When an incident occurs and feelings are hurt, I need to inventory it for my part and make whatever amends are appropriate. I need to also take care of myself. Some of the amends I might owe may be toward me. Here are some questions I am asking myself to help inventory the incident:

  1. Did I engage in unacceptable behavior?
  2. Did the other person engage in unacceptable behavior?
  3. Did I have acceptance?
  4. Did I maintain detachment?
  5. Did I maintain my boundaries?
  6. What was my part that led up to the incident?
  7. What can I do to make amends for my part?
  8. Am I expecting the other person to make amends for their part? Is that appropriate?
  9. Did I presume goodwill? Do I presume goodwill now?
  10. Have I been trying to make someone else responsible for my feelings?
  11. Have I been assuming responsibility for someone else’s feelings?
  12. What can I do right now to take care of myself?
I need to remember that I didn’t Cause someone else’s internal issues. I can’t Control them and I can’t Cure them. I can Contribute to a loving environment or a hateful one – that part is my choice.
I can apply the first three Steps, knowing that I am powerless over other people, that there is a Higher Power, and that I can let that Higher Power work things out the way they need to be.

I blogged yesterday about one of the things that has been bothering me lately. The other thing, I believe, has to do with control of my environment. I’ve recently moved in with another person, and each of us has lived alone for a long time, so each of us is used to being able to make whatever changes we want. Each of us is used to an environment where changes do not happen without us.

Now, I feel insecure, because changes happen that I do not expect. Doors that have so far been unlocked are sometimes locked. Keys that usually live in certain locations now live in others. Items that were stored here are now stored there. I get used to the new environment, but then the new environment changes, and it wasn’t me doing the change, and the change wasn’t mentioned to me when it occurred.

My conditioned reflex, my old way of being, is to react defensively. It is to blame the other person for making changes unfairly. It is to keep a resentment about the changes. It is to read meanings into the changes. My security instinct feels threatened, although no actual threat is occurring. It is all about control, and the loss thereof.

All of this disquiet is happening on the inside of myself. This is my stuff, my issue. I cannot see into the inside of the other person and they cannot see into the inside of me. Outside of ourselves, in the physical reality, I don’t think there really is any threat or danger. There might be inconvenience if I need to get something that I cannot access, but I’m not likely to die of it, and I can ask how to get to it again. I can ask that it not be moved. I can ask what place would be better. I can participate and communicate.

And I can, like yesterday, presume goodwill. There is no reason to expect that the other person is out to get me, that they need to obtain some advantage over me or that they enjoy keeping me off balance. It is entirely reasonable to assume that they are just living life and getting things done the best way they see to do them.

Just writing about these things, I feel better already. I can keep praying for acceptance, the ability to detach, and the ability to set healthy boundaries in this as in all things. Then I can focus on the present, the next right thing to do, and be grateful for what I have right now.

I am having an acceptance problem. I have to accept that an intimate relationship with a recovering alcoholic is still an intimate relationship with an alcoholic. It’s nice that my qualifier doesn’t drink and continues to work a program toward serenity. The fact is that certain classic characteristics of alcoholism remain, and they may never go away. It’s unrealistic to expect them to. Just because they were not in evidence during the courtship and honeymoon phases does not mean that they have been absent. I don’t know what it means – either the other person was too focused on something to engage in them or I was too blinded to observe them. Or some other factor. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that they are there.

Back to ADB we go!

  • I need to accept that they are there and there is nothing I can do about that. That’s firmly in the hands of my qualifier and their HP.
  • I need to detach from the internal workings of the alcoholic. While these classic behaviors may be affecting me, they are not about me. The alcoholic’s feelings, moods, psychology are not mine to own or be responsible for.
  • I need to form boundaries to take care of myself. How can I take care of myself in this situation?
I have noticed over time that alcoholics can be oblivious about the world around them, so wrapped up in their internal workings that they don’t notice things in their physical environment. Sometimes this can be so egregious, it’s on the level of a physical disability.
I have discovered that simple, explicit verbal communication is sometimes required for things that non-alcoholics understand immediately without it. For instance, if an ordinary person were to take my hand and I were to flinch way and put the hand behind me, the ordinary person would expect that there is some reason I don’t want them holding my hand, whether it be an interpersonal reason or a physical reason, such as an injury. The ordinary person might ask what the problem is. 
In the same position, an alcoholic may simply reach for the hand again, perhaps even taking the arm and following it down to the hand without any apparent hesitation. Conversely, the alcoholic may assume an interpersonal reason and leap directly into an offensive or defensive measure. I’ve seen that too. It can be an illness of extremes. Either failure to notice at all, or beyond notice into hyper-focus and reaction.
Some of these physical issues have occurred, and it’s too easy for me to read into them meanings that probably aren’t there, such as, “That person doesn’t respect me.” or “That person is treating me like a child.” or “That person thinks they have the right to jerk my body around.” Maybe it will help to remember to “presume goodwill” and use that simple, explicit verbal communication. I can say, “Please don’t take my hand; it hurts.” I have to then let it go, not brood on it all day. It fouls my mood.
Actually, I have acquired several new resentments and fears, so I’ve started working on a 4th Step inventory about them.