Jane’s Husband Drinks Too Much – A Comic
Does your spouse drink too much? Jane’s does.
I found an Al-Anon comic, “Jane’s Husband Drinks Too Much”, at Ethan Persoff‘s website and I liked it so much I wanted to share it.
I think Alateens or anyone who grew up in Alcoholic or otherwise Dysfunctional or Codependent households will find it relatable, as well as those who, of course, suffer or have suffered the nightmare of their partner’s alcoholism, drugs, or any other dysfunctional addiction.
And if you, yourself, have a drinking problem and can’t understand why your spouse, partner, or loved one you live with might act like a maniac, maybe this comic can explain.
On the other hand, if you find yourself here and terms like Alateen, Al-Anon, or Codependency confuse you, I discuss what they are after the comic.
If you have a loved one (spouse, sibling, friend) who drinks too much (in your estimation), I hope you enjoy this educational illustration of some of the ups and downs encountered in such a household (or situation) and are comforted by the knowledge that you didn’t invent this situation and nor is it unique.
“Jane’s Husband Drinks Too Much”
Just click on the beginning thumbnail, it will enlarge in a lightbox for your viewing, and then hit the right arrow for the next image. I haven’t figured it out yet so it might start auto-scrolling and if this happens, just click the pause icon on the upper right of the lightbox, and the back arrow to view previous page.
Alateen is like Al-Anon but for teens who have an alcoholic loved one.
I tried to cope and manage with the scary uncertainty of not knowing what might happen next all the way to trying to get people (alcoholics, drug addicts, insanity addicts) around me ‘well’ so that I could feel safe. I wrote about one here: A Relative’s Alcoholic Drinking Problem – A Memoir
Of course, much like Jane, I became compromised. While my own alcoholic drinking picked up its own pace as I struggled to make me feel better, it did nothing to relieve the chaotic world I would wake up sober in.
Unlike Jane, I may’ve turned to alcohol for the sweet relief it offered as a solution to other’s drinking and insanity but, like comic strip Jane as well as so many others in the real world, I was reaching for anything I could think of in response to the people around me being chaotic.
I was in Alateen as a teenager so I had some of the Al-Anon tools, but after our facilitator passed away, that was that. As an adult, I credit her for introducing a younger me into the world of ‘recovery from another person’s drinking.’
So that, as an adult, when my own alcoholism and self-destructive behaviors became blatantly more painful than anyone else’s around me, I got sober by way of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Now sober and having forgotten why a young version of me had started drinking in the first place, I was truly baffled that the world I was living in hadn’t gotten too much better. So now I have sobriety and pain instead of drunkenness and pain.
I still operated from that childhood instilled filter of egg-shell walking, people-pleasing, care-taking, and over-responsibility for things that children aren’t usually equipped for. I still took the blame for things that went wrong for other people. I had extreme fear of confrontation. I still had flare-ups of self-hate, body dysmorphia and an eating disorder that went full swing with me into sobriety. Despite all this, believe it or not, I was better.
The fact I was sober allowed me to feel and see these things. The fact I knew that alcohol could no longer be my solution meant I needed another one. After a year of sobriety and with a sober (even if still confused) head, I went to Al-Anon.
After a while in Al-Anon, I realized that for me it was more than just someone else’s drinking at any given time that had been my problem – because I had no one in my life with an active drinking problem. Turns out, it was the world at large. Somewhere along the way – from childhood into adulthood – it wasn’t that I was necessarily fighting my response to others’ alcohol use (or misuse), but seemed to attract and struggle with dysfunctional people as a whole, becoming caught up in feeling way less than okay more than half the time.
I have such gratitude for my sponsor in using the term ‘codependent‘ with me or else I may have never had the words to express why – as much as I appreciated Al-Anon – I felt like I had so much more to contend with than just a mere “someone’s drinking problem.”
Codependency: Any one or more innumerable thoughts or actions in which we turn our autonomy or well-being over to another person. – from my 2006 article, What Is Codependency?
My Evolution of Codependency in Alcoholics Anonymous
At this point I’d love to thank those wild and crazy bastards of my Alcoholics Anonymous group for helping me to realize my codependent roots, filters, & resentments:
- When I was a relative newcomer, three A.A. members (friends I liked) in less than the period of a week told me I was too skinny. How dare they not notice I was shrinking so they couldn’t see me in which to accost me with their opinions on my body! Eating disorder getting kicked up after sobriety caused me to easily rage internally when my already lax, invisible, or typically common sense boundaries were crossed.
- When a hairdresser (who was in A.A.) told me she did not like that I cut my hair. “Any ideas on how I can glue it back in order for you to like it again, because that is what’s important to me.” (I didn’t say this.) I was flabbergasted at the ease in which these people just threw out their opinions on other people’s appearance.
- When an A.A. Member told me “Who said you could think?” I was in a cult at age 15 that my parents thought might help with my drinking problem. (They did not know it was a cult for the entirety of the four plus months I was not allowed to leave the property and, even then, I had no name for the place except that it hurt me.) So THAT phrase easily enraged me when my friend meant a harmless joke.
- When an A.A. Member – as I was grappling with trauma memory regarding anxiety and people looking at me – said, “But you’re not that important.” (Reminiscent of the cult facility I was in and its ‘Kill the Spirit but Save the Life’ philosophy, it didn’t take but a split-second for me to hate her with my entire being. Not coincidentally, the ‘spit therapy’ employed by the cult in which they stand you up and other kids verbally abuse you, is why this anxiety and my continuing dislike of attention being focused on me.)
- When a male A.A. Member kept pulling on my ponytail (for attention, not to be abusive) because he sat behind me and I thought ignoring it would make it stop (and it didn’t, so I shouted “Stop!” for everyone to hear.) I was angry that he ‘made‘ me have to shout at him because he was too attention-seeking to just stop. Back then it took great rage to get me to use my voice. Thanks to recovery, so many years later, it doesn’t.
- After reading When I Say No I Feel Guilty and setting a boundary on a drug-addict friend (in A.A.) despite feeling like he might gossip about me because I refused his advances. New behavior for me was feeling the fear and diving in anyway.
- After telling an A.A. male friend (who was married, no less) that I did not like that he compared my breasts to ice-cream cones. Despite fear of confrontation or humiliation, I felt the fear and told him anyway.
I was growing in Codependent Recovery despite not knowing how much at the time, but these dysfunctional characters were exactly who I needed to spur me onto more. I love how I once read Melody Beattie say (and I forget which book it was) that she thinks that beneath every alcoholic is a “good codependent.”
I also personally think that beneath every Highly Sensitive Person – despite familial dysfunction or lack thereof – there’s also a good codependent IF his or her family was one in which the HSP wasn’t understood very well.
It’s been some years so I’m not sure how it is I stumbled onto knowing that Melody Beattie was a Codependent Recovery author but I do know that once I bought and read “Beyond Codependency” my life changed. I saw freedom in those pages. I felt freedom in my heart. I felt a psychic shift in my mind one day reading the words she had written.
I eventually would go on to collect a few more of her books because it always helped me (and still does) to be reminded that there are sane people in the world; that they are sane responses to our environment; that ‘being crazy’ is not any version of ‘healthy normalcy’ despite what I grew up in and eventually viewed as normal.
Recommended or Mentioned Books
I’ve read all the books in the below carousel (as well as others of course) but these below were pivotal in recovery from suffering.
I’ve met Jane. I met her in Al-Anon. I met lots of good people in Al-Anon but Jane, specifically intrigued me.
In my real world case however, not a comic strip, Jane’s name was really “John.” I remember his sharing an actual story in which his alcoholic wife – not sober – bounced some checks and the bank sent notices. I remember his peace and his happiness in telling the story about how he loves his wife and how he noticed the change within himself. He wasn’t angry at her (and maybe it was because they now kept separate accounts) and so that when she had a consequence of her behavior, he did not feel the need to rescue it.
John’s story and the people in Al-Anon continued to inspire me and also supported me and my quest for sanity. To see so many of them come in and share their actual recovery (rather than the regulars who often came in still trying to get their loved one to stop behaviors) was what made my own hope possible, and then eventually, my recovery probable.
Until next time, thanks for reading!