Monday, November 1, 2010

Are We Both Crazy?

No, not Roi and I. 

A few nights ago I finally got together with a friend from college. The two of us had been going at phone tag and friend-date postponements/cancellations for months. 

This woman (and I'll call her K) and I had met through mutual friends and hit it off instantly. We've had little opportunity to spend time one one one, so though we've hung out a few times we've never gotten to know each other on a more personal level. Yet we knew we needed to. 

Turns out she's living with a recovering alcoholic after being in a relationship with an active alcoholic (and possibly sex addict) for the 12 years previous. Waddya know? It's like we codies sniff each other out. Sort of like gaydar but for codies.

And as we said our goodbyes (or tried to) on a street corner just down from the cafe we had stayed at until closing, we suddenly found ourselves discovering this previously unknown commonality. She being with an alcoholic who has been sober and highly active in recovery was not nearly as beside herself as I was. I don't have friends I can talk to about this. I have recovery friends and they are unbelievably awesome, but I don't have friends who are in recovery. I feel the need to qualify that with two or more paragraphs, but you know what I mean. 

Anyway, K doesn't do Al-Anon. She tried but said she found herself really resentful that it was implied that she was doing something wrong by merely being in relationship with an alcoholic. 

I get that. I get that too well. When I'm at a meeting my intellect gets in the way. Because here is what I see at every meeting. 

People doing well. And those well-doers have either broken ties with their addict, or their addict is in active recovery and sober. 

People with circles under their eyes and tissues pressed to their noses as they sniffle and sob. Those crying messes are still in close contact with active addicts.

And for the latter, it doesn't seem to matter how many years they've been in program. Active addiction doesn't seem to ever stop hurting. And so they bleed openly, and I watch them as they open their eyes and ears wide trying to see and hear what they can change to make the hurt stop. And I watch as they nod vigorously and I can't help but see that they are trying to believe something that just doesn't make any damn sense at all.

As I walked away into the light drizzle of the night, I thought about K's words. How she just couldn't buy the program-speak. Not for Al-Anon anyway. She gets that she's codependent, and so do I. But we both smell something a little off, how it seems like the party-line of Al-Anon is about accepting unacceptable behavior.  And I don't feel any wiser. I don't feel any closer to answers. 


  1. pssssst....I've bowed out of al-anon bc I've gained a lot of tools and now I've got this. Funny how intellect can get in the way of things, and some people see it as bad, but it can't really be so bad.

    I have a friend who was raised in al-anon, in the program, and when she feels "off" it is because she hasn't been to a meeting. Or if I am having a hard time, she suggests a meeting. It's like her creed, or something, but it isn't that way for me. Al-Anon helped open my eyes to a lot of things, presented me with the things I needed for a lot of awareness, but, like taking a class, I'm finished. Does that make sense? We don't stay in history class for the rest of eternity so we can learn all there is about the past, do we? We get the main points and we move on. IDK. My own stuff spilling out here. Sorry ;)

  2. Yes, I've certainly learned some things from Al-Anon, but at the same time it feels a lot like victim-blaming in those rooms.

    When I'm having trouble pinpointing what's bothering me, I drop the situation into a physical analogy.

    You know what? I was about to leave a really long comment, but I think I'll just make it a new post. :) Maybe not tonight but soon.

  3. I was so looking forward to your long comment, though! :(

    No, I get the victim blaming thing. I found that I felt like if I wasn't happy then I wasn't doing something right. Which, to an extent, is true, but...really?

    I'm looking forward to hearing your analogies :)

  4. :: makes popcorn ::

    (meaning, I want to read that post too! as I contemplate missing a meeting tonight for the Nth time in the last several weeks, so I can go swimming, because swimming seems more nourishing and nurturing to me right now than going to a meeting to hear how effed-up and "enmeshed" I am) (how can I be enmeshed? the guy LEFT ME for chrissake)

  5. Oh gods, the pressure! I am elbow deep in paperwork and three deadlines. I'll write it soon, I promise.

  6. I just ran across your blog. Is saying "I'm sorry" sufficient? Is saying "get out" doable?

    Addiction is bad. Bad for the person and bad for everybody around that person. I realize it may not always be possible (financial considerations) however I would tell anybody that if they can, get out and save yourself. Life is too short. Don't waste it.

    Codependency: we're in this together

  7. William, thanks for visiting and for your comment. I am, as we speak, implementing a plan and time line to "get out".

    I just visited your link and then your general blog. You certainly are a verbose man! But you have no "about" page. Nothing to really orient your reader except a huge tag cloud, and detailed maps. You ought to think about summing up what the blog is about and why exactly it is you write it. I can see from the tag cloud that some of your favorite topics are movie reviews, music, sex, pornography, and divorce. The latter three are curious to me. What's your angle? What's your motivation? What's your overall thesis on these topics?

    Also, in reading one of your posts you stated that you frequent a few blogs of recent divorcees, and again, wonder what your motivation is?

    I'm not questioning in an accusatory way, but it is curious. And from a user stand-point, really should be addressed.