The morning looks beautiful today. The temperature here at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska should reach 60 + degrees today! Holy smokes! We have Gavin for the day and look forward to having a fun day with him. Goldie will have a partner to play fetch all day long! They’ll tire out tonight. Bonus!
Every year since about 1983, I’ve read one of 365 meditations for Adult Children of Alcoholics. I’ve said before, Mom was the alcoholic, and two brothers had varying degrees of the same illness. Dad and I weren’t. The behaviors and disappointments affected us. Today’s reading affected me just as hard as the first time I read it.
People have the right not to recover. – Lauren B.
What? People have the right not to recover. Yes, I know they have asked you for help, either directly or indirectly. You pitched in with all the solutions and what you would do if (no one ever gives us bystanders a to do or don’t do list). But you’re not him or her. You are applying a hopefully sound mind to the situation. They don’t have a sound mind. They are an addict or alcoholic or both. Prescription drugs can be involved. You clean their packed house and they hide their thoughts behind a false smile. You chauffeur them and do favors for them. You think they are with the program, whichever one it is. Months go by. You assume they are getting better, yet they still mistreat you.
It would be great if recovery were that easy. By simply showing a person needed help, it could make him or her whole. They could recover if we only offered enough, prayed enough, or upended our lives enough to help them. No. Not unless they really, truly, want it and do their own work.
There is a fallacy in the thought process of “I’m not drinking, so I’m doing good.” Not if you’re still rude to people. Not if you take your foul mood out on them. Not if you belittle your children. Not if you are still argumentative. Not if you’re still addicted to porn. Not if you still say demeaning things to women. Drinking is only a symptom of what’s really wrong.
We can’t force someone to change. Getting inside someone’s head and making choices for them to ensure their success isn’t the way. Their own free will, dictating what their choices are, is what guides their paths. Painful as it is sometimes, our loved ones do not recover. They do not want to. Their thinking still stinks. Their moods are still swinging back and forth. They believe they are ok and they recovered. Then all it takes is one beer, one shot, one cocktail, and there goes the roller coaster again.
All we can do is distance ourselves from them. Yes, we can love them from afar. We can pray to God to keep them safe. And we need to love ourselves first. No more secrets. No more lies. Just total honesty. We owe it to ourselves and to them to tell the truth. Our truth. Our part of their truth. They tell their own truth. And their part of our truth.
It’s painful to see someone you love hit bottom. It’s painful to see someone you love refuse help. Break the law. Engage in horrible behavior. They are sick. The sickness is all they know. The sickness is their obsession. We can’t change it. We don’t have to take part in it. Distance saves our sanity, always. We need to take our comfort in the fact God will care for them when they won’t care for themselves.
As we go forward, those of us in the situation of being bystanders, we need to promise ourselves to stay on the sidelines. Work on understanding their situations and choices. I know, but we have to let go and let them make their own mistakes even where we are concerned. It’s just not worth wasting our precious energy on anymore. Step back and replace that negativity in our lives with something beautiful and positive. And don’t take it personally. They don’t like themselves either. Sad, yet true. Continue your journey. Wait no longer for them. They aren’t ready to find their way yet.
Let’s take stock in our relationships. Keep the thriving ones. Keep the new ones that are promising. Back burner the ones where you’re always the one to keep in touch. Back burner the ones where you always have to plan contacts or get cancelled at the last minute. You’re not a priority to them. Make yourself a priority and see how things change. Tolerate only that which respects you as a person, and honors you as a friend.
Thank you for reading. We’re enjoying Gavin today and even took a cheat day to have our first ice cream of the season. Lucky us! Be Safe. Be Kind. Be Courteous. See you tomorrow! My heart is full!