Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Their Best Chance of Recovery Is You!

In family support groups such as Naranon, Alanon, and S-anon; we hear the words "Keep the focus on yourself!"and "Mind your own business" over and over again. Yet, at the same time, we hear the oldtimers in the meetings say that, although there are no guarantees of the addict's recovery, their best chance to recover comes from our working our own program, our getting recovered ourselves.

So, you may wonder, how can these two things go together? In other words, if I'm not in their business, running things, getting them to do things my way, how can I be the one to give them the best chance of recovery?

Good question - and here is how it works:

Before we understand our problem (the disease of co-addiction), the solution (sanity), and the plan of action (such as the 12 steps of recovery), all we know is that our loved one is suffering, and so we suffer along with them and try with all our might to fix things for them. We watch them get sicker and sicker, and we ourselves often get crazier and crazier as we try to fix their problem by trying to make them stop using.

Sooner or later, we see that what we are doing does not work. Our resentment grows as we see that not only do they not get better, but they are mad at us for all that we do to try to help. And, as we go down the tubes emotionally and mentally from the stress and strain of the situation, the rest of the world (our other relatives, friends, and people at work and in the neighborhood) sees our deterioration and judges us for it and for putting up with this crazy spouse or child or sibling or parent who is putting us through so much.

So, we come into the rooms or arrive at our coach's door with less of our self-esteem intact than we'd like to have and enough self-righteous indignation to cause an explosion. We feel at once like our loved one's using is both not our fault and  completely our fault.

After awhile, we come to understand that our addict's addiction is not our fault. But, we also begin to see that if we continue to control and enable them in the ways we have been, we may actually be contributing to their inability to get well. At the same time, we learn that if we focus on our own recovery diligently, we will become powerful role models of sane and happy living who our addicts want to emulate, rather than fight or run from.

What does this mean and how does it work?

With each action and interaction, people affect each other. When your addict uses you feel terrible. When you try to help them and are not successful, the natural tendency is to try harder. This push against their behavior causes them to push back even harder. In other words, 'that which we resist persists.'

You may have experienced this in your own life. You have a habit that irritates someone you love. They bug you about it, and if the habit is deeply imbedded in your psyche, you probably find that it becomes even harder to break the more they bug you. And, if they get more insistent and you become less able to fight the urge they are pressing you about, you may even find yourself getting angry at them for bugging you about breaking a habit that you would LIKE to break, but simply can't.

At this point, a cycle of you engaging in the habit, them fighting you and you getting mad at them begins. The worse it gets, the more imbedded the habit gets and the less you are able or even inclined to focus on your role in getting rid of the habit. Instead, you are spending all of your energy fighting the person or people who are bugging you about changing. This is human nature: 'that which you resist persists' and is also at the core of the relationship between the addict and the co-addict when that relationship is NOT working.

Recovery disentangles the dysfunctional web of push-pull and replaces it with tools for detachment that allow you to let go of the addict's behavior and serve as a mirror instead of as an adversary in his or her life.

Imagine, if when your loved one noticed your habit (the one that was driving them crazy), instead of bugging you about it, they simply noticed it, described what they were seeing without judgment, and offered you support while also respecting your own ability to choose next steps. Imagine if, instead of judging, nagging and pushing you to change, they simply let you know what their boundaries were around the behavior. Suddenly, you would have to look at yourself because there would be no one to blame for nagging you...

Sometimes it helps to see the relationship we have with our using loved one as just a more extreme example of any relationship where one person wants another to change. When we can put ourselves into our addict's shoes, the whole process of learning how to detach, how to be a mirror, how to keep the focus on our own lives and how to respect their life choices while protecting ourselves by setting up boundaries, can become easier to understand and implement.

These are the behaviors that will change the nature of your relationship with your addict. But make no mistake, doing so is simple, but not easy. It takes discipline, support, and the ability to look at oneself as an imperfect, vulnerable person with quirks, habits, and defects as well.

The 12 steps and the 12 step support groups provide one very clear path to help you develop a plan of action that will allow you to keep the focus on yourself in ways that increase your potentially positive impact on your addict. Having a coach to work with can supplement your work in your support group, potentially accelerating your growth.

By diving deeply into recovery, with all of yourself, you become your best self, regardless of whether the addict is using or not. You learn how to effectively implement the tools of recovery in your relationship with your addict and as a result, your life gets better and, though there are no guarantees, YOU become your addict's best chance to recover.

Have a wonderful week and enjoy the holiday season one blessed moment at a time.

See you next week!

Recovery Coach Bev

Readers, please note:
These blogs are designed to provide those who love, live and/or work with addicts with ideas to contemplate. They are not designed to replace the wonderful support available to co-addicts in programs like naranon, alanon, gamanon, and s-anon. These 12 step programs offer meetings all over the world, in person, on the phone, and online. You can find their listings on their web sites:
There are people at these meetings who have dealt and continue to deal with the rampage that addiction can bring into the lives of those affected by someone else's using. Feel free to call me to find out more or to check out their websites for more information.

In addition, having a coach can intensify the pace of growth in these areas. If you feel you or someone you love would benefit, I would be happy to speak with you or someone you know who is affected by the addiction of another person. Let’s have a confidential, complimentary consultation to talk about how we might work together to jumpstart your own recovery journey and perhaps even that of those around you.

Beverly A. Buncher, MA, CEC, CLPF
Recovery Coach
Recovery Support Specialist
Helping Families of Addicts Find Their Way

786 859 4050 (Focus on You! - for family and friends of addicts) (Life Purpose in Recovery)  (Treatment Professionals in Recovery)
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments: