Saturday, May 7, 2011

The dance without joy

I am happy to have it be the weekend. Yesterday, I did a lecture on barrier island ecology and dynamics to some fifth graders. They were great kids, listening attentively and being excited about the beach and the ocean. One little girl ran in large circles with her arms outstretched for sheer joy. That's the kind of enthusiasm I like to see.

Today I am heading out for the island anchorage. No pressure and not a long trip. Some friends came by last night while I was at the marina. Their relationship is rocky. He drinks and stays out all night. She gets angry and tells him that she isn't going to put up with it anymore. He comes crawling and tells her he is sorry. She takes him back. The insanity of that dance is obvious.

She has said that she can detach from him and not care. I wonder at the kind of relationship in which people simply no longer care, if indeed she does, and what an empty thing that must be. I have often questioned the Al-Anon idea of being happy whether someone is drinking or not. What is the point in staying with someone who is really not present, who lies and can't be trusted? I think about the years that go by wasting energy on empty promises. I realize that happiness doesn't come from another but harmony is also important.

Settling for something familiar is sad but so common with those affected by alcoholism. Clinging relentlessly to the sinking ship seems much safer than striking out in a life boat for safety.

Yes, I did stick for many years in my relationship. But without being in recovery, I know that I would not have stayed should the drinking have continued and will not stay should it start again. That is a personal boundary for me.

But today all is well. I am not dwelling on "what ifs". Time to cast off lines and head out. I hope that you find the day to your liking.


  1. Have a beautiful weekend, Syd. Dance your own dance. Be at peace.

  2. When I started the program they said not to make any big decisions for a year. It was too late for me because my husband left me. But I understand that now I didn't know anything about myself or what I wanted. Nothing was clear and I couldn't trust my own feelings. The program slowly cleared away the confusion and I started to make decision based on facts not fiction. If he hadn't left and I never found the program I would have stayed forever. Trying to fix what wasn't mine to fix. I was so sick and lost.

  3. Personally I think it is impossible to stay with anyone who is trapped in alcoholism. Proximity and the chaos of drinking makes detachment very hard when there is no acknowledgment of the elephant in the living room.

  4. The little girl in the picture is heartwarming.

    Some would say staying in a relationship that is more toxic than not, is just as addictive as the alcohol. I would agree. Never again. (Hugs)Indigo

  5. it is good to have those boundaries syd...but glad you are not dwelling...have a great trip today!

  6. From my own perspective, one reason people stick by someone is because they know that person is more than the disease. They may know the person who is inside, who is quite different from the using person. Some people base their decision on the effect it would have on their children, emotionally and financially.

    Like most difficult choices in life, it's not always the same for every situation. You are right that personal boundaries need to be drawn, and then stuck to.

  7. We view the world, and people, through the filters of our own biases. I couldn't continue to live with active drinking, but I don't judge those who do.

  8. I love the tone of peace in this post. And perhaps that's not what you intended, but I can feel it in these words written by one with some recovery under their belt.

    Thanks, Syd.

  9. Hope it was a good weekend, Syd.



  10. I'm off to see my dad because I think he is dying. He's been terminally ill for a long time now so we all knew it was coming. Wish me luck and send some positive thoughts his way if you can. Who knows. Might be a false alarm. I will just show up and see what happens. Try to do the right thing whatever that is..

    All the best to you and C in the meantime :)

  11. "I have often questioned the Al-Anon idea of being happy whether someone is drinking or not."

    My partner is a "recovering" opiate, alcohol, and sex addict. He was, to my knowledge, sober from opiates and alcohol when I met him, but I would find out through a series of trickling discoveries that he was not sober in sex addiction (the fact that he didn't tell me he was in recovery for this for the first year was a big clue).

    When I first started meetings there were no s-anon meetings so I had to go to Al-anon. And I qualified having others in my life who were alcoholics or binge drinkers.

    Right away I was struck by how I could pinpoint who was in close contact with an active alcoholic versus those who had either broken contact or whose alcoholic was in active recovery. The former always had a tissue pressed to their face, bags under their eyes, and that unmistakable "deer in headlights" look about them.

    As I went to more meetings I would come to realize that it didn't seem to matter how long someone had been in recovery, or how dedicated they were to working their own steps -- if they were still in intimate relationship with an active alcoholic, they were in pain.

    So I too questioned this. It didn't seem to be working out so well for those that were trying to believe it themselves.

    I suppose that's where, "take what you like and leave the rest" comes in handy.


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