Families are tough. They live together and weather the storm, we call life. It seems every family has their own ‘cross’ to carry. Some struggle with divorce, cancer, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, depression, abuse issues, mental illness and/or addiction.
As the old saying goes: Life is just one damned thing after another.
Except with addiction: It’s the same damned thing over and over again.
Any of the above health issues would be alarming. But in families suffering from addiction, healthy concern progresses, just as surely as addiction does.
You don’t notice at first. It starts off as a niggling worry.
Is he drinking to much?
Is he stoned?
Why is he sniffling?
Your antenna goes up and you start to watch for it.
You develop the ability to hone in on this one individual, excluding ALL else.
You feel fidgety, worried, and anxious.
You’re at work and you can’t focus. Your child is tugging on your leg, “Mommy! Mommy!” Your spouse asks you a question and has to repeat it. Your other children tell you, all you do is think about the addicted individual. You tune them out. After All this person ‘needs’ you.
And all the while you can’t stop thinking….
Where is he?
Who’s he with?
Is he using?
You might find yourself continually ‘checking up.’ Maybe you drive by his/her work, or check the cell phone, or the hood of the car. You watch his/her face for twitches or signs… Are they on something?
And then one day, your suspicions are confirmed.
You try reasoning, bargaining, pleading, and threatening, all to no avail.
Can’t you see it’s killing you?
Just this one more time, I won’t give you money again.
Please stop, I love you.
If you don’t stop I’ll leave.
It falls on deaf ears and you’re left alone, hurting, confused and in pain.
Others don’t seem quite as impacted as you.
Maybe it’s their fault? if they were better mothers/fathers/lovers/wives/children or family members, this wouldn’t be happening.
Your concern grows…..
You feel angry and resentful. You can’t eat or sleep. Your well being is now firmly entrenched in the hands of the addicted person.
You smile when they do.
Their bad days become yours. Your mission? To minimize those bad days.
Your job is demanding. The position is full time, the hours are never ending, and the pay, from your own pocket.
And still, you keep waiting.
Your world grows smaller, you avoid your friends. Family members attempt to support you but you pull away. After all they don’t really understand.
Nobody knows him/her like I do.
You wake up, go to sleep, and spend all day, thinking about this one person.
Concerned has now crossed the line into consumed, just as surely as problem drinking becomes addiction.
We have two very sick family members.
Both will keep waiting for the other to become well. One has an excuse, they’re using substance which impairs their reasoning.
But don’t kid yourself. The non-addicted family member’s reasoning, is just as impaired.
The consumed individual may fight for the addict with their very last breath.
On the sidelines your family watches. They haven’t just lost one loved one to addiction, they’ve lost two.
There’s nothing honorable in losing your life to addiction especially when you’re not even addicted.
Addiction, the only disease that can take your life…
even, when you don’t have it.