Many therapists believe that we seek out people who fulfill a need or lead us in a direction for which we were already destined. My therapist keeps asking me – what wasn’t I seeing? My 12 Step sponsor continuously reminds me to consider what’s my part. I am not sure where I sit on the spectrum of believing that we seek out relationships to reinforce our internal beliefs, but I feel that investing in my own recovery and seeking therapy has been the single best outcome from this particular life altering event.
Part of my recovery has been my decision to join my local AlAnon family. Attending meetings are some of the best hours of every week and I have grown substantially from listening to other members share their experience, strength, and hope. One of the meetings last week addressed the idea of acceptance. It got me thinking a lot about my frustration in others for not accepting my husband in his entirety and my inability to accept other people’s reactions to his actions.
As my decision to work on my marriage strengthens, some of my friendships have taken dramatic shifts. I have dealt with those shifts and the feelings they bring up for me privately most of the time, but at brief moments I have engaged in raw conversations with the friends whose relationships have been most affected. On Easter Sunday I visited with a very good friend and somehow the conversation led to the recognition, on both sides, of just how much our friendship had changed since my husband’s arrest. This was the second conversation of this nature that we have had over the last several months. At the close of each conversation, I have felt a bit better – bringing the unspoken to light and having the opportunity to grieve the loss together. But those feelings quickly fade. I find myself confused by the connection created in these conversations and increasing saddened that his connection does not result in acceptance for my decision to stay with my husband. Moments of light followed by an even darker glimpse into the future.
My next set of actions are where I have substantial room to improve. I play out scenarios in my head – perhaps if I explain it differently, try to explain myself further, acknowledge more of what she said, empathize with her position, try to find a point of comparison, or just simply have the same conversation again – I will get the outcome I want. So I follow up – I drag on the conversation with follow up phone calls, emails, chats. And it ends in a place where I feel less understood and increasingly angry.
I need to learn to stop short. To accept the outcome as it stands. I would save an incredible amount of energy if I learned to accept the difference in opinion and core beliefs rather than attempting to eliminate the contrasts. And with this friend in particular, this scenario is present in many facets of our relationship. Letting go of my need to control or predict the outcomes may lead to an even stronger relationship – the same lesson I have learned with my marriage. See a pattern here?