The rehab program had rolling admissions, so patients entered at different times and graduated at different times. Many co-dependents stopped coming when their qualifiers graduated, but some stayed on to continue sharing their strength and hope with the new people coming in. We developed a genuine compassion for most of the people we met through program. We might see them casually or not see them for years, but we will forever be part of the club and they will always be friends. Many people who haven’t experienced this process can never understand, and I always feel compelled to try to make the co-dependent experience vivid. Program people get what you’re going through. There’s no small talk and no explaining necessary, but there is a lot of empathy and hugs. It feels safe.
Unfortunately, the twelve-step program is not a cure-all and we saw many alcoholics and addicts come and go, along with their co-dependents. It was very eye opening and upsetting to see so much failure and pain. The miracles were those who got sober and stayed sober.
We learned quickly, but found it difficult to accept that addiction is a family disease in which we played a part. It’s so easy to say that it’s the alcoholic or addict with the problem; that it’s not our disease. Even though Stu and I didn’t choose to abuse drugs or alcohol; as significant others, we were part of the problem. That concept took longer to grasp.