Oh man. That little blue book absolutely does not pull any punches. Without a breath of hesitation, I shot straight back into victim mode as I read it.
It’s about silence, and how the Al-Anon partner often uses it as a tool of spite.
Hang on, I thought, as I read the text, cautioning the reader against using silence as punishment. Yeah, yeah, Let It Begin With Me is a slogan and all, but why do we always have to be the ones to make the first move?
I easily forget the issues the substance abuser has to deal with. It has taken me literal years to detach enough to allow that to be true. It took me literal years to get the focus on myself and chose peacefulness rather than spitefulness, serenity rather than chaos.
When I did, the very thing I didn’t want to happen, did happen > I left my marriage. I also learned I wasn’t the one using the silence as violence and thanks to my healthy reticence, I was able to hear myself for a change.
So once again, I am reminded to take only my fifty per cent of the responsibility and do what I can to keep myself well.
Here’s an excerpt from Many Brave Fools that distills what that was like for me:
At some stage, I realized that I was Talking, but I wasn’t Communicating. This personal insight was akin to throwing down my crutch and walking. Something shifted, something toward a cure, but I didn’t have a clue what the hell it meant. So off I went to the bookstore, a petitioner going to her personal Lourdes, and bought myself a stack of tomes on how to communicate, how not to communicate, what to do if you suspect your partner suffers from depression, what to do to save your marriage, what to do when you have tried to save it and it didn’t work, how to say what you meant in a discussion, how to say what you meant in ten seconds or less.
I did all the exercises, made notes, journaled, and when I was ready, presented my new, improved style to my partner, who sat there in silence, the occasional shrug his only reaction. A book I read said he was “stonewalling.” It was a good term for the insurmountable silence, and its description rang true: a form of confrontation avoidance via a refusal to communicate. It has been described by psychologist Jeffery Pipe as the ‘emotional equivalent to cutting off someone’s oxygen.”