Tuesday, May 18, 2010

On equal terms

There are times when I hate the disease so much that I also start to hate myself for ever being around it. Then I realize that what hasn’t killed me might have helped me. I am better for having endured and learned and found a solution.  Nonetheless,  if given the choice, I would rather have not spent so many years on unequal terms with another.

Mary wrote recently on her blog
".....people who are not codependent ...... have healthy boundaries and a strong sense of self and they don’t want to rescue or redeem troubled lovers. They want partners in the true sense of the word. Strong independent-minded people don’t come out of families where they have grown up colluding in secrets and compliance. They don’t locate self-worth in being needed or in pointless self-sacrifice. They want to meet with others on equal terms."

Today, I had a sponsee meeting on Step 12.  After a year of working the steps,  we have come to the point where as sponsor and sponsee we can talk in depth about practicing the principles of the program in our lives.  He has been involved in several relationships in which he gave much more than the other person.  There was no equality,  but the assigned roles of giver and a taker.  I too have been the giver for many years, but I am now seeing that to continually give from the well depletes and eventually dries up the well spring within. 

What was the point of my pointless self-sacrifice?  Did I think that if I would stay the course that somehow the other person would magically change for me?  Maybe that was part of it.  But in my example, I shared that the self-sacrifice only dries and burns up one person--me.  I am much better off today with having more equality in my relationships with others.  I no longer have to be the giver.  It is not a role that has been assigned for life. 

For every person who is struggling with a loved one who is taking, it is best to ask "what am I getting from all the giving that I do?"  If I inventory the situation,  I will no doubt find that I thought that I did not deserve to be on equal terms.  But my life matters, my health of mind and body matters, and the time has come that my partner and I can meet each other in the middle.  And that, my friends, is what recovery has done.   


  1. Syd, I am so happy for you. You are an inspiration and testament to how the program works. Upon entering recovery people said to me over and over that I needed to take care of myself. I took about a five minute bath every night and I thought that was a luxury. Besides I'm to busy to waste time on myself.....and there it was.
    Wasting time on myself? I was the giver, the savior, the I'm going to make a difference that I felt I needed alcohol to just get me by. I was so overwhelmed that I had no idea of self. But you are right, you are worthy, you deserve to be given something back. If we take care of ourselves it's because we have self worth, something which is stripped away by alcohol wether it's ourselves or someone else. I now take so much better care of me, so I can give, and receive, and be ready to help others. Good post!

  2. Amen, Syd, Amen.

    I agree with everything you wrote.

    The two people in a relationship should never "measure" the give and take or demand 50/50 but there should be giving and taking on both sides. A person who gives nothing is not really receiving the benefits of a mutual relationship nor building on self-worth.

    Wonderful post!

  3. great post...and a great question to ask. i can easily fall into the role of the giver...

  4. That imbalance is so painful -- as you know Syd, I grew up with a severely alcoholic and suicidal mother and for 30 years I thought every single day about rescuing her, helping her to get better. After her suicide I had to face the harsh truth that nothing I did made any difference.

    And as an alcoholic I know that alcoholics don't do reciprocity. We can't, because all our energy is taken up with protecting the addiction.

    Recovery from both sides of the equation is a long slow journey.

  5. I love the part where you say that to "continually give from the well depletes and eventually dries up the well spring within."
    That is a very visual example of a relationship that is doomed from the start.
    Once again you've gotten to the heart of the problem.

  6. None of us is meant to be just givers, we can learn to be in relationships where there is give and take. Sounds like your sponsee has come a long way in his recovery. Good for him.

  7. This was perfect timing for me today....really, seems to be a God thing in fact. Just another reminder that I matter. Thanks for sharing your journey with all of us.

  8. greattttttttttttt post. I feel like I went to a meeting today reading this, Deeply appreciated, Syd!

  9. This is a terrific post.

    I think the "what do I get" question is a great one. In my case, I got to feel needed and strong. I was the one with the solutions.

    "Get your mother on it," my ex-husband used to tell my daughter. I was the go-to gal. I definitely got something out of that role.

    It did eventually deplete me, though. Completely and utterly.

  10. Syd, after you retire and have you some extensive boat-time, I'd KNOW you'd make a terrific counselor, not an easy career. Whatever you do, you have SO much to offer us Peeps. And I just soak it up.


  11. I love this and it was much needed for me today also. I am just starting my recovery and am excited that I am starting to make myself a priority in my own life.

  12. my wife and I are slowly learning to give and take equally, but it's a process and it is taking time. We go back to the former behaviours from time to time but slowly, we're improving. Relationships have always been very difficult for this alcoholic.

  13. Wise words, my friend.

    You are loved.

  14. there is no absolute balance,
    give without thinking of receive, then you are full of love,
    greatness will come your way...
    Happy Wednesday!

  15. http://itistimetothinkformyself.blogspot.com/2010/05/jingles-may-follower-award-week-3.html

    some friendship tags..

  16. "continually give from the well depletes and eventually dries up the well spring within." That's a hard place to come back from. Thanks for showing that it can happen.


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