Not Feeling Supported?
Feeling overwhelmed? Anxious you can't get it ALL done? Afraid you're going to disappoint? This might help.
Two little announcements:
There’s an audio version of this article for the seeing impaired and for those who enjoy listening.
I am not on social media or doing any advertising (I never did find a way to make that feel good). I would much rather grow an organic community together, so please invite anyone you think would enjoy being a part of our little spot.
Several years ago, I attended a financial planning class with my husband (my husband LOVES spreadsheets and budgeting - I, on the other hand, would rather eat my shoe than listen to conversations about numbers. If you are into math, hats off to you, my friend. Respect).
One young couple caught my eye when the husband wanted to stop listening, handed his workbook and pen over to his wife, took his phone out of his pocket, and started scrolling.
His gesture was saying, "I give up. You do it."
Her reaction hinted that she was disappointed and exhausted.
I wondered: how many other things did this man pass off to his wife to deal with?
Can you relate?
Are you disappointed and exhausted by the pain of loving someone suffering from substance use disorder?
Do you feel responsible for their choices and needs?
If you allow your loved one who is suffering from addiction to take advantage of your kindness, thoughtfulness, or generosity, you can become resentful, angry, and empty.
So how do you love your partner without being taken advantage of?
Here's a simple solution: Learn when to say "yes" and when to say "no."
What would happen if that woman handed the notebook back to her husband? Or if she closed it up and quietly walked out of class?
Our lives can feel so much lighter when we stop doing ALL. THE. THINGS.
Here are some suggestions that have worked for me:
Don't want to answer the phone because you don't feel like dealing - don't answer. Same goes for not responding to text messages - especially group texts!! Side note: we've put a man on the moon; why can't Apple figure out a way we can remove ourselves from the group chat without everyone getting an announcement that we have!?
Don't want to be in charge of household laundry - stop doing their laundry. Let other people be accountable for washing their clothes in your home (even kids can do laundry).
Don't want to go to the appointment - cancel. The fact that you are dealing with WAY, WAY more than the average person by loving someone struggling with addiction IS A GOOD ENOUGH EXCUSE to cancel.
Want a tidy home, but you're sick of picking up the house after other people - grab a garbage bag and throw their stuff in it. Then, put the bag out of sight (a closet, the garage, wherever). They will either stop leaving things around or forget about the items that you will no longer have to pick up.
Thinking of going to the gym but would rather eat some ice cream and watch the Great British Baking Show - I will help you find the spoon. I did this yesterday, and it was LIFEGIVING.
Life is already too difficult when we have the chaos of addiction in our daily lives - let's remove some of the pressure we put on ourselves.
Homework: Michelle (!!!), you didn't say there will be homework!?! I know, I know, but if we put the work in (and do it together) - I think you might find some pleasant results.
Make a list of all the responsibilities you have in your life. Be as detailed as possible. I would bet serious money that your list is looooong.
Then make a second list of all the responsibilities you should or want to remove.
Imagine giving each item on this list back to someone else or ignoring the responsibility because this list puts unnecessary pressure on yourself.
If it helps, leave your list in the comments below - I'm certain it will inspire many of us.
It's ok to make the list for now and not act on all of it. One step at a time. Let's not get overwhelmed and create one more thing to do. Being aware is the goal for today. And when you're ready, you can always choose to remove something from your list. You are incredibly wise and can take back control over your life whenever you're good and ready.
P.S. For all of you who can (and should) challenge my suggestions by kindly saying they are not practical for you - totally get it. My list applies only to some stages of life. For example: if your son's school calls - yeah, you should probably pick up, and your three-year-old most likely cannot do the laundry (but wouldn't that be super cute?).
For those who used to be part of Love Over Addiction, this new space and the comments section serve as the NEW Secret Facebook - it's a place to encourage others, find new friends, be kind by cheering each other on, and offer suggestions when requested.
In order to help make this community as safe as possible - comments are behind a paywall and not available to the public. If you would like to join us, click below for a subscription (you can cancel anytime), and for those of you who asked: the charge on your credit card will show up as Michelle Anderson - the word “Addiction” will never show up (and there are one gazillion Michelle Anderson’s in the world). So if your loved one picks through the bill (like mine used to), you are protected. I’ve got your back.