Today is January 18, 2021. I admit the dreams I dared to contemplate over the last decade are shadows of hope. I gave up on my big endeavors as I joined the unending, unraveling in the lives of others. Addiction gripped my life in ways I never imagined. Each year passed with the ups and downs of substance use enslavement. While I never battled it myself, I was caught in the snare and tossed like a rag within the nightmare.
Recently, we experienced the ultimate fear (which I will write on soon), and the realities of choosing to stay in that world crashed down on me. Being involved in a cycle like addiction is dangerous. Dangerous to the person using and dangerous to those who the person uses.
Consumed with not giving up, I made excuses that seemed to justify substance use due to mental illness, depression, past events, unhealed trauma, and other life issues. Justifying it was never my goal but an attempt to explain what led down the darker road. Unfortunately, focusing on the disconnected past led me away from the focus of accountability. To heal, there must be a balance between the two.
Without equity in most aspects of life, we fail in one area or another, which was the case for me. My words would desire to hold loved ones accountable, but my actions would provide clearance for addictive behaviors. I was listening to the advice of others who were in the same battle-zone but with different journeys. The tactics used to combat the demon of addiction may be similar, but the fight is always different.
Without judgment, parents join together to support the efforts, disappointments, pain, and frustration of substance use disorder. We share stories of survival, recovery, relapse, theft, lies, binging, overdose, hospitalizations, and death. Tears fall freely within a community that is overcome with fear and anger, often abused, always manipulated, and rarely appreciated within the cycle. Occasionally, we experience a victory story that gives each broken heart a glimpse of hope and a ray of sunshine through the clouds of our days.
As I faced the harsh reality that I cannot fix, repair, or even lead anyone into recovery that lasts, I stopped everything. I came to grips with the fact that I invested a decade of my life into behavior that used my dedication as fuel to keep that addiction engine going. In the end, it was my conduct that kept me involved on an inappropriate level. I own that, and I choose to change it now.
While I walk away from the excruciating pain, I do not stop loving. Every relationship has suffered at some level due to their addiction, but most importantly, I have suffered. As I begin to climb out of this pit, I use prayer in place of redundant action. I pray first, speak last, act when the Lord says go, not as I deem necessary.
Love looks different. It is rational and calm. It no longer walks on eggshells but stands firm on truth. Love is compassion and understanding without action to ‘do something’ to help others ‘feel’ better. Love is admitting my weaknesses while fully relying on the strength, wisdom, and hope in God the Father. The priority is to first love God, then myself. You cannot love others as yourself if you do not love yourself first.
I believe we miss that point along the way of life when considering the great commandments.
Beyond this, I do not know what the future holds. I encourage long-term treatment, faith, prayer, and commitment to self. Believing I can force anything is a setup for failure. I reassure with words of affirmation and express my belief that they can be successful. I understand nothing I say matters until they believe it themselves.
For my future, I hope to regain my hopes and dreams. I pray to stay true to all God has taught me over the last couple of weeks, to stay grounded in faith, and to keep my eyes on Jesus. In their addiction, my journey is still about me; I must remember that always. I choose to escape their prison. It was never meant for me.