How Letting Things Fall Apart Can Actually Help When You Love An Addict

How Letting Things Fall Apart Can Actually Help When You Love An Addict

Do you feel like the glue holding it all together? If you weren’t taking care of all their responsibilities, it would all just fall apart. Right?

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When I was married to a good man suffering from addiction, I was convinced that if I just got him to admit he has a problem with drinking, we would be on the path to recovery.

I refused to let things fall apart. Instead, I held it all together.

After I dropped off the kids at school, I would get a cup of coffee and spend the morning reading all the latest research on addiction. 

The more I became educated about this disease, the more prepared I was.

The next time he got wasted, when he woke up from his evening of indulgence, I was waiting at the foot of the bed to lecture him and impress him with statistics and innovative ways to get sober. 

My intentions were good, and I loved this man deeply.

When he was sober, he was so loving and talented and funny. 

I wanted that guy around all the time. I had to save my family. My thinking was that I had to help us recover and live happily ever after. That’s why I was refusing to let it all fall apart.

But there was something wrong with my thinking.

Can you point it out? 

Those of you who have taken our courses can probably answer this. The problem with my thinking was that I took on his sobriety as my job. 

I said, if I just got him to admit he had a problem, everything would be better. There’s a huge difference between admitting they have an issue and actually working hard to fix it. 

I was taking this on as my responsibility.

It’s not my responsibility to get him to admit anything, and it’s not yours either. 

Let’s say for years you tried to convince them that they had a problem. You begged them to consider abstinence, and let’s say they did admit they might have an issue. 

You’re the one holding it together, and keeping things from completely falling apart.

A lot of our loved ones admit they have an issue, just to get us off their back. They think that all our pestering would go away if they tell us what we want to hear.

They have zero intention of trying to get sober. 

Do you see what I’m getting at? What you really want? What makes all the difference is to let things get bad, to stop saving them and allow so many natural consequences occur that they finally come to you and say, you know what? I’ve got to get help, and then they follow through. That’s the ticket. 

That’s when you should feel there’s hope. 

But here’s the truth:

It’s really, really hard to let things fall apart. 

The reality could mean DUIs or lost jobs. It could mean jail. But let’s be clear: You’re letting their lives fall apart, but you are not letting your life fall apart. 

While they might be getting sicker, you are getting stronger and stronger, and I know that sounds crazy, but it is entirely possible. 

It happened for me, and I’ve taught thousands of other women these same skills. 

It can happen for you too. All you need to do is focus today on letting things fall apart. 

Stay in your lane. Quit wasting energy on trying to get them to admit anything.

Just take responsibility for your own life.

I know that sounds challenging, but I’m your greatest fan, and I promise you that nothing I mentioned is anything that you are incapable of doing. 

You’re so much more capable than you think you are. 

You’ve just let addiction be that negative voice in your head for far too long, and it’s time to kick it to the curb and replace it with a loving, tender, strong, and courageous voice.

What are examples of natural consequences?

Natural consequences are things that will naturally happen in certain situations.

For example, if you stay up really late, you’ll be tired the next day. If you don’t set your alarm for work, you’ll be late to work. If you refuse to eat food, you’ll feel hungry.

Those are just a few examples of natural consequences.

Why do we enable?

We enable because we want to help. But enabling is actually extremely harmful. Enabling is different from helping because it allows the enabled person to be irresponsible. Enabling removes natural consequences for the enabled person.

How do I stop being codependent?

We believe that codependency can actually be a good thing when used in the correct circumstances.

Using your codependent tendencies in your relationship with someone struggling with addiction is usually harmful.

Start healing from your codependent relationship by being honest with yourself, stop thinking negative thoughts, don’t take things on personally that aren’t yours. You can also practice basic coping skills like deep breathing. Practice your boundaries. Focus on yourself.

Why is it so hard to let go?

The reasons are countless. Letting go is incredibly challenging because it means letting go of a storyline, letting go of part of your past that makes you who you are, it can be letting go of someone you love. There’s fear associated with letting go because it’s unfamiliar.

Many people who love someone struggling with addiction hold onto the chaos and uncertainty because it’s familiar, known, and in many ways safe.

Letting go means exploring something unknown, which is often times very scary.

Michelle Anderson

Michelle Anderson

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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