Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Denial - What I am not ready to see - Step 1

I had a long talk with a family member last night and she is in a predicament. She young and her family has been living under the strains of addiction for most of her life. She wants her mother to at least acknowledge whats happening, but she refuses to admit there is a problem.

As they say and elephant in the room. She has reached an age where she can just choose not to come around anymore. To abandon her efforts and her hopes that that things will change. Her older brother has already made the decision to stay away. It is her mothers denial that makes her the most crazy, not the addiction.

I felt like I had to tread lightly because this is my family. I wanted her to know that addiction and denial go hand in hand and any sudden changes in assigned roles within the family can cause a fire storm. Maintaining an atmosphere where someone can continue to use perpetuates the disease. The habit of buffering someone from the reality of their choices just keeps things the same. If she decides to leave then she has to be prepared for upsetting the dynamics of the family situation.

I understand about denial. I was in denial about my husbands addition and how messed up I was from my own childhood. I was dead inside and didn't feel I deserved to be happy. I attracted my equal someone as self-loathing as I was and we were in misery together. I had been in survival mode since I was eight and it was the only life I knew. It was a perfect fit.

I think sometimes you think if you admit something isn't working then you have to be ready to do something about it. Maybe you just aren't ready to do the work. For me I just thought with time things would work themselves out. In the case of my husband they certainly did he packed his bags and left. Talk about being yanked out of denial.

Denial catches up with you or it kills you slowly from the inside. There is no getting around the what is there whether you acknowledge it or not. It is still there and with addiction it doesn't just go away. Even when someone leaves or you leave it has done the damage long before that happens.

Last night I felt I was listening to a sponsee and not someone so close to me. She is analytical and is sure there is a solution to this family problem. I thought there is where the pain comes from believing you can make people see what you see. Not if they are not ready.

So what is next. She wants an intervention where the whole family goes to counseling and airs all the dirty laundry. You have to actually admit you have dirty laundry for that to work.

I suggested counseling for her, someone with experience with addiction. Someone that isn't easily manipulated by a smooth talker with a quick mind. I said, start with yourself and then you can invite your mom to join you. A true Al-anon cannot resist the invitation to help someone else.

I didn't tell her that getting past thinking you personally can solve someone elses addiction is first step towards saving yourself. Admitted we are powerless... You have to experience this for yourself. I searched for a solution until I was exhausted and someone had the good sense to send me to Al-anon and I had the good sense to listen.

The miracle of giving up and focusing on your own emotional health. It is part of healing and taking the spot light off the person with the addiction. It gives you your life back and that is the true miracle.

1 comment:

  1. I cannot force anyone to do anything about their drinking. I can take care of myself. Sometimes that means walking away. Sometimes it means just telling them that I love them. There is a solution for each of us. I hope that the family members find it.