Addiction and Relationships: When You Can't See The Next Step
It’s been awhile since my partner was in active addiction. I mean, it’ll be 3 years at the end of this month (which I almost legit forgot) so not super long in the grand scheme of things, but long enough for me. And longer than he’s ever been clean before.
Anyways, it’s been awhile and as a result, I often times feel disconnected from it. Which is a good thing, because it shows how I’m able to live my life without that dark shadow constantly looming overhead (which I affectionately call The Thing), but it has made it a little difficult to write.
Seriously, it’s been almost a year since my last post, and while I’ve been wanting to get back into it, it’s been a challenge.
What do I write about if I don’t remember how things used to be?
How can I expect to help others like me if I don’t feel like I can relate to that part of me anymore?
And I feel thankful for that healing and the fact that he’s sober, I really do. But I also miss writing, and feeling like I could be helping someone like me who needs it.
That is, until I lost my job.
Unrelated? At first glance, I thought so. The news wasn’t honestly too surprising, given the fact that it had basically happened a year ago already, and both myself and my employer had been feeling like change was imminent. And the way that this happened honestly couldn’t have been better. Like I said, it just felt like it was time. But no matter how many good reasons there were for this change, it didn’t change the fact that I still felt unsteady, nervous, and honestly kind of scared.
Lots of questions mulled around in my head:
What if I can’t pay for something important?
What if I can’t find another job fast enough, if at all?
What if, what if, what if?
And honestly, it’s been tough sometimes. It's hard arguing with The Thing, especially when you felt like you had it beaten and made into something that was no longer a threat. But what I realized finally the other day, is that this is just how things are in life. Recovery in any subject is never linear, and there will always be new things to unravel and decipher to make life better and shed some skin in to a newer, stronger, happier version of you.
And not only that, I also realized that...drumroll please...this is just like how things were before.
Well, to an extent. Theme-wise.
And by that I mean: every single time, including the time in 2019 when I got serious about my own recovery, I’ve been put in a situation where I was made to feel incredibly uncomfortable, and the only way out was to get down to it and do the work. I finally understood back then that the old ways of complacency, thinking I could control it all, and relying on old beliefs just wasn’t going to cut it anymore. I knew deep inside myself that I was ready for change, even if it was going to be difficult at first. Scary, even.
And this is exactly what is happening right now.
Same lessons, different perspectives. And I mean, at least I didn’t feel like his life was in the balance this time, so this should be a little easier, right?
So now I get to revisit old themes, old beliefs, and tried-and-true methods to help me start that journey up again of trimming off what doesn't serve me anymore, and letting the newly discovered parts of myself start to take root and grow into something even better than I thought was possible.
It's happened before, it will happen again, and if I ever start to doubt the process, the proof is in the pudding. It's been done before! Oh so many, tiring but surprising, times.
And since this is now something that is happening in real time this time around, you can be with me on the journey as I take each step, and follow along to find what works for you.
Speaking of which, let me give you some tips on what I've done so far, from methods that can be best labeled as Old Reliables, to new ones I've found that get the job done (at least for me, that's all the evidence I have, so sorry):
QUIET YOUR MIND: Ok, this should be number one on anyone's list. Especially if you're someone like me who has 157 tabs open in your brain at any given time. It's super duper easy to convince yourself that you need to try to keep track of everything happening in your life (you know, so that you can control it all), but it's not possible. It will only overstimulate and overwhelm you, and then you start disassociating or snapping at your family or hiding in the dark in your room to finally figure out those loose ends, and that never ends well. You NEED to set aside time to practice the ancient art of mindfullness, and while it seems very unhelpful and terrible at first, I promise you, it's the only way out of the mental hellscape you've created. That's where you get the inner peace that will allow you to go in the direction you're supposed to go.
Journal!: This one used to seem like a chore to me, but now that I've figured out how to make it fun I don't mind it as much. The goal isn't to do one thing that is the right way, but to use it as a tool to get your thoughts out. Write to vent, to share how you're feeling deep down, to make sense of what's in your mind running around like crazy, to dream of what you want your life to look like, to write lists of what you appreciate right now this very minute in your life (I promise there is always something to appreciate). For me, I've been making lists of what the "better" version of me would be doing right now. How would she be handling this? So I write down things like "Be more present and easy-going", "Not sweat the small stuff", "Have more fun and trust that things will work out", "Be confident and radiate pride". And then I try to incorporate more of that into my daily life. Because really, that's who I actually want to be. And that's the person who is waiting on the other side of all this work.
Follow Your Intuition: This one can be more tricky because there's a lot of trusting that needs to happen, but this one can be a work in progress. I'm aiming to do more things out of inspired, inner action, as opposed to fear. What do I actually want to do right now? Is it really stress-apply to multiple jobs to feel like I'm doing something helpful? Or is it grab a snack and watch a movie with my daughter (without feeling guilty)? You know, things like that.
And I know, believe me I do, that this is hard. It's going to be a challenge to change your life because it's new, it's something totally opposite to what you're used to. Obviously, that's the whole point.
But I know from experience that it is going to be worth it, just like it always is. And there's no rush, no timeline, no steps that are too big or too small, no limit to breaks and pauses. Just a keeping up of determination to keep going.
And while it seems hard when you can’t see what’s next, what’s coming, where that next stepping stone is, sometimes you just need to have a little faith, flex that trust muscle, and step out into the unknown.
I'm right there with ya.