The worry for the well- being of family members caught in the midst of an addiction crisis can trap you like an insect in a spider’s web.
This worry is not confined to the person identified as the addict . Substance use disorder is a disease of the family system. So, this worry radiates out to include all family members whose lives are impacted by addiction.
The worry, manifesting as fear, sleeplessness, anxiety, lack of mental clarity and soul sadness, can devour you.
Not a pretty image, but a real one.
Looking back to those years in my family’s life, there are a lot of things I wish I had done differently. That’s why my son and I co- wrote, Unchained: Our Family’s Addiction Mess Is Our Message, once he established recovery. We wanted to share with other families not only the ultimate good outcome, but how we lived through the gritty disease-riddled years, so they could find their own solutions, too.
Under the heading Hindsight Is 20/20, one important thing I wish I had done differently was to add more self-care to the crazy equation of my daily life.
I was so invested in trying to save my son and protect the rest of my family from the outcome of his addiction-fueled choices that I ran my body, the clarity of my mind and the spirit of my soul into the ground.
There were so many moving parts in our family’s life and trying (very often unsuccessfully) to keep things on an even keel for everyone, even as my son fell deeper into the disease of addiction, ultimately took a big toll on me. I didn’t take care of myself because I was so busy trying to take care of everyone else.
TBH I thought I needed to put everyone else’s needs ahead of my own.
Not a good life strategy.
It caught up with me big time. I became very ill with a bad infection and ended in a hospital for several days.
Those days in the hospital were an extreme wake- up call for me. I realized I had to practice self- care, or I would become collateral damage in the disease of addiction
Thereafter, despite all the spiraling challenges our family faced for the final difficult year before my son made a decision to live a sober life, I very intentionally made the care and keeping of my body, mind and soul a priority.
I made a decision to make time to exhale.
It’s was all pretty standard fare doing more of the good stuff: more sleep, more time spent doing enjoyable things with family and friends, more spiritual support, more prayer and meditation, and more physical activity. I also sought more help from recovery communities – my own 12 Step fellowship and recovery professionals who helped me better navigate all the challenges inherent in a family addiction crisis.
There were still many rocky days that I had to live out until my son had his moment of clarity a year after my stint in the hospital.
But all those mores helped me to face those tough days with more balance, wisdom and peace.
How do you take care of yourself as you seek solutions for your loved ones?
What can you do to ensure that you practice self -care in the midst of the family systems illness of substance use disorder?
Please share here. Help and hope are always available. We can all be inspired by our collective experience, strength and hope.
Connect With Nancy
For information and guidance for help and resources for you or your loved one please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nancy is co-author of Unchained: Our Family’s Addiction Mess Is Our Message.