Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I should be studying right now.  Finals are in two weeks and I am woefully behind.  But, since I am the World's Greatest Procrastinator, I figured I'd do some writing about some things that have been musing around in my head recently.  Mainly, I've been thinking a lot about meetings.  

I sent an e-mail to the COSA ISO a couple of weeks ago, when I was feeling particularly down about D's attitude toward his own meetings.  On the one hand, he seems to like them and get a lot out of them, but on the other, he never takes it upon himself to go (outside of the very first one he attended).  He has now been to three or four meetings (each a couple of weeks apart), and after the first one I am always the one prodding him to get up, get moving, that he needs to go.  He never gets up and says "ok, time to go to my meeting now."  In regular conversation, he will talk about how he's trying to stay positive about them, how they're a good thing, etc.  But when it's time to go to one, he always wants to just stay home and relax.  I can understand this, because he does work ridiculous hours that are never the same week to week, and between his job and my school there are only so many hours in the week that we get to see each other.  I, however, see meetings as a commitment to his recovery, and I feel like if he never takes it on himself to go, he can't really be all that committed.  Granted, he has been doing very well lately...no acting out, sober now for over two months, the model husband.  But yet I see tiny, tiny details in things he says or does that remind me just how easy it would be for him to relapse, especially if he were given access to his computer again.  Things that make me think that he is not taking things seriously enough .  Oh, the madness of my so-called mind. 

And so I try, try, try to keep my mind on me.  Each morning I make an effort to put D and his recovery in the God box and leave them there...but I'm not very good at it, because I am a control freak.  No matter how much I try to focus on me rather than him (this post started out about me, did you notice that?  How quickly my thoughts wander back to what he's got going on...) I just have issues with it.  So I've been making an effort to be more introspective.  To remember what it's like to think about what I want, what I need, without the lens of "what do others want" blurring my inner vision.  And with that introspection came the notion that it would probably not be a bad idea to do something more proactive about my own recovery.  Currently, the only serious "recovery" I've got going on is this blog and an online forum for partners of addicts that I have begun frequenting, and I know that while these are both great resources for support, they're not really the same as working a program.  And so (we come full circle) I sent an e-mail to COSA ISO to find out if there were any meetings in my area.  A very lovely person sent me an e-mail back with a phone number to call to find the answer.  And that is where I am stuck. 

For some reason, I cannot bring myself to actually call the number.  The idea of a real live person calling me back, for some reason, terrifies me.  As does the idea of going to meetings at all, at its core.  And so the introspection camera has been turned onto the reasons for this fear.  It seems so irrational--I mean, all kinds of people that I have "met" via the internet have commended such meetings as a wonderful source for healing, have emphasized the need to work your own program, etc.  It seems, from the way these people describe meetings, that there would be nothing to lose, and only to gain, by going.  So what am I so afraid of?  As I'm sitting here trying to discover the answer, a few things come to mind.  First of all, I am young.  Younger, probably, than most of the other people dealing with this problem, and so part of me is slightly intimidated by the fact that I will be out of place at a COSA meeting in that respect.  Part of me feels that others may judge, think I'm stupid for marrying someone so flawed so young when I could, theoretically, have my pick of people with no worries about needing to rush into things in order to have kids or the like.  I know this is extremely unlikely...but it doesn't make the fear go away.  Another reason for my trepidation is the exposure factor.  To the outside world, D and I live what would probably appear to be a charmed life.  I come from a wonderful background--my parents are married and have always been loving and supportive, there is no background of addiction on either side, I went to good schools with good friends and am now studying for a lucrative and successful professional career.  My family is well known in our community, prominent in a good way. D's family was much the same--slightly less wealthy growing up, but his parents are also wonderful and to my knowledge (with the exception of an alcoholic grandfather) there is very little addictive behavior within his family either.  He went to good schools, had good friends, and has a good job.   So part of me worries that going to a meeting will be an admission that my perfect little world does not exist, despite the effort I have put into keeping that appearance for the past 3 years.  Part of me worries that I might be seen, that someone might realize who I am and where I come from and my worst fear of being outed and humiliated in front of my family will be realized.  Again, I know this is crazy.  I know the anonymity of the groups is nigh on to sacred.  But it doesn't make the fear go away.  

One of my most disconcerting reasons for resisting going to meetings is a very basic characteristic that I have had most of my life, and have always known needed work.  I am quite the extrovert, a leader, especially on the outside.  But on the inside, at my most basic level of self...I am very much afraid of doing anything on my own.  I have never been to a movie by myself.  When I chose where to go to college, I had the opportunity to attend a school rather far away from home, but instead chose one closer where I knew people, roomed with my high school friend, where D was going.  Part of the reason was because I was afraid to have to step out on my own and be vulnerable.  When it came time to pick my current school for my graduate work, I chose to attend a school closer to home, and at least part of the reason was because it was safe.  Back when D first exhibited signs of acting out, I considered leaving but didn't because I felt I had nowhere to go, would look foolish breaking up with someone I had been with for so long, and in some ways didn't really know how to go about life alone.  Even now, I exhibit these same, stupid behaviors.  I am interested in taking yoga.  But I am not sure I would be willing to go to a class by myself where I knew no one, without at least taking a friend with me.  I hate this about myself, and have begun trying to work on it...but breaking out of this shell comes slowly, and the worst thing about it is that I am unsure if I will ever be willing to drive to a meeting on my own and walk in knowing no one. 

That was far more than I intended to write, but it feels cleansing somehow to identify on paper some of the major issues I have to work on.  


Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

Oh, man. I can relate to so many of those fears. I was so scared to go to a meeting. It was only complete, total desperation that drove me there. And I think that's the case for most people.

I have no idea where you live, but if you are anywhere near me, I'll go to a meeting with you. And I bet a lot of the other folks at the JW Club would do the same. Some folks have already shared where they live, so you don't necessarily have to out yourself, just ask if other people are willing to share their geographic region.

Sophie in the Moonlight said...

*If all Codies are Control Freaks, and some Control Freaks are Internally non-Assertive, then do all Codies struggle with an ability to be assertive and self-assured? Mmmmm, probably, although not 100% definitively.

May I recommend telling D the following:
"D, I love you SO much and I am so glad that we got married. You are my best friend and I love being with you. In the past few (months?) you have realized that you have an illness, but that it is highly treatable and recovery from SA is a real possibility. When you attend SA meetings regularly and of your own volition, I feel assured that you are taking this addiction seriously and are taking measures to ensure your own health. When you balk at attending meetings and your attendance is erratic, I feel that your commitment to both your own health and the health of our marriage is insincere.

It is your choice to attend or not, managing YOUR recovery is ultimately your responsibility. I will no longer chide you and beg you to attend. It is not healthy for me to focus on your needs when I have my own to attend. I do encourage you to let your actions speak for themselves. I love you and I enjoy our evening cuddles as much as you do, our time is precious. I think, though, that if we are able to invest in developing our healthy patterns now, we will be able to reap the benefit later and enjoy years and years cuddling on the couch and nurturing the true intimacy we learned to create during this period."

I KNOW that was long, but it's hard to explain the concept of the Sandwich Technique without giving a concrete example. It starts and ends with love and in the middle is the "problem", the "when" scenarios, a few "I feel" statements and some actions and consequences delicately inserted. It is an assertive technique, but it is not a confrontational technique - you begin and end with love.

I'm encouraging you to Think about the sandwich. You don't need to say it to him, but it might be helpful for you to frame it in your own words and muse on the philosophy behind it. As an old hand in this codie business, I'm gently encouraging you to Step Away from managing D's Calendar and his recovery. If you use your own version of the sandwich it might help him get it through his thick head that HE needs to put on his Big Boy pants and take care of his own health. When you chide him, you are filling in the role of Mommy and Mommies are ultimately the fillers of needs. Don't be the Mommy. Be his wife. Be his friend. but HE is the one who has to figure out what is important to HIM and deal with the consequences -good and bad- of his priorities.

** I strongly recommend going to a movie alone. It's wonderful fun. You can see whatever you want to see, eat and drink your preferred snacks, and have an afternoon that isn't ruled by committee. It's one of my favorite indulgences.

***And as far as what other people think... who cares? Really. Say you saw a woman at the mall wearing a horribly ill-fitting short paisley jacket and a plaid skirt two sizes too small, red fishnet stocks and pink platform shoes. You might look at her and think, "WoW! That is some outfit." You might even think something less charitable. But would you spend the rest of your day thinking abou that woman or would you take care of your own errands and social plans? The following week would thoughts of her consume you and propel you to find out where she lived so you could tell her the name of a good stylist? Of course not.
People are WAY too busy taking care of their own agendas to spend an extra five minutes thinking about why you are young and married and in a COSA meeting. They are in the meeting b/c they have their own shit to deal with. They don't want to analyze you. They want to analyze themselves.

So YOU take care of YOU. As for the rest of them... say it with me... Who cares?

And the Anonymity thing isn't "close" to sacred - it IS the driving force behind the 12-step programs. Without anonymity there wouldn't be a 12-step. I can also tell you that everyone worries about the anonymity b4 they first go to a meeting. After the meeting they understand the anonymity is a professional mandate. It's also one of the 12 traditions. If you can't bring yourself to an in-person meeting, I hear that Recovery Nation has a great online 12-step group for codies. Ask about it at the JWC, lots of members also do Recovery Nation.

Love & Light.