People pleasing and recovery. 

Often in Mental Health settings you come across situations where physical pain manifests from the inablitity to express mental pain. As I am sitting here in bed in abject pain from my jaw and gums I wonder if this is a reflection of my mental torment. It isn’t of course it because the dentist has been poking about in there and has triggered something off but in pain I am. 2 years ago K called me into his rehab setting to tell me he couldn’t stay with me as he had to focus on his recovery – bullshit of course as he didn’t stay in rehab or recovery but I can clearly remember the pain I felt back then. I felt physical and mental pain like no other I had experienced. I wanted to die! I was heart broken. But I also didn’t know that I was sick. I had started to attend Nar-anon meetings but was still very far from understanding what it meant that I had become a co-dependent and my pain was intrinsically linked to that. My focus was still on K not myself. I still didn’t understand how I had contributed to his addiction. And to some point 2 years on still am not 100% convinced that everything i did was wrong. What I do know for certain is whether I contribute money to enable him to use drugs or not will not stop him from using. What I did control to a greater or lesser degree was I stopped him from committing  more crime than he did to get what he wanted or needed. So in that respect that was my reward. I kept him with me. He used that to his advantage at times when I was getting fed up of the constant daily ritual  we went thro, the ‘love you don’t want me breaking the law and doing something stupid do you?’ line was used again and again as though if I didn’t give him the cash I would somehow be responsible if he went to jail. Of course now I see it was manipulation but when I was lock in to co- dependency actually believed it was my responsiblity – that’s how sick I had become. 

For me my recovery comes in waves. I knew I had to change a lot of my behaviours before I was able to move on. Or at least learn how not to revert back to harmful behaviours. After speaking with my sponsor I realise that these behaviours will never go away and can be triggered at any time, but I need to learn how to control them. As with any addict. I have certain personality traits that will always be there. I am kind I am loving I am giving, all positives….but can be taken advantage of if co-dependency creeps in.  Doing things for the right reasons can easily become for the wrong reasons. Helping someone out can be linked to wanting power and control of a situation that isn’t mine to control. So helping becomes enabling – that tightrope I mentioned in a post recently. 

Now I am estranged from the addict in my life again I am able to reflect back to see how I have moved on. How much have I actually learnt and put into practice. I get upset when people can’t see I have moved on. Jeez if I hadn’t I would be still doling out twentys every day. Be running around after him phoning him pleading with him to take me back. Texting him how much I love him need him. But I have come full circle back to the beginning but with a new way of seeing things to the point where I have put into practice the steps I have learnt and jumped off the merry go round so I DONT repeat the same mistakes again. I can see the circle but am now a bystander. I can see HIS merry go round revolving door call it what you will, but it’s a ride I don’t want to be on and am not paying to get on it – physically mentally or emotionally. Of course I feel for him I would feel for any relapsed addict be that a friend a lover a family member. But I no longer feel I have to be part of it. It’s NOT my responsiblity. 

I was asked by someone to make it implicit what I had learnt on my journey – I don’t feel the need to do that – but actually that sort of thing is difficult for me. To focus on my recovery is hard enough so maybe this post will go some where towards showing what I have achieved if it’s not obvious! 2 years ago I was thinking how I could kill my self I was beyond sick. Now I understand how I contributed to my own illness, and now how to keep myself safe.  How I can let go – have let go. I have detached with love and am letting the addict make his own choices. Again I question – for the addict how he can make reasonable choices when in active addiction- but I have no input to his choices. Being a people pleaser is hard, to say no is hard, but saying yes is sometimes more hurtful and destructive. 

So I wonder if this post goes some way to answering the questions that I was asked. Still being a people pleaser, by doing this so maybe I haven’t moved on that much when others opinions mean more to me – but I haven’t gone backwards or jumped on the ride again so for that I am grateful and if I have to justify myself to those I hold dear then here it is my justification and some of what I have learnt. 

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Relapse and control. 

Sometimes I wish I could put into words what is going on in my head, my thought processes aren’t linear they are like spider diagrams with a word in the middle and thought association bubbles all around it. Like now I am trying to do one of the steps, I have 36 questions to answer! Not easy questions either here’s a couple

What have I done to interfere with a higher powers involvement in my life?

Am I learning what recovery and serenity can mean to me? – explain

When my thought patterns are jumbled how can I make any sense of it all?

I want peace and serenity in my life, I want to be able not to react to problems but think them through.

A year ago my trust was destroyed yet again, this time last year I was trying to hold it together. Again. It was one of his great disappearing acts He had gone missing before but never more than 12 hours, even when arrested he eventually got in contact. If I am honest with myself I loved the drama, but now I am just too tired for it all again. It’s around this time last year I came back to my fellowship, to start working on me. To stop the treadmill of chaos and drama and to find that peace and serenity I longed for. Maybe I still wasn’t ready? Maybe my ego /selfwill was  still not ready to give my self over to something I could not tangibly see or believe in – this Higher Power. I used the term even back then but didn’t really understand what it was. I had had moments when my HP had desperately tried to show me itself, but I knew better. I could make the same wrong choices over and over expecting a different outcome! Been said before and I will say it again, that is the insanity of addiction!

It is suggested that we live for today this day only, to stop projections to a future that hasn’t come yet, but I struggle with that. To keep myself safe I can’t live in a bubble of ‘just for today’. I have to think what if… Because I need to be prepared. I need to know how to react if it all goes wrong. How I react. Not what I think he should do. What I want. If I don’t know that how can I have boundaries? It’s not about saying you can’t to this you can’t do that, it’s about me saying if you choose to do that I want no part of it. These are my rules. It’s not control its self worth I think? It’s putting in place things to stop me relapsing if the addict relapses.

It’s about me being supportive emotionally but not being sucked dry, it’s about give and take equally, but as importantly not pacifying him because I am scared of loosing him. He’s not mine to loose. He will make his choices and I will make mine. If I don’t want to live in chaos and insanity then I have to let go and let God. Believe my HP will look after me and his will him.

This post was triggered by a few things, 1 this bloody step I am trying to get thro, 2 the time of year it is with all its associated memories and 3 he just called me!

I tried to explain all of this and was met with hostility and vague threats ( in his mind) that he wouldn’t see me when he got out. I calmly said that if he doesn’t want to follow my requests then that is up to him. Threats of moving back to where he comes from, which equates to relapse, but where as before I would have been trying to pacify and beg him not to I just quietly said do what you think is right for you. So reader I sometimes think I am stuck, that I haven’t learnt anything….mainly because I suppose I haven’t had to put it into practice – until now – but now I can feel good about it, I have learnt I have put it into practice, if he chooses not to live a clean life that is just that his choice. I don’t feel bad, I don’t feel sorry, I don’t feel as though I am making unreasonable demands, I am certainly not trying to control anything but my self. If he relapsed it wouldn’t stop me from caring about him, it’s an illness a disease, that can’t be cured. There are things he can do to keep it in remission but that’s for him to do. Not me!

For an addict relapse is part of life. It can take many attempts before it is successful, be it drugs,alcohol, cigarettes, other people’s lives, we all relapse. It doesn’t make us bad people, sometimes the addiction makes us do bad things to supplement the habit. Take a child for example, they are not born bad. They might be born into a bad situation with parents that don’t have the skills to bring them up as a rounded human being but fundamentally the child is not bad. Things happen they look for an escape, other bad things happen, and so it goes on the feeling of worthlessness, with every bad thing that happens a reenforcement that they are worthless. That is a hard cycle to break. I am sure many of you identify! If you don’t then you are lucky. So I think what I am trying to say is it’s not for me to sit in judgement if relapse happens, it doesn’t mean you have failed, it doesn’t mean you are a bad person, but sometimes those that love you have to protect themselves too. We are not trying to control anyone but ourselves.

Forgiveness

I have to keep on forgiving because if I dont I waste energy on things I have no control over. What I struggle with is if forgiveness can become enabling? By allowing someone to behave in a way I find hurtful will there be an end to that behaviour? Even though I know that it’s not diliberate hurt, it’s just the nature of the relationship we have ( or don’t have). I know our wants are very different. I know the drugs make him behave in a way that is not really acceptable to me, and so I forgive. Not to forgive means I fret about what I have or haven’t done, what he has or hasn’t done….let go let God. I don’t think I understood that phrase for as long as I have been part of the fellowship but I think I am now understanding that I can’t take on the responsibility of his actions, I have to give it over to my HIgher power  to deal with and do what they think is best. What I need to work out is whether I can have any sort of friendship with him and keep on forgiving him. But more importantly what do I get from this very bizarre situation.

The next few days….

I was devastated….I hurt so badly, it was so very hard for me to understand why he didn’t want to be with me any more. I tried hard to understand I really did. I think possibly one of the reasons I found it so hard was I rarely lie. I would never lie about my feelings towards some one. So when he said he loved me I had no reason not to believe it. When he said again and again that once he was in rehab and clean that we could have a good life together, I believed it. When he said he hated being on drugs and methadone I believed it. He had said all those things less than 4 weeks ago so why had he changed his mind. Guilt? For the way he treated me, for bullying me. Now he was sober was he feeling bad for all the awful things he had done? But I always told him I knew it was the drugs that made him do things, the bad things. The next few days were a bit of a blur… I think I went to work, but in the evening was drinking too much, I thought it helped but in reality just compounded my feelings of not wanting to live with out him. I felt as though I had been betrayed, that every thing that had happened was for what? What possible reason would there be for all of this last 2 years if this was the end of it? My life has been turned on its head. It’s bad enough when a relationship comes to an end, but for me having dealt with a world that I knew so little about, having put myself in risky situations that most normal people wouldn’t experience, because I knew it wouldn’t last for ever, and now nothing.
After work one day I went back to the flat, I still had some things there so thoughts had better remove them. Plus I thought it needed cleaning and the rubbish put out. I left the photos of us together. I thought I am not going to make this that easy for you, you might want to wipe me from your memory but I will remind you when you walk in that I did exist! I also wrote a long letter, saying I didn’t understand why. That I was heart broken, but respected that he didn’t want me to be in contact with him, but if he changed his mind to please contact me.
I left my keys and drove home.
So I came home. I text him to say I had taken my things and left my keys. He had said something about me staying in the flat whilst he was in rehab, but that would have just been wrong.
I can’t remember exactly when I got a Facebook message, but it was within a week of me seeing him. It was from someone I knew vaguely. She asked if I had seen his Facebook wall? I hadn’t. I had tried to be good and not look at what he was doing because I knew if he was behaving as if nothing had happened that would hurt me all the more. So I looked!
If I had felt pain before this was far worse….his profile photo his wall was covered in photos of him and another girl! So there was my answer. It wasn’t about rehab it was he had met someone else and the snake hadn’t had the decency to tell me! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was furious. Of course he was feeling all shiny and new I knew how he was with me when we first met, all full of live and energy, everything an adventure! That bastard had shoved me out for her! Oh I was livid but the betrayal the loss the pain the hurt I can’t even start to explain it. The humiliation. Less than a week less than a week!!! How dare he. Of course it all made sense, he wanted me out for some bitch he met in there, some one that understood what he was going thro. Where were the staff in all of this? I thought they didn’t encourage relationships, when they were supposed to be working on themselves, where was his focus now? The fact that he didn’t even have the decency to tell me the truth. I posted on his wall for all to see how disgusted I was that he could do that to publicly humiliated me, after what my ex husband had done and how he said he would never do something like that, he had done exactly the same! ( my ex husband brought his new girlfriend into the pub I worked in one afternoon, I didn’t know he had a new girlfriend at the time) the next few hours were horrible, texting each other he saying to get over it to move on! To move on? Are you mental? It’s been less than a week! This is why you finished with me isn’t it? No we werent together when I finished with you. But she was waiting wasn’t she! I lost it completely I think I must have had some sort of mental melt down, I wanted to die the pain I was feeling was unbearable. Also at some stage she sent me an in box message she was evil! The things she said completely shattered my life. She said that why did I think someone like K wanted to be with someone like me, that he had only used me for money that he never loved me, he only hung around with me for what he could get. Why would he want to be with someone that didn’t dress very well didn’t bother about their appearance, was over weight, that needed plastic surgery and couldn’t even hang on to a druggie! That I needed to find an old age pensioner someone my own age, get some self respect and leave them alone to enjoy a happy life. The insults went on and on, but what hurt more was the fact that she had picked up on so many of my insecurities. Which meant he must have told her! The fact that I was older than him, that I said on more than one occasion sometimes I think you are only with me for my money, that before we had met I used to get Botox and fillers cos I like to look as nice as I can, but now couldn’t afford it. That I hated not being able to buy new clothes…..he had told her all of that and she was using it against me. She went on to say how lucky she was that now she had the good K and I had had to put up with the bad K ( didn’t she think I knew that).
I blocked her on FB and he blocked me, or at least she blocked me on his. He didn’t know how to, but that didn’t stop me from seeing his profile of course! I was torturing myself looking at them together but couldn’t stop myself.
I contacted his mum to see if she knew. She said she had seen it on FB. I was putting her in an awful situation but asked her to tell him I wanted to die, and when I did it was all his fault. She said she didn’t want to be a go between, ( of course) but I was so wrapped up in my pain I just said good to see I am such a good friend thanks for your support. I asked if rehab knew about this ‘new relationship’ and it was then she told me…..he left on the Thursday after he had seen you! WHAT!?! Apparently he had been caught with the phone and thrown out. There is more to it than that but for nOw that’s all I knew. I texted him and said I hope he was happy. He txt back yer I am get over it.
There was no compassion I felt so alone, and yes I really did want to die. I thought about how I could end it all. I signed myself off work for a week. But wasn’t sure if I would go back. I didn’t know if I would even be alive in a week. I suppose my HP did their thing! Someone I only knew from FB somehow persuaded me otherwise, my mum turned up so that also put a stop to any of my immediate plans, I was exhausted mentally and physically. I really didn’t care less about my life, but it would seem others did. I don’t know why. I was a mess. My life was a mess. Even a heroin addict didn’t want to be with me, what did that say about me? My sister said that was a measure of him not me, nice words but I didn’t believe it. It was very much a measure of me! I had given him everything I had to give and it still wasn’t enough..I WAS SICK. I was so distraught I couldn’t think straight. I felt as though if the last 2 years had been for nothing then what was the point? I felt foolish to believe that someone like him would love me, what was I thinking? But still couldn’t accept that he had been with me only for the money and life style. We met when he was clean! He promised me that when he was clean again we would have the life we wanted, I was in total denial, because facing up to the horrible truth was too much for me to accept and bear. Subconsciously I knew but couldn’t admit it. That my pride of wanting to be with this great looking ( and when not in addiction) fun loving full of life man had lead me to believe that he wanted to be with me too. That he found me attractive that he thought I was fun to be with that I was a good woman that he meant it when he said I was kind and loving and he loved being with me. If I accepted the truth that everything had been a lie that I had been taken in by his charm the lies that he had used me for the last 2 years, then my pride really would be dented! That I had so little about me that I couldn’t see it. That I was so wrapped up in my love for him that I was blinded by what was blatantly obvious to everyone else,no my friend I could not accept that as the truth. The pain I felt of course reflected all of that, and that was why I wanted to die. The shame I felt was overwhelming. But I continued to deny that he used me. I blamed her. She had taken my man. I blamed my illness I had become sucked into his addiction and took it on myself to solve the problems, to control the situation, and after being in control for so long to have to surrender that control to have it taken away from me gave me no comfort. I didn’t know that the only thing I could do was take control over my life, because it it the only thing I do have some control over. As I say I was ill. It would a few more months before I understood that. It’s funny before I met K I was never one to take control of a situation. I was a happy passenger of life, things happened and because I suppose I had so little self respect self worth, I let things happen. When you live with an addict that changes. I never liked to make choices or decisions about whether we should go somewhere. If he asked if we could go out at the weekend I would always ask where he wanted to go, thinking he might not like my choice. However when you live with an addict you do try to control everything. I tried to control him not getting into trouble from going on the rob, I had to make sure I had enough money to get us though the month, I wanted to know where he was how much he had used, I wanted to stop him from using by getting him into rehab, because I believed that was the right thing for him to do ( yes compounded by his affirmation of that) but it was what I wanted. You think you know best, because after all what would the addict know? Why would someone want to be addicted and live this life of misery? You do it out of love of course but also I misguided sense that you know best, what is right for him! So yes I had become very much in control.
Self pity blocks effective action
The more we indulge in it the more we feel that the answer to problems is a change in others or the world, not a change in us thus we become a hopeless case ( Nar anon blue book) and I had become very much a hopeless case, and would be for some time yet.