Loving an addict and losing sight of the small stuff
It is the little things in life can help put the larger things into perspective.
How can you reframe your thinking if you are in a relationship with an addict? When is it time to move on from a drug addict? Here are some ideas from someone who’s been there. We invite your comments and stories about being in a family with addicts at the end.
You are in the midst of another argument with your addicted loved one. He or she has just fallen off the wagon after months of sobriety. You are consumed by their problems. You miss your daughter’s soccer game, you are too aggravated to food shop for Sunday family dinner, and exercise and showering are off the agenda. You feel like you are back to square one just when you thought things were returning to normal. If your partner is an addict, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
The Little Things
When the only thing you can plan for with addiction is to NOT make plans, it is hard to appreciate the little things in life; the things that used to bring you joy. You can become so consumed by “crisis mode” that you start to overlook the small things. Often times, family dinners, coffee with friends, reading a book to your child, taking walks, or simply sitting down with a cup of tea and reading your favorite magazine take a back seat. These little pleasures may be ruined by the worry and problems you have for the active addict.
The Reality of Addiction
Most of us deal with drug use and relapse as a crisis — because it definitely feels like one. The more you familiarize yourself with addiction; you may realize that that lies, broken promises, and relapses are extremely common. The less you feel personally offended by these episodes, the less it will take over your life when they occur.
Have a Back-Up Plan
We do not want our loved one to fail. We do not want to plan on it happening but it is still important to have a back-up plan. Having a plan helps you react to a crisis in a healthy way. A plan can keep you sane when something very insane is happening. Just because your loved one is doing something that is irrational, does not mean that you need to follow suite. Set consequences and remain strong on the conditions you have put in place. When the addict breaks their promise, you will have the tools to handle things with a clear head instead of allowing emotions to take over. The more you stay calm, the easier it will be to go back to your normal life.
Appreciate the Small Stuff
One morning I was rushing to work. I was used to rushing because living with an addict, nothing ever went as planned. But this time I stopped. I looked up at everything around me and realized it was a gorgeous day. I parked further from work than usual, stopped in my favorite café, ordered a latte, and strolled to work, breathing in the fresh air. This small luxury changed my whole outlook on that day for the better.
Another way to feel less affected by addiction is by learning to appreciate the small stuff again. Do not let a “no show” addict ruin your family dinner, or a “stay out all night incident” allow you to miss your child’s school play the next morning.
You can learn how to love an addict and still let the addict live out their own addiction without affecting every aspect of your life. You may not remember the simple enjoyment of meeting a friend to talk over coffee but if you refuse to give up simple pleasures eventually they are the things that may help you make it through the tough times.
If you give up every little thing you love for the worry of someone else’s problem then you might as well just give up. It is the little things in life can help put the larger things into perspective. It is the small pleasantries that can get you through the day and provide an outlet for you to recharge and re-balance yourself.
Photo credit: kozumel