Deciding whether to stay or leave is an extremely common topic in our community. You can’t blame us, right? We long for the day addiction will let go of the one we love so dearly, but we’re not sure how much more we can take.
Today I want to tell you about a tool that is available to you, but it’s not brought up often. This tool is a wonderful way to help you determine what you want for your future, and it’s called separation.
I’m not going to tell you that you should leave, and I’m not going to tell you to stay. I’m just going to teach you about the benefits of separation and ask, if you are struggling with staying or leaving, to consider this an option.
Before we get to the benefits of separation, I want to explain the reasons we choose to stay with them and why we choose to live in this place of tension where one day we think we’re in this for the long haul, and the next day we are ready to walk out the door.
A lot of people look at women like us and go, “I don’t understand why you’re not choosing to leave.”
We either get judged for staying in the chaos, or we get judged for leaving because it is a “sin.” People tell us we can’t leave because of what our kids, neighbors, or church might think about us.
I totally get it. I dealt with that for almost 10 years.
So why do we choose to stay in an unhealthy relationship? We go into great detail in the Love Over Addiction program, but today we’re going to briefly cover the top six reasons.
1. We love them. This sounds obvious, right? But a lot of people look at us and go, “How could you love somebody who makes those choices?” We love them because ultimately, you and I understand these are good people. Underneath the cloak of addiction is a wonderful, beautiful human being who is worthy of love and compassion. We are gifted at being able to see people who are often overlooked, and we recognize the light in them.
2. If we have kids in the house, the idea of being a full-time single mom is scary and exhausting. This was one of my biggest fears. I was scared of being a single mom because it was nice to be able to pass the ball to somebody occasionally.
3. If we have children, we’re worried that they are going to judge or blame us because they don’t understand why we need to leave.
4. We are afraid of what other people will think. Most of my life I would smile when I really wanted to cry, and I would say things were great when things were far from great. I wasn’t willing to let people in on my secret because I didn’t want people judging the man that I loved.
I didn’t want them to think I was a failure.
So I kept a lie going on with everyone around me—even my closest family members—for years just hoping that he would keep it together around them. It’s funny because looking back now, once I finally had the courage to tell everybody, they already knew.
5. We’re afraid of being alone. The idea of waking up without somebody next to you, celebrating holidays without the one you love, or not having anyone to come home to is scary. That makes your heart hurt a little.
6. We are afraid of how we’re going to survive financially. A lot of us are stay-at-home moms, retired, or depend on a dual income for our families, and we ask ourselves if we have enough money to maintain our lifestyle.
All six of these fears are real and valid, so do not judge yourself for having any of them. But I’m going to make a suggestion that I think would help solve a lot of those fears. It is a topic that we have not spoken of before. It’s called separation.
Before I go over some of the benefits, let me first define what I mean by separation.
Either you are picking up and relocating or the one you love is picking up and relocating long-term—30 days or more.
I want you to think of a separation as your personal rehab. I don’t think there is a program out there that says, “We’ll have them back to you in two weeks completely rehabilitated.” Most rehabs last 30 days, but often suggest the addict stay for 60 or 90 days.
And I think it would be better (if you can swing it) for you to be the one that removes themselves from the situation. I’ll tell you why when I go through the benefits.
I also think it’s important for you to remember that your intentions for separation cannot be to get your loved one sober.
If you decide to separate, it cannot be from a place of manipulation. It has to be because you understand that this is in your best interest, whether they get sober or not.
Now, let’s talk about separation. Why would it be beneficial to our relationship?
The first benefit is that it is not a final decision.
It’s basically a timeout. You’re saying, “I have to figure this out. I’m not sure if this is the right answer, but I need some time.”
And when you create personal space away from addiction, you are able to get a clear mind. It actually strengthens you. Once you spend your first night alone, you’ll realize that every additional night will help you feel like you can make this happen long term if you choose to.
Addiction tries to make you feel like you are incapable of changing. It wants you to stay stuck because then it remains in control. Here are some examples of the lies addiction tells you.
You’re never going to be happy on your own.
You’re never going to be able to handle your life by yourself.
You are never going to find anyone who’s going to cherish you and love you.
You are unworthy of any type of love that you have now.
The voice of addiction grows weaker and weaker the longer you’re away from it. It makes space for the truth to become louder and stronger. So taking a break strengthens you. It also confirms you.
There is part of you that truly believes you are worthy of being loved.
It might be buried very deep inside you, and you might not have been in touch with it for a long time, but there is a part of you that believes you have something beautiful and unique to offer.
The second benefit of separation is that it will restore you.
You are exhausted. Addiction wears you down. Your mind is focused on trying to figure out how to save the one you love. Separation allows you to restore yourself, relax, regenerate, and step away from the abuse and anxiety about your future.
You can sit down in a cozy chair with a cup of tea and be in control of the next few hours of your evening because you’ve created a safe place, and you’re not worried about the dysfunction. You’re allowing yourself to heal.
And finally, the last benefit of separation is that after you are rested and restored, you will find yourself established.
This time you have given yourself will allow you to experience what it feels like to leave. If you want to return, you will know that you are returning because it is your choice. You accept that you love someone with this disease, and you are willing to accept that and all that comes with it.
You are established enough to make up your mind to return to the relationship as a healthy partner with realistic expectations, or you have decided that you are ready to leave. The restoration, confirmation, and strength that the separation has provided you is enough to help you come to the understanding that you are going to leave. You are strong enough and capable enough to make a different choice for your future.
Those are the benefits of separation: clarity of mind and clarity of heart.
You just need to have the courage to step out and put addiction at a distance so you can gain clarity.
I’m not saying you need to do this today, but I wanted to introduce the idea and teach you the benefits.
If you’re ready to consider separation as a possibility, I challenge you to start thinking about the details today.
- Where would you live?
- If you have young kids, how would you work out the visitation arrangements?
- What would you do financially?
Don’t get stuck when you feel you’ve hit a wall and think there’s no way you can make this work. You can get creative. You might have a friend with an apartment above a garage that they’re willing to lend you for a while. There might be a family member who’s willing to help with the kids.
There are ways that you can make this happen. How uncomfortable are you willing to get to find the answer?
I love each and every one of you, and I hope you found this helpful.If you haven’t joined one of our programs yet, what are you waiting for?
It’s time to make your healing a priority.