Today has been a rollercoaster of a day.
It was exactly six years ago today that I met Mrs. M. Or was it the day of our first date? They were back-to-back events: we met via a Meetup group, chatted on Facebook that night (not without quite a bit of flirting), and I boldly asked her out on a date then and there. For the next day.
We both remember the first date: I put all my cards on the table and told her about a previous stint in rehab, about how the man who raised me was killed in a terrible event the whole world knows about…and probably a few more pieces of baggage that she should be prepared for.
In my head I thought by being brutally honest and up front about it all would avoid freaking her out later on. She could run away then and there and I would understand.
I also thought I had moved on from all this baggage, left it behind in Canada with no plans on reclaiming it.
Neither one of us knew how wrong I was. She agreed to a second date.
Fast forward to today. Our relationship is in absolute tatters. If there is to be an “us” ever again, it will be something different. It needs to be something different.
It also took a relapse, and now a separation, for me to learn an extremely important lesson: you cannot be in recovery for anyone but yourself.
It. Just. Won’t. Work.
I didn’t realise that was what I was previously doing. I have since learned about codependency. It takes on many forms and my particular flavour is people-pleasing. Being someone or doing something to make other people happy.
I was so worried about saving our relationship after my first stint in rehab that I put “us” before my recovery. I very quickly dropped meetings, dropped the community support I was receiving, looked for work and put on a show that everything was fine and I could be a good wife again.
Instead I overcompensated – though I didn’t realise it – for the year of shit I put Mrs. M through by doing the majority of the grocery shopping, cooking meals, making sure the dishes were done by the time she got home. Probably a whole lot more.
I was investing my time and energy into Mrs. M, rather than into my recovery. The line between being considerate and bending over backwards wasn’t just crossed, it was miles behind me and I still kept right on running away from it and towards disaster.
The bright side is that I know this now. Our separation has forced me to confront my codependency issues. That’s a whole new piece of baggage I didn’t know I have and I will tackle it. Whether or not Mrs. M and I stay together, I will tackle it.
And my recovery? Well it hit me like a tonne of bricks at the second meeting I went to. I can’t remember what the chair said, but whatever it was knocked me sideways.
“Who am I sitting in this chair for?!”, I thought.
It couldn’t be for “us” anymore…because there was no “us”.
I had to go outside and smoke about five cigarettes and process this thought, and the words that I heard. Being in that meeting was not going to save my marriage.
But it might save me.
Do I want this? I could just walk away now. Pack up, move out, keep drinking. Stay miserable. Slowly get sicker and sicker. Die younger than I should and alone.
Or I could give AA a try. Actually DO the work. Ask for and accept other people’s help. Get better.
So I went back into the meeting, opened my mouth and told people about my relapses. I said the Serenity Prayer and meant every word. And I’ve been to a meeting every day since and it’s been different.
I’m not just sitting there, watching the clock. I am listening, and learning.
Because I am recovering for me this time.
It doesn’t feel like a chore. I dont care if the dishes aren’t done and I haven’t cooked a single thing.
I am going to do this the right way this time, because that’s what I want.
And that’s how recovery should be.