Family Diseaseby Nancy D. on 03/01/19
I was listening to a fabulous speaker the other night at a Free Educational Series I had encouraged our local prevention non-profit to adopt in our county. There was a small gathering of people there. One of the things he did was draw a circle in the middle of the flip chart, and put the person with the addiction's name in the middle of the circle. He then drew for or 5 connecting lines and circles at the end of those lines around the larger circle in the middle.
He asked how a loved one's addiction had made us feel. Some answers slowly and softly began coming from the small crowd. Stressed, walking on eggshells, emotionally drained, financially drained, fatigued, depressed, anxious, shame, concern, islolated, defeated, guilt, anger, sadness, grief and traumatized were many of the answers. He then erased the family members name in the middle of the circle and wrote the word "disease". This was how the disease of addiction made the family members feel, not the person suffering the disease. And in fact, the person suffering from the substance use disorder, goes through the very same emotions we do, suffers the very same sadness, grief and trauma the family feels. The family feels it on even a deeper level at this point, because they have been dealing with it, unmedicated. The person with the substance use disoder gets high to numb all of those things and we remain sober, feeling all the feels.
We are the ones who jump when the phone rings, the ones who eat, sleep and breathe wondering about the whereabouts of our loved one we haven't heard from in days, the pain, obsession and suffering we go through, It's similiar to a missing person. We go through complex trauma, always being powerless in the fallout of anothers behaviors. Their disease, has traumatized us, over and over again and we live in a state of chronic stress and complex trauma.
What can we do? The answer is always "take care of ourselves", but how on earth do we do that? How on earth do we cut off the constant obsession for our loved ones well being and put down the rope of worry long enough to do something, ---whatever that used to be before the disease of addiction struck our family, if we can even remember what living like that ever was. How do we shuffle forward and leave our obsession, stress, worry, pain, grief and all of those eggshells behind?
A couple of ways. If anyone is like me, they have to be completely exhausted, just drained without another thing to give, before I can remember to "surrender" the struggle I've been holding up, single handedly for the last monthsssss, straight. Surrender lets me bring my shoulders back to where they used to be instead of carrying them tensely up around my ears. Surrender lets me check my emails for work projects I've ignored, clean up my house, do my laundry, deposit my pay checks that have been in my purse accumulating for 3 weeks, because I had been too consumed with someone elses life and not put them in the bank to pay my own bills. Surrender lets me go get the 3 inches of roots I have showing, colored again so I don't look like I have clown hair. Surrender helps me shop for different clothes I hadn't had time or energy to buy, because I had been all consumed in someone else's stuff and been guilty of buying something for them to wear and not myself.
Surrender allows. Surrender allows me to stop doing that which I cannot win, that which I cannot do anything about and lets me move back into my life. The one I left behind for countless months on end. I did my due dillegence in worry, in pain, in dispair, in trauma, in craziness, and in endless depearation. Now it was time to surrender. Let go. Be me, Be free.
At least until the next crises comes up that jerks me back into the chaotic reality again. Until then, I can enjoy the peace that surrender brings, I can now open my mind to hear something else beside fear and holding on for dear life
. I am reborn, at least for a little while, so I need to get lots of little nesting things done for myself when I hit the period of surrender, because it tends to come back, like the plague, until I work it to death, then fail, then give up, then surrender for another time period of solitude and peace. The more and more I practice getting there earlier, the longer I get to stay there and the longer the impending drauma doesn't have it's talons in me, ready to guide me back inside the bowel of dispair. So, for today, I choose peaceful surrender and hope you try it too :)