At a recent meeting, a newcomer was bemoaning the fact that his significant other still doesn’t trust him not to act out when her back is turned, and doesn’t seem to get that he has an addiction and acting out “isn’t his fault.”
Addiction is fear, compulsion, denial, low self-esteem and many other things, but it is not without volition. Every single time I acted out, I made a choice to do so. I may not have realized that I had other choices, but it was still a choice. Furthermore, when I continued to act out out after finally discovering that there were other choices, I was certainly making conscious decisions not to act in my (or others’) best interest.
There is a difference between a reason and an excuse. A reason involves taking responsibility; an excuse is about avoiding it. So yes — I chose to act out, and it isn’t unreasonable for someone who doesn’t understand the compulsions that plague addicts to recognize only the choice. Nor is it unreasonable for them to fear and anticipate another breach of trust. What is unreasonable is for me to fail to recognize that my behavior was the cause, and only my behavior can change that perception.
I’m reminded of the old AA saying, “Don’t expect a medal for doing something you ought to have been doing in the first place.” Nor should I expect an immediate return of trust and understanding, just because I said “I’m sorry.” I have no control over what’s happening in someone else’s head. The only way I can influence it is by showing that I can be trusted, and that can take a long time.
They need to heal, same as us.