We live in a world of instant gratification and results don’t we! Instant messenger,instant breakfast, instant responses(thank you texting!) and the latest is Google home. You don’t even need to get on a computer, you just need a google speaker and bingo you have your answer! So it shouldn’t surprise us that when we arrive to a program we want our loved ones to get quick results and want instant answers to all the problems associated with living with an alcoholic and addict.
Recovery is a process and it takes time and effort. It is not an overnight matter. Our relationships and family situations take a hard hit during active addiction. Trust is lost and healing old wounds is a reconstructive process. “It brings misunderstanding, fierce resentment, financial insecurity, disgusted friends and employers, warped lives of blameless children, sad wives and parents -anyone can increase the list”(Alcoholics Anonymous 2001, page 18). These are common results of living with addiction of any kind.
As much as I wanted my alcoholic to be and stay sober, I had no power over his choices. I only had the power of my own choices and the direction I wanted and needed to take. I found my own recovery because I learned through experience that I had a problem too. I was too preoccupied with him. Thankfully the 12 steps provided me with the ability to see my addiction, find a solution and change my patterns of behavior and mostly my thinking.
Making choices are key in my recovery today. It’s about self care and boundary building.When I sense there are situations that can be dangerous to my recovery today which may put my physical, mental or spiritual well being at risk, I can put distance between me and that situation. I can get quiet and know when these areas are at risk and I can make choices to take care of myself. Before getting into my own recovery, I had no ability to step aside, be quiet and not get in the drivers seat. I can put spiritual space between myself and alcoholism today. I don’t have to get involved, particularly emotionally. I can make a decision to leave or simply not engage the person.
I know my conditioning today and instead of believing everything I think, I can pause and be of few words and enlist the help of my recovery circle. I have recently had some challenging situations present themselves. My dad is a sober alcoholic, not necessarily recovered. The triggers still exist and there is a fair amount of manipulation and selfishness still present. I can let him be exactly who he is and not have the need to take it personally nor do I have the need to make his experience any different than what it is. I still love him and care very deeply for him. In fact, I love him enough to let him do what he needs to do.
So today I contemplate before taking action and I take my space. I consider is this mine to fix ? Is it any of my business? I can think it’s my place, but when I stop and think, I wasn’t even asked to get involved. I used to assume that you needed me for something and that it was within my duties to help you. That is exactly where I rob my alcoholic of having his own experience. I think I know better or that my plan is better. Before I learned about my own dysfunction or disease, this is how I navigated in the world. It was not only in relation to addicts in my life. I found this to be true at work, with my friends and countless others. Boundaries were not modeled for me. Since I grew up with addiction, I thought that way of life and engagement was normal. The twelve steps taught me differently. Now I have a roadmap to go by and I have a sponsor who I can ask for some guidance, direction and suggestions. I also have a bunch of other friends in my recovery circle that I have come to respect and rely on. We share a common problem and we have found a solution to our troubles and our thinking!
People talk about detachment and some folks have a fair amount of resistance or prejudice to that word. Detachment, for me, does not mean disconnect, disengage or withdraw. That is exactly what I used to do when things didn’t go according to my plan. I would put walls up, give you the silent treatment and wait very impatiently for you to approach me. I learned through the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous that this was my self centered and selfish behavior. You might be thinking, that makes no sense! Well it makes sense to me. If I didn’t get my way, you were going to pay for it or at least feel it. My specialty was subtly! I had a motive and I wanted to be the hero or the martyr. That’s the truth, as much as I don’t like to admit it. I had to get honest in regards to my behavior and what my real motives were. I saw the truth when I experienced a transformation and it is a continual process that I am still learning about. It’s not only about maintaining, it’s about spiritual growth and that growth often times come through pain.
Life keeps coming at me! Just because you go through the steps does not mean life is going to be painless and rosy. I have realized that having an alcoholic in my life was a gift because I don’t think I would ever found the peace I now have as a result of the transformation of the 12 steps. That may seem crazy to you, but having an alcoholic father, niece, nephews, aunts and uncles allowed me to have enough discomfort in my daily living to seek another way of being and living. So my recovery does not revolve around the alcoholic, it’s really about finding my own way and learning how to manage my life and to make better choices and how I can help others who may have had similar experiences.
Do I do all this perfectly? Absolutely not! Sometimes I still want to isolate, put walls up and not be vulnerable. I had a great deal of death and loss early in my life and felt abandoned at times. Some of my family members still have not recovered from the death of my mother and I get it. Trust is a precious commodity and when you have been hurt and twisted upside down and all around, we want to get off the merry go round and not play anymore! I was there for decades and I was desperate and wanted a change. The 12 steps allowed me to re-create my life, gave me a new circle of friends, and a purposeful way of living. I get to help others today and guide them out of their dis-ease.
Find recovery for yourself. It may just be what you have been searching for your whole life. Take the dive and commit to yourself to find answers and a peaceful way of being.