If you're not working on recovery
you're working on relapse
I’m a big fan of trusting my gut. It rarely fails me. There was a time when my instincts couldn’t be trusted because I was in the midst of hypervigilance. I never gave myself enough time to listen to my feelings because I was already on high alert.
But, the more I worked on my recovery, the less hypervigilant I became. I was able to trust my gut once more. Getting that ability back has helped me tremendously.
Not long after Devin and I started using FANOS again, my spidey sense told me he was either on the verge of a slip or already had one.
He’d been lax about showing up to his group and meetings on time. And, when he told me about them, he was only sharing generic information instead of what he learned from the other addicts or what he shared with them.
So, when our dog died few weeks ago, I knew he was in a terrible place in his recovery and ripe for a mistake. He had a special bond with our dear Charlie Bear. He’d been with him for fourteen years - through his divorce, our marriage, and the discovery of his addiction. They shared a unique and precious bond.
Rather then push Devin and remind him he needed to dive into his recovery, not run away from it, I let him be. I understood he needed to work out his feelings on his own, even if it meant a slip occurred.
Then, the red flags began to wave. Little tells he has when he’s about to fall off the wagon. While I wanted to shout out a warning to him, I didn’t. I watched on the sidelines as he struggled in his recovery. I detached with love. I offered him comfort when he needed it about Charlie’s death, but knew it wasn’t enough to fill the hole in his heart.
Without a strong recovery in place, the slip was just a matter of time. So, when he disclosed it during FANOS, I wasn’t all that surprised. But, I was disappointed and sad he didn’t confide in me until I told him I suspected it happened.
Because I'm in a great place in my own recovery, I didn’t take the slip personally like I’d done in the past. I used to get wrapped up in what he was doing to prevent another slip. I feared it would lead to a relapse. Or, worse still, I’d convince myself I could’ve done something to stop it. That somehow his slip was my fault. Now, I know it’s not.
So, when the slip hit the fan last week, I told him I appreciated his openness, asked that he’d tell me on his own rather than me coming to him, and asked how he would prevent another one. I didn’t judge him; instead, I felt compassion. He was already ashamed of what he kept from me. Nothing I could’ve said would change how he felt.
Now, he’s back on track despite the enormous hole in his heart where Charlie Bear used to be. And I’m doing just fine too.
Rest in peace, Charlie. You were one awesome dog and the best listener and cuddler of our pack. You’ll live on in my memories and always have a special place in heart.
Have you endured the loss of a pet? How did you heal your broken heart?