Tuesday, March 28, 2017
I Love an Addict
When I first read the following piece, I was reminded of Libby Cataldi's Memoir Stay Close. Knowing when to stay close and when to set your boundaries can be extremely difficult. The above meme by Sandy Swenson is from her memoir The Joey Song. I highly recommend the book for anyone who is struggling with what to do with a loved one who is an addict. It isn't a redemption story; however, it gives valuable and insightful advice on recognizing how you are equally as powerless as the addict and how easy you can enable their addiction and how not to enable them, which is the first step in finding your own path to wholeness and peace. Once you find it, you are better equipped to help them.
I love an ADDICT
I wish it wasn’t me who was writing this. I really wish it wasn’t. I wish I wasn’t handpicked because I have one of the “best handles” on this subject. I wish I wasn’t “qualified” to speak on the heroin epidemic that is a growing problem nationwide. I wish I wasn’t a member of a community no one really wants to be a part of. No one ever says to themselves while reading stuff like mine, “I wish I could relate to this."
But I am. I am the non-addict who knows all too well what it’s like to have an addict in the family.
I know what it’s like to worry yourself sick. To cry yourself to sleep. To stare at baby pictures & reminisce. To check on them while they sleep to make sure they are still breathing.
I know to watch out for pinhole pupils and subtle changes in behavior. To listen to them talk and make excuses and pile on lie after lie. I know what it’s like to pretend to believe them because you are just too mentally exhausted for an argument when you know they are lying straight to your face.
I know what it’s like to be confused all of the damn time; to see their potential, to know what they are throwing away.
I know what it’s like to want their recovery more than they do. To be the one doing research on rehabs and other outlets for recovery.
I know what it’s like to miss someone who is still standing right in front of you.
I know what it’s like to wonder if each unexpected phone call is “the” phone call. I know what it’s like to be hurt so bad and be made so sick that part of you wishes you would just get “the” phone call if nothing is going to change. You want that finality. You need the cycle to end. I know what it’s like to hate yourself for even allowing yourself to find relief in that horrible thought.
I know what it’s like to get the worst news of your life, and still walk into the grocery store and run your errands and smile at the cashier.
I know what it’s like to become a part-time detective. To snoop through drawers and texts. You know you are going to find something, and you look until you do just so you feel less crazy. So you can say to yourself, “I am not paranoid. This is happening again.”
I know what it’s like to have your mind clouded; to turn into a functioning zombie. I know what it’s like to be physically present at board meetings and dinner dates, but mentally gone.
I know what it’s like to stop caring about your own personal and professional life. My relationship took a backseat, Christ not even the backseat – I kicked him out of the car. I would show up to work not showered and with huge bags under my eyes. I would cry at my desk. Everything the outside world expected of me seemed frivolous if I couldn’t keep one of my most important people in my life out of harm’s way.
I know what it’s like to be really pissed off. Like, REALLY pissed the hell off. Between the sadness there is a lot of anger. I know what it’s like to feel guilty for being so mad, even knowing all you know about addiction. You are allowed to be angry. This is not the life you signed up for.
I know what it’s like to scour a bookshelf and not find what you are looking for because this illness is still so hard to talk about, let alone write about.
I know what it’s like to hear someone argue that addiction is not an illness, that it is a choice. I know all too well that feeling of heat rising in your face as they go on and on about something they know nothing about.
I know what it’s like to stop becoming angry with these people. They do not understand. They are lucky to not understand. I know what it is like to catch yourself wishing that you didn't understand either.
I know the difference between enabling and empowering. I know there is a fine line between the two and the difference can mean life or death. I know what it’s like to the feel the weight of each day on your shoulders trying to balance the two.
I have been through enough to know that things don’t just change for the worse overnight; they can change in a millisecond. In a blink of an eye. As quick as it takes two people to make a $10 exchange.
I know what it’s like to feel stigmatized. To be the “sister of a drug addict,” a “friend of a drug addict,” "the cousin of a drug addict,” “the daughter of a drug addict.” I know what it feels like to be handled with kid-gloves because no one outside of your toxic bubble knows what to say to help.
I don’t know what the future holds for anyone who loves an addict today. One thing I know for sure is I am not alone.