Wednesday, July 18, 2007


The meeting last night was about guilt. A lot of the folks there talked about the way that they were struggling to deal with the guilt they felt for the roles they played in their husbands' and childrens' addictions. From giving money to screaming to accusing and freaking out and enabling and all that usual codependent crap, many of my Nar-Anon sisters were really struggling with guilt issues.

I don't really do the guilt thing, and I'm trying to figure out why. Usually, when we get together and all this stuff starts pouring out of us, I feel like everyone is talking about something I understand. Generally, as folks go around the room, I smile and think, "I do that," or "I've done that," or "I'll probably do that one day," or "I hope I get to the point when I can do that." Last night was the first time where I felt like I really don't do what everyone else is doing.

There is some guilt that has arisen from this situation, but it's way down the list of things that I'm struggling with. I wonder if I stay with the program for longer, if I'll have guilt on the horizon as a thing to look forward to? The things I feel guilty for now are the time that my focus on my husband's addiction has taken away from other aspects of my life, like my family, the times I've not reacted as well as I know how to react, the moments when I've been impatient, the times I've not taken care of myself...however, even these things, in my good moments, I can count as blessings in that they're helping me to learn and grow. I'm becoming a better person because of them, and every time I face them, I get better at facing them. I'm bouncing back more quickly...

So I've been wondering if I'm missing something I'm supposed to feel guilty for. The big things that I did to contribute to his addiction, like giving him money or doing other enabling acrobatics, were done from a place of love and/or done because I was being manipulated.

We were talking about some stuff, and my husband said, "When I was taking your money, I was more concerned with getting heroin than I was about being the person who is right for you." I thought the way he framed it was interesting and reveals some stuff to me about where he is in his own recovery process. He's moved forward from a few months ago when he said, "I mean, i was practically stealing from you." (There's not practically about it. He was stealing from me.) But he isn't yet ready to handle the full-blown admission, "I stole from you." Right now, what he is able to admit is that he was not being the right man for me. He isn't able to process that he stole from me.

It's like a lot of what you guys were telling me about our conversation. He can't handle that he's done bad things to people, period. He's not ready. It's guilt, and guilt, and guilt for things he's been doing for years and years. When I think of it this way...when I think of him as sick and recovering from something hard and painful and long, I can handle it better.

It is hard, though, because I want us to be able to escape from this mother-child relationship. I want to be partners who support each other...and watching him slowly, slowly, slowly grow is a lot like watching a child that you love very much grow up. You watch them fuck up, again and again, and make all kinds of painful mistakes, but you have to sit back, hands off, and let them do it and suffer the consequences...

And I don't want to he his Mama. I don't even want to be his Mama in a sexy game. I want to be his wife, his partner, and for him to be mine.

I want I want I want! I feel like I'm doing a lot of wanting lately.

So tell me, those of you more experienced in this addict marriage business...when does the guilt start? Am I doing something wrong in that I'm not feeling guilty?


Wayward Son said...

I don't know about guilt in the marriage business. But guilt, when used as it intended, is a great emotion. It's like an indicator that tells you "Eeeww, I don't like the way this makes me feel. I'm not gonna do this any more." But many times it gets over used by bothe the guilty and the guiltless. And all that does it make it easier to live with. Then you don't have to change your behavior because the guilt becomes diluted, less powerful and more manageable. Sometimes it even becomes a form of personal currency. What good is that?

I'm a big advocate for like yourself more and feel guilty less. It's an easier way to get what you want. After all, life is in the wanting and, ironically, not so much in the taking.

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

Dunno, I don't feel guilty either. Ok, I said I was gone, but I'm not -- I'm really getting on a plane soon now. ;)

Mantramine said...

10 years.... I have never really felt guilty. I have had fleeting moments, maybe. On the whole. No. "I din't create it, cant cure, and I cant control it." The three c's. I'm good with it.

Stepbackjack said...

I don't feel guilty. There are a few things that I have said that I do kinda get red faced for but other than that, nope. I guess I am still angry or higher than thou on that issue.

Chloe said...

Thanks JW..your post and the replies REALLy helped me. What really do i have to feel guilty about, damn it. Just finding it hard to stop revisiting the past sometimes. (I'm the stuffer of emotions who sometimes more than not, doesn't know what to do with them. That plus the combo of weaning of my crazy meds..i feel like a little loose cannon :)