There’s hope. For both of you.
If you want to want to get started on the path to recovery and become your loved one’s best chance for choosing recovery, here are a couple of tips that will help you.
Make a commitment to end your suffering and start connecting with your loved one who is suffering with substance use disorder.
The pain that comes from dealing with the consequences of someone’s active addiction is natural. But, the suffering is optional.
I remember times when my husband was using, spewing hateful words at me, sleeping with other women, and exhibiting violent behavior. I remember how much pain I felt and that was natural. However, the suffering I felt was only because I was attached to believing that his behavior was intentional, that he could control it, and was choosing not to.
The same was true when my daughters were high on opiates and eventually using IV heroin. I would see them when their eyes were rolling in the back of their head and they couldn’t stay present with me, when they seemed like they were in another world and did things that were unimaginable to me.
It was my attachment to my beliefs about what I was seeing that caused me to suffer. A very wise friend of mine once said that suffering doesn’t come from the situation you’re in, it comes from identifying with what your mind is telling you about it. When we believe we’re dealing with stupid choices and bad behavior, rather than a brain that’s been hijacked, it’s understandable why we would react with anger and feel resentment. It’s a matter of perception.
That is why it’s so important for us as parents and family members to get educated about our loved one’s substance use disorder and understand how the brain gets hijacked by drugs and alcohol and leads to the actions they are taking and the words coming out of their mouths. Then, rather than yelling and screaming and shaming and blaming, we can learn how to relate to them from a calm, inner peace and develop compassion and empathy for both ourselves and our loved ones.
Once we get educated and find compassion, we can embark on a journey to get over our judgment and anger and the often-venomous shaming and blaming that follows our misguided judgement and anger toward our loved one, rather than the disorder and the substances that they are using. We can learn to view their substance use as strategies they began using to cope with their own perceived pain and stresses, just as others might use TV, cigarettes, food, yelling or blaming as strategies to deal with stresses and pain. Compassion and empathy, along with finding tools for restoring our own inner calm are critical if we are going to recover our lives and become our loved one’s best chance.
Make a commitment to get informed about addiction and get over the judgment and anger as quickly as possible, so that you can re-connect heart to heart and become your love one’s best chance at recovery. The quality of your connection with your loved one is your greatest tool to help motivate and influence them to move toward recovery and/or sustain new sobriety.
So, you might be asking how else can you quickly get reconnected? In addition to learning about their condition and gaining compassion and empathy, you can start immediately using a gentle tone of voice whenever you speak to them. You can learn specific language techniques to break down the walls that have been built up because of the judgment, anger, resentment, harsh words, looks, and body language which often tear at the heart and soul of both ourselves and our loved ones.
Next time you have a chance to connect with your loved one, try seeing them as if you were looking at an infant, try speaking to them with a tone as if you were cooing a baby, try looking into their eyes from your soul to theirs. Tell them you are happy to see them, happy to hear their voice, happy to be with them in the moment.
This may seem counterintuitive, with all the damage and challenges that come with substance use disorder until we learn more about it. But time and time again I have seen miracles happen as a result of clients using every opportunity to re-connect with their loved one’s in this way. Clients often report that they feel the walls begin to soften and come down.
Embrace every opportunity you have, to have heart-to-heart, honest conversations about what you’re observing and how concerned you are. Speak from your soul to theirs without judgmental tones, angry eyes, facial expressions, and detached, angry body language. This can be the beginning of recovery for ourselves and our loved ones.
For more information on how you can be your loved one’s best chance, please call 424-203-4569.