03 August 2016

Checking In

A few recent events have brought me back to this space, to write about how I’m feeling and how I’m trying to live.  I’ve had some thoughts swirling in my brain lately, after we made a big move back to the United States, spent two months in transition, and Pete acted out again after a really wonderful six months of sobriety.  I’m feeling compassion for him, transitions are so hard, losing his support system and dealing with the stresses of his work life, while trying to get our family settled, is bound to take its toll.  But I’m also feeling disappointed, frustrated and anxious about it all. 

It’s much easier to live in emotional and mental health when Pete is doing the same.  When we both take care of our stuff our relationship thrives, and it is so fulfilling.  But when one of us starts to lose our grip, it’s hard for the other one to hold steady.  And this morning something clicked in my brain.  To my friend[s] who have tried to explain this to me and I wasn’t understanding, I apologize, because I think I’m catching on.

I thought that recovering from co-dependency meant that my happiness would not be dependent on other people’s behavior.  Today, that seems like an impossible, and even not desirable goal.  When I’m emotionally connected to someone I love, there are going to be things they say or do that cause me to feel sadness.  Sadness is not happiness.  I used to believe that detachment meant, severing the emotional connection so that I DIDN’T feel sad when they said or did hurtful things. 

The word serenity, that I hear so often in recovery, is all of the sudden much more meaningful to me.  It’s not my happiness I need to protect, I’ve mentioned before that I don’t personally believe happiness should be the object of my existence. I understand how beneficial other feelings can be to my human experience.  It’s my serenity I want to protect. My peace. My contentment. My ability to not go to my crazy place during the midst of my sadness, disappointment, hurt and even fear. 

So what was working for me during the last six months? Well for starters Pete’s sobriety and his serenity were working for me. (Tongue and cheek, insert squinty-eye-emoji.)  But my number one tool for feeling my own peace is acceptance.  And I could probably write an entire post just about acceptance, and my evolution from hating that word to embracing it.  I’m trying each day to get present in my reality, and then make the most of it.  

While I sit in this sadness, and accept the hurt that inevitably comes from being emotionally connected to people, I’m hoping I can stay connected to God, practice gratitude and keep some serenity. 


20 January 2016

Living in Recovery


I'm not really sure of what draws me to this writing space and why, but I've been drawn here again lately and so I've come.

I've been thinking about what my life looks like these days, as it relates to the way I cope with Pete's addiction, and I've realized that "recovery" has become a way of life for me.  But it's so much bigger than Pete's addiction.

In the course of my life I accumulated a set of habits, behaviors, false beliefs and fears that stood as obstacles to living a life of contentment, happiness, gratitude and safety.  All these things were exacerbated by Pete's addiction, my trauma and my pain.  These "things" include my ideas about how other people's behavior effects me, my fears and shame about my marriage, my frustrations with other family relationships, my suffering self-esteem, my beliefs about feelings and boundaries- all combined with the behaviors I adopted to try to feel some sense of control and to protect myself from any kind of vulnerability.

Eventually, at the peak of Pete's addiction and my dysfunction it became too much to bear.  It's always been easy to blame Pete's addiction, and certainly the betrayal and hurt contributed to my despair, but these "things" have always been there, lurking under the surface, and the crisis of the addiction just opened the closet door for them to all come pouring out.

My life now consists of doing what I can to help me cope with these behaviors, beliefs and fears. This of course includes coping with Pete's ongoing addiction-related problems, but it's also so much broader.  So what does it look like for me?

It is having a therapist that I trust, that I can be honest with, that holds me accountable and that is gentle and compassionate with me.  It is participating in Al-Anon, because the 12 steps work for me. It is deliberately and consciously staying self-aware, despite how uncomfortable awareness can be at times.  It is self-care and boundaries and acceptance.  It is work.  Really.

The last 18 months have had some seriously intense moments where I've fallen off the wagon so to speak, and allowed myself to pretend and deny that I have any need for "recovery."  I'm just such a work in progress, never really feeling like I master anything, and even my therapist teases me that "we've talked about this before Jane..."  But that's just the reality of me, my life, and my "things."  And today, I'm mostly okay with it.

I've been writing on this blog for a few years now and I have no idea if the any of the same people from the beginning still read it.  Are you still dealing with your husband's addiction? Have you "moved on"? Do you find that you have "things" that stand in your way of peace and self-confidence? What has recovery evolved into for you?