So, I learned that I’m not perfect.
Well, ok, I knew that for awhile, but sometimes, especially in my case with my situation, it’s easy to forget that I also have issues that tend to exacerbate things a little bit from time to time (or a lot, depending on how you want to look at it).
Of course it’s easy to see that addiction causes problems on its own: untrustworthy behaviors, financial hardships, embarrassing scenes, sympathy or much worse negative feelings from others, etc. And it’s easy to also suggest that the addict themselves has these issues to then sort through, and make sure that these, or other issues, don’t set the stage for a relapse. That’s what meetings, sponsors, healthy habits, and other life-changing routines are for.
But what about us? All those practices are just for the addicts, right?
You need to recover, too.
I’m (not really) sorry to tell you this, but if you don’t know it already, you have just as much work to do (if not more so) as they do. Shocking, isn’t it?
I’m no stranger to the untrue idea that they are the only ones that need to change. After all, I’m not the one that stole, or lied, or did drugs or drank too much. Right? What do I need to change?
The answer is: probably a lot. Sure you or I probably never did the typical things you associate with substance abuse, but the thing is, we’ve done, and probably continue to do at least from time to time, many other negative behaviors that can impact our lives and relationships.
I know that I have held grudges, been manipulative, acted crazy, played games, been downright mean, used guilt, and thrown things in his face that I know I shouldn’t have in an attempt to get even. And I know now (and probably back then too but I just didn’t want to admit it) that those behaviors weren’t right, and that they did more harm than good for both his recovery and mine.
It wasn’t easy, though.
"He made me like this, right? He made my life the way it is so he deserves to “deal with the damages” of what he’s done", is how I saw it.
But you can’t move forward like that. Nothing will change if you keep score and attempt to get even, or allow yourself to believe that this is how you’ll be forever because of what you’ve been through.
There are many facets to bettering your relationship and your life, and this has no exceptions. And just like with anything there is no guarantee that they will fix everything. But the only thing you can change is yourself, and that is where you have to begin.
For instance: I don’t know if you knew this, but there are meetings for us, too. You might wonder what they are like, and even at first I was doubtful, but those helped immensely. I even got a sponsor, too.
I also started looking to see where else I could better my life. If I was having this many issues then I was sure there were just as many things I could improve.
I started seeing a therapist, reading more self-improvement books, finding hobbies, practicing self-care, reaching out to loved ones to build a support net, and anything else I could get my hands on to build up a better foundation to move forward.
The funny thing is, too, that once I started doing this, everything else changed. I don’t know if my outlook in general changed, or if what I did influenced everything else, but I didn’t care. He got help, stayed in a program, focused on sobriety, got a better job, did his part to mend our relationship, and kept up his end of building his own foundation.
Of course, nothing is set in stone, and things can happen. He can get into a place where he slips, even if just mentally, and that can cause those feelings to come back in me. Also, just like him, I have my own independent bad days where I slip into my old ways and don’t make the right choices. Sure it isn’t a substance but I believe it to be equally as harmful, at least to us.
But just like with anything else, do I let it define me? Or do I see it, realize it, and change it? That’s when you know you’re heading in the right direction and how you can stay the course.
And trust me, it is entirely worth the effort to do better.