Sometimes recovery can feel overwhelming. There are so many changes to make in the life of someone in recovery, myself included. There’s a physical shift, a mental shift, relationship shift, mindset shift, behavior changes. So. Many. Changes. While change is amazing, sometimes it can be overwhelming. With all of these changes in my life, sometimes I feel resentful as to why I have to change and the people around me left over in my old life don’t have to change. My husband. My parents. My grandmother. My in-laws. Why did they all get to stay the same, and I had to be the one to change?
Maybe this is one of my faults since I identify as having a striver mentality. I always like to dig deep and know why things are the way they are. This is both a strength and a weakness, this striver mentality.
One of the things you’ll begin to see in recovery is that you have to change, but the people around you don’t have to change. If they aren’t sick to begin with or don’t identify as being sick, then maybe they don’t need to change. But what if them not changing holds you back? Should they have to change? Should you always be the one changing? These are really tough questions to answer. I put them out there for you to ponder on and for more of a discussion rather than me seeking a direct answer and that is because the answer will be different for everyone.
Recovery is a personal journey. It doesn’t look the same way for any one person. Everyone’s recovery is unique no matter how many commonalities there may be in two different peoples’ stories.
These questions and frustrations come up for me constantly and so does the resentment that comes up for me as a I ponder these questions. Last year I had a back injury. Yesterday, I chopped back two years worth of growth on our landscaping on the front and one of the sides of our house. It didn’t get done last year because I couldn’t have held the weight of the pruners and shears without intense pain running down my lower back and right side of my leg. Yesterday, I was fine. Sure, I was stiff afterwards, but overall I have been ok today. I’m tired and feeling a little run down, but I also did 5 hours of yard work between cutting down landscaping to raking leaves to the curb. These are things I didn’t get done last year, and, as a result, they didn’t get done. I’ve had to overcome many challenges to build myself back up to the woman I am right now. It’s been a lot of physical challenges, mental challenges, lots of tears, anger, pain, you name it. You’d think my spouse would’ve been there for me last year and taken care of it, right? Nope. I live in this world of if I don’t do it, nothing gets done. I have to change, but he gets to stay the same. This creates a lot of resentment. Yesterday, the resentment of having to cut down two years of overgrowth was too much, and today I cracked and got angry with my husband.
This frustration of mine runs deep. We’ve always had this argument. In a way, I wish he would make changes, but I also know I can’t make him change. So, now, being the one who has changed, I can see that waiting for him to change is fruitless. My anger at him is fruitless. What’s the point in even getting mad at a person who will likely never change? That’s where me changing and him not doing any work makes a difference for the person in recovery. I see things differently now, from a new lens. I also see him for who he is and not for who I wish he was. Yet, I’m human and I still get mad. I will say that with recovery tools and skills, I don’t get as mad as I used to and I don’t let the anger fester. If I’m mad at him, I usually tell him within 24 hours. These are huge changes for a woman who would let things fester for months and not say anything.
So, I told my husband, “I’m mad at you for letting this go last year and not bothering to take care of it. Why didn’t you take care of it?” He tells me I’m asking a rhetorical question that he can’t answer. He’s right. It is a passive aggressive question. Another question in our household is, “What did you gain from fighting me for so long on XYZ thing?” It’s not a direct question that has a direct answer. It’s a very passive aggressive question. I’m not really looking for an answer unless it starts with, “I was wrong. I’m sorry.” I’m looking for an apology, but at the same time, he’s hurt me so much and so many times that an apology won’t work anymore. I want more. I want him to change. And if he doesn’t, then what? Because he’s not likely going to change.
The answer is that I’ll have to change yet again. This involves leaving him behind, and choosing not to keep struggling with him by my side. That’s likely the only solution. It’s not a step I’m ready to make yet, but it is a necessary one for both of us. Like I said, the changes I’ve had to make in my life while I’ve been in recovery have been life altering and great. Whenever I think I’m done changing, or that I get to finally stop changing, I find out that I have to make another change because if I don’t, everything will stay the same.
The people around you likely aren’t going to change. You’ll be the one who has to create the change you want to see in the world. Remember, like I need to remember, you are responsible for your own true happiness. Nothing external and no person can make you truly happy. Sometimes the answer is the one we don’t want to hear, no matter how much someone has hurt us or how much pain we’ve been through. Sometimes the only way out is through. For me, getting to the end of my marriage and being on my own will be the solution to happiness: me own my own not waiting for another person to change.