I used to attend 12-step programs. I was married to a recovering alcoholic who attended AA, and I would go to AlAnon. Then when I realized that my life was twisting and twirling around being co-dependant I thought a 12-step program was a good way to understand this and “step” away from it. I am not sure my definition of being co-dependant fit their definition, but I said it was a fancy word for always needing to be so goddamn perfect.
Let’s look at the definition:
|1. mutual need: the dependence of two people, groups, or organisms on each other, especially when this reinforces mutually harmful behavior patterns|
|2. relationship of mutual need: a situation in which a person such as the partner of an alcoholic or a parent of a drug-addicted child needs to feel needed by the other person|
My reason for going is obvious, I was married to an alcoholic. The second definition says it all, we want them to need us the way they need their best friend – the bottle. He told it to me over and over again – the only real friend they have is the bottle. Even after getting sober, they always mourn their loss.
The competition is fierce and it’s always like having a bottle sitting in between the two of you. I remember sitting in a German Biergarten in Munich with him and when I ordered a Belgian beer he said to me “I just have to have a taste.” The key words there are of course “have to have”.
At home he would make Turtle Soup and add Sherry to it stating it was okay, the alcohol burns off. No it is not okay, and it doesn’t burn off in entirety. That best friend lurks everywhere.
The competition for me goes back to my definition of having to always be perfect. The problem is their eyes ONLY the bottle is perfect. I could not compete.
During our marriage of course I did not keep beer or wine in the house. On one particular New Years Eve, I had a bottle of champagne out of the front porch with permission. The bottle hit the fan though when he hosted a huge party and the house was filled with beer and wine. My bottles went into the garage refrigerator from that moment on. The point is he was going to control how and who had alcohol in his house and it was okay to bend all the rules if he did the bending.
Eventually the booze won, even though he did not drink it, his personality traits were still the same as they were before he started drinking. The 12-step program did not work the way he raved about. He performed the steps but all he was at the end of that time was a man who did not drink with the personality of one who still did.
Several of us were discussing the program the other day because the idea that the program revolves around God and asking God for help made us question how it could ever work for people who are A) not church going individuals and B) don’t believe in any form of God.
This is a link to the 12 Steps and I can see where some people would not feel comfortable with it:
I started digging through Google and came up with this alternative and I like it.
Both sides probably have their ongoing disagreements over each other’s beliefs but I think people need to have choices if and when they decide to finally get help. I am not an expert, I am not endorsing either program, I just believe that maybe an alternative could get more people to make a life-changing decision.
You see when your best friend is a bottle all you have looking back at you is your reflection in the glass.