I used to feel a lot of self-disgust when it came to the topic of walking on eggshells to avoid the elephant in the room. That may sound like something out of Dr. Seuss, but it is a very real and difficult part of living with an alcoholic.
I have never considered myself to be passive or fawning. In fact, I recognized that I was intelligent, outwardly confident, and highly responsible. That was what the outside world saw too. But after years of living with an alcoholic, I found that I was pretty much giving up my true feelings and giving in to the feelings dictated by alcoholism.
It generally takes years to get to the point where it is easier to walk on eggshells than it is to speak my truth around unacceptable behavior. Living with alcoholism is sometimes like being in a war zone. There are tactics and strategies that are employed by both sides to "win". I know now that I will never "win" in an argument with an alcoholic. I simply don't have what it takes. It takes an enormous amount of energy that begins to wear down from subjection to the passive aggressive or just plain aggressive behavior characteristic of active alcoholism.
I still have a lot of co-dependent behaviors. There are times that I put up with something unacceptable to keep the peace. I used to say that my problem was that I cared too much, but I now realize that I was simply hoping that some hazy expectation of normalcy would happen, even when faced with irrefutable evidence that it would not. I still find that I tend to "help too much". There are so many other behaviors that I have used too. Some of them included angry outbursts, pleading, fearing, denying, bribing, trying to extract promises, and others that made me hide what I really thought in order to walk on egg shells around my loved one.
Sadly enough, the truth sometimes is still a bit bent in order to keep the peace. I will hold back what I am thinking. And if unacceptable behavior occurs, I do often ignore it, although I have in recent years spoken up to say that what was said was hurtful. I have also learned that my happiness doesn't depend on someone else making changes in their life. I can attribute the few weeks before getting to my first Al-Anon meeting where I was in such despair, to be the motivator that got me started in the process of no longer walking on eggshells.
Now I do speak my truth when something is unacceptable to me. I also have learned that I can walk away and not engage in a discussion that makes me out to be the one at fault. Alcoholism tells the alcoholic to protect their ego and the disease at any cost. It whispers "You aren't wrong. The other one, the "normal" one, is at fault." Well, I'm here to tell you that I don't buy into that BS anymore.
I used to worry and stress over my life because it seemed that I had everything and yet, I really had nothing that was making me happy. I was such a mess. I had to quit minimizing my thoughts and realize that what I was thinking about being unhappy and unsatisfied was real. I am glad that now we can talk about things and bring them out into the open. We don't always agree, but there is respect where there used to be none. Disrespecting each other was one of the worst things for our relationship. We each sought to tear the other down. Now instead I see that we are doing our best in recovery to build each other up through compassion, acceptance and trust.
And when that feeling of walking on eggshells comes around, I ask myself "What am I doing for me to keep myself sane, serene, and spiritually connected?"