Why control addicts need to hit bottom

A guy visits a farmer.  

“Want to meet the smartest mule in the world?” the farmer asks.

“Sure,” says the guy.

So the farmer takes him to the barnyard and shows him a mule.

“What’s two plus two?” the farmer asks.

The mule stares back at him.

“I said, what’s two plus two?” shouts the farmer.

The mule stares.

The farmer picks up a rake handle and smacks the mule between the eyes.

The mule blinks, then stamps his foot: one, two, three, four.

“Great,” the guy says.  “Smart mule.  But why’d you hit him with the rake handle?”  

“Oh,” says the farmer, “that was to get his attention.”


Control addicts are like all addicts.

Who are just like that mule.

They must get hit over the head before they can start recovering.

An addict’s rake handle is called “hitting bottom.”  Bottom being that point where the pain of their addiction becomes larger than their fear of giving it up.

Control addicts need this no less than alcoholics and drug addicts.

They need that pain.

Without it, they won’t pay attention.

So don’t waste your time trying to convince them to stop their controlling.

And — please — never protect them from its consequences.

They need those consequences.

They need that pain.

And unless and until they feel it…

They’re just another mule in the barnyard.




4 responses to “Why control addicts need to hit bottom

  • juliemac30

    Thank you for sharing your insight regarding control issues. I have struggled for years with my daughter and nothing changed until I let go and gave up control. I think the shift came when I started to accept instead of expect and let go of that damn banana! I look forward to following Bert and I can’t wait for monkeytraps. Thanks again,

  • alexis

    i concur with Julie; it finally occurred to me [late in my daughter’s teen years] that if I did not learn to let go, my/her/our health/well-being were in danger. This is the most important lesson I have ever learned and I thank my girl for being such an important and valuable teacher! I use this skill every day of my life, ’cause, as a true control-freak, I am wont to back-slide.

    • Steve Hauptman

      Adolescence is difficult for families because many parents fail to recognize the need to switch gears — that you can’t parent a sixteen-year-old the way you did when she was six.
      Or that sure, you can try, but it amounts to an assault on your child’s self-respect, independence and sense of integrity.
      So I congratulate both Julie and Alexis for their courage in growing up along with their daughters.
      Way to go, moms. 🙂

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