Addiction and Relationships: Are You Feeling Like You Aren't Living Your Life Like You Should?
Most of the time when you hear anything about going with the flow, it’s in reference to something bad, as in, your life‘s not doing well so you just need to go with it and see where it takes you.
That’s how I used it anyways. The times I used the phrase “go with the flow” it was definitely about a time in my life when things weren’t good and I was making a point to stop fighting with life as a whole.
But what about the other way around? Like, when things are good? Should you still “go with the flow”?
The reason I started thinking about this in the first place is in reference to my own life.
Right now, my partner is in recovery for addiction, and has been for...almost a year? Yes, it was 2 days before Halloween last year that he went to a rehab in LA. So it’s been just shy of a year.
And in the time since then, he completed a program, moved to a sober living, started planning our wedding with me, and just now in the last month moved back in with our daughter and I when we all made the move to a new apartment in a new city.
And while it’s very cool, I sometimes wonder about how this looks to other people.
I feel like on one hand, there will be people (or thoughts of people who are split in opinions) who think it’s wonderful, and they will be happy for us to finally have the things we’ve always wanted to have, with more good things on the way.
But then I also think that on the other hand, there will be people (or thoughts of those people who are split on opinions) that will say Ohhhhh, so naive. It hasn’t even been a year yet, you don’t even know what’s coming. Are you suuuuuuure you can trust him? Addiction never just goes away, you know that...
And while I didn’t mind it as much when it was just the three of us, these thoughts come around more often since I’ve been writing all of these posts.
I’m of course very excited, reasonably and healthily hopeful and optimistic, and taking it moment by moment and enjoying the journey while exploring and changing things or adapting as I see fit, but I’m also wondering if there is anyone who thinks that maybe we’re moving too fast, or that I got lucky and don’t take things into account that I should be (see my previous post on luck if you haven’t already).
And it makes me second guess things.
Maybe I don’t know as much about the topic of addiction and being in my position as a partner that I thought I did. Maybe people will think I’m naïve and I’m not going as slow as I should. Maybe I don’t have a good place to stand and talk about these things because some people have it much harder and I was fortunate to not have the struggles they did or still currently have.
It’s been like that for a few months now (how long have I been here doing this?), but now I’m finally starting to see the actual truth behind it. And it goes in line with everything I’ve been writing about, and it’s something I’m sure a lot of us struggle with: I feel guilty. And all of these thoughts are the words of that doubtful, negative voice in my head.
Before I had guilt over making boundaries and not supporting my partner like I thought I should, or having guilt at doing and feeling better than he was at the time. But now, I have guilt over the ones like me who are partners of addicts who aren’t where I am yet. I say I want to help them like how I wanted to have help in the past, but how can I help them from where I am now?
But, that’s ok, and completely normal. We are all on a learning journey no matter what the topic is or how long you’ve been on the path of learning it, and just like with our partners and addiction, sometimes it takes time to heal and quiet those voices. There's no timeline, and there's no wrong way (as long as it's done in a healthy and positive way).
There is no linear journey that has to be the same for everyone.
No two people will have the exact same journey or experiences. While the broadness can be the same, we all have our own unique circumstances that make our stories ours.
And sure, maybe to some people it may look like I’m living a little too fast and forgetting that addiction is always going to have a seat at my table of life (or, just feeling that way myself from my own thoughts). But the thing is, I’m really just focusing on living my life and enjoying it, and anyone can get to the place where I am now, or to whatever ideal future they see themselves having.
Really, everyone can achieve a happy, comfortable life. Even while forgetting how hard things used to be in the past. Because you see, I was once the partner who was resentful, scared of the future and of my partner dying, secretly angry at other people who seemed to have it all together and with the things I wanted, and so stressed out that I could barely function, let alone be happy.
My partner likes to say that I don’t remember how bad things actually were when we were in the thick of his addiction, and how much self work I did to get where I am now. Because it’s easy to move on and sometimes almost forget the addiction even existed (at least prominently). Whatever the reason, I just don’t access those memories as much anymore.
And that’s not a bad thing.
My point is that we should all try to let go of the past more, and focus on where we are right now, and where we envision ourselves in the future, while doing what we need to do to get ourselves there.
And that’s where going with the flow comes in: don’t try to fight what is, no matter how good or bad it is. Don't force things that aren't working, and do what feels right for you to do at any given time.
For me, I’m just doing my best to live in the moment, and appreciate each thing that comes my way. You never know what could happen, so why live life with doubt and fear? Why not do our best to be as content and hopeful as we can?
Also, it’s ok to still struggle from time to time, especially with topics that you thought you were “over”. It’s perfectly normal to continue to have contrasting ideas, and it doesn’t mean that you aren’t doing as well as you thought you were.
And it's also ok to let go of the past and move forward, because it's only going to hold you down the more you cling to it. I did, and it came naturally as a result of focusing on my self work, and I felt much better after I stopped carrying it. It didn't define who I was anymore, and I was ready to move on and define myself based on how I really felt inside.
So, as I wrap up my stream of consciousness on this post, I want to reiterate: the goal of life is to be content and at peace, and to love yourself more than you ever have before. And that means being ok with who and how you are at any point in your life. Even if you struggle sometimes still, and even if doing better causes you to feel guilty for the ones in your life who aren't doing as well yet, like your partner who still struggles with their addiction. And it's also ok to let go of the past. It's over, it no longer serves you, and you want to make space for what is to come.
Once you are more easily able to focus on yourself and move forward, it will become easier to see what you should specifically do in your own life, regardless of the ones who doubt you (even if that's just the voice in your head). And remember, it's ok to just go with the flow if that's what you see fit.