A Message for Parents and Spouses
Never let anyone break your spirit... ever.
I'm just going to give you some sound advice. Sure we are all different people but it's really not that complicated. We all have the same problem and trust me, you want to just keep it simple. Ockham's razor, the scientific credo, asserts that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.
In other words, the simplest explanation is the best, and yet today the scientific, medical, and psychiatric community violate their very own code and try to increasingly complicate the shit out of addiction... so please, let me help you out a bit.
By the way, when my wife told me to either quit or she's leaving, while I didn't immediately stop, I did have to ask myself if I really wanted to lose everything. The problem is that if we are never given an ultimatum, we will never fear losing anything.
And if we are finally given an ultimatum and choose to lose everything just so we can live a life of drug use, then we don't deserve you to begin with... so have enough self-respect to let us go.
If you have an alcoholic or addicted spouse or child, you should set an ultimatum. Tell us that we must get better (i.e. take steps etc. whether in or out of treatment) and do whatever it takes to stay sober (as well as spiritually / morally in tact) or you can no longer carry on a relationship with us, because you see, if we choose not to get better, what we are saying is that drugs are more important than you, and you cannot honor that, so do not settle for that.
Addicts and alcoholics who don't get better don't care that much about you. Trust me, it is the truth, despite all the theatrics and the pleas and so forth. Continuing to engage in a relationship with an addict is toxic for both of you, but especially you.
Many parents and spouses tell me that they have tried ultimatums, but they really haven't. They always cave within days or weeks and continue to shower the addict with food, shelter, love, etc... even money, if you can fathom such a thing. NEVER give an addict money.
At any rate, it is ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL to follow through on any decision you make. If you give an ultimatum and fail to follow through, it is a passive acceptance of what we are doing. It says to us that we can continue to do what we're doing and you will eventually cave. It also sends the message that it is acceptable to make decisions in life and fail to follow through, and making healthy decisions and following through IS EXACTLY WHAT ADDICTS NEED TO DO BUT NEVER DO!
Furthermore, caving is also a way of dishonoring and disrespecting yourself, which sends the message that it is acceptable to dishonor and disrespect yourself. So don't go setting any ultimatums unless you are 100% willing to honor your decision and follow it through until the end. It's much better not to set an ultimatum at all than to do so and cave.
When you set an ultimatum with your addict, you can also tell us why it should be an easy decision to make. If we fail to agree, you should ask us, "So dope and killing yourself is more important to you than our family, our love?"
Tell us that we are ripping your heart out every moment of every day and that you live your life in agony. Tell us that our actions are eating away at your spirit and darkening your own life experience. Tell us that we are robbing you of your own joy, happiness, and inner peace. Tell us that you are never okay so long as we are not okay. Tell us of the pain we cause you.
Finally, tell us that we are going to die and that you are terrified, devastated and broken. Addicts are deaf and self-centered, so if you are going to waste your breath at all, speak of the pain you are in, not the pain we are in.
If you want to attempt to will your addict or alcoholic to get better, then you will need to pray very hard, as it may not work at all. However, I think the best way to go about doing this is to challenge them. Dare them to recover. Say something like, "Prove it to me. I bet you can't recover. I bet you can't get better and stay better for any length of time. Prove me wrong if you think I'm wrong, but I don't think you can do it. It seems like you just don't have it in you."
Nobody, addict or not, likes to be told they aren't capable of doing something, that they just don't have it in them, that they don't have the guts, the courage, the fortitude, the strength, the brains, the talent. So challenge them. Dare them to prove that they can get better and stay better. Challenge their mettle. Most stubborn types are competitive and will want to accept and win any and all challenges, especially ones that somebody stuffs in their face.
You have to remember that you are dealing with someone who you love and who is killing themselves and causing indescribable heartache to you and all those who closely surround them. So it is OKAY to challenge them. IT'S NOT MEAN OR CRUEL to imply that they might not have what it takes, that they might just be too much of a wuss.
One of the gravest mistakes parents make is thinking that the addict already has no self-esteem and feels horrible about themselves and so it would be dead wrong to just insult them and pile on more.
You have it all wrong.
The truth is that feelings of self-pity etc. are actually selfish and immature feelings and we MUST learn to toughen up a bit and get over it if we are to grow up and succeed in the adult world. So you're not insulting us, you are trying to get us to dig deep and challenge ourselves.
No pity pot will recover. It is actually GOOD for us to get over ourselves and our feelings, to understand that every human being on earth has low self-esteem and shame but that there is no excuse for cowering away and using drugs.
People are way too delicate with addicts. And we will go right along with that victim bullshit because we know it will get you to feel oh so bad for us. Look, everybody suffers. Suffering is NOT an excuse to use. Coddling addicts emotionally is the ABSOLUTE WORST thing anybody can do because in order to grow up, face ourselves, face the world and be successful out there, we actually have to toughen up and grow a thicker skin. All of us must, or else the world will have its way with us.
Look, these are just life lessons, so don't rob the alcoholic or the addict of an opportunity to face the realities of adulthood. We are children who simply refuse to grow up, so please go right ahead treat us as such.
Hope that helps.
Posts Geared for Parents, Spouses & Codependents
God, please allow every addict in the world to become so hopeless that they have no choice left but to reach out to You...