Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Stranger in Bed

Here's a different take on rehab. Resentment. Not by the addict - but by his wife.

The Guardian is running a series called A Marriage in Recovery in which an anonymous wife documents the challenges of both living with an alcoholic husband - and then dealing with his recovery. The latest installment clocks them at the four month mark of his sobriety.

You'd think a woman who's had to deal with an alcoholic husband would be delighted that booze was no longer the third partner in the marriage. But she hates it! She hates celebrating his birthday with ginger beer. She hates that he's at the gym or A.A. meetings all the time. She hates that everyone is congratulating him when she's doing everything at home on her own, feeling like a single parent.

This phenomenon is not uncommon. It's called Recovery Resentment and it can put a real strain on any relationship. One woman writing to Al-Anon claims she doesn't even like her hubby's sober personality. His attitude or his strictness. He feels like a stranger to her. What a nightmare! Not only to live with an addicted partner - but then to struggle just as much with their sobriety?

I'm lucky I never experienced any of this resentment when I took my first six-month cleanse - or when I do my monthly cleanses now. My hubs is always so supportive - because he remembers the way things used to be.

Another thing though, my personality never really changed when I got sober. I wasn't looking at a lifetime of sobriety. I didn't have to redefine everything about who I was or what I wanted. I didn't go through the process of meetings or sponsors. My life was basically the same.

I just didn't have the problems of addiction anymore.

Every day that goes by I have more confidence in the idea that permanent abstinence is not necessarily the only way out. My experience proves it. And research continues to show that there's a large middle ground when it comes to addiction treatment - and it's just beginning to get unearthed.

In that vein, there were two posts yesterday, but they didn't both register for email. I talked about Harm Reduction Therapy in the first post and I think it's important for anyone struggling with addiction to know about. Because all treatment doesn't necessarily involve permanent abstinence ... If you didn't read it, here's Harm-less.