In a meeting the other day, I said, “Sometimes the smallest changes are the biggest miracles,” and I believe that in my heart. Of course everyone notices the big things — losing 50 pounds, dyeing your hair blonde (or, in my case, blue), or the sudden emergence of a diamond ring on a certain finger. But the small things? Well, because they are (duh!) small, they often go unnoticed. But I find that it’s the little things that point us in the direction of who we are and whom we are becoming. And I’m learning that often it’s also the little things that are the hardest to handle.
Taking JS “back” after he relapsed wasn’t that difficult. I’ve borne horrible pain at the hands of men since as long as I can remember — starting with my father — and so I know how to handle that. I know how to witness contrition and rebuild my relationship-life (with a gentler hand the 2nd time around) and stand by my man (in Wynette-speak). The big relationship things are ones I know how to navigate once disaster strikes; I’ve weathered infidelity and abuse and despair and even general unhappiness, and at this point in my life I’m just as likely to respond with “sigh… I’ve been here before” as I would be to cry or bitch and moan.
The little things, though, are proving to be difficult, and I’m finding that they are becoming the ones that will try my patience and test my faith more than any of the big things. I’m unclear how to navigate these paths, since my prior relationships haven’t really had much space to focus on smaller things — the big things were so tumultuous that they took up all of my time and energy. But now that there is room for things such as compassion and tolerance and being full of care and acceptance as well as deep-down no-holds-barred romantic love? Well, these are the things with which I’m beginning to struggle on a daily basis.
JS tells me enough that he loves me, but there is a hiccup inside my soul when he asks if I believe that is true. I don’t know much about love with a capital “L” — everyone who’s ever said that to me has hurt me in some unspeakable way, and I can’t really comprehend what it means to receive unconditional love, except to say that I’m keeping my mind and my heart open and I’m remaining willing to accept it. But I don’t know what it feels like as a recipient. And this isn’t a matter of JS not doing enough; I’m perfectly away that the character defect is mine.
Beyond that, though, is the general unsteadiness that comes after a relapse. There are entire twelve-hour periods (or longer) during which I have no reservations about the choices he’ll make in regard to alcohol in the future. But even if I were to have four days go by without such worries, all it takes is one little thought that stretches exponentially from one second into thirty, and I’m a goner. My sponsor tells me this is part of the process I have to walk through, and God will show me the way, and eventually I’ll get to the other side of this Trust Impasse, and my life with JS will be back to normal. Or, actually, as normal a relationship can be between two alcoholics. (I do believe we’re two of the less-dysfunctional ones, as far as I can tell.)
This is a long way of saying that while I’m confident in making big decisions and setting boundaries and offering someone unconditional love, I’m still pretty darn scared about these little things. My sponsor would say I’m beating myself up for being human, and I admit I’ve said that to my sponsee as well… but still. I want to be a superhero, and I don’t want it to be true that rejecting that notion is the simplest thing I can do to begin to accept my life. Maybe tomorrow.