Addiction, Recovery, Support:

Sharing Your Story Really Is Necessary To Your Recovery

18 Apr 2011 by Recovering You, No Comments »

Loving an addict, living with an addict, relationship with an addict


If you are anything like I was, when you think about telling anybody about the situation you are in, loving an addict, you probably imagine it as the hardest thing in the world to ever share.

The shame of having addiction in your life will feel too ugly to disclose. Isn? this disease for the downtrodden? Don? people living with addiction become burdens on society?

While wondering about how it would be to shed some of weight of the burden you carry, it also doesn? take too much to imagine what the people you tell will think about it all. I always thought I had a pretty good idea how they would view me and my situation. I had some pretty good people in my life but I also know even the most well meaning friends and family can be unknowingly critical when faced with a problem they have preconceived ideas about.

And I was worried about how they would view my husband (then boyfriend) as the addict too. It might seem strange but the thing is, we tend to feel the shame for our addicts too and we want to protect them as much as we protect ourselves We don? want others thinking badly of them because ultimately, we love them regardless of what they are doing to themselves, and to us.

The questions and tidbits of advice that will be offered up by our caring confidantes are predictable:

?hy do you put up with it??r
?on? you want better for yourself, for your kids??r
?ave you tried to get them to stop??r
?f they loved you they would stop!?/p>

There are no simple answers or explanations to any of those comments. And you aren? looking for them to solve the problem anyway. You just wanted to talk to somebody, anybody, who would make your load seem easier to bear, lighter to carry.

Instead it all just feels like judgment. And so sharing your story can feel incredibly shameful.

But in most cases, if we have picked the right person to talk to, the questions come from a place of caring and concern. They come from an inherent desire to ease the problems of the people we love.

Most people won? fully understand. How can they unless they have been where you are? But you don? need them to know intimately what you are going through, you just need them to be there for you, and be able to listen. Even if that? as simple as sharing a cup of coffee and a chat about anything other than your situation. Or the person being able to simply ask how you are, and genuinely asking based on what they know? Not being intrusive, but keeping that communication open for when you do want to share more. I know those times meant so much to me. To have someone ask how I was, with insight, and know that I could tell them honestly instead of putting on the false smile I would show everyone else as I said ?eally good thank you!? while my life was falling apart.

If you can think of at least one person that you can muster up the bravery to trust and confide in, do it. This journey is too difficult to do on your own and you will find it harder to reach your own recovery without at least one person to support you. You need that support to turn to when the fight seems too hard, when the days are dark and you need the courage to go on.

Pick your person carefully and let them know from the outset that you don? need them to find solutions for you, that just listening will be the best support they can give. Make sure they can be as neutral as possible, as caring and honest as possible without being detrimental and as discrete as you need them to be. It? important that you know they are a solid friend, not a fickle acquaintance that will share your story with whoever will listen. Your situation is sensitive and needs to be treated as such.

It is also YOUR decision who you tell, not your addicts. You don? have to tell them you are speaking with someone about your situation (although I chose to so that my husband knew I wasn? enabling by hiding his problem) but if you do and they protest, calmly explain that this support is for you and the reasons you chose this person, which should hopefully be those I listed above ?trust, discretion, neutral and supportive. Let them know you will be talking from YOUR perspective, for YOUR benefit and then do just that. The time you spend sharing should be about you and what you need to share. Don? spend the whole time listing all of the behaviours and actions your addict is engaging in. Focus on what you need and how you are coping. You can only control your side of the situation, not your addicts so talking only about them will waste the support you are seeking. Obviously your conversations will be in context of the behaviors and actions of your addict but focus on YOUR part in the story so that YOU can begin to restore with the help of the good friends and family.

Photo credit:) 2008Steve Evans

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