I know how you feel. Trust me, I honestly do. I am a person of experience, but not wiser than my years. I was once in that same shattered soul phase, sliding down the back of my bedroom door, head in my hands. I spent many nights wondering when it would all be over, when they would just wake up and when I was going to finally be free of this.
I can relate to not wanting to celebrate holidays anymore. I am only just now getting back into the groove of Christmas myself. When you have to watch the person you love day in and day out continue the same habits that are destroying them not only physically, but mentally, and emotionally, you tend to become a hollow version of what they are projecting. It’s a vicious cycle, really. Sure, you can throw away their box of goodies, you can dump out all of the bottles in the entire house, you can flush down any of their remaining kryptonite. You can have tears flooding down your face, coming from a place you didn’t even know existed, begging with them, pleading with them to make it stop. You don’t realize that you are really just talking to yourself. You will eventually see that you are the one who has to wake up. You are the one who has to allow yourself to let it be over, so you can finally be free of this.
It will be very, very hard.There’s really no other way to put it. I know it and live it so well, even still. The further away I have gotten from the source of all of my pain, the more I am feeling the wings that I clipped so long ago begin to grow back. Each gorgeous feather, busting its way out of the shell that I had created to protect myself. I forgot how much I liked to listen to music, how much I really enjoy traveling. I am standing taller, walking prouder. There is color in my face. I am beginning to feel like a person again. We will all heal differently. I can’t say for sure you will cope exactly the same way I did when I finally got the courage to speak my truth, to be brutally honest to someone who has gotten so familiar to using, so accustomed to lying, so used to breathing in the smoke of it all.
Months will pass and you may feel a relapse of your own. Please trust me when I say this isnormal. You may hear a stranger talking to their child in a way you were once spoken to and it will take you right back to when you were a child yourself, defenseless and afraid. You may smell a familiar scent, a familiar cocktail that they had brewed together at a party your best friend talked you into and you will see a familiar scene vividly play out in your head. Sometimes the past will stop you dead in your tracks.
I urge you to keep moving forward. I plead with you to continue talking about how it made you feel. I have learned that the more I communicate openly about my past experiences dealing a loved one’s addiction. I understand my own triggers, my own trauma. I learn to adjust accordingly and I learn to heal. It does get better. If you will be open to taking any kind of advice, it is this. You either become it or you rise above it. I used to say that to my brother when my parent’s would fight into the night. I would have him focus on me and tell him that once we were eighteen, we would see the world. He now is married and lives in Arizona and I am slated to be traveling to Europe next year. I ask that you find your religion. I am not here to preach any one specific belief on you, but I urge you to find that higher power. The Universe is very good to those who seek peace for the soul. I also recommend diving head first into something you aren’t familiar with. When I was younger, I learned everything there is to know about MMA. As an adult, I decided that I was going to fall in love with soccer.
Understand that you will have some form of anxiety for the remainder of your life. It will always be there. But also understand that it is only in your head. You are in control of your entire life moving forward from your separation with the addict in your life. Force yourself to be open, kind, and humble. I know that you thought the world was telling you differently at one point, but it’s just the blast zone from the addict’s own demons. You can be in the clear and you will be cleansed. Talk with strangers. It is a practice that I have adopted with open arms. Ask why a person got to where they are and realize that you weren’t the only one to have gone through a struggle. It’s how you take the power away from letting it define you. Laugh, a lot. Find friends who make you laugh, find a lover who can make you laugh, let yourself laugh at your own mistakes. Each day that passes and the further away you get from that moment in time when you broke the addict’s cycle, the more aware you end up becoming overall. It is a glorious feeling.
And please remember this, if you take anything away from getting this far. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are courageous, independent, and always adaptable. You are shaped, molded but not defined by your experience. You are allowed to own how you feel and how you’ve felt. You are allowed a moment of impulse reaction, but understand that you must move forward a little harder on yourself, a little more aware than the rest. You lived through it. You survived. You are a wonderful being who can put this behind them. You will travel, meet the love of your life, take trains, read more, grocery shop with a list, and take long drives without feeling like you want to just run away. You are healing. You are getting there and you deserve all of the credit in the world for it. And most important of all, please know that you are so loved. It was never your fault and you should never adopt the guilt of an addict’s choices, no matter how tempting it may be. You are so very loved. I am proud of you! You’ve come so far and you’ve got this! As I always say, onward and forward. No use looking back now.
Article can also be found on The Odyssey Online.