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Duh!

email

email (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

I got the email from his therapist and as soon as I opened it I literally said aloud: DUH! (The quote button isnt working so all bits from the article are in italic)

‘Growing Up with Drinking or Other Substance Abuse
When a parent or important adult misuses or abuses alcohol or another substance, it can have a profound effect on the whole family, especially on the children. You may have asked yourself, “How was my family affected?”
Although each family differs, there are some common qualities within families where an adult abuses alcohol or another substance. These similarities include: the fact that life feels chaotic, people feel inconsistent, roles are unclear, rules are arbitrary, and change feels daunting. There may also be relational conflict, repetitious and illogical thinking, and perhaps violence and various abuses including sexual, verbal, and physical. The family is dominated by the co-existence of denial and substance use. The substance use becomes the major family secret, often denied inside the family as well as to outsiders. In an effort to hold the family together in the face of difficulties caused by the substance abuse, the family changes its strategies for coping and the beliefs it shares.
Claudia Black, a leading author and theorist regarding the impact of adult substance abuse on children, has written about several rules in alcoholic homes including, but not limited to, these:
 1.    Don’t feel. Due to the constant pain of living with an adult substance user, a child must “quit feeling” in order to survive. After all, what’s the use of hurting all the time? In these families, when emotions are expressed, they are often abusive and are frequently prompted by drunkenness. These outbursts have no positive result and, along with the drinking, are usually denied the following day. Thus, children have had few if any opportunities to see emotions expressed appropriately, or used to foster constructive change. “So,” the child thinks, “why feel anything, when the feelings will only get out of control and won’t change anything anyway? I don’t want to hurt more than I already do.”
 2.    Don’t talk. Children of adult substance users learn in their families not to talk about a huge part of their reality – the drinking or substance use. This results from the family’s need to deny that a problem exists and that drinking is tied to that problem. That which is so evident must not be spoken aloud. There is often an unspoken hope that, if no one mentions the drinking, it won’t happen again. There is also no good time to talk. It is impossible to talk when a parent is drunk; but when that parent is sober, everyone wants to forget. From this early training, the children often develop a tendency to not talk about anything unpleasant.
 3.    Don’t trust. In alcoholic families, promises are often forgotten, celebrations cancelled and adults’ moods unpredictable. As a result, children learn not to count on others and often have a hard time believing that others can care enough to follow through on their commitments.’

a beautiful macro shot of Crystal Methamphetam...

Crystal Methamphetamine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One thing I have known from the start is that his dad (back in the states) is a meth addict. How did I not put the 2 together?! I suppose its because he’s always been quite matter-of-fact about it and at the same time he’s always kind of brushed over it. I must admit I’ve always found their relationship strange, he’s told me what kind of man his dad was when he (my husband) was younger, the extent of the drugs and money problems etc, he’s painted a rather negative image of him and yet he calls him every now and then and makes the effort with him…wanted to visit him next time we go to the states etc

I know from experience that every family has their secrets, issues…their black sheep…so I just took it as that and left it alone. My dad was (probably is) an alcoholic – which is probably where I get some of my (almost) co-dependent characteristics; I’ve had family members or friends linked to drugs…but never the strong stuff. Never meth. So I don’t think I understood just how serious that is.When I told my counsellor his reaction was a raised eyebrow, wide eyes and…‘WOW…yeah that’ll do it’

His dad has sons much older than him and his mum has a daughter who is older too…the 2 then had my husband…and split a few years later. I haven’t met any of his family but judging by the contact between them now he’s across the pond the brothers at least don’t seem very close to him. He talks to his mum and his sister tries to control him from afar…its all very complicated and I’m sure they all have their issues to boot…I’m just not married to them.

The article goes on to say: “If my family is the root of all this, why do my brothers and sisters seem OK?”…Each family member tends to find his or her own way to live with these rules. Different “roles” emerge for children in their attempts to make sense of the chaos.’ It talks about the ‘Hero – the responsible children’ (which describes his sister), the ‘Placater- people pleaser’ and the entertainers. Also the adjuster and the scapegoat which were the 2 which I found most interesting in relation to my husband.

Adjuster: These children learn never to expect or to plan anything, and tend to follow without question. They often strive to be invisible and to avoid taking a stand or rocking the boat. As a result, they often come to feel that they are drifting through life and are out of control.

Scapegoat: These people are identified as the “family problem.” They are likely to get into various kinds of trouble, including drug and alcohol abuse, as a way of expressing their anger at the family. They also function as a sort of pressure valve; when tension builds in the family, the scapegoat will misbehave, allowing the family to avoid dealing with the drinking problem. Scapegoats tend to be unaware of feelings other than anger.

Crystal Meth

Crystal Meth (Photo credit: eighteen1)

I just cant believe I didn’t even consider how his dads behaviour would have affected him. My counsellor explained to me more about the lifestyle surrounding most meth addicts; the paranoia, the panic or need for money and more drugs… the things you would be exposed to when buying it, the people, the places associated. Maybe not in my husbands case…and to be fair he still doesn’t remember most of his life before the ages of 9 so who knows what he experienced? However, apparently the more him and his therapist talk about his past the more he is starting to remember slowly so that sounds hopeful…so what happens next? Lets go back to the article…

‘Trying to forget the past without understanding how it affected you will usually not work, and may prolong its costs. Because you learned as a child to relate to others by following your family’s rules, you are likely to bring these same behaviours into your adult relationships, even if you do not think you will.

Recovery: The best way to “move on” is to squarely face the past, its importance, and its meaning for you. Often this means understanding your parents and yourself, so that the healing process can begin. You can actively work to replace self-destructive behaviours with healthy behaviours. Recovery from co-dependency involves accepting your reality, becoming in tune with your thoughts and feelings, setting boundaries in your relationships, expressing your wants and needs, and establishing a sense of self-worth, self-love, and self-appreciation.

To summarise… its going to take a lot of work lol but at least that work has started in his sessions.

xBx

 

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