I'm leading the meeting at Nar-Anon tonight, and in trying to think up a topic, I thought it might be good to talk about the things we've learned from ourselves through the program and through living with an addict.
There are so many things that have surprised me about myself. Before having to deal with my husband's addiction, I had a firm belief in my ability to get anything I wanted, or most anything. If I was willing to work hard enough, I thought that I could make anything happen that I wanted badly enough. For the first time in my life, I am not able to will something that I want to happen. And I want it badly; I want to be with this man, forever. I want to have his children and hold his hand when he's an old man. I want him to want these things, and he does want these things...but when he's using, he wants the heroin more.
I've learned that I can be really controlling, which is kind of an extension of my belief that I can will things to happen. I think that I know what my husband should be doing, and I think he should do things my way. It has been really good for me to learn through Nar-Anon that it is ok to let go of him and that his recovery is his thing. Without the program, I wouldn't have been able to let go. I would have demanded that he go to meetings or go to rehab or do all the things that it would make me really happy for him to do.
I've also learned the difference between what is controlling behavior and what is setting boundaries to protect myself. This skill is important in my relationship because my husband, especially when he is using, is one of the most masterful manipulators in the world, and his superpower skills at manipulation are particularly effective against me. He can look at me with those beautiful blue eyes and tell me that up is down, and that if I don't believe him, I am hurting him, and that his childhood was difficult, and I will agree, happily, that up is down, and give him $20 on top of it all. That shit has stopped, almost entirely. It has stopped entirely with money. His hands are never getting into my pockets again, drugs or no drugs. The endless flowing nipple of money has gone dry. (Hah--MPJ--I'm thinking of your superpower post that I read this morning. Manipulation Man! and his sidekick, Enabler Woman! or, more poetically, the Enabling Enigma! The Enigmatic Enabler!)
I've also learned to question some of my own assumptions about people, like what I wrote about with my post about the lesbian couple. I've learned that when I'm being judgmental, there is usually something in their story that I need to learn about myself or my relationship.
I've learned that I need some spirituality in my life. In order to be able to let go of my urge to handle everything myself, to carry the weight of the world alone, I have to have some kind of belief in a hokey hippy god-like lifeforce. There has to be something more going on here than me taking on the world. There has to be someone besides myself in this world who knows how to do anything right. Accepting my need for a certain kind of spirituality and accepting the helpt that's available to me with an open mind has been a real growing experience, and I'm glad I've had it.
I've heard at least two people say that they are glad that they are married to addicts because they have grown from the experiences they've had with the program and with the pain that their addicts have caused them. While I'm not yet ready to be glad that my husband is an addict, I'm glad that he's mine, and I'm glad I've grown in the last few months. Learning things about yourself can never be a bad thing.