So, instead, I thought I'd share my musings on a VERY common PSA struggle - uncertainty. I've gotten somewhat personal before, but I think I'm going to share even a bit more today than I sometimes do. This topic requires it, I think. Not gonna lie - being vulnerable in "cyber space" makes me a bit nervous - who knows where this will end up - but as goes with this post, I'm okay with the level of uncertainty associated with this choice.
I'm not sure about you, and how you lived life (Pre- PSA), but I came into the relationship with my SA with a number of trust issues. So, naturally, I tested him. I'm going to say that for at least the first year of our relationship, I tested him in numerous ways. Between his addiction being pretty minimal at that point, his gaslighting, and his ability to hide the behaviors he did already engage in, he passed all my tests. So, naturally, I relaxed. I thought I was safe. I remember hearing about other women's struggles in their relationships surrounding their partner's "problematic sexual issues", and thinking to myself, "I'm so glad I don't have to worry about that." Ha. Little did I know.
Fast forward to the day of my discovery. Worn down; feeling pretty lonely in my relationship; not understanding why things were the way they were - yet still - I was utterly shocked at the discovery of my SA's addiction. The trust and safety that I THOUGHT I had found was taken from me - violently. The certainty I had in who my SA was, what our relationship was like, and where our life together was headed - was now anything but certain. I wasn't even certain if I could believe the next words that were going to come out of his mouth, let alone if I could EVER trust him again!!!
One of the first things I did - FOR ME - to begin to heal from the trauma was join a support group through Marsha Mean's phone groups. Somewhere along the way of processing through the workbook, I was confronted with the question of would I marry someone else if things didn't work out with my current relationship. The thought, quite honestly, didn't appeal to me - AT ALL. I remember thinking, "If this doesn't work out, I will never marry another person." "If I could be 'fooled'; if I trusted THIS guy - what's to say the next one won't end up being another SA - or an alcoholic, or...???" It was then that I began to realize - and wrestle with - the belief that I will never again be able to trust someone 100%. There was a follow up question in that workbook - would I be able to be in a relationship where I didn't have 100% trust (complete certainty) in the other person. Even if it was really, really close - like 95% trust - would that be enough?
Which brings me to my point today - It's what I call, "living with a certain amount of uncertainty". The problem: We want to be able to trust the person we love (and are in relationship with) 100%, but our trust has been broken - severely - and that just likely isn't possible. (I reserve the right to say that I have not definitively decided my thoughts about this - that is not the point of this post - uncertainty is). So, what do we do?
I mean, that's why one of the things we look at when buying a vehicle is their safety rating - right? How many air bags does it have? How's the roll bar? We don't really think we're going to get in an accident - but just in case, we want to be as safe as possible. We've assessed the risk, and adjusted the way we drive to compensate for the risk.
I could name quite a few more of these "risk assessment" decisions we make - day in and day out.
My point is this: in every day life, numerous times throughout the day, we decide what risks/level of uncertainty we are okay with, and what risks/level of uncertainty we are NOT okay with. Going back to the driving example: We ARE okay with the risk that there is potential for us getting in a car accident. However, we ARE NOT okay with the level of risk of driving WITHOUT putting our seat belt on. Let's even extend that scenario a bit - WHEN THERE IS AN ICE STORM in Austin - which happens in the winter - I AM NOT OKAY with the level of risk/uncertainty that I may end up in an accident - so on those days, I work from home; my kids stay home from school, and we hunker down for the day (not to mention, sleep in!!!!) - we don't drive. The level of risk/uncertainty IS NOT WORTH IT!
Are you seeing how this can translate to the life of a PSA?
Here's where I'm going to get on my "co-dependency" soap box. Some would say that wanting/needing assurances of our SA's recovery is "co-dependent". We need to stay on "our side" of the road. Well, I'm sorry (sorry, NOT sorry), but if I'm going to have ANY ability to assess what level of risk is involved with the BIGGEST decision of my life, I'm going to make damn sure I have all the information I can get. Now, of course, there are healthy ways to get this information - ways that are within the context of healthy boundaries, and ways that are unhealthy and outside the context of healthy boundaries - but that's a different topic.
Let's go back to the driving analogy: If my partner is the one who normally drives, and he's gotten in accidents in the past due to driving while slightly intoxicated, would I be okay with him driving me? Yes, I would. As long as I knew he was sober. HOWEVER - It would be irresponsible and dangerous for me to just assume that while he was out with his friends that he didn't have a drink. I would be risking my life - literally. Depending on where he was at in his recovery, and where we were at in rebuilding trust - me "assessing" to see if it's safe for me to get in the car could be as simple as me just paying attention to how he's behaving - behavior that is in line with a sober person or an intoxicated person. Another, slightly more overt way to assess might be simply asking - "Are we good to go?". Or, if I'm not feeling safe, I may need a little more than just his word. I may need to say, "I'm not feeling very safe. Would it be okay with you if we sit here for a few minutes while I listen to how you're talking with me and engaging me?" And then I would listen for slurred speech and incoherent communication.
Now, would I rather be in a relationship where I didn't even have to think or worry about my safety - ever? Absolutely! But I don't think I can ever go back to that. We want assurances (certainty) that recovery will "stick". We want a guarantee that if our SA is in recovery, he will never go back to his addiction. Dear ones, we don't get to have this. As much as our SA may intend, WITH EVERY OUNCE OF THEIR BEING, to stay in recovery and NEVER go back to their addiction - I don't believe they can 100% guarantee this to us. Maybe they can get pretty darn close - like 95%, 98%...
|Is your level of risk "ice storm" or...|
|clear, "normal" day?|
My goal and my hope is that I have a relationship where there is trust - with what I have defined as an acceptable amount of uncertainty - namely, that I am aware of the fact that there is a chance - no matter how small - that my SA may relapse. At the same time, I'm assessing the circumstances, and it looks like a clear day with light traffic - so I buckle up for the ride.