I see an uncle next door constantly getting drunk and abusing his wife and children. I feel sorry for them and while, in all sincerity, I want to do something about him & his family, I honestly don’t know what to do. He is well read, educated and a highly sort after lawyer. And sometimes even when I mustered the courage to walk up to him and confront him with the truth that he’s an alcoholic, the power of his legal knowledge almost immediately brings me back.
So, the other day, I met his daughter, almost my age, in the neighbourhood park, during my morning walk. She looked angry to me at first and while I first thought that I should make use of this sudden encounter and talk to her about her dad, her facial expression of anger, again stopped me. She sat next to me on the bench and listened to music on her phone. I contemplated and finally asked…what are you listening to? She said, it’s a different kind of music. Do you want to try? And passed me one of her earphone. I hesitantly took it and plugged it in my ear.
After 15 minutes of silent music, we got talking. A few meetings later, every morning, she shared her story. With a lot of difficulty, she said – “My dad is an alcoholic”
Her mom and herself have been struggling with an alcoholic family member since last few years and are completely clueless on what to do. They feel talking about his addiction is bringing a bad name to the family. And therefore, have been struggling with the issue alone. Along the process, they themselves have started getting emotionally affected by being around an alcoholic.
This is the story of pretty much every family member of an alcoholic. It’s not just the alcoholic who needs help; their family members too need support. Families of alcoholics need to understand the very basic fact that they need to stop enabling the alcoholic. This means that the alcoholic needs to be made aware that they’ll not be enabled by their family either by covering up their habit from outside world or being helped around for their daily chores. The family should stop lying for the alcoholic. Stop lying for the sake of family pride, stop lying to save alcoholic’s job or reputation. In order to break the cycle, the alcoholic needs to feel the need to break the cycle. Unless the family stops enabling the habit of their alcoholic, the situation of denial will continue.
Don’t encourage the King Baby Syndrome
Human beings are born narcissists. It’s a natural instinctive survival technique adopted by most people. The feeling of returning to the womb, with the warmth, security and comfort, which all of us desire is simply uncontrollable. During our infant days, we are the centre of our universe. All our primary needs are taken care off. As we grow and mature up, most of our king baby syndrome mentality is discarded and gets replaced by more appropriate life skills. However, some of us progress through the stages of physical growth without shedding this so-called “King Baby” attitude.
Alcoholics suffering from this “King Baby Syndrome” want the same level of self-centered gratification like babies and young children. Families of alcoholics need to be aware of King Baby Syndrome and definitely not encourage it.
As I started meeting this new found friend of mine and she as well as her mother confided in me over endless cups of coffee, we’d often have at The Hangout, we spoke at length about their issues, more than their dad’s. Like they say during the security procedures in airlines, secure your mask before helping others; it’s the same with families of alcoholics. Help yourself overcome your emotional issues. Only then you’ll be able to help your loved one break the cycle of addiction.
Show some self-love. Bring in the concept of #MeFirst in your life. Don’t enable your alcoholic family member. Reboot to Life.
This blog is written by Mira (name changed) on behalf of Reboot Wellness. Mira observes and engages with people visiting Reboot Wellness.