I haven’t been active in the online support group for friends and family members of alcoholics I joined a couple of years or so ago for awhile – not since I began therapy. But since my therapist has moved onto greener pastures, I’ve begun popping in and reading more often. The last few days, I’ve been there quite often, and I’m beginning to feel a little better about how things are going.
It’s generally accepted that the spouses of alcoholics are codependent, and as such are desperate to establish some kind of control, both over their relationships and their lives. Codependents tend to be the kind of people who feel the need to “fix” everything, while reluctant to ask for help themselves. It took me a long time to recognize this in myself, but yes – I am guilty of both those things. Gawd help me, the last thing I want to be is codependent, but I guess I am.
That control – or the lack of it – has been such an issue in my life has never been driven home as much as today when I took the dog for her morning walk.
Dixie is pretty darn strong and muscular for a 22 pound dog, and walking her is often an ordeal, especially if there are lots of people out and about, because she’s so excitable. I can’t do much more than walk her around the block once or twice before taking her back home.
Using a harness is hard, because it gives her the leverage she needs to pull and yank me around. A regular collar isn’t much better, and it makes me worry about the damage she could be doing to her neck and trachea. So, I purchased a “head collar” – it has a loop that goes over her snout, and a strap that goes across the back of her head, just behind her ears. When properly fitted, she can open her mouth, even eat while wearing it. But she can’t pull, tug or try to run ahead of me when it’s in place, because she gets no leverage – it simply turns her head. She has to walk next to me at my pace.
I wish I’d bought the damn thing three weeks ago when the trainer suggested it, because this morning was the first time we’ve made it around the block in less than half an hour. She’s not crazy about having something on her head, but she’s getting used to it (and she loves all the treats she gets for walking alongside me), and I’m anxious to take her on longer walks when she has adjusted to it.
It occurred to me as I was getting ready for work today, that I was in a much better mood than has been usual after our walks and I realized why – I was taking her for a walk, rather than the other way around. I was in control.
At first, I was upset with myself for feeling that way, then I realized that I should be in control in that particular situation. I’m the human; she’s the dog. I get to dictate the terms of our walk, not her. My problem, as it is with so many of us married to addicts, is relinquishing the idea of controlling those people and situations over which we truly have none.
There is so little in my life over which I have so little control. All I can do is control how I respond to it.
Well, that and how I walk the dog.