If you are living with an addict, you are living with a crazy person. If you read Melody Beattie’s Codependent No More (which every spouse & parent of an addict should read), you will realize that by living with a crazy person, you can become some degree of crazy yourself.
Therefore, parents and spouses of addicts may also be quite ill. If they have been preoccupied with our addiction all of these years, chances are they have been avoiding anything and everything inside themselves. If and when the addict recovers, what happens when this once ongoing distraction is removed? What happens is that all sorts of pain, anger, sadness, resentment and a mountain of other unresolved stuff comes bubbling to the surface.
In some cases, parents, spouses and codependents might use someone else’s addiction to avoid doing work on themselves. And sadly, when the addict does recover, their resentment sometimes grows much stronger. Their own flaws suddenly become more apparent, but they are bitter. “Why should I have to change and work on myself also when you are the piece of shit who was drinking, using, lying, stealing and breaking my heart all these years?!”
So what can be done? Let me tell you about my wife. When I came home from treatment, it was apparent that there was a profound change in me. She knew I was better and that the worrying sick and the preoccupation was over. Uh oh. She became all but miserable, knowing that if she didn’t also grow and change, we wouldn’t make it together. She wanted and deserved the peace and calm that I had found.
So what did she do? She found a girl (a recovered addict, in fact) and went through the exact same Twelve Step spiritual process that I did. And yes, anybody can take Steps. The only word that you really have to change is ‘alcohol’ in the 1st Step. Substitute it with any number of things. Parents and spouses and codependents can be powerless over the addict, over his or her addiction, over their own feelings of anger, resentment or depression, over themselves, or over their lives. Anybody’s life can become unmanageable, meaningless or spiritually sick… and therefore we can all take Steps. Even if you just write a 4th Step inventory, or just begin to pray and meditate. These spiritual principles and tools can benefit anyone, not just demented addicts. Trust me, you will see changes inside yourself and in your outer life as well if you harness these simple tools.
God, please help parents, spouses and codependents also find their way to the Steps and to You…