he keep others from drinking it all before he got to drink it all? I could have one drink and nurse it all night. Himself would not go to bed if there was any beer left in the fridge. I could bring some Pepsi and gladly share with others. Himself would note every bottle, his, that someone else was drinking. He would or wouldn't say anything, but he definitely didn't like it.

Any party without booze was immediately dubbed stupid, boring or childish. I would do everything in my power to make sure he was happy, and he would do everything in his power to make sure I knew he wasn't.

These symptoms only scratch the surface of the disease of alcoholism. If you have a loved one who struggles with this disease, my heart truly goes out to you. I want you to know that as long as there's life, there's hope! I would encourage you to talk to someone without delay. Sometimes, we don't even realize how much we are actually helping our alcoholic stay drunk. No, I did not say their drinking was our fault.

I will address the last question in another post.


Jess said...

I just love Uncle Terry! What insight and wisdom he has, especially regarding this topic! He really helped me think about this issue in a way I've never before thought.
Thanks, Uncle Terry, and thank you for posting.

BA said...

PTL for the changes He is able to make in a person's life. I've seen that occur in many of my extended family who have battled alcholism. Unfortunately, there have also been many horrible consequences along the way. Thankfully the Lord can heal those wounds as well.

We're so glad to know John the way he is now :-).


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