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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2015 12:13 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 16, 2015 10:29 am
Posts: 31
Does a SA ever truly understand what they have done to their partner? It feels like the explanation of 'addiction' gives him permission to downplay the trauma they have inflicted on me...my life is decimated while his seems barely rocked. Is this a normal frustration? My fear is that our marriage cannot be fully restored and healed until he truly owns and feels the horror of what he has done. But because he is in a group with other addicts, it becomes normalised? We are only 4 weeks in from when he disclosed to me so its very early days and I hope reality will hit home in time - but will it?


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2015 12:42 pm 
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Polesden wrote:
Does a SA ever truly understand what they have done to their partner??

Polesden, I just wanted to say I have the exact concerns you do. I think overall the hardest part is the realization that they need a safe place to discuss and confront who they are and what they've done. At some point they will recover to a point (hopefully) where they will understand and desire that honest transparency that you are looking for. At this point, from my perspective and based on my situation, I'm not getting that currently. I'm struggling with the same concerns you are, 12 step programs seem to support their selfish behavior and their secrecy, the sponsors understand them because they've been there and don't necessarily see it from the damage they've done to their partners. I'm hopeful this comes later in their process.

Right now I struggle with the sensation that my SA seems perfectly content, going on about their normal day and seemingly unaffected by either the addiction or the impact it has on me. I don't see a sense of priority or any impact on her social schedule. I don't see a priority on working on the things needed for our therapy or her recovery taking priority over her normal social concerns. I hear the words embarrassed, ashamed, concerned but the actions are all about avoidance and procrastination.

One of the mentors here posted this on a thread I started basically in the same vein as your current thoughts.
I changed it slightly to apply to you I changed wife to spouse.
dnell wrote:
My therapist is always saying "honor the moment you are in" and I believe that. Honor this moment when you can't think of any positive trait about your spouse. This is your true moment. It's not right or wrong. It just is.

The repeated concept for partners in this forum is essentially we need to focus on ourselves and our recovery. I'm starting to grasp this concept and I'm concerned it's becoming more of a not giving a shit about my SA than it is a release from focus on them and a priority on myself. Mainly I feel like until I see a massive level of commitment from my SA, I'm trying to separate myself from what my SA does or doesn't do. Our control in this situation is if we decide to stay in this relationship or not, their control is over their recovery and the damage they've done to their partner.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2015 1:50 pm 
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Hi Polesden,

I read your post yesterday and didn't have time to respond. Then I read dnell's response this morning, and I couldn't have said it more accurately or compassionately. Her experience definitely parallel's mine, and her advice is spot on. Here's my version.

Polesden wrote:
my life is decimated while his seems barely rocked. Is this a normal frustration?


Of course it's a normal frustration. Your life as you knew it is decimated. It won't be the same again. But the key word in your statement is "seems." Yes, it can seem like a person with addiction has some great, consequence-free life or isn't as affected by the damage. Oh, but they are. More than you can imagine at this point, and that'll become more clear as you work through the lessons and learn more about addiction. Unfortunately, their emotional development is so immature that they don't have the internal resources to deal with the devastation, so distancing themselves from the reality could be a coping mechanism in early recovery. Imagine how hard it is for you, with healthy coping skills. Now take a person with undeveloped emotional maturity, and make them face the full devastation head on. Of course, they're not prepared to deal. That's a partial explanation for minimizing, blame shifting and all those other responses you'll be dealing with. I agree with dnell that the person an addict damages the most is themselves, and that I wouldn't trade places with him for anything in the world. A healthy recovery will include confronting and processing the damage. But that is probably not going to happen so early on, and maybe even shouldn't happen until they have the resources in place to cope in a healthy way. And unfortunately, it may never happen. Will it hit home in time? That is out of your control.

Polesden wrote:
My fear is that our marriage cannot be fully restored and healed until he truly owns and feels the horror of what he has done.


That's not only a fear. It's a fact. But that is only going to come through the long, hard work of recovery. Emphasis on long. I know in those early stages for me I wanted to fix it, fix him, fix us and get things back to normal as quickly as possible. I thought it might take a few months. I had no idea about the long road ahead of me. That is not to depress you. It's just to let you know that what we want to see in the beginning may not be possible for a long time.

What is possible now is that you work on yourself. That's by far the hardest lesson I had to learn--that the only thing I had control over was myself. That I could take that very limited energy I was putting into my husband's recovery and expectations of him, and put it into myself. I had to understand in my very core that it wasn't selfish to do radical self care. I know everyone keeps saying that, but that's because it's such a hard lesson to internalize, especially for those of us who are used to being in the role of caregiver in the relationship. I love dnell's idea of having one thing you do for yourself today. Then finding another thing the next day. And the next day.

I also struggled with what hadenuff said about focusing on myself feeling like not giving a shit about my husband. It's not that I don't give a shit about him. It's recognizing that I have no control over him (or whatever his 12 step program is doing) and being okay with that. It's almost like pulling for a character in a book or movie. You have no influence, but you can still hope for a good ending. I would say, though, that we have much more control than simply over whether we stay or not. We have control over our values. We have control over boundaries. We have control over actions we take when our values are violated. We have control over our own healing process, every single day. We have control over our thoughts. So you model what you're asking them to do. You take care of yourself in healthy ways. I would add to your comment that your marriage cannot be fully restored and healed until you do your healing yourself. If I were to go back and do it again (God forbid!), I wouldn't even consider marriage therapy until we both found our way through individual therapy.

I'm coming up on my two year mark next month. I moved out with my kids in January and am in the process of divorce. I didn't think it would come to that when I began this journey. I fought so hard for it not to come to that. I believe my partner is working on recovery, but it's not fast or sure enough for me. It became clear only after working through RN that it was not in line with my values to risk my own well-being and to expose my kids more to the collateral damage of living with a person struggling with addiction. I still love my husband. I still mourn the loss. I still hope for his recovery, for his sake and my kids' sake. And two years later, I still do not have full disclosure or feel like he owns the horror of what he has done. For so long, I really needed it. I still hope for it. It just doesn't have the hold over my life that it did in the early days.

What I do have is a stronger sense of myself and a gratefulness for the inferno I've been through. I am a better person. I'm still in the process of becoming a better person. You might not ever have the satisfaction of him owning the horror of what he's done. I want to leave you with a sense of hope that if you do the lessons, really do them thoughtfully and wholeheartedly, that a fulfilling life is not only a possibility, it's an inevitability.

(still) Rising


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2015 11:09 am 
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Thanks, dnell, that's a helpful perspective.....I definitely agree that I wasn't seeing or being given anything authentic by my husband before he got into recovery..... But I do at least feel now that there is an honesty there which ( obviously) wasn't there before. So it feels better than it did I guess. But I'm also aware it is fragile, incomplete and very confusing. It does make me feel better ( is it denial, I don't know?) when we hold each other and feel close but I do also worry that I could minimise the reality. Wow this is sooooooo complicated!


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2015 5:17 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:22 pm
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Polesden wrote:
It does make me feel better ( is it denial, I don't know?) when we hold each other and feel close but I do also worry that I could minimise the reality.


I'm not sure if you're minimizing the reality without knowing your situation. What I can say, though, from my own experience, is that I did minimize reality. I think it's a normal reaction when you're dealing with someone you love and have a hard time reconciling the horror of what you've discovered together with the person you love and know to have good in them.

Consider that minimizing or denial, whatever you want to call it, could be your way of holding the trauma at arms' length until you can actually cope. That was definitely my experience and is actually the first stage of grief, if you follow Kubler-Ross' model.

Polesden wrote:
But I do at least feel now that there is an honesty there which ( obviously) wasn't there before.


The reason I mention my own initial denial or minimizing is that I wasn't able to see what was still going on because it looked like my partner had come clean and was now being honest. One of the coaches warned me early on that it's common for SA's to reveal some details that give the appearance of being honest. It's one of their ways of controlling the situation. They may give you just enough "truth" to make you feel like things are okay. It feels good, because we want to trust them. It's human nature and healthy to trust someone in a close relationship, and to deny that things could be so bad.

Just be aware that it's possible (even likely, since he's so early in recovery) that he's only being a little bit truthful to manage the situation. You will learn through the lessons to gauge recovery by listening to your gut and by observing overall life skills being gained, not words. Words are nothing. Nothing at all. Learned that one the hard way myself. It's still very hard for me, because my soon-to-be ex now appears very remorseful, nice and so darn harmlessly genuine-looking whenever I see him, but I haven't seen the life overhaul that would indicate real recovery.

So again, focus on you and try not to feel too close at this point (I know, easier said than done). Chances are that only four weeks in, there's still plenty of deception going on. I know that sounds harsh. I would have completely ignored that advice myself. Yeah, complicated.

The only way is forward. Do another lesson. Do something good for yourself.

(still) Rising


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:21 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2014 12:20 am
Posts: 131
Wowser! THANKYOU to my HP for guiding me back to RN and reading this post! I fell through the cracks two months ago,and have been feeling very rudderless and unheard in my relationship. 9 months into this altered universe with my husband of 14 years, and most all of our 'talks' are still all about him, his addiction, his abstinence and how he deserves rewards for doing whatever is expected of him by me or by completing RN lessons. He still looks for praise for that good behavior like any 67 yr old teenager!! He still expects me to 'see' the changes in him but I honestly don't see a difference in how we relate to each other from a year ago(at the height of his addictive behaviors). He just wants validation of his 'good guy' persona and I just want a caring, nurturing adult relationship! No wonder we are both still struggling!
Soooooooo, back to my lessons here......and THANKYOU you all, again, for reminding me that I am not alone after all!!!

_________________
It is always OK in the end...if it's not OK, it's not the end!


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2015 9:48 am 
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Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
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Kajer - It is good to hear from you. I have been wondering about how you were doing.

I know what you mean about the ongoing immaturity of our partners in their recovery. I do not see it as my responsibility to pat my partner on the back for every victory he has in recovery. I see myself as being supportive, but I am working very hard to get out of the role of "mom" to his little boy. In my case, we had this awful dance where he would come with his immature need, I'd respond like a mom, he would resent being mothered and be hostile, and on and on. Whew! Exhausting and destructive. I am very clear I do not want to be a mother to my partner.

I continue to be amazed at the immaturity and self absorption of my husband. They need time go grow up. And, here is the risk: they may never achieve maturity even it they achieve abstinence.

And, they need to get past "convincing" us of their recovery and progress (in my view, this is still controlling and manipulative) and to believe in themselves and demonstrate their progress in action and in the way they live.

I so long for adult conversation; I so long for a mutually enriching relationship with shared joy for both mutual activities and independent accomplishments; I so long for a transparent, authentic man. I've never had it with my husband, don't have it now, and am waiting to see if I can get it. I would really like a mature man that I could have dinner with at the end of the day when we could talk about our day, laugh together, have a drink together, see a movie, then make love. Wouldn't that be wonderful? Isn't that reasonable? My therapist has told me that it will take a long time for my husband to become able to have that sort of relationship with me. And, he may never be able to do it. So, when we are waiting and seeing, we have to figure out how long we want to wait for an uncertain future. And, I'm still working on how to live well in the uncertain present.

In solidarity,
dnell


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