31 January 2013

the Tight Rope

Sometimes it feels like this whole recovery bit is an exhausting balancing act.  Scabs and I noticed that we are always saying to each other "It's a fine line..."  She suggested we write about it. Read her take here.

Each step forward finds me teetering between the "Dos" and "Don'ts" that are coming at me from all angles. 

"Do make him accountable to you, but don't check up on him."

"Do show compassion but don't enable him." 

Or how about,

"Don't ignore the problem, but do detach from it."

Things that could be a contradiction are at the least a fine line

What exactly do I mean?

Take self-care.  Super important right? But isn't there a point when you become too self-absorbed, when you've crossed that fine line and you are justifying watching all three seasons of Downton Abbey in one sitting all in the name of "self-care?"  Because isn't it actually service that brings happiness? Looking outside one's self, focusing on the needs of others?

Or how about the fine line between communicating and nagging.  It's so important to have transparency, right? It's necessary to have the hard discussions.  But whatever you do, DON'T nag the shamed addict! Don't check up on him all the time.  Don't guilt him into sharing with you and don't beg for honesty.  Make him accountable for his actions, but don't be codependent about it. 

One last example.  You need to protect his privacy, it's not your story to tell, etc.  But you need support.  Honesty and vulnerability foster meaningful and loving friendships.  It feels liberating to ditch the facade and just be REAL with someone.  "You're only as sick as your secrets" Al-Anon tells us. 

So yeah, I think it is a balancing act.  I think I am walking a tight rope.  And once in awhile I find myself leaning a bit too much to the right and I don't feel safe and I panic.  So I over-compensate and jerk myself to the left, now feeling just as afraid of falling as I did on the right. 

I feel like I need to have compassion for him.  I need to feel love and forgiveness.  But then I feel like I'm being a doormat, and I'm enabling him by trying to protect him from pain, because I love him.  So I come down harder, my heart gets colder, and then I feel hopeless about our relationship because I know I'm being a porcupine.  It's a fine line between doormat and porcupine.

One of my favorite sayings is "The answer is always in the middle." 

"DUH" says the girl on the tight rope.

I think ultimately it takes practice.  It takes a few falls flat on your face and an ever increasing sense of balance that prevents you from overcompensating, giving you just the right touch to adjust when the wind blows or when you falter.  Just like anything else it won't come easy, trial and error teach you to the way to be.  And experience of course.  And then, there you are...

...deliberate, confident, and peaceful.  And all those things create better balance than tension, fear and panic. Wouldn't you agree?


  1. Great thoughts. You bring up such good thinking. Bravo. Thank you!

  2. Wow!! I love you and Scabs:) I have been walking the tight rope and just couldn't put it into words.Thanks for explaining this so well.

  3. she did explain it really well didn't she. It's perfect!

  4. You know what's awesome... is when the fine line, even though is still fine, gets bolded. It's like Heavenly Father's finger comes down and just hit's ctrl+B for you and blammo - it's SO obvious. I love that. :-) Great post!

  5. That's great insight! especially about practice, you're right... Reading this I just though you might want to go and buy yourself a slackline, because you would probably be awesome at it :)) Like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miPWUb0p28U . S.

  6. I can totally relate to the "self-care" of checking out and watching Downton Abbey. I did that a few weeks ago in the midst of an in-house separation with my husband. I "fell flat" last week in maintaining my boundary (I let him back into bed with me) and it only took him 4 days to violate it again. I learned from that fall that this in-house separation will last much longer until he has some sobriety. My thinking is "awareness of the line, acceptance of where you are, choose to stay in the middle."

  7. Exactly. All too often a lean a little too far one way or the other - fortunately there is a net there and I haven't died yet....but there are days... :)

  8. Oh my goodness, yes! You described this so well! Sometimes I feel like I'm a complete hypocrite with all the swaying back and forth across that line and I imagine that my husband has no idea how to approach me, because sometimes I'll provide a soft landing and other times I'll lay into him hard. This analogy makes me feel so much better, because I really am trying to walk that tight rope.

  9. Great articulation of thoughts that have been on my mind. Thanks!