Here’s Something You Can Fix When You Love Someone Suffering From Addiction
Here’s Something You Can Fix When You Love Someone Suffering From Addiction
When we love someone suffering from addiction, we enter these relationships for all different reasons. Some women in our community grew up with addiction in their families while others had childhood trauma. The particular reason why we ended up here is unique to each of us, but we all share one thing: We wanted to ‘fix’ or ‘be fixed’.
Listen to the podcast + a story about a special song here:
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Now, hear me out, we may have not known that consciously, or maybe we did. Deep down we may have known that we were unhealthy, and hoped that engaging in a relationship could help us.
We love helping people. We want to fix and solve.
Maybe we love helping people so much that deep down we desired to connect with someone that we knew had addiction issues because we thought we could fix them.
Whatever the reasoning, remember that there’s no judgment here. And you may not know the exact reason, and that’s okay too.
While I was in the process of healing from loving a good man suffering from addiction, I was able to be honest with myself about why I’d joined this relationship in the first place.
I felt broken.
And we can be honest here, don’t we all feel broken?
I remember looking at my ex-husband and thinking that I would just kill for a guy to notice my pain. To notice my tears. To be moved enough by me to write me a song (listen to the podcast episode for more details about that). I would kill for a guy who tried to make me feel better.
I wanted to be loved deeply. To be adored. I wanted a loving and healthy relationship. And I remember looking at my ex-husband and knowing deep down that I would never have that with him. No matter how much I tried to fix him, or even how much I worked on myself.
You may feel invisible.
The truth is that when we love someone suffering from addiction, more often than not we feel invisible. We don’t feel cherished or special to them. And how could we possibly feel those feelings when they’re choosing alcohol and drugs over us? I don’t know that we can have those feelings, from them at least.
They’re choosing to not get better. Instead, they’re choosing their addiction over our relationship, over our feelings, over our kids, sometimes over us.
That can make us feel worthless.
It can make us feel like we’ve done something wrong. Or that we’re not worthy of being loved or noticed. We’re not worthy of being chosen.
I remember hearing people talk about their experiences. People that I knew who were in healthy relationships would talk about this level of love that I didn’t have. But I knew I wanted it. I knew that I needed that. And I was fully aware that I didn’t have it with my ex-husband.
Nothing that I could do would make him love me the way I wanted to be loved. There was nothing I could do to change myself that would make him love me. And of course, there was nothing I could do to change him that would make him love me the way I deeply desired.
There was nothing I could do to make him love me.
Before I had done my own healing, I would take on the fact that we didn’t have a healthy relationship. I would assume that it was something I was doing wrong, or wasn’t doing that was causing this relationship to fail. I was the reason that he didn’t love me the way I deserved to be loved.
The truth be told, I did all the tricks in the book, all the manipulations. I worked on myself so hard. I worked on our marriage, I did everything I was supposed to do. And the bottom line is simple: he didn’t choose me. Instead he chose drinking and drugs. He didn’t choose his kids. Instead he chose his addiction.
So I chose to leave and we had a tragic ending to our love story and to our marriage.
I chose to leave my marriage.
So fast forward to my marriage with Brian. We have a healthy relationship and he adores me. He loves our children. He’s a devoted, caring husband and father.
But still he does not have the power to fix me. Nobody has that power. And if they do, that’s a really scary thing, and here’s why: because then they have the power to break you.
The life lesson here is that you have to fix yourself.
There’s the empowerment, right?
Brian would walk to the ends of the earth for me. I know that. And I love that. He would lay his life down.
That’s a huge difference in my two marriages. My first marriage I was unhealthy and looking for someone to fix me. But now, in my second marriage, I came into this relationship healthy. I knew I was the only one that could fix me. I don’t rely on anyone else for that. It’s a bonus that he would try to fix me, but I don’t need that from him.
I started to feel a lot better when I wasn’t letting addiction take my attention.
I used that attention for myself, focused on my own personal growth. Instead of letting addiction steal that from me, I gave that attention to my children. To my life. Addiction was no longer a distraction for me. I was no longer trying to get my ex-husband sober.
Part of my self-work here was being left with this puddle of feelings about myself, my life, and how I got here. How do I deal with this situation that I’ve gotten myself in as I became more and more healthy?
As I started healing, I realized that everything I was looking for was right there the entire time it was right there. It was all within me. It was all within my reach. I just used addiction as a distraction, as an excuse to avoid dealing with my issues.
I used to use his addiction as a distraction.
And avoiding in a very loving way. I’m avoiding falling in love with myself, which sounds so hokey and generic, but it’s true.
So here’s my point: there’s no need to rely on a partner to fix you. That’s unhealthy. You have everything you need within to fix yourself. No matter how healthy or unhealthy the relationship is, it’s each of our own work to fix ourselves.
And again, let’s be honest: that’s hard.
It’s easier to look at someone else’s issues and try to solve all their problems.
I encourage you to hang in there. Take your time. Focus on yourself. Take that attention away from addiction and give it to yourself. Heal, explore, do hard work.
And give yourself grace through this process. This is self-work that some people never achieve their whole life long. And frankly, a missed opportunity if you ask me.
Because the self that you’ll find on the other side of that self-work is amazing. It’s profound. You may even find someone within yourself that you’ve never met before.
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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