I changed sponsors recently, not because my old one didn’t help me, but because she and I had (I think) reached an impasse. Much of the struggle I have these days involves making decisions and setting boundaries in my relationships — both friendships and romantically — and M. just didn’t have a lot of experience to share in that regard. I still love her dearly, but she no longer had what I wanted, and so I asked a woman whom I’ve been watching for a couple of years to be my sponsor.
The up side is that she’s a strong, independent woman who tells me like it is, and she’s been in a relationship with a sober man for more than a decade, married for nine years. The down side is that her husband is JS’s ex-sponsor, who fired JS after his relapse in July. And my new sponsor — L. — has known/known of JS’s disease for the past 10 years. So she has a little bit of insight about the bigger picture. As she said last night, when we move forward, we can only see what’s in front of us, but people on the outside can see what’s behind us, what our peripheral vision misses, and what we might conveniently avoid seeing.
So when she pointed out that, in order to get sober (again), JS needs to focus ALL of his energies on that, and that what I do is serve as a distraction (“a beautiful and darling distraction,” I believe said, reminding me again that I love her because she thinks I’m gorgeous), I took notice.
“If you really do love him,” she said, “it might be best to walk away and let him get sober. And if things are meant to be, they’ll work out that way.”
Of course, she also told me that hanging on because I want to have a relationship is selfish, and that if I’m expecting that by being patient and taking things a day at a time, the relationship will magically morph into something fabulous and I’ll trust JS all of a sudden one day, I’m fooling myself.
Deep down, I somewhat know this is true. I don’t trust JS, and I don’t really know how to rebuild that. And I also know that it’s almost impossible for him to take steps to rebuild that trust when he has to — not just wants to, but HAS to, in order to save his life — focus on getting and staying sober. JS is what they call a low-bottom drunk; he’s been unconscious and in comas and has had heart attacks, and he likes to say that once he starts drinking if he’s not obliterated within 20 minutes then something’s wrong. The way he drinks and the way I drank? Completely unrelated, except that we both ended up getting sober. But can I really — in good conscience — continue to risk HIS sobriety because *I* don’t want to let go? I think this might be what they mean when they say love isn’t enough. Or maybe not.
I’m going to New York City for two weeks in September, and we’ve both agreed I’ll take that time and space to pray and make a decision about what to do next. I think it’s obvious to both of us that I wouldn’t walk away if I didn’t love him, if I didn’t care about him getting healthy. But the process of that? I’m terrified by it. I’m glad I’m going away for a decent amount of time; I’m going to need it to come to terms with decisions I have to make, no matter how difficult they might be.