There is power in the title of this article. Our addict brain loves to isolate, control, manipulate and destroy. And when it realizes that we are in a relationship, it wakes up and roars. It does not want to share us with anyone and will go to the same lengths as when we were actively addicted, to make our relationship fail. Non-addicts only have the survival instinct. Addicts have both the survival instinct and a self-destruct instinct. This makes basic day-to-day living challenging and intimate relationships almost impossible.
This article in intended to create and build awareness and to offer questions, which each of us as individuals can only answer. There are no definitive answers when it comes to an addict being in an intimate relationship. Which is a struggle right from the start because we WANT answers!
As human beings, we all have a need to love and be loved. While living an active life of recovery, we eventually feel a need and desire to be in a relationship. Sometimes a person is placed on our path and other times we actively seek. Many of us know people in recovery, probably even ourselves, who have entered relationships that were beautiful and within a short amount of time, they ended with discouragement, confusion and pain. Addict brain beat recovering spirit...or self-destruct beat self-preservation.
Some of us set our own personal rules. A common rule heard is "No dating for the first year of being clean and sober." Another guideline, followed by addicts whose recovery includes a 12 step program, is no dating until you are at least half way through the ninth step. Some will only date fellow people in recovery. Some will only date non-addicts. And others, like to mix it up. With a hallmark of addiction being tendencies toward extremes, some of us simply resign and decide not to be in relationships at all. While others jump from relationship to relationship like a butterfly. Do you have any of your own personal guidelines or rules?
We learn and practice principles on a daily basis. In our lives we are honest, willing, open minded, compassionate, respectful and grateful. Are we able to live these same principles with a partner? Are we willing? Will we ask for help when we are struggling and be open with our partner regarding these struggles? Will we be able to keep our recovery first? Remembering that anything we put ahead of our recovery...we will lose. Can we be loving and caring and receive love back without becoming co-dependent? Will we be ok with the ups and downs that are part of loving relationships? Will we be able and willing to accept our partner as he/she is?
Loving, healthy relationships are some of the most beautiful gifts that life offers. We addicts can have loving relationships too. We just have to work a bit harder. And if you are feeling a mist of discouragement, remember that very few entities in life worth having, come easily.