Addiction is Confining: Hop in the Car and Take a New Journey

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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.

Among Wolves: When Family is Your Enemy

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I really do not want to remain silent anymore. I’m exhausted from being scapegoated in my family. It’s nauseating to sit and watch the level of denial and complacency that takes place. And no one in my family wants to take accountability for their extremely abusive actions, instead continually laying blame on me for defending myself. I feel defeated by the wolves that encircle me, salivating, dripping of lies and deceit. It’s ridiculously dysfunctional and I was hopeful that someone would be able to see through the dense fog of devastation and despair. No one has thus far and it has left me isolated and alone.

And, still yet, I am brazenly strong and capable, aware enough to see the patterns and sound alarms, that ironically land on deaf ears. The destruction is inevitable as the pack of wolves hang together, making it impossible to eradicate the predatory mindset that enables their survival. It is better to retreat than fight. And, this has been my tactic as of late. Still, it is hard when I check in from time to time to learn that they are still up to their old games.

I have to remind myself to walk away from their addictions and their continual neglect. I have to remember how much I have given of myself in time, money, and advice only to have abusive insults hurled at me when I no longer stroked their voracious egos. I must remember that these individuals, even if family members, are incapable of being accountable and are not a bit remorseful for hurting me. It’s sad, but these people only care about themselves. Why would they care about a person who is confronting their lifestyle when they don’t even care enough about their children to ensure they graduate from high school? Why in heavens name would I feel they would care about me, when they have a young baby and are not immediately getting a GED to ensure that they can provide for their child? These are people who have committed crimes and have gone back to drugs repeatedly, even after experiencing a drug-related death of a three year old and one of them nearly dying of needle use. So, I’m not sure why I have even allowed myself to have any expectations of people who have zero standards for themselves. I do have standards and that is what troubles them. And I had standards for their lives, because I believed that they could do better. I still do. And I consider that a compliment, not an insult.

In any case, I will walk away instead of engaging with the wolves again. I have learned my lesson. I truly am exhausted from trying. I lost my family due to addiction and the dysfunction resulting from years of them using. I’m sad about that and would have rather had a family that actually cared more about maintaining a relationship with their sister and aunt than doing drugs and defending their lifestyle. But, the reality is the one sister I have and the only children I have in my life of blood relation are all extremely strained due to good ‘ole Meth, Pain Pills, and other drugs. They all have demonstrated over and over to me that drugs are so much more important than our relationship. This has gone on now for nearly two decades. So, I am letting go. And, I will heal.

I am so much stronger than this and my life will be joyful as a result of letting go. I’m just going to be me and I am going to spend my time and energy on people who actually can give back. I’m sorry that wasn’t my own family as I would have enjoyed spending sober, quality time with my family over the past few years. It wasn’t meant to be, I guess. I’m nearly 46 and I am ready to spend time with people who show up for the holidays and call me on my birthday and actually do not lie continually to me or play games. I admit I have been imperfect in dealing with the grief of losing them. I haven’t been nice at times and I have often lost my own dignity in the end.

It’s been heartbreaking and enraging at the same time, and still yet, it has gifted me the greatest life lesson of learning to love myself. I’ve had to let go of expectations and embrace “what is”, forgiving myself first and then forgiving them. This painful process playing out center stage in my life while being largely ignored and forgotten by the ones I love has left me devastated and in despair. Through years of trying, I have realized I am only a brief annoyance and an afterthought in their lives which are fraught with the daily dramas they perpetually entertain. It’s these trivial endeavors, often surrounded by drug use, that captivate and demand their time and attention, stunt their growth, and prevent them from connecting in the present moment with those who actually long to laugh and converse with their sober and authentic selves, wanting no more than their precious time and presence.

I’ve been guilty of being consumed and preoccupied with trying to awaken them to the prospect of getting help and healing. I’ve become enmeshed in their dramas, desperately trying to help free them from the addiction that consumes their time and has defined their lifestyle. I should have let go long ago as hanging on hurt everyone involved. And yet, I’m the one in the family who stands alone with too much distance, both physically and spiritually, to hang on and connect. I’m the one getting therapy, getting help, and healing. The only one. It’s difficult, but I feel it is worth it.

It hurts too much. I’m tired of trying only to end up alone, empty, without my family. I don’t feel they have been fair to me in this lifetime. The longer I held on, often through arguing, I realized anger was the only energy left that was fueling any attachment that had somehow survived the ruins. I knew it truly was over. I had fought a war and had lost, but at least it was finally over.

And so I say: Farewell to the wolves! I’m leaving the pack! Howl at the moon all you like, I prefer the sunshine sometimes too!

Healing is Hard Work: 6 Tips for Healing

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Feeling at Home

Alone in my sanctuary

Of birds and trees

I strip of earthly blanket

Where no one can see

It’s one of those days

Of sun and of rain

I rest on a rock

My thoughts, unchained

I feel beauty in all forms

Taste it with my tongue

I let it slip though my fingers

My pinkies, My thumbs

The rain washes over me

Drenching my skin

The sun peaks out later

I go for a swim

I am not separate from anything

All at once, not alone

I am living in all things

Finally feeling at home.

I remember writing this poem nearly eleven years ago. It was roughly three years after I had separated from my husband and a few months or so before I began the ten year abusive relationship with my narcissist. I had recently lost a lot of weight and was hopeful and excited to begin dating.  I was in my mid-thirties and was relatively naive when it came to men. I also remember feeling quite vulnerable and anxious at the time because my weight had always been a form of protection for me and my recent weight loss made me feel naked and exposed. It felt exciting and unsafe at the same time.

This poem marks the calm before the storm. Revisiting it now, it is not only bittersweet, but stirs emotions of hope and pride. Often my poems were like rays of sunshine for me, cutting through to the forest floor, scattering light on the trees and twigs, reassuring me that I was still on the path. I felt lost a lot, but looking at past poems and journals reveals that I was always “present”, questioning and searching, even though some periods were dark and miserable. The poem above brings me joy because it displays where I long to be, “home”. And “home” is something I am creating for myself.

I’ve been thinking a lot about healing. I’ve made healing an intention of mine for nearly 4 years now. I have struggled along for years never truly thriving. I have been anxious, empty, angry, and severely depressed. Within the past two years things amplified to the point that I was no longer effective at work because I would miss due to migraines, IBS, and depression. Currently, I feel very unraveled and isolated. I don’t feel a part of things and I have chronic pain. And yet, a part of me feels that I am all unraveled because I am in the midst of an exciting and amazing opportunity to rebuild my life in self-love, giving myself stability and a sense of self-worth and empowerment.

I am in the process of carving out my self-esteem based on no one else’s expectations or ideas, but my own. I find this process daunting and challenging, but if successful, my “Decade of Darkness” will have been worth it. I feel I will have the immense blessing of possibly helping others through the “darkness”. I look back and see the people and the practices that blew open wide spaces for me, clearing the psychological debris that was entrapping me. There were living torches along my path that illuminated the way. There were voices that shouted “You are not alone” that reverberated on the walls of that dark, cold, tunnel that I sat in for a time. I hope sharing my story will reach someone, soothing them and giving them courage to keep going.

Healing is hard work.  Life is a struggle, at times, and in that struggle some often feel ashamed to reach out and ask for help. I’m sharing below 6 healing tips. These are things that are helping my now and some of them I have not mastered. If you like, feel free to add another “tip” in the comments section!  We’ve got this!

6 Healing Tips:

  1. Accept where you are currently at with compassion. Embrace your struggle.  Do not try to wish it away or try to “fight it”.  Accept it without shame and without comparing it to others. Notice how it is yours and yours alone. When the storm begins to rage, be still and don’t flee or fight, try listening to what the storm is communicating to you. We cannot always change certain circumstances, but we are able to decide how we will manage or cope given the cards dealt.
  2. Establish boundaries to protect your emotional and physical well being. It might be necessary to let go of certain people or habits to achieve healing and eventual peace. Sometimes, this seems impossible. Some of us are in abusive relationships and we want to hold on to a dream that is not longer a reality. Some of us have family members that hurt us and cause us pain. You have every right to peace and that may mean setting firm boundaries and even leaving a loved one. Ultimately, you deserve to be healthy and at peace. This may mean cutting ties and that might seem intolerable to you right now, but there may come a time when holding on becomes harder than letting go.  It is ok to “let go” and you will grieve and eventually fill the space with things and people that allow you to heal and be at peace.
  3. Put yourself as the priority. You are the most important person in your life.  Without you, where would you be? So, YES! You matter! Putting yourself as the center of your plate and filling your plate with “food” that you choose is so important to the process of healing. Often, many of us have negotiated our “food” away, leaving us scraps to the point we barely can feed ourselves. Go ahead and take a heaping helping of what you find delicious. Maybe that is a hobby of making jewelry or a sport that you used to love, but you gave it up for someone else’s needs. It might be a challenge to do, but work with others in your life to ensure that you have some things on your plate that are just for you! You deserve to have some food on your plate that you find delicious, after all it is your plate!
  4. Don’t compare yourself to others.  Everyone has a different journey. It’s super easy with social media to peruse your friends profiles and feel unworthy or “less than” because you did not achieve this or that! I have been guilting of doing just than and then I realize that I am being silly! None of those people have been in my shoes and what I have accomplished despite the fact I have a mental illness and experienced an abusive relationship, is amazing! We all are on a very unique and independent journey.  There truly is no comparison.
  5. Have FUN! Every day make a conscious attempt to laugh and have fun. I think we forget that it’s ok to just enjoy the moment and “let go”. Go watch some children playing to be inspired to use your imagination more. Kids just jump right in and are totally submerged in the present moment. Ever watch a baby or young kid cracking up? You can’t help but to laugh right along with them, right?  Laughter is infectious and it lifts us. Do the activities you enjoy every day and don’t feel guilty for relaxing and having fun. We are meant to laugh and be joyful.
  6. Be patient. Good things come to those who wait. You are the good thing!! When it seems to be going slow or you relapse into your old ways, be patient and kind with yourself and the process. It’s OKAY. Maybe you needed to go back again, even several times, to truly learn what you needed to learn. We all do this and it is okay. I used to beat myself up and get angry! But, now I am kind to myself and accept the process.

Hope these are helpful!! I am truly a work in progress and I am learning to use the tips above to embrace the process of healing.

Wishing you ample light to illuminate the way for your journey of healing and self love!

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