Why won’t they just stop? Can’t they see the damage they are causing? Maybe if I loved them a little bit more then will they stop? Did I do too much for them? Did I make life too easy for them? Don’t they love me? Don’t they know how much I love them? Can’t they see it? I wonder if I try withholding my love, then they’ll see how much they need me and then they’ll stop. What about the kids? Don’t they care about what it’s doing to them? The thoughts were endless, they were enough to have me spinning in circles and banging my head off walls most days.
Through my personal experience of dealing with a loved one’s addiction, the questions, worries, and concerns are endless. I would torment myself with all the what-ifs and should-haves that I lost sight of what I had control over; myself. I thought there was some way I could magically change years of addiction. I spent the better portion of 10 years trying to fix, manage, and control, someone else’s addiction.
It was easier to get lost in someone else’s problem than to turn the spotlight back on myself, and look inward at my insecurities and enabling behaviours, and self-reflect on what I needed to change. Ewww…. No thanks. Who wants to do that? I for one didn’t, but I knew that was my only way out.
The only life that I could save, and could ever save was my own. This took awhile for me to figure out. I lived in denial for years. I first lived in the denial that addiction was running rampant through our home, then I lived in denial that I had one of my own.
“Not me”, I would say. “I can’t possibly have issues with alcohol.” Quick to follow that up with, “Well you would drink too if you had my life”. Always the victim, and always quick to blame or throw judgment. Learning that I was the only one who could save me from me came in its own time and when I was ready and willing to receive, listen, and look for solutions.
The solutions weren’t for the addict in my life, the solutions were for me. My way of doing things wasn’t working anymore. I had to let go of my old behaviours and ideas, and recreate new ones. I had to learn what boundaries were, and how to implement them in my life consistently.
This alone became a work in progress and was no easy feat. I continually had to adjust to the ebb and flow of life. The only thing that is predictable with addiction is that life is unpredictable. You just get used to it after a while and you learn how to become resilient. Bouncing back was an expression I used often. However, just because I was ready to learn, change, and grow, did not mean my addicted loved one was ready to change. I had to learn how to respond to things as they were presented.
I was no longer in control. I never was, to begin with. Therein lies the unpredictability of addiction. You don’t have any control and surrender is the only way. I had to learn that not every action requires a reaction, nor does it require a response. Self-composure became my superpower. It took time, and it often took some white-knuckling on my part so I didn’t send back a response out that I would soon regret.
Change doesn’t happen overnight. It never does. If it does for you please show me how. Finding the courage to change, is terrifying, painful, and hard, but what is even more difficult is staying in the same place, doing the same things, and getting the same results. I would rather build my courage, to have the confidence I need to use my voice and create the freedom I am looking for in my own life.
Finding freedom from an addicted loved one is possible. You can go on to live a healthy, loving, and empowered life that is free of guilt and shame. Your story of addiction does not define who you are, it just becomes a piece of your story. One that you will go on to learn many valuable lessons from. You have to first learn how to free yourself from the chains that your story keeps you wrapped in. You have to tell yourself you are worth so much more than what you are living with.
It’s not enough for things to just be “ok”. You have neglected your own needs for so long you don’t even know what they are anymore. It all starts with you. You have to make the first move. You have to make the change. No one is going to do it for you. What most people don’t realize and yet is the most important piece of this puzzle is that addiction is a family disease. Addiction affects the family just as much, if not more than the addict. It is one in which we all need our own journeys of recovery from. If you haven’t started and know this could be your ticket to freedom please reach out. We were never meant to do this alone. It’s time to Find Freedom from Within and From Your Addicted Loved One. It’s time for you.