How to deal with ambivalence?



Hello, I just found this community, and hoping it can be helpful. This June, everything came to a head with my partner as he detoxed severely and ended up in the hospital before finally committing to enter rehab (he’s been a 20+ year drinker and this is the first time he’s ever considered rehab). He’s been home now for a month, and most days are good. But there have been a couple “blips” as we call them. Nothing to the extent of when he was drinking heavily, but a beer here or a glass of wine with coworkers. Sometimes I feel like he’s on the right track and is determined to overcome his addiction, and other times he seems to not care and wishes he were still dealing.

I know this is all normal in the course of recovery, but emotionally it takes a toll on me to see him go up and down. It causes me to worry that one blip leads to lots of blips and we’ll be right back where we started. Most of the time I get angry at him for this. He knows how hard his addiction and behavior has been on me, and yet the cavalier attitude makes my blood boil. Has anyone else dealt with the ambivalence toward recovery? What got you through the blips so that you could stay encouraging and helpful? I know my anger toward him doesn’t make any of it easier on either of us.


Hi @jmartinisu - Welcome here. I’m glad you found this Village and I hope you find it helpful, too. There are many people who have gone through the same thing with their loved ones. First off, congrats to your partner for getting the help he needs and going through rehab for the first time in 20+ years! What a huge accomplishment and not an easy thing to do.

Early recovery is very hard on everyone. Your loved one is learning how to function in everyday life without the substance that he’s relied on for so long.

These are all really normal, common responses. I think the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved one during this time is to get help for yourself. Have you looked into therapy or local support groups for family/friends of people with Substance Use Disorder, such as Al-Anon? Looking inward at your own behaviors can help you to identify your triggers and learn to respond in a healthier way that supports your needs and his needs. Couples therapy was a huge part of recovery for my husband and I - it really helped us communicate better rather than assume we knew what the other person was thinking.

What do you think about this, @jmartinisu?


Welcome, @jmartinisu! How are you and your loved one doing today?

I second @momentsandlight’s suggestion of looking into help for yourself while your partner works on himself. You’ve already made a couple of big steps - reaching out to this community for one, and also recognizing your anger toward the ambivalence and that it isn’t helpful to the situation:

Even though it may not be helpful, it’s still okay to feel angry and a totally normal response! Maybe ask yourself why you feel angry toward the ambivalence. Are you expecting a different behavior or result from him? I know I started feeling resentful when my loved one’s recovery didn’t look the way I thought it was supposed to. I had a whole vision, a whole list of things I thought they were supposed to be doing once they finally got clean, and they weren’t doing any of it. I soon realized that recovery involves a lot of hard inner work. Every day was a battle to fight the urges for my loved one, a battle I couldn’t always see or understand. All I could do was deal with my own feelings that were still coming up even though they were clean - learn to recognize the feelings without judgment, investigate the cause, and find a way to nurture myself, feel the feeling, and then let it go.

Hope that helps, @jmartinisu. There are so many conversations in this community where you might also find support. Use the search bar up at the top or browse some of the Categories. You are not alone! :hugs: