I grew up attending family events and BBQs. My family hosted many of them because we had a fantastic in-ground pool. Man, I loved that thing. I wish we had a yard that could fit one. Heck, I wish I had a wallet that could afford one.I loved those parties. So many laughs and so many great memories were made attending those family gatherings.
After my first husband and I began our journey into sobriety, we had our fair share of parties too. We hosted game night, Thanksgiving, and of course Football Sundays.
After he died, a broken part of me resurfaced because I hadn’t dealt with all that gunk that happened to me during my childhood. As a result, I entered into unhealthy relationships. My first two were with alcoholics. When I couldn’t fix them or they crossed one too many boundaries, I kicked them to the curb.
My husband, Devin, is a recovering SLAA. Lucky for him, (and me) he had a willingness to commit to a healthy recovery…and I happened to love him deeply.
Being in those relationships had done many things to my already damaged brain; it heightened my low self-esteem, it eroded my sense of boundaries which was already wonky, and it caused me to try to control anything I could get my hands on…just to name a few.
It also began to shrink my world. Those parties I once threw were a thing of the past. I attended parties but never held them at my house. Who wanted to invite people over when one of the hosts was going to be so drunk they’d be slurring their words before the guests arrived? Or refused to come out the bedroom because they were too busy looking at porn? Not exactly the ideal situation for an afternoon BBQ.
Eventually, I got to a point that I stopped going anywhere too. I was consumed with what Devin was doing…or not doing. The What Ifs had taken hold of my life. What If I leave and he looks at porn? What If leave and he triggers? What If he doesn’t work his program? What If? What If? What If? Good question, isn’t it? It’s no wonder it ran like a freight train through my head for so long.
But the better answer I found was Not My Problem. What if I leave and he looks at porn? Not My Problem – it’s his program, not mine. What if I leave and he triggers? Not My Problem – he’ll use the tools he learned to handle the trigger. What if he doesn’t keep work his program? Not My Problem, I can stick to the boundary I created and walk away.
This allowed me to Let Go. It allowed me to take some deep breaths and to begin to trust in others again. Sure it takes me some time to warm up and let people in, but I’m doing it and that’s awesome.
What’s even better is Devin and I hosted a big event at our house not long ago and it rocked. We welcomed people into our home that we’d never met and had a blast and we can’t wait to do it again. We created so many great memories that I know our family will carry it in our hearts for many years to come. I’m also going to a party in a couple of weeks and a BBQ after that, so my shrunken world is expanding again. That rocks!
So, what can addiction do to a family? It can put families through the ringer. It can also bring families closer together and make them stronger...even if it means not all of the members of the family make it through to the other side sober, the rest can become stronger and healthier.
Do you like to host parties at your house or would you rather be a guest? Maybe you prefer to stay home?