“I just want them to get better.”
We all say it at some point, and I mean, it’s kinda hard not to.
Once they stop doing drugs then everything will be fine right? And sometimes we get so desperate that we don’t care what the trade off is either. We’re really out here ready to give it all up for the chance at having our partner’s sobriety.
But it’s actually about a lot more than that. Really, it is. Although it may seem as though you just want them to be sober and end the addiction, that’s not what you are really looking for.
Ok, so what are you looking for, you may ask?
Here's 2 reasons it's not actually about them getting sober:
Reason 1. You want to give away the burden of your own accountability.
So your partner is in active addiction, and you just want it to end. The endless cycle of using and sobriety, the endless second chances, the resentments and difficult emotions, and the feeling that this is just how your life is going to be until one of you dies.
You think, if they could just get it together and end this crazy routine then you could finally be happy. Less stuff to worry about, they would be the partner you’ve been wishing for, and you can honestly be ok with anything as long as it’s not the drugs and the addiction.
And I feel you there, because I used to say that a lot. I genuinely believed that his sobriety was all that I wanted, and after that things would be perfect.
But then when sobriety actually would come around, I was the exact same. Still angry, still resentful, still sad, still hopeless.
It’s because I put my energy and attention to something that wasn’t the responsible party, that’s why.
I kept putting my happiness and ability to change my life into my partner’s hands, instead of mine. And when things didn’t look like I dreamt about in my head, or he wasn’t acting the way I wanted him to, etc. I got very, very, unhappy.
And now here’s the next question: why did I do that?
(And that’s a little more difficult to accept for some people, including me at that point in my life.)
It’s because I didn’t want the accountability for the way my life was.
I didn’t want the reason for my life not being the way I wanted it to be, or for me not being as happy as I could be, to be, well, me.
But that’s exactly who the “guilty party” was.
I didn’t want to accept that the reason I was where I was was because of my own decisions and lack of what I needed to succeed. And this is also the reason that I didn’t want to start the self-work.
So I turned to a common way to negatively and helplessly alleviate what I felt, and I bet you can relate to this, too: the all-to-common deflection that we as partners do.
“He’s the one with all the problems. Why do I have to do anything when it’s his fault in the first place?”
But that’s not how life works at all. While we may not have the ability to control everything in life that happens to us, we can and should be mindful and aware of how we respond to these circumstances.
It wasn’t until I finally realized this that things actually started to really get better. And the funny thing was, this was when my partner was doing the absolute worst. While he was out there on the verge of losing it all, I was in my own focus, slowly putting myself back in the driver’s seat and remaking myself from the ground up. This is when I started to get those boundaries, too. Which, funnily enough, helped to kickstart my partner’s own journey into a better life.
And this proved again that, contrary to my beliefs at the time, his recovery wasn’t tied to my happiness and success like I had previously thought it was.
So, it’s really important to take some time to see why you believe the things you do about your life, and to make sure that you are taking responsibility and accountability where it is due.
Once you realize where you stand and begin to make sure you aren’t giving your power away to others, your own journey to a better life can truly start.
And that leads me right into reason 2: You want to get better.
In my first reason, I mentioned not wanting to do self-work, and for a lot of situations that can be very true. Because really, who wants to take the time to sit and find out all the reasons that they are doing terrible? I mean, even though that was a joke, that’s honestly how a lot of us feel. So we deflect to blame it on our partners, and get even more angry and upset in an effort to not feel so vulnerable and powerless.
But it really is all about us. We are doing so much to unintentionally hold ourselves back, and without the proper mindset, it’s hard to dig ourselves out.
But it’s the hard work that must be done in order to help ourselves both now in the present moment, and in the long run.
If we want to have a better life, happier days, and a healthier relationship with our partners and ourselves, we need to start getting to the root of our upsets and troubles so that they don’t continue to manifest in situations where they can easily be disguised as something else.
And beneath all of the arguments with our partners, sad days feeling hopeless and isolated, and all of the other negative feelings that keep us down, we really do long for better days. We really do want to heal and move on out of the routine cycles that have made us complacent.
Just as our partners get caught in their own addiction while wanting a way out, so do we want to get out of the mess we are in that was caused by our own shortcomings. And just like them, too, it can be “easier” and less work to keep things the way they are, no matter how dysfunctional that is. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
So you see, part of your work is made up of, for one, starting the journey. But also being able to see things for what they actually are, below the surface.
Remember: it’s not all about your partner all of the time.
When they are in active addiction, recovery, or somewhere in between, they will always fall short and make you unhappy if you aren’t doing the most to take care of you, yourself, first.
But if you realize what things are at the core of it, you will be so much better off to kickstart your own healing. And there’s no telling what kind of miracles can come when you start from that.