How many things have you tried to get your partner sober? I don’t have enough fingers to count that, and I’m sure you don’t either.
How many things have you tried to get yourself to feel better? That’s a tough one, because the list could very well be really short or really long.
The world of loving someone with addiction can be full of questions like these, where we question what the magic solution is for so many things. I mean, something has to work, right? Just tell me what to do already.
But that’s the thing, it’s not the same for everyone. No two people will have exactly the same story, and even if their situations are similar, they won’t have the exact same solution that works for both of them. And that’s completely to be expected.
It’s like anything in life. We could live the same lives to a point: maybe we grew up in the same town, went to the same school, had the same friends, maybe even the same family situation. But your experience and my experience will still be unique to each of us.
It’s the same for our lives with our addicted loved ones: breakup/not breakup, ultimatums, interventions, tough love, no contact, support/enabling, kicking out, detoxing at home, rehab, outpatient, jail, how much to be in charge of to make sure they enter recovery or stay there, etc. And that’s just in dealing with that side of things!
On top of that, there’s the question of you. Unless, of course, you’re still in the beginning where you think you don’t have to do anything and there’s nothing wrong with you. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. I was there once before, too, so I get it. I mean really, when they’re the ones doing the drugs and having the addiction in the first place, it’s easy to put all of the responsibility on them. I’m just over here living and if you would just knock it off it would be fine. But once you take a step back and see the mechanics of the relationship, you’d be surprised to see where you have some accountability, too.
Now, back to you.
So when we have a partner with addiction, we also have our own questions and concerns with what we should be doing to help ourselves feel better and indirectly help our partners get sober. Therapy? Yoga? Stress-relief? Meetings? Self-care? Journaling? What if I’m doing all of those and it’s still not helping?
Well, for one, the biggest thing you have to reevaluate first is if you’re only doing it to help them get sober. You really have no control over that, and if you go into things with the mentality of achieving that you’ll just stress yourself out and end up disappointed.
The second thing is, you have to be doing it for yourself. The name of the game here is to start focusing on yourself and putting yourself first, so if you aren’t in that mindset yet and are just doing these things because someone told you you should it’s not going to stick and you won’t put your all into it. It’s kind of like dieting, or even like our loved one’s recovery: it’s going to be short-lived if you don’t have that desire in you from yourself that you want to change because living the way you are now isn’t doable or comfortable anymore.
Once you get that settled and you know that you want to do the work to help yourself for reasons that work for you, you can start the journey of recovery and inner work. And the cool thing about this part is that (spoiler alert) it’s whatever works for you!
For some people, it’s meetings. For some people, it’s working out. For some people, it’s a spa day. For some people, it’s journaling and writing it out. And for some people, it’s a variation of a lot of different things or maybe even a method you’ve never heard of or considered!
That’s what’s so amazing about inner work: it can be as unique or common as you make it. The point and the main thing to remember is that it just has to work for you, and it has to be something that you can turn to when you need some self-reflection or you want some clarity or peace to keep you moving forward. Just because it doesn’t look the same as what others have done doesn’t make it wrong, and you should never feel forced or uncomfortable in doing it.
And once you start this self-discovery and rebuilding of healthier ways of living and thinking, you’ll feel much more sure of yourself and what you want in life that supporting your loved one and deciding what to do on any topic will come much more easily to you. You won’t have as much indecision or an impulsive need to search for answers, because you’ll know the direction to go in, even if the answer isn’t clear right away. You’ll trust in yourself, and you’ll know if you ever need to adjust anything or try something new you can, or if you need more information that you can easily discover for yourself.
I’ve said it already so many times before but I’ll say it again: it all starts with you. Putting yourself first, focusing on yourself, changing your mindset, etc.
Once you start there, the past doesn't look so depressing, the now doesn’t look so dark, and the future doesn’t look so scary. No matter how things look to anyone else, and no matter what stage of addiction or recovery your loved one is at. You know what you can do to get yourself in a better feeling place, and that’s all that matters.
So start today, or as soon as you can. Even if you feel you need the answers right away, the only thing you can truly start with is yourself, so why not give that a try?