Alison's Insights

Making Sense of Addiction Recovery in Midlife One Slow Deep Breath at a Time

Others Need to Recover Too

When I reached that breaking point of knowing I needed help for alcoholism and anorexia, there was one very huge disconnect for me.  I could not understand why the one person I believed I loved more than life itself wasn’t jumping up and down with happiness for this decision.

When I came home from treatment, I couldn’t understand why the one person I believe I loved more than life itself wasn’t reeling with gratitude for my newfound sobriety and healthier eating habits?

When I celebrated the first few sobriety milestones, I couldn’t understand why the one person I believed I loved more than life itself wasn’t dancing in celebration with me?

I couldn’t understand why he continued to be so indifferent and distant.

What I couldn’t understand was, the man I believed I loved more than life itself didn’t believe I did.

You see addiction, no matter what form, is delusional.  It is living with an extraordinarily obsessed mind.  I couldn’t see beyond my need to get drunk and/or manipulate my way around food.  This delusional perspective was how I moved through whatever was going on around me.  It  led me to reject any attempt from others to help end the cycle of life-threatening behaviors.

It was as if I was saying, “No matter how hard you try to stop me, I’m going to do it anyway.”  Without consciously knowing, I taught everyone that my addictive needs took center stage over them or anything else.

Thus, in the “pink cloud” of early recovery, what I didn’t understand was, the one person in I believed I loved more than life itself needed time to work through his own feelings that I actually didn’t.  To him, if I loved him, why would I lie, manipulate and disregard him so easily and so repetitively?

Magic fairy dust didn’t sprinkle over him just because I finally surrendered to alcoholism and anorexia.  By the time I finally asked for that much needed help, he was numb to anything I said or did, exhausted from feeling unimportant and unheard.

What I didn’t know then, but I certainly do now is, he needed time to heal just as much as I did.  He needed to recover too.

Yes, in those early days of recovery when I felt incredibly vulnerable, his indifference hurt.  I never considered was how much I hurt him every time I had lied about my drinking and/or eating, every time I manipulated him with falsehoods.

In time, as I continued to put my recovery first, doing the things I was told by those who walked the path of recovery before me, I started to get stronger.  In turn, slowly, ever so slowly, my husband began to heal as he saw those changes in me.  While this was not a quick turnaround by any means, we kept trying and eventually our relationship shifted in a positive direction.  We were healing.  We were changing.  We were recovering.

Fast forward ten years later and here I am, happily married to the same man who wanted nothing to do with me a decade ago.  And although our life today is quite different than it was, it’s actually the life we talked about having when we first fell in love.

Today we believe in the importance of putting recovery first because neither of us has any desire to go back to those days of struggle and emotional pain.

It is now with certainty I can say, I’m married to the person I love more than life itself and by universal grace, he shares those same feelings for me.

In our home, recovery works well beyond my putting the glass of wine down and nourishing my body.  The program of recovery has taught both of us how to heal truthfully and respectfully together through whatever life may present us.

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One thought on “Others Need to Recover Too

  1. Claudia Donohue on said:

    Right on target. While I learned that recovery is and must be a selfish process, it took longer for me to learn that my co-dependants needed their recovery time also.

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