Monday, August 17, 2009

A First Class Human Being has some regard for Human Frailty

This is often hard for a family member to swallow: There is nothing harder than living with an unrecovered family member.

Actually, in the perfect world, family members and friends would receive attention, help and education about addiction two years before the addict starts recovery. Two years is about the amount of time needed to deal with resentment, anger, blame, hurt and a myriad of losses. The timing is awful; an addict goes into treatment or recovery and others are expected to have nothing to resolve about what has been happening. Families are expected to be supportive and caring. Well—good luck!

I like the analogy of everyone having an open wound on their heart. It needs to heal and repair itself. It is best not to keep ripping off the scab, which is what happens when we keep bringing up the past as a weapon, when we keep reminding each other of all of the hurts and relationship failures, when we do not tend to our own recoveries. Often, the family member simply wants the addict to heal, but has no grasp on the fact that they themselves harbor so much unfinished business. What is common to hear is “Well, it was not my problem, it was theirs.” Yes, this is true. It is also true that you have been deeply wounded and are in need of some help to mend that heart.

The addict has to stay sober long enough to learn how to be sober. As hard as it may seem, the others in their life need to not pull the rug out with angry words. I did not say that you are not going to have anger. I also did not say that you are in any way responsible for someone’s relapse. I have often suggested that we all put a 6-inch piece of duct tape over our mouth for several months and only release it when we have kind and supportive words. Then, everyone goes to their meetings, remove the tape, open your ears and mouth and speak. Back to the car, tape in place again until the day comes when your heart truly feels loving and has a new perspective.