The Power of Acceptance: Embracing Change for a Brighter Future
It's classic. The focus is always on the 'alcoholic' in the family. But when the alcoholic sobers up, often the spouse does not know where else to put the focus. We hear the question over and over from people new in sobriety:
We received an email from a recent graduate of the SV program. He was very concerned that his wife was not going to Al-Anon. Our former guest felt that his wife's focus was still on him, even though he was sober; he felt smothered. One of the tools in recovery this alumnus learned is to reach out and ask for help.
Below is the actual email response from John Derry, the Director of Serenity Vista, to the former guest's question: Why won't my spouse go to Al-anon?
Dear________, We are always happy to hear from you. We continue holding you in our thoughts and prayers. Thanks for sharing what's going on for you and how you are doing in your recovery journey. I validate your journey and encourage you to be patient. I hear and understand the frustration you are expressing regarding your spouse.
You say she is consistently focusing on you, and that this is increasing your stress level. Well, there is good news here - this is a great opportunity for you! You can practice the concept of 'detaching with love', to respectfully rise above and keep the focus on yourself, on your own recovery.
Try to let go of the desire to have a fully understanding and supportive spouse at this time. You hope she would be understanding and let go of trying to control you. However, you can use this desire as a reminder. Try to be understanding of her behavior and let go of trying to mold her to be the way you want her to be.
Remember that this is very confusing for her and she is doing the best she can right now. She is likely in a lot of fear, therefore grabbing on to what is familiar to her: attempts to control.
As you did while you were in your program here, keep sharing with your sponsor how you feel. Keep going to meetings and work your program.
My recommendation is to let go of ultimatums like "if it's not better by the weekend then....". That puts pressure on both of you and could precipitate a crisis you both may regret.
And, if you do, at some point, after prayerful consideration and discussion with your sponsor, truly feel you need a period of separation, you can simply do that. You can do that with respect and maturity, not as a result of some big blowout.
You do not need permission to look after yourself. If you are finding yourself in constant conflict and your sobriety is at risk, then, yes, a respectful trial separation of 6 months or longer might be in order. And if done with dignity (not necessarily agreement, but respectful), you get to hold your head high that you were kind.
And, it could give you both space to look at yourselves. You can focus on your own self-care, and give space for later counseling and a decision about your longer term relationship. Because your sobriety has to come first, or nothing comes second!
For right now, remember all the cliches like 'Stay where your feet are'. And, 'Let go and let God'. 'Easy Does it'. 'This too shall pass'. 'The best gift you can give your loved ones is a healthy you'.
So, keep doing what you need to to be healthy and sober (regardless of whether your loved ones agree or not). We are always here for you, and hold you in high regard. Please stay in touch. Regards, John Derry, B.Sc.Phm., M.A.
So, in other words, if you are wondering why your spouse won't go to Al-Anon, turn the focus back around to yourself and your own recovery. Stay safe, and talk with your sponsor.
If you are looking for a program that treats you as an individual, that that offers compassion and expertise, consider starting your recovery in Panama, at the world-renowned, Serenity Vista Addiction Recovery Retreat. Serenity Vista offers a holistic, outdoor fun, but basic fundamental recovery principles. Give us a call to find out if Serenity Vista is right for you.
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