Sunday, October 02, 2011

If only s/he would...

It is a tempting trap for us as ACoA to fall into.  I have been ensnared by this many times myself.  It is the thinking that my life and my happiness would improve if only she would whatever.

Reluctantly I have come to realize that there is some validity and merit to the power paradigm of personal relationships and conflicts therein.  We waste a lot of effort trying to control other people and control other things only to relinquish that which we actually have control over.  It is why the Serenity Prayer is an integral part of the recovery.

Why we tend to succumb to this allure is because it is very sound logically.  If this other person would actually do this other thing or actually be this other way, then undoubtedly things would be different.  But they are who they are and they will do what they will do.  If they were different they would not be who they are.

This is not to say that people cannot, will not, and do not change; they can, will, and do.  But the impetus for change is internal and all of your pleading, begging, and wanting will not make it happen.

On the show Intervention, family and friends gather in an effort convince an addict that he or she needs to go into recovery.  The way that this is accomplished is through change not of the addict but in the people that surround them.

Most substance abuse addicts would not be able to sustain themselves without their unwitting co-dependent support group.  The interventionist works with the individuals in this person's life to get them to give up their supporting behavior and change their own lives.  Often a bottom line is created and presented to the addict.

On the surface it appears as blackmail, but it is really the individuals taking control of their own lives, leaving the addict with the situation of where since things are going to be different from this point forward, he or she might as well fix things anyway.

How successful these interventions are often are dictated by how well the surrounding people stick to their bottom lines.  And where interventions fail, it is invariably because a participant lapses themselves.

Getting personal about it for a moment, there was a period as my marriage was ending where I had convinced myself that all that needed to happen to save it was for my wife to start being nice to me. That made her the bad guy and absolved me from any responsibility of repairing my own life.

But I had a choice and I was not using that power. I did not have to take the unpleasant behavior I was receiving. I could refuse to accept it and change the dynamic and ultimately that is what I did. In the short term I was worse but now with some time on it, it was what I should have done and I am much better off for it.

However, it would be highly unfair to put it on what I perceived as my wife's failings. When I look at the insane women getting married on Bridezillas, yes, I think that they need help, but I also look at the people around them and ask "How in the world did you let her get this way?"

And if nothing else, Bridezillas should give everyone who is single hope, because if these women can find someone to marry them, then there really is someone for everyone out there.

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