Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My Recovery

Revised afternoon of Wednesday
As I recover, I am seeing how much I am dependent on another person's acceptance of me. I am beginning to see how much I try and have tried to gain this person's acceptance and try to have this person care for me. I see there is little caring about others in this addictive relationship, there is only the ego - or the will of this other person and the will to be seen by others outside the family as good and caring. It is an unfortunate situation this addiction and the need for both of us to have validation from others. In certain ways, in truth, I wanted her to get her validation from me, and that validation would be love and acceptance and recognition that I am a worthy and good person. My excuse could be, "that is what marriage is about, isn't it?"

I work hard. I do my best to be a good husband and my best as a good father. But I am not in a normal relationship. The addiction of my spouse has made me sick in a way. And that sickness was trying to gain acceptance and love she could not give. Now that I am gaining clarity, I am seeing more of the issue and how this is now affecting my daughter - our daughter - and how she is looking for acceptance and love. The issue of addiction is not understood by the layperson, the person outside the sphere of this addiction.

I am seeing that for the first time, how my gut is twisted when my wife, my qualifier, is not there for caring and compassion. And that the less she gave, the more I gave. The more I gave, the reciprocity of love and compassion and giving turned my caring into "caretaker" and no longer being caring. I kept on giving until the relationship was so lopsided that everything revolved around my qualifier.

Now I am trying to make sure that my daughter does not fall in the same cycle. This is a cycle of co-dependency and looking for love and acceptance from someone who may not be able to provide this in the normal way. This in turn could create an unnatural response creating the same cycle I got caught up in.

In reality, I think, if my qualifier recovers, the addiction may subside. But the addiction is so, soooo, powerful, that it takes over everything, like weeds in a garden, and eventually strangles every other plant and robs others of their nutrients. And we, the other flowers or plants, die of malnutrition or starvation of love and acceptance.

What an addictive cycle. The more we don't get or receive, the more we give. And the more we give, the more we expect. Still no change - we get no more, but we continue to give, expecting, hoping, needing, wanting, a return or reciprocal relationship.

The power of this addiction results in an out of balance family, with the focus and center of attention on the addict. A "normal" family is where both parents are working together and the center of attention is on the children -but not such that the children are given everything asked for, which breeds entitlements [my opinion].

We must stop by removing the addict and addiction from the center of our attention. This is the only thing we can do. So, to do this, we must focus on ourselves, focus on our children and allow the addict to, well, this might not sound compassionate, focus on whatever they tend to focus on, and not allow it to become any of our business.


Maresie said...

Harriet Lerner talks about under functioning and over functioning. There were times in my relationship with the alcoholic that I under functioned to the point of not doing anything. There were also times like last summer where I over functioned. I try to monitor how I am functioning daily. I know one of the reasons I picked an alcoholic was I was insecure about my functioning.


Anonymous said...

You are doing the right thing .I wish I would have gotten out long ago. Both my sons have chosen to be like there father an alcoholic. They are in there late thirtys and one has severe health problems due to drugs and alcohol and the other is living in the streets for he chooses to be a drunk. I am 62 yrs old and regret every day I stayed I truly could kick myself in the butt. Wish you luck stick to your guns. Every time you feel like you are going to back down just remember your daughter is more important your wife has made her discission a long time ago and you have done more then you need to do for her to get the message. Good LUCKand god bless. M.C.

Catherine said...


Often, when I'm angry, I have the urge to list all the stuff that I do: I paid for this, I cleaned up that, I endured your crap under these conditions, I arranged so-and-so, etc.

When I look at this desire from a distance, it seems totally ridiculous. What do I want from him: affirmation? He cannot give it. And even if he were healthy... do I really need him to say "thanks" before I feel good? That's lame. I have to be pleased with my own accomplishments and move on.

I am in couples therapy with this person. Sometimes our sessions just seem like a venue to list all my shortcomings, talk about what things I have done wrong and how they contribute to my qualifier's unhappiness, confusion and fear. Basically, it's all my fault.

For awhile I felt motivated to attend these sessions because I thought "they couldn't hurt." Now, I think they do hurt. Isn't this enabling? Providing an alcoholic with a captive audience as he weaves these really fantastic stories of denial.

The ironic thing is that even though we talk about me a lot, this type of therapy doesn't allow ME to focus on myself. I'm either defending myself or focusing on him. Confusing....

Syd said...

It is important to keep the focus on ourselves. A lopsided relationship builds resentment but if I focus on me then I'm not getting angry due to any expectations of the alcoholic.

Anonymous said...

The blog page doesn't show who wrote My recovery. I am so grateful to have found it. I learn so much from other recovering people (The alanuts, opps I mean alanons) Thats how it has felt for me nuts my story began in 1989 when my brother entered treatment for alacohol and drug dependence. I was happy and excited for him and soon learned I was married to an alcoholic from alanon I learned how to live with alcoholism I did ok living with the drinking alcoholic however when sobriety came 4 years ago I didn't know how to live with it I didn't learn about emotional sobriety until after the alcoholic had pushed me through a wall leaving a 3' x 4' hole which had rendered me unconcious and so terrified I didn't know what to do everyone around me said you have to divorce him and I did what they told me, Which has brought our family to an entirely new place in this recovery journey. Removing the alcohol didn't heal any of the four members of our family. And Divorcing my husband didn't remove the love I have for him. I look back at my own actions, like calling his sponsor to tattle on him for hitting me. That call opened the door for the sponsor to begin a strange and regretfull relationship. That relationship shifted everything and suddenly the alcoholic saw himself as the victim and is still seeking solice for what his crazy wife did to him. I know for sure I am not crazy yet I set my self up for failure but making a phone call what were those things you people were talking about "boundaries" yea those Today I am learning about those and so much more. The most important thing for me today is to remember. To look for the gratitude stuff in my life, I am so happy to have found what I did today when I was looking for alanon grattitude stuff. Happy Thursday and keep posting stuff to make me think and BE GRATEFUL Cant figure out this ID thingie so I will sign here ---- onegratefulgirlie

Anonymous said...

Joe, what I hope for your daughter is that she can find mother figures elsewhere. Whether a favorite babysitter, aunt, family friend... Someone must fill that need. It sounds like you do your best to fulfill both roles, but even better would be for her to have a broad spectrum of trusted and loving adults who can offset what she is not getting from her own mother, and to take some of that load off your shoulders. Sorry if this is none of my business.

Anonymous said...

I think - that Anonymous is right. I think that Anonymous is offering a great suggestion and some insights. Take it !

Anonymous said...

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