While playing soccer last weekend, my son pointed and laughed at me. We were running around on a frosty morning, and I had developed a string of snot dangling from my left nostril. I thanked my son for drawing my attention to the booger chain (while drawing the attention of everyone else, too), and made the very classy move of grabbing it with my hand and wiping it on my leg (why I didn’t wipe it on the grass is a mystery to me). Other than some exclamations of, “Oooh yuck,” and, “Gross,” it was over and we played on. Luckily, in the age of COVID, there were no handshakes or high-fives for the other players to awkwardly avoid after the game. I did notice no one wanted to rub my leg in celebration.
None of us like having our embarrassing imperfections brought to our attention. But sometimes, it takes the perspective of someone else for us to see what is right in front of our own faces (or dangling from our own faces). That external perspective is important, and it must be shared with us in order for us to take control of the uncontrollable. When the status quo is a disgusting mess, we need to be shown how badly we need to clean ourselves up.
December is the month of giving, and there really is no better time to give the ones we love a heads-up about their boogers. OK, I’m not really talking about snot anymore. I’m talking about the people close to us who drink excessive amounts of alcohol with damaging frequency.
It is universally accepted that we cannot change people. So why point out concerning patterns of behavior that our loved ones can’t see in themselves? If we can’t change it, why bother dredging up the shame and destruction? We point to the problems because maybe by doing so, we will push the drinkers we love over the shameful edge and into a mindset of seeking the help they need. The holidays are a painful time for us excessive drinkers. Binging leads to shame and regret. We might just recognize that our flailing mood swings and alcohol-induced depression and anxiety are unsustainable. The stressful rollercoaster might, in fact, jerk us to attention if we are nudged toward the truth.
There are several ways to make the declaration. You could give yourself a t-shirt that says, “I’m with an obnoxious drunk,” and wear it when you are with your loved one. Or you could hire a trained monkey to knock the drink out of your loved one’s hand everytime he opens a beer or pours a cocktail. Both of those might be effective in delivering your message, but they also might cause more damage to your relationship than his drinking is already leaving in its wake.
Here’s another idea that has the advantage of discretion along with the impact of honesty. Give the drinker about whom you feel concern a book. Do I have any recommendations, you might be wondering? Why yes. You should give your boozy loved one my book. It is titled, soberevolution: Evolve into Sobriety and Recover Your Alcoholic Marriage. Since you love this excessive drinker, there is a lot in soberevolution for you, too. Maybe you should buy it now to give you a chance to read it before you give it away. Or buy two copies. Who knows…it might just change your life.
That last paragraph was a pretty hard sell. If I was reading this post, that’s probably where I would have stopped reading. I would have identified the writer as greedy and self-promoting, and looked for wisdom from someone not trying to capitalize on the pain of my family. If you decide to read no further, I won’t blame you.
But here’s the thing: People who write books about addiction, recovery and relationships don’t do it to make money. When you sell books in the thousands of copies (like my book), you don’t make any real money. Stephen King and J.K. Rowling (who sell millions of books) aren’t in the self-help genre for a reason.
I wrote soberevolution because I couldn’t not write it.
When I found sobriety and recovered from alcoholism, I thought I had overcome the greatest challenge of my life. Then I realized recovering my alcoholic marriage would be much harder than quitting drinking. Against the odds, my relationship with my wife survived, and the story had to be told. Not only is our story valuable, but the lessons we learned and the suggestions we share are not available anywhere. Like a dangling booger, the book just kind of oozed out of me.
Everyday we are asked questions that are answered in the book. “How did you know you were an alcoholic since you were successful at your job and you kept your family intact?” “If you didn’t believe in the Alcoholics Anonymous philosophy, how did you get sober?” “Why are you so vocal about your sobriety? When it comes to SHOUTing about sobriety, what’s in it for you?” And, “How did your marriage survive the resentment, lack of trust and destruction of intimacy?” We didn’t publish our book to get rich. We published soberevolution because our story is the same story shared by millions, and our survival gives hope to others. When we escaped from the trauma of alcoholism, we learned a lot. Our book is the trail of breadcrumbs left for millions of others who suffer.
The alcoholic you love might feel exactly how I felt four Christmases ago. I was in excruciating pain from debilitating depression, and I was running out of options. Neither AA nor 30 day inpatient rehab were a fit for me, and I felt the walls of shame and hopelessness closing in. If you think your loved one who drinks too much is running out of options, maybe throw him a lifeline. Stuff soberevolution in his stocking. It is way more subtle than pointing and laughing, and our book will be way easier to procure than an, “I’m with an obnoxious drunk,” t-shirt.
Giving the truth is really hard, especially when we have participated in the denial for years. But giving a book that might just help him turn the corner is way better than another painful discussion or another hate-filled argument, isn’t it? You can’t change people. But you can lead him to the truth. Let me deliver the message. You just have to wrap it and give it. Is the relationship worth saving? Does he deserve another shot at embracing the truth?
If you are ready for your copy of soberevolution, you have options (Amazon is just one of them). Please click the button below to see how you can join the soberevolution. I might not get rich, but it might just change your life.