Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Being hooked

I have wondered many times why I spent so many years in abusive relationships. After last night's meeting though I believe that I came to understand that I was hooked into the abuse.

Having lived with alcoholics for most of my life, I realize that those who are dry but not working a program of recovery can be more miserable to be around than those who are drinking. I heard someone once say in an Al-Anon meeting that they often wished that their spouse would go back to drinking because at least that was predictable.

But the question that has bothered me is what made me put up with it? I truly was the insane one because I let myself be driven insane by giving all my power to the alcoholic.

I can remember how sullen, withdrawn, moody, and irritable my wife would be. I would then rush in to try to figure out what was "wrong". Of course, she would say that nothing was wrong. So gradually, she became distant and angry, hostile and mean, and I became frustrated, angry, and sad trying to figure out how to restore harmony.

I was sure that there was something much more wrong with us than I could fix, yet I kept trying. And no matter what I'd do, it wasn't the right thing. When she would move away, I'd move forward, and so on. It was an ugly dance. And I became crazier and crazier because I began to believe all the untrue things that she said about us and our relationship.

The insane thing is that I was attracted by someone who had a lot of problems. And not only because I was hoping to fix her but because her problems seemed to be of a greater magnitude than mine. It was important that I find someone who was more maimed than me. Perhaps that would make me feel better. Go figure! A non-recovering alcoholic is negative in thinking. Her pessimism slowly eroded me down until I felt hopeless.

I've read that the irregular emotions of untreated alcoholism tend to hook a co-dependent as surely as an angler playing a fish. In a book entitled, Getting Them Sober, I read that the reason for bonding with someone who gives love inconsistently is that since we want the love, we are anxiously awaiting it. Therefore, we pay a lot of attention to the alcoholic, watching out for when a morsel of love will be tossed this way. I wanted to not feel rejected, to fill that huge hole within me. And for reasons that sometimes escape me, I chose to seek out a person who had a larger hole than mine to put on a pedestal.

Now I find that within the program, I have friends who speak about solutions rather than problems. And who are not only surviving their losses but are enhancing their psyche. And, the relationship with the recovering person is so much different than it was before. We treat each other with respect and kindness. I don't have to "tip toe" around the keg of dynamite. I have come to not feel anxious about doing things that I like. I no longer have to wait for the crumbs of love to be tossed my way.

I'm off the hook in the best way possible. And it's a much better way to live.


  1. I always chose those with bigger problems than mine. Looking back, I think it made me feel gooder/wiser/bigger. I was afraid of someone that I couldn't look (lovingly) down on, I didn't feel in control. It doesn't make me feel good recognizing that. Those gut attractions go deep and I don't know if I could sustain a healthier relationship.

  2. Thanks for sharing those powerful observations about your life and how you found your way. Incredible what we think we want and what we think is the way to get it.

    The good news is: there is a solution!

  3. Its sounds so hard to be in a relationship, I think I am glad sometimes to be single.
    I heard a guy sharing last night and he confessed when he was younger before being alcoholic it was his perfect vision of the future to live in his bedroom till he was forty.
    I nearly did that if it wasnt for them 7 years I lived with the Ice Queen and got a son.
    I dont feel in all honesty I would be good to live with.
    On Monday a guy confessed to having had a spiritual awakening, this has never happened to me.
    I find it so hard sometimes to connect with others that I get depressed, some days are good though and I never had any good days at all as a drunk.
    Blimey gone on a bit there u just made me really think.

  4. I think this is a dance that can be played whether one is involved with an addict or not. Good post, as usual.

  5. I know exactly how you feel. I was raised by this person, though and learned all about life from this person. Today, I love this person but our relationship is challenging now. I am having to really get outside my comfort zone (uncover yet another layer of the onion). I feel better when I know I'm not the only one who has this stuff in their past. Thanks, Syd.


  6. thank you for this post, Syd. it hits home hard for me. luckily, as i continue to work this program, i am healing. it's a wonderful thing!

  7. I grew up with an alcoholic mother I adored and feared and hated. The pattern of what is offered and then withheld, promised and then refused, is such a hard pattern to walk away from.

    xxMary LA

  8. Outstanding post!

    Aching, waiting for that morsel of love - how misery inducing! And it only makes us wait with anxiety for the next one rather than satisfying. What a great explanation of a major problem in crazy relationships.

    Thanks also for the great blog.


    Man Alive

  9. What a wonderful post. I really commend you for being so open about yourself and your life. I wish that I had the courage to be as open as you are. It's really inspiring to hear about how you've made it through some hard times and found a solution. I know exactly how you feel and it's great to read about someone else's experience that I can really relate to. Thank you!

  10. Syd!!!

    Your post today is something I have often contemplated - why would I stay and endure all of that when others could easily - would have easily left...

    You hit the nail on the head - my husband had more issues than I thought I did - I could get lost in the fact that he had bigger problems and forget that I was from a terrible home, with a terrible mother...

  11. ...oh, the dance we do...

    Thanx for sharing your insight and yourself here. Having been on both sides of that dance, I can't tell you how uncomfortable it makes me to relate to the past - even more so when I realize I would do the same thing all over again, left to my own devices and character defects...

  12. Wonderful post, I love your take on life, your insight and perspective. Makes things a bit clearer for me.

  13. i know what you mean, about being attracted to the 'wrong' people and things. with me it was a kind of self-validation... you know, the kind that says 'see, you're not good enough, that's why you have xyz problem etc. etc' thankfully that's changed today.

  14. this is a great message.I'm glad that I read it. I'm also glad that my wife is is not an alcholic stopped drink as a way to support me.
    One must always be true to thyself.

  15. Love this post Syd. And since you've already read my blog for the day you know exactly why.

  16. Someone wrote in some AlAnon literature the relief they felt when they went to their first meeting and heard "it's OK to love an alcoholic."

    Up to that point she thought leaving was her only option.

  17. Excellent insightful post. Do you think we gravitate towards each other for the very reasons you outlined. My first wife needed someone she could control by fear. It was only when the alcohol was removed that things started to go wrong as we no longer played the game.

  18. I am really glad for you, Syd. One day I want that sort of relationship for myself, but right now, I just want peace and solitude. That will be enough for now.

    Love you,


  19. I too chose a fixxer-upper for a partner and was then of course the martyr when he finally left me.

    Today I can see all the truths of that relationship just the way you outlined them...thank God for growth and another chance.

    I am in a healthy relationship with a wonderful man who loves me and shows me and tells me often just how much.

    But his love and attention are no replacement for the love I feel from my Higher Power, my friends and sponsor and most importantly myself.

    Your post has healing power, thanks for passing it on!

  20. This spoke right to my heart. How alike we all are...

  21. Truly profound realizations hon. I wondered more often than not why I remained ensconced within my own misery and abuse (mine was physical as well). It wasn't until 6 years ago that I learned, in order to break the pattern I had to change my thinking and learn a new way to live. Up until that point I didn't know how to live differently.

    These days I understand love doesn't come at the end of a fist and I don't have to drown to try to feel human. You can't expect things to change if you never change your behavior or the circumstances. (Hugs)Indigo


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