Monday, April 20, 2009

I Disliked You The Way You Were, Don't Change!!

What happens in our relationship when we begin our recovery journey? How does our partner respond? These questions often arise when we begin our journey into recovery.

As we adopt a plan to overcome the wounds of the past, we begin to use our newly acquired tools for self care. We may find that we are experiencing new difficulties in our relationship. At first this may seem odd, but when we examine how our new habits effect our daily lives, we can begin to understand the impact on our partner.

We may have had issues that surfaced in much the same ways throughout our relationship. This has become a predictable behavior pattern. When we make changes to our behavior through using our tools, we initially become less predictable. Although this is positive change for both us and our partner in the long view, in the short term the change creates feelings of discomfort. Most of us resist change. We may be unhappy with certain behavior patterns in ourselves or our partner, but we are comfortable within those patterns.

One of the common patterns that surfaces in relationships is caretaking. This occurs when we do for others what they can and should be doing for themselves. We may believe that we are helping, but in actuality we are using help as a mechanism of control. Instead of letting the situation develop naturally, we are attempting to create the outcome that we desire. This may seem harmless enough, however caretaking sets the stage for our partner to feel incompetent, as our behavior insinuates that they cannot take care of themselves.

Initially as we begin using our tools to practice self care, we may be caretaking less and allowing others to do for themselves. Although caretaking is not healthy for either us or our partner, our partner is accustomed to us being in that role and may resist change. These change back messages are temporary and need to be met with loving detachment. We explain that change may be uncomfortable, but have confidence that we and our partner will make the necessary adjustments in time.

Change back messages can be quite intense as our partner becomes increasingly uncomfortable with our new behaviors. As we continue to practice loving detachment and reassurance, we will be able to bridge the gap. It is vital at this juncture that we are gentle with our partner. As we set the example of healthy behavior, we anticipate that our partner may eventually become interested in the recovery process.

As we display the peace and calm that comes through the use of our tools and our increased self esteem, we serve as a living example to our partner and others of the benefits of recovery. In this way we give ourselves and our world the gifts that recovery brings, peace.

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