Thursday, July 22, 2010

How Using The Four Foundations Can Change Your Relationship With Your Addict

"Everything changes" is a truism that is never more true than in a family affected by the disease of addiction. Unfortunately, watching the addict deteriorate is a very sad example of this change. But when you introduce family recovery into the mix, the picture changes yet again.

For instance, let's take a situation where a wife has been drinking for years. She does very little around the house these days as her husband has taken over more and more of her responsibilities over the years. 

Then, someone tells her codependent husband that he is caught up in the family disease of alcoholism. That his wife is not the only one with a problem. That he is sick too. He hires a family recovery coach and starts to work on understanding and practicing The Four Foundations of Family Recovery (self care, being a loving person, setting boundaries, and getting support). 

At first, it feels awkward. He makes his list of all of the areas of self care that he has been avoiding (the dentist, annual physicals, physical exercise, etc.) in order to have time to take care of his wife. Slowly, he wakes up to the idea that if he goes on like this, his physical health will deteriorate. So, with his coach's encouragement and support, he makes some doctor appointments and begins to take walks everyday.

This takes time out of his day, so he has to let go of some of the things he has been doing for his wife. Not an easy thing to do.

Time goes on, and he decides to try being a loving person. This means no longer judging and nagging his wife about her drinking, but seeing her as the good and loving person he married who just has a wretched disease. Instead of berating her and doing things for her that she could be doing for herself, he is now speaking to her with respect, treating her with dignity, and letting her handle some of her own responsibilities. When he sees her doing things that exemplify her disease, he describes them to her without judgment as if he were sharing with her a movie he saw that he found interesting but didn't  understand and was somewhat worried by. And he doesn't repeat himself forty times. He just shares what he is seeing and lets it go.

She in turn is somewhat shocked every time he opens his mouth. She loses some of her ongoing justification for blaming him for her drinking as he is no longer treating her badly. She begins to see that some of the things she has counted on him for won't get done unless she does them and she starts to see herself through his eyes in a loving compassionate way and begins to wonder how she got herself into this mess in the first place.

At first, she wants to avoid the new reality, so she drinks more, looking for his reaction. He, knowing this might happen, continues to practice the four foundations. He sets some boundaries that work for HIM (not boundaries designed to change her, but boundaries designed to make HIS life better and more livable). Again, this shakes her up and causes some changes to the relationship...

As he is watching all of this, the husband feels some fear and trepidation. He reaches out for more support. His coach recommends that he add an Alanon meeting to his weekly schedule and he does. Now he is out one night a week. His wife is shocked, but she is beginning to see that things have changed.

At this point in the relationship, anything can happen and what does happen is different in every family. In some families, the boundaries the co-addict sets may include treatment. In others, perhaps meetings or therapy or a separation...In this particular family, the wife does decide to pursue treatment and the two of them get to start a new life together, one based on family recovery rather than family disease.

But no matter what happens in any particular family, things do change.

Your addict's best chance at getting well is for YOU to get well. The Four Foundations can help you do that. Meetings can help you do that. Having a coach can help you do that. All of these will help YOU change...and when you change, the people around you are bound to change as well...

Change can be scary but consider the alternative: Allowing things to just deteriorate before your eyes, as you struggle to fix the unfixable as if you are God...

The fact is, nothing changes unless something changes. Often the family members must take the first steps toward change.

Take some time to look at your situation. Are you ready for a new beginning? The only guarantee  if you do the work to recover, is that YOU will get well!!! And the hope is that your addict will choose to recover too.

You are worth it!

Want to learn more about how to bring the Four Foundations into your life?

Call me today for a complimentary consult and get started on the journey of a lifetime!

All the best,


Coach Beverly Buncher, MA, CEC
Family Recovery Coach
Author of the Forthcoming Book: The Four Foundations of Recovery
786 859 4050

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