A good friend of mine read a couple of entries on my blog for the first time today. After reading he remarked “It’s kinda depressing… Isn’t there any light at the end of the tunnel?”
All day I pondered his remarks. Addiction is not a pretty subject. It is hard to address as a writer in a way that is uplifting and provides some hope. Of course light is what I strive for- but I am sure I don’t always hit the mark.
So today my friend’s remarks were on my mind.
Also on my mind as the current turmoil with my ex husband. This time it had to do with a custody battle. Although my children reside with me, Dave has retained joint custody, and the legal rights to see his children. If you’ve been following my blog, you might realize that this is no longer a good idea. And so although I have no money, I filed a motion for custody. I was determined to make a stand for my children, and would rely on the justice of the legal system. What I wanted was for Dave to be evaluated for a substance abuse problem, and his custody/parenting time adjusted until he had control of his problem.
What came back at me in a counter-motion from his lawyer yesterday was a long slew of allegations. There were partial truths, half-truths, and untruths- with a good slice of politician-like spin. All were designed to make it look like I was the one who was the ‘bad’ parent.
So this was on my mind today as I thought about the proverbial ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’ I began to wonder,in all of the work that I have done, where have I come from and where have I gotten to.
As I pondered, I thought about the time period 16 years ago, being a young mother and not knowing I was living with someone else’s addiction. In those days I had no self esteem, and I only got my sense of self from my husband Dave. Had these accusations come at me in those days I would have believed every word Dave of them. I would have blamed myself, and become deeply depressed. After all, these allegations hit me in my most vulnerable spot, my deep desire was to be a good mother. Considering all of this, I’m not sure I would have even survived the experience.
I thought some more and stopped at 11 years ago. I was still a young mother. I was attending my very first Alanon meetings. I was learning about addiction and trying to seperate myself from Dave. In the process, I was grasping for shreds of self-esteem that came from within myself. I had some support in those days from my friends in Alanon. So if Dave’s accusations had hit me then, I probably would have spent a week on the phone with people. Those people would be trying to make me see that everything was not all my fault, and I would be having a hard time grasping the thought
I thought more about where I came from and where I got to. It was now 9 years ago. I was in three 12-step programs including Codependents Anonymous. I was also in group therapy. I had learned a lot about the sickness of addiction. I had gained many miles in self esteem. But I was now angry at how Dave had treated me all of those years. Had these accusations come at me in those days I would have met them with venom and spite. That venom and spite, though it might have been fulfilling in the moment, would have eaten me alive. (Resentment is akin to taking poison and hoping someone else gets sick.) In those days I was full of that self-killing poison of resentment.
In pondered some more and now it was 5 years ago. I went to a lot of courses and classes to shift myself. In so-doing I had given up my anger and spite. I had a strong sense of self now. I knew that a sickness caused Dave to act as he did. So I maintained my calm while also and standing up for myself and my children. But deep down I clung to a desperate hope that Dave would cure himself. All of the work I did on myself in those days was aimed at trying to get Dave sober.
Meanwhile, Dave was on a seesaw, in a constant flux between drinking and not drinking. With him I ‘started fresh’ over and again. The more time Dave spent on his never-ending see-saw- the more work I did to keep my self centered. Had these allegations come at me in those days, I would have looked to see what my part was and cleaned it up. It would be a long drawn out process of self-reflection that took up huge amounts of my time and energy, and Dave himself would never have been held accountable.
And so now it is today. The year 2009. I have many years of experience in Landmark Education. I have support groups and therapy available when I need them. Sometimes I use them. Sometimes I take time off. I live in moderation these days.
Dave and I are divorced. I still care about him, but from a distance. Now when hurtful words come at me, I can truly detach. I can tell my children, ‘it is the disease, and not your father.’ If Dave’s words are abusive or scary, I leave and take my children with me. I am not afraid to call the police- but I bear Dave no personal malice.
Today when these accusations hit me, I feel the sadness. I even feel the injustice. I call a few people on the phone. I speak with them and get centered. I realize that most of Dave’s words are smoke. There is no real fire. For any shreds of truth that exist, I know I can shift how I operate in the future. I also see that I am human. No judge will expect me to be perfect. I know I am a good mother and a good person, and so I have no fear of the outcome.
As for the court motion, today I know exactly what to do. During the week I will move forward on all that I have to do. As usual, I will focus on work, home, health, children. I will not stop the action. I will not dwell in fear. In addition, I will make a game plan and find a lawyer who is willing to give me some feedback. I will give no credence to negative thoughts that may enter my head. I will not entertain worries about things that I cannot control.
In addition, I will walk into the courtroom well-dressed and groomed. I will tell the judge the truth. I will tell it without venom, or spite. I will tell it without anger or fear. I will tell it while also knowing my value and worth. I will tell it with true humility. I will not look to hurt Dave. I will even have compassion. I will remember that Dave is only acting-out his own terror, fear, and misery.
And in conclusion, I will walk out of that courtroom with a court order for Dave to be evaluated.
And that my friends is the light at the end of the tunnel. My own personal victory- but one that is truly accessible to everyone. Because if I can get to such a place of health and sanity- anyone can get there.