Recognising Addiction | Trust Your Instincts
Your suspicions are raised. Things seem a little off lately. But you can? quite put your finger on what it is. Or maybe you can? But you haven? found the proof.
When addiction creeps its way into your family, your home and your life, it believes it comes in quietly, unnoticed and unheard. It moves stealth like at first, its objective is to remain undetected so that it can get comfortable and hang around without you ejecting it from its newest host.
Clever as it thinks it is though, its presence doesn? go totally unobserved. Its sinister intentions have a way of making themselves known, even when they assume complete discretion.
Even so, it can be difficult to be sure of what you are seeing, hearing and sensing. Part of you won? want to believe addiction is moving into your life. Part of you wants to only think the best of the person you love. And possibly, if the addiction has already been around for a while, part of you will be convinced by it that you have it all wrong and are just making problems for the person you love.
But what does your gut say? What do your eyes see? And what can you hear between the lines?
When my husbands (then boyfriend) alcohol addiction (one of his cross addictions) first started to show itself to me I immediately reproached myself for being over sensitive to a few extra drinks. I was raised by an alcoholic and had left home with a promise to myself not to become him or to fall in love with anyone like him. I didn? want addiction in my life ever again and I worried I was being too quick to chuck anyone who drank more than a couple of beers in that box.
So I brushed it off, looked away, tried to loosen up like my friends and my husband suggested I should. I questioned myself. Was I being too controlling? Was I boring? Was I just an introverted kill joy who didn? know how to have fun so didn? want anyone else to either? But it all FELT like more than that. My instincts were yelling for my attention but I was too afraid to listen. I loved so much about my husband and I didn? want to give up what I believed we had.
My gut instinct wouldn? let up but it was too painful to open my eyes to what was really going on. And I didn? until the unpredictable behaviour became too destructive to ignore and our relationship was all but over. When it was confirmed to me that my husbands other addictions were in full flight as well, I knew I had been living with what was a big problem the whole time and now it was hurting me as well as my husband.
This discovery and the resulting crisis that followed taught me to trust my instincts, to give credit to my subconscious ability to sense and protect myself from detrimental situations. If you love an addict you will notice, sense and see things that don? add up. Some behaviour will be more obvious, like mood swings, defensiveness, not sleeping, being short of money and generally acting out of character but others will be more covert and concealed. They might undermine their usual values and beliefs or display irregular behaviour or skewed thinking without any logic that contradicts the person you have always known. Everything about them might just seem a bit out of kilter but you can? work out why.
In some cases, there may be genuine reasons for this type of behaviour including mental illness or stress but if you have any reason to suspect an abuse problem, trust your instincts and pay attention to the signals and symptoms of possible addiction so that you can begin protecting yourself and getting the help that is needed early on.
And even in recovery trusting your instincts is just as important but the hard part is that it can be difficult to know for certain whether an addict IS maintaining recovery, and early on your instincts may try to compensate for all the time that you didn? listen and go into high alert mode. But if you stop, and give yourself space to listen to your heart and your senses it is easier to get clear on what is worth looking into and what might be panic based thinking due to the stress of living with addiction or protecting a young recovery.
This balance can be difficult to find if you feel you have been betrayed by your loved one but it is so critical to not get caught up in a cycle of looking for evidence or concocting mind movies in a bid to find out the truth. Far too much mental energy is used doing this and it doesn? serve anyone. You won? have to LOOK too hard if addiction is in your home. If you stay present, remain open to your instincts and trust YOURSELF to know what your current experience is, you will see all that is before you. Trust yourself and the guidance system you were born with.
In my next post I will list the common symptoms of addiction which will give you a guideline to balance against your instincts and indicate if the person you love needs help.
Photo credit:photo ?2008Bill S