Author: Ann Schiebert
One day, Susan’s mom will call her on the phone. "Oh honey, we all miss you so much! Won’t you come over for dinner? Your dad would love to see you. He doesn’t understand why you’ve not been around."
Is this a hook or what? Susan can explain all over again why she hasn’t been to see her family. Mom will most likely discount everything Susan has to say. "Mom, you know I said I won’t be over until dad gets some help and sobers up. I just can’t watch him drink himself to death." And Mom says, "But darling, you just don’t understand, dad’s done this for years, it’s his way of relaxing and going to sleep. We miss you so much (guilt) can’t you pleazzzzzze come over for Sunday dinner? It would mean so much to your brothers and we’ll just have a happy time. And I have a little something for you that I picked up at your favorite store!"
Susan can enter into the bargaining/guilt stage by asking her mother if she can keep her dad sober for the dinner. She could say she’d come over for lunch instead of dinner (when dad’s more sober). She could offer to meet her family at a restaurant for breakfast. Lots of possibilities for Susan to bargain and in doing so, she would be teaching her family that the boundary she set is negotiable. She would be teaching her family that her boundary is an invitation to bargain by guilt tripping. If Susan takes this course of action, she will be turning around and reversing her path toward a Reality Clarity System back to the family’s RDS.
OR!!! Susan can politely decline, thank her mom for calling and get off the phone. As difficult as this will be, Susan decides to take this approach, lest she be sucked back into the alcoholic family system. Because Susan has developed the support to help her stay with her boundary, Susan is able to stand firm.
The depression/guilt/bargaining component of recovery from RDS to RCS is not linear. Susan will go back and forth between these parts that are so enticing in their lure to return to what has seemed, "normal," for so long. When Susan hangs up from her mother’s call, she will pick up the phone and make a call to one of her Alanon pals….one of the members of her surrogate family. She will talk through her feelings, discuss how tempted she was to see her family and how much she misses them. When Susan meets this challenge she will be well on her way out of her family’s RDS to the RCS.
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