The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 64, says “Resentment is the “number one” offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick.”
Today I had to call Husband to help me out at swim lessons. Our preschooler refused to get in the pool and was wondering about, while I sang to our little one as he collected toy fish in his tiny tots swim class. I couldn’t do it alone.
He showed up, watched our oldest splash around, and fed our youngest goldfish.
But he was distant, remote, and almost angry.
He’s a pain to be around and I’m definitely happier now that I see him less.
I used to be that way too, before I found Al-Anon. Now I can be around him without his behavior overly affecting me, as it used to. I still get down when he’s down, but now I know to take a deep breath and think:
- You are fine. You are happy. Don’t take on other people’s feelings as your own.
- You’ve done nothing wrong. If he’s angry, let him be. He has a right to his feelings, too.
- If he wants to talk about something, he will. Don’t bug him.
- This is why it’s better when you do things on your own. Asking for help comes with a price.
Eventually I asked him how he was doing. He said, “Ok…” Long pause. “But I don’t like being here, around your friends, because I know you’re telling everyone I’m not sober. I am but you just don’t believe me.” He continued: “I know what you told one of my friends.”
“What’s that?” I calmly replied.
“Well,” he looked away, “Just what you told me. That you love me, and that if I were to get sober, you’d consider talking to me about getting back together.”
Now, a year go, I would’ve exploded with something like, “But you’re not! You’re a liar! You haven’t done any work!” Etc.
But I took a deep breath and said, “I’m sorry you heard that. I won’t talk about us with mutual friends any longer. If you’d like to talk about this more, I’m still willing to see the couples counselor or meet with you later, but this may not be the place.”
I diffused it.
Later, after some stewing–hey, I’m working on being better, but I’m not perfect–I called him to say I was sorry and I don’t tell our neighbors or church friends our business. This seemed to help. Then he said, “Well I’m doing the stuff we talked about and it doesn’t seem to make a difference.”
I was speechless. Stuff?
I politely asked, “What do you mean? I’m not sure I understand.” No blame, no sarcasm… In other words, I channeled a completely different person. My sponsor calls this a spiritual awakening, the fact that I can stop and consider how things can be different and then act like that, because I know it’s best; I call it “faking it until I make it.”
He said, “Well, I’ve been getting meeting slips, and I’m going to take a drug test.”
I just answered, “Great! Good for you. But I haven’t seen that yet, have I?”
“Uh, no.” And all was okay.
We moved on to planning the kids’ birthday parties.
He may be feeling his own shame and guilt. Or he may really believe what he says.
I have no idea. I hear my sponsor saying: “Don’t even try to figure out what he’s thinking! You can’t know.”
And she’s right. So I focused on moderating my emotions and my own reactions, instead, and then I wrote this post to get it off my chest. Now I’m moving on to a little light reading before getting ready for friends to come over for taco night.
Even when an alcoholic acts sullen, angry and resentful, I can choose to have a good day.
I can choose not to be sullen and angry myself.
I did that for too long, and today I feel so much better.