Updated: May 18, 2019
Addiction to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, etc. is without a doubt a bad thing. There is no questioning that point. It wrecked my life for many years.
It turned me into a person I did not recognize.
It filled me with this idea that I had a monster growing inside me. And when I say monster, I really actually believed I had a demon with me. Yes, I read WAY to many fantasy occult books and may have watched “Charmed” one too many times.
Even after I got clean, for the first few years I really thought there was this darkness within me that was just waiting to get out.
Funny side story and then I will get back to my point. When I was around 19, I had a friend call me up who happened to be snake sitting for her boyfriend and she was struggling with the feeding process. The snake was finicky and had to eat freshly killed mice. Not frozen and apparently it isn’t a good idea to put a live mouse in the pen because sometimes the mice claw and tear the snake up pretty bad before it gets a chance to kill it.
Only problem was she couldn’t bring herself to kill the mouse. She calls me up and asks me to come kill the mouse for her. Now, anyone that knows me today knows I am not the person to call up and ask to kill anything. I am a huge animal lover, ALL animals are included even the freaking rodents (gawd even I get on my nerves with that one). But at the time, because I thought I was part demon I didn’t think it was going to be such a difficult task to kill a little white mouse. I was just going to go over there and grab the mouse and snap it’s neck. AHHHHH I know that sounds so horrible and gruesome.
To make a long, gruesome story short, I will just say things didn’t go as plan. I should have known at that point I was not the potentially sadistic serial killer that I thought I could be. I was traumatized for years after that and even to this day when I really think about it, I go right back into being traumatized and want to cry.
Ok, back to my point.
That darkness that I had demonized was really fear.
And do you know what I was afraid of? Myself. I get that I couldn’t kill a poor little mouse, but I was still afraid of what I was capable of. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to stay clean. I was afraid I was fooling myself and everyone around me into thinking I was a good person when I had done so many bad things in my life.
I questioned if I was a good person who had just done bad things, or if I was a bad person trying to be someone that I wasn’t.
I really didn’t know.
Throughout my addiction, I faced many things, death being a big part of it. I faced being held up at gunpoint, being chased through the streets by drug dealers, confronting cops several times that almost arrested me but somehow I managed to talk myself out of it, and many more things that I am not going to bore you with. Bottom line, I faced the darkest parts of humanity.
Facing myself was the most difficult journey. Not the fear of dying, the fear of living, but living with the person I thought I was. My journey of recovery has helped me gain that strength, courage, and confidence to face the biggest thing I am afraid of. When I started truly facing myself, and believing in myself, I realized there was no monster lurking inside me.
I have many people in my life that reminds me that I am not alone in having some of these feelings and experiences. It seems to be the ones that can push past their fear and truly confront the person they are that seems to have the most success in getting off drugs and alcohol and stay that way. It’s when we confront our fears, we become the person we have always meant to be.
To the parents of addicts
I don’t want to speak for anyone else and say for sure this is what your loved one is going through. I will say I have not met a person that struggles with addiction that isn’t running from something and it has almost always come down to they are running from themselves in one way or another.
It’s hard not to look at a person using drugs or alcohol and not want to shake them to death and tell them to get their shit together. I have been harsh to some of my friends who have chosen to use and start wrecking their lives again. I have told them “the truth” about what they are doing to themselves and to me. I have turned my back and have found myself resentful, angry, and have taken their addiction personally. I have taken far too much responsibility in another person’s actions.
And the only thing this has ever done for me is cause me a lot more fear, anger, and the complete and utter helplessness that goes into worrying about someone dying. It causes me to really react from a place of fear and push the addict farther away. Most importantly, I worry that if someone does die, I am going to blame myself for their death. I didn’t do enough…, I didn’t say the right things…, I caused this when I turned my back or I didn’t give them the money they were asking for... Even worse, I DID give them the money they asked for…
A few things I have to keep in mind when I am dealing with someone using.
Addiction is not personal
I cannot react to their addiction and behaviors from a place of fear, I have to really think what the best thing to truly help them would be and respond to their behaviors.
#1 and #2 are damn near impossible to do on my own because I am too close and emotional to truly be able to respond without some help and guidance.
Jennifer Maneely has spent the last eight years investing in leadership programs, self-awareness, and relationship with families through communication. Drawing on her experience as a leadership consultant, she uses an executive coaching approach to working with parents. She has dedicated her life and her business to not only addicts in need but also understanding and supporting the needs of the family members. Being a recovering addict herself, she is trained in what it takes for an addict to get their life back and has spent years teaching family members how to respond to the addicts to prevent the families from unintentionally supporting the addict in their self-sabotage and destructive patterns of behaviors. Want to stop supporting your loved one in their addiction? Set up a free strategy call