When you love someone who has a serious addiction, you always lose.
In the beginning, you are confused and concerned. You have no way of knowing what the future will bring and the only exposure you have had of addiction is what you have seen and heard from others. It hasn’t personally pierced through your heart and dragged you through the mud yet, leaving you cold, exhausted, and alone. It will in time, but first you’ll be forced to stare into the face you love and be lied to, insulted for caring and confronting, and completely cut off. You will beg, plead, cuss, and rage as multiple dramas erupt that place your loved one in danger and strip them of their natural born potential. They will fight to keep you from saving them and throw punches at you as fight to keep them alive.
As the war rages on, you’ll be fighting for someone who is nearly gone who no longer recognizes themselves. They will be sure to tell you how judgmental you are when you confront them about working, caring for their children, and taking care of their health.
When you love someone who has a serious addiction, they always lose. However, they forget who and what they have lost. They push you completely out of their lives and cannot be convinced that they are lost. You will feel like you are pleading with a drowning man to please take the raft to get safely to shore. He will be screaming at you while choking back water that he is fine and you need to “get lost”.
This illness has just begun to “warm up” as it will now spread throughout the family unit and to certain extended family members who care to be involved. The kids will often grow up confused, sick, and struggling. The sad part is that the kids will defend the addict and the lifestyle surrounding the addiction. Some will have their potential destroyed by drug use, incarceration, and lack of education. The kids of addicts often pay a very high price for their parent’s addiction and many times will not be able to recover from the neglect and abuse resulting from years of living a life where their lives were not invested in and their needs were not the priority. They will often feel uncared for and have poor boundaries as a result of not having an example set for them. Some children of addicts do recover and heal with support. Some do not and end up struggling the rest of their lives.
Family members also become “sick” when the addiction reaches the later stages. Some deny and enable, while others confront and even rage. Everyone loses in the end and the devastation caused can last a lifetime. Sometimes, it is necessary to walk away from the person who continues to use. When help has been continually offered to no avail and all options exhausted, it may be time to let go.
This is where I am currently with my sister and her family. I am still here if they truly want to get well, but their actions have communicated otherwise. They feel I need to trust them and their insistence of that tells me that something is up. It would be abnormal for anyone to trust a person that has lied to them in the past, even if I wanted to trust them. And I do want to believe their words, but I cannot deny myself the time to heal and have trust rebuilt on my time. I don’t feel they are telling me the complete truth anymore. I have been the scapegoat of the family for getting angry and confronting, yet if we did not have this illness in our family, I would have nothing to confront. Actions are so much more important at this stage and addiction often yields hot air and little else.
I pray for all those afflicted with this illness and the families it touches. It is relentless and it erodes the family entirely. The person afflicted loses themselves and everyone around them is able to see them fading away while being blamed and pushed away. Their illness consumes the family, taking up time and energy and years are lost focusing on a problem that seems unsolvable. This is addiction. It’s ugly, aggressive, and deadly. It doesn’t come to play games, it comes to conquer and devour.
One day I hope to see more aggressive treatment early on and programs available after discharging from rehabilitation. I believe if you want to quit, you can. The tough part is convincing people that they want to quit. That is the key. You can do anything you “want” to do. They have to “want” it first. People have to fear losing something or themselves in order to want to stop an addiction that chemically distracts and numbs you. If that piece is found, it can be enough for a person to fight to maintain sobriety. Often, I feel people perhaps never felt alive prior to the addiction and they are willing to taste death to feel alive. It’s the perfect paradox and drives people to the edge of madness, always chasing a high that has the capability to put them 6 foot underground. A very low place, turning the lights forever out.
Addicts have to change their lifestyle and their friends who use alongside of them. They isolate themselves, forgetting that most of us long to feel alive and excited. I feel the difference is that in sobriety, one fears the heights needed to continue the ride that may kill us in the end. And the high is fabricated and false, lying to the addict the entire time. It is saying: “Let me erase you, and I will give you temporary pleasure and a lifetime of pain and misery if you give me your soul”.
An addict must divorce it’s “abusive lover”. No, it is not fun. Yes, it is hard. But, if you want it you will take the road to get your life back. At the end of the road of sobriety is you. The you that you left behind. You deserve to be along for the journey. Get in the car of sobriety. Let others drive at first. Lock the doors, keeping addiction out by not having people and situations in your life that will trigger you. Roll the windows up if needed. You will hurt, grieve, and be afraid. But, you will have yourself back in time. It is worth it. you are worth it. Many journeys await with an open road in which to travel.