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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH PAUL AND STEVE Incorporating Questions and Answers for families
Shirley: Life seems intolerable without drink. Alcohol is a social lubricant. How can I socialize without drink? Paul: Can I ask you when you last enjoyed a social evening drinking, Shirley?Shirley:[Long pause. Blank expression] Come to think of it - not for a long time. I’ve embarrassed myself so many times in black-outs that people stopped inviting me to social gatherings.Paul: Precisely! A common scenario. There’s a whole new world awaiting you out there, Shirley. You’ll find ways of socializing that are novel and exciting. I joined meditation groups, attended self-development workshops, trained as a counsellor, and in the process met a wealth of new friends: true friends. In fact, I didn’t know the true meaning of socializing until I quit drink! (Paul’s face emanating a joy that relays the depth of truth he speaks)Shirley:Do you think it’s possible to drink ‘normally’ after misusing alcohol?Paul:To my knowledge, when a person crosses the Abreactive Threshold, they never return to moderate drinking. Every subsequent attempt to imbibe alcohol results in an abnormal reaction. These abreactions can manifest on a mental, emotional and/ or physical level – or a combination of any or all of them. One very apparent and common foible of abreaction is a compelling desire to drink more. John:I drink to drown out my past. My parents fought like cat and dog and my father drank away all the money. I was ridiculed at school and isolated because of the shabby clothes I wore.Steve: It’s often helpful to seek professional assistance in resolving such issues, John. The futility of your situation is plainly evident. You consume alcohol to suppress memories of your past, but suppression is not a cure; it’s simply avoidance. The best way to escape your problems is to solve them. I know through personal experience. My childhood was extremely difficult, too. I was abandoned at birth and sexually abused by my foster father. For years I blamed these experiences for my abusive alcohol consumption. Then I woke up! Blame, I realised, was just an argument against growth. I was entitled to a wonderful life and the only thing depriving me of it was myself. With the aid of Paul and his psychodynamic counselling skills, I worked through my childhood and resolved the issues I had. I would recommend it to anyone; it’s such a liberating experience! and now I’m truly free. Paul: Yes, John. By suppressing unresolved experiences from our past, we give them power. Continuous suppression of these issues eventually leads to repression; the process by which unresolved experience is banished to our unconscious mind. Rather than be dead and buried: these experiences are buried alive and find expression in our lives in various detrimental ways: neuroses, phobias, inhibitions, addictions, mood swings, the list goes on and on. As Steve says, the only way to escape our problems is to solve them. May I suggest you book an appointment with one of our foundation’s counsellors. They are specifically trained to assist with such challenges and financial assistance is available, too, should you need it.John: Yes. Thank You. I’ll take your advice. Coming from you two guys, I know it’s authentic. You have both been through in the gutter yourselves.. and look at you now! And you, Steve. I’ve read your story and my childhood problems pale into insignificance in comparison with yours. If you can turn your life around after that – then so can I! (a renewed sense of determination now evident in John’s tone).Robbie: I’ve amassed considerable debt through drinking. Lost my house, my car, and my family in the process. What have I got to live for? May as well drink myself to death.Steve:That’s a choice that’s open to you, Rob. I’ve personally met many people who have taken that route out. I lost my wife and family too: when I stopped drinking! Yes, they left after I quit drinking because I wasn’t the same man I was whilst drinking: I was a stranger to them. Over time, though, they realised that they respected and loved the new man who emerged. Granted, when he first quit drinking he was difficult to live with – had all these issues churning up his insides and needed help. But he was a true alchemist; determined to live life to the full and reach his true potential. Transformation doesn’t guarantee your family’s respect back, but it certainly helps! Carol, my ex, and myself get on extremely well today. I yearned for her return for years and years, Rob, but eventually we both realised we had grown apart. Today we have a great relationship. She is still single and I have a new love in my life. Never thought it possible but, there you go, sixty-one years of age and courting again! (a humorous glint in his eye). There are some words of wisdom I’d like you to consider, Rob: Attach to nothing and open to everythingTo me this means do not buy into the illusion that happiness is contingent on having specific people or things: houses, cars, jobs etc, in your life. The great mystery that is life has a wonderful way of surprising you when you are least expecting it! As for finances, look at Paul, as part of his transformation process he decided to play double your money. He decided to double his annual salary by doing something he was passionate about. That year he set up a training school teaching Hypnotherapy, NLP and counselling. He was the happiest he had ever been. He had found his Dharma – his life’s purpose. And guess what.. he more than doubled his salary. Not that that was of any significance at this point, he was far too busy enjoying himself!Karen: I drank to drown out my mother’s death; she was my best friend.Steve: So did I, Karen; they nearly had to dig two graves. Have you ever talked about your feelings surrounding the death.Karen: No. People say things like ‘do you think your mother wants you to be this way – pull yourself together and get on with it’ but this attitude just makes things worse.Paul: Hardly surprising. Most people do not know how to handle issues surrounding death, Karen. Here we have to look at process and content. The content is the story surrounding your mother’s death and what you have to do to ‘fix it.’ The process are the feelings that churn up your insides every time you think of her; it is these feelings that need to be processed. Advice and solution’s are of no use whatsoever. Again, as with John earlier, may I recommend one of the foundation’s counsellors to help facilitate the process of release?Karen: Yes. Thanks, Paul. I’ll make an appointment immediately.George: What about on-going support, Paul – isn’t that important, contact with other people with similar problems?Paul: Extremely, George. This is why I’m appealing to the country as a whole to set up Alcoholic to Alchemist meetings, following the format outlined in the book. The more experienced members can become mentors for the new members and guide them in the process.George: Great idea. Can I start one in my area even though I’m only sober three months?Paul: Most definitely. I will help as much as possible, George. It will give you a sense of purpose and greatly enhance the probability of you being very successful.George: (with a beaming smile) I’ll get to it as soon as I return home. Questions and Answers with Family MembersAnne: Living with a person with an alcohol habit is horrendous. My kids and I have experienced economic hardship, disruption of our domestic routine, plus verbal, emotional and physical abuse. Most of our time and energy is spent trying to cover up for my husband. We ring his boss and say he’s sick, when he’s really hung over. We tell our neighbours that he suffers from stress. We tidy the house when he has smashed it up in a black-out. Trying to keep up appearances is killing us; but what else can we do? We’ve got to avoid social disgrace. I’ve threatened to leave him; blackmailed him. I’ve tried everything.Paul: First thing, Anne, is to stop the rescue mission. By making excuses for your husband, and tidying up after his outbursts, you are colluding with him. You are making it easy for him to continue drinking. When the rescue missions stop, he is forced to face the destruction and devastation inflicting on the family; this may lead to the motivation to do something about his problem. Anne: You mean just leave smashed furniture lying on the floor until he sobers up?Paul: Precisely. There were a couple of times I threw my bedroom furniture down the stairs. The first couple of times, my parents tidied it up before I had sobered up. One time, however, there were broken drawers and clothes scattered all along the landing. I was baffled and asked my parents who had done it. They looked at me in a way that no words were needed. The thing is, when they tidied up, I wasn’t even aware of what I’d done. But that day they left things as I’d left them, was devastating. It didn’t stop me drinking right away, but it gave me food for thought. Next time your husband smashes the place up, leave everything as it is. Don’t approach him when he’s drunk, wait until the effects of alcohol wear off and appeal to his better nature. When you do approach him, don’t rant and rave, keep as calm as possible and express your grievances firmly, honestly and with love. And finally, don’t make idle threats – maintain your resolve to carry out your intended actions.Laura: What actions would you recommend? Paul: Each case is unique and subjective, Laura. I’m very reluctant to give specific advice. But what really got through to me was the morning my mum came up to my bedroom (I was living at home at the time), and, instead of ranting and raving out of sheer frustration, she remained very calm. She told me how much she and my father loved me, but added that they couldn’t stand to see me slowly killing myself. That morning they asked me to leave – and meant it. But added that there was always a home with them when I’d quit drinking. I’ll never forget that day: it was a real wake up call. In fact, that incident eventually put me on the road to sobriety. Laura: mmm, that’s interesting; I rant and rave at my husband and it gets my nowhere. Except a load of abuse that really hurts. I spend many nights in the spare bedroom crying myself to sleep. Wondering if I am all the terrible things he calls me; wondering if I really am to blame.Paul: Let me assure you, Laura, you are not to blame. People with alcohol habits are prone to shadow projection. All the things they don’t like about themselves, they project onto others. That is, all their faults they see in others, normally the people that are closest to them. They then blame them for defects and shortcomings that are really their own. My advice is not to take them personally. Ultimately, you have one major decision to make. You need to decide whether you love for him outweighs the deficitsPaul:Always be prepared to help. Gather information in advance about local alcohol treatment options. If the person is willing to seek help, call immediately for an appointment and offer to accompany them on their first visit to an alcohol clinic.Mary: Hi Paul, my names Mary and I’m an alcoholic family member.Paul: Can I stop you there, Mary. No - you are not an alcoholic family member; you are a human being with immeasurable potential. Identifying with these negative labels disempower you.Mary: Is it true that even if my son refrains from drinking, he will always be an alcoholic.Paul: No it’s not, Mary. It’s true that he will always abreact to drink if he has crossed the threshold, but he is not an alcoholic – I despise that term; it breeds so much negativity. What he will be for the rest of his life is a human with infinite potential. Whether he embraces that potential is his choice.Ben: Living with an alcoholic wife is like living with a schizophrenic. She can be the most wonderful person in the world one minute, but can turn at a moment’s notice into a devil. Dr Jekyll becomes Mr Hide Paul: I know, Ben; I was a perfect example. What you must remember is that your wife has probably crossed the abreactive threshold, therefore, unconscious issues are breaking through into consciousness and disturbing her equilibrium. Don’t take it personal as a lot of shadow projection goes on.Ben: Is there anything I can do to help.Paul: Encourage her to about what she is good at, what she enjoys. Remind her of the good things she’s accomplished in life.Ben: OK, should I continue to pour her drink away? Steve: Watering down or pouring away your wife’s alcohol is a futile practice: it just temporarily removes the symptom. Such practice exacerbates the problem. The drinker often becomes defiant and vows to get more alcohol, which often means raising funds and inviting more financial hardship. Drinking often has to run its natural course.Paul: It is imperative that you get a support network; a person or persons you can talk openly and honestly with. If you deny or suppress the problem, it will find other ways of expression; for example, depression or neurosis. Ideally, a person who can take an objective point of view is best, for example, a counsellor. The problem with close friends or family is that they have a large investment in your welfare and this can impede their effectiveness. They are highly likely to condemn and berate the drinker which, although it may be warranted, it doesn’t provide a practical solution. The emphasis of conversation needs to be on you, not the drinker. You can change yourself and put decisions into action with the help of a good confidante, but you can’t change the drinker.Sharon: I feel so guilty. I have grown to hate my son after the problems he’s caused us through drinking. Yet I know, deep down, I really love himSteve:That’s understandable and very common, Sharon. I hated my step-father for the abuse he inflicted on me, but I also loved him. The way I dealt with it was to separate the person from the actions. You love your son, but you cannot abide his actions; his destructive tendencies etcetera. William: My son is only twenty-two; he looks like an old man. He never eats and he permanently wreaks of alcohol. I’m always finding bottles hidden in his bedroom and other obscure areas of the house, and I throw them away, but I’m wasting my time; he always gets more. (William breaks down in tears)Steve: We must remember, William, alcohol is only a symptom. By removing the symptom we don’t address the root cause. The destructive cognitive patterns etched in the unconscious mind of your son are the problem. He needs a shift in consciousness to alleviate them. Our book, Alcoholic to Alchemist, is designed to produce such a shift. May I suggest you give him a copy; if he is ready and willing to practice the programme in all earnestness, it will produce the desired results. Amanda: What can I do to help my daughter; she’s way out of control. It’s crucifying me to watch her killing herself. God knows how much she’s drinking but she stinks of it all the time.Paul: Frequently remind her how much you love her. Remind her of the good things she’s done in life. When people are in the throes of alcoholism they already berate themselves. Shouting and bawling at them just reinforces their negative self perception and therefore invokes the need to escape.
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