The three C’s

The three C's from al-anon

One of the most common problems when dealing with an addict in your life is that you blame yourself.  You ask yourself: “Why is it that no matter what I do and how hard I try, the addict(s) in my life doesn’t change and the pain and suffering doesn’t stop”. Or “What am I doing wrong, for if I would do it right, he or she would not drink, do drugs, etc.”

In my upcoming book I explain how and why this is.

Something that may be very helpful to you now is what is referred to in AA and Al-anon as “the three C’s”:

you did not Cause it,

you can’t Control it, and

you can’t Cure it

I remember years ago – in one of the first al-anon meetings that I attended – hearing about this and I thought to myself  “Yeah right; says who?”  I was unable to accept that I had no influence whatsoever over the addiction of my partner.

Based on the many stories I had the privilege of sharing, it would not surprise me if you react in exactly the same way, dismissing the three C’s as nonsense.

Well, let’s do a reality check. Take an honest look at reality. For how long and in in how many ways have you been trying time and time again to change the addict’s behavior. How many times have you tried to change and control the addict, by trying to hide alcohol or drugs, by throwing them away, by emptyin bottles, by making deals (“if you don’t drink than I will do something for you” or “if you don’t stop drinking I will leave you or throw you out”). And I can go on and on giving other examples….

Did it work? Did it cure the addict? The answer – more than likely, or surely – is an obvious no. I can honestlly tell you that three c’s are true. It took me a long long time to believe this, but I do now.  How?

Well, I keep a journal and one day I was re-reading through some older ones. And as I did, it all of a sudden came to me. I had done and tried so incredibly many things to change, control and cure my partner, that it bordered to insanity. And I wrote it myself, so there was no way of denying it (see my articles on denial in this blog).

And then I remebered that a couple of days before, my al-anon sponsor had told me: “Paulus, listening to you, and I am sorry to say so, but you really sound like you are insane. You keep doing and trying the same type of things over and over again for years, and you still believe that the outcome will be different. Did you know Paulus, that this is the definition of insanity. Haven’t you listened to the stories of your fellow al-anon members. Isn’t it clear to you?”

For a moment it seemed as if everything around me had stopped, time stood still. And then came the tears, of joy, of relief and of acceptance of all the suffering that – yes – I accepted, but I could now leave behind. It was a turning point in my own road to recovery.

One day you too will come to realize that feeling guilt or blame for the addiction of another is truly insane. I hope that day comes soon, because when it does a great weight will fall from your shoulders and you can begin to recover and put this effort in healing from your own wounds. You are good enough and you can be happy again.

Paulus

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