What’s Love Got To Do With It?
In fairytales and movies, we are taught that love conquers all. As long as love is present, it will prevail in the end and right all wrongs. Right?
No doubt you?e asked yourself the same questions I did when lying in the dark of night wondering how to fix the problems in my life caused by addiction.
?ouldn? he stop if he loved me??and ?hy isn? my love enough to make him stop??/p>
These questions inevitably lead onto the next conclusion of believing therefore they don? love me and my love doesn? mean anything to them. In most cases this conclusion is mistaken.
I know for sure (in hindsight) that my husband loved me right through the worst of his active addiction. He also loved his son, then stole from him and was distant with preoccupation over his next fix. He loved his parents who he constantly accepted loans and gestures of generosity from and his friends who he lied to and used for his own benefit. He treated us all terribly with dishonesty, manipulation and downright disrespect but I also know he loved, and goes on loving us.
So how, you ask, can they love and do all of this?
An addict can? experience, or demonstrate true love while they are gripped by addiction. It simply isn? possible for a number of reasons:
- Their addiction can? allow them to feel and believe in your love, or feel their love for you because it undermines what they are doing and makes them question the addiction and their actions. In fact they will likely convince themselves that YOU are part of the reason for their problem with whatever story they can concoct to justify what they are doing.
- They don? love themselves and therefore don? believe they are worth loving so can? possibly believe your love for them is real.
- When they are full of urges and desperation for their next fix, everything else including the people they care about and how they SHOULD behave, is obliterated.
There are of course those addicts who may in fact not love the person they are with and they may just be using who they can to enable them but in most cases, they don? bother for long with these people, cutting them off the minute they question or challenge the addict so ironically, the people that mean the most to them, are the people they will hurt the most, for the longest. This can be extremely difficult to cope with and accept. This type of love is hardly what any of us are looking for.
In saying that, do not withdraw or withhold your love, because it is not the healer you assumed and hoped it would be. Your love is just as important when its not able to be received, or valued for these reasons:
- You remain in integrity of giving love when you feel it and maintaining integrity is vital to your recovery
- Your addict will have moments when they can glimpse the love you offer and if it can be felt, even in those smallest of moments, let them have it.
- Your addict will know and fully realise the value and depth of the love you gave unconditionally in their recovery.
Sadly you are unlikely to see genuine gestures of love from an addict while they are active in their addiction and you will spend many moments in doubt of there being any love for you. But please, do not doubt their love, unless within and without the addiction, you see absolutely no sign of a love they hold beneath. Although it feels as such, it is not that an addict is purposefully not giving love. Their addicted thinking simply can? have love be any part of their addicted life. The two are mutually exclusive.
In the end, self love is the only love that will be enough to stop an addict hurting themselves and the people around them. And this won? be an easy feeling to cultivate. From what I have seen most addicts stop what they are doing out of panic, desperation or necessity and when they do, self love will be virtually non existent. It will only be through the right support, love from the people around them and a commitment to self healing that they will eventually begin to find a love for themselves that they can nurture, grow and then learn to share. It is my belief that without that self development, recovery will remain tenuous and fragile as no true awareness and understanding of the self that needs to grow to heal the vulnerabilities to addiction is ever obtained.
Likewise, it is critical to YOUR recovery that you also embrace self love so that you too can heal your vulnerabilities. You must know love for yourself so that you can draw strength from that, and raise your expectations for the person you value and care most deeply for. YOU. Without that love, whatever you get, is whatever you will take. Raise your value. Give yourself love. And experience the strength that comes form knowing love is always there for you. From you.
The love I share today with my husband is like no other I have experienced. It is rich and strong and absolutely undoubted. It is a love I KNOW so deeply inside and yet once, I believed whole-heartedly he had never loved or would ever love me like I wanted him to. And our love for ourselves lets us give each other love with confidence and belief that we are worth getting love back.
You can know the full feeling of love again in recovery. YOUR recovery. And if they follow your lead, in your addict? recovery.
Photo credit:photo ?2010Allen Skyy