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Married Under the Influence

By: Harmony Rose

Harmony Rose is the author of "Married Under The Influence," a finalist for The National Indie Excellence Award. She is also the wife of a recovering alcoholic, and a mom and step-mom. She and her family hope to spread the message of hope to everyone searching for it.

In Recovery, Choose Your Words Wisely

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Oct 15, 2015

I am the spouse of an alcoholic who has trouble keeping his anger under control.  What exactly does that mean?  It means his character defect is to attack and disarm the enemy, which in this case would be me during a disagreement.

My husband will have three years sobriety in two weeks, but recovery does not always mean rainbows and roses. Don’t get me wrong. I am not knocking recovery, because without it in our life we wouldn’t be in the good place we are today. I am just trying to be honest about what so many people ask me about: “My spouse is sober - so why are they still behaving like they did when they were drinking”? 

My reply is because they are an alcoholic, sober or not!  If my husband and I have a disagreement and he verbally attacks me I don’t say, “Oh he is a recovering alcoholic it’s OK” I stop and say to him, “Is this the man you want to be?"

The ego and self-entitlement seem to be part of the character defects of any alcoholic/addict. But I can also see that I often go into the “poor-me” attitude and I allow myself to become wounded.  When I can’t keep my mouth shut and I keep pushing (although my intentions are not to argue, I just want to be heard) I know that when he asks me to stop I am pushing his buttons. Part of my mind goes right into defense mode as well and my mind-set is “he isn’t going to control me” so I keep going, trying to get him to hear me.  Somehow he will suddenly become loving and understand me and what I am feeling. That is almost never the way it works.

Nobody wins this way and the end result is I feel as though I just stepped in the ring with a professional fighter for ten rounds, and have had the emotional crap kicked out of me. I isolate. I become withdrawn. I have healed enough to know though that this is not my demon to fight, it is his. I haven’t done anything wrong and I don’t deserve to be verbally punished, but I do have my part in it too. This is something my husband has learned how to control in his program and he has to choose if he wants to be a shadow of his former self or the man who has turned his life around.

It is so easy for me to act like a victim and crawl into bed, cry, become silent, and feel utterly defeated once again. Before long though, I know that I am not responsible for his behaviors. I know no matter how much I push there is no excuse for his abusive language. 

Make no mistake, emotional abuse can stay with someone all their life. I recently heard a quote about it that said “healing after verbal abuse is like removing a bullet after you’ve been shot."  To me, that shows the deep affect language has on one’s spirit and heart.  So I pick myself up after I allow myself to feel the hurt from the words that pierced my soul and remember that in that moment I have a choice: let it defeat me or allow it to empower me. 

This doesn’t happen between us all the time but it does happen and the lessons we have learned from it are these: We are all responsible for ourselves, no matter how someone pushes us; our actions are our own. Whether you are in a recovery program or not, knowing that our actions sometimes have life-long effects on another person means you have a choice to make, and you can either allow the disease to consume you, whether you are the addicted one or the person who loves them or you can choose the path of recovery. Practice kindness and compassion, get to a meeting, call a sponsor or friend, be mindful of your own actions and remember all you have to be grateful for in your life. Know you don’t have to allow the disease to take over anymore. 

Before you allow those first words to roll off your tongue remember ten years from now they may still cause deep pain for your loved one.  Everyone remembers the story behind their scars. Make sure it isn’t from something you say!

Wishing you Peace & Serenity,

Harmony

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