When faced with addiction in our families we don’t often think about the words, “happy, joyous, free” at the same time. Often family members don’t even consider that they, also, suffer from addiction; an addiction to their addicted loved ones.
Dealing with loving someone who suffers from substance abuse, whether it has been ongoing for years or is a new shock to the family system, is painful. Our lives change. We become someone else. Many of us lose ourselves.
I am the mom of an addict in recovery. Let’s just say,for the purpose of this issue—Freedom in Recovery—that I believe addiction to a loved one’s suffering is one of the worst addictions to experience, worse than a process or substance use disorder.
Recovery, no matter what we are recovering from, is a lot of work. Yes, it is important to put in the time and focus on recovery, but first we must recognize our need to recover from something. Herein lies the problem with families dealing with this disease. I often state that my recovery from being addicted to my addict began long before my addict’s recovery from his own substance abuse disorder. It took me a very long time to recognize that this was something I needed to work on.
We often hear people say “one needs to admit they have a problem before there is progress”. Well, there you have it! Anyway, it was like being able to breathe again! I imagine it is the same when people embrace recovery, and experience successful recovery, after they’ve suffered from alcoholism and/or addiction. Happy, Joyous, Free! Even when nothing had changed with my loved ones and their addictions, there were many moments that these words could relate to me, because I chose them. I found it important to shift the focus to me (self care, not selfish) and take time to notice so many good things around me. I learned to allot some time to focus on the reality of dealing with an addict in the family, but to allot more time to seeing the goodness in what was around me and to be grateful. We all have a right to experience joy and happiness. It’s a choice.
This was a long learning experience for me, but an extremely powerful one. Recovery for me was a slow process, which I’ve learned is the case for many. When we are suffering we don’t open our minds to the possibilities of being able to really breathe, and have happiness and joy. For me, it was a step by step process. I think it worked because I recognized I needed recovery. Even just a little bit of happiness and joy at a time, put together over a long period, helped to free me from the total confinement of loving an addict with no thought of recovery.
I would like to suggest this to all family and friends who are trying to navigate through the daily drama and trauma of a loved one’s addiction. When our loved ones embrace recovery and embark on their own path of happy, joyous, and free, choose recovery for yourself now so that you can enjoy it with them!