You can’t make a tulip grow by pulling on it

I have heard in the S-Anon meetings that I attend, that working the steps is an amazingly powerful thing to do.  It didn’t make sense to me.  I thought “I’m not the addict…why do I need to do the 12 steps?”.  It always felt like something that should be required of the addicted person rather than the partner or family member of the addict.

Cut to one night last month, when my husband and I squeezed in a dinner between getting off of work and his 12 step workshop.  When it came time to say good-bye for the evening, our co-dependency kicked in and he asked me to go with him to his meeting.  He had been telling me recently about the leader of the workshop, Herb K, and what an impressive speaker he is so I decided to go along with him to see what it was all about.  All I can say is that it was completely fascinating, enthralling and made me WANT to learn about and possibly work on my own steps.  The effort one puts into learning about one’s self and developing one’s spiritual self needn’t be limited to addicts – or even to those family members affected by addiction.  This 12 step program is a process that can help all.

In one of the weekly sessions, Herb K said “you can’t make a tulip grow by pulling on it”.  What a funny visual about an obvious truth.  All of us standing by the side of an addict hope they will grow and change and be exactly what we want them to be (SOBER!) and we want them to do it on our timetable (NOW!).  But the truth is that change comes when it comes.  Some say it’s on God’s time.  Some say that it’s about hitting bottom.   But while you, the partner, are waiting for change to truly take place, the only thing you can do is care for yourself.  This is so hard for us partners to do.  It feels so much more natural to take care of the sick one, or to obsess on his actions, to try to control his movements and thoughts.  But none of this helps anyone – and it hurts yourself.   When the stress and fear and anxiety of the addiction start to overtake you, this is when you need to reach out to someone in your support group, or write in your journal, or start a blog, or go for a run, or meditate.  This is the time for SELF CARE.  I will end by stealing another analogy of Herb’s:  When the oxygen mask drops, put yours on first before helping those around you.