Does your loved one's destructive behavior and continual lies make you feel like you are going crazy? Do you ask yourself daily, or multiple times daily, "Why on earth do I tolerate this person with this addiction?!"Do you feel confused when you experience moments with the addict where you feel joy and see glimmers of hope that things will get better? Sounds like you are in love with an addict.
And, although this might sound crazy, I think it is a "good" thing.
Read that last statement again if you need to and notice if you had a reaction to it. Did it make you cringe? If you are someone with an addiction, are you curious why I say that it is a good thing to be in love with you?
Well, it is. I am not saying it is good to be in love with the addiction. That is a different thing. After all, The person you love is NOT their addiction. The addiction; however, is definitely a huge part of their lives and their world; especially their body, mind, and spirit. Every aspect of a person's BEING gets taken over by the illusion of what drugs, alcohol, food, sex, work, financial addiction has to offer.
The "vice(s)" a person ends up using often becomes their reason; their excuse to repeatedly escape the feelings of loneliness, shame, sadness, guilt, pain-physical and/or emotional-etc. This desire to escape is not intentional; the brain's reward center kicks in with dopamine; the "gotta get it" neurotransmitter. The fix becomes more important than any relationship.
Relying on this "vice" gives someone who has a history of trauma, shame, depression, sadness, attachment issues, etc, or even curiosity or accident (i.e. porn addiction is impacting children as young as 8 years of age) a reason/excuse to hide from who they truly are- the person you love.
Being in love with an addict means that at some point in your relationship, you saw their potential, along with their talents, intuitiveness, sensitivity, and brilliance. Many times, and understandably so, loved ones forget about these positive attributes, especially as they endure years of lies, deception, betrayal, and pain.
I am not saying that because you have seen who this person really is-the "good" in them-that you should stay with them at all costs. It is crucial that partners, spouses, children, loved ones, do what they need to do in order to get/stay healthy, especially since we know that with addiction, the entire family system gets sick. For some, this may mean walking away from the relationship for awhile or forever. However, even if you walk away, it is still ok to love the person in their addiction.
Having healthy boundaries is a strong sign of loving the addict, and it may also feel really foreign. After all, you have probably found yourself enabling them out of fear that they might leave you or even die if you didn't.
Setting boundaries can be the biggest form of telling your loved one just how much you care about them. Boundaries mean that because you love this person so much, you are drawing a line in the sand to assist them in getting help, not in dying.
An example of a boundary is to no longer give your family member money, or monitoring their accounts, especially if you know they use it to buy drugs, alcohol, sex, gamble, etc. This may feel like policing, however, in the beginning of recovery, this behavioral boundary may prove effective. If the person with the addiction wants recovery, they will likely be open to this type of boundary. After all, it will assist them in being more honest and accountable.
Another way to show that you love your partner via boundaries is to do things for your own recovery. For example, attending therapy and joining a support group. This is a form of influence, not control, and a healthy way of showing your loved one that you too are learning new ways of coping with the addiction.
A third boundary may be to limit contact with the person if they are using. If you live with them, limiting contact to a minimum; letting them know you are doing this is key as to not create more conflict than is already in the space.
Finally, and as previously mentioned, leaving for a short while or forever may be the ultimate boundary you practice which may need to be done as a sign of self love as well as loving them. If the relationship gets too toxic and the person with the addiction refuses help, leaving may be the ultimate boundary and act of self and other love.
It is ok to love someone who has an addiction; in fact, I think it is a "good" thing. Demonstrating your love by setting healthy boundaries is a beautiful way to take care of your own needs while insulating you from further pain caused by the addiction.
Remember, life is too short to sweat the small stuff-- YOU ARE WORTH YOUR RECOVERY!
Fall programming (details to come):
Interested in learning how to take care of your health? Cari Junge, our Integrative Health Specialist, will be offering a health class this fall!
More groups for men! In September, Rich will begin a new men's Sexual Recovery Group. We are also exploring a male partner support group.
Candice and Carrie have moved the Mastering the Trauma Wound II to September.
Stay tuned! A lot of great stuff happening at Namasté!
Contact info NAMASTEADVICE.COM; 801-272-3500