The program was our saving grace

I tried every thing I could think of to make my alcoholic “understand” what he was doing to himself and to our family. I tried reason and logic, I threatened, begged and pleaded, I defended and argued my case over and over again expecting the light to come on, and for him to finally understand, and do whatever he had to do to change. I said the same thing over and over again a thousand different ways. But not one thing I said made a difference, because he was in complete denial that he had a problem with alcohol. The sad thing is that he really tried to control his drinking, but he could not, and even then he could not accept that he was powerless.

You know what else is sad? I could see how obsessed he was with alcohol, but I could not see how obsessed I was over trying to control his drinking. We were the perfect storm, the yin yang of an alcoholic relationship. We were on opposite sides that absolutely encouraged our sickness. He could not look me in the face and not feel guilty, but he could not stop his destructive behavior either. I struggled trying to out-wit him and keep him out of trouble.

Every time in the past, before I got into recovery, that I had tried to change, or pull away, I failed, and I failed because of my motive. I was trying to control and manipulate my husband to try and force him to change. It was pretty scary standing up for my life. It was hard to wrap my mind around, and accept, that he did not have to change for me to change. What if I changed and things did not work out the way that I wanted them to? Many times it was painful to do the right thing. That is when the doubts came. Sometimes I was fearful and second guessed my decision.

My alcoholic had no reason to believe that things were different this time and he did everything in his power to keep the status quo. He wasn’t going to let me tell him what he could and could not do and his drinking got worse. As he began to see changes in me, he became even more determine to get me back in line. He tried to manipulated and guilt tripped me to try and make me believe that everything was my fault. I gave him an ultimatum and he threatened to leave. He left. The first time he left I was not strong enough, or well enough, to hold my ground, so after a few weeks, I folded and he came back home on his terms. The second time he left, he had about a years sobriety under his belt. He told me that he needed his own space and he moved to a different city. I was better and stronger, but he wasn’t and after about four months he made grand promises and “took me back.” The third time he left, he left for good.

You know what is so interesting about the third time? It was a mutual agreement. He knew, and I knew, that I had changed enough where I would no longer accept unacceptable in my life. His disease changed me, it changed him, and it changed the love we shared. It was only through recovery that I learned how to have compassion for his struggle; it was through recovery that I learned how to separate the disease from the man – which helped me to hate the disease but not the man.

It was in recovery that I learned how to love myself enough to not to allow his disease to destroy me. Which in my case meant that I had to walk away. Believe it or not, thanks to both of our recovery programs (he was in and out of the program) our breakup was rather tame. There was no war. We just knew that we could not make it work any more.

I am sharing my journey this morning, because recovery will create change in your life. Sometimes that change is not the way you envision it to be. Most couples stay together, but a few don’t. We didn’t, but the program was our saving grace. Without the program we wold have hated each other when the break came. Don’t get me wrong the break was not easy. It did not come without tears. Both of us were sad with the result, but we knew that in order for us to walk away without hating each that was what we had to do.

The enabling merry-go-round

Funny thing about enabling, at the time we think we are helping, but in reality we are feeding the monster. Oh yes, every time I run interference in someone else’s life, every time I do something that prevents them from facing their own consequences, I feed their brokenness, every time I do something for someone else that they can and should do for themselves, I feed their brokenness……..and at the same time I am feeding mine.

You know what my brokenness is? Fear, arrogance, pride and denial. I am afraid that if I don’t jump in and save the day, that the life I have envisioned for them and for me will never happen. They might go to jail, lose their job, lose their car, be homeless, won’t have anything to eat, or they might end their relationship with me, etc. Sometimes I am afraid because their stupid decisions not only cause them negative consequences, but they cause me negative consequences as well. Arrogance comes into play when I think, and make them believe, that they can’t handle their own problems as well as I can handle them for them. Pride is fear that everyone will know. What will people think of them and what will they think of me? If I don’t admit it, if I fix everything to make it better, then it is not true. The reality is that my denial keeps me chained to the problem.

My “good intentions” is to save them from a calamity that they created by choices that they made, so that I can help them turn their life around. The problem with that, is that, “My good intentions” is not what turns their life around. I am powerless to turn their life around. All of my hopes, dreams and prayers for them will not make them change unless they want to change. Nothing that I do, or that I do not do, will make them change if they do not want to change.

We did not reach this point of chaos in our lives by a bunch of weird coincidences. Our choices, theirs to mess up, ours to fix or cover up, is what put us on this path that wrecks both of our lives. For most of us, this is not our first redo. We have repeated this behavior over and over again, believing that this time things will be different. Our “good intentions” have not once altered the course of the path of destruction. It may delay it from time to time, but we are still walking toward a dangerous cliff. The truth is, that we cannot prevent them from walking off that dangerous cliff. But, we do have a choice if we want to walk off that cliff with them or not.

Sure it hurts. Sure it is painful to watch them self-destruct, but what choice do when have? It is also pain living this way with them.  Their life belongs to them and our life belongs to us. We can hang on and live in a revolving door of fear, pain, and chaos or we can let go, and let them live in it by themselves. Back in the old days we said that can let go and have a short term pain for the chance of a long term gain or we can just hang on in constant pain.

It is not easy to let go, and they definitely won’t like it either. They will whine and try to make us feel guilty because we aren’t bailing them out again. They will get angry and display all sorts of antics trying to suck us back in. But they don’t want our help to change, they want our help to support and feed their problem.

Our relationship was convoluted and complicated to say the least. Tying to figure out when I was helping and when I was enabling was confusing at times. My sponsor taught me to look at my motives. Was I interfering with their consequences from choices that they made? I am trying to do something for them that they should be doing for themselves? Am I doing the right thing for the right reason? Where, and how, am I better off in this situation? Am I doing what is best for me?

Enabling is nothing more than riding the merry-go-round of chaos and insanity with them. Nothing will change for us as long as we stay on their merry-go-round.

Attitudes about recovery programs

For a few years I struggled with my attitude about going to my recovery programs. I needed them, but I didn’t want to need them. I just wanted to go get the magic recipe to fix my life and get on with the business of living. I did not want to be one of those people, I did not want to be a 12 Step groupie that didn’t have a life out of the program. Mind you that was my interpretation of those people who were solid in the recovery journey. They couldn’t possibly have any other life than that, right?

But I was so wrong about everything. One year became two, two became three and now I will not going to tell you how many years I have been going to meetings, because you will think I am too old to still be living. Yes, it has really been that long.

I have since learned that thanks to my recovery program I can now live whole in the real world. Through the years my life has been blessed beyond measure. Today, thanks to the 12 Steps, I have beautiful friendships IN and OUT of the program. When I began my recovery journey my motive for not wanting to be one of those people, for not wanting be a “12 Step groupie,” was wrong. I was ashamed that my life was such a mess that I needed a 12 Step program. Now I am proud that I did not live the rest of my life broken and a victim. I am proud for this program and the changes that it helped me to make in my life.

Today, anyone that knows me, knows I am in a 12 Step program, several in fact. They know that the blueprint, the model, the template that I try to live my life by is the 12 Steps. In my heart, I believe that those steps help me with anything in my life but the common cold.

To be honest with you, I have never met anyone, in or out of my recovery programs, that could not benefit from these steps in some way in their life. I say this because I have never met a perfect person yet. We either have or live with, work with, live next door to, have a family member, or a friend that has some type of problem that impacts our life in a challenging way.

My recovery journey has liberated me from living in negativity, from waiting for the other shoe to fall, from being suspicious of good things in my life. It challenges me when I mess up, to fess up and make amends. It challenges me when I get stinking thinking to talk them out with someone I trust, to help me be objective and help me see things more clearly. It reminds me that I am not God in other people’s life. I cannot fix anyone else. It reminds me that just because something needs to be done that it does not necessarily mean that I should be the one to do it. It reminds me to have empathy and compassion for the walking wounded out there. It took me a while to learn how to have great measures of peace, joy and happiness in my life. It reminds me to have an attitude of gratitude.

I believe that if this program works in our life the way that it supposed to work, that we should have close healthy supportive friends and relationships, with people who are not in recovery as well as ones that are. When healing takes place, it takes place on the inside, in our hearts and minds. It makes us stronger, healthier and free.

Abuse is a form of brainwashing

I get so annoyed when I hear talk show host, celebrities or people in my every day life, talk about the hurt in someone else’s life and they say things like “that is ancient history you need to get over it.” Obviously they have never been brainwashed, scared, hurt, or had their trust destroyed or lived in fear. Because if they had, they would know that it is not as simple as just making a decision. I agree that a decision has to be made to rescript the harm that has been done to us, but there is nothing simple about it.

How in the world can a person make a good decision, when they have never been allowed to make a decision in the first place? Or when they have had severe consequences for making a decisions without the permission of someone, or when they have been forced to make a decision that they did not want to make. Most of the time the abuser is very stealth in how they gain control. I have talked to many people along my recovery journey that never saw the abuse coming until they did not know how to get out.

I truly believe that abuse of any kind is a form of brainwashing. The dictionary defines brainwashing as: “to make someone adopt radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible pressure.” That is what abuse does. It makes you feel unworthy, inferior, unattractive, dumb, incompetent, unloveable. It destroys self-esteem and self-confidence. It destroys hope and it destroys trust.

Some people surrender to the negative rhetoric, and or, the fear of the consequences, and live their whole life a prisoner of war they endured in the past, or what they are living at that moment. Some people retaliate and suffer even more consequences for doing so. They end up in jail or prison, or they are alone without the ability to cope in a normal world. Many times they choose another one just like the other one and repeat the cycle. But the ones who seek help have a war on their hands. Stinking Thinking will try to sabotage them.

I used to believe that I was a weak person. Now I know that I am not. My life experience proves that I am anything but weak. Just the fact that I survived, even with battle scars, shows strength and courage in the face of pain and adversity. I survived, now what? I have learned that surviving is not enough. I have a choice how I am going to allow the hurts from past to impact my life from here forward. I can allow those hurts to contaminate my live and choose that path of being a professional victim, or I can learn how to turn all of those hurts into something good, not only in my life but in the life of others. The 12 Step says, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Did you catch that word “practice?” That word right there says that we don’t graduate life. Every time we are challenged by our old way of thinking we get to practice thinking and doing things differently. Many times it doesn’t feel natural. So we have to do it consciously until we can do it unconsciously. Even when it doesn’t feel honest or natural. Opportunities come and go in our life that will make us or break us. We are the only person that gets to decide which one it will be.

Getting off the pity-pot

How in the world do you accept what you cannot stand, do not believe in, or do not believe is just and fair? That was my struggle in taking the first step and admitting my powerlessness. In my mind I was still that kid that thought that the good guys in the white hats would always win. To me, taking the first step was to admit that life is not always fair and the good guys don’t always win. My fairy tale would not magical and may not end with happy ever after.

I was so emotionally connected to my alcoholic, that I believed that he had to be all right for me to be all right. I believed that he had to be happy in order for me to be happy. My sponsor assured me that we really were two separate people. (duh) It was possible for him to stay broken and for me to heal. It was possible for me to be happy and for him to stay miserable. It seemed so selfish at the time. Then she told me that my purpose in life was not to be a human sacrifice for him or anyone else. I had a life to enjoy or destroy and so did he.

At the time I did not see myself as a human sacrifice, I say myself saving him, saving my marriage and my fairy tale dreams of living happy ever after. The problem was he did not want me trying to save him. My life saving attempts annoyed him and made him more determined than ever to prove to me that I could not control him.

When this reality began to sink in I was devastated and afraid. I knew then, that I was going to be faced with making some hard decisions about my life. Decisions like healing while he continue to drown his life in alcohol. Decisions like to learning to be happy even when he was miserable. Decisions like establishing healthy boundaries for me. Decisions like, should I stay or should I leave. I liked making easy decisions but not any of these decisions were easy and they scared me to death, so I procrastinated for as long as I could and you know what happened? Things got worse.

Which meant that my next decision was either to be a martyr and a victim or get some backbone and reclaim my life? The problem was that these darn recovery meetings messed up my pity-pot party. The more I went to meetings, the more I understood the battle I was up against, the more I began to understand myself, the more I realized that I was worth more than what I was settling for.

Little things like knowing that I did not make him an alcoholic and that I could not control or cure him either, helped me let go of the struggle of trying to save him from himself. Little things like knowing that I could not rewrite my childhood or my past but I could change the direction of my future helped me take the next step forward. Little things like examining my life, the people in it, how it affected me, helped me to understand what I needed to do to change me, so that I could become the person I want to be. Little things like forgiving myself and others lifted ugliness from my heart.

Oh yes, I did have a choice to be happy or not. Once I had a taste of how life could be my pity-pot parties were not fun anymore.

When I get sideways in a relationship…….

One of the key symptoms of codependency that has been a life long struggle for me has been learning how to be comfortable in my own skin. I am light years from the person that I used to be but I’m not completely there yet. In other words I am a work in progress. Most of the time, today, I am at peace with myself; Most of the time. But every once in a while I can be broadsided by stinking thinking and some of my old insecurities will pop up.

When I get sideways in a relationship it is usually because I have allowed someone to much importance in my life or in my mind. Anytime I catch myself needing affirmation from someone else in order for me to feel good about myself I am in trouble. Any time that I tolerate unacceptable behavior towards me from someone else, because I fear loosing my relationship with that person, I am in trouble. When I become willing to sacrifice my needs for someone else’s wants, I am in trouble. Anytime I am doing something for someone that they are perfectly capable of doing for themselves, I am in trouble.

You would think that after all of the years that I have been in recovery, after all of the growth and healthy changes that I have made in myself and in my life, that I would not get caught up in those old traps. But hey, every once in a while it happens. I don’t understand why, it just does. BUT!!!! the difference today, and when I began this journey, is that I don’t spend a whole lot of time in those unhealthy relationships, before I realize that I have once again crossed an unhealthy boundary line and been seduced into an unhealthy relationship.

The first step for me is recognizing all of the wrong dynamics in the relationship. The second step is changing the way that I interact with this person. If the relationship dies because I required self-respect in the relationship, then I know that I never had a real relationship with that person in the first place.

My motive is the key component. Why do I do this that or the other with this person? Am I doing the right thing for the right reason? Am I trying to change, manipulate, control or endear that person to me? In one of my daily reading books, when I looked up the word motive in the index, the first page that was listed that related to motive was 101. Just like any college 101 course it starts with the beginning. That page talks about being honest with myself about why I do and say the things I do.

My fist sponsor was extraordinary. One of the many wonderful things that she said to me, was for me to just be me. She said I was good enough, and to live my life like I was good enough. It was not necessary for me to sacrifice my self-respect to be accepted or to keep a relationship.

Of course I had to learn to respect myself before I could require it from someone else. This transformation did not happen over night. It began with the 4th and 5th Steps. In those steps I learned a lot about who I am and why I say and do the things I do. Without recognizing the things in myself that set me up to fail, I would never have a chance to respect myself. Self-respect came with the willingness to change the things in me that needed to be changed (my character defects). Without being humble enough to ask for God’s help, to help me let go of those negative aspects of my life that held me back form being at peace with myself, I would never have the strength or courage to do what I needed to do. Without making amends to people that I had harmed I would always live with the shame and sometimes self-loathing that would hold me back.

When I write a gratitude list if always includes the 12 Steps because it was through these steps I learned how to be at peace with me.

Powerless and trusting God to handle things

I believe that for a long time the reason I could not accept that I was powerless over alcohol, and my alcoholic, was because, to me, accepting meant the end of all my hopes and my dreams of living happy ever after. You see, in my heart, in that place in my mind where all my fears lived, I did not believe that my alcoholic would change without my help. If I accepted my powerless then it was like saying everything I had hoped for in my marriage, and my future, would die. So I held on to the belief that somehow I could make him change.

I wasted a lot of time putting my life on hold for someone who was not capable of meeting my needs much less my expectations. I lived the “someday” life. I wasted hours, days and years waiting for “someday” and as long as I lived in denial “someday” never came. My world of pretend and make believe became my prison. Sure facing the truth and making changes was painful but so was my reality. I hated my unhappiness. I hated being fearful, angry and feeling inferior. There were times I felt guilty because I was afraid that his drinking was my fault. I felt guilty for every moment of happiness that I managed to squeak out of my existence. I questioned why I existed at all. I felt defeated. But I still held on for dear life.

Alcoholism is a progressive illness and things got worse in our home. My ability to hold out, and to hold on, became more difficult, and then it became impossible. Things I had been denying were now slapping me in the face. For a long time I had camouflaged his drinking to our family and friends. In other words it became darn near impossible to hide the antics of a six foot drunk. I could not create a lie, that was credible and believable enough, that could explain away his behavior. It was in my face. I knew, our family and friends knew, and I knew that they knew. I was finally at step one. I was powerless over alcohol and there was no doubt that my life was unmanageable.

When I took that step, my hopes and dreams died right then. If that had been the only step, my life would have been transformed from a bad dream to a nightmare with no way for me to wake up and make it stop. When I took step two, when I believed that there was a power greater than me that could restore sanity to my life, I began to believe in hope again. In the past I did believe in God, in a Higher Power, but what I did not believe, was that He would help me. It was in step three that hope was born. Believing in a power greater than me, a power that could do anything, in my mind also meant that He knew what was best for me. I had a big decision to make. Trust him or not.

Trusting God with my will and my life was not an easy decision for me. What if God did not want for me what I wanted for me, or the way that I wanted it? What if his time frame was different from mine? But just like with the struggle I had making the first step in accepting my powerlessness, I came to realize I really only had one choice. As they say in my program, Step one is saying I can’t do it, Step two is saying God can and Step Three is saying I am going to get out of the way and let him.

I’m a pretty stubborn person and in the beginning I surrendered my will to God’s will piece meal fashion. Over time it became obvious to me that the areas in my life that caused me the most trouble were the areas that I was still holding onto. Interestingly enough I had been right. God did not want for me what I wanted or the way I wanted it. He wanted better. He did not do things in my time frame. He did them when I had healed enough and matured enough in my recovery journey to handle them.

Through the years my life has not been a cake walk. The difference now and when I first started is now I know that when life throws me a curve ball to hold it up to Steps 1, 2, and 3. If I apply those steps immediately I can save myself a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering. I may not get what I want but I will always get what I need to see me through.

I refuse to allow this hurt to define me

I am faced with a no win situation. It is wrong, completely wrong, and there is not a darn thing I can do about it that would not make the situation worse. In other words I am as powerless in this situation as I am in dealing with an alcoholic. As many years as I have been in recovery, it is situations like this, that are the most difficult for me to deal with. If I did what I really wanted to do I would confront the people involved and get everything out in the open. I have even tried that in the past. Experience as taught me that if I do that I will lose even more. Through the years I have learned, in situations like this, that when I back someone into a corner that they will do whatever they need to do to justify their wrong behavior. I will never win this battle.

I have only one good choice and it is not good for me. This is one of those situations where I have to accept something I cannot change. If I am honest, I have brief moments when I am angry over this situation and other times that it depresses me. But they are only brief moments, because as soon as I start to feel those negative feelings, I start praying and ask God to take these feelings from me. As much as I hate being powerless, I hate allowing this situation to eat me up like that even more. There is a famous quote that says pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.

Most of the time I am able to accept my powerlessness in this problem with great measures of peace. I do this by not putting myself in a situation where I have to have my nose rubbed in it. Sometimes it cannot be avoided. That is when I am blindsided with raw emotions. Thank goodness I can call someone and talk my feelings out. Stuffing my feelings doesn’t work. But talking them out with my sponsor helps me get the hurt out. She never minimizes my hurt, but she does fan the flames either.

My sponsor and I have talked about this problem in the past. Yes, you got it, this is an on going problem that I am powerless to change. I can’t change it and I do have to live with it. With my sponsor I have analyzed this problem every way there is to analyze it. There are no amends for me to make to try and correct the situation, because you see this situation is not about me. It is not about what I have done or not done.

Talking it out does not solve the problem, it doesn’t right the wrong or vindicate me, but it does help me to take the lid off the pressure cooker of the hurt that is building up inside of me. By taking the lid off the pressure cooker, I can began to detach from the problem. Acceptance does not mean approval. It means that this is the way that it is and there is not a darn thing I can do about it. I can stew in my own juices and be miserable or I can accept my powerlessness and detach from the problem. Acceptance means that I release myself from the struggle of trying to change something that I cannot change.

One of the ways that I do this is filling my life with other opportunities that helps to fill that void.  Is it ideal? No. Are my needs being met the way that I want them to? No. But the truth is that they are being met in beautiful ways that I never imagined. By turning my will and my life over to God’s care and trusting him with a solution I have been blessed with many wonderful opportunities that I would never have allowed myself to have if this other door had not been closed to me.

Another side benefit with 4th and 5th Stepping this problem is that  I can walk away with my head up. I am not defective or inferior or to blame for this problem and neither am I a victim because I refuse to allow this hurt to define me.

Practicing doing it right

I have read many articles about professional athletics and performers, who have an unbelievable work ethic to perfect their skill. They were not always that good. They may have had a basic talent but it was up to them to fine tune it and perfect it, and that is exactly what they did. They had discipline to stay the course. They practiced when everyone else went home, when everyone else was off doing other things they were still practicing. They had to practice overcoming their bad habits and fine tuning their good habits. Then one day, when put to the test, they automatically did the right thing at the right time, because it was as natural to them as breathing. Why? Because they practice that skill over and over again until it became a part of them.

In a way that describes my recovery journey. I was born a healthy baby girl. I grew up in a dysfunctional family. That environment took my view of the world and distorted it. When I reached adulthood I had two skills. One was negative and it had to be retrained to be positive. In other words my character defects, many things I did to survive and stay out of trouble as a child, had to be reversed and retrained. Why, because even though they had worked to protect me as a child, as an adult they crippled my growth and maturity. My positive skills, my birth right to happiness, had almost atrophied since birth, because it had been ignored, trampled on and smothered and left in shreds, therefore, it had to be nurtured and developed.

Every step of progress that I have made in my recovery journey required lots and lots of practice. There were times that I had to fake it until I made it. In other words when all of the stinking thinking started running amuck in my mind, I had to keep doing the next right thing even though my mind was filled with doubt and insecurities. Even though it did not feel right, I had to practice doing it right anyway. Being raised in an extremely dysfunctional home, my intra-personal skills, the internal dialog I had with myself, the way I viewed life and my relationships with other people, in my mind, was distorted to say the least.

Acceptance was extremely difficult for me. It was, and some times still is, difficult to accept the gift of friendship from healthy people. My first reaction was awe that they liked me, the next reaction was to try and figure out what they really wanted, my third reaction was fear that I would do something to mess it up, and the fourth reaction was preventing myself from put them on a pedestal and changing a healthy gift of friendship into a codependent relationship.

I had to practice not being needy in my healthy relationships. It was not necessary for me to do everything they liked, if I did not want to do it. It was important for me to tell them no when It was something I did not want to do, liked doing, or was convenient for me to do. I did not have to have an elaborate excuse to say no. I could just say not. If they did something with another friend without me, I had to teach myself that they were no rejecting me. They simply had more than one friend and I should too.

I had to practice facing conflicts head on in a healthy way, instead of stuffing them until I had a king size resentment. What really surprised me is that when I faced a conflict when it occurred, it was a much smaller issue to deal with, than it was when I stuffed it and let it fester and grow to unrealistic proportions.

The life skills I was told about in my recovery meetings had to be practiced over and over again until they become second nature to me. Even today I am still tested because I live in the real world. Not every one is nice, or has my best interest at heart. But thanks to my recovery journey, I now have my best interest at heart, and it has helped me to have the wisdom to know the difference of what is and what is not my responsibility or my problem. I don’t always get it right, but when I mess up I 10th Step it, forgive myself for being human and move on.

Learning to live in the real world

For years I was a door mat, a giver, and a peace keeper (giving in and doing whatever I had to do to keep the peace). I allowed myself to be used and taken advantage of over and over again out of fear of rejection or fear of retaliation and consequences. Truly, one of the most difficult things for me in my recovery journey was having the courage to follow through. Intellectually I knew what I should do, I wanted to do it, but a life time of experience of being “whipped back in line” held me back for a long time. Many times, most of the time in fact, I knew what I should do, but I was too afraid to stand up for myself. My lack of backbone taught other people that I was a push over – if I was pushed hard enough I would fold.

It took me several years sitting in meetings listening and watching other people change right before my eyes before the “fog of war” began to lift, and I began to believe that nothing in my life would change until I changed. In my first attempts to change me, I tried to change everything at one time. I made sweeping declarations on how I wasn’t going to do this that or the other. I tried to change every character defect at one time and I drew lines in the sand before I thought them through. I could see the end goal and I tried to bring large instant change and of course it did not work.

When I finally had the courage to detach from problems that were not of my making, or were not my responsibility in the first place, it felt awkward and in some circumstances I felt guilty and it was painful. It was very hard to watch someone I love flounder, or suffer consequences. Thank goodness for my sponsor and other people in my recovery program who helped me to understand that what I was trying to do was to put a bandaid on something that needed a tourniquet. My bandaid was an attempt to try and stop their consequences and what they really needed was for me to stop providing them with enough blood flow to continue to the next crisis.

My alcoholic was not the only person I had to learn to detach from. I had untreated codependent family members, I also had manipulative narcissus users in my life. Sounds glum doesn’t it? But the truth is that I was too sick to hang out with healthy people.

My recovery journey has been the gift of all times too my life. Many of the lessons were uncomfortable, awkward and some were painful, but not any of them were as bad as keeping the status quo. In fact it was over coming the uncomfortable and awkward times that helped me to built my inner strength. The most difficult changes I have had to make have sometimes been painful. I have had to hurt someone to properly love them. In other words I had to say no and then watch them suffer the consequences of their own decisions. It was standing up to the pain that gave me self-respect.

I was talking to a friend the other day, a civilian, what I call a person that is not in recovery, how I had to learn how to be comfortable and have trust with “normal healthy people” who were not in my recovery programs. For a long time the only good friends that I ha, were other people in recovery. It was my sponsor who pushed me out into the real world. She reminded me that I had the tools to live a normal life and it was important for me to do that. I do know that I like living my life not playing games and being on guard all the time.