If you have been around recovery rooms long enough, you are familiar with this term and phrase, “We suffer from a disease for which there is no cure; we can, however, have a daily reprieve.” Turns out, this is as true for the family members who have become addicted to the addict and have learned to live in reaction to the feelings and emotions of the addict.
I am convinced that healing for the family is just as imperative as healing for the addict. And if fact, much as when a family member has an infectious disease, and they take an antibiotic. If the rest of the family does not take one, then the infection continues its trek around the family. Just like any disease, if you ignore or try to hide its existence, its potency and devastating effects become rampant.
Growing up in an alcoholic home was perhaps the most defining event that set in motion the woman that I would become. Thankfully, through my spiritual program as a Christian and then later recovery programs, I was able to take that thing that could have damaged me, and I made it the thing that fueled me. Of course, many of the manifestations of the disease work while they work, and you become an overachiever and eternally positive because you want to be the different one, the one that is known for the good they do and not the bad that their family is becoming.
It is not surprising that those from alcoholic or drug-addicted homes end up in relationships with others with the disease. It perpetuates itself until someone in the family breaks the cycle of addiction. This cannot happen, however, shrouded in silence and shame. It is an illness that needs to be addressed, talked about, and become educated about. I once heard someone say that alcoholism is the only disease that tries to convince you that you do not have it!!!
If you are in a family or have been impacted by this disease, please know that there is help for you, and it comes, One day at a time. There are programs and people who have been where you are. And part of their healing is in reaching out and helping another. Recovery, whether the addict or the family member, is predicated on the very fact that you must give it away to keep it.
You will see me being more vocal and transparent with the struggles that my family has endured and lived to become triumphant at times and on our knees in anguish at times, but I do know that I can be happy and grateful at all times and in all conditions. My happiness is in NO way dependent on the happiness or the sobriety of another. Of course, we are so grateful, so very grateful when we see people find peace and wholeness through recovery. But, and this is a big but, we must learn to be okay and thrive in the meantime whether our loved one is okay or not.
I am thankful for that daily reprieve, for the one day at a time, for those that have gone before me. I am thankful that I lived with a man who died a sober alcoholic. I am thankful that our life was richer and deeper than if it was never a problem. I believe this will be the same for the rest of my family, but I will not ever place my well-being or happiness on the backs of another human.
Please note that my heart is so wide open for the families that struggle and if you need help you are welcome to reach out to me or private message me. I will not remain silent because hopefully I can share a small measure of experience, strength and hope to a fellow traveler. Hugh had a bumper sticker and it was his FAVE, it said in bold purple letters, “Life is the school and love is the lesson.”