In nature, spring follows winter; summer follows spring, etc.
Family life has its rhythms, its seasons and cycles. Children crawl, then walk. They go to elementary school, then middle, and high school. Then, often college, a budding career, marriage, children…
For families affected by a loved one’s struggles with Substance Use Disorder, there are often disruptions to this expected order of things.
Once the using becomes more than an occasional social activity, other pieces of everyday life may begin to fall to the wayside. Things like schoolwork, work, old friendships, relationships, begin to become secondary to the demands that using itself puts on the user. The hijacked brain works hard to convince the user that survival depends on use and competing interests and responsibilities may suddenly or gradually fall away.
Wherever the person is in their usual lifespan, things may go on hold or get thrown out of kilter, and if the family is not aware that a brain disorder is causing all of this, chaos can ensue.
The key for the family of a struggling loved one is, more than anything else, awareness. Stay aware that something is going on and that it is affecting you deeply. To the best of your ability, do not allow your loved one to convince you that you are imagining things. This simple shift can allow you, the family member to be optimally helpful while staying as sane as possible throughout the ordeal.
This is of course easier said than done, yet, as BALMers, we know it can be done. We say that denial is the linchpin or glue of the addictive system. The loved one depends on family members to believe his/her Iies and when they stop doing so, it becomes harder and harder for the loved one to continue lying and believing the lies him or herself.
There is so much more to what it takes to gets one’s own life back while helping one’s loved one. But it does all start with becoming aware and the first person you must become aware of is YOURSELF.
To begin the journey of staying aware, try this:
Simply watch yourself this week. See how you are living your life. See how the stresses of your day to day life are affecting you. Are you constantly upset by the people and events around you? Do your loved one’s words and behaviors confuse you? Do you react impulsively to every challenging situation? Do you instantly fold when they tell you how wrong you are? that you are making it all up?
Or do you find yourself breathing deeply and slowly before responding, believing YOUR eyes and ears, and staying with reality to the best of your ability?
Whatever you find, as much as possible, please don’t judge yourself. Just watch.
Be aware of how you are handling it all. Then use your BALM® principles, steps, live calls, recordings and community to help you move yourself to a place of peace and calm, even in the middle of life’s storms. (Principle 3 and Steps 1-3 can be most helpful in helping to build your inner serenity.)
The seasons of life come and go.
The seasons and cycles of life do get disrupted when a loved one is using. You can be the unchanging influence in your loved one’s disruptions of these seasons and cycles by using what is happening within and around you as an opportunity to grow more peaceful, more patient, more loving.
Or you can grow more bitter, intolerant, and upset with each passing moment, hour, week and season and feel perfectly justified in doing so…
If and when your loved wakes up clean and sober one day, how would you have preferred to live the seasons of your life up til that point?
As we say in the 7th C: You are always at choice.
Be a Loving Mirror!
For more information about the BALM® Comprehensive Family Recovery Education Program CLICK HERE.