Shameless Sucks - Long Live Shameless!
Jan 8, 2012 - 11:33:05 AM
(HealthNewsDigest.com) - SHAMELESS on Showtime is back for another gut-wrenching season of comedy and familial destruction. It’s a tragi-comedy really, one following the lives of one adult alcoholic schemer (played by William H. Macy) and his six (!) complex, wounded children. Dad gets drunk; blows his ill-gotten SSI check. Dad falls down, and fails the family. The kids pick up dad, and the pieces.
Tragedy. Comedy. In the life of the alcoholic – one is not mutually exclusive.
Raising kids while trying to scheme a way back to the bottle is every alcoholic’s daily game plan, and one I get to splash around in nearly every day. As an interventionist and teacher, I’m the lucky outsider who gets to pack up the drama and trauma each night, put it on the shelf and dust myself off while the children of the alcoholic never find that coping mechanism because there’s really nowhere to go for them. They’re in it and nearly always buy into the alcoholism myths they’re told:
They can’t help someone unless they’re “ready” and
Their loved one has to “hit bottom.”
Both are science that should go the way of the flat-earth theory.
As much as I want to like SHAMELESS (William H. Macy & Joan Cusack! What’s not to like?) I just don’t have the stomach for it. I’m glad it’s on the tube as it tells really real stories, but for me, watching SHAMELESS is like watching human sausage being made.
The half-dozen SHAMELESS children of their TV dad hero go through the expected routines of my intervention practice client’s kids:
Learned Helplessness: they lose the belief that they can do something that’ll stick
Depression & Anxiety: the instability of the addicted parent comes like waves in the life of the family, keeping any natural buoyancy from occurring
Hypervigilance: the kids stand ready and waiting for the next catastrophe to occur; the next icky pile of dad’s puke on the rug to get stepped in
Traumatic Adhesion: trauma sticks, and an unhealthy bond is forged between the insane daily life and the child
Escapism – increased propensity to addiction issues as the child grows up
Each episode’s drama (the lies and flies and humanity that gets poured into the sausage casing of those kids) breaks my heart. So excuse me for not celebrating the awards season announcements for its’ great writing, and excellent acting.
I’m done with them. Can’t watch, as it’s too much of what I work to help each day. For the alcoholic children on SHAMELESS, there is no real normal. No expectation of the dad feeding, nurturing, and protecting. The hierarchy of care every parent innately strives to practice slides effortlessly away as booze claims the top spots in spite of parental instinct dictating otherwise.
Here’s the truth in spite of SHAMELESS: You can get someone to stop guzzling booze. You can motivate someone to push pause. You are able help them stop the downward spiral.
You have more power and options with a loved one than you believe because as you sit and wait for them to "hit bottom" they do, and they die. I am one of them who lived and changed and thrived. My name is Brad. I am a recovered drunk, addict, chain-smoker and bulimic and I am here to tell you, how you CAN HELP SOMEONE YOU LOVE.
The largest misperception about alcoholism is that you need to wait for someone to get READY for help. Nonsense. In my work I teach families four simple steps:
• Craft a Circle of Change — Use the natural influence of friends, family and even co-workers to move a resistant loved one toward change
• Deliver the Invitation to Change — Invite your loved one to take grab the preserver, that is, take actions necessary for change to begin
• Champion the Change — Enable in positive ways your loved one through his or her transformation so that change sticks
• Care for You — Nurture yourself so that you stay physically and emotionally strong, mentally alert and spiritually centered
I also teach how relapse is oftentimes a natural element of change, and its part of the pathway to recovery. I didn’t get clean and sober on the first try - but it's now nearly nine years from the day it clicked for good. Expect setbacks. Work to avoid them, but be prepared for them when they occur. Move forward despite feeling discouraged, without judgment. When you make a wrong turn while driving does your GPS berate you? It simply says, “recalibrating.”
When I work with families I simply teach them to do the same. But families aren’t computers, so another crucial factor in dealing with alcoholism is creating a long term plan and staying engaged – not for the struggling loved one but for the entire circle.
I am here today because my friends and family didn’t let me bottom out. They "hit bottom" and declared amongst themselves that they would stand still no longer. They believed in their hearts they could help someone they loved. And despite the fact that I went kicking and crying, and had made a pretty good mess of my life, they stood by me and are still my loved ones to this day. It's that bold step that we have to start seeing as an option for ourselves to use with our own loved ones who are frankly at risk of dying.
It may be an uncomfortable idea, but let’s get comfortable with being uncomfortable shall we?
Brad lives in New York City with his family.
Brad’s Books Include:
‐ How to Change Someone You Love: Four Steps to Help You Help Them
‐ How to Help the One You Love: A New Way to Intervene
‐ Just 10 LBS: Easy Steps to Weighing What You Want (FINALLY!)
‐ Just 10 LBS Workbook: Read – Write – Discover
‐ Just 10 Minutes: Your Blueprint to Quit Smoking
www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brad_Lamm & www.BradLamm.com
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