This last Friday was my last day with the company I’ve been with for the last several years. I work in a remote office that was part of a San Francisco based company. There were 30 of us in our office and we were all let go at the same time. We were close, like family. It was one of the hardest experiences of my life to say goodbye to everyone last week. I would equate it to the pain I felt when my grandfather, who was a major part of my life, passed away suddenly. I felt SUPER sad. I felt lost. I felt some fear and anxiety. It was like a massive storm was upon me in the open ocean and I was just getting pummeled by wave after wave!
In times past I would have absolutely acted out. There is no way I would have been able to experience all of those incredibly strong emotions without wanting to numb myself and just make everything go away. Even with 19 months of sobriety, on Saturday I forgot to do my morning study (just the one day) and by the afternoon I was actually in a state of being triggered. I found myself close to acting out and did something I haven’t done in a long time: I reached out to my wife for a 10th step.
I was a little nervous at first because I wasn’t sure if she could handle it. In the past she had been at a point of not wanting to talk about my addiction and had somewhat of a PTSD reaction anytime we did. As a result I usually hid my struggles from her and would reach out to my support group when things got really bad. But this time, after saying a quick prayer, I immediately went to her. I was tentative at first wondering how she would react, but after hearing that she was fine and feeling the sincerity of her emotional strength, I plowed ahead and told her what I was going through and how I had almost acted out. It was a scary experience for me to go through (the close brush with losing my sobriety) but it was the greatest peace to be able to share it with my loving spouse.
This revealed two things to me:
- Our loved ones will heal as we do. It may take them longer (it usually does), but in time they will be back on a foundation of strength and be available for us to lean on them. This is the aspect of a healthy partnership that I looked forward to getting back after some time now. I loved it!
- I have a new support individual that I can go to for help that is easily accessible. I’m so grateful that our relationship is continuing to strengthen and grow. I’d like to say that this is a sign of increased intimacy — but to be honest, I’m not much of an expert on that so I’d say that’s more of a “hope” than a “for sure” statement. Here’s hoping 🙂
I still have anxiety about finding a new job and some sadness about the loss of my old one, but I know I can handle it with God’s help and with the help of my support group from my 12 step programs as well as my wife — my favorite support person of all 🙂
Hopefully this positive experience can help those of you that were like me not too long ago, wondering when we could open up more and share with our spouses without causing them harm. Be patient if that time isn’t here yet. Keep reaching out to God (always!) and to your other support friends (hopefully you have many). But every few months, check in with our spouse. See how she or he is doing and see if you can lean on them a little bit more than before. Be sensitive though, it may take years before that can happen, but know that one day it will. And when it does, it is a wonderful thing!
May you find the support you need and once you do — may you reach out to them often!!
My name is Mike