They are my worst memories.
They are the one’s that are embedded in my mind so vividly, that I can still remember what we were wearing and what was said. All of the moments I wish I could forget have one thing in common.
The common denominator is that someone I love couldn’t stop drinking. Watching someone slowly destroy themselves is like some kind of Greek tragedy, where all the potential and love and beauty in that person slowly subsides into a pit of hubris and shame.
They say it’s a family disease, and I get that. It doesn’t heal the wounds any faster. I have had to watch loved ones crash and burn so many times, and I have learned a lot from these experiences.
I remember when I was the guy who couldn’t stop. I remember when I was guy who was 20 pounds underweight and strung out. I remember what it was like when someone wanted to help me and all I could think to do was tell them to fuck off.
I don’t judge active addicts, no matter how far down they have fallen. I know that there is always a way back. I can only speak from my own experience, but I hope it may help someone who is watching someone they love fight these monsters.
1 – It’s Not Personal
It feels personal, but it’s not.
It feels personal because of all the quiet and heartfelt conversations we have had with our loved ones, where they promise you that “this is the last time.” They really mean it and you tell them that you are there for them. You tell them that they need to reach out to you if they need help.
They always say they will, but it seems like the phone calls only come after they have already picked up the drink.
I assure you, they are not doing it to punish you. They are not drinking or getting high to prove a point, they are doing it because they don’t understand themselves and it is the only way they know to stop whatever discomfort they are experiencing.
Resenting a drug addict for doing drugs will only cause you pain. Yes, everyone is responsible for their own actions but you can’t allow your loved ones addiction to ruin the both of you.
It’s easy to say but very difficult to do, but you can’t take someone else’s drug use personally. It is not about you, it is about them.
2 – You Can’t Save Anyone
Addiction knows no knight in shining armour.
If you think that somehow you can swoop in and solve a loved one’s problems for them and magically their drug habits will disappear, well you are in for a tough lesson.
Don’t get me wrong, we must help each other. I am by no means telling you to cut people off and stand watch while someone drinks themselves to death. No no no… I am simply saying that if someone you love is in the ring with an addiction, the only way for them to get sober is to do some real hard and honest work on themselves. They must solve their own addiction problem, from the inside out.
Go to therapy with them, bring them to meetings, maybe help them with some groceries or whatever… but you can not save someone that doesn’t want to be saved.
It sucks. It really really sucks. Especially when you are someone that has gotten sober yourself. You know what it takes, you see this person you love going through so much pain and you just want to help them and for them to be happy.
But they have to do it themselves. This is just the way it is and no amount of heroism or rescue efforts will change that.
3 – No One Owes You Anything
I get sad when I see this happen, I have done it myself. It is completely un nessesary.
If you decide to go out of your way to help someone, please don’t expect to get anything in return.
For one, if you are going to help someone, the reason should never be out of self interest. It’s bad energy and you will only be left disapointed.
Most importantly, don’t forget that the point is to help this person. The point is for them to find recovery and enjoy the life of freedom that we all desire for them. If someone gets sober, the worst thing you could do is to hold your actions over that person’s head. Using someone’s guilt or shame against them is flat out wrong.
I get it, there is a balance. Sometimes debt’s have to be repaid and if someone you love gets sober, that person needs to start pulling their own weight. They need to step up and participate in life and in relationships.
But to say “you owe me” is ridiculous and cruel.
No one owes you shit, the reward of seeing your loved one sober and happy should be the reward itself and to put expectations on someone’s sobriety is only going to hurt everyone involved.
Just trust me on this one guys.
4 – There Is Always Hope
It’s not all death and destruction. People do get better and sobriety and happiness are both entirely achieveable.
No matter what happens, no matter how betrayed you feel or how angry you become, there is always hope for someone battling addiction.
I have seen the worst of the worst. People who would do the worst kinds of things and tell the worst kinds of lies in order to get their fix, but many of them are sober today and are wonderful beautiful people.
Seriously… There Is Always Hope!!
I am an upfront blunt guy. Many times I get told that I should be more sensitive to people and their feelings and there is probably some truth to that. But let’s be real, drug addicts can be fucking assholes.
They will lie right to your face, they will steal your money, they will break your heart and then somehow make you feel guilty about it. It doesn’t mean that you should give up on them. It just means that this person is sick and doesn’t know how to get better.
No matter what happens, don’t ever lose hope. Is there a chance that your loved one may never get sober and will continue to let you down? Yes… there is always that chance.
But there is also the chance that the botton they need is right around the corner. There is a chance that one day your beautiful son or daughter or wife or boyfriend or mom will be willing to be truthful with themselves, and that will be the first little window into a life that they can have.
Never give up. Never lose hope. People do get better.