Are You Allergic to Happiness?

Date Posted: October 06, 2014
Are You Allergic to Happiness?

Although it makes little rational sense, being in a relationship with an untreated addict or alcoholic can give you an allergy to happiness. Because feelings of happiness tend to be followed by feelings of betrayal, disappointment, and trauma, an allergy to happiness can develop over time. What I mean by "allergy" is that you anticipate that any happiness you feel will be followed by something negative, so you avoid (i.e., become allergic to) the happiness as a way to avoid the subsequent negative. As a result of this allergy, when your partner finally gets into recovery, it can take some time before you stop breaking out in hives or feel like running when happiness shows up in your now recovering relationship.

How do you know if you have an allergy to happiness?


Instead of being happy when your recovering partner is attentive, you break out in a cold sweat.


If you tell someone how well things are going in your relationship, you immediately look around for a piece of wood to knock on.


When you feel happy thinking about your partner, in your next breath, you think, "It's only a matter of time..."


The happier you feel in your relationship, the more hyper-vigilant and obsessive you become as you watch your partner's every move.


Instead of being happy, you get a panicky, sick feeling in your stomach when your recovering partner tries to do something nice for you.


You counteract happiness by doing something self-destructive to make it go away. This way, you think, at least you are in control of your feelings.

How do you get over this allergy? If you have a food allergy, you can simply stop eating the foods to which you are allergic and eat different foods. But it doesn't work to stop going near happiness. That would be self-defeating.

Rather, happiness must become an acquired taste again. If your sights are set on relieving yourself of an allergy to happiness, know that it can be done. You just have to take the first step and avail yourself of the resources you need. If you haven't ever gone to an Alanon meeting, or CODA, try it. If you haven't been to therapy, try that. If you haven’t read my book, Loving Someone in Recovery, read that. The list of possible healing interventions is everywhere if you take the time to be creative and investigate them. So, what are you waiting for?

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