Thursday, September 1, 2011

Working on love

Yesterday, C. and I got up early and went for a long walk.  The temperature and humidity are starting to be bearable.  We took three dogs with us who had a great time sniffing, leaving pee mail, and cavorting.

After the walk we went for a sail.  I haven't just sailed to be sailing about for a while.  Generally, there is a destination.  But I think that having a few hours every Wednesday, regardless of weather, to go sailing is a good idea.  It was a lovely breezy day, making the whole experience a delight.  After that we cooked dinner on the boat and then headed home. We were both asleep by 10:30 PM which is early for me.

I don't think that we could have gotten through the day without a lot of angry words a few years ago. Although we still have a long way to go,  I think that our love has deepened over time.  I can see progress in trusting, not isolating, not blaming, and knowing how to express our feelings.  I still want to draw her closer when she withdraws. 

I understand though that there has to be balance in a relationship.  I can see that we are becoming more balanced and that emotional detachment doesn't scare me as much as it used to.  Some of us are capable of great, fierce love.  Others love the only way that they know how.  I have learned that my insecurities about how to love and being loved don't have to be a struggle.

I hear a friend tell me that he is starving for love.  He loves his wife but cannot take the emotional withdrawal and self-absorption of the dry drunk alcoholic.  Their views of love don't match.  He believes his wife loves him but doesn't know how to express love in a mature way.  He wants balance in the relationship and an equally loving partner. It may or may not happen.

Living with an alcoholic can be so lonely.  My choice was to take care of myself and not try to make the other person fulfill all my emotional needs.  The most important question for me became, "Do I love myself?" I am still working on that.


  1. Syd from the day you first walked through the Al-anon door to this, have you found yet that security is already within but you need to trust yourself first to find it then you can trust your partner more.

  2. Yep, I know these feelings. When my alcoholic fully embraced the steps, I saw him change. I'm glad I stuck around for him to come around. It was worth it. :)

  3. Over time we develop that shared history that binds us. Provided the history is not one sided, and the partner is present. I'm glad I stuck it out "another 5 minutes" as Marcia recently wrote.

    Knowing when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em is difficult. I give thanks to Alanon for wisdom on that.

  4. As usual, I can see wisdom in your words whether they are applied to a relationship with addiction problems or not. We all want to love more fully, be loved more completely, and yet, there are so many reasons we are unable to get to that place most of the time.
    Fear, I think, being one of the main ones.
    Thank-you again, Syd, for your good words.

  5. When having conversations with those to which I am close, I still sometimes have to ask if the person is looking for an answer or just venting. I don't always know which pair of ears to listen with so I must ask. Saves me a lot of trouble.

  6. nice post.
    good to see this from the al anon perspective..

    yup taking care of self.. thats it in the end.. not easy but worth it..

  7. This share brought tears to my eyes... I struggle on a daily basis with loneliness living in an active alcoholic relationship with my husband. It helps a little to know he loves the best way he knows how with the limited tools he has without a program. It is interesting how this loneliness sneaks up on me, it’s a good reminder I need to keep that focus on myself and not expect him to be everything for me. A good reminder what you said, “Do I love myself?” Thank you for the share it really sparked some good thought today.

  8. "...emotional withdrawal and self-absorption of the dry drunk..." - that can absolutely leave us feeling starved, if we don't know how to feed ourselves from a different banquet table. I choose not to continue to try to get love from someone who can't give it, and instead get it from those who give it willingly - friends in program, myself, and God.

  9. you know, everyone tells me to "remember the good times" and all i can remember are the drunk times. all they remember is her happy (because they didn't know she was drunk, they didn't confront her like i did so she wasn't angry with them like she was with ME, the mother...) so it is like hearing two sets of memories when everyone talks about "the Christmas of 2007" and so forth....

    my head hurts.

    anyway i'm heading for al-anon but arrangements have to be made for an interpreter- and that IS being made. =)

  10. I no longer live with an alcoholic. Sometimes I am lonely but for a love I've never had and may never find.

    Still, I would not go back. I am happier here than I was there.

    So glad you have yours.

  11. "Living with an alcoholic can be so lonely."
    It always breaks my heart when I hear these words. It took me at least 3 years to gain true sobriety and my poor husband, who died about 15 months after I picked up my white chip, never knew the good part. I would give the world to be able to change that. He was, indeed, a lonely man.

  12. Everybody loves differently. That's one thing I've learned. Everybody shows it differently, too.

    Syd, I love you, whether you love you or not. You betcha, as that moron Sarah Palin says.

    Have a great holiday weekend.

  13. You know I needed to read this today.......

    beautiful :)

  14. What a testament to your recovery when you talk about the fighting and what the day would have been like between you and C pre-recovery.

  15. I think the you attract your equal emotionally. Then when you start to get better and the other person doesn't grow at the same rate the distances seems more obvious. When you not spending all your time putting out their fires you have distance to see what has been there all along.

    It is good that you and C. have been able to paddle along side each other in this journey. This is a gift that you can let each other be who they are and where they are.

  16. I too am living a lonely life with my dry drunk alcoholic wife. we "celebrated" 23 yrs of marriage yesterday. She has 15 months of sobriety but bailed on her program 1 week shy of 1 yr. I am inspired by you Syd and all those who stick it out with their partner during recovery. I believe it's our healing process too and much to be gained, I think, by standing by the one you love. not easy, that's for sure. and everyone's situation is different. Your words really resonated with me today and feed my soul. Thanks for sharing.


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