I’m struggling tonight. My S/O is 51 days clean today. I’m on a weeks vacation and this weekend I’m spending time away with my kids. Then later in the week I am leaving with him to go on a sober trip to New Orleans to celebrate his 40th and see his favorite band. We have AA meetings mapped out and he has been going to meetings everyday. New Orleans might sound weird, but it’s his favorite city and band. I told him if he lived to see 40 and got sober I’d take him. Well he did it. He Went inpatient, has been in active recovery, and is going to meetings everyday. I’m currently in charge of his money, but slowly been giving him money for breakfast/dinners with his AA friends and dollars for the basket. Tonight I left to take my kids for the weekend. I left him with $20 to go to breakfast in the am and shoot golf balls with his AA buddies. I’m obsessing over this. I can’t even enjoy my time with my kids because I have constant fears over what he will do over the next few days while I’m gone. What if he uses the money to buy booze? What if me being gone triggers him? What if he drinks and doesn’t go to work Monday? What if he relapses before we leave for new New Orleans? I know these are extremely co-dependent thoughts. He hasn’t given me any reason to think he’s about to relapse. He went to a meeting this morning and we are in constant contact. In fact, he’s very excited to go shoot golf balls with the guys tomorrow. In fact as we speak, he’s saying he’s using his new air fryer and having a relaxing night at home. But his past active addiction tells a different story and I was put through a ton of trauma during those times. In the past drinking would come out if no where and many of my vacations were ruined due to him being drunk and disrupting my peace of mind. Many times we’d have plans that would get ruined due to his drinking. Things have been beautiful the last two months but the past just won’t let my mind calm down. I am in therapy, I go to Alanon, I am an active follower of this site, and him and I go to Recovery Dharma together. But sometimes, my damaged brain just can’t calm itself. tonight is tough. This is the first time I’ve left since he’s been out of rehab. This is the first time I’ve handed him a $20 bill. I’m really struggling letting go of my worries. I know this is mostly on him. But I’m scared shitless every single day. Some day’s are easier. But today is especially tough.
Hi @Jess - Getting stuck in the what-ifs is maddening! Especially when everything is going well and there doesn’t seem to be any real reason to worry.
First off - I don’t believe these are codependent thoughts. I read this article from The Gottman Institute that explains these responses well:
“ Codependency refers to enabling and controlling behaviors, poor boundaries, lack of self-care, and focusing on other’s needs instead of one’s own needs. And while the teaching of codependency can be immensely helpful in dealing with individuals who have a chronic pattern of these traits, labeling every partner of an addict as “codependent” is damaging. It implies that there is something wrong with the codependent person because they have been impacted by a person struggling with addiction. Experiencing trauma reactions such as hypervigilance, increased anxiety and depression, re-experiencing the event, emotional numbing, need to control, irritability, etc. as a result of a loved one’s addiction and behavior is not codependency.”
Loving someone through active addiction is a traumatizing experience, and sometimes when triggers fire off, it’s our normal reaction to want to protect ourselves from what we know has caused immense pain in the past. It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re actually reliving that trauma. What’s important is becoming aware of these responses, understanding why they occur, and moving past them.
Whenever I find myself in these obsessive thoughts, I ask myself how it’s helping. I realize that the worrying does nothing to fix the situation, but was instead just taking me away from being able to enjoy happy moments. And what if something does happen? What if he does slip or relapse? It happens. We’ve survived worse. It doesn’t have to mean the end of the world. We’ll get back up and we’ll keep going.
Thank you so much for the response. The article was very interesting. I do believe I have some codependent tendencies. But I wasn’t born this way. I believe most of my behaviors, anxieties, and thoughts are response to past traumas from many years of dealing with addicts, first being my brother, then subsequent boyfriends, my husband, and now my current S/O. I’ve been enmeshed in the world of addiction, alcohol, and drugs since I was a teen. My therapist notes that many of my behaviors are codependent in nature, but she’s also referred to PTSD as well. She wants me to read up and learn about trauma. So that article was extremely helpful in understanding what’s happened to my brain. I really appreciate the post by @Blondie. I recently started a gratitude journal and I love the idea of writing down positive affirmations.
Last night was tough. At one point even a little change in his behavior through texts led me to overwhelming thoughts that he was relapsing. It’s terrible to think like this. It’s a bit heightened at the moment because of our upcoming trip and me being away with my kids. But today’s a new day. He went to AA this morning. He went and hit golf balls and said he has $9 left. I said, “are you ok with that?” He said “yea…are you…lol?” I said, “if you are“ (a slight lie). He said “then we’re good.” Truth is I wanted to say more. I wanted to give him a piece of advice on what to do with the $9, but I refrained. It’s his money, his recovery, and I have to let him handle it.
The other issue I have is that I feel myself keeping a lot in about my feelings because I’m scared I’ll upset him. I don’t want my negative thoughts or feelings to trigger him. I don’t want to dredge up the past, but I do wish I could explain where I’m coming from. But not sure if that would really be useful or beneficial to his or my recovery. I also want to make sure it’s for good intentions and only to help him understand my behaviors and anxieties and not just to make him feel guilty or remorseful.
Oh man @momentsandlight, I totally missed this, so sorry!!
@Jess I hope that your anxiety has been a bit better, but to answer the question, yes I am still at it with the affirmations. To be honest, I really got out of the habit when winter set in and the mornings were very dark. When I stopped it really impacted my anxiety, and also made me a lot less calm and more impulsive in the face of conflict. Now that I’m back at it (even in the dark mornings), I am able to distance myself much easier when conflict arises, and when my anxiety seems to peak for no reason when things are good, I’m able to step back with more grace and analyze it a bit better.
I recently saw a video by the author Gabby Bernstein about the “Choose Again Method” from her most recent book. It’s all about redirecting a negative or fear-based thought process or belief, and it goes like this:
- Notice the negative story you’re telling yourself, and how it makes you feel. (ex. If I give him money, he will use it to buy alcohol.)
- Forgive yourself for having the thought. Recognize that it has no power unless you give it power. Say “this is not who I am/he is, it’s just a thought I keep having.”
- Choose again. Reach for a thought that feels better. (ex. I trust him to use his own money wisely. His choices do not define me. He is in charge of his own choices…)
Gabby is also in long-term recovery from drug addiction, and has tons of good meditations and books on redirecting fear-based thinking.
I hope this helps a little!! Know that you are not alone, and please keep us posted about your partner’s recovery. Cheering you both on. <3
Just as you are supporting him in his recovery, he should be able to support you as well. Communication from both partners is important to moving forward. I’ve had the same fears as you - when I’m feeling triggered by suspicious behavior or a certain time of year or anything, I’ve been afraid to talk to my husband about it because I don’t want to make him feel like I’m not proud of his progress or that I’m constant doubting him. But I know that these triggers might make me behave in a certain way, and rather than have him guess at why I’m behaving that way and turn it into his own narrative, I want him to know the truth behind my behaviors. Just like I want to know the truth behind his.
So when we have these conversations, I start with positives - recognizing progress and letting him know that I see the good things. Then I focus on my own fears, using “I feel” statements, owning my feelings, and making sure nothing I say might feel like I’m blaming or accusing. “I feel really anxious when you don’t answer my texts because I remember in the past, that often meant you were using or going out to the city for drugs. I know this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re using, but it’s something I’m still struggling with, and that’s why I’ve been acting so quiet lately.” He’s responded well when I communicate like this, and has given reasoning behind some of the behaviors that trigger me.
Communication has been so important to our marriage. I hope this helps you!