Monday, March 15, 2010


I was talking to a friend this morning who is at last breaking away from a relationship that has left him feeling insecure, unhappy, and bitter.  He thinks that he has lost the ability to trust another because of being with a person who has proven to be untrustworthy.  He admitted that he had continued in this relationship out of a sense of loyalty.

I truly understand what he is doing.  I too have stayed in a relationship that was bad for me, and I stayed out of loyalty and some kind of hope that things would get better.  Now things are much better, and I'm glad that I stuck around.  But I also wonder about the cost that it took on me.

As long as I was not in a relationship,  I was happy with who I was and what I did.  I remember in high school that I fell head over heels for this brainy, attractive, exciting girl. We had a great time for over a year, until she started going out with another fellow. The pain of loss during the break up was like a death. It was a time of grieving.  But eventually I was able to move on.  But as soon as I would become involved with someone again, I would start looking critically at myself, become anxious, and essentially begin to push the person that I loved away because of my fear of being hurt.

Irish at Recovery Archive had the following to say about dependency in her post today: I am only free of my dependency to the extent that I am able to see my own irrational clinging to people places and things, (various conditions) in a deluded attempt to pin reality down to a controllable form.  Because I am powerless over people places and things, this attempt to control people and places and things leads only to suffering.

So often the frightening part of letting go of control is not about what happens to others but what will happen to me.  I used to think that it would mean that I failed in a relationship because I couldn't "fix" another, and that if I were to let go of control, things would fall apart.  Maybe these are similar fears that alcoholics feel when they have to give up booze. I have heard all kinds of excuses from others and from me about why I wouldn't give up on another. Isn't that an addiction of sorts?

In the end it comes down to choices of whether I want to live an authentic life or one that is predicated on fear of loss. Today, I can see how far I've come in understanding that I don't need to control in order to relate to others. Now I am seeing after being in a long-term relationship that we have to work on it--it is like the care and feeding of fragile plant.  It has to be tended and the weeds pulled in order to grow.  What is my idea of being in a healthy relationship?  I think it means that we encourage each other, we care for each other but have a balance in which we maintain independence too, we speak kindly to each other without sarcasm and anger, we help each other out, we are intertwined gently with gossamer and not chains.


  1. I can define my relationship with my husband now as a solid friendship, where we are interested in one another's opinions, thoughts, ideas and where spending time together is not a sentence but a blessing.

  2. A dear Alanon friend has shared what her newly sober husband told her 30 years ago. He said, "I am not responsible for your happiness but I am responsible for not getting in the way of it." I thought that was a another good way of saying what you said so well today.

  3. Great insights! I think we in A.A. are always in danger of simply picking up jargon and never really dealing with the tough conversations that seem necessary for a real, intimate relationship. I hope I can get better at this over time.

    Blessings and aloha...

  4. Somehow I have grown to love and adore those I am most intimate with, most especially my husband. I remember saying to him, once I began recovery work - although neither of us were substance abusers, we were in therapy for a different reason, but I remember saying to him - I will NOT be loyal to you unless you deserve it, because NOW I am loyal to ME...Now I have my own loyalty and I reserve that place in my heart first and foremost. I had to grow in trust for myself to do this. Being an ACOA I had and still do have many miles to go, but most of all I've grown more and more happy with me, and somehow this translates to those I am most intimate with too.

  5. When one door closes another opens, but it's the dark hallway in between that gets to us. Change is never easy, but some times we've got to go for it. Just got to seek direction and take the next right step. Hang in there!

  6. you have a great take on how a relationship should be... gossamer, not chains, especially.

    i don't understand this though "Maybe these are similar fears that alcoholics feel when they have to give up booze." please explain the question some more???

    as for why staying in a bad relationship, it relates purely to my dad, who was an alcoholic, and that's one relationship you can't walk away from. after all, your dad will always be your dad. but i'd have to say it's hope. hope that he would change, hope that he would start seeing things the way they are, hope that he would change, hope that we could repair the relationship (even though at the time i didn't even realise it needed fixing...)

  7. Sounds like you have a very solid healthy idea of what a relationship should be, Syd.

    Just coming out of a divorce, and now dating someone new, I have to say that there are times I wake up in the middle of the night and worry that I'll fail at a relationship again. It's scary stuff.

    I always say: Dying is easy, relationships are hard.

    I'm only half kidding.

  8. "long-term relationship that we have to work on it--it is like the care and feeding of fragile plant. It has to be tended and the weeds pulled in order to grow. " Truer words were never spoken...that's the GOOD stuff, now isn't it?!?! Thanks for sharing, Syd. I can relate to a lot of what you shared here. Glad we're trudging together!

  9. There's a reason we're encouraged not to enter into relationships during our first year in our programs. We need to get AA or Al-Anon 101 out of the way before we move on to our advanced courses! Relationships are definitely advanced courses!! Thanks for sharing your journey with this!!!

  10. So true, all of it. Thank you Syd.

  11. there's some honesty for ya! My wife and I work to become more interdependant, less dependant on one another. We had made it clear to ourselves and each other long ago that no matter how our relationship turned out, we'd never put it ahead of our own personal recovery. This has helped us immensely. Even through our difficulties, drinking again has never entewred the equation.


Let me know what you think. I like reading what you have to say.