From the time I awakened until the end of the day, I spent countless hours worrying about what the alcoholic was doing. This was a very dangerous thing for me to do because I would create scenarios in my mind that were outrageous. I was a master at projecting the worst possible things you can imagine that an alcoholic spouse might do.
I was worried that she would have an affair. I was concerned that she might get arrested. When she wouldn’t come home, I would fear that she wouldn’t make it to work the next day and then lose her job. I imagined that she might end up overdosing on something. The list of projections is endless.
My life used to be consumed with all of these types of dysfunctional thoughts. When I joined an alcoholism support group called Al-non that is when I learned that a great percentage of my projections would never happen. I’ll never forget how comforting that it was to learn that there were others who thought and acted just like me.
Will worrying about anyone add a single day to your life? Of course not. Is there anything that we can do to stop an alcoholic from cheating on us? Do we have any power over whether they will get arrested or lose their job? Not really…In most cases we are powerless over an alcoholic.
I like this quote:
“This day is all I have to work with, and it is all I need. If I am tempted to worry about tomorrow’s concerns, I will gently bring my mind back to today” (page 10-Courage To Change daily reader from Al-anon).
How To Stop Worrying About An Alcoholic
The key to not worrying about an alcoholic is found in letting go of the problem drinker. When we realize that nothing we have done in the past has made them quit drinking, then we can start changing our thinking patterns.
Why would we want to think differently? The main reason is so that we can experience peace of mind once again. There’s nothing enjoyable about thinking about an alcoholic all of the time. The problem most defiantly is in our minds. It gets really frustrating when we are with our kids or trying to read or enjoy a movie and all we can think about is what the alcoholic is doing. They’ve gradually grown into being an overwhelming distraction that robs us from the opportunity to enjoy the moment that we are living in.
Here are a few things that can help:
- Let them go completely. You have no power over their choices.
- When they are out at the party, find things to do that you enjoy.
- Live in the moment. Stay out of the past and avoid fearing the future of your life with the alcoholic.
- Attend support group meetings and interact with the friends you have made there after meetings. The best way to do this is through making phone calls.
- Be aware of your surroundings. This means smell the roses, enjoy the sunset and be aware of the sights, and sounds that surround you.
- Be thankful for the things you have. A great way to move from gloom is by making a list of things that you are grateful for.
Sometimes I think that when I am focused on the alcoholic’s behaviors that I am mentally preparing myself to handle tomorrow. I can run through all of the “what-if’s” and then formulate a game plan of how I will handle these imaginary events if they come to fruition. Worrying doesn’t protect me from the future, it just keeps me from living life to the full in the hear and now.
Worrying can be arrested when we realize that we are responsible for our behavior and the alcoholic is responsible for theirs. As much as we would like to control the situation, we should have learned by now that we cannot.
Although relationships with alcoholics are difficult to maintain, we find inner strength when we begin to manage our own life and let them mess up theirs. I understand the difficulty that this presents because the entire family is impacted by the things that the problem drinker does. This is just a fact that everyone is going to be influenced by their addiction to alcohol. Worrying is not going to change the situation. You can begin to have a happy life while being with an alcoholic. One of the key components to finding more happiness is stop worrying.