As the partner of someone suffering from addiction, alcoholism is part of my life, my fabric of experience, and continues to take me on a deep and bizarre journey. Through this experience, I am learning, growing, trying different approaches to things – essentially navigating a thick jungle with no guide, no map, and no trails. However, it is a part of my life’s journey and I continue to become better and better at guiding myself.
But I can’t tell my story without impacting my partner. So the question lingers:
Who owns my story?
There are many in my life who do not seem to understand that this story is mine and not open for interpretation. When I rarely share my story, I am more often than not met with advice, diagnostic interpretations about me, my relationship, my partner, and generally useless banter that does nothing more than drain me. I know these folks mean well and care about me, but I am not interested in these dialogues. It is my story, not theirs.
They do not understand.
So, my story lives largely inside of me.
Understanding that my story with alcohol is mine has been fundamentally important for my own healing. However, previously in this journey, my partner was convinced this story was his alone. One of the biggest fights we had early on in this whole alcoholic ordeal was due to the fact that I shared my story of being a partner of an alcoholic with a friend, and he was embarrassed. Never mind that this person was a life-long friend of mine, who my partner had only met a few times. Never mind that this person and I have shared, for decades, an open and honest relationship of sharing our stories. No, this was all suddenly about him.
He was angry. How dare I share his story? How dare I feel it was OK to share his deepest secret? My response – this was back in the day when I still tried to reason with a drunk person – was to shoot back. How dare you move into my house, use my belongings, and instead of adding to our life together, use all of your money to buy alcohol? How dare you hide alcohol all over the garage and drink freely, knowing I cannot smell alcohol due to my brain injury? How dare you lie to me daily?
How dare you?
The fight ended with me in tears, and my partner drinking more. Lovely. And, it was the beginning of me understanding that trying to talk to an unreasonable drunk person was a true waste of time that left me deeply hurt.
This fight was also the time when I claimed this alcoholic partner journey as my own story. My own trauma. My own wounding. And something that would require my own healing. It was not, and is not, my partner’s story.
He is merely a character in my story.
Once I realized it was my story, I felt much more empowered to deal with it, set boundaries, and make changes. I started to see him as a variable, not a given. This small shift has allowed me to feel less trapped, more open to his attempts at sobriety, and more willing to ride the wave a bit longer.
Simply knowing my story is being written by me, and is a work in progress, is very empowering.
If you are ready to own your story of living with someone who suffers from alcoholism, we hope you’ll consider joining us in Echoes of Recovery.