At times I have been controlled by feelings of: hate (myself) hate (towards my spouse),Evny (towards all the *perfect* marriages out there) Fear, guilt, unworthiness, ineptness, emptiness, solitude.
I cannot tell you how many times I have thought "If only I had (not)_________ then he wouldnt have his addiction." Or "he could overcome it if I was______" There are lots and lots of different things that could go in those blanks. So many, and they would all be different for each different person and each different addiction.
Our addicted loved ones begin to make progress when they accept the truth that they are powerless to overcome their addiction. Step one for us begins with the same truth- we are also powerless over our loved ones' addiction. Many of us tried in vain to control our loved one;s behavior only to find out lives periodically overwhelmed with a frustrating and impossible task. We may have believed this to be our spiritual responsibility to end another persons addiction. We become fearful of what might happen to our loved ones. (APR manual)
Doing this becomes easy. Especially for those of us who are nurtures by instinct. It is easy for us to take over where someone else cant. In doing this with an addict though you take away their agency. We each have our own agency. Even the Christ our Savior and our Father in Heaven (God) cannot override another persons agency. So what makes us think we can? I dont know but it is a cycle that must be broken.
We need to learn to understand agency and to accept it. We have the power to choose our actions. Not the actions of others. We can choose how we react to the actions of others.
Learn to accept powerlessness. There is nothing that we can do to stop a tsunami, an earthquake, a hurricane. These things are out of our control and we are easily able to accept that. We need to take that same ideal and apply it to the addiction of a loved one. We can not control them anymore than we can control Mother Nature.
Learn to let it go. Take a deep breath and breathe out the fear, anger, hate, unkind thoughts, ill feelings. These things do us no good. they drag us down and keep us down. It is natural to feel these things, and ok for some times. At some point though all these things need to be let go of. Sometimes it is through tears. If you are to the point where you cannot cry over something, yet you are hurt or angry about it, that is a scary point. It is good to cry, it is a very healthy emotional release, especially if done in moderation. Moderation in all things. I love to stand in the shower and cry. I let the water wash away my tears. I cry out all my bad feelings and watch them go down the drain away from me. I let the water hit me in the head and run all the way down to my toes and out and down the drain. I let the water take away all the bad. It is a wonderful feeling!
Choose to take care of yourself.
This does not mean only doing for yourself and no one else. It means taking time to look in the mirror and say, wow, you look good today. You did a great job. It means taking a few minutes to relax and breathe. To do your hair, to bathe. Take time to nourish you. Your spirit needs attention too. No matter how you want to do that, whether it be through scripture, prayer, meditation. You need to reconnect to your spirit, to the you inside. Once you nourish yourself you can nourish others.
How does understanding the power of addiction, help me to recognize that I cannot control my loved one's addictive behavior and choices?
When you understand the grip that an addiction has on a person you can see that you too are gripped by an addiction. The addiction of co-dependency. It can be as equally hard to break as the addiction of your loved one. Why? Because you want to help. The problem comes in when you help too much and you control and take away another's agency. That does no one any good. Step back, make them learn while you are learning. Letting go does wonders for overcoming co-dependency. that is an important step. One that needs to be recognized, and repeated frequently,especially at first. It seems unnatural at first, then becomes easier. It is actually the best way to get your loved one out of their addiction is to break your tie with codependency. and breaking your control over them.
In what ways have I tried to control my loved one in addiction? What emotions may have motivated my behaviors?
So many ways. I tried to force him to be helpful around the house. To "be the man" To provide for us, to finish school. I picked his major. I picked up forms, I filled them out. I handled everything that came in whether it be for the kids, him, myself. I took care of it all so he wouldn't have to do any of it.
I think my main motivator was guilt. If I was able to do it all then he could focus only on recovery. And when I failed to do it all his addiction became my fault. When he would "slip up" it was my fault because I hadn't done something right, or good enough.
What can I do to begin to choose how I respond rather than emotionally react to the circumstances around me.
the first step to this is recognizing the difference between choosing how you react and having an emotional reaction. An emotional reaction happens with no thought to the circumstance, or the consequences of the reaction. When you chose to react, there is a thought process involved. Even if it isn't a long though process, it is still a though process. You see your step and you can foresee some of the consequences whether they be good or bad.
So I would say learning to think first.
How does understanding my own nothingness without God's power help me recognize that I can not cause,control, or cure my loved one's addiction?
Understanding that God is all powerful, yet he still cannot control the actions of another person helps me to realize that I cannot either. I am not more than God. I can't do something that he can't/ And that is OK! It is not up to me. It is only up to me to control how I react to anothers actions.
In my efforts to help my addicted loved one, how have I ignored my own needs and neglected to take care of myself? Have I neglected loving interactions or awareness of the physical and emotional needs of my children or spouse?
For years I quit wearing make-up, dressing daily, doing my hair. There was no point, there was no time. I quit reading my scriptures and feeding my soul. I quit doing the things that I wanted to do for ME. My kids at times have been terribly neglected. Never in their physical needs but in their emotional and spiritual needs.
What can I learn from this life experience? How can it become and opportunity to gain knowledge and wisdom that will benefit my life now and in the future?
There is so much to learn from this life experience. To much to put here. I can put this here for now though. I can learn that when we give up control of our life to Our Father in Heaven good things come. We no longer are frustrated to the point of screaming because if the actions of another. we let Gods light shine in us and it fills all the dark empty spots. Yes we will still have trials, but nothing that can't be overcome if we are in the hands of God.
It can be an opportunity to gain knowledge and wisdom by talking, writing, reading, and DOING. To write things down gives you perspective. It gives you a place to put your feelings, to see your growth. when you see your growth you can see what you have learned. When you have learned something now, it can only benefit you in the future. Especially if you have a place to look back on it.