Reading is widely known to satisfy some pretty substantial desires, such as the desire to know, or to feel excitement, or to experience a sense of wonder — but there’s still something special about reading out of a desire to heal. The mental processes involved in reading, which has been defined as “thinking with someone else’s mind,” feel closely allied to those required by that most difficult of all imaginative acts, forgiveness. To truly forgive someone means breaking the mind-forged manacles of emotion and accepting life on life’s terms, rather than one’s own. For Carole Bennett, a substance abuse counselor at familyrecoverysolutions.com and the author of Reclaim Life, a book written to help people who are living with an alcoholic and/or addict, this powerful step toward greater self-awareness and away from the self-involved blaming of others, is an essential one not only for recovering alcoholics but also for their partners. Whether we are talking about a husband and wife or a parent and child, it takes two to untangle.
And that’s what Bennett’s excellent and insightful second book is about. Is There a Dry Drunk in Your Life? picks up where Reclaim Your Life left off, with the newly sober partner adjusting to life without drinking, and the significant other frequently left to continue the battle to reclaim his or her life … because, as we mostly now know, even if only from movies like When a Man Loves a Woman, the path of sobriety often leaves those around the dry drunk walking on eggshells. Through a combination of sharp, well-organized exposition, including lists like “9 dispositions of the dry drunk” (Number 1? “Resentful toward a family member or friend who has made them ‘stop drinking or else’”), helpful processing questionnaires, and many helpful case histories derived from her clinical practice, Bennett has delivered something like a comprehensive manual for the afflicted.
While the sections on establishing boundaries and writing a recovery contract necessarily revisit ideas from Reclaim Your Life, those concepts resonate differently in this context and remain relevant and necessary for understanding the big picture. What’s new in Dry Drunk is the more complex and nuanced portrait it draws of the audience for whom the book was written — the rescuers/enablers who may justly take pride in having steered a loved one toward sobriety, but who are still a long way from their own goals of personal fulfillment. Every day, many people face a profoundly painful decision; having stuck with someone who has battled alcoholism or addiction through the worst of it, they must then make up their minds about whether it is best for them to stay or to go. This book offers plenty of sound advice and ample opportunity for reflection to those feeling trapped by this dilemma without tilting the argument toward one side or the other. “Is it time to throw in the towel?” is the kind of question that will drive you crazy if you let it. Bennett breaks it down into logical steps so that you can answer it with confidence before it eats you alive. And that’s something to cheer about.