In the same way as the alcoholic cannot understand him or herself, the
mystery of alcoholism makes the family and friends sucked in to his or
her alcoholism likewise confused. Responding to alcoholism is difficult.
Alcoholics do not understand what is happening to them, why it has happened,
what their response is supposed to be. They inwardly struggle with the
question of whether they personally are guilty for what has happened.
They are often embarrassed and with few they feel they can confide in.
Self-understanding is needed, to see themselves as part of a bigger picture...rather
than the woman who lives in apartment number 42 in the block called 98
Nevsky Prospekt...who has a seriously alcoholic husband and no money for
the bills this month and no clothes for the kids and who might soon lose
her job too and who gets beaten up regularly and and and and... She has
to see herself from outside of herself. Anger with the alcoholic and with
the situation generally is a common feature of those who live with them.
Lev. 19:17 says: “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou
shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him”.
The implication is that if we don’t have transparency with our neighbour,
if we don’t rebuke them openly and specifically, then we will end up hating
them. Just saying nothing about the alcoholic relative will only drive
you to hate them in the end.
Take some comfort from a sister who has lived with an alcoholic: “It
is painful to watch the alcoholic, before the 'bout' (as they get
into a state, emotions are all over the place but generally heading
down, as they get more and more cut off emotionally and depression
hits), when you can see the harm they are doing themselves, and
afterwards, when the feelings of failure, shame and wretchedness
hit them. And feeling helpless to stop the downward spiral at that
point in time. It is painful to watch the constant struggle”.