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Addiction and Relationships: Change Starts With Asking The Right Questions (And Here's 4 To Get You Started)

Updated: Jan 27

change starts with asking the right questions

Ok, so I think you got it by now that I get a lot of inspiration from posts about addiction on websites from other people, and that I see myself in a lot of them, too. I was once in the same shoes, and now that I am where I am, I want to help those who are looking for it.

One thing I always notice from these posts is that, just like me in the past as well, the focus of the authors' posts is all wrong.

I’ve done it a ton, too: to other people, to my therapist, in other discussion groups, and so on. And to be honest, it reminds me of being a teenager and posting those “does he like me?” questions on Yahoo Answers.

The point is, no one has the answer you want. And even when they give the answers you think you want, you don’t actually want it, and don’t ever achieve that sense of fulfillment you are looking for.

Let me explain.

For the purpose of examples, I’ll use one of my own experiences posed as a question that I might have put online at one time.

“Hey all, question. My fiancé’s DOC is heroin, and he’s weaning himself off right now with methadone. Do you think he’ll be able to stay sober this time? Do you think I should trust him in taking what he needs to recover? He said he talked to the sober living manager and it’s fine for him to stay here for a little bit to detox before going back, do you think he’s lying? Any success stories?”

And while some of us might read that and not find anything wrong with it, I now do. And while I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad, I’m going to point things like this out because I’m trying to save other people some time and heartache.

What’s going on here is that in this example, I’m asking the wrong questions. I think I’m asking the right ones because it looks like I’m trying to see how this is going to play out, and I am going to a group with seemingly more experience, or who may have a similar situation in their own lives.

And while it’s not bad in the slightest to get help from peers who understand, I am not putting the focus on me in this situation. Instead, I am paying too much attention to what my partner is doing, and worrying myself with his actions and the future results of those actions, on top of questioning his addiction and character as a whole.

And while it’s normal to have these thoughts, no one in that group knows him. And no one knows him like I do. That’s not to sound sappy or emotional, but it’s true: I have a completely different perspective than anyone else will. It’s how perspectives are with anything in life.

Also, me going to a group to ask for help like this will just frustrate me more. What if someone says something I don’t agree with? What if they tell me to leave? (which, by the way, we really need to stop doing that to each other). What if they say it’s perfectly fine but it’s actually not?

All of these things just end up putting me in an uncomfortable situation at some point, and doesn’t get me any closer to my own recovery and inner focus.

I know, it’s hard, and we may actually have these questions. But instead of posting them to strangers, why not start heading in the right direction by journaling these questions and thoughts out instead? Introspection goes a long way, and getting started now is a good idea.

Or, realize that these questions come from a different place than you thought. It’s not actually a place of being reasonable and trying to plan for the future or get your ducks in a row. It comes from a place of fear, of stress, of worry, and of control, none of which you actually need to add in your life.

Or, sit with yourself in some quiet time to focus on these questions to yourself.

Or, distract yourself from them by self care (because you asking them isn’t actually influencing the situation at all even though you think it does, so ignoring it for a little isn’t hurting anything, especially if it’s to your mental benefit).

Or, here are 4 questions you should ask yourself instead:

*Why does this situation make me uncomfortable to a point where I need to look outside myself for answers?

*Where have I been neglecting myself in my own well-being, and what are some easy things I can do now to get that started again?

*Do I feel safe in my current situation with my partner? Is this situation harmful to my mental and emotional well-being?

*Do I have boundaries in place? What are some boundaries I can make right now for this situation (not ultimatums)? Does this situation go against any boundaries I already have in place?

These are still relevant to the situation, but unlike the previous ones, they turn the focus so that you aren’t concerned so much with what your partner is doing but are instead focused on how their actions or the addiction itself is affecting you.

And trust me, I know that in the moment and times of active addiction, it seems like in caring for ourselves (or thinking about caring for ourselves) we are turning away from them and not caring for them as we should.

But trust me again when I say that it’s actually the complete opposite. We can’t truly help them in the best way when we let the addiction get the best of us, too. We can’t enable, and we can’t become blinded by their actions that we neglect ourselves and turn away from our own healing.

We must be in a good mental and emotional state to stay strong for not only them, but ourselves as well.

For me, I spent years doing the things I thought were best, and becoming more and more low, stressed, tired, resentful, and scared as time went on. I wasn’t helping anyone, least of all my partner.

It took some time, and some realizations that were a little hard to process at first, but I really mean it when I say that the only way you can really help them like you are trying to is by putting yourself first.

And that starts with asking the right questions.

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