Often, we find ourselves in the dark not knowing what is happening to us. We are unable to articulate the feelings, which, in itself is frustrating.
When I tell people that I didn’t miss my husband when he was put in a hospital, I see those raised eyebrows and sheepish look of disgust for me. But that’s true. I didn’t miss him. In fact, I was glad he was there. My first reaction was to sigh with relief knowing he was alive and safe and I didn’t have to be responsible for his well-being.
The cat was out of the bag
The diagnosis came and it was ALCOHOLISM! Wow! Alcoholism! No more shushing. We finally, did have a name for the enemy. It was a relief to know who we were battling with.
After catching my breath, the reality of his absence started setting in. I did miss him, however was still grateful for some time out. The thought about his returning home gave me the heebie-jeebies. All those what if’s and how’s kept circling over my head. The detox was going to get him sober and healthy and they said, everything would go back to normal! Really? Just like that! After all these years, did I even know what normal was?
When someone comes out of treatment, things can’t just go back to being “normal.” That is a scary realization for most people. Not just the alcoholic, but the family, who has literally maintained the same daily routine for all these years, it’s a tough fact to accept that things are going to be normal. In families with alcoholism, emotions and priorities often get mixed up.
The realization that if my family kept living our lives like our ‘normal’, we would be making it significantly harder for the alcoholic/addict to stay sober. Because our normal was nothing but enabling the alcoholic. Over a period of time, we became professionals at helping the addict’s disease thrive. Our lives revolved around it. I was the main Enabler, doing everything for my alcoholic that they could, or should be doing themselves. I played the part of his wife, his mother – basically the martyr. I covered for him whenever trouble arose. We, as a family kept him from suffering any of the adverse consequences of his alcohol and drug abuse.
Addiction is a family disease
Yes, addiction is a family disease. Everyone in the family is affected, not just the addict. Addiction isn’t a spectator sport, eventually the whole family gets to play!
We need to take a hard look at ourselves – our habits, our family dynamics, and the trauma that we had been through. A change had to come. Our language had to change. But doing it alone is never easy. The addict found himself a mutual aid group and support came his way. We, as the family needed support and guidance too. A lot of help did come from self-help recovery groups.
At some point we found a new normal.
It wasn’t easy. We as families have to decide that if keeping old habits meant hurting the addict/alcoholic’s recovery, it wasn’t going to work for any of us.
We, the families of addicts, are damaged and need repair and healing too. Our broken hearts need mending too. The sadness has to leave. I was so tired doing things my way that when someone asked me to let go of all I was holding on to and open my heart, I literally fell on my knees ready to have someone outside of myself guide and show me the way.
Through these changes to better ourselves, we help each other to restore a sense of wellbeing. It is a slow process and eventually you get it. We learn how to live and …let live.
When I was ready, positive things started happening. I had no idea what was in store for me. Not being dramatic, my life took a turn and I started showing up in my own life.
This blog is written by Mira (name changed) on behalf of Reboot Wellness. Mira observes and engages with people visiting Reboot Wellness.