Their addiction is killing me!
Their addiction is killing me!
There are few things in this world that match the pain and suffering that comes from watching your loved one trapped in addiction. It is not long before we find that their addiction is controlling our life just as much as it is our loved one. If you are in this unfortunate circumstance, then this article is for you. This article is written from experience and from what we in the field know works for helping get YOUR life back.
There are many different emotions we experience when we are watching addiction change the person we love into a completely different person. One of those can be complete and utter despair. If you are living with someone in addiction, you are likely exhausted in every way a person can be exhausted. You may feel like you have reached the end of your rope and feel completely powerless to stop or change the way things are.
You might feel that you have tried everything you can. You may feel that no matter what you do, the problem isn't getting better. In fact, it may feel like it is getting worse. You have probably had days, or months where you think things are working out, and then a relapse blindsides you and your whole world feels upside down again. You might feel that it is too painful to keep hoping "this time it will work," when you realize that you have hoped that so many times before and it didn't last.
Watching the person that you love act in a way that they normally wouldn't can cause serious anger for loved ones. The betrayal of being lied to, the frustration of financial investments you may have made to help your loved one get help, and just the pure frustration that this is your reality can be hard to bear. It can make us so upset that we feel we have to choose to write this person off as nothing but their actions. "They are just a liar," "They could do this if they would just try harder," "If they would just stop drinking liquor everything would be okay." The unfortunate part of this anger is that it gets misdirected. We start to believe that our loved one is becoming all of these things (liar, selfish, untrustworthy, just plain awful, inconsiderate, disrespectful, volatile, etc). Your bottom line might be that they are a bad person and its all their fault.
, and while yes it is true that right now they are acting this way, the truth is that it is actually the addiction that is responsible for these traits. Be angry. But be angry at the addiction. Be furious with the addiction. Hate it with all your being. But do everything you can to remember that your loved one is NOT the addiction. If they were, you would not be so bothered by they they are acting, it would just have always been this way.
In my personal opinion, I feel that this is the worst part of loving someone in an addiction. When you love someone, and the thought that they could die any moment from their addiction can be absolutely paralyzing. Not fearing from them, waiting for the next call having no idea what it might be, and watching them decompensate is excruciating. Not only is there the fear of losing them, there is the fear of what life will be like without this person. The painful reality that your life may not look like you hoped it would, dreamed it would. This is the emotion that gets us really out of whack and can make us turn into control freaks. We start micromanaging, or can become completely emotionally erratic. We can't sleep, can't eat, and every time the phone rings we feel a drop in our stomach. Or, the opposite and you are staring at it each second praying the phone will ring and you will know your loved one is alive. You might find that your normal routines is completely thrown off, and you can barely keep it together at work. It seems like your life is now completely dictated by this fear and what your loved one is doing.
"This has to be my fault." Sometimes when we feel a loss of control, it becomes easier to blame ourselves. Maybe if you change, maybe if you don't push them, maybe if you just keep quiet, maybe if you just keep walking on eggshells.... You may feel that if you had been a better spouse, sibling, parent, or friend that this would not be happening. You may be tormented by the things you did or said that you wish you had not. You might be recognizing things you did that were legitimately wrong and harmful to your loved one, and that guilt can be crushing.
One of the hardest parts about having a loved one in addiction can be that it feels like you are the only one going through it. You might feel that people just don't understand the degree and severity of what you are feeling like. And, you may feel like you cannot tell them how much suffering you are in because you might look like a "crazy" person. Your friends are talking about their problems that probably feel so insignificant compared to the pain you are in which leads to a powerful feeling of loneliness.
And the finale emotion! Shame. Sitting down and realizing that this is your life, your son, your husband, your whoever can be humiliating. You hear how your friend's kid made the deans list at school and all you can think about is the reality of where your situation lies. You may wonder if anyone who knows about your loved one's addiction blames you for this. I could go on and on about this, but if you know shame then you know this. It can be downright humiliating, embarrassing and really affect our own ego.
Now that we have identified the problems, lets talk about some solutions. Things that might help you get your life, your sanity, your peace back. Here are some things that you need to know:
1) There is hope. I know it may feel like there isn't. But there is. Your loved one can get better. But, even if they don't, YOU can be okay again. You can also let this completely wreck you- but you don't have to. Things can get better- yes, even for you.
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