This is something I read yesterday, and I wanted to share it here. It really connected with me, big time. This isn’t going to be an eloquent, well-planned post. It is just a small snapshot of what has been bouncing around in my mind for the last 12 hours or so. This excerpt came from a longer post on a forum. She is talking about breaking the negative cycle with an addict.
“Somebody has to break the cycle. There’s an analogy in an Al-Anon book that helped me get this. Imagine there’s a ladder, and the addict is in front. We’re behind them on the ladder, pushing and prodding them to go up. They keep falling, and each time they fall, we cushion the blow for them.
We keep doing this over and over until one day, we notice there’s a ladder next to this one–but this ladder has OUR name on it. So we begin to climb this ladder, and leave the addict to climb their own. When they fall, we can sympathize, but we concentrate on climbing our own ladder. This addiction has NOTHING to do with us. We have to learn to take care of ourselves and become healthy ourselves in or out of the relationship…
In learning to focus on my own needs and learning not to enable, I have gained a life where I know I’ll be okay no matter what happens. To me, you have to put the focus on yourself. Whether it’s therapy, S-Anon (which saved my life) or Al-Anon, get help. Get tools to use that will help you move up your own ladder. ”
I like this analogy. My husband and I are both traveling up ladders that will bring us to a healthier, happier place. We are each dealing with our own stuff that can cause us to fall. He is struggling against his addiction and his pattern of lying to avoid his feelings. I am struggling against my codependency, controlling personality, and perfectionism. On any given day, one of us may slip and fall. I am tired of letting one person’s fall cause us both to hit the ground, though. In order to keep moving upward, we need to focus on our own separate ladders. We have to learn how to sympathize with whoever is falling and help motivate them to keep climbing, while continuing to reach toward our next rung.
We are both moving in the same direction. We both have the ultimate goal of being healthier individuals with a stronger marriage. We are moving parallel with one another towards that goal, but we will face different challenges on our climb. In the past, I have been right there underneath him, waiting for him to fall and crush me. I have tried to hold him up, cushion his fall, and mitigate his losses as best as possible, with great personal consequences, especially to my sanity. Now I see that I have my own ladder. It has my name on it. It isn’t going to be an easy climb, but it’s going to be MINE.
But what if he falls? I still have that internal struggle that says I should try to catch him somehow. But I can’t. Not if I’m focused on my own climb, my own struggles. Does that mean I won’t care if he falls? Not at all. It might even make me falter a bit on my climb, while I check to make sure he isn’t fatally injured. On some occasions I may take a few steps backward. But I won’t be down there on the ground with him. It won’t take me to the depths of despair. And I will eventually keep climbing, whether he catches up or not.
What do you think of that analogy? Does it make sense to you the way it does to me?