Addiction and Relationships: Some Helpful Tips on Overgeneralizing
I read a post the other day that was similar to some other posts and opinions I’ve seen regarding those with addiction, and it was basically a list of things that “all addicts do”.
Now I am 100% aware that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I wanted to take the time to discuss the issues that opinions like this make for us and other partners of those with addiction. That is part of the point of this blog, you see.
When the person posted this, they said it was to help others in their situation. But really, it ended up starting arguments in the comments between those who had partners or loved ones who did not fall under the sweeping generalizations made, and the poster who was under the impression that they were correct in what they said. It also caused other commenters to believe even more deeply the negative things that the poster claimed which just makes things more unhappy, hopeless, or angry for them.
I won’t sit here and say that what the poster claimed was right or wrong, because that is their business, and the business of those involved on the topic thread.
But what I will say, though, is that topics and overgeneralizations such as these do way more harm than good, both for us, and those with addiction, no matter the intent a person may have in posting it.
When we have someone say that all addicts lie, cheat, steal, and abandon their families, and that we should all just leave them because we will regret it later, etc, it causes strain and upset for so many of us. Not only should that person not be the one authority on topics such as that, as we all have our own journey and our own lives with our own different set of circumstances, but it starts to cause even more upset and turmoil among us all as well.
We should all do what we can to help support each other and seek love and understanding from others like us because we truly know what it is like to experience having a loved one with addiction.
Also, when we make very broad, and incorrect, assumptions on our loved ones, it only furthers the negative stigmas surrounding the topic of addiction as a whole, and does nothing to further the progress of broader acceptance of addiction and recovery. If we really want our partners to recover and not be shamed for what they have, we should for sure start where we are now, and most definitely not add more to degrade and talk negatively about them.
And along with the issues it worsens on that end, it also makes our own journey so much harder.
We are already dealing with so much on our emotions, mind, and body, and to add to that makes it more difficult to move ahead.
For me, I would be stuck even deeper in the cycle of chaos and hurt than I already was if I listened to those who created discussions on how terrible addicts are, and how they will do all of these things to hurt me. I knew my partner was a good person who was lost and struggling, and forming beliefs about his faults and using that to create a false character in my head would do nothing to actually help either of us heal.
I understand that everyone has different experiences, and some people do very well make hurtful choices and cause pain in our lives. But just because one person had this experience or found a certain type of person to do these things doesn’t mean all of us will, and also, if we are already dreading the worst to happen, we do not need anything more to worry about that might not even happen at all.
Also, when we are in a vulnerable place and without a firm footing, these types of thoughts or beliefs can cause us to feel even more hopeless and fearful of what is happening, instead of helping us. It is easier for us to use this as fuel to continue our downward fall, and when we are buried under the weight of feeling that nothing will get better, it makes it that much harder to start to climb out of it.
What we should instead be doing is empowering ourselves and reminding ourselves of all that is good in our lives, so that we are more able to overcome and get ourselves to better places of hope and healing.
Although it may seem as though our worlds are nothing but pain and fear, we really do have many things to be thankful for, and many things that are working out for us.
Also, whether you are deciding to stay with your partner, break up, or aren’t sure, it helps everyone involved to keep space in your head and heart for empathy. When you understand that they aren’t in active addiction because they love drugs more than you, or because they want you to suffer, you are then able to separate yourself more from their words and actions, and more freely start your own recovery.
When you bother yourself too much with their addiction, what they are doing and why, and what exactly it is that makes them how they are and how they all must be the same, it takes the focus off of you and what you should be doing to take care of yourself, first and foremost.
In reality, it doesn’t matter how they got into their addiction, or what characteristics someone with addiction has, or whether or not this or that makes your loved one a "bad person". What really matters is where you go from there, and how you choose to respond to those individuals and situations.
If you find yourself in a position of finding a post or something like this and you aren’t sure whether to believe it or not (or whether it's actually beneficial), it’s helpful to use questions like these to see if it resonates with you, or is healthy for you and your own recovery:
-Does this post make me feel angry, hurt or upset? Does it make me feel optimistic, empowered, or at peace?
-Is this person working on their own recovery (whatever that means for them)?
-Is this person trying to spread healthy and positive information, or does this come from their own hurt, upset, and fear?
-What does this post help me learn about myself and my own recovery, loved ones, and experiences?
Really, even outside of the topic of addiction, we can find ourselves at the receiving end of opinions and information that we might not like or agree with, or that we aren’t actually sure about. But once we are able to learn about ourselves and what we find to be true, we get closer to a stronger foundation that we can rely on, and a more healthy and confident sense of self.
And that’s the goal, right?
Everything is a lesson, if you look for it.