The "family" component of Intensive Outpatient Treatment has meant that T and I have attended two 3-hour sessions a week since the program's beginning. Wednesday night is an educational session that the three of us attend together, and Thursday night is a more group therapy styled session in which she and I participate. This week we will complete the 6th and final week and transition into what is termed "continuing care."
That Thursday session always begins with a "meditation" taken from the pages of Melody Beattie's book, The Language of Letting Go, and then a "check in" during which each group member states how they are feeling -- "I am feeling _______________________________." On Thursday evening, I was feeling sad.
The group process is to allow people to state those feelings without any sort of explanation or question. The words that describe feelings are simply left to stand as themselves. So, we went around the circle and launched off into discussion of this and that. I sat, listening, with my heart feeling heavy, working to not cry. It was toward the end when the facilitator turned to me to ask what my sadness was about and did I want to say more about that...
It is a vanilla venue. They've worked themselves around to accommodate what they can see of our unusual family configuration, but we've not shared details, and we have NOT shared the BDSM side of our lives. My sadness was very much wrapped up in my own sense of grieving and loss related to that dynamic as a seemingly necessary part of this recovery process. So, I said something vague about knowing that the requisite acceptance of "powerlessness" erodes the very foundation of our intimate and interpersonal dynamic, that our family is largely based on a very deliberate and conscious manipulation of the power between us -- and that I was beginning to understand that this part of who we have always been together was over. I may have babbled something incomprehensible (to them) about having chosen this for myself after a long, bad marriage; having lived it for the last almost ten years; and feeling heartbroken about its loss. I know that what I said made no sense to anyone there (except T), and I also know that there isn't a thing anyone could do about any of that -- even if they HAD understood the nuances. Someone did offer that what may lie ahead could turn out to be positive and "better," and I can hear that but it doesn't feel good.
I've worked my way along through the last few days, and the sense of sadness and devastation has receded a very small bit. Maybe I've moved to something like resignation. I'm supposed to be working the damn "steps" too. That has meant that I've had to "admit my powerlessness over Him and His use of alcohol," come to "believe in some power greater than myself that can restore me to sanity," and "turn my life and will over to whatever the hell that is." I'm also supposed to do some sort of "fearless and searching moral inventory" and admit my defects of character. I've got the powerlessness thing. There isn't a thing I can do to control or direct any of this. He will do whatever He does, and more to the point, life will do just as it always has -- carrying us all along in the current. What I might want or hope for doesn't make one jot of difference to the force that is "LIFE." It seems to me that once I really "get" that part, it takes care of the "higher power" question. Life is way bigger than me. Life doesn't give a hoot about me. Life has whirled us along up until now and I see no likelihood that it is going to set us down gently at this point. So, I give up. Whatever comes, I'll do whatever it takes to live inside of that life.
As for that moral inventory thing? That's going to take some work. If I have to go back to the moment that I have my earliest conscious memories, it's going to be a very long and mostly boring document. If I'm supposed to look at "this part" of my life, the part where I've pretended to have power and pretended to give that power to someone else who (according to all the best wisdom in this business) then pretended to take that power and use it to fulfill us both -- I'm going to have to plead "guilty." From the very earliest encounters with Tom on the listserve that was 1householddiscipline, I was enchanted and fascinated and drawn further and further into the dance. He had (or seemed to have) what I had always wanted -- still want. I'm sure that I refused to see what I should have seen along the way. I am sure that I entered into enabling and codependency because I so wanted what I wanted. I am sure that I was arrogant, believing that if I just loved Him enough and found some way to be good enough, I could change Him and cure Him and save Him -- and we could live happily ever after. I've been hurt and angry and resentful on plenty of occasions, running the pitiful "if He loved me, He'd choose me" song over and over and over, and never ever acknowledging the true nature of what was really happening to Him or to us. Even as I spouted off about "turning over control" and "submitting" I fought to take and hold all the control. And of course, that is a battle that I couldn't win -- a win that I didn't deserve even if it had been in my grasp. Just who did I think I was?
And then I've been angry about it all (especially in these last months) -- contemplating ways to change it, move it, force it -- and yes, get even for it being the way it is. I've considered moving out and moving away. I've considered self-abuse and self-harm ("THAT will get His attention and make Him care"). I've told myself that it isn't fair that I should have to give up "what makes me happy and makes me feel good" just because He's "like this," and so I've thought maybe I'd just go out and do what He has done so often -- find another spanking partner. In short, I've been a sulky, vengeful, petulant child. Ick! The only good news, if there can be any good news in all of this, is that most of those thoughts and imaginings have been fleeting and quiet, and I haven't been stupid enough to act on any of that craziness.
There's more. Plenty more, like my impatience and my lack of sufficient empathy and compassion for His hurt, fear, and confusion. There's is my sense of "entitlement" regarding some sort of future for He and I, and not just a future but a future that feels good and consistent with what we once thought we had. Of course, I really do feel as if He is the one responsible for making that happen -- once He "recovers." When I see it clearly like that, I am amazed He puts up with me at all.
So. I don't know. I don't know what to expect. I have no idea if there is a future for the three of us. I don't know if He'll ever want the BDSM part of our lives again. There is some fairly commonly accepted wisdom in this AA community that we've now become part of, that those in the first year of recovery should avoid establishing new intimate relationships -- because people in early recovery don't make great decisions. Ours isn't a "new" relationship in the strictest sense. Hell, we've been together a long time. However, the relationship that might come about as we all "recover" and "heal" (if that is what we, in fact do) WILL be new and necessarily different. I am convinced that I have to let go of my demands around that eventuality. Whatever it is that I have been thinking I want, I need to stop trying to force that and let this be what it will be. The fears that consume me when I consider the range of possibilities aren't helping me and they surely aren't helping Him. There'll be time, when it IS time, to figure all of that out. We did it once before, through a haze of alcohol. We can do it again if we all come to a place of health and sanity and decide that we are, somehow, going to be "good" for each other.