When I was losing it and started to make myself crazy by projecting all kinds of scenarios that had not happened, I would pull out my phone and read my mantras out loud to myself. I picked these up from others and from the literature in Families Anonymous meetings over the years.
1. Enabling, rescuing or weaving a safety net blocks recovery
Figuring out what “enabling” is can be complicated. So whatever we had defined it at that time is what I went with. It was simply important not to default to rescue mode.
If he wrecked the car, he needed to go without a car. Replacing what he destroyed immediately would not allow him to learn from consequences and earn it back. If we allow those who suffer from addiction to never meet the consequences, we are not helping, we are hurting.
2. Being uncomfortable can be an incentive to change
Sometimes those with substance use disorder need to suffer discomfort before finding recovery. That can mean loving and letting go which can be very hard to watch but we can’t do the same thing over and over and expect a different result. This goes for us, too. We have to shift and change, too. Like any other serious illness, it affects the whole family.
3. Mistakes, acting out and relapses are opportunities to learn
This one was one of the hardest. Because we know it’s a serious illness that can result in death. There is real fear with relapse. However, it is part of the illness and just know that the rates of relapse with SUD are similar to rates of relapse with other chronic diseases like hypertension, asthma, or type I diabetes.
4. Their journey is not your journey
I probably said this one the most. We can’t live someone else’s life or steer their ship no matter how much we want to.
5. Withdrawal of love is rarely a good strategy
I don’t think this works and it feels inhuman. That’s not to say that a husband who is an alcoholic and physically abusive should be lead to believe your love is unconditional.
What I mean is simply using withdrawal of your love as a punishment can often make matters worse. Those who suffer addiction already feel shame and unworthiness. That’s why I believe letting them know we love them is important.