The seemingly insignificant thing which causes the inability or unwillingness to endure any more of the burden.
Q I am 25, and my father was an alcoholic all my life until two years ago. My older brother is an alcoholic in denial. He's a sweet guy but, even when sober, can be snappy. I'm worried because I don't want to go through what my mum has gone through. Her brother is an alcoholic, and she is responsible for him even now.
My younger brother seems okay, but I’m scared something will happen to him as well. I love my family and have taken a lot of their baggage and put it upon myself. I remember my mother saying to me when I was 13, “Stop thinking like a 43-year-old.” (Her age at the time.)
To heighten the unpredictability of living with an alcoholic father, my dad is a diplomat, and our family hasn’t lived under the same roof for 14 years. We all have been affected by him, in the broadest sense, as his diplomacy gave us opportunities otherwise unavailable. However, that was paired with hurt and disappointment.
I was bulimic from 17 to 22. I had counseling and now understand why I was the way I was. I would like to go to counseling with my brother. A colleague of mine said I need to let go and start my own life, but he’s my brother.
My boyfriend is also the child of an alcoholic, but that comforts me as I think “I’ll look after you.” I want so desperately to feel settled. My mum is superwoman. Only God knows what she’s had to put up with. We are where we are today because of her perseverance.
A Emma, in C.S. Lewis' book "That Hideous Strength" a character must choose sides. One side promises him power, but they have framed him for a murder. That group feeds his negative wants. The other group contains people he wishes he was like, but they don't make him promises for the future or feed his negative energy.
The man begs for time to decide. He wants something from both groups. He seeks a middle ground. During his hour of indecision he is arrested for murder and thrown in a tiny cell. Alone, he realizes what he’s allowed the negative things in life to do to him.
You also seek a middle ground. You admit to the devastating impact of alcohol on your life, yet you cling to the ideal of the perfect family, one untouched by alcohol. That is not your reality. You credit your mother with strength, yet at 13 you acted like 43. Why? Because you were trying to parent the people around you. The adults did not possess the strength you needed.
Your will is to make the people around you different because you want them different, but you don’t have that right. You don’t have the power to change who your father is, who your brothers are, or who anyone is but yourself. You proved that. You worked on your bulimia, understood its roots, and overcame it.
Even though things are not working the way you want them to work, there is an underlying rightness in this situation. We each have free will. Even though your intentions are good, you cannot run over someone else’s will.
We are born as individuals on this planet for a reason. Our first duty is to ourselves. Our first job is to keep ourselves alive and whole. If we don’t, we are of no use to anyone else. To have a purpose which cannot succeed, because it is not in our power to make it succeed, is to waste what we have.
Do what is right for you–what you can succeed in doing so your energies are not wasted. Take your colleague’s advice. Let go of their lives, and begin your own. That’s the only life you get to rule, the only life you get to run, and the only life you can actually ruin.
Wayne & Tamara
Invade – to enter as if to take possession, to intrude upon.