Taking better care of yourself both emotionally and physically will help you free up coping capacity. This will give you the opportunity to begin doing the things that are going to be important to you over time. It is important to keep in mind, what many of the comments on this blog have indicated, that the addicted family member may remain self destructive irrespective of any and all efforts of family members.
The decision family members and friends must make is whether they are willing to focus on their own well being. Are you willing to take care of yourself in spite of the on going addiction of your loved one? There is a temptation for family members to believe they must be an instrument in turning the addict's life around. Mix this perception with a misunderstanding of addiction, guilt and fear and you have a recipe for disaster.
My perspective is that taking care of yourself is crucial. It is the most important thing you can do for yourself and the addicted family member. You don't help a drowning person by drowning yourself. When you are over focused on trying to manage the addict's life your own life begins to shrink and will disappear unless you make some changes. This leads to frustration, hurt, anger and more. This is not the mindset you need to be helpful to the addict when the appropriate time arises.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
At some point many people come to the realization that they have to start taking care of themselves or they will be worse off that the addict they have been over focusing on. Then comes the big question. What do I do?? People who have disappeared into the care taker role often forget or never learned how to take care of themselves. It feels selfish, uncomfortable, or at least, very awkward. Two of the basics of taking care of yourself are to get some exercise and to socialize with someone. Start simple with some small thing that is different that your normal pattern. Watch a sunset or a sunrise once this week. Go to a park and sit under a tree or take a walk, alone or with a friend, once this week. Find something simple to do that is different than your normal pattern. Going to meetings such as al-anon, nar-anon or families anonymous are very important aspect of helping yourself but what is also important, in addition to the meetings, is learning to have some fun.
Tuesday, June 07, 2011
Finding help can be one of the more frustrating aspects of having an addict in the family. First you need to decide who you are spending the energy trying to find help for? The primary person you need to be focused on finding help for is you. Most family members believe it is their duty and obligation to find help for the substance abuser in their family. What you are actually able to control is finding "resources" for your loved one and finding "resources" and "help" for yourself. Many people begin to understand this when they find themselves feeling more and more emotionally on edge or emotionally shut down when their addicted family member continues to not accept the "help" they are offered. When families look for help they usually start by seeking help for the addict not for themselves. They think that "if the addict gets help they will feel better." This is generally a misinterpretation of what is going on. In the long run family members need help independently of the addict but the resources available for family members are not as obvious nor as available as for addict. Of course just as the addict must accept their addiction in order to receive the help available to them family members must accept that they also need help independently of the addict in order for them progress in healing their own issues. People have begun this process and then have written to me and said they have gone to "groups" and it was only others telling their "sad stories" when they had wanted answers. You might look at it this way. Getting help for yourself will probably involve a variety of resources. Being able to listen to other families stories and very importantly tell your own story is one important aspect of "help". Getting information from blogs, books, classes, and other media is another piece of the "getting help" puzzle. Some aspects of getting help involve issues other than addiction. Doing something therapeutic such as exercise, yoga, art classes are another. A big aspect of allowing yourself to get help is how open you are to talking about the addiction in your family. You can't get feedback if you don't share. There is also an interesting program called Families Anonymous, there is a link to it on this blog in the links section. If there is no chapter of this organization in your area they have instructions on their website on how you can start a chapter in your area. They would be a good resource to reach out to for information and support even if the idea of starting a chapter yourself is frightening and the furthest thing from your mind. Help for the addict is available. you can find the resources for that rather quickly and then you can pass on the information to the addict. Don't be discouraged by rejection of the information, just remind them about it from time to time. Your focus is getting help for yourself, it is out there. Look at it as a treasure hunt.