How To Create A Safe Space When You Love Someone Suffering From Addiction
Sometimes, addiction can make our environment feel incredibly unsafe. Here's a helpful tool to create some healthy distance when things get to be "too much."
Thank you for continuing to share this newsletter. I know a lot of you are curious about the programs and podcasts. All I can say is that I am working on it. Slowly and surely, I am starting to get a better vision of what we need in the space of loving someone suffering from addiction. I don’t want to go back to the way things were (that model - behind the scenes - was confusing), and I don’t want to be a self-promotional “self-help influencer.”
I would love to offer you help in the privacy of your own home (or car, or wherever you are) through online programs with easy, simple steps and clear directions and perhaps some meet-ups online and in person.
In a world full of AI, trolls, too many podcasts, and so much social media - I want to connect the old-fashioned way (lol): In-person, voice-to-voice, reading, writing, studying, and application.
I have some ideas - but I would love to hear yours, too, so please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments. And thank you for sharing this resource while we park here and start dreaming.
Having a safe space can be incredibly helpful if you love somebody suffering from addiction. A safe space is a place you can go if your loved one has been drinking too much, using drugs, or just behaving poorly.
People who struggle with addiction can be wonderful and kind, but when battling a powerful disease, they might also have a darker side that is not often discussed.
Addiction can make our environment feel incredibly unsafe. Sometimes, we need protection; no - strike that; we deserve protection from loved ones. Always.
That's where a Safe Space comes in.
You can go to your safe space when you need to create distance from your partner.
What does a safe space look like?
Your safe space should have a door, so if things get out of control, you can close the door and lock it.
Now, for those of you thinking, "Michelle, that sounds great, but I don't have a spare room with a lock and a door." I hear you. If you cannot find a dedicated room, even if it's a laundry room, then you can use the living room.
You'll want to stock your safe space with supplies. Purchase an air mattress or use a spare bed.
We're going to treat this safe space like your secret spot like it is your heaven away from hell. We want it to become your favorite place in your home when things get rough.
Consider treating yourself to the nicest blankets and sheets that you can afford.
Find something you love that is new. These sheets and blankets honor your healing and are a gift to yourself. They are an investment in your sanity and your health.
Perhaps you're thinking, "Michelle, there's no way I can afford that," I'd say, "Really?" How much money have they spent on their addiction this week? I'm guessing more than $20. Why not take that money that's being applied to drugs or alcohol and use it for yourself? Give yourself permission to purchase a new set of sheets and a blanket.
And while you're picking out new bedding - select a candle.
Candles are always wonderful.
They create warm, beautiful light.
Take your time smelling every candle and see what you like best. Ask yourself, "Do I like the smell of this?" If not, put it down and try smelling another candle. The point is you want to love the scent you're now going to use to fill up your new safe space.
Picking out a candle might seem like such a silly exercise, but so often, when we love someone struggling with addiction, we forget about our preferences. Everything becomes about pleasing our partners. And something as simple as picking out a candle or bedding helps us remember what we want - not what our partners want or need from us.
Decorating with pictures of friends and family helps remind you of wonderful, fond memories. The images you're going to bring into your safe space won't include your loved one, so no wedding pictures are allowed, and no pictures with them on vacations. If you don't have any photos - cut or print out images that make you feel good.
Frame your pictures and set them out around your safe space. If that's too expensive - make a collage that you can tape to the wall or use poster board.
Flowers are a beautiful way to make you feel special. Sometimes flowers feel extravagant or like a waste of money, but they're a little treat just for you. I get flowers occasionally from the grocery store, and they're $5. I put them in a vase (I use a pretty recycled olive oil bottle). Every time I walk by my flower arrangement, I smile, and for a moment, I feel good.
Also, try adding some books to your safe space. What do you like to read?
Fill your safe space with books that you love.
They can be fiction or nonfiction, but here's the deal: nothing about addiction, codependency, or anything about getting them sober. These books are just for you; they're words that will fill your mind and heart with happiness and joy, maybe even laughter. Nothing depressing and nothing that has to do with this disease because this is your disease-free safe zone. Nothing in this space, nothing in this room reminds you of addiction. This is your new spot.
Then, bring in your favorite mug that you can fill with tea or coffee. Maybe you have a pretty pitcher of water that you like to fill? The point is - this is your tranquility amongst the dysfunction. This is your way of creating some peace. To think, to reflect, and to enjoy separation from this disease.
You can do this.
P.S. Don't forget a pretty night light.
What’s going on with you this week? How are you feeling about your relationship lately?