"How to be a good partner to a drug addict"
I bet I'm not the only one who's Googled something along those lines before. And I get it, it's an answer worth knowing.
If you have someone you care about (addict or not), and they are going through something negative, it's easy to want to help them, give your support, rescue them, etc.
But what about when that person is an addict?
Well, I for one had the same desire to help as I would for anyone else. But in a situation like this, it's a bit more difficult to support in a way that actually does any good.
So, then, how does one do it?
I'll just tell you how I figured it out. K?
When I first met my husband, he was already a full blown drug addict who cycled through seasons of active addiction and recovery. The period I met him in was one of shaky steps and unsure footing, and it was only a matter of time before a trip to rehab was in order. And so when that information made its way to me, I was ready to go to be that person that figured it all out and helped him "get better."
I was searching for facilities that took his insurance, I was communicating with his family, I drove him there, I bought him things he needed, everything I could do I did.
Before long, he was out and ready to move forward in life, recovery plan in place and me always close by to catch him when he fell and put the pieces back together.
And for awhile, it seemed like it worked.
Until it didn't anymore.
And I'm sad to say, it went on like this for years.
The most difficult and frustrating part, though, is that when you're in the trenches and experiencing life like this on a day-to-day basis, you can't really see things from that outside, objective view, or in that 20/20 clarity of hindsight. and you don't really see how your choices are really impacting you. You are in a near-constant state of survival, while trying everything possible to ensure your partner's survival on top of your own.
And what I eventually came to realize was that everything I was so used to doing was causing way more harm than the good I was trying to create.
You see, while it may seem that doing all this for our addict partners and loved ones is the best thing to do, it really, well, isn't. All the things we take responsibility for and force them to do are really things that they should be doing for themselves. And if they aren't, well, that usually means that they aren't ready to enter recovery or aren't nearly as serious as they should be yet. And when that's the case, everything can fall apart at the drop of a hat.
So you may be asking now: "Well what am I supposed to do then?!"
And I'm happy to say that I have an answer for that because I personally lived it and saw it work in real life.
The answer is: turn that attention on yourself.
Which, I know, seems counterintuitive because you aren't the drug addict are you?
Well, no. But that's not the point.
When we take over things that our partners should be doing for themselves, we take the focus off of us and put all of our mental and emotional health and well-being onto them. We give up our power, and our ability to be happy and healthy in our own right. This puts an enormous amount of pressure on our partners to recover and sets everything up for failure right from the get go. And that's all bad.
Instead, we should be focusing on ourselves and how we can ensure that we are doing everything we can to take care of us and how we can recover as well. This allows our partners to have responsibility of their own lives, and us to have the freedom and space to take accountability for our own.
So what does that mean? What does it look like?
Well if you're like me, you let your personal growth and overall health on every level deteriorate while addiction was controlling your partner and every aspect of your life. (Self care who?) And this only made me an absolute wreck.
But once I finally (after years) figured out that I was doing everything wrong, and I put that focus onto me again, it was like night and day.
I was finally able to be level-headed again. I felt free, hopeful, and strong. I didn't care what other people thought or said about my partner or my life, and I felt determined to continue to work on myself to increase that even more.
Which is funny because this was the exact time that my husband was in the absolute worst stage of his addiction.
Can you believe I felt that good in that shitty of a time? Crazy.
And it wasn't because I controlled everything, gave him ultimatums, forced things to happen, and lived in complete stress-fueled chaos.
It was because I finally let go, found out about myself and what made me so stressed, worked on myself from the inside out, cared for myself in ways I never had before, and learned that not everything is my job and it doesn't need to be done or figured out all in one day.
And that, quite simply, is how I learned to be a good partner to a drug addict.