The Family Afterward (comparison)

Comparing “The Family Afterward” to the original manuscript for our Basic Text

Comparison Format — Colors appear here only and are — — not used in the actual comparisons. — Words above brackets are from the pre-publication version. < Bracketed copy is from our Basic Text as it reads today. > ~ Format Examples ~ Rarely have we < RARELY HAVE WE > seen a person fail who has thoroughly directions followed our < path >... ~ ~ ~ Now we think you can take it! < — — — — — > Here are the steps we took... ~ ~ ~ 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our — — — — — — < conscious > contact with God < as we understood Him >... ~ ~ ~

Chapter 9 < Chapter 9 > THE FAMILY AFTERWARD OUR WOMEN FOLK < Our women folk > have suggested certain attitudes a wife may take with the husband who is recovering. Perhaps they created the impression that he is to be wrapped in cotton wool and placed on a pedestal. Successful readjustment means must the opposite. All members of the family < should > meet upon the common ground of tolerance, understanding and love. This involves a process of deflation. The alcoholic, his wife, his children, his "in-laws," each one is likely to have fixed ideas about the family's attitude towards himself or herself. Each is interested in having his or her wishes respected. The < We find the > more one member of the family demands that other the < others > concede to him, the more resentful they become. This makes for discord and unhappiness. Any < And > why? Is it not because each wants to play the lead? Is not each trying to arrange the family show to his liking? Is he not unconsciously trying to see what he can , take from the family life < > rather than give? Cessation of drinking is but the first step away from the a highly strained, abnormal condition. A doctor said < > other day < to us >, "Years of living with an alcoholic is almost sure to make any wife or child neurotic. The entire family is, to some extent, ill." Let families realize, as they start their journey, that all will not be fair weather. Each in his turn will will < may > be footsore and < may > straggle.

 

123 There will be alluring shortcuts and by-paths down which they may wander and lose their way. Suppose we tell you some of the obstacles a family will meet; suppose we suggest how they may be avoided – even con- verted to good use for others. The family of an alcoholic longs for the return of happiness and security. They remember when father was romantic, thoughtful and successful. Today's life is measured against that of other years and, when it falls short, the family may be unhappy. Family confidence in dad is rising high. The good old days will soon be back, they think. Sometimes they demand that dad bring them back instantly! God, they believe, almost owes this recompense on a long overdue account. But the head of the house has spent years in pulling down the structures of business, romance, friendship, health – these things are now ruined or damaged. It will take time to clear away the wreck. Though old buildings will eventually be replaced by finer ones, the new structures will take years to complete. Father knows he is to blame; it may take him many seasons of hard work to be restored financially, but he shouldn't be reproached. Perhaps he will never have much money again. But the wise family will admire him for what he is trying to be, rather than for what he is trying to get. Now and then the family will be plagued by spectres from the past, for the drinking career of almost every alcoholic , has been marked by escapades, funny, humiliating, shameful < > or tragic. The first impulse will be to bury these skeletons in a dark closet and padlock the door. The family may be obsessed with < possessed by > the idea

 

124 that future happiness can be based only upon forgetfulness of Such quite the past. < We think that such > a view is < > self-cen- life tered and in direct conflict with the new way of < living >. Henry Ford once made a wise remark to the effect that experience is the thing of supreme value in life. That is true only if one is willing to turn the past to good account. We grow by our willingness to face and rectify errors and convert them into assets. The alcoholic's past thus becomes , the principal asset of the family < > and frequently it is < almost > the only one! This painful past may be of infinite value to other fami- lies still struggling with their problem. We think each fami- which ly which has been relieved owes something to those < who > have not, and when the occasion requires, each member of it who has found God, < > should be only too willing to bring former mistakes, no matter how grievous, out of their hiding places. Showing others who suffer how we were victory, given < help > is the very thing which makes life seem so worth while to us now. Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have – the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. It is possible to dig up past misdeeds so they become a blight, a veritable plague. For example, we know of situations in which the alcoholic or his wife have had love affairs. In the first flush of spiritual experience they forgave each other and drew closer together. The miracle of reconciliation was at hand. Then, under one provocation or another, the aggrieved one would unearth the old affair and angrily cast its ashes about. A few of us have had these growing pains and they

 

125 hurt a great deal. Husbands and wives have sometimes been obliged to separate for a time until new perspective, new , rewon victory over hurt pride < > could be < re-won >. In most cases, the alcoholic survived this ordeal without relapse, our rule is but not always. So < we think > that unless some good and are useful purpose is to be served, past occurrences < should > not < be > discussed. have We families of Alcoholics Anonymous < keep > few secrets all < skeletons in the closet >. Everyone knows < > about everyone else < the others' alcoholic troubles >. This is a condition . which, in ordinary life, would produce untold grief < ; > There would < there might > be scandalous gossip, laughter at the expense of other people, and a tendency to take advantage of intimate information. Among us, these are rare occurrences. This paragraph break appears in the manuscript only. We do talk about each other a great deal < , > but < we > almost invariably temper such talk by a spirit of love and We discuss another's shortcomings in the hope tolerance. < > that some new idea of helpfulness may come out of the < > conversation. The cynic might say we are good because < > we have to be. < > rule Another < principle > we observe carefully is that we do not relate intimate experiences of another person unless we are sure he would approve. We find it better, when possible, to stick to our own stories. A man may criticize or laugh at himself and it will affect others favorably, but criticism or of him ridicule < > coming from another often produces the con- trary effect. Members of a family should watch such matters carefully, for one careless, inconsiderate remark has been known to raise the very devil. We alcoholics are sensitive people. It takes some of us a long time to outgrow that serious handicap. Most < Many > alcoholics are enthusiasts. They run to extremes. At the beginning of recovery a man will take, as a rule, one of two directions. He may either plunge into a frantic attempt to get on his feet in business, or

 

126 he may be so enthralled by his new life that he talks or thinks of little else. In either case certain family problems will arise. With these we have had experience galore. pointed out the danger he runs We < think it dangerous > if he rushes headlong at his economic problem. The family will be affected also, pleasantly at first, as they feel their money troubles are < about > to be solved, then not so pleasantly as they find themselves neglected. Dad may be tired at night and preoccu- pied by day. He may take small interest in the children and may show irritation when reproved for his delinquencies. If not irritable, he may seem dull and boring, not gay and affec- , tionate < > as the family would like him to be. Mother may complain of inattention. They are all disappointed, and soon < often > let him feel it. Beginning with such complaints, a barrier arises. He is straining every nerve to make up for lost time. He is striving to recover fortune and reputation thinks and < feels > he is doing very well. Mother < Sometimes mother > and children don't think so. Having wantonly been < > neglected and misused in the past, they think father owes them more than they are getting. They want him to make a fuss over them. They expect him to give them the nice times they used to have before he drank < so much >, and to show his contrition for what they suffered. But dad doesn't give freely of himself. Resentment grows. He becomes still less communicative. Sometimes he explodes over a trifle. The family is mystified. They criticize, pointing out how he is falling down on his spiritual program. must be stopped This sort of thing < can be avoided >. Both father and wrong the family are < mistaken >, though each side may have some justification. It is of little use to argue and only

 

127 makes the impasse worse. The family must realize that dad, a sick man though marvelously improved, is still < convalescing >. They thank God should < be thankful > he is sober and able to be of this world once more. Let them praise his progress. Let them remember that his drinking wrought all kinds of damage that may take long to repair. If they sense these things, they will not take so seriously his periods of crankiness, depres- sion < , > or apathy, which will disappear when there is tolerance, love, and spiritual understanding. The head of the house ought to remember that he is mainly to blame for what befell his home. He can scarcely square the account in his lifetime. But he must see the danger of over- concentration on financial success. Although financial reco- very is on the way for many of us, we found we could not place money first. For us, material well-being always followed spiritual progress; it never preceded. Since the home has suffered more than anything else, it is well that a man exert himself there. He is not likely to get far in any direction if he fails to show unselfishness and love under his own roof. We know there are difficult wives and families, but the man who is getting over alcoholism must they are sick folk too, and that remember < > he did much to worse make them < so >. As each member of a resentful family begins to see his shortcomings and admits them to the others, he lays a basis for helpful discussion. These family talks will be construc- tive if they can be carried on without heated argument, self- , pity, self-justification < > or resentful criticism. Little by little, mother and children will see they ask too much, and father will see he gives too

 

128 little. Giving, rather than getting, will become the guiding principle. now Assume < on the other hand > that father has, at the out- set, a stirring spiritual experience. Overnight, as it were, changed he is a < different > man. He becomes a religious enthusiast. He is unable to focus on anything else. As soon as his sobri- ety begins to be taken as a matter of course, the family may look at their strange new dad with apprehension, then with irritation. There is talk about spiritual matters morning, for noon and night. He may demand that the family find God < > themselves < > in a hurry, or exhibit amazing indifference to them and say he is above worldly considerations. He < may > tells < tell > mother, who has been religious all her life, that she doesn't know what it's all about, and that she had better get his brand of spirituality while there is yet time. When father takes this tack, the family may react un- favorably. They may be jealous of a God who has stolen dad's affections. While grateful that he drinks no more, they do < may > not like the idea that God has accomplished the mira- cle where they failed. They often forget father was beyond do human aid. They < may > not see why their love and devotion did not straighten him out. Dad is not so spiritual after all, they say. If he means to right his past wrongs, why all this concern for everyone in the world but his family? What about his talk that God will take care of them? They suspect father is a bit balmy! He is not so unbalanced as they might think. Many of us have experienced dad's elation. We have indulged in spiritual prospectors belts intoxication. Like < a > gaunt < prospector, belt > drawn in our over < the > last ounce of food, our pick struck gold. Joy at our release from a lifetime of

 

129 sees frustration knew no bounds. Father < feels > he has struck something better than gold. For a time he may try to hug the new treasure to himself. He may not see at once that he has barely scratched a limitless lode which will pay dividends only if he mines it for the rest of his life and insists on giving away the entire product. If the family cooperates, dad will soon see that he is suffering from a distortion of values. He will perceive that his spiritual growth is lopsided, that for an average man like himself, a spiritual life which does not include his family obligations may not be so perfect after all. If the family will appreciate that dad's current behavior is but a phase of his development, all will be well. In the midst of an under- standing and sympathetic family, these vagaries of dad's spiritual infancy will quickly disappear. The opposite may happen should the family condemn and criticize. Dad may feel that for years his drinking has placed him on the wrong side of every argument, but that now , he has become a superior person < > with God on his side. If the family persists in criticism, this fallacy may take a still greater hold on father. Instead of treating the family as he should, he may retreat further into himself and feel he has spiritual justification for so doing. Though the family does not fully agree with dad's spirit- assume leadership ual activities, they should let him < have his head >. Even if he displays a certain amount of neglect and irrespon- sibility towards the family, it is well to let him go as far as he likes in helping other alcoholics. During those first days of convalescence, this will do more to insure his sobri- ety than anything else. Though

 

130 some of his manifestations are alarming and disagreeable, < we think > dad will be on a firmer foundation than the man who is placing business or professional success ahead of spiritual development. He will be less likely to drink again, and anything is preferable to that. Those of us who have spent much time in the world of spiritual make-believe have eventually seen the childishness of it. This dream world has been replaced by a great sense of purpose, accompanied by a growing consciousness of the power God of God in our lives. We have come to believe < He > would like us to keep our heads in the clouds with Him, but that , nevertheless our feet ought to be firmly planted on earth < >. That is where our fellow travelers are, and that is where our work must be done. These are the realities for us. We have found nothing incompatible between a powerful spiritual , experience < > and a life of sane and happy usefulness. One more suggestion: Whether the family has spiritual convictions or not, they may do well to examine the principles by which the alcoholic member is trying to live. They can hardly fail to approve these simple principles, though the head of the house still fails somewhat in practicing them. Nothing will help the man who is off on a spiritual tangent the self-same so much as the wife who adopts < a sane spiritual > program, making a better practical use of it. still There will be < > other profound changes in the household. Liquor incapacitated father for so many years that mother became head of the house. She met these responsibili- ties gallantly. By force of circumstances, she was < often > obliged to treat father as a sick or wayward child. Even when , he wanted to assert himself < >

 

131 he could not, for his drinking placed him constantly in the wrong. Mother made all the plans and gave the directions. When sober, father usually obeyed. Thus mother, through no fault of her own, became accustomed to wearing the family trousers. Father, coming suddenly to life again, often begins to assert himself. This means trouble, unless the family come watches for these tendencies in each other and < comes > to a friendly agreement about them. , Drinking isolates most homes from the outside world < . > so the family was used to having father around a great deal. < > He < Father > may have laid aside for years all normal activities – clubs, civic duties, sports. When he renews interest in such things, a feeling of jealousy may arise. The family may feel they hold a mortgage on dad, so big that no equity should be left for outsiders. Instead of developing new channels of may activity for themselves, mother and children < > demand that he stay home and make up the deficiency. At the very beginning, the couple ought to frankly face , the fact that each will have to yield here and there < > if the family is going to play an effective part in the new life. Father will necessarily spend much time with other alcoholics, but this activity should be balanced. New acquaintances who know nothing of alcoholism might be made and thoughtful consi- deration given their needs. The problems of the community might engage attention. Though the family has no religious do well , connections, they may < wish > to make contact with < > or take membership in a religious body. Alcoholics who have derided religious people will sometimes < > be helped by such contacts. Being possessed of a spiritual experience, the alcoholic will find he has much in common with these people, though he may

 

132 differ with them on many matters. If he does not argue and forget that men find God in many ways < about religion >, he will make , new friends < > and is sure to find new avenues of usefulness and pleasure. He and his family can be a bright spot in such congregations. He may bring new hope and new courage to many a priest, minister, or rabbi, who gives his all to minister to our troubled world. We intend the foregoing as a helpful sug- gestion only. So far as we are concerned, there is nothing a group obligatory about it. As < > non-denominational < people >, we people's we cannot make up < others' > minds for them. Each individual must < should > consult his own conscience. We have been speaking to you of serious, sometimes tra- gic things. We have been dealing with alcohol in its worst aspect. But we aren't a glum lot. If newcomers could see no joy or fun in our existence, they wouldn't want it. We abso- lutely insist on enjoying life. We try not to indulge in cynicism over the state of the nations, nor do we carry the world's troubles on our shoulders. When we see a man sinking and in the mire that is alcoholism, we give him first < aid > and everything place < what > we have at his disposal. For his sake, we do recount and almost relive the horrors of our past. But those of us who have tried to shoulder the entire burden and , trouble of others < > find we are soon overcome by them. So we think cheerfulness and laughter make for useful- ness. Outsiders are sometimes shocked when we burst into merriment over a seemingly tragic experience out of the past. are the victors But why shouldn't we laugh? We < have recovered >, and have been given the power to help others. Everybody knows that those in bad health, and those who seldom play, do not laugh much. So let

 

133 each family play together or separately, as much as their circumstances warrant. We are sure God wants us to be happy, released joyous, and < free >. We cannot subscribe to the belief that this life is a vale of tears, though it once was just that for many of us. But it is clear that we made our own misery. God didn't do it. Avoid then, the deliberate manu- and when facture of misery, < but if > trouble comes, cheerfully capi- talize it is an opportunity to demonstrate His omnipotence. Now about health: A body badly burned by alcohol does , not often recover overnight < > nor do twisted thinking and depression vanish in a twinkling. We are convinced that a spiritual mode of living is a most powerful health restora- tive. We, who have recovered from serious drinking, are also miracles of mental health. But we have < > seen remarkable transformations in our bodies. Hardly one of our crowd now shows any mark of dissipation. But this does not mean that we disregard human health measures. God has abundantly supplied this world with fine doctors, psychologists, and practitioners of various kinds. a Do not hesitate to take your health problems to such < > person < persons >. Most of them give freely of themselves, that their fellows may enjoy sound minds and bodies. Try to remem- ber that though God has wrought miracles among us, we should never belittle a good doctor or psychiatrist. Their services are often indispensable in treating a newcomer and < in > following his case afterward. This next paragraph does not appear in the original. One of the many doctors who had the opportunity of reading this book in manuscript form told us that the use of sweets was often helpful, of course depending upon a doctor's advice. He though all alcoholics

 

134 should constantly have chocolate available for its quick energy value at times of fatigue. He added that occasionally in the night a vague craving arose which would be satisfied by candy. Many of us have noticed a tendency to eat sweets and have found this practice beneficial. The previous paragraph did not appear in the original. A word about sex relations. Alcohol is so sexually stimulating to some men that they have over-indulged. Couples are occasionally dismayed to find that when drinking , is stopped < > the man tends to be impotent. Unless the reason is understood, there may be an emotional upset. Some of us had this experience, only to enjoy, in a few months, a finer intimacy than ever. There should be no hesitancy this in consulting a doctor or psychologist if < the > condition any case persists. We do not know of < many cases > where this difficulty lasted long. The alcoholic may find it hard to re-establish friendly relations with his children. Their young minds were impres- sionable while he was drinking. Without saying so, they may cordially hate him for what he has done to them and to their poor mother. The < > children are sometimes dominated by a pathetic hardness and cynicism. They cannot seem to forgive and forget. This may hang on for months, long after their mother has accepted dad's new way of living and thinking. Father had better be sparing of his correction and < > criticism of them while they are in this frame of mind. < > He had better not urge his new way of life on them too < > soon. < > In time they will see that he is a new man and in their own way they will let him know it. When this happens, , they can be invited to join in morning meditation < and > then they can take part in the daily discussion without rancor or bias. From that point on, progress will be rapid. Marvelous results often follow such a reunion.

 

135 Whether the family goes on a spiritual basis or not, must the alcoholic member < has to if he would recover >. The by his changed life a others must be convinced < of his new status > beyond < the > He must lead the way. shadow of a doubt. < > Seeing is belie- ving to most families who have lived with a drinker. Here is a case in point: One of our friends is a heavy smoker and coffee drinker. There was no doubt he overindul- ged. Seeing this, and meaning to be helpful, his wife commen- ced to admonish him about it. He admitted he was overdoing these things, but frankly said that he was not ready to stop. feel His wife is one of those persons who really < feels > there is something rather sinful about these commodities, so she nagged, and her intolerance finally threw him into a fit of anger. He got drunk. Of course our friend was wrong – dead wrong. He had to painfully admit that and mend his spiritual fences. Though he is now a most effective member of Alcoholics Anonymous, cigarettes he still smokes < > and drinks coffee, but neither his wife nor anyone else stands in judgment. She sees she was wrong to make a burning issue out of such a matter when his more serious ailments were being rapidly cured. First things first! two < > We have < three > little mottoes "LIVE AND LET LIVE" which are apropos. Here they are: < > and "EASY DOES IT". < > < First Things First > < Live and Let Live > < Easy Does It. >

e-aa discussion of The Family Afterward



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