Each step forward finds me teetering between the "Dos" and "Don'ts" that are coming at me from all angles.
"Do make him accountable to you, but don't check up on him."
"Do show compassion but don't enable him."
Or how about,
"Don't ignore the problem, but do detach from it."
Things that could be a contradiction are at the least a fine line.
What exactly do I mean?
Take self-care. Super important right? But isn't there a point when you become too self-absorbed, when you've crossed that fine line and you are justifying watching all three seasons of Downton Abbey in one sitting all in the name of "self-care?" Because isn't it actually service that brings happiness? Looking outside one's self, focusing on the needs of others?
Or how about the fine line between communicating and nagging. It's so important to have transparency, right? It's necessary to have the hard discussions. But whatever you do, DON'T nag the shamed addict! Don't check up on him all the time. Don't guilt him into sharing with you and don't beg for honesty. Make him accountable for his actions, but don't be codependent about it.
One last example. You need to protect his privacy, it's not your story to tell, etc. But you need support. Honesty and vulnerability foster meaningful and loving friendships. It feels liberating to ditch the facade and just be REAL with someone. "You're only as sick as your secrets" Al-Anon tells us.
So yeah, I think it is a balancing act. I think I am walking a tight rope. And once in awhile I find myself leaning a bit too much to the right and I don't feel safe and I panic. So I over-compensate and jerk myself to the left, now feeling just as afraid of falling as I did on the right.
I feel like I need to have compassion for him. I need to feel love and forgiveness. But then I feel like I'm being a doormat, and I'm enabling him by trying to protect him from pain, because I love him. So I come down harder, my heart gets colder, and then I feel hopeless about our relationship because I know I'm being a porcupine. It's a fine line between doormat and porcupine.
One of my favorite sayings is "The answer is always in the middle."
"DUH" says the girl on the tight rope.
I think ultimately it takes practice. It takes a few falls flat on your face and an ever increasing sense of balance that prevents you from overcompensating, giving you just the right touch to adjust when the wind blows or when you falter. Just like anything else it won't come easy, trial and error teach you to the way to be. And experience of course. And then, there you are...
...deliberate, confident, and peaceful. And all those things create better balance than tension, fear and panic. Wouldn't you agree?