Have you experienced just not wanting to feel? Like you just want to bypass a situation’s “feeling” part and you think that if you go down the path of your emotions, you wouldn’t be able to handle it?
In this episode, Megan shares more about her experience with her husband who had an alcohol addiction. She also shares the top five tools she learned from attending Al Anon, a support group for family and friends of alcoholics.
Before you say this episode isn’t for you, because you don’t have anyone in your life that’s an alcoholic or has addictive behavior. If you look for happiness outside of yourself, if you think you are responsible for others feelings, thoughts, actions, choice, needs and well being. If you anticipate others’ needs, if you over commit, if you say yes when you mean no, if you say no when you mean yes, if you feel safest when giving, if you reject compliments or praise, you may greatly benefit from this episode.
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Well, hi there. Welcome back to the zesty ginger podcast. Megan here. Solo, continuing down my story, on my story to tell you the next step. So if you’re new here, you jumped in in the middle, go back, this is a part of a series, I want you to go back to the beginning of Megan’s solo series, I highly suggest you start from the beginning, I’ve only vulnerably share about my deep rock bottom with my husband, that led me to finding out about his affair that also he was an alcoholic and got him on his way to rehab for 30 days. So here’s the part of my story where I found Al Anon I found out about addiction, I learned about AA and I learned about the parts of AA I don’t like and identity work. And I am going to get into that today. Hopefully this will help someone just know that this is me looking back hindsight it’s totally different. And this is just how it has all come together. So if you’re in the middle of a bit in the middle of it, I feel for you, I send love to you just pull the parts that can any part of it, you can wrap your head around and just keep going, I promise, I promise, I promise there is another side of this. So I personally believe that the 30 days of rehab that my husband went to actually allowed me the chance to have a separation to allow me to look long and hard at myself to understand addiction, alcoholism. And I believe that this is much more of the reason we were able to work things out and stay together. Because I had a new environment. And I had a little break. I think I’ve had just been of course, I don’t know. But infidelity on its own, I don’t know how we would have continued interacting in that way. And if I really would have had a chance to step back, because I went all in while he was gone and fully immerse myself in the world of addiction. So, of course, you all know you’re here because we’re in the health space. And of course, I went quickly down the health space, the brain chemistry space, and we did all the physical things in this series, I’m going to focus more on the other part of it that I was not aware of. And today, I want to just share with you the very first step I took on the path to understanding, you know, to healing to love to acceptance for forgiveness. And that was what I learned from the rooms of recovery and group share. And then my take on AA. So first, let me read you my journal entry from August 17 2017. A real journal entry just one month after that dreaded Instagram message. And I wrote, Hey, me and my husband, Nate thinks he doesn’t need AA because he doesn’t have an alcohol problem. But does anyone have an alcohol problem? It’s not about alcohol. It’s about trauma. What if he wants to drink occasionally? Is that a real possibility? I don’t want to feel this hurt again. I feel unless Nate goes, does the deeper work, daily work, I will be hurt. I will be this hurt again. And I am afraid of being an enabler of not having boundaries or guidelines. I feel like Nate will manipulate the situation and tell me that he is working on things and needs time but at the same time avoiding the real stuff. Am I pushing too hard? My therapist says I am. But in three months, six months one year when he is out of that detox phase and I still feel like I haven’t properly dealt with infidelity. I don’t think he will feel the gravity of the moment. I actually feel like the window is slipping away very quickly. Oh, and of the journal statement, so it’s a little painful to read now. Because I hear that urgency and I feel that sadness. And if I had known then that that journey would be yours and There was no window that was closing. That window actually stayed open a long time.
I think I would have done things differently. And that’s why it’s great now to have resources, the resources that we’ve built, the resources that other people we work with have, and knowing, knowing that there is actually a process and steps. The biggest awakening, for me was around feelings. I remember saying to my therapist, specifically, I just don’t want to feel. I like legit was asking her how I could bypass the feeling part. Like I knew, I’m like, I know, there’s gonna be an up and down and there’s like five stages of grief and like, how do I like go to the other side of like, Can I do that? I? This was a real question. I mean, and I don’t know, if you’re listening, maybe some of you are in that spot. Now you’re like, Yes, I like actively. It seems funny to me now. Because I know the power of feeling or feelings. And then the time I’m like, “Heck, yeah, I would do anything to skip that.” And I had a belief that if I went down the path of emotions, I wouldn’t be able to handle it. Or that I would never come back. That was another fear, like opening this door, this box that wouldn’t ever close. So now having been through so many different processes to help process emotions and memories in the body. I am so open to my emotions, that it’s just hard to imagine this and fathom this. And I remember, it was just vividly trying to figure out how I could skip that part. Like, right oh, silly humans. I think this is important not to glaze over. Because since I was brought up in a way that it didn’t feel totally safe to have emotions. And I say that with like, literally the most loving family ever. So it wasn’t that anyone said like Don’t cry, Megan, it was more of that everyone was super supportive and kind. So it was like you, I knew that if I were in a good place, I instinctively knew is really important for me to be happy and not sad, like, everything’s good when we’re happy. So there was a lot of positive reinforcement. And you know, that like, if it’s not good, then you pretend it is. Right, just be those cute kids without the problems. And then when I started doing teenage things, that showed all signs of problems, it was just totally ignored. Like probably just not even seen because the filter right we delete and we distort and we generalize and the filter is, you know, this is our good little child. instance, I could not sit with my own emotions. At the time of working through this with my husband, I definitely was not able to sit with his and actually his emotions and moods were quite inconvenient. The running joke between Dr. Alex and I, it’s like well, he could just be happier than I would be happy. How dare he feel sad or grumpy after all we’ve done for him and for what he’s put me through. Anybody ever said these things? Well enter codependency this term didn’t mean anything to me before I went to Al Anon, which is the group support for family and friends of alcoholics. So I have learned a ton and today in this episode, I want to just share the top five tools that I learned from attending Al Anon for one year. And before you say this isn’t for me, I don’t I don’t have anyone in my life that’s an alcoholic or has addictive behavior. I want to tell you I would have said this wasn’t me for the 10 years leading up to this and it was so if you look for happiness outside of yourself, if you think you are responsible for others feelings, thoughts, actions, choice needs, well being, if you anticipate other’s needs, if you over commit, if you say yes when you mean no, if you say no when you mean yes, if you feel safest when giving, if you reject compliments or praise, you may greatly benefit from this episode. I was forced to look at my control issues, my hidden fears. And my independence, I’m doing air quotes for those of you who are listening to the audio, only was finally uncovered for what it was, it was like the deepest codependency, if I do everything myself, I can never get hurt. If I build a bubble around my girls, my daughters and I will always have control. But control is an illusion and control comes at a cost and that cost is of deep connection and the ability to grow together in a lasting relationship. So let me get into the very first principle and concept that I learned and keep in mind it has been quite a few years since I’ve been. So this is my memory of it now and these are my takeaways so if I say anything incorrectly then apologize. This is how I have reformed it in my brain and how I remember it. So number one, I can only clean up my side of the street was a common statement that was shared with us which means I must put myself first and be at cause. I am at cause versus enough back to saying this happened to me. What is this part? In my cycle? What are my boundaries?
Many times codependents don’t have boundaries or limits. Right? So I started to see like, where don’t I have boundaries? And I just want to say this doesn’t mean that this is or was my fault. This just means how am I playing in the dance? How am I interacting? This is the same thing that Dr. Alex and I really worked through when we’re changing identity, like when she changed identity from being a person who had chronic pain to a person who doesn’t. Now there are people in your life who have treated you a certain way. Like there was a whole conversation around and there was a whole way of acting around the fact she had chronic pain and she had to teach people, I am now a different person with a different identity and you will need to interact with me differently. So the book definition of codependency is a codependent person is one, who will let other people’s behavior affect him or her and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior, and emotional, psychological and behavioral condition that develops as a result of an individual’s prolonged exposure to and practice of a set of oppressive rules. Rules, which would prevent the open expressions of feelings as well as the direct discussion of personal and interpersonal problems. Anybody relate to this? I had this realization, as I was learning about codependency that I had such a deep need for Nate to be happy. And for everything I said to be accepted, and for everybody who was around me to want to do what I wanted to do. And I also had written in my journal, I have another realization, I had stopped telling Nate, things are really long time ago, because I didn’t want to upset I didn’t want me to be upset with a bad reaction from him, a poor reaction, you know, lack of reaction. And this was a, I didn’t realize a classic pattern with alcoholism, where you start to just hold information because you want the person to react a certain way and you know, you’re not going to get it. So the very first step for me was understanding the parts of this that were in my control, meaning how I feel, how I react, how my patterns are, and what my boundaries are. And that is where I can only clean up my side of the street. Number two was a super, super simple statement of halt, h-a-l-t. And this would mean stop, stop, halt. And ask yourself, are you hungry, angry, lonely, tired? Now, this super simple statement in question to yourself can change everything. If you think to use it, because when you’re reacting to something, when I’m reacting to something, I can check in and say, Is this reaction about what’s going on? Am I fueling my physical body? Have I slept? have I eaten? Do I need connection? Right? Is there some anger there? Like is there an emotional thing that needs to be processed physically in the body. And then instead of jumping into a reaction, I can wait, go through the process to fulfill my body with the things that actually needs? Take a nap, if it was because I was tired, get a snack, process my emotions, find some connection from myself or others and then address whatever it is that I was wanting and needing to address next. And this made a huge, huge, huge difference in how Nate and I interacted, because I would see when I was having that immediate reaction and be able to pause and go through my little checklist halt. Am I hungry? Angry? Lonely, tired? Yes. All of them. Angry. Right? Cool. All right. Number three. big one for me. Caretaking is not helping anyone. Caretaking is actually doing harm. So what is caretaking? Who boy? Well, we’ll call it rescuing. I cannot stop my loved ones behavior and I am not responsible for it. Right? There is no correct thing I can say or do that will cause him to stop. Caretaking is not only not helpful, it’s actually doing a disservice to the person dealing with addictive tendencies.
So I had a situation where I was caretaking someone else in my life. Because this person was in a really rough spot. And I felt Yes, but if I just make their life as easy as possible, then maybe they won’t be in a rough spot. Right? I was loving that person and wanting to care for that person as much as possible. And then the person was in a rough spot for three months and six months and then nine months. And you know, at some point I started to get resentful. Like man, dude, been in a rough spot a long time. Like, I feel like I’m just carrying all the load now every time anything was asked to me or anything I did I run through this holy habit I do everything and get into that resentment place. And do you think that’s good for my health? No. And I reached out to a mentor? And I said, I don’t know what to do this person’s in such a bad place. I really am afraid to put anything else on them. Like what if that just puts them over the edge? Like, what if that’s the last thing they can handle? And she actually explained to me, she said, Megan, what if it’s the exact opposite? What if this person does not know how much they are needed? Does not know how much you are bending over backwards and actually hurting yourself to do something that is a part of their agreement? And what if you actually stand up and say to this person, your actions are hurting me and I need help. I need help from you. And what if that is their? What is what if that’s exactly what they needed to hear to snap out of what they’re in and actually come help you? Because that as as most humans, like, we’re all a lot of us are wanting to care take others and knowing we are needed by others. And in that moment, I realized that what I thought was helping someone was actually really harming them. And when you are rescuing doing something you really don’t want to do saying yes. When you mean no. You’re sending this sign that they are not capable of it. And you’re sending the sign that you think you can fix someone’s feeling. Now, this one run deep. My role in the family was rescuer. It’s I used to say like, I’m the glue, I feel like the puppeteer like I’m like, “Hey, hey, friend, hey, family member, if you kind of did this a little differently, that person would barely be happy”, and I’ll go to another wouldn’t be like, “Oh, hey, did you remember that person’s birthday?” Right? Like always just kind of being the in between, you know, redirecting making jokes explaining away like getting everybody to just be happier with the other but like, Oh, I’m sure that’s not what they meant. Right. Although caretaking, I learned breeds anger and resentment. So that was a huge lesson for me. The fourth thing I learned was about groups. So group share is one of the reason why structures like AA and Al Anon can be successful. Often you can relate to what everyone is saying and take what applies to you. So group coaching, and what we’ve found and why we have the group coaching model can be just as powerful. We’ve experienced that in our own group. So often people don’t realize that they have a question at all, until someone else has their question, or they hear another person’s story, and it stirs something in them. And that’s why inside of our Health Transformation group, after every time we’re teaching a topic, we then have a Q&A almost every week. And we’ve seen people transform, we’ve actually seen them transform faster in a group like this than one on one, which everyone thinks is the best on the top right, it’s customized to you. You just don’t necessarily know what’s going to come from that group dynamic. And now, as I talk to you, you’ll hear later in the series, an interview with Kylene, a practitioner who is specializing in sexual betrayal, trauma and addiction. And we will talk about in the next episode, I believe, or soon about how groups can be helpful. And at certain points in the journey, you might go, okay, no longer helpful anymore, or this is bringing me down or I don’t want to hear these stories. So stay tuned for that interview with her we go a bit deeper into the structure of these kinds of groups. All right, number five is identity work. So this is the step in my opinion, that’s often missing from something like Al Anon or AA. So in this groups I was sitting in and there are people there, and many of the people had been in the groups and in the rooms for I mean, actual 30,40, 50 years. And I remember questioning, “Will I still be sitting here in 30 years?” and that was super depressing.
So with identity, it’s Who do you want to be? And what do you want instead? In their rooms, I found a lot of focus on patterns. And I just want to say up front, there’s nothing I’ve I’ve nothing against them. If you’re going and they’re working for you cool. If you’re in a place where you need them cool if they’re helpful, cool. Like this is just something I’ve found and to just kind of keep in mind for if they ever are not. The focus was on the patterns and the way alcoholics will always be as if it was one set thing that it was ingrained that you know, if you’ve heard the words, it’s like they are powerless. And I personally just don’t believe that. This is not an identity I want to have it’s not an identity. I want my husband to have. So about a I found a note in my journal that said, it was really fascinating to go back through all this for this series, it said, my husband still won’t go to AA. And then I’ve said, Will he ever get better? So I was questioning like, if he doesn’t go to AA, because that was what I was taught the woman that that was the only way although, I think I don’t know the actual stats, but I think it’s like very low percentage, that it actually works, I think it’s like on the under 30%. And in reality, now, I’m actually really glad he didn’t go. Again, does not mean if you’re going or your partner’s going, your family is going, it’s bad, I just want you to keep the identity piece in mind, especially if someone’s going. So the reason this is definitely controversial. So the reason I don’t like it from an identity standpoint, and from your subconscious standpoint, you’ve all heard us teach about right, whatever you’re saying your subconscious is hearing and it doesn’t know good or bad. It just wants to get you what you say. So if you say I am an alcoholic, and you’re stating that over and over and over, anything you’re stating, after I am becomes your identity, and your current identity prevents your new identity. So we believe we speak our life into existence. We’ve seen it in health, we’ve seen it with an identity of someone says I’m an autoimmune warrior. And every week, the identity of like an addict is being spoken, it’s being spoken as if it’s something that just happened to you. That it’s an actual identity flaw. And actually, I believe Step Six and a state’s were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character, I have a big beef with these words. I can just hear emails being typed right now. It’s the truth. And I’m just gonna say this, I feel this is my model of the world. I don’t believe this is a defect at all. I believe this is a very correct response to most likely trauma, a very correct responses are always our body trying to protect us and help us everything I believe I don’t really believe anything we do is actually self sabotage in the act in the way that wording is because it is always done for protection. You might not like the outcome of because your body might save you at the expense of something else. If it believes that this is the identity, it will say “okay, identity, got it.” Right. The other warning, we admitted we were powerless over alcohol that our lives had become unmanageable. And our belief people are not their behavior, we change the behavior and we accept the person. So if you or a person, you know is really struggling with alcohol or addiction, I would encourage you to just think outside of the conventional box. So my husband no longer has any need or desire for alcohol. Never went back to to it and ended addictive way after rehab. And he never went to an AA meeting other than the very first one that he left. And we have a very unconventional way of looking at this because I know from a conventional standpoint, people would say Oh, well, he’s not actually, I don’t know, sober is the right word, probably. But really what has happened for us, and I’m just sharing super openly. So other people who have had this happen can say okay, maybe this isn’t the end of the world, maybe this is maybe this is actually an option. So he what he has been doing, willing to do is really deal with trauma and do deeper work. So he has had in the last four years, he has had a handful, who have had wine a handful of times. So each time it was a very conscious choice. It was not hidden, we discussed it, it did not lead to any kind of binging. He wouldn’t drink again after that for six months or so. And to me,
that was really cool. I mean, that was like, Oh, wow, because this was actual brain chemistry had changed. And this is after, you know, a very solid period of none at all. I do believe if he had gone back to it in the first like, three months, six months, even nine months, then yes, there is the actual physical components of this and the addiction. And this is a long time after he’d done more work. So he now has no desire for it. And it’s it’s been a couple of years now. But he got to make that choice. And keep in mind our language around it. We never called it relapse when he decided to have a glass of wine. Again, I know this is against the traditional way. It wasn’t a problem or a failure to us. Since I was believing in a model that the draw for alcohol was really based on unresolved trauma, unprocessed emotion, patterning, brain chemistry and things that we had shifted. I did not and do not believe that he will be an alcoholic for life. If you were to process trauma and and continue with healthy boundaries, healthy behaviors, all of the things that keep you in a place where you’re more aligned with yourself and your higher self, and again, you know, believe whatever you would like to because many say it is genetic, and he is Native American. And, you know, we know a lot about our genetics. And we also know about epigenetics. And we are not controlled by our genes. Because think about the Native American population, there is also a lot of trauma. So there is a genetic component, right? It is how you process alcohol, I get that. But it’s really also important to consider the individual, again, not medical advice. Of course, if you know alcohol has a strong pull on you, and it feels incredibly out of control, please don’t take this as a sign to start drinking. This is for people who are further along in a place where they’re just really looking at what this all means to them, what is their forever plan. So there’s totally different ways there’s always different ways to work on this. If he had not come home to a an environment after rehab that was so aware of trauma, and so opened his healing. And I knew about brain chemistry, right would be altered up to two years. Meaning that even if he was completely sober, he may not enjoy much of anything, and he didn’t for a long time. Right? If I didn’t know that we would have been in big trouble. We definitely wouldn’t have lasted, we wouldn’t, I wouldn’t have had the staying power. And I know that I was able to continuously support because each layer, I could feel the shift, and it got better and better. And I saw the progress and I saw the amount of effort. And they’re gonna have times when they’re down to or you are. This is you. So I hope that something from this today resonated. And if something didn’t, or it really bothered you, please let me know that too. Sometimes I learned most from the things that rubbed me the wrong way. I often know there’s just like a little bit of truth there. They don’t really want to hear or not, or something you’re like totally rejecting. And that’s fine, too. And I also know, as they say, in the recovery rooms, right? Take what you want and leave the rest please can you do that? Right? So until next time. If this is resonating with you, if this is helping you if you think would help someone you love, please please please leave us a review on the podcast. Take a screenshot, share with a friend share it on your Instagram Stories. Send us an email support. It’s zestyginger.com. If you’re new here and you’re not yet subscribed, do that too so you can get the rest of the series. All right, I will see you in the next episode.