Addiction and Relationships: Need To Explain Something To Family Regarding Their Addiction?
If you are getting from this platform what I want you to get from it, you should know I try to be as transparent as possible. This is so that you know I’m not trying to bs you into thinking I’m perfect (which I highly doubt you would think anyways), and also so that you know that yes, I’ve been there, and in a way, I still am there. It’s part of the territory. It’s lifelong.
But before I got to this place of honesty, I was very much a secret-keeper. I kept parts of my life hidden from pretty much everyone because I was scared, embarrassed, unsure, etc., etc., etc.
This isn’t healthy. Can’t have very many deep and meaningful interactions or relationships when your life is shrouded in darkness and secrets.
But trust me, I’ve been there.
Group hangout with friends/coworkers! Sounds so fun, right?
“What does your fiancé do?”
“Oh he’s currently not working because he’s in rehab.”
“Oh, he’s just doing whatever until he finds a better job.”
Or here’s another one:
“Where is he at? We haven’t seen him in awhile.”
“I have no idea because I told him to leave and we haven’t talked in awhile.”
“Oh he’s just working.”
Sound familiar? Or maybe you have some automatic responses, too.
Tell me I want to hear them. Let’s compare cards.
Anyways, my point is, we haven’t been truthful 100% of the time. That’s ok and all because at the time we weren’t comfortable and confident enough to own up to it because we probably weren’t sure of what we were doing either and had a ton of emotions surrounding it so were completely lost, but we need to work on that.
For me, it’s been a long process. The thing that helped, though, was figuring out where I stood on things. What are my boundaries? How do I want my life to look? What is ok for me and what’s not ok?
Because honestly, most people don’t care.
I don’t mean that in a bad way, but it’s like anything. Any embarrassing memory you have that keeps you up at night isn’t as big of a deal as you think it is.
With this, if they are people who care about you, all they want to know is if you are ok. Are you safe? Are you alive? Are you happy, or at least working on getting to a good place?
And if they aren’t people who care about you, then who cares?!
We don’t live our lives for them.
When I finally started to shift my focus back on myself, I realized that this was true. People started to believe me a lot more when I believed myself. They didn’t need to worry (at least not like they would if I was an emotional wreck) because they saw that I was handling things and my life (and my daughter’s) were alright. We were doing fine, and although we had our moments, we were overall doing pretty well.
Here’s another weird thing: people started viewing him different, too.
I would get people asking how he was doing, asking if there was anything he needed, and wondering when he was going to come back and visit because they missed him.
And they wouldn’t even ask about me.
I don’t mean that they didn’t ask because they didn’t care. I mean that they didn’t ask because they already knew: I was doing just fine. They could see it, they could sense it, they knew.
Wonderful isn’t it?
And now, with us planning a wedding, it’s even more surreal. It’s weird because not only are we both ok with it, but everyone else is, too. And not only that, they’re excited.
So many times I’ve thought to myself, who’s life is this?
And the truth is, it’s mine.
Now, I’m sure other people have had experiences where this wasn’t the case. Even with me, there are people who still don’t get it. But let’s look at that, too. From my limited view of course because that’s all I can view it as.
If you have someone who is that against anything in your life, not just your relationship, you need to look at a few things.
One, who is this person? Is it is someone who really wants the best for you, who is a supporter of you generally, and who has enough information to actually form a knowledgeable opinion on things for you?
Two, do you value this person in your life enough to take what they have to say seriously? Would you ask them for advice or seek their support on a different topic?
If the answers are yes, then I think you need to have a conversation with this person. There seems to be a disconnect there, and if they are someone you want around and to have a healthy relationship with, you’ll need to do a little extra work to level with them and get on the same page.
If this person isn’t someone that you actually see having a positive influence on your life, then you need to reevaluate how and why they are in your life in the first place. If you really want to do the work and get to a better place, you have to make sure that you are surrounding yourself with things that work for you, not against you, and that goes for other people, too.
But, as an extra tip, don’t just shun people because they don’t agree with you. If you want others to listen and respect your decisions and opinions, you should do the same, within reason. And sometimes, you will need to agree to disagree. But the two things I’ve talked about should help you go from here.
Also, here's another extra tip I've learned regarding children: be honest, but not too honest.
Our daughter is 4, and while I forget that sometimes because she's pretty smart, she's still only 4. Lots of things don't quite make sense yet.
I was pretty stressed out for awhile because I struggled with what to tell her. I know I didn't want to hide it, but what do you tell a child to explain why her dad will be gone for a few months at the least?
After talking with my therapist, and then hers (because who said therapy was a bad thing?), we settled on this: dada is sick. And he needs to go away for a little bit to try and get better.
And that worked just fine.
Sure, sometimes she's sad and wishes he could come home, but she's just fine. No trauma, no lifelong issues she'll need to work through, etc. And even if I wasn't sure I still have my weekly check-ins with her therapist to make sure she's staying just fine.
Of course, you'll have to adjust this depending on age, but the important thing is that you do what works for you, and you lead by example. Show them through your actions that everything is fine, and they will be. Just be there to help them and support them. It's just as hard for them as it is for you, even if they don't show it.
So yes, honestly in my experience, honesty is the best policy, and it’s going to be a part of your work either way, because you need to be honest with yourself first.
Then, once you know yourself and what you want in life, it makes it much easier to convey to other people.
And that’s all that really matters, right?