Five days ago I was sitting on the rue Saint Germain de Pres with D, sipping a cafe au lait at Les Deux Magots, happy as can be, all about me and my journey of finally getting back to Paris. Today, I am grumpily laying around in my ugly pajamas, kinda feeling the weight and discomfort of D’s ex now living in the house across the street, feeling out of control with all the kids running around in my space, and mostly pissed off that I couldn’t pick out the dish set for the house that I wanted. I actually had to compromise. And I hate that.
This latter part is the crux of my problem lately. Recovery teaches you to love yourself, be independent, take care of yourself and not depend on anyone else. More than that, years of addiction creates in people the need to be in control also. How so? Well, all my relationships were with avoidants, so it was basically like I was in a relationship with myself– no need to share, no need to compromise. The men were never really around to share a decision-making process, so I did everything myself. If I look back even further, I was an only daughter, with two younger brothers who were very close in age. I was constantly shut out and alone and made up games all on my own. No need to share my toys either because I was the only girl.
So, lately, I feel a bit frustrated. I feel as though I do not have the tools or the patience to be part of something bigger than me at all times– like this relationship. For example, D places healthy expectations on me, like, wanting to be included in the process of picking out dishes. Or wanting my input on who we hire to rake our leaves. He wants to hold my hand when we walk down the street. He wants to help me make dinner and then he wants to help me do laundry and cover the bed and put up the Christmas decorations. Well, sometimes, I want to put up the Christmas decorations by myself. And sometimes I don’t feel like holding hands. And I rarely want any help cooking. And I could care less who he gets to rake the leaves. And I especially want to pick out the style of dishes I want on my own. Me, me, me.
I don’t want to share. I find it difficult to compromise. I want to be in control. And I feel like all the independence I have struggled so hard for over the years through recovery (and by virtue of living alone, despite there being an avoidant male around) has been sacrificed for the sake of this union.
It’s not that I feel completely erased or without an identity. I still feel true to myself. But I feel frustrated. And I am a little angry that recovery doesn’t teach you anything further than how to love thyself. It doesn’t prepare you for the normal, healthy friction of coupledom. It merely teaches you how to build the foundation (the Self), which is necessary for all other relationships. Well that’s all fine and good. But then you’re standing around without a road map. Worse yet, you’re built for independence, a life alone, and then thrown into an unfamiliar situation where you’re required to co-exist, share, compromise and sacrifice much of your independence for the sake of a union.
Even the 12-Steps fail to offer a set of principles based on compromise, sharing, letting go and being part of something bigger than yourself (except when it concerns your relationship with God). Service is a component of the 12-Steps. But let’s be real- you can still be totally egocentric and offer advice to further inflate your ego.
But in a relationship– a healthy one–you cannot exist on an egocentric plane. If you do, you’re doomed. Your relationship is doomed.
And so, I am currently looking for books that not only help in the recovery process, but in the longterm management of healthy relationships and basically how to be part of one . It’s more difficult than you’d think. There’s more of a cultural leaning towards “no compromise” and books on “sharing” are almost exclusively for kids! When I find something, I’ll let you know. Until then: do not want share. Mine. Mine. Mine.
- Daily Recovery Reading – November 14, 2011 (12stepsthinkaboutit.org)
- A Bit of Paris and Beyond with Sempé (vingtparismagazine.com)
- He’s right, she’s wrong (or is that vice versa?) (thelovelyaddict.com)