Today's meeting was a a good one with the topic on communication. This is particularly apropos because of discussions with a sponsee who is feeling invalidated, unheard and unseen.
He is doing what I used to do--apologize for every thing, even when there was nothing to apologize about. I've since learned that apologizing constantly is a form of self-pity. Admitting my wrongs through a spot inventory is a good thing, but I don't need to apologize for the wrongs of others as well.
My sponsee was telling me how his feelings are hurt by the insensitivity and silence of the alcoholic in his life. For me, during the first year of our recovery, I had to essentially "take what I liked and leave the rest". I had to find peace and contentment within myself.
My sponsee is having a hard time not being able to share heartfelt concerns or feelings, or discussions about problems in the relationship. He wants his SO to show that she cares by listening, validating him, giving him some time, and to show concern when he speaks and talks.
His complaint is that his SO seems consumed with self and that her issues do not negate the need for validation, empathy, or communication. He is tired of trying to reason things out and getting little response which in turn leads to his feeling miserable.
This is the terrible dance that we do around an alcoholic loved one. She moves away, so I move forward. A solution that I found helpful was to not have expectations that another cannot fulfill. In the early months of my wife's recovery I had to learn to find peace and contentment by talking to my sponsor, by firming up my belief in a power greater than myself, and by doing what I could to not obsess over another person.
This wasn't an easy thing to do. In fact, I wasn't very successful at it for a long time. And I can still allow an expectation to ruin my day. But eventually, I learned that I could not get what I needed from another person, especially one who was having trouble loving herself.
So I had to work the program and look inside myself. I had to face up to what was reality as opposed to what I should have in a relationship. I needed to decide what I was willing to live with and accept and what I could not live with. Sometimes it does come down to thinking, "OK, this is what I can live with, imperfect as it is" or "No, this just won't do".
I know that I was blinded by what I thought a good relationship "should" be. With a lot of painful work, I came to understand that my joy, fulfillment, and even serenity could be found in many different ways. Not all of it needed to come from my wife. I came to accept that being angry with her for not being how I wanted her to be was grossly unfair. I don't need to take everything personally and punish someone else for not giving me what I want.
Gradually, we have come to a place where we can tell each other how we feel. And that includes saying things like, "I need to be by myself for a little while." Or "I am feeling anxious and out of sorts right now." I like being able to communicate honestly without being punitive.