Author: lifeofanaddictswife

As the name of this blog infers, I am indeed the wife of an addict. But I really never define myself that way, but it was just the vehicle that led me.. HERE (and it sounds really good) So there's that. I'll be sharing the good and bad, because you can't have one without the other. About addiction, about recovery, and about life. My dream is to find like-minded people and create an empowering, uplifting community. Please...start at the beginning -M

The Burn

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“Like a silkworm weaving her house with love from
her marrow, and dying in her body’s threads winding
tight, round and round, I burn desiring what the heart
desires. Cut through, O Lord, my heart’s greed, and
show me your way out, O Lord white as jasmine”
-Mahadevi
As I read and re-read these words I felt the message of change of heart.  I think of addiction and the 12 steps. This poem perfectly describes the process of acknowledgment, realizing self-will, the fight with the natural man, and surrendering to God. The idea that you must die to be reborn, and the process of getting rid of self will and ego and truly surrender.  “I burn desiring what the heart desires” sounds like the strife from the natural man.  Flesh versus the spirit.  Then the surrender, “cut through, o Lord, my hearts greed and show me your way out”.  Show me YOUR way out. not mine. Acceptance of thy will.
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Knowing and Unknowing

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“The day you teach the child the name of the bird, the child will never see that bird again” –Krishnamurti

In order to have an open, intimate experience of life we need to connect to people and things.  SO. Think of the world.  What it would look like walking through the world without naming things. Like flowers, trees, birds, etc.  When you name things, you no longer see the majesty and stillness and brilliance because we “know” it. Does that make sense?  Think about it…..like because we know what it is we usually take it for granted, overlook it, and don’t experience the beauty as if it were something we didn’t know. They still exist whether we name them or not.  If you look at something without saying what it is, you have a different experience.  You have an intimate experience with life.  With existence.

Now think of children…..the INNOCENCE OF CHILDREN. What makes them different that us, is that they know they don’t know.  They marvel and are curious, and are astounded by the beauty of life.  Adults THINK they know.  So we overlook, disconnect, and ultimately isolate from both the world and people.  Which I think is our spiritual side.  And this same thought applies for why we miss spirituality and God in general.

It’s the ego. “I KNOW” that changes your experience with things.

If that is true, then humility is the key to unknowing.

Too young or too proud?

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OK so there is this thing.  AND I JUST DO. NOT. GET IT.  Like age=wisdom, respect your elders, and “oh honey just wait until you’re older, then you’ll understand”.

I remember completely not understanding these rules of the world when I was really young.  I could name one specific instance but there was so many just like it that I feel okay grouping them together.  Any time I would engage in a conversation with an adult  sharing my opinion the same things would happen.  I would like to add that these were not the snarky, rude conversations that their responses might infer.  My parents usually would scold me, or give me that wide eyed look that silently told me to “stop”, but the real emotion I read on their face was embarrassment.  Blend in, stay small, show respect. The other adults saw me as disrespectful because I was too young to have an opinion on anything.

When I was in my teens I was too young to really understand life, when I was in dating I was laughed at for the things I wished for in a husband,  then when I was married I was always belittled for being in the sweet little honeymoon stage.

Later in my twenties, surrounded my large family we were all discussing the depth of parenting.  My husband and I contributed to that conversation something we felt about a parent child relationship and immediately what followed was those all too familiar superior looks at us explaining, “oh just wait until you have kids, then I want to hear what you have to say.”  In that same setting, my sister in law who did have one child voiced her thoughts, which were faithfully met with the reply, “You only have one kid, just wait until you have more.”

I am officially rejecting this notion that age automatically equals wisdom. Also discounting other people has a payoff of superiority which feels nice but actually is nothing but mean spirited.  Also do you ever learn anything if you’re always needing to be the smartest in the room? Asking for a friend. All that ever taught me was to stay small, and that my voice didn’t matter.

First its because you’re young, then its because you’re not married, then its because you don’t have kids, then you don’t have enough kids.  DO YOU SEE THE PATTERN? If you let them, they will always find a new way to make you inferior, and staying small serves no one.  If you don’t believe me, believe Mother Teresa:

People are often unreasonable, irrational and self-centered; 
        Forgive them anyway. 
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; 
        Be kind anyway. 
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies; 
        Succeed anyway. 
If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you; 
        Be honest and sincere anyway. 
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight; 
        Create anyway. 
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous; 
        Be happy anyway. 
The good you do today, will often be forgotten; 
        Do good anyway. 
Give the best you have, and it may never be enough; 
        Give your best anyway. 
In the final analysis, it is between you and God; 
        It was never between you and them anyway.

You can live your whole life not paying attention, and you can be young and know truth.  You can be old and wise, and young and careless.

Kind looks good on everyone.  And the only thing I’ve learned from superiority is that I never want to be that. 

 

Line upon Line

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I had a biology lab this week for an online class I am taking.  I looked at the lab and was immediately overwhelmed.  I was pouring over the pages that looked like it was written in a foreign language.  I was so frustrated and discouraged feeling that this lab was impossible for me to do. I was completely lost as I stared at the information that made absolutely no sense to me.

After a few hours of a breakdown of defeat, I decided to try again.  This time I just read one word at a time, one line at a time.  I slowly made my way through the lines, through the pages then through the lab.  I. DID. IT. Not only did I do it, I UNDERSTOOD IT. IT MADE SENSE.  The same pages that hours before looked impossible, now were clear.

This is how I experience life.  Years ago.  My life looked like my first glance at that biology lab.  IMPOSSIBLE.  It made no sense to me. Nothing was adding up, and I felt overwhelmed, frustrated and discouraged.  I lived in control, fear, worry, blame, resentment, and inaction.  but. then something happened.  I went to a meeting. Then another, then another.  I got a sponsor, I worked the steps (one step at a time I might add).  And today, I can see.  It makes sense.  All of it.  Line upon line, I learned, stretched, grew, gained hope and faith.  Line upon line.  What once made no sense, now was so clear.

I love God.  I love my Savior.  Mortality is hard, but it is BEAUTIFUL too.  The hard things can still be beautiful.  Today, when I snap at someone but am able to make amends quicker, THATS BEAUTIFUL TO ME.  When my character weaknesses start showing up but I notice and am able to ask God to remove them from me, THATS BEAUTIFUL to me.  When I am in the middle of something painful, but I know I am growing through it. Its. So. Beautiful to me. The process is amazing.

Sitting in meetings, changes me.  The Savior sits in those rooms with us.  He wipes the tears of each person sharing their heart and soul, their struggle and triumph, their hope and despair.  All of it.  To be able to go to meetings to talk about the Savior of the world, and to experience his atonement. Its so beautiful to me.

Letter to my Addict

Dearest *****,

I love you. You are easily the best person I have ever known.  I feel so much hurt at the thought of what you’re going through now and all your life.  I deeply believe that you are doing the best you can and no matter what does or doesn’t happen it will be okay, you will have done enough.  I’m thankful for every single part of my life with you.  I wouldn’t change any of the worry, pain, or struggle.  As deep as my struggle and pain go, is the height of my hope and dependence on God and Christ.  I really do believe the same for you.  They are the way.  When all of us fail you, He is there, perfectly.  Usually I struggle with either saving or not feeling, but today I can do better.  I choose to feel.  To feel sad for you, hurt for you, love for you.  But I can’t save you.  I’m trying to step out of the way; stop being your Savior because I can’t, but He can.  Let God work in your life.  Lean on them.  I will be loving you every minute of every day.

Detach AND love

I don’t feel like we talk about what this looks like enough.  In my experience and all I have seen around me is either enabling out of love, or disappointment that turns into numbing.  Saving or not feeling.  WE CAN DO BETTER!  We can choose to feel AND love…. BOTH.  I can feel sad for my addict and disappointed when things don’t go as I hope they would, AND love without enabling.

The thing is. Its the harder path to take.  It is easier FOR US to save, and its easier FOR US to numb.  For me, it takes intention and mindfulness to feel and then separately love.  Addiction can bring to clarity what conditional love looks like.  Our addicts will receive our love and warmth if they do what we hope they will do, otherwise we are cold, distant, or negatively reactive.

—–On a side note.  I realize that we are imperfect, and especially in the beginning years we are in survival mode from this awful circumstance that no one really knows how to deal with the right way.  I get it.  On this post I’m just trying to point out another angle for loved ones that I rarely see or hear.  The part where WE GET TO GROW TOO.  We get to stretch too… 

The result of us learning and changing is ironically the SAME result that we are wishing for when we enable, punish, scream, or save which is……. THE BEST case scenario for us AND our addicts.  This is why I think we can do better.  If that is true…that the best result for both us and our addicts is for us to detach with love, then why don’t we do it.  I think that we do it because of what it does for US and here is how……

Saving and enabling has a payoff for us.  Numbing and reacting has a payoff for us.  And yet, it is the worst thing for our addict.

So HOW?

  1. Boundaries are vital for the recipe of feeling AND loving our addicts.  “Empathy without boundaries, is not empathy. Compassion without boundaries, is not genuine. Vulnerability without boundaries, is not vulnerability.” -Brene Brown
  2. Number 2 is a question.  Do you trust God? Do you trust God with your addict? Does God love your addict as much as you do?  Are you trusting God, if you’re always trying to control?
  3. Setting boundaries can also help you to stay on your side of the street.  FOCUS ON YOU. YOU YOU YOU YOU YOU YOU.  If you’re spending all your time thinking about your addict, you’re A. wasting your precious energy B. part of the problem C. missing out on the growth that comes from working on yourself.  When we live on our addicts side of the street we are giving advice, living in expectations, making decisions based on how it affects our addicts, obsessing over what isn’t in our control, etc. and because of this codependency we are often tired and resentful.  When you find yourself focused on your addicts problems, shift the focus back to you. Believe it or not, changing them will not solve your problems or make you happy.
  4. Setting a boundary to HELP only when you are asked can help you stay on your side of the street.
  5. Learn about Addiction.  Show up to meetings.  I personally think its important to consistently go to an addict meeting in order to really gain an understanding of the disease our loved ones are fighting. ( if not NA AA or ARP, then Coda or Nar-Anon Al-Anon Family Groups)  Would we take the recommendation of a Business Owner, for a diagnosis of our mental health?  NO.  So why do we get mad when our addicts don’t listen to our advice when we have no clue what they are going through.  We can’t empathize with our addicts if we are so unaware of what addiction is.
  6. SUPPORT instead of enable.  Support can look like going to meetings with them, recognizing progress, separating the addiction from the addict, and a whole lot of empathy.  “Empathy is not feeling FOR somebody; it is feeling WITH them” -Brene Brown.  It doesn’t have to be a burden to have empathy.  Practicing empathy with our loved ones is HARD.  It still takes a lot of work for me to just sit in the pain with them instead of trying to fix it, or automatically reacting because I hate that my addict is struggling.  But I don’t have to feel FOR him, I just need to feel WITH him.  “Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person they are almost indistinguishable” -Glennon Melton Doyle

I can add on that list forever, but we will just take this gulp together because it is a lot.  WE CAN DO BETTER.  We can hate the addiction and LOVE the addict. We can feel sad and angry AND sit in those feelings without reacting or numbing.  We can love without saving and support without enabling.  We can detach AND love.

How has Jesus Christ helped you with you loved ones addiction?

How has Jesus Christ helped you with you loved ones addiction?
My first reaction when I read this question, is to think of it in reverse. For me, my loved ones addiction helped me know my Savior, and that had to happen first before I saw or allowed Christ to help me.
The unmanageability and powerlessness that addiction brought into my life, left me broken-hearted, with a level of humility which caused me to know my absolute NEED for my God and Savior. I practiced surrendering my will, which meant trusting that our Father and Savior loved my husband more than I do. That they could do more than I could. When I stopped focusing outwardly on my husbands addiction and turned inward to focus on myself, I was able to let Christ work in me, change my heart and enter into His rest. I experienced the miracle that is Christ.
Addiction has been a my greatest teacher. What I have learned are not addiction lessons, they are life lessons. Everyone needs spiritual healing through Christ, and addiction was the conduit in which I learned how to access it for myself. It was more than just receiving comfort for pain, it was being willing to become better from the pain. “Crisis sweeps into our life and forces us to let everything fall away that we though we needed, so that we can find out what’s left over. The only things you need are the very things that can never be taken from you.”- Glennon Melton Doyle