Forgiving ourselves can be one of the hardest things we do in life.
Sometimes a spouse of an addict will change him or herself to fit what they think their spouse needs, and then later they regret it. Sometimes the spouse chooses to change herself. Like how some women decide to get implants or plastic surgery to try and better please their partner. Or some women try to do things they aren't otherwise comfortable with because they think that is what will save their marriage. And then they regret that decision.
Other times a partner of an addict will change unintentionally. I've have multiple therapists in the past tell me that the spouse of an addict will react and respond to their spouses addiction, even if she doesn't know that it is there. It is still a force in your marriage, and both partners respond to it.
Some of the unintentional changes I've seen or heard about are sadness, not doing the things you used to love anymore, keeping the peace over standing up for what is right, overlooking or being blind to more red flags and warning signs, etc. Or some women just can't believe they fell for the act in the first place.
These are all things that can be hard to forgive yourself for. You think, "I should have seen that coming," "I was blinded by love," "I should have had more respect for myself and not tried to change me."
I don't think I have met a spouse of an addict yet that didn't regret something or that wasn't having a hard time forgiving themselves. Which is really harsh considering that they were thrown into the situation. It's a little like saying, "I can't believe that guy pushed me out of the hot air balloon. How could I not have packed a parachute?"
This last week I found a blog post on Michelle Wilson's blog where she talks about forgiveness. My favorite quote from her post is this:
"I was and am imperfect, but I know Who makes me perfect. I have been forgiven. I have been changed. I know who I am now, and I like me very much."
I love that. "I know who I am now, and I like me very much."
I don't think having a little bit of healthy shame or regret is bad. But then we need to move on and take what we have learned in stride. Focus on the person who you want to become, and don't let your past hold you back from that. Especially if you are the spouse of an addict, remember that the addiction is not your fault. You were victimized and put in a very traumatic situation. But you need to stay true to what is right.
Stay Strong, Carry On. Be who you want to be. Do the things that can allow you to say, "I know who I am now, and I like me very much."
"After all, tomorrow is another day." - "Gone With the Wind"
Change, Forgiveness, and Freedom - a Very Personal Post