23 March 2012

how to respond

Having already described what I realized were ineffective responses I want to describe some general ideas about how to respond in a more productive way.  I am not a qualified expert on the subject, and the specifics of the conversations/behaviors/feelings that need to take place for your healing and your addicts recovery are for you to sort through. 

Anyway- having made that annoying disclaimer to hopefully avoid any backlash I'll move on. 

First of all, the feelings will come, and there is nothing wrong with the feelings.  The 12-step program manual says "Not feeling anger will not make it go away."  It will come, and so will frustration, hurt, disappointment.  The trick is to release them.  Feel them, then let them go.  At first it might be realistic to recognize that this won't happen in the immediate moments following disclosure, so during those initial minutes following his confession use your self-control to not let your reaction be driven by those negative feelings.  You may have to set some boundaries to give yourself some room to cope.  (I'll write about boundaries another time.) 

I know it's not easy, trust me I know.  But I also know that when I am able to dismiss the anger and forgive, two amazing things happen.

1.  It helps me walk away from the situation and feel peace, feel composed and not feel ashamed or have regrets about the way I handled myself.  Controlling anger and fear allows me to feel the Spirit and to feel God's presence.  When I let anger and fear motivate my actions all the support and love I feel from God vanish.  I've lost my connection to him, I've cut the line. 

2.  It gives Pete confidence and it helps him see me as a safe person to talk to.  It provides an atmosphere that fosters honesty and encourages unity between husband and wife.  If you want a great example of this read Mac's comment on the last post. 

The idea is to exude love and confidence in the addict.  How do you do that? For me it involves a hug, and a few encouraging remarks.  "It's going to be okay."  "You are going to figure it out."  "Yes, I know you are sorry."   [Pete actually rarely uses the words "I'm sorry" because for so long I hated those words, I still think they are inadequate.]

Anyway, it is probably different for every addict, but I think the golden rule is a good place to start.  If you were to go to a friend or loved one, to confess a mistake how would you hope for them to respond?  [I had to do this recently and it was painful.]

Better yet- when you kneel and repent  to your Father in Heaven, for a weakness you have repeatedly failed to correct, what do you long for from him? And what does he never cease to offer? 

Love.  And He believes you can overcome it.  He believes it so much that he gave his son to make it possible. 

We don't have to fix our addicts.  We are not their Savior.  We can trust that if they are willing, God will take care of them and we help them see we really believe He will.  And even if they are not willing, God will always take care of us, if we let him by behaving in a way that allows us to hear his voice.  

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