Episode 101: How To Find Compassion For Your Loved One Who Suffers From Addiction
Do you struggle to find compassion for your loved one who drinks too much or suffers from addiction? Do you find yourself resentful towards them? For years, I would let my anger eat away at me from the inside out whenever my ex-husband chose drinking and drugs over me.
I would get irritated at the little things. Most of the time I felt discontent (even during the short breaks of sobriety), and I felt bitter because my life was being taken over by addiction and had become such a mess.
But being angry at the one you love most of the time isn’t healthy. So how do we overcome feelings of resentment? First, let’s start off with the word “overcome.”
The truth is we can’t overcome anything in the dark world of addiction. We have to walk through our pain. There is no skipping steps or jumping over work we need to do. We need to feel all the feelings. And make peace with the fact that we are being treated unfairly.
If we’re choosing to stay with the one who is struggling with drinking or addiction, we’re going to need to get our expectations aligned with reality.
I know that is hard to hear.
But once we accept the TRUTH of what our partners CAN and CANNOT give us, we can find what we need from other sources and stop waiting around to receive it from people who are not capable of giving it to us right now.
This is such a valuable tool for ALL of us to learn whether we are in love with someone who has addiction issues or someone who doesn’t struggle with them at all.
When I left my first husband and got married to Brian, I remember thinking, “This is going to be perfect, and I am going to get everything I’ve always needed from a partner because this man doesn’t struggle with addiction.”
And if I were quiet enough, I probably would have heard God laughing at me. Brian is a wonderful guy. When I think about him, my heart gets warm. But my love language is words of affirmation. I love when he tells me why he loves me and if I’ve done a good job at something.
But Brian’s love language is acts of service. So he shows me he loves me when we’re in bed at night and I casually say I’m thirsty. He quickly gets up, goes downstairs, and comes back with bottled water one minute later.
Do you see where I am going with this?
Accepting our partners for who they are today will help us lose our resentment tomorrow.
The second step is to give back any responsibility you may be taking for work that can only be done by the one you love. You can’t control them, and you can’t make them get better. Besides, you have your work to do, right? So let’s stay in our lane and focus on our work.
Are you taking care of yourself every day? Do you log into one of the programs every week? Are you making healthy choices? Do you make time for the things you love? Doing difficult things will help you stay focused on the one thing you can control in this situation, YOU.
One of the reasons we feel resentful is because we feel helpless. And that’s a lie addiction wants you to believe. Don’t fall for it. You’re a smart woman, and you’re not powerless.
The last step to letting go of resentment is to feel the opposite—compassion. A few years ago, a friend called me from the grocery store, and she was feeling furious about something her partner (who struggles with addiction) was doing. I listened to her without interrupting and then reminded her that this person is fighting for their life.
They know how badly they’re hurting everyone else. They understand on an intense level that they’re challenging to love right now. In fact, they don’t love themselves one bit. They feel like a screw-up and a failure. And they can’t find the strength right now to get sober.
It must feel awful. I can’t even imagine craving something so severely that it controls your entire body and mind. When the high and numbing is gone, feelings of incredible shame remain. It sounds like such a painful and destructive way to live.
When we tap into the pain, the resentment is replaced with compassion and provides us with an entirely different perspective.
Here’s the challenging part: if you’re choosing to stay with your loved one, you have to become darn good at these three techniques, my friend. You’ll need to practice a lot. But the good news is they are wonderful life skills that work and will make you a stronger woman.
You can do it. We are here for you every step of the way. If you fail, accept the failure for as long as you need, then dust yourself off and try again. Failure is part of the whole messy process of learning. I fail every single day, and I still have to remember to forgive myself and keep walking through it.
Are you ready to take your healing to the next level?
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