It takes time in recovery to understand that both parties are responsible when it comes to a relationship. No one gets away unscathed. I've learned that my partner is not my emotional punching bag, my therapist, my scape goat, or a continuous fount of love, tolerance and forgiveness. There are many human limitations that just are, whether a person is alcoholic or not.
But what about life before recovery. What was that like in terms of having a loving relationship? I thought that the narcissistic selfishness and total disregard for the feelings of others was a relationship killer. Blame is one of the hot potatoes that gets tossed around in a relationship with an alcoholic. In the past, I was blamed for a lot of things. I was blamed for not doing things well, for doing them too well, for not wanting to go along with what others wanted, and for being too compliant. I know now that this was an attempt to take the focus off them so that no guilt would be felt. If you can't control your own life, then it is much easier to blame others rather than face and own your own problems.
The solution, as one therapist put it, is to learn to say "NO" and mean it. I can remember being angry at myself for putting everyone else first. I was trying to please and getting no where. I was furious that I did this, but seemed powerless to stop. I didn't understand the alcoholic's selfish inability to empathize with others or understand why I might be angry or hurt by their selfish behaviors. It took years before I realized that I was not making anyone happy, including myself, by agreeing to do what others wanted and disregarding my own feelings.
The behavior of the person living and loving an alcoholic is as crazy as that of the alcoholic. I would say I was sorry for things that I didn't do. I would try to make the peace over some argument that I didn't start. The therapist I went to told me that I had to stop accepting the blame for those things that weren't mine to own. And that message is also echoed in Al-Anon--that I don't have to pick up the baggage of another or own someone else's problem.
As a result, I have learned to say what I mean without saying it meanly. And that includes being able to say "No" when I don't want to do something. I don't accept being blamed for things that I didn't do, nor do I feel overwhelming guilt that I am not doing something that someone else wants me to.
And then finally this thought about how we are just trying to get along in this life:
"there is a loneliness in this world so great
that you can see it in the slow movement of
the hands of a clock.
people so tired
either by love or no love.
people just are not good to each other
one on one.
the rich are not good to the rich
the poor are not good to the poor.
we are afraid.
our educational system tells us
that we can all be
it hasn't told us
about the gutters
or the suicides.
or the terror of one person
aching in one place
watering a plant."
— Charles Bukowski (Love is a Dog from Hell)