Many of us struggle with what to do when a loved one is in trouble in some way. Some of us believe that we need to mind our own business: it is not my place to say anything! Others interpret detachment to be license to disregard the responsibility for loving another person. Still others rush into every problem to “fix it” regardless of whether or not they have permission.
While it is true that you cannot control the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of your mate, you share responsibility for being of service to them when you are spiritually fit. Few people will be as well equipped as you are to see the signs that your mate is struggling. The secret to successfully sharing a recovery journey with your partner is to learn the difference between being responsible to someone and being responsible for someone.
Couples who are in recovery absolutely can work recovery together as a team to build an emotional and spiritual bond that each can draw from when personal reserves are low. The reservoir that each partner will come to depend on in their romance is not intended to replace each of the partners’ individual recovery support network, it is intended rather to expand and deepen it.
Every addicted person who has completed an honest examination of the powerless and unmanageably resulting from his or her addiction has invariably come to understand that active addiction can be a very lonely place. The deeper the “bottom” that he or she has reached the greater the likelihood of achieving complete isolation and desperation prior to recovery. Recovery is not intended to occur in isolation from others.
We are taught in the fellowship rooms to understand sobriety to be a “WE” experience. The Twelve Steps address what “we” have done to establish and maintain sobriety. The literature promoted by the various 12 Step organizations supports the idea that service to others is one of the greatest insurance policies against a relapse. The first, of the …
The people with whom we are the most intimate with in our lives are usually the most common targets for our negative mood swings, which are a hallmark feature of an addictive illness. Our loved ones become the key focal points for our targeting system because they are the most revealing mirrors in our lives.
When the mirrors tell you the truth about what you have become, you must either face that truth and get help, or break the mirror! We like to call the struggle of breaking that mirror of close partners who reflect our truth to us as “Eliminating the Witnesses.”
This pattern of eliminating the witnesses occurs most when we are attempting to maintain a particular image, especially when we are not doing so well in our recovery.
Eliminating the witnesses is dangerous ,however. It is an integral part of the fatal process of making relapse okay. The behaviors associated with eliminating the witnesses will be aimed at helping to obscure from the recovering addict’s perception that he or she is in any danger. If the input of the recovering addict’s loved one might cause him or her to experience an honest self-appraisal, the loved one will need to “be eliminated”!
When we are children, we are, in effect, attending “Marriage College.” Our professors are the adults we grow up around – our parents, adult friends, and extended family members. The lessons we learn are related to how to behave in a marriage, or more often than not, how not to behave.
If our education is a negative one, we swear we will never be like that, and we often blame our role models for what they have taught us. What we must understand, though, is that they never realized they were “teaching” anything; they were simply living their lives the way they themselves had been taught.
Rather than living that same life and blaming them for it, it would be better for us to study where they went wrong and learn how to get it right.