If you're really an alcoholic then you're really an asshole too. The correlation is +100%. If you are getting sober and thinking back saying "well, I wasn't hurting anyone besides myself" then I suggest you stay in your room and try not to bother anyone. An alcoholic is like the epicenter of an earthquake. The big quake starts with you, but everyone around you feels it so in relation to dealing with conflict everyone in your life is just as shaken as you when there is something that needs to be addressed. You don't like conflict and they fucking know it.
"Drinking is the symptom, not the problem" and the problem generally lies in our psychotic cycle of self-pity, poor reactions and egocentric adolescence we never grew out of cause we started using or drinking instead of practicing normal development and conflict resolution. Instead of coming to mature resolutions like "One of the only things I have control over is my reaction" it was "he, she or it is making me so pissed off I couldn't help but throw that $4,000 keyboard out the front door" [or insert whatever INSANE action and justification you went with (in my defense he was a SELFISH ASSHOLE)] so soon enough we were creating problems to drink instead of drinking because of our problems.
There's a few conflict styles I've seen with alcoholics and just like any recovery process identifying them is the first step in the process of change. Here are a few I have encountered and a contrast with how a normal, mature healthy non "addict" OR the ideal might compare:
The Defender: This person is always ready to snap back and always has to come out on top. Appearing very argumentative, the defender typically has stockpiled a list of ammunition against anyone who might even vaguely criticize something they have done. Internally, nothing you say will effect their ego, if you continue to push them they will simply blame it on your jealousy, your lack of reason, your socioeconomic status and the fact that you are just out to get them.
The Salesman: This person doesn't get angry, but they are filled with justifications even OJ Simpson would envy. Always having to be right, the will run rhetorical laps around you until you leave in a tired complacency thinking okay, you win, I just need to get out of here.
The Passive Aggresser: Passive aggressively and publicly they admit to doing things that they suspect other people of doing, they have a I'm-better-than-everyone-because-I-can-admit-my-wrongs attitude. Instead of addressing a problem, they leave notes or gossip behind your back with the secret hope it's going to get back to you. Instead of asking you directly if you did something, they say "somebody is blankety blanking and I hate it!" right in front of you.
The Aggressor: This person charges like a bull at any suspicion even if false. Their imagination can take them to some pretty crazy places and they don't have the mental intervention to stop and tell themselves to calm down and check the facts. If you've wronged them, you will know it and their irrational rage may never allow them to reconsider or forgive. Trying to get this person to the point of reason can be a daunting task.
The Stutterer: This person obviously doesn't know how to just spit it out. They approach things with words like "may have" or "maybe possibly" or "could you maybe have". You know what they are implying, but obviously they are too bound by fear of conflict to engage in it so they are just doing perouettes on the outskirts.
Conflict is the beginning of consensus, coming to a common denominator that we can all be happy with and should be looked at as such. Too often we look at our differences with blame and resentment. So and so is not doing things like I would like them too so in effect they are wrong and I need to fix them. We feel anger that we have to fix things, we feel shafted that they can't read our mind, we feel superior that we know how to do things and other people do not which causes intolerance and hatred. On the other side, we feel oppressed by others that are casting expectations and judgement, we feel resentful of those who are trying to control us and make us adhere to their standards and we are threatened by almost any approach that demands change. A more healthy approach is solution oriented and realizing that change, although uncomfortable is not a bad thing. When approaching others the first thing to think about is your intentions and if they are to create a solution or they are intended to hurt, belittle or overpower them. It's amazing what kind of conversations can happen when driven by good intention.
Note: I am not a motivation speaker, just a hack psychology major with a drinking and thinking problem that over analyzes everything and would like to embody these suggestions, but most of the time has the emotional maturity of an otter pop.
A writer living in Portland, OR looking to meet Chuck Palahniuk. Single mom to 2 boys, sales agent and lawyer-in-training.