So you married an addict now what? Is this it for the rest of your life? No, as destructive and crippling as addiction is, whether it is alcohol/drugs, sex, relationships, work, shopping or food, there is hope. As you stare at your wedding bands, the promise of love for a life time, realize you are not alone. Self care will be a life saver for you and your family.
Find a Community
Sitting in Al-Anon over the last 13 years this statement alone may have saved my life and my marriage 100’s of times.
We, too, were lonely and frustrated, but in Al-Anon we discovered that NO SITUATION IS TRULY HOPELESS and that it is possible for us to find contentment and even happiness whether the alcoholic (addict) is still drinking/mood altering or not. Suggested Al-Anon Meeting Opening Welcome
Many days, I just wanted to know there was hope, that I was not alone. I needed to know I could reach out and call someone else who would understand and have compassion on my situation. I had already tried forcing my husband to go to AA. This solution lasted about 6 months. I needed a group for me that would “get me” but not judge me. In Al-Anon I met women who lived through my current situation and sometimes far worse, who could laugh, cry and take life on life’s terms. I found myself relaxing on the way to the Al-anon meeting even on the nights my young boys came along. Just being in the room listening to the Al-Anon Meeting Opening Welcome brought me comfort. There are many other styles of of recovery and recover meeting the main thing is to just walk through the door. You don’t even have to say anything. Sit and listen.
Self -Care: DO IT!
A key commonality of a person who marries an addict is over involvement in the addicts life. Self-care becomes non-existent. In my case, two small children, and a large house 20 miles outside of town, drained what was left of my time and energy. Everything went to the boys, housekeeping, and maintaining some relationship with my husband. I did not exercise, go to the doctor, spend time with friends, ski or even ride my beloved horses. I controlled and managed everything I could get my hands on which only left me exhausted and drained of joy. You have control over your time. Look for small ways to daily take care of yourself. Think of it like your oxygen mask, you can’t help your children breathe if you can’t do it for yourself.
- Find a friend to walk with regularly. This does not have to be a confidant…Just a friend to get out with, to be in nature.
- Keep a journal about the day; write both frustrations and joys.
- Get enough sleep. Not sleeping enough is like a dense hang-over, every aspect of life becomes depressing.
- Enjoy your children. If you have kids, lay aside time everyday to just be with them.
- Worship, listen to music, listen to the bible, listen to sermons, listen to stories.
- Focus on what is good, noble and true. It is often our own thought life that often drags our bodies into the pit of despair.
- Food! There I have said it! Put trash in your mouth, your body and mind respond by dropping you mood to the basement.
- Nothing is or will be perfect. If you always need to see a clean house, cut a picture out of a magazine a tap it to the fridge.
- Find one person, just one, who can (when called upon) say something nice to you and about you. CALL THEM!!
- Attend church even when it seems it is more frustration than it is worth. Just sit, be quiet.
- Seek out Bible studies and groups just to keep hearing the Word of God.
- Ask for help, when you need it.
- Bring the kids to church just as a place to get loved on by other adults.
- Ask for pray.
Disclaimer: Not all churches understand addiction. Look for one that supports a Celebrate Recovery, AA, Al-Anon program. These churches normally have more of a heart to understand the issues that surround family’s dealing with addiction.
Family- One Less Secret
This is tricky. I kept my parents in the dark for a long time on my personal home life. When I finally began to talk with my extended family I felt a big weight had been lifted. As with any unpleasant news there was shock, anger, grief, sadness and frustration. None of us knew what to do but a least there was one less secret.
Assessment-Are You Safe?
Quality of Life at Present–
We are only promised one day at a time. It may be helpful to ask a trustworthy friend, counselor or recover group member to help you access the following areas of you life. This is not a pity party, but a realistic look at the situation from a trusted outside person.
Are you mentally or physically in danger. If this is hard to see, have an trusted member of you community help you think this through.
Are basic needs being denied to you by yourself because of lack of self care or because your spouse in absorbing the resources.
Are you able to connect to God. Can you care for yourself emotionally, seek help and take breaks to connect with family members. Are you lying to protect the family secret?
Where can you seek community support to access the situation for yourself. Only you can decide what is the best course of action for you but often you need help to sort out the options.
Local newspapers and churches for Al- Anon, AA and Celebrate Recovery groups