I could probably sum up a lot of recovery as my obtaining an increased awareness. Much of recovery seems to be about growth and taking responsibility of my life from a place of wholeness, centeredness, confidence, and awareness. I have been learning things and seeing things that I just didn't see before. The truth might have been right in front of me, but I just didn't see it. Maybe it was clear to a lot of others, but not to me. Perhaps I didn't want to see it. Perhaps I couldn't see it. Perhaps it was hiding behind a lie. Awareness is about having clarity and seeing things for what they are, particularly about myself.
I’ll start with the biggie: my co-dependency. Before last August, I had no idea that I was a co-dependent. Now that I am in recovery, the signs are obvious. Once I acknowledged that I had tolerated the intolerable in my 24-year marriage it was time to address the question, why? Why would I be so passive regarding my life? My co-dependent behaviors of putting others’ needs before mine, not valuing myself, the lack of boundaries, and perfectionism (to name a few) quickly were revealed. Following that revelation, a quest to overhaul that life has been taking place. The price is great – there has been a lot to work through in terms of suppressed feelings and memories. There has been no shortage of pain. There has also been an abundance of rewards. I realize that I have choices, and with my new awareness, that makes for some deliberate decisions on the who, what, when, and where of my life!
- I decide who is allowed to speak into my life, who I want in my life, and who I don’t want.
- I decide what I want to do with my life, what is important to me, what value I put in someone or something.
- I decide when I've had enough and when I’m ready to take action.
- I decide where I want to live, where I want to be headed, and where I don’t want to go (like backwards).
I am finally getting this – that I am in charge, that I make the choices, that my life is my life! Taking back the power that I have relinquished to others is still an ongoing process. Sometimes I knowingly give over my keys, wanting to be rescued, to have someone else solve the problem and handle the situation. This isn't adult behavior; it is a cop-out Other times, I’m not aware that I've given up my right to make the decision to someone else. It could be it was taken from underneath my nose or I was simply manipulated. Whatever the case, if I’m going to release my authority, I would like to do it knowingly and deliberately.
Another aspect of my growing awareness is recognizing that there is a false comfort in having others handle my affairs. When someone else holds the authority and is allowed to make the decisions, then am I really holding myself accountable? Am I really holding myself responsible for the results? And, most importantly, am I living in the reality of my life or in some cloudy version of it, a false reality based on what I want to deal with and what I want to keep at bay so that I don’t have to deal with the truth and knowledge of some aspect of my life. That really sounds rather abstract and esoteric.
Let me expand. It has occurred to me recently that I really didn't confront Tony about his addiction; certainly not a face to face conversation. This again begs the questions, why? Why didn't I confront him? The answer isn't easy to answer. I did not want to deal with the reality of what it was doing within me, and I did not want to deal with the consequences of what that reality would bring – meaning forcing me to look at my life, the situation, reality with that lens. I gave him authority over me by not dealing with it directly. I was unaware of the impact of the addiction, my cluelessness, and the effects on me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Today I am thinking about my next step. Perhaps this is why I've been thinking so much about the added awareness. I have a great feeling of empowerment. I see the value of making my choices and taking charge of my life. Until it becomes such a life pattern, behaving in this newly obtained adult fashion takes work. The default is still to allow others to make the decisions, to put others’ needs first, and to hide or go numb to certain realities. So being deliberate about making healthy adult decisions is all the more the focus of my thoughts.