When Addiction Bullies You

Hey there, everyone. I am so glad that you are here listening to me today. My name is Michelle Lisa Anderson. For those of you who are new to our community, welcome.

I have a blog, several programs, and an amazing community and movement of women who are all in love with somebody who is suffering from addiction. And if you’ve been around, you know we talk about all types of addiction and what comes along with loving somebody with this disease.

One of the things that we believe in here is that there is no judgment. There is no judgment of the people that we love as well as there is no judgment for each other. So, you’re not going to hear me tell you that you need to leave. And you’re not going to hear me guilt you about needing to stay. You’re not going to hear me tell you how I think that you should make decisions.

My job is to give you the tools that you need to get back to a happy, healthy spiritually, mentally, and physically loving woman whether you stay or not and whether the one you love gets sober or not. The tools I teach in the programs, along with on the podcast and on the blog, are for women as well as mothers.

So, if you know somebody who is in pain— because this disease is painful for everyone involved— please share this with them.

I just found out the other day that we are in the top 5% of podcasts on iTunes which is huge— huge. And I never would have guessed that. I do this every week because I love you, because I am obsessed with this topic, and because I don’t feel like I have a choice. It feels like something greater than myself is leading me to talk about this, and I would be doing it if I was in the bottom 5%. But that was really a wonderful confirmation, so thank you. I am so honored that you have chosen to subscribe and listen to me. I hope that I am helping you. That is my prayer always that I serve you and that you finish listening to this feeling better than when you started.

I’m going to get really personal with you. I am a big fan of Brené Brown, and in one of her books, she talks about being vulnerable. And she has a rule that I’m about to break. The rule is that you don’t talk about the things that you are vulnerable about in public until you’ve actually worked through them and given them space to heal. And I think that’s wonderful advice. I’m a big believer in that.

But I’m going to break that rule because I feel such a sense of urgency to share with you what’s going on with me.

Because I think it’s what’s going on with you too. I think together we can become stronger and help each other out. I always try to be the type of friend to you who is real and who never portrays that I have anything or everything all together. That’s super important.

Whenever anybody gives me a compliment about my child— like the other day, someone said Henry, my seven-year-old, is the sweetest and the kindest and the nicest child and asked what am I doing. And I sent them a video of Henry having a meltdown on the floor and said, “What you see is wonderful, but it’s not the full picture.” And that’s not to put down my kids. My kids are human. I just didn’t want her to think that I was up on a pedestal because the only glimpses that she’s seen of my wonderful human son is good.

And I also feel that I do that with Facebook. I love the idea of social media being real and using it as a vehicle to bring us together, so I often think of ideas like taking a picture of my dirty laundry. Of course, who wants to see dirty laundry, but I just can’t stand the idea that women are portraying only this perfect side to themselves.

I am a believer that we bond together, and we literally show our dirty laundry and are willing to say, “I have nothing all together.” I’m just trying to survive just like you.

So, with all that being said, I want to tell you what’s going on with me. I’m not going to get too specific and into too many details because I believe in protecting the privacy of everybody. That’s actually the other thing: probably the biggest value that we have at LoveOverAddiction.com is that we take privacy very, very seriously. And I believe in sharing, but I also believe in being dignified and respectful about it.

There is somebody in my life right now, unexpectedly, who is bullying me and sending horrible messages to me that are unkind and difficult to read and completely false on so many levels. This person doesn’t know me very well. I think I’ve met them three times in my life and had very short conversations with them. So, they’re getting misinformation, and they have an ulterior motive for what they’re doing.

I am aware that I am undeserving of this and that it’s uncalled for, it’s mean, it’s cruel, and it’s difficult. As I’m receiving this harassment from this person, I thought of you all because I always think of you guys. I thought about the way it actually reminded me of my first marriage, and the way addiction used to bully and harass me and how you all listening to this probably feel bullied and harassed by addiction.

We are told that we are worthless. We are told that we should be ashamed of ourselves. We’re told that we are not fun or that we are over dramatic or we are never happy or never good enough. We are told that we are crazy. We’re told that we’re controlling. We are told that we are a nag. And we are reminded of all of the things that we feel insecure about, right?

Because that’s addictions way of trying to get us to be quiet.

Addiction is trying to put you in your place. It’s trying to say to you, “Listen, lady, you need to shut your mouth and sit down and be quiet because I’m in control of this situation. I’m in control of your finances. I’m in control of the one you love. I am in control of your family— maybe your children. I’m in control of all the extra free time of that person. I am in control.” And you are left feeling completely devastated. Your heart is broken. You feel like you’ve been beaten up— literally in a fight where you’ve got bruises, and you’re marred and cut and broken.

That is a horrible feeling to feel. And if you’re feeling like that today, I am right here with you. I am feeling that way too. We can feel beat up and broken together. But as I was thinking about this today, addiction is a bully— a bully. And it doesn’t matter who you are. You could be your mother or your best friend, or you could be Mother Teresa or Oprah. You could even be God, and addiction would be trying to do the same thing to them as it is to you.

Because you’re an obstacle, and addiction’s goal is to get everything out of the way so that it can remain in control of the person that you love.

So, do not take this personally. This is not your fault. And any type of reaction that you are having right now is your desire to control— to take back the person whom you love from this disease. We have lots of podcasts and tools in the program that can teach how to get back in control because I do not believe that we are powerless at all; I think that’s a bunch of bull. I think we do have power.

We do have choices. We are not helpless, and we do not have to sit around and wait for things to get better in order to start to feel better.

But that’s not the point of this podcast. This podcast is to talk to you today about how addiction is a bully, and it is not personal.

So, what do you do when you’ve been bullied? What do you do when addiction is trying to put you in your place with a bunch of lies that are not truthful about you? Do you retaliate and fight back? Do you walk away and give up? What do you do? I’m going to tell you. The first thing that you do is take a deep breath. You have to pause. When this person was sending me text messages, I did not respond as much as I wanted to grab my phone and say— because I’m a feisty woman— my initial instinct is to fight back. But I took a deep pause. I put my phone away, and I thought, “I need to get quiet. I need to really make space to think about this.”

And then I asked myself, “Is there any truth to this? Is there anything that I need to be refined with? Is there some lesson I need to learn? This is clearly not a healthy way for someone to teach me a lesson, right? I mean, it’s not dignified, it’s not rational, and it’s not kind. It’s cruel, and it’s mean-spirited, but if I sift all of that away and I am left with just the lesson here, if I’m left with just the words, the point that they’re trying to make, is there a point?” And I really sat and thought about that and said, “No, there’s no point to what they’re saying.

It’s just coming from a place of cruelness, so I’m going to practice boundaries.”

It’s so funny because I text messaged my friend who knows of this person and shared with them— not in any kind of detail— what was going on. And she said, “Oh, Michelle, I know this really great podcast, and she has a bunch of episodes on boundaries, and I really suggest you listen to it.” And I’m like, “Oh, who is this?” And she’s like, “The name of the podcast is Wife of an Alcoholic.” And I’m thinking, “Oh yeah, that’s right.” So you know what I did? I blocked her from my phone. I don’t need this in my life. This isn’t helpful. This is coming from a place of yuck. So, I practiced what I preached: I blocked this person.

And when you get bullied like that (I know a lot of you are being bullied by addiction because I remember I was which is how I came up with the boundaries for the episode in the first place), you really feel beat up, don’t you? I mean, you feel like you have been broken and bruised, and you’re damaged, and you’re thinking, “Why me? What did I do wrong? Am I really that bad? Are they right? Is this accurate? What did I do to deserve this? I thought I was a good person. I thought I was kind.” And you go through every instance in your mind of the ways you’ve been kind. Or you go through every instance where you’ve made a mistake, right? And then you have a choice:

You can choose to believe the cruelness and the lies about yourself, or you can choose to believe the real you.

When this was happening this weekend, I remember going to church, and I wasn’t singing. You know, there’s a part where you get up, and you sing the song, and I remember just closing my eyes and thinking, “What do You need to tell me? What do I need to hear right now?” And I felt Jesus cup my face in his hands and say, “I love you.” And it was so overwhelming to me because it wasn’t “I love you, but Michelle, you could have done better in this situation,” Or, “I love you, but you really need to work on this trait. I love you, but you’re falling short in this area.” I felt this amazing confirmation that I am absolutely, unconditionally loved no matter what anybody in this world is telling me. I’ve got this unconditional love that I can tap into at any point in time.

It was so overwhelming to me and so pure to me that I realized that giving anybody the weight and worth of my heart and my acceptance is giving away my power.

Whether it’s to somebody who’s being a bully, or whether it’s to somebody who is giving me a compliment, it’s all the same, right? It’s giving away your power to what other people think of you. And at the end of the day, even if you don’t believe in Jesus, and I know a lot of you don’t (and that’s completely okay because we welcome anybody of any faith), at the end of the day, it truly is: what do you feel about you?

I want to be your friend right now and remind you because I know you. We are sisters. I know that you are listening to this today and going, “Help. I need help. I’m alone; I feel broken, I feel hopeless, and I feel guilty and embarrassed and ashamed.” And I am here to say to you: there is nothing that we need to be ashamed about. You are lovely. You are beautifully made. You’re magnificent. You’re caring. You are thoughtful. You are a good woman, and anybody that is healthy and not struggling with addiction is able to see that.

Addiction is a bully, and it has nothing to do with you.

It has to do with the ultimate goal of taking over the one you love. You are an obstacle that is in their way to get to their goal. So, addiction is doing everything it can to get you to be quiet and leave it alone. You do not want to retaliate. You do not want to get into this. My dad calls it a “pissing match.” And I’m sorry if that’s inappropriate, but you don’t want to go back and forth, back and forth.

First of all, that’s draining to you, right? Because you’re stooping to their level. And number two, it’s not effective; it doesn’t work. Since when have you ever gotten into a fight with somebody where they come out going, “You know what? You’re perfectly right. I’m going to stop drinking and using drugs. I’m going to change my entire life around.” And maybe they said that. But then did it happen? Did it actually work? Did it result in long-term sobriety? No. You know it doesn’t. So don’t waste your breath or your time or your energy.

I’m working on recognizing that this person is no greater or no better or no worse than I am. I don’t want this to sit with me. I don’t want to—in those still moments— still have feelings of anger. And I want peace. I don’t want this person to have control over my mind in my quiet time. And that’s what happens when you don’t forgive. It just creeps into your pores— anger and resentment and yuckiness. So, I’m working on seeing this person for the goodness in them and reminding myself that we are all human, and we all make mistakes. I forgave my ex-husband a long time ago, and that was the best gift I’ve ever given myself. And if I can forgive him, I can pretty much forgive anybody else.

That should be your goal, my sisters: forgiveness.

How do You do that? You give it space. You’re compassionate with yourself. You don’t reciprocate, you take a beat, you understand it’s not personal, and you look for the goodness in them. You remind yourself that they are not rotten through and through. Remind yourself that you are not perfect. And you forgive them for you.

It doesn’t mean that you still allow abuse in your life.

I’m not going to unblock this person from my phone. But I am going to work. Now that there’s quiet, and now that I’ve set up that boundary, there is space, and I have the intention of forgiving them. And I can do that now because I’ve blocked out all of the noise. Does that make sense to you? Does that help you? I hope it does. I hope if nothing else from this podcast you get that you’re not alone, and that I’m here with you.

And the other thing to mention is that the tools that you learn when loving somebody with addiction are actual tools that you learn for the rest of your life. Addiction showed up in your life as a teacher. It’s a terrible teacher; nobody wants that teacher, but it is an opportunity to grow. It is something that gets in your face and says, “you’ve got to deal with me. Are you going to choose to deal with me today?” You are going to choose to learn the tools that you need in order to become the woman that you were made to become— the very best version of yourself.

Once you learn these tools, and once you start practicing them, they are going to save you time and time and time again for the rest of your life, whether you decide to stay in this relationship or not. These are life tools.

So, I encourage you, if you have not already, join our community. Check us out. LoveOverAddiction.com. Check out one of the programs. We have an amazing, amazing movement going on with 20,000 women. LoveOverAddiction.com. And don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast. It’s completely free, and it comes every week. I love each and every one of you. We’re in this together.

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