And The Walls Are Finally Coming Down (Intimacy in Recovery)

Heart in a Vice

I wish they would have talked about relinquishing the chains of my heart, while I was in treatment.  I KNOW that I am not the only alcoholic in recovery who has built gigantic cinderblock walls around myself, complete and lavished with barbed wire.  We are guarded beings by nature (the alcoholic and addict), because we spent years perfecting the art of hiding out in our addiction, and keeping people away from the truth of who we are.  On top of that, I haven’t met an addict yet, who doesn’t have some sort of emotional trauma surrounding their addiction.  Many of us were never nurtured emotionally as children.  Many of us were abused, abandoned or ignored.  It goes with the territory.

The cinderblocks and barbed wire no longer serve me, yet while being in a loving and healthy relationship with a good man, I find myself trapped inside of the walls I spent so many years building.  Although he can clearly see my walls, I’ve been oblivious to them.  I’m so comfortable with my “independence” that I don’t even know how to call a spade a spade in this twisted arrangement of mine.  Luckily, I have a partner who adores the hell out of me, and is on a mission to break down the barrier to get to my heart.  He doesn’t let it get to him when I tell him I need space, or that I feel like I’m suffocating, or when I push him away with everything in me.  He won’t go away, because he sees what I am doing, and he’s not going to let me hide anymore.  I don’t know what it takes for other recovering addicts to overcome these barriers, but for me, it has been having a soul mate who sees beyond the limiting confines of the mind.  He ignores my ego and speaks directly to my heart, “I love you Jennifer.  I love you Jennifer.  I love you Jennifer, and I’m not going away.”

He made a breakthrough with me.  I feel myself opening up to him, and accepting his love, finally.  I BELIEVE him when he says he loves me.  It’s something I have a hard time believing, except when it comes from my children or my grandparents. 

I’m not trying to make this all about myself.  I wrote this because it’s something that wasn’t addressed while I was getting treatment.  And for goddsake, it’s a beast of a problem.  We are so accustomed to hiding, that we don’t even realize we do it, even in recovery.  I was so completely blind to my cinderblock wall, believing that my partner was the one with the problem.  “He’s too needy,” I told myself.  “He needs to get a hobby, and join a club, and maybe date other women…”  I didn’t think I had enough to give him, so I pushed and pushed and pushed, and he blew and blew and blew love back to me.  What if he didn’t do this?  Where would things end up?  I envisioned myself finally pushing him away, and me staying single for the rest of my life.  I simply didn’t have it in me to face the truth of myself, that I was guarded, and I certainly didn’t know how to break down the walls myself.  I was comfortable in there.

Intimacy is not impossible for a former abused, alcoholic/addict.  It simply needs to be acknowledged and addressed.  It’s something we all must overcome in recovery.  It’s scary as hell, and your mind will twist things up to make you think you’re ok and the other person is unhealthy.  But I don’t think it’s as difficult as we believe it is, to overcome. It takes a lot of trust in our partner, or friend.  It takes time and admittance that we have an issue.  We don’t need to hide anymore.  We can be ourselves, and we are worth loving.  We need to accept this about ourselves.  “I am worthy of love, and a healthy relationship…” Say it with me.  “I am capable of giving love to another human being.  I am capable of giving love to another human being.” You see, intimacy is not as elusive as we believe it is. Intimacy is simply acceptance of love. It’s just another form of surrender.

We are not like Humpty Dumpty.  Essentially, we are never broken.  Our minds may be fragmented, but the human heart is always a whole.  You are complete.  You are whole.  You are capable of giving love and also receiving love.  You are capable of true intimacy, even after the emotional wars you’ve endured.