We know when something is up with our loved ones. We may not know exactly what, but I can't tell you how many times I KNEW when a friend, partner, etc was using drugs or started drinking again, and I CHOSE to ignore the red flags. Sometimes it wasn't even red flags I was ignoring, it was red flashing banners that told me what was happening.
And yet, I still ignored all the signs. If I don't admit it, it's not really happening right? Here's the thing though, and this is hard to admit and may be even harder to hear: I ignored all those signs often for my own selfish purposes. And when I say "selfish" I want to be clear, I don't mean that as an insult to myself or saying that I am a selfish person. I am not a selfish person.
What I mean is, I chose to ignore the red flags because I didn't think I could face the truth. I ignored the red flags because:
I would have to take massive action that I didn't want to do
I was trying to satisfy my own needs and needed them to be someone they weren't.
I didn't want to go down that road because I know it's exhausting and I feel powerless. I would rather think I had some control over the situation.
I worked so damn hard to make it feel safe for them to tell me the truth that by them lying to me seemed like I wasn't special enough or I didn't do enough.
And dammit, I don't want to worry about them anymore. I've worried about them ENOUGH already.
Unfortunately, by me ignoring the red flags it perpetuated the issues. They were able to manipulate me and continue to lie not only to me but to themselves. See, addicts/alcoholics lie to themselves about using and as long as no one is confronting them, they actually believe everything is ok and they are using successfully. I know it doesn't make sense, but it's the way the brain thinks when someone is using substances. Even when people do confront them, they still believe everything is ok, but they know they can't effectively lie to you if you don't let them.
So what is the solution?
We have to be willing to honor the reality.
When we are lied to, we can't take it personally
We have to learn how to take care of ourselves despite what our loved ones are doing
We have to meet our needs, but we can't wait and depend on someone else to help us meet our needs. If you have ever said, "Once they get better, and get their life back on track, then I will start doing the things I want to do again." You have to learn how to live your life despite what they are doing.
Sleep is a major need that needs to be met, along with taking care of our nutrition so we can think clearly. So don't forget to eat and sleep. If you are having trouble sleeping, this is why you need to get help for yourself.
Bottom line: It's not easy having a loved one with a substance abuse issue. There are a lot of complicated things happening. Red flags we may not always know how to interpret. Complicated emotions we may not always know how to feel. Basic needs we may not know how to meet on our own.
We need help too, whether we like to admit it or not.
I post daily about things that will help you navigate this crazy world of substance abuse! If you want to be notified when I post, click here and Subscribe to my blog!