How To Know When It’s Time To Stop Fighting and When You’re NOT Addicted Anymore, And A Little Bit About Unconditional Love

This is such a simple answer. Not an easy answer by any means. But simple.

I recognized today that I didn’t want to fight anymore. 

For what, exactly? 

My marriage.

It’s over. It’s no longer worth the pain, chaos, sickness, stress and insanity it causes me in my life. 

A similar question gets asked of either addicts or people who work in addiction treatment and recovery. How do you know when you’re not addicted anymore?

The answer is simple: when the substance has no control over you anymore. That substance could be drugs or alcohol, or sugar or foods or the “substance” could be replacement behaviors like exercising too much, emotional eating, anorexia and other eating disorders. You know as the addict when the “substance” no longer has control of or over you. Because you just don’t need or want it anymore.

Same thing with fighting with someone and knowing when the fight is over. You don’t want to fight anymore.

My husband and I had another fight last night. This one was over money.

I dread fights with my husband. I resent how much I have had to change and how he has been able to stay the same. However, now I’m starting to see that I have changed and that he is staying the same. I also know he doesn’t have to change. It’s his choice to stay the way he is. 

What I want and who I am has changed. What I know to be true about the world, like wrote in yesterday’s post is true: I matter. I have a choice. I can choose to stop fighting. I don’t want to keep fighting anymore. I’m done. 

I describe my life as a tale of two suitcases. There’s the life with my family of origin that includes my mother, father and my paternal grandmother. There is four years of college where I was so happy. Then there’s another 18 years of more misery. Two suitcases that represent time: 36 years of time where I was unhappy with a brief blip of four years, a vacation or break if you will where I was extremely happy. Now I know I get more than four years of happiness, but back then, I didn’t know that. 

For a long time I thought life was happening to me, that I didn’t matter and that I had no choice in the matter. I was taught early on that I was stuck with the decisions I made in life. Now, I know that’s not true. I can reverse any decision. I’ve worked so hard to reverse many bad decisions I’ve made in my life. I know I can reverse this one too. It won’t be easy, but the decision is a simple one to make. It’s yes or no. It’s stay married and miserable or divorce, get space and there’s happiness on the other side of that.

Today I spent 8.5 hours writing in my journal. That’s 29 pages of writing for me. I finally realized that I was done fighting. I don’t want to fight anymore. I had the same thing happen to me with my relationship with my parents, food, emotional eating, eating at night, my relationship with my in-laws and on and on: I just didn’t want to keep going that direction and those people or things no longer had any control or power over me anymore. I was done. 

Yesterday was a really tough day. I had to take my oldest dog, Monster, to the vet. She has the beginnings of cataracts. Her patellas are loose. She has stage 1 of a heart murmur. Basically, it’s the beginning of the end. I love this dog so much. She is twelve years old and has been with me through so much tragedy and loss. It was hard to hear her diagnosis. When I got home I was irritated from the vet visit, and I just started crying. I started to realize that I loved this dog so much, my Monster. 

This year we had to re-home one of our dogs because she risked the safety of our family pack. It was really hard to take her back to the shelter we’d adopted her from as a puppy. It had to be done. There was no pretty option.

My mother let me go and rejected me back in 2004, then again in 2011, then again for the final time 2020. She even came to eventually accept my marriage and then she rejected both of us. 

I found out my grandmother had to be moved into an assisted living facility in August of 2021 and I found out from her friend in April of 2022. I went to visit her. My grandmother lost her memory, and she had no idea who I was and didn’t remember me. She didn’t know me.

I’ve cried and been sad over re-homing my dog, losing my mother and my grandmother. However, none of these events was singularly as hard as learning the state of my oldest dog and that she would be sick and is aging and will leave us eventually. Not Monster. It was one of the hardest things for me to accept. 

Today, I started to realize why I lost my cookies over Monster, but no other dog or family member or this marriage has had the same impact on me and my emotions.

I love Monster and my other two dogs as well. They love me back. They love me unconditionally. They accept me for who I am, flaws, purple hair, introversion, all of it. I don’t have to explain myself to any of my dogs. They love me and trust me. There’s no fighting among them with one another or with myself or my husband (that’s why we had to give the one dog back to the shelter-detrimental fighting that put us and the rest of our pack, a/k/a family, at risk). 

I cried so hard about Monster last night because I realized how much I loved her and how much she accepted me and loved me back for just me being me.

People are complicated. That’s what my husband said as I was crying and petting Monster. I told him I couldn’t understand why I didn’t struggle when we had to give Bonnie back to the shelter, when my grandmother was mentally gone and when I finally accepted that my mother had abandoned us for the final time and I was just done with her chaos. I was sad about those things, but I didn’t have the same reaction to those events as I did with my 12 year old dog. 

Monster is happy and still with me. I’m so grateful for that. I’m grateful for her and the love that I do get from my pets. Most times I struggle with fitting in with people and get picked at and rejected, and it’s hard to take. My dogs, though? They love me unconditionally, and I need that in my life. I’m tired of fighting for all of it. The fight is over. I don’t have to fight this hard for the love of my animals. Why should I keep trying with a person who legally vowed to love me and causes me so much misery and pain?

I believe there are people out there like me and for me to meet who will love me unconditionally and accept me for me. I met some of them in college. That’s how I know there are others out there. Humans, at that. Not just dogs. Thank goodness for the gentle giants and peaceful, unconditional love that comes from my dogs when sometimes I feel like I have no one else who loves me or understands me or does accept me for me.