Each of us has to find the necessary tools for dealing with those we love who choose not to find recovery. It is a choice and one that only about 5% of those of us in addiction choose. How do we continue to grow in our own recovery when the old games of manipulation by us and others can no longer be used. These bloggers offer some clues:
1. From An Addict in Our Son’s Bedroom : “Detaching FROM Love“:
“Tough love is one of those generic terms that gets thrown around very loosely. First, I HATE the term, I have written about it before. But as soon as you hear tough love everyone has an opinion but one thing it seems everyone agrees within the definition is “throw’em out”.
We tried it, many times in fact. Nearly every time it was done in anger. Which is the worst time to make a decision and set a plan. Throw the little bastard out, “I don’t care if he is cold and is hungry. I just can’t take it any more. If he doesn’t like it then he’ll stop using,” said by a father. I’ll steal a question from Dr. Phil, “How’s that working for you?”
Detach FROM love, if I try not to care then I won’t hurt. Out of sight, out of thought.
Sometimes it is easy to forget, there is a person inside there. Addiction destroys the body and convolutes the mind but there is a person in there with all the needs of any human being. There are basic life survival needs and the same emotional needs as the rest of us. Most of all I believe the need to be loved never goes away. What hope is there for an addict if love is absent, withheld or conditional?
Taking care of yourself is imperative. You must do what it takes to stay healthy in yourself. If that means detaching and your child cannot live in your home that is right. Detach from the drugs and things that go along with addiction, do not detach from your child. Detach WITH love toward that human being that is such a huge part of your life.
If you have read this blog for any time at all you have been exposed to my many analogies. I use them because I am a simple guy and by breaking something down for myself it’s easier for me to understand. Many times I have used the word “path” to describe the life my son was living. “I was on a path and he was on a path and no longer could I walk his path.” There is nothing more true than that statement.
I now picture it like this: The snow is three feet deep. My son is struggling and trudging through. Laboring every step. I am not there to lift his legs or hold him up. I am beside him on my path however I am guiding a huge snow blower in front of me. It is helping to clear my path. My son is only ten feet away but he cannot come to my path if he continues his path. Every day I tell him how welcome he is to join me on my path, I tell him I would love to help ease his struggle. Every step my hand is out with encouragement but I cannot put him on my path. He must grasp my hand AND do the work it takes to make it to my path. We are separated but we still love.”
2. From Through an Al-Anon Filter: “You Can’t Walk in Sand Without Leaving Footprints“:
“I have two sisters, both older than I. One, M, is two years my senior, the other, G, is four years older. M and I get along well. Although she’s never had experience with program or 12-Step of any kind, with her life experience, she’s evolved into someone who can question her own responses, ponder her own behavior, and be firmly on the side of improved communication.
G reminds me very much of myself before Al-Anon. I offended very easily, I was rigid in my thinking, and I was determined to “win” any conflicts or hassles in which I became involved. My way was not only the correct way, it was the one and only way. I will occasionally cast my mind back to the younger me, and feel empathy for those who had to deal with that prickly, mutinous, sullen and immature woman.
One of Al-Anon’s greatest lessons is that I cannot change another person. No amount of heckling, badgering, whining, manipulating, wheedling or pressure is going to affect a permanent change in the thinking or behavior of any other human on this planet.
I can only change myself. My only sphere of true influence lies within my own skull. The mind of any other person is only available to me as that person chooses to share themselves. I have no way of knowing whether or not that sharing is conscious, true or honest.
I’ve always loved the music of Tom Petty, and in the chorus of “The Waiting” he sings:
“…The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you get one more yard
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part…”
I cannot have a relationship all my own way, no more than I could walk in sand without leaving my footprints. With my oldest sister, all I can do is do my best. When I feel the need to set a boundary, I make the effort to be as kind as is humanly possible in the way I state my need for respect. After that, I have to wait. I wait for her response, or lack of same. I let her, and her response go, as far as I’m able at that point.
These days, I’m fairly skilled at letting go of what I cannot control. If it’s beyond me, I can see that with clarity, so I try not to let it eat at me. When I’m trying to let go, and can’t manage it, I ask my Higher Power for help. My prayers for assistance seem to have simplified down to one sentence:
“Please help me with this.”
I no longer specify how I want to be helped, or when, or where. I just ask for the help, and then let that go, too. I’ve grown old enough now to have a wonderfully clarified sense of just how little I know about life and its mysteries. Suffice it that I’ve experienced them, I don’t have a burning need to explain them anymore, not to myself, nor to anyone else.
All I have to offer is my love, my humour, and occasionally, the little bits of wisdom I’ve gained from this marvellous program. That and my gratitude; it overflows this earthly container on an hourly basis. ”