So on with the "What I've Learned" series. I'm convinced these posts will go on for a very long time since this is a life-long learning process. Isn't that just life in general? I think it is.
I have learned that healing takes work. Actual work. Carving out time during the day to work through our 12-step workbooks from our Support Groups. (Haven't been to a loved-ones-of-addicts support group yet? Let me know and I'll help you look up one in your area or send you a PDF of the manual. Trust me. You need them. Even if your loved one's addiction is "mild." And they aren't scary. Really. They aren't. And it won't matter if you run in to someone you know. Remember? If they are there, they are going through the same thing.)
So how do I know that healing takes daily work?
Because I haven't been doing it.
You were expecting me to say that I know because I've been there and worked hard every day and healed, weren't you? I'm sorry to say that just isn't the case. I go to Group once a week. I pray with my husband. We have weekly talks about his progress (and my progress). But I do not do my "homework" outside the support group meetings. I only open the manual once a week during the group meeting.
The other day one of my group members shared the parable of the two monks. The story goes that two monks were walking and came to a river that they needed to cross. A woman was also at the river and needed help crossing. The problem, you see, was that the monks had sworn an oath not to touch women. Regardless, the elder monk picked up the woman and carried her across. All the way back to the monastery, the younger monk seethed at the fact that the elder had broken his oath. When he couldn't hold it in any longer, he confronted the elder monk, who responded, "Yes. I picked her up and carried her across. Then I put her down. You, my friend, are still carrying her around." (You can find a list of variations on the parable here.)
This parable really touched my heart. You see, my husband has been doing very well with his recovery. But each time he shares this with me in our weekly chats, I can't even bring myself to be happy for him. Instead I say something like, "I wish I could believe you, and I want to, but I still have trust issues."
Do I actually think he has gone 7 months without a problem? Yeah. I do. Things have been very different this time around on many different levels. I'm proud of him.
Do I think it's okay to hold back a tiny bit and not trust him 100%? Yeah. I do. I'm okay with the fact that it will take a long time for my trust to come back fully.
However, what really hit me about this parable is that I'm not helping him or celebrating his progress in any way, because I am clinging to the fact that it will take a long time for me to heal, but I'm not doing anything to work toward my own healing! I am still carrying around the woman that he is trying so hard to put down. And I'm throwing it in his face every week that I'm still carrying her around because he picked her up in the first place.
Sure, healing may take a long time, but healing will never take place if I don't put my own work into it.
If I want to put the "woman" down, I need to do the work. I need to take some quiet time to myself every day to really work through my steps.
How about you? Do you work on your steps outside of your group meeting?