In part 1- Orbiting Planet Earth, I discussed my "short form version" of life growing up with Alcoholism, and also following in some dangerous footsteps with drug/alcohol abuse. This part of the story consists of the co-dependent part of me, that most people suffer when living with active alcoholism/drug abuse of a family member/relative/partner.
First things' first, there's no easy road when having to live with active alcoholism and many of us having to deal with the addict/alcoholic feel overwhelmed, angry, fearful of our partner's behavior and chaotic in our lives. I can say that I have suffered much of these very mirroring effects that oddly enough, the alcoholic is also going through. Fact is that whatever the alcoholic/addict is going through, we may be suffering the same. This is psychological, physical and emotional.
I remember my first co-dependent relationship. I stayed in the relationship because of fear of what my partner would do to himself if I left him. I was young and naive. This was also a very abusive relationship. During this relationship, I did not obsess with his behavior, but I enabled his behavior by drinking (slightly) with him instead of refusing to do so. I left this relationship unhappy.
My marriage: A great man, caring man nonetheless, but when he proposed and the pressure of all his family surrounding me, I felt I couldn't say NO. I felt that I didn't have a voice. I was not ready and I embarked on a mission of what some would call "I can become what he wants me to be", or, "things will get better, I have hope."... This was all a learned behavior growing up and taking care of my alcoholic parent. He was a gamer, gambler, weekend warrior doing funnels in the garage. I didn't really participate much in his festivities because I was trying to focus on building my photography business. However, because I felt I could make things work, things definitely didn't seem right and I felt like the time together, was not authentic. I felt like I was walking on eggshells when he would come home from a week/month away from work. I ended the marriage after a strenuous time of trying to make things work and this is when I started drinking more than usual.
My last relationship was the one that topped them all. As a co-dependent person, and being very smart, I played the detective. If you need a detective, I was the person to call. After a while, I knew he wasn't holding up his end of the bargain and all his wonderful promises. I even knew there were red flags flying at the beginning... After a short while, drinking and boy time seemed much more important that quality time with me. After a while, I would constantly question him on his whereabouts, and call him out when I knew he was lying. I was a control freak, yet another learned behavior growing up. I drove myself nutty by the end of this relationship.. I still feel I left this relationship out of fear for my life, and everything that I had built, was torn away because I put his addictions first and his needs first. Boy did I ever let myself be manipulated. So, after three examples of co-dependent behavior, I am sure you can relate somehow...Now you ask, what to do?
I remember the first time I attended an Al-Anon meeting; I was frantic, crying frantic, I was unmanageable. That's the thing, you get to a point where you feel you lost everything, including your dignity.... I was sick, skinnier than I've ever been, frustrated by his behavior, embarrassed by my behavior and dealing with my life. I'm sure all my friends were sick of me too at some point.
I was so happy to learn about Al-Anon and finding myself through their program. I have left that life behind now, creating new boundaries for myself so I do not allow.
The hardest part in dealing with alcoholism is detaching with love. Sometimes, this just simply means detaching from THEIR situation but still being able to love them, and some other times, this means completely detaching. YOU pretty much have to come to accept that you are powerless over their addiction/behavior.
This is how it goes:
The 3 "C's":
You didn't Cause the disease
You can't Cure the person
You can't Control it.
boy did things get chaotic up until the end.
Sometimes, my partners would know exactly what to say to piss me off, just to be able to leave and keep up with their behavior...Now, with lots of self work, I've learned how to respond instead of reacting on automatic feelings. This isn't easy especially on the battle frontline. This is when you breathe....Breathing is important :)
When you detach with love, you are actually separating the disease from the person. Not only that, you are allowing the person in question the chance to live their own lives while you keep yourself active and busy in your own. Because, in all reality, we are free to live our OWN lives. It is ok to feel feelings and to mention your feelings, but be cautious of WHEN to mention these feelings....We all know we can't reason with a drunk....I'm sure we can all agree that at some point in time, we had a few and someone was trying to reason with us and it didn't fly, right? haha....
"What's my business?", is what you must ask....What can I do to make my SELF happy? Remember you cannot cure your loved one, and you should DEFINITELY NOT enable their behavior in any way. What I mean by not enabling is:
not offering beer
not going to buy their beer
not drinking along with them.
or anything that would make you upset from their drinking/abuse
If you enable, you go against your own boundaries and your own feelings towards the disease. This would be like disciplining a child and then going back on your word.. That is detachment from the problem. You don't have to hate the person, you can hate the disease. The best thing I can suggest for those who are in this type of situation, would be to find a great support group in your area of people that are going through the same as you; every city worldwide has a list of Al-Anon meetings, it's up to you to attend. I am grateful they have these types of meetings because I would have allowed myself to go further down a disasterous spiral of depression.
A great tool that was offered to me was the following when you have to express your feelings.. It's called the WIN Technique...
When you (insert action)
I feel (express YOUR feeling)
I need you to (express your request)
Also, never hold expectations, because you are setting yourself up for disaster. Only hold your own expectations of yourself.
Since I left my last relationship, I have been much more clear-minded, happy, not completely financially stable, but I'm taking it one day at a time. I played a lot of music on the streets to let go with love. Even though I couldn't love this person the way he needed to be loved, I brought the love I had for him everywhere I went. This was my way of coping and it proved successful for my SELF and my needs. I also met some very amazing people last summer that I am truly grateful to have been graced with their presence and their amazing light and advice.I'm doing things that are feel good, learning how to meditate, and sharing my experiences with others that need the support. Don't ever feel you are alone, because you aren't.
Much love and light to you all in "cyber-land",
PS...Some great books to help you along that proved useful would be:
In The Meantime-Finding Yourself and The Love You Want by Iyanla Vanzant
Self Matters Companion (2 books-red and gold) by Dr. Phil, hard work if you are up to the challenge and honest about your feelings and life......