By Susannah Hutcheson, IATG ContributorMarch 2, 2016
Whether it be drug addiction, alcohol addiction, sex addiction, or even a bad relationship addiction. A lot of us have felt the unbearable weight of watching the people we love struggle with seemingly impossible demons. It adds worry to our thoughts, a slightly more jaded view of the world, and a perspective that not everyone has. It has opened our eyes to the ugly part of the world, the part that’s not always wrapped up in pretty paper and presented shiny and bright. You can’t put addiction in a box, slap a shiny bow on it, and expect it to go away. That’s not the way it works.
I know how it feels to watch while drugs and alcohol erode at relationships. Addiction ripped my family to shreds, and it’s taken a lot of heart to hearts and mental Scotch tape to start to put it back together.
But, I want you to know something.
It’s not your fault.
Other people make choices, and you can’t make the choices for them. It may hurt like hell, but you can’t decide what other people are going to do.
You can’t police it forever. Just like I said above, people make their own choices. You should always love somebody and try to help them out, but you can’t spend every waking moment of your time worrying about the decisions someone else is making. When my family was dealing with the aftermath of a loved one’s addiction, I spent so much time worrying about it. When they got out of rehab, I watched. I tracked every moment that I could quantify, terrified that they would slip. It made me sick with worry, all the time. Don’t do that to yourself.
You have to take care of yourself. The emotional scars that come from watching an alcoholic parent or a drug-addicted friend are heavy, aching ones. They don’t go away easily. Take it easy on yourself. Draw a few more bubble baths than you usually would, take a long run, write in your journal. Don’t be afraid to express your fears to your loved one or to your pen and paper. Just don’t keep it inside.
Talk about it. There’s absolutely no way I would have been able to deal with the burden of someone close to me struggling with drug addiction if I didn’t have people to talk to about it. My best friend answered the phone many a time after 3 AM when I was laying awake in bed. If I had kept every emotion in my head, I would have combusted. There’s something incredibly therapeutic about having a listening ear.
Have you or someone you know ever been impacted by addiction? How did you cope? What helped you? Write your experiences down or grab a friend and share your story. You don’t have to deal alone.
Susannah is a Journalism major, passionate about social justice and Jesus Christ. She loves cold weather, triple-shot lattes, and macaroni and cheese. You can read her ramblings at ileftamessinthekitchen.wordpress.com, or look at pictures of her coffee on Instagram: @susannah.beth.
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