Early in my application of the 12 Steps I admitted to my spouse and children that I was working on changing some things about myself. I let them know that I was not only going to work on my compulsive overeating, I was also going to work on my perfectionism. Becoming honest about our own imperfections and struggles and practicing the principles of recovery in the open, in front of our children, spouses, parents, siblings, and friends is a challenge.
First, it is tempting to others to use our weaknesses and our honesty about weaknesses as an opportunity for manipulation. Here’s a little example: One day I requested that my child clean his or her room (I’ll let this child remain anonymous). To my utter amazement, in retaliation, I was reminded by the child that, “You’re just a perfectionist mom! You should see my friends’ rooms!” I was accused of acting out on an obsessive desire to have a clean house because I asked a teenager to clean up.
The reality of addiction, the discomfort of withdrawal, coming to understand that we can’t fix each other, coupled with a new honesty in the house makes for an environment where any of us might seize the opportunity to throw recovery in the face of another instead of working on our own.
Second, sometimes in a family setting, with recovery on the front burner, hard things are pointed out to us, not to manipulate, but because they’re true. I find that if I am honest, open minded and willing to listen, those who are truthful with me can be truly helpful. Here’s an example: The other day I was on the phone with someone who needed to talk to me as soon as possible. I was on my way out the door to go to a meeting. I told the woman I would be home about 1:15 pm and I would give her a call. My husband overheard the conversation. When I hung up he said, “Why do you do that?” “Why do I do what?” I responded. “Why do you tell her you’ll be home at 1:15 when you’re never home until after 1:30.” In my perfectionism and my desire to please people I chronically make appointments I can’t possibly make on time. It’s crazy I know. Well, I was tempted to be defensive with my husband and his observation. But instead, and “in recovery” I said, “Your right. I’ll call her back.” I called the woman back and made an appointment not based on my desire to please her but on my honest ability to keep the appointment. I’m trying to practice not getting defensive in the face of the truth about me.
It’s tempting to take advantage of someone’s newly admitted fallen state. It’s also hard to hear the truth about ourselves from people who know us best. When my honesty becomes their means to manipulate I pray for the ability to not take it personally. I try to remember that we are all learning. When their honesty presents an opportunity for me to have a good look at myself I pray for the humility to use it as an opportunity to grow. It takes a while to establish an atmosphere of honesty, humility, accountability, and loving patience with the process, in the home. We not only recover and heal as individuals, but as families. Family Support – Give It Time!
By Nannette W.
Posted Monday, January 12, 2009
Copyright 2008 by Nannette W.
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