Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Existing Significant Relationships (Part One)

Repairing existing relationships is another focus of healing. If you are in recovery, chances are your partner is aware of your addiction; it is probably the reason you entered treatment. He or she found receipts, e-mails, videos, or computer images, or received a call from an angry sex partner, disclosing the lurid details of your acting-out behavior.

Your partner was devastated, shocked, enraged, and desperate.  There were threats of suicide or homicide, accusations, name-calling, ultimatums, disbelief, and questions - so many questions.

You were shocked by the intensity of your partner's reaction. Witnessing your partner's gut-wrenching pain and anger was like staring at the carnage of your addiction. It was a reflection of the darkest parts of your addiction and the unimaginable places you allowed it to go.

You tried to explain, manage, apologize, make promises, implement change, or take actions to amend, but nothing seemed to help. Your partner's reaction was continuous, emotional waves so unpredictable that you felt like a boat being ravaged by a turbulent sea.

Like your wounding, the betrayal cut your partner to his or her core. The deepest parts of his or personhood were violated, probably a reflection of your partner's own trauma history. He or she needs to be angry to process the betrayal, and this process must be respected.

The reality is that this process is difficult, even when it is carried out in a boundaried, healthy fashion. For a person who does not have an understanding of the recovery process to receive such painful, intimate information can result in an excruciating loss of control. And although this loss of control can precipitate a crisis, there is good news: The crisis can create such desperation that the sufferer becomes ready to learn a new, healthier way to cope with the situation.

This crisis is like that of alcoholics who get "sick and tired of being sick and tired." They know the next drink will kill them, but they can't live without it. They reach bottom as the crisis confronts them with all its awful might. With great good fortune, they may finally be ready to accept help.  

There is always the possibility, although it is less likely, that your partner is unaware of your addiction. He or she is choosing to live in denial or knows something is "off" but is unwilling to explore the reasons. Your partner has developed his or her own coping mechanisms that serve to distract. These include work, over-scheduling, exercise, overeating, and overspending.


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