Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Having a partnership

One of the things that has been most comforting to me lately is knowing that my partner and I are working together to try to deal with life.  We used to be at odds over so many things.  When she was drinking,  I had so much resentment.  I believe that I hated her and everyone else.  I was civil to people but didn't have much feeling on the inside.  I am sure that showed in my outside as well.

I thought that she was the problem.  I blamed her for the fact that the world was falling apart around me, while she was drinking and seemingly having a good time.  I eventually realized that she was also miserable.  We both were.

Now, in sobriety and with me getting much further along in my Al-Anon recovery, we are able to work together and not at cross-purposes.  The last few weeks (it seems much longer) have been a strain on us, yet we are not angry with each other or with anyone else.  We both long for some carefree days without wondering what is happening with the parents.  But we know that being carefree will happen again eventually, even if in snatched moments.  Life is seldom carefree. 

I can look back over our years together and see that not all of the problems between us are a result of her alcoholism.  These are life long habits that we acquired long before drinking came along.  I don't know if we ever really communicated well.  I realize now that there was always tension, a wariness between us. I was up tight. She was up tight. There was an impasse and walls that were hard to break down.  Thankfully, we have learned to have mutual respect for each others individuality and mutual concern for our well being.  

There is a lot that I have learned about how to be a true partner and friend by sticking around the rooms of Al-Anon long enough for the miracle to happen.  I got the message by listening and hearing the solutions of others, by applying the steps and traditions in my life, and by reading Al-Anon literature.  The following are really simple matters of respect but are often forgotten when dealing with alcoholism that seems to poison relationships:

1. discuss things without attacking or blaming
2. speak in a reasonable tone and not in a demanding, angry way
3. stick to the subject
4. listen to what she has to say
5. don’t make demands or threats

Over the last few weeks, we have been tested by stress and anxiety.  Yet, we have managed to listen to each other and to not keep our feelings bottled up.  I'm not pretending to like something when I don't.  That approval seeking behavior of always agreeing means that I have outsourced my peace and serenity. If I want to be a true partner, then I must face reality and not be afraid to share my feelings in a loving, respectful manner.  We can say what we mean only if we have the courage to be honest with ourselves. We’ve got to know first why we are saying it. And this brings the focus back to me.

“Respect for each others uniqueness requires a willingness to accept in another what may not measure up to our own standards and expectations.  This loving willingness requires a measure of self-esteem, an awareness of our own good qualities.” The Dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage


  1. this is good stuff syd....being a true partner is not something we just arrive at but is a daily discipline...

  2. The Dilemma of Every Marriage, it should be called.

  3. Excellent post, Syd. Your Recovery really shines in this one, and it is a testament to the work you both are doing individually, as well as a couple.

  4. This is a great reminder, not just for marriages but for relationships in general. Learning to communicate well and living with others is the lesson Al-Anon teaches me more and more at every meeting I attend. We are so lucky to have such a source.

  5. Ditto here. If you want to read something good on the subject get a copy of "Hold Me Tight" which has great relationship tools.

  6. Good reminders for me...thanks Syd.

  7. Thanks for the post, I am slowly learning this... Not without steps back into old behavior. I hope to keep moving forward in this area! Thank u!!

  8. That is so good. It has hit home the past couple of days that before I can expect love of others, I really must love myself and work towards changing things about myself that are safely changable and will make me love myself more. If I work on the inside and the outside, others and opportunities will come my way. The topic of our meeting today was "self love". Funny how things fall together sometimes. Thanks.

  9. Stress in little doses is easier to deal with. Ongoing stress over weeks gets to be a bit much and starts to wear you down. It shows how much you have done your work in your own recovery for you to be honest about your own feelings with no resentment. I wish you continued strength and moments of peace often.

  10. Celestine stopped drinking when I did as a way to show support to me.even though she did not feel that she had a drinking [problem she decided that she wanted to support me in my quest to get and stay sober. it is jst like what I decided when we got married,that I would follow the diet that sshe had to because of her diabedets.

  11. I'm blessed with a wonderful partnership also, Syd. It took some pain (and time) to get here in our relationship. But it's good to have a friend you know you can count on no matter what.

    Good stuff, as always.

  12. I so needed this hope and wisdom today as I'm contemplating a partnership, making a big change in my life.


    I'm so sorry about your father-in-law's cirrhosis and wish you all the best. I know you're in good hands.

  13. I'm glad y'all have each other and the tools and ability to communicate and preserve your partnership. That is something to be grateful for, and I can tell that you are.

  14. Very nice. I know in alanon they say you can be happy even if living with an active alcoholic. I could not get to that and had to walk away.

  15. interesting. thanks for sharing...

    saw this story about an al anon who looks like she stayed in denial about the illness and never really understood the whole al anon thing. thought it ? might be of interest..

    Alcoholics Anonymous killed my marriage
    An acclaimed war reporter, JANINE DI GIOVANNI fell head over heels for a hard-drinking rival. Their love survived many battles, except one

  16. 3. Stick to the subject.

    This one is key for me.

  17. I am so glad that you and C. have such a good supportive partnership,

  18. this was very good for me to read today Syd, thank you.

    the quote at the end is a good one.

  19. A partnership and love in flexibility and understanding is an awesome thing. Still working on marriage as a partnership myself :)


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