I've been very busy the last few days, building the website for my new counselling practice. It's amazing the pressure involved in trying to get something like that done quickly. But it's online now, so I can turn my attention to other things.
Out walking the dogs with a close friend the other day, talking about the ways in which we've changed in Al-Anon, I mentioned that I used to mutter angrily to myself about how much I hated my life, but through being willing to work this program, all of that anger has slipped away, and I will catch myself thinking exuberantly, "Life is good!"
My spouse and I were looking at old photographs last night, and it was interesting to see the different emotions they evoked in the two of us. The time in which those pictures were taken, was a period of great disillusionment for me - I'd been coming to the realisation that a long period of sobriety didn't mean that a person was recovered, it only meant they'd stopped drinking. He'd been sober for 8 years, and I'd been fairly new to Al-Anon when we got together; I hadn't understood that the two were not the same thing.
Looking at those photos last night, and listening to him speak about that time, as though it had been a wonderful time in his life, I was bemused. I look back at all that went on, and wonder, how did I not recognise what was so plain before me? It's an indication of just how strong denial can be, when the reality is painful and unwanted. We were married, living in a tiny village where he knew everyone and I knew no-one, (he'd insisted and cajoled, until I agreed to move away from my support system, and all of my friends) he was working long hours and never home except to sleep, and I had myself and my dogs for company.
I had adored and trusted him; as I began to understand who he was when he wasn't putting on his public persona, I felt bereft.
Emotionally, I went underground for many years, and just endured. Eventually, I convinced myself that I hadn't felt what I did, and that life was fine, I was fine, our marriage was fine. I had help in this, because everyone was always telling me, (I still hear this regularly) what a great guy he was. I'd thought that too, before I'd married him. I doubted myself and my feelings, until one day when we were talking about the way he treated me, and he said, out of the blue, that he'd treated his first wife exactly the same way.
That was rather an offhand statement, in his mind, but it was the key to freedom for me. Through working with my sponsor, and working the Steps with a renewed determination, my denial about the marriage began to crack and break up. When I started to be honest about what I thought and felt in this relationship, I was met with a steely resistance. My spouse wanted it to be the way it had been, and it took probably a year, before he truly understood that it was never again going to be the way it had been, that I have changed in some fundamental way.
This change in me has been a real cage-rattler, but I'm enjoying it immensely for the added peace, serenity and detachment I'm feeling.