If you have a loved one that seems to be dealing with substance abuse, then you have probably experienced being manipulated. You can lose yourself in it. It seems the deeper they get into their substance abuse issues; the families can start falling more and more into unfamiliar territory and finding themselves in those chaotic situations they don't quite know how to get themselves through.
The best offense a person has to manipulate you is using your guilt, using your fear, and using your hope against you. They will push on those guilt buttons when it comes time for you to defend your boundaries. They will use your fear against you.
The biggest fear you have is of losing them. And they know that. They know how to play on that. And I'm not saying that to say they are bad people, they're not. But they do know how to get their way, and they do know how to pull on your heartstrings.
I've done my fair share of pulling on people's heartstrings and manipulating. If you've ever heard your love one say something like, “Maybe this world will just be a better place without me.” This usually comes after you are defending your boundaries and you're getting angry with them.
And I know hearing that is scary, and it's a fear that drives many of the family members and many of the people around them to start breaking down some of those boundaries that they're upholding and defending. They make it harder for the family members to stick with what they say they're going to do. The scary thing about people saying things like that in the heat of the moment is they mean it. The self-loathing they experience is intense. They do believe the world would be better without them in their darkest thoughts.
When they say things like that, you can remind them how loved they are, but you don't have to bend your boundaries with them. And if you feel like they are a danger to themselves, you can have them committed in a psychiatric hold and let the professionals handle it.
They also tend to play on your hope. They'll give you just enough hope that makes you want to keep supporting them and helping them. They want you to save them, to rescue them, to help them pay for stuff. And you do it because you believe that just right around the corner is when the good things are going to start, right?
But then there's just enough hope for you to keep helping them continue down the same road. You say to yourself, “God, I thought that was the last time. They seemed committed to wanting to get better.” And when they said they wanted to get better, they meant it. But when the dust settles and nothing changes.
If you don't work on those things that are making you feel guilty and driving your fear, then this is going to continue to be your life. Only it may get worse as they get worse. I know that's hard to hear, but it's the truth. If you don't work on those guilt button, they can play on and the fears that they're playing on, this is going to continue being your life and imagine that this is your life for the next five years…10 years.
Did your stomach knot up at the thought continuing down this road? If something doesn't change, then nothing will change, and the most significant and quickest change that you can experience for the better and the positive is removing your guilt and removing those fears and not reacting from it.
The fear of losing them will always be there. I'm doing so much better, but my mom is my mom, and as a mother, she continues to have a fear of something happening to me. Not about drugs or alcohol anymore. We're past the drugs and alcohol, but she's still a mother, and she still worries about me.
That fear won't go away, but reacting from that place of fear will cloud some of your judgments and cloud your decisions.
Believing in yourself and gaining confidence in yourself again will help you to start believing in them more. Your loved one lacks confidence right now, and you can help provide that for them. But while also maintaining and sticking to your boundaries.
If you want to learn more about setting and defending boundaries, guilt free, you may want to look into my program about this. It's incredibly affordable, especially when you start considering the cost if you keep going down this road.