“Stacy, are you o.k.?” I stood there in front of five women, getting ready to begin our monthly growth spurt meeting.   My goal with the group is to inspire them to new levels of desire within their sobriety.  Therefore, when one of them was visibly miserable right before I began my dialogue, to say the least it was a bummer.  “No, I’m not, but I’ll talk to you later about it.”  She replied.  “Do you want to leave?” I asked, intuitively knowing it must have been taking everything she emotionally had to sit in that seat.  “No, I’m staying, this is what I NEED!” She said with strong emphasis on the word NEED.  I slowly gathered my focus back to my objective, it was a rough mental start for me, because I had to purposely shut off my thoughts around her, and go back to the initial objective.  She’d have to wait.

This group meeting I was discussing our needs within relationships.  These women had been working with me as their life coach in sobriety for several years.  The purpose of meeting as a group was to help keep them on track in their growth.

The recent phone calls from several of them had been focused on personal relationships.  Primarily, intimate relationships.  These women have survived a rough road, one their addictions and actions took them to. Essentially, they have been reborn into normal lives.  Lives they have had to work hard for.  However, when a relationship begins for the first time in sobriety, they are confronted with new dilemmas because the majority of their prior relationships were usually damaged and dysfunctional.

Most people fall into their first relationship at a young age. Because of this they’re not asking themselves “what are my needs” prior to getting involved.  Even if they did, based on their age they probably wouldn’t know what their needs were – other than “he’s hot, or she’s hot”, or “he doesn’t beat me”.  Some women in sobriety eventually partake in a relationship – sometimes they sleep with the other person too soon, other times they make the relationship their god – devoting everything to it – almost in a worship kind of way, more often than not they aim to please and the fear of rejection or “rocking the boat” keeps them from expressing how they really feel, or what they really need.  I knew Stacy was a prime candidate for this behavior.

I first met Stacy in her early sobriety.  She approached me after an AA meeting asking me if I would temporarily help her.  I asked if she was looking for a temporary help because she wants to stay temporarily peaceful?  With the point being made, I said I would be honored to help her, but it’s not temporarily.  She agreed.  I looked forward to helping her because she was full of anger, and very loud about it.  She swore and complained about her relationships.  I hadn’t been around a person that angry in a long time.  I like it when this happens.  It gives me a lot to work with when helping someone.  A persons anger doesn’t scare me, probably because I was that person years ago. I understand anger and hate, and because of this I get excited when someone comes to me so blocked with anger they can’t see their side.  For I know after we are done with the work this person is up for a huge peaceful awakening.

As soon as possible I had her writing down all her resentments – ex-husband, kids, past friends, and family.  She did an o.k. job.  She visited shortly thereafter, and read them all to me, we discussed them, she was on to more work.  She scratched the surface.  I knew it was only a scratch, but sometimes even a little scratch can provide a great sigh of relief to allow someone to continue.

Stacy was good at responsibility.  She worked hard, paid the bills, went out of her way for her kids. She was the boss at work.  She managed well.  However, when it came to intimate relationships she was blocked.  After several months of working together she disclosed she lived with someone.  It wasn’t a full disclosure, I had picked up on something during a phone conversation and started to ask questions, then she divulged.  She had been living with someone, his 3 kids, and her two kids for years.  I believe close to 10.  Yet, she never brought it up.  I found this intriguing to say the least.  She held back a significant piece of her life.  What eventually came out was she suspected they might not make it.  Over the next few months, she worked on getting the courage to end it, but it was messy. She couldn’t cut the strings completely. She was driven by her impulse of feelings for him, and continued to engage with him for several months.  Then the call came one evening where she said she wanted to drink.  I prayed as she told me her story one more time.  There is no right or wrong way to deal with such scenarios.  I believe god puts me in a place to help someone, and unfortunately the news I deliver isn’t always soft and mushy.  It’s more like thundering steel, intended to wake someone up, when they need it.  My approach can be very direct, I choose this approach because I believe the voices in the other person’s head have been chatting for a while, sometimes several years.  Their voices are screaming.  That evening, while she was talking on the phone, I prayed, I knew my next words were going to be brutal.  I pretty much yelled into the phone “Either you tell him to get his fucking trailer out of your drive way and you stop driving by the bar he does his gigs at, or you can find someone else to work with! You are going to drink! I hung up on her.  All of this was deliberate on my part.  I prayed right after I hung up the phone.  Now, most people reading this might be thinking what a bitch.  Yes, I’m o.k. with that.  I’m also o.k. with giving someone a shock to wake them the up when they are blocked by their own misery.   If they call back, they are willing to change something.  She called me the next day.

I followed up with her by inviting her to my home.  When she arrived, I handed her a pen and paper and told her to write down all her anger against him.  I told her it’s time to get into action.  She was at my house for two hours.  We went through each scenario, finding her part in the anger, then I had her go through each item so we could discuss what the opposite was.  This work was intended to discover her needs within a relationship.

For example:

Resentment:  you slept with that bitch               Need:  Monogamous relationship, faithful

Resentment: You never worked enough           Need:  Steady, secure income

Resentment: You never helped with the kids    Need:  A partner who pulls 50% of the work

Resentment: You drink too much                      Need:  A sober partner

You get the idea?  She did great work, she got away from him – she broke the obsession.

During our womens group meeting that day, she stayed very distraught.  She managed to laugh a few times, relate to a few things, but I could tell she was hurting.  After the meeting wrapped up she hung around, we talked.  She slipped up again, this time with a different person, but similar scenario – she wanted the relationship, he was unavailable, she was devastated. She was acting out of desperation.  She was a mess – regretful, sad, and depressed.

You see, we can know our needs.  We can make sense of what we think makes us happy in a relationship, but if we lack self-worth, all the knowledge in the world won’t matter.  We will always feel less than, therefore not allowing ourselves to demand what we deserve in our life.  This can be true in business, with our kids, and in our intimate relationships.

A few symptoms of a person not believing in their worth might be:

  • Overdoing all the responsibilities in the relationship and then becoming resentful at the other person for not doing more
  • Refusing to admit when things bother them because they think they know what the other persons reaction will be
  • Not having “deal breakers”; rules or standards for oneself which are not negotiable, either the other party understands this is the deal or there is no relationship.  (To make my point – an extreme example…abuse would be a deal breaker).
  • Tolerating addictive behaviors, lying or cheating; ignoring the pain to avoid losing the relationship.

Ultimately, you are responsible for your peace and happiness.  Sometimes, we forget what a team looks like in a loving relationship.  A healthy, loving relationship is 50/50.  It’s o.k. to be 70/30 sometimes, as long as there is a willingness to get it balanced again.  Two willing partners can have an amazing life together.

So, I left her with this thought:  What does it take to be with Stacy?

And I leave you with the same question:  What does it take to be with you?

For me:  to be with me you need to be sober and on a spiritual path of growth – working with others in whatever capacity that is, you need to be healthy – I don’t desire a slob or a pig.  Sexy is much more enjoyable for both parties.  You need to be motivated and energetic, I won’t take care of all the responsibilities of a home by myself.  You must have compassion for kids – because I have 3 daughters and I love them more than anything.  You must have great credit, and a steady, solid income.  You cannot be racist.  You must be willing to communicate.  You must be faithful, I have no desire for cheating, threesomes, or swinging.  My jealous mind will be triggered.  You must be a man, I don’t mind listening to emotional days, but if it’s daily I won’t have respect for you – you see I’m a driven, confident, balanced, motivated woman.  You cannot fall behind me.

AND I’M O.K. WITH ALL OF THAT.

And so is my beloved husband.

Have a great day, enjoy the journey – You only have one!

Susan Denee

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