Removing The Cloak Of Addiction
Removing The Cloak Of Addiction
Sometimes addiction is like a cloak that covers things up around us and the people we love that are struggling with addiction. When I was with my ex-husband, this cloak made me not recognize myself anymore. I felt like the light had gone out inside of me. And I didn’t know if I would ever get it back or even how to get it back.
Listen to the podcast episode here:
Read the transcript and find more details here:
I know that the holidays are fast approaching. And I also know that they can be incredibly stressful. Not only because of all the responsibilities that come around holidays like the presents, the baking, and the school stuff but let’s be real. It can be really depressing when you love someone suffering from addiction, and you hear the Christmas carols on the radio, telling you how happy and jolly we should all be when things don’t feel happy and jolly.
I remember many years ago, how one Christmas, I had gotten the stomach flu the night before. And so my ex-husband, he had wrapped all the presents and left notes for the kids, and it was beautiful.
I was thinking, Oh, we’re turning a corner. He’s finally going to participate and sober up. He realizes how much our family means to him, and he’s going to get sober for the kids and me. And this is going to be a great year.
That morning the kids and I woke up, and we went into the living room, and there were all these great presents that he had wrapped. And then, in the middle of the kids unwrapping them, he said he got a call from his office and needed to leave. He grabbed his keys and took off. And I was like, wait, what, where are you going? And he’s said, Oh, there’s an emergency at the office. I need to go. And I left my laptop at the office.
So he left, and he did not come back.
I was left with the kids, opening these presents and wondering how my life got to be this bad where he’s left the children and me on Christmas Day for some work emergency? And it wasn’t work.
I later found out he went to go buy drugs because he got a call from his drug dealer. It’s moments like that where your life feels surreal. It feels like you’re living in a dream and not a reality and not in a dream, really kind of like a nightmare.
I know you guys have experienced this too. Maybe not on Christmas Day, but other days where it could be a birthday or could be the 4th of July or it could be just a regular day at a regular event that should be so easy and so natural.
And you see other families or other couples having these moments throughout their relationship. And these regular moments, they don’t come naturally to your family and your relationship. Instead, they’re filled with heartbreak, and you can’t help but compare yourself and think, what am I doing wrong that I can’t sit here and have Christmas like everybody else? I can’t rely on my partner to be here and live life with me and do life with me and show up.
And it’s not like you can pick up the phone and call a friend on Christmas Day and say, Hey, my husband just took off to meet up with his drug dealer. What do I do? Your friend has no idea. Besides, most of the time, we’re keeping it a secret because we’re so damn embarrassed not only that our lives have become this way, but because we still love them.
That’s the embarrassing, humiliating part about it. We’re hanging around. We still want to spend the rest of our lives with this person. We’re not leaving them right away and packing our bags. I was madly in love with my ex-husband that Christmas when he wasn’t around. And I hated myself for it.
I really lost my own self-respect because I thought, what kind of a human being allows this behavior to go on in her family? What kind of a mom does that and still holds onto hope that he’s going to walk through the door and be like, surprise, just joking. I am here completely sober.
I can’t even imagine what excuse he would give me that would make me feel better. But I would have believed it. Not because it was true, but because I wanted to believe him.
I wanted to believe the lies because the truth hurt so bad.
It’s one thing for someone to reject you, but it hurts on such a deeper level when they reject your kids. And you think this is not good parenting. This is not a good family life. This is not a good relationship. And you’re working so hard nonstop to try to fix it. And you can’t fix somebody that doesn’t admit that they’re broken. You can’t solve this problem for them. You can’t convince them to get sober.
And you might do an intervention or get them to rehab, and it might work. But chances are, if you look at the statistics, which I have, it rarely does. And so what do we do with that? Do we just sit there and say, okay, the holidays are going to stink, you know? And I just have to deal and make the best of it.
What do you do with the brokenness and devastation happening to you on a weekly, monthly, daily basis? Are you just helpless? Is this just your destiny for the rest of your life? Are you going to continue to allow this to happen and just sit back?
These are all the questions I was asking myself.
The more I relied on my ex-husband to come up with the answers or the solutions, the more helpless and out of control I felt. And then honestly, the weaker I felt. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I didn’t recognize myself anymore. I used to be incredibly strong and opinionated and powerful. I used to feel very powerful, and I felt like the light had gone out inside of me. That special sparkliness that was inside of me was gone and faded.
And I didn’t know if I would ever get it back or even how to get it back. And I think that sometimes addiction is like a cloak that covers things up around us and the people we love that are struggling with addiction.
But I don’t think that that light ever goes away. I don’t think it ever dies. I think it’s always there. And the way we get it back is to remove the cloak of addiction. We know our loved ones have to do that on their own, right?
But how do we remove our cloak of addiction?
Cause we’re wearing it too. Make no mistake: they call this a family disease for a reason. When you love someone struggling with addiction, you are directly affected by addiction as much as the person you love. That’s why they call it a family disease.
So how do you remove your cloak? How do you remove the cloak, which is darkening your light? So you can start to feel hopeful and let that light inside of you grow.
How do you remove it so that you can start to look at yourself in the mirror and start to feel proud, powerful, and in control of your life? How do you remove the cloak so that you feel gratitude for everything that you’ve been through? And how do you look at yourself in the mirror and feel joyful and love what you see?
That sounds really impossible sometimes, doesn’t it? I know it did for me, especially during the darkest times, but that’s what we’re going to talk about.
A lot of the times, these self-help mantras can be very elusive. Sometimes you can hear a specific phrase like, ‘let go and let God.’ These phrases always used to drive me bananas because I thought, okay, but what does that mean? What does that look like specifically? Give me the six steps to actually apply in my life.
Another example is the phrase ‘you need to learn to love yourself.’ Alright. How do I do that? Or what about ‘you need to let go of your shame.’ Okay. But what do I need to do to do that? Like I know, that’s the end goal, but how do I get there? How do I feel better while my husband is still intoxicated and not wanting to deal with his addiction? How do I feel better? Because I am desperate to feel better.
I need to start to feel better because I cannot hang on any longer. I cannot be strong one more day without trying to figure out or have a plan in place for things to get better. That’s how I felt. And I know that that’s how you felt too.
I know you are strong enough to hang on tomorrow, a week, a month, and a year from now, as long as you know, there’s a strategy in place to get better.
So I’m going to talk today about how we start removing the cloak of addiction from us.
I can’t help you with how to get them sober – wrong podcast. I have no idea. If I did, my ex-husband would’ve gotten sober. The truth is, I don’t think you can. I think that’s entirely up to them.
But what I can help you with is how to feel better and hopeful and develop a strategy that will get you to a better place. That I did figure out. I got to a place that was so amazingly good.
So I’m going to get you there too. And this is going to be a really shameless plug. So please forgive me. But if you have not invested in one of these programs, this will be your Christmas gift to yourself.
I want you to seriously look at all of the programs that we offer. Read the descriptions and see if one fits you. And if you think there’s no way you can afford that, I have two things for you.
Number one, I’m going to challenge that belief a little bit.
And I’m going to say really? Look at how much money they’re spending on drugs or alcohol or their addiction per week. And I guarantee you, the investment that you make on yourself will take away from money from the drugs or alcohol.
If they’re continuing to get high or whatever, you deserve help. And you deserve to make that investment in yourself. To put that money to work for better, not for worse.
But if you come back to me and you say, Michelle, no, seriously, I cannot afford this. Then I’ve got your back too. I absolutely do not want you not to get help based on your finances.
We have a Buy One, Give One program. For every person that buys a program from us, we give one away. All you have to do is fill out an application, and we will give you the program. I don’t want anybody not to get help because they can’t afford it. That’s not fair. That’s not right. I don’t want to be that person.
So I’m just encouraging you to please consider the idea that 2020, it might’ve been a really crappy year, but 2021 could be the best year of your life.
It could be an opportunity for you to get a strategy in place and come out on the other side of this.
Whether you leave or you stay does not matter; you can still come out on the other side of this feeling hopeful, in control, full of that confidence with the cloak of addiction removed. The light that’s inside of you will be so strong, so beautiful, so magnetic.
You could come out of this and be such a self-resilient, optimistic person. And I know that that sounds really attractive. It should because the way you’ve been living and how you’ve been coping and dealing probably isn’t working for you very well. And we need a new strategy, a new beginning, and we need to push aside all of the noise, panic, and chaos that comes with loving someone suffering from addiction.
We need to push that aside and go, okay, I’m going to make space. I’m going to clear the deck, and I’m going to take on learning and mastering myself.
I’m going to give myself permission to invest in me and my future because I don’t want to do this anymore.
This feels gross. This feels yucky. It feels dark and depressing. I know that feeling, and I know that it can get better if you do this.
What I go over in these programs teaches you exactly what I did. And let me tell you, it works. I am living proof. It’s not complicated and doesn’t require 50,000 steps. It’s actually very, very simple. And if you listen to them just 15 minutes a day, that’s enough. That’s all you need to do. I don’t want to overwhelm you. This isn’t like a workout program. So do not let money be the obstacle; I am here for you. And I want to help you because there’s such a better way to do this.
For the sake of this podcast for now, what I want to tell you is this: The way that you get to become a positive, self-reliant, and optimistic person is you start to expect the best all the time. Go ahead. I know. It’s generic and cheesy, but let me break it down for you that’s practical.
And I love to give you stories, right? So here’s my story for the day. I still have to practice this even though I left my loved one that struggled with addiction. I got a divorce, and I moved, and I remarried to a wonderful man. And I have all these kids. If you have children with your loved one, addiction doesn’t leave your life. Now my kids don’t see my ex-husband; my second husband has adopted them. And my ex-husband does not live in the same state as I do. So we don’t have to see him.
We visited him once a year in the past, but that’s not a healthy choice for us anymore. So we choose not to. But if you do leave your spouse and you do have kids, and you do have a visitation schedule, typically you’re going to have addiction in your life still. But even if you don’t have a visitation schedule, if you have children, they could have a genetic predisposition to addiction. So I still have to educate them.
And I worry a lot about them struggling with addiction.
They don’t have an addiction that I know of. I have a son in college, a daughter who’s a senior in high school, and another son in middle school. So I haven’t dealt with this yet.
But as a mom, I worry about this a lot. And I worry about how much of it is nature versus nurture, right? And we don’t know the answer to that, but I can get really worked up about it. I can easily get worked up, wondering how my ex-husband is going to influence my children and their behavior. So what do I do when I go into that spiral of, out of control and panic and anxiety and worry, because you can get there really easily, too, right?
It’s easy to get there, particularly when you’re going through a divorce or dealing with addiction in your house. How do you become this optimistic person? How do you take anxiety and panic and turn it into something positive?
Okay. It’s very simple. There are many more tools, but this is just one of them.
And I practiced it yesterday. Cause I was going there a little bit. I was allowing my mind to go there a little bit.
I was driving. So I pulled over my car, and you have to not be worried about what you look like. That’s like secret number one: you have to not care what other people think of you or being judged. You gotta get over it. So I pulled over in my car, and I sat in a parking lot. I closed my eyes, took a few deep breaths, and I thought, okay, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to think of all of what I’m worried and anxious about. And I’m gonna go one by one and unload them out loud in my car.
So I unpacked it all.
I released it. I gave my fears a voice, and I asked myself, okay, Michelle, what is going on? What are you worried about specifically? And I went child-by-child for me. So you can go about your loved one. What are you worried about? And let it go. Get it all out of your chest, all out of your stomach, all out of your throat, get it out of your body.
Let go of the tightness in your body. You’ve been trying so hard to hold it all in and hold it together and make it feel better and keep yourself contained. Let that all come out with your words, with your voice. Let it come out of your body.
And for me, I actually started to cry. I didn’t realize how full of anxiety I was, but that moment of quietness and that moment of release was what I needed. And then while you’re talking about it, be gentle, be kind, be thoughtful, go deep, and allow a sense of peace to come over you. Give yourself permission to hear the possibility that it will be okay.
What do I mean by that? I mean, if you believe in God, allow the possibility to hear God. Maybe I’m not saying like auditory like you’re going to hear him, but maybe you do. I don’t know.
Maybe you just feel a spiritual sense of peace. Maybe you hear something that tells you it’s going to be okay. Open yourself up to the possibility to be vulnerable and receive loving, kind, encouraging thoughts after you release all of this anxiety.
And for me, that happened when I was calm, when I was quiet, and when I allowed myself permission just to let it go. I waited. I sat there and waited for a sense of peace to wash over me. For a feeling, a knowing that it’s going to be okay, and then I will be okay, and my children will be okay. And I want you to do the same.
This is so simple.
But so often, I think particularly when we love someone struggling with addiction, it’s anxiety. Anxiety, panic, and chaos are what we allow to run our lives.
And we think we almost become addicted to that chaos and panic feeling because it’s like become second nature to us. We need to remove the cloak of addiction and stop allowing ourselves to be addicted.
It doesn’t take a lot of effort, but it does take a lot of discipline. Removing the cloak doesn’t take a ton of work; it just takes time. Make the choice that you will allow a different message into your life and your heart. One that doesn’t make every minute about fixing, solving, controlling. You’re just going to let everything sit there. You’re going to let it out of your body. And you’re going to receive messaging that is hopeful and positive.
It’s not going to come from your neighbor or your friend or your therapist or me or the book that you’re reading. It’s going to come from within. Or if you believe in God or something greater than God, it’s going to come from that. It’s going to come from a spiritual place, a place where something or someone knows better than you.
And it’s going to be so personal to you. I can give you positive messages, or you can read a self-help book and get what you need, but it’s not tailored specifically to you and your situation, right? It’s not handcrafted or made for you right then and there at that moment.
How do you receive a message or some hope or some peace for where you are right now?
Well, you have to listen. You have to be willing to be open. And maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think that messaging and hopeful peace comes when you’re busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, at least not for me. It comes when I am intentional. And I calm myself by finding a peaceful moment, taking deep breaths and releasing with words what’s going on and then sitting back and receiving.
Some of you might hear this and go, Michelle, that’s downright hokey. Okay. But have you tried it? When’s the last time you tried it? Just try, see what happens, maybe nothing. And then you can never try it again. Or maybe something wonderful happens.
Maybe this is a new routine that you start in your life. That’s healthy for you that doesn’t require making an appointment or handing over your credit card or, you know, eons and eons of time or driving to an office building or getting dressed up. You can do this anywhere at any time in your day. And it’s completely free. Just give it a try. What have you got to lose? Isn’t life already feeling kind of crazy enough as it is?
Why not try new things? Why not? Instead of sitting there convincing yourself that it’s not going to work or being cynical or being judgmental, why not switch that thinking and go, you know what? I’m going to try some new things that I haven’t tried before. I’m going to be open to doing new stuff, and maybe some of it will work, and maybe some of it won’t, but why not?
It could be really exciting and really fun.
It could break you out of all of the negative patterns you picked up from loving someone with addiction and release you from your anxiety and depression. You don’t know, maybe. So give it a try today.
And if you try and hear something or feel a wave of peace come over you, or feel that little spark, little light inside of you, that everybody has that thing that makes you feel extra special. If that starts to turn on a little bit, if it becomes a little stronger in this moment, if it flickers or you rekindle that feeling, I want you to write to us.
I want to hear your stories and what you’re doing. I care so much about you guys. And I know that you can do this. I know that your life a hundred percent can get better. And I know that one day in the future, you will look back on this time in your life, and you will be grateful.
You will be thankful that you are here and that you were suffering and that you were going through this deep, emotional pain because it’s leading you to such a greater place. It’s leading you into the future that you deserve. And you’re going to get there.
I know you are because you’re listening to this, and people who remain stuck don’t try. They’re the people that stay helpless. They’re the ones who don’t believe in themselves enough to try new things, to listen to this podcast, do the programs, go to therapy, or change their ways.
So don’t believe the lies that the cloak of addiction tries to convince you of.
When they come over you, say this isn’t going to last forever because it’s temporary. You’re here for a purpose. Addiction is happening to you for a reason, and it will be absolutely used for good later on; you just gotta keep doing this.
Keep walking forward, keep being open to taking care of yourself, to learning about who you are to rejecting the lies that the cloak of addiction feeds us because it tries to convince us we are worthless. It tries to convince us that we don’t deserve anything, tries to convince us that we are bad. That’s part of your battle saying, Nope, addiction that’s lies. I’m going to listen to something better. I’m not going to believe you.
And I promise you, you will get through this, and it will be okay. Promise. I can’t wait to hear from you about how this went down and if it worked. And even if it didn’t work, still email me. I want to know.
Removing The Cloak Of Addiction
Michelle Anderson has over 10 years of personal experience with loving someone who suffers from addiction. She was married to a good man who suffered from addiction to alcohol, illegal drugs, and pornography. She's used her experience to create powerful resources for women in the same circumstance. Using her own personal experience, combined with years of research and studying, she presents ideas, tips, and tools on how to handle this disease, and take care of yourself, and your family.
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