I have learned that, despite how much I love every single one of my addicted family members, they are not my responsibility.
Addiction is part of my story. It wasn’t all my addiction, though. I have woken up every morning wanting to use for the last three years. Every morning, I have to make a conscious effort not to. What I have learned from my blue collar, hard working family is there is no shame in this. We all have issues. It’s a family disease.
I was born to a person with alcohol use disorder who has been sober 20 of the 30 years I’ve been on the planet. I have a brother who was addicted to cocaine and booze. He was abstinent for eight years, relapsed, and been in remission this time for one year. I have an uncle that was addicted to alcohol and has been in recovery for about 15 years. My two cousins were both addicted to heroin. One is currently in prison and the other took his own life.
My cousin who passed away was sober for probably three years. He needed psychiatric help and acknowledged that. However, he learned he would have to wait four months before a good doctor could see him.
Apparently, he couldn’t wait that long. He hung himself.
He said once, “I would rather die then use again.”
We all have our problems with substances and other struggles. I say, never be ashamed. Our struggles made us who we are. I learned it’s okay to take a mental health day when you feel overwhelmed. Take a sick day and veg out on the couch.
I also learned that, despite how much I love every single one of my addicted family members, they are not my responsibility. Sure, I will love them and help them, but their choices are not for me to make. As a teen I used to drive around looking for my brother. Most my young adult life was consumed by locating my brother when he was on one of his binges while my mom sobbed at home, wondering if he was dead or in jail.
I learned that making other people’s decisions for them is not my job. My job is to live my life. If my family members need or want help, they have to ask. No matter what I did to try and help in the past obviously didn’t work. So I learned to live my life, love them unconditionally, and be there with open arms when they came knocking.
That is all we are capable of. We cannot babysit them, stop them, or any of that. All we can do is love them and let the chips fall where they may. We have to pray they hit their rock bottom and find recovery. It’s an awful thing to deal with and I pray one day this isn’t a struggle for families to face!