After I wrote the post yesterday and read the comments (thank you), I talked with an Al-Anon friend who was having a hard time. Both of us had slipped up by expecting something from another person who has nothing to give. We talked about how frustrating it is to want someone to be different from what they are. When I do that, I'm taking back my will, forgetting about my Higher Power, and making the person I want to change a poor substitute for God. In short, I am bargaining with reality, and it simply doesn't work.
Sometimes when I have those moments where I want to deny reality, I become so angry at the disease and at myself for being sucked into destructive behavior. I have to keep reality front and center. Sometimes, I do this by remembering the defects, the lies, the deceptions, the failed promises, the bad scenes. If I don't remember how the disease has hurt, then I have a tendency to think only about the good times and the special moments. I let my guard down and start to build a rosy picture. And then...wham!
Al-Anon teaches that I don't have to accept the unacceptable or tolerate the intolerable. I can work through my feelings, but I don't have to stay angry or filled with resentment. When I am in a mode of self-pity, I am thinking that the other person did something to me. They were at fault which is a lie that I tell myself.
So inevitably through what I've learned in this program, I shift my focus to forgiveness by realizing that each of us has character defects and are human. Real forgiveness has nothing to do with who is right or who is wrong. It has to do with getting rid of my own regret, self-pity, and inwardly directed anger. I see that the other person is not the source of my problems, rather it is my complicity and responses to what others do that has done me the most harm.
I can still keep in mind that alcoholism is a deadly snake that is in the room and can strike at any moment no matter that the person is sober. That keeps me present in reality. I am taking care of myself, minding my own business, and letting the other person live their life.
This has meant that I've had to learn a different way to love. And it involves more loving of myself and making a decision about how I interact with the other person. I have had to learn to detach with love which is one hard lesson to learn.