"I leave you free to be yourself: to think your thoughts, indulge your tastes, follow your inclinations, behave in ways that you decide are to your liking."I wasn't in treatment very long before my counselor suggested joint counseling for dearest one and I. As in "let's get the two of you together in one room to talk about some things". My initial reaction was NO! She asked me to dig deeper into what that 'no' meant. Eventually I told her that getting healthy was my thing. I felt threatened by the thought that dearest one might get healthy too. I wanted to be able to lord over him my new found health.
from The Way To Love
Spoken like a true addict.
Like one who needs it all under her own control
in order to be right with the world.
I felt embarrassed admitting it because
it sounded just as sick to my ears as to hers,
yet it was the truth.
I was barely home from the treatment centre when I confronted dearest one about the most painful issue in our 25 years together. The one that prompted my counselor to suggest couple's counseling. The one that I was sure was all his fault. I confronted him in a loving way where both of us had our dignity intact by the end of the conversation. Although the outcome was not what I had hoped for I stood my ground while he tried to manipulate his way out of the situation. I managed not to swear, attack, or engage in any of my long standing sick behaviours as a form of retaliation. It hadn't been all that difficult either. Which surprised me and yet, didn't. I really was a different person with a new set of coping skills. I felt good at the end of the conversation even though I wasn't going to get my way. What was really important was that I had spoken up. Had said my piece. Had known that my freedom, my liking myself at the end of the day, was more important than being nice and smoothing things over. I told him I was moving forward no matter what the cost. For the first time in my life I knew what it felt like to have my integrity intact after a difficult conversation.
In the end that conversation did prompt dearest one to go for his own counseling though. Since then he has been doing the most grueling work as he confronts his past. He's been generous in sharing with me the conversations that take place in his sessions and often they've given me things to think over in my own life. Such as realizing the issue I confronted him about, the one I was sure was all his fault, I have my own baggage in that area. Which was news to me. I'd been convinced (and convinced him) I was totally healthy when it came to that. This past weekend he opened up his heart, made himself vulnerable and shared with me his deepest thoughts about this issue. I told him he was never more beautiful than when he bared his soul to me. Even though the original issue had not righted itself I felt peace that I could trust the process. That he was on a healing journey that would lead him to a healthier place. What I didn't realize was that I had healthier place confused with my particular point of view.
Which meant dearest one turned ugly in my eyes yesterday.
Right when his grueling work meant that he found freedom.
I felt threatened enough at his freedom to whip out every sick coping skill I had in storage and use them as ammunition. In the midst of my little hissy fit words from my counselor rose through my attitude: "Your family will want the old you back. They will try to swing the pendulum back to centre, to something they knew, even if it is sick." Oh God, I was trying to swing dearest one's pendulum back to centre, back to something familiar because the thought of breaking new ground in this area scared me. Scared me enough to shove my counselor's words out of the way so I could continue trying to swing dearest one back to safety.
In the midst of trying he said to me, "I've tasted freedom and I'm not letting go of it. Even if that means confrontation."
My gig as chief controller was up.
I knew how exhilarating that freedom felt.
It had been the one thing I had been unwilling to give up
since coming home from treatment.
This man who absolutely hates confrontation and feels sick to his stomach at the thought of it, found the freedom to live his own life.
To choose his own boundaries.
To stop letting my insanity define him.
And he's unwilling to give it up.
I knew that place he found himself in was the most freeing, wonderful, peaceful place because I'd experienced it too. It had sunk right to the core of his being. My gig was definitely up. But I wasn't going to give up without a fight.
In the space of a half mile drive he managed to say to me basically what I had said to him way back in that first confrontation. He was moving forward whatever the cost.
I felt panicky hearing him speak with such emotional health.
I. did. not. like. it. one. bit.
Logic told me his freedom was a good thing.
But logic be damned, I was trying desperately
to manipulate him back to my way of thinking.
So I kept picking at him.
It didn't work.
It didn't matter what kind of insanity
came out of my mouth
he held his ground.
I couldn't wear him down.
Holy Mother of God pray for us.
I told him I felt farther away from him than ever. He said all that really happened was that the gulf between us was now exposed for what it had always been. That up until now there had been a thin level of ice covering it and so we thought it wasn't there. That we were really two separate beings with different life experience. I asked if I could shove him into the abyss between us and hold his head under. That's how scared I felt at losing control.
Nothing was going according to plan. It didn't matter how diligently I picked away at him he kept coming back to truth and reality. Eventually he told me he wasn't going to be backed into a corner. At that point I turned and headed down the hallway muttering fuck off under my breath. Which is my default setting when I'm not going to get my way. A setting I hadn't used in the 83 days I'd been home from treatment.
What's a girl to do?
Oh, I flipped him the bird behind the slammed bedroom door.
Jabs in the air like a boxer in the face of his opponent.
Only my opponent was still in the kitchen.
I crawled into bed where the tools and skills from treatment rose above the insanity.
I had finally shut my mouth long enough to remember them.
To dearest one the gulf between us, the abyss, simply meant we were two different people, with two separate histories, whose life experience had brought us to two different conclusions in this area. It wasn't a bad thing. It was normal.
His acceptance of that truth was mind boggling. Honouring our differences meant life was going to become so much more unpredictable. I hate unpredictable. I could hardly believe how badly I wanted to pummel the freedom right out of him. And I would have done so except the centredness he was living was so good and true and right, made him so very beautiful, that it messed up all my plans to harm him.
When dearest one crawled into bed I told him how proud I was of him.
He replied that was rather a paradox wasn't it?
"How so," I asked.
"Well, two seconds ago you wanted to hold my head under water."
"Oh, ya, that."
I crawled into his arms and sobbed.
I let go, feeling my fingers uncurl
from their frozen grip on control.
Admitted my powerlessness.
Apologized for my behaviour.
Chose to embrace his freedom.
And in doing so embraced my own.
In that moment I hated knowing
there was another way.
A healthier way.
The only way if I wanted emotional health.
There is nothing to lord over him anymore.
Maybe there never was.
Dearest one is moving forward
Not to spite me.
But in spite of me and my sick attempts
to hold him back.
This morning I bypassed beating myself up for behaving so miserably last night.
I looked dearest one in the eyes and told him I was choosing to trust the process
to take us to a much healthier place together. Surrendering to the reality that a healthier place is not synonymous with my point of view. Accepting that the abyss between us is simply a description of where I end and he begins. Learning to let go of trying to blurr the lines.
Yesterday as he was on his way to counseling I phoned dearest one to tell him I was praying for him. I prayed especially for healing. Uh huh, I did.
Thank God we are on a healing journey
that can take us both
to a healthier place.