Are You Addicted to an Addict?

addiction recovery

“And I will try to fix you.” —Coldplay

I don’t think any of us sets out with this purpose in mind —this purpose of fixing someone.
If we look further back, the fixing begins with loving someone.

We love them.
We see such better things for them.
We see where they are headed and our heart aches inside.
The pain hurts right down to our bones.

I had a big chair that I’d pull up to the living room window. I could see the driveway from there. I spent a lot of time in that chair.
Life in limbo.
Waiting.
Watching.
Would my husband be coming home tonight?

I used to wonder what the people across the street were doing right then. Probably eating dinner or curled up with a movie. Maybe they were fighting. I’d like to be fighting. Anything would be better than sitting here like a zombie, waiting for someone who probably isn’t coming home tonight. It was painfully empty.

When I would go to church, it would be worse. I remember getting angry with the pastor as he talked about “not going too long” so everyone could get home in time for the football game. Was he serious? My life was in ruins. I needed a miracle. Who cares about football? Then there were the sermons about improving your marriage. Half of me was dying inside, growing more bitter with my church every week while the other half wanted this life everyone seemed to be living. How did I get cut out of the deal? Why didn’t our pastor talk about real problems? Was I the only idiot who actually arrived at church that morning hoping to hear an answer from God for my life?

It went on like this for a while.
I’m no therapist, but I knew I was sinking into this weird, dark life.
It wasn’t the church’s fault, my pastor’s fault or even my husband’s fault.
I was unwell.

The Selfishness of The Family

Here’s the part you probably don’t want to hear, and I didn’t want to admit it until years later. Although I loved this man with everything in me, I had grown selfish.

At first, it was all about him getting help. “What can we do?” “How can we fix things?” That lasted about a year. I eventually grew tired of listening to his manipulation and empty promises. Later, right before I left him, our lives and the way we would deal with his relapses were pretty twisted. The minute I would see his headlights in the driveway I went from despondent to “damage control” in less than a second. It became, “Hey…How much money did you spend? What do we have left? Where are your tools? Do you still have them? Can you go to work tomorrow?”

I was promoting the insanity.

I didn’t understand addiction until years later when I walked through it myself. I had no idea that I had become addicted to his addiction. For a period of about three years, I lived my life completely attached to his every move and decision.
He would leave…I’d sit in the chair and wait.
He would come home…I’d freak out, drive to every pawn shop in town to collect his tools and then have yet another long talk about how things were going to be different.
His crisis was my crisis —always.
Sometimes I was loving. Sometimes I was a hot screaming mess, but I was always a walking “reaction” to his next choice.

Are You Living…Or Are You Dying?

The decision to live your life regardless of other people’s choices is huge. It feels like an internal switch is flipped. It’s neither selfish nor is it uncaring. In fact, it is the highest form of valuing yourself.

When I was married to this man I was trying to fix, I had a lot of my own baggage. He was my perfect nightmare. I didn’t have to focus on any of my own emotional turmoil. I could push all my feelings off on him. He was the whirlwind, and for once…I seemed stable.

I once attended an Overcomers meeting that was for the family. I think it was lovingly labeled “The Codependents Meeting.” As I shared, I talked about everything my husband was doing to make my life a mess. I don’t remember anything about the meeting, except for one question that was asked of me, “Did you know he was an addict when you married him?” My answer was, “Yes.”
To me, this implied that I knew what I signed up for —and in all reality I did.
He was kind of broken. I was kind of broken. We fell in love.
I thought love was enough.

Twenty Years Later

Today my children rarely see their father. I don’t actually know why. He doesn’t seem to be living in addiction but I suppose he’s not living in recovery either. Possibly the weight of never being there for his children has caused so much guilt and pain that he feels like he can never recover. This makes me sad.

Over the past ten years I had my own personal bout with addiction. I walked the same road he once did. It opened my eyes to a lot of things, especially the fact that someone loving you has nothing to do with active addiction. My kids love me endlessly. They felt helpless through my addiction. I felt helpless for a time as well. Looking back, I don’t understand what kind of person I was or how I fell so desperately and fully into something that brought so much pain, shame and harm to my life. I suppose this part of addiction will always be a mystery. The “why” part.

I didn’t write this article with the intent of telling you how to live your life if you are the parent or spouse of an addict. I wrote it to sort of shake you awake. Please realize that hoping he or she will somehow snap into shape and start moving forward into his full potential without any outside help or new tools whatsoever is sort of insanity. In a way, if you are preventing them from getting help by cleaning up their messes and fixing up their lives, you are a stumbling block to their recovery. 

Ouch. Hard to hear, right? I know, you might be angry with me right now, but that’s okay. I’ve heard that people usually get mad at the first person who shakes them awake.

I’m talking to a young mom right now who lives with her in-laws. They are all waiting for their son/husband to come home. He’s been missing for about a month. Every time I talk to her on the phone I ask, “Do you have a plan for when he returns?” The answer was always no. Yesterday it was different. She said, “Ya know…I spoke to my mother-in-law and I said to her, ‘He can’t just come home to normal life. He needs help. My mother-in-law just looked at me and raised her eyebrow.’”
These are the things that scare me. The people who want something so badly for another person that they won’t see the situation for what it is. My prayer today is that God would open our eyes…all of us. Let us not be a stumbling block to others who desperately need to walk their journey.

There is a difference between a container of hope and a pathway to darkness. We have to allow God to open our eyes to truly see which one we are.

 

Fix You —Coldplay

When you try your best, but you don’t succeed
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired, but you can’t sleep
Stuck in reverse
And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can’t replace
When you love someone, but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?
Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you
And high up above or down below
When you’re too in love to let it go
But if you never try you’ll never know
Just what you’re worth
Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

 

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, give us a call today. 239-440-6856

About Robin Bright

Hi. My name is Robin Bright. I'm a mom, author, part of The John Maxwell Team and a recovery advocate who struggled with the torment of addiction for over a decade. I still remember what it was like. I know the desperation and hollowness of addiction. The stories here are about our journey to the light. They are raw, authentic, vulnerable. We talk about getting free, staying free, and loving ourselves through the process. I used to believe I had become the worst version of myself. And then God introduced me to me —as only He can. It is my hope that you will use the resources found here to uncover your own true identity...the vision God had when He formed you. xo

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