I don’t share much about this anymore, but I wanted to touch on it as a point of encouragement. I grew up in a family that has long struggled (for generations, on both sides) with addiction. And I know some of you can relate. One of the topics that isn’t discussed much is how even in sobriety, dysfunctional patterns of behavior can still exist.
What do these behaviors look like?
- Hiding and lying for the former addict
- Pretending things aren’t a problem (avoiding conflict)
- Letting them off the hook, when they should be held accountable
- Going easy on them, since they are just getting their life back together
- Doing things for them that they can and should be doing for themselves (paying bills, loaning the car, caring for their children)
Truth is, these patterns of behavior are just as toxic as the addiction itself. And these patterns won’t change, unless we actively choose to pursue and change them.
It first starts with acknowledging their existence.
We can’t change what we don’t admit.
Then, we must work to establish healthy boundaries for ourselves. For a long time, you may have been the caretaker of an addict. During this, you lost who you are (what you need, like, want) Your energy, time, resources and attention was on caring for the other person, and so now it make be difficult, even foreign, to care for yourself. Boundaries are the road back to you.
Another thing to mention, is the hidden and limiting belief that often co exists within families tormented by addiction. It sounds like “If I don’t do this for them, they may not get better, stay better, and at the very worst, they may die.”
This has brought me much comfort, and I hope it does the same for you:
There is nothing I can do to keep them sober.
There is nothing I can do to keep them addicted.
Meaning, it isn’t about me.
You will feel tempted to ease up on your limits whether active addiction is still present, or if that person is in recovery but these dysfunctional behaviors still exist. But hear me when I tell you, boundaries are the most important thing in these rough seasons. Cling to them. Know them. Exercise them. They are how we love ourselves and others well.
So tell me, (or yourself) what would 2023 look like if you put all that same energy, time, resources and attention you used on the former addict, into you?
If you would like more support as you navigate addiction inside your relationships, check out DYW.