An Old Concept for a New Way of Life! part 1
Dear BALM Friends and Family,
If you’ve heard of the BALM, you have probably heard or read us say that the 7 Steps to Be A Loving Mirror are the core of our family recovery program…Ever wonder why? Here’s one way of looking at it in the context of a marriage, but also highly applicable to parents and others who love a person with a Substance Use Disorder (SUD).
Imagine this scene so beautifully portrayed in the Alanon book The Dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage and re-framed here for a new century:
It is 11 PM. Your husband walks in the house, drunk. Dinner is sitting, cold, on the dining room table, and you are feeling like a dishrag. You went to work, picked up the kids at daycare and afterschool programs, helped them with homework, made dinner, fed them, and sat waiting for him for hours. In he walks, as if it is no big deal to come home five hours late. The children have gone to bed. The dishes, except for his, are washed. Everything is in order except for your head. You feel like it is going to explode. You ask yourself why he can’t get home on time and why you wait for hours for him to come home. And when you see him, you scowl as you sit next to him at the table.
“What’s wrong with you?” You ask. “Why can’t you come home at six so we can have a normal dinner with our children? Don’t you get it that I work, too? That I”m exhausted and left taking care of everyone and everything day after day?”
Your husband, half out of it, lowers his head as he tries to eat his food. Halfway through, his head falls into his plate in a drunken stupor.
You, disgusted, pull him up, clean him off, and drag him to bed.
Imagine that this isn’t a one-time event. Day after day, your husband comes home under the influence, you get angry and disgusted, yet you clean him up and put him to bed.
Now, let’s shift. Imagine you have decided to do things differently one day. You go to work, pick up the kids at daycare and afterschool programs, help them with homework, make dinner, feed them and yourself at 6 PM. When your husband doesn’t arrive by seven, you cover over his plate and put it in the fridge. You put your children in bed and get ready for your 8 PM BALM® call, during which you listen to a professional expert or family member educate you on addiction and recovery. You realize your husband is sick, not bad and that you cannot force him to act differently. You also begin to understand that your only obligation to him is to behave in a loving manner.
So, you clean up the dishes and decide to be loving to someone who is around: YOU!
You make a cup of cocoa and get cozy in your big fluffy living room chair.
During the call, you hear an inspiring story about a family that overcame SUD. Along with listening to questions from the other listeners, you even ask one of your own. When the call is over, you are ready for bed.
He’s still not home, but this is not a problem for you. You know his journey is his and it is your job to take care of you. So you do. You take a bubble bath, write in your journal, read uplifting literature and go to sleep.
The next day, you wake up in a relaxed, well-rested state of mind, grateful for a new day. Your spouse is puzzled that you are no longer yelling at him. When he asks you why, you say, “Honey, I’m no longer policing you or trying to get you to change. Your life is your life and you get to live it the way you want to live it. I make dinner for the family at 6 and will always leave you some in the fridge. But, when it comes to waiting up for you, or putting my life on hold, I’ve decided not to anymore. Instead, I’ve opted to put my focus on joy and peace in each moment – and when I do, I find other things I would rather do with my time and my life.”
Which scenario most closely resembles your life? Which mood most closely resembles yours?
If you are a BALM’er, chances are, it’s the second one. To Be a Loving Mirror has many benefits for family members.
Click here to learn more about how to work the 7 steps and Be A Loving Mirror!
Til then, breathe and relax! And remember, Be A Loving Mirror!
Founder of the BALM Programs