Friday, December 28, 2012

Disappearing into the Sunset
I got a call yesterday out of the blue from a friend. She is desperate for a solution to her extremely dysfunctional family. She is young and feels she has played the peacemaker for the family her whole life and is tired of this and wants to just move away and leave them behind.

She says she knows she can do that but it would cause her family a lot of pain and they wouldn't have anyone holding them together.

I didn't really know what to say about that. There is an addiction problem in the family and the family has lived with one sort of addition or another for a long time. Decades of uncertainty caused by erratic behavior including destruction of property.

She is young and the decisions she makes now could determine whether she perpetuates the disease and dysfunction or decides to save herself. She is planning an intervention of sorts. A last ditch effort before disappearing into the sunset.

The house of cards will fall in her absence or will it? Addiction and dysfunction is tricky for the Al-anon you think the world will come to an end if you don't keep propping everyone up. When you find that life goes on without you and another person quickly volunteers to take your place you can't believe it.

You thought the world was depending on you and really you find that life goes on. Yes there is a time of confusion and regrouping but the disease of addiction is smart and has many years of practice manipulating people into aiding and abetting its survival. Addiction has been around longer than we have and it is smarter than we are and can adapt quickly to change.

It is the addiction calling the shots and it is because we aren't good enough or because the person doesn't love us that they choose the substance over us. They aren't ready and may never be ready. We can't control someone else is life. It isn't our job.

My advice to her is to save herself. Do what in her heart is the best for her spiritually. To be prepared for the initial change back response that ensues just after the family addiction dysfunction pattern is changed. The merry-go-round of denial is stopped for a moment and every one participating will be stunned into either doing something about the situation or glazing over it and finding a way to go back to denial.

Changing yourself is hard enough and changing someone else is impossible. In the case of the family the odds that everyone is ready to change at the same time is unlikely.

Of course I recommended Al-Anon and seeing a counselor to help her deal with taking her own life back. It isn't easy to not get drug back into the drama with guilt and manipulation. The program helped me to break those rescue habits and a weekly meeting to keep me on the right track.

It is complicated at first but once you discover that you are only responsible for your own behavior and happiness then it does get easier. Letting go of feeling guilty for not being able to change someone else.


  1. Great post, Grace. I'm so glad that I don't have to be responsible for the happiness of others or try to fix what is wrong with them. It has made such a difference in my life.

  2. Still struggling with those tendencies myself. so heartbreaking to let go when you know it's the disease talking and not the person. You have so much strength!