If life were a teabag, I would claim mine was steeped in addiction. My personal and professional lives have been flavored and created by family alcoholism. And despite all the inherent rawness and imperfection found there, I am grateful.
I am grateful because somehow I found a way out of those painful dynamics. I gained awareness of how the untreated illnesses of my father and my spouse jaundiced their ability to form healthy emotional relationships. They were not bad men, just men who listened way-too-many-years to the siren call of their addiction to alcohol.
Alcoholism/addiction is a less-than-charitable illness, a greedy, grasping, malicious one that is capable of eating away the emotional health of all concerned.
So after winding through the painful paths created by my own responses to those rocky dynamics, I somehow made my way into personal recovery and into a profession that feeds both my spirit and soul. But take me into a social setting outside of recovery circles and I am often left scratching my proverbial head when asked what I do for a living.
My response, "I've worked in the field of addiction counseling for 30 + years," is almost always followed by some seconds of silence.
"Oh really." Do I sense a slight pull-away? "That must be really difficult work."
Then onto more socially acceptable topics like climate change or ways to cheapen one's cable bills. I've come to expect social conversations to hit that wall. Years ago I stopped trying to explain the spiritual benefits derived from working in a profession whose sole purpose is helping others claim emotional/psychological health in the face of active addiction. Sometimes I wish I could shout out the benefits.
Yes, cable men and women are valuable; they repair important parts of our external lives. Addiction counselors are privileged to be a part of repairing our internal lives. And here are but a few of the benefits a family member can claim when tired enough of the pain experienced through a loved one's addiction to drugs or alcohol:
1. A deeper understanding of what powerlessness to change another actually means
2. Emotional flexibility, knowing what you feel and what to do with what you feel
3. An invitation to look at all that is good about being YOU
4. Developing your personal spiritual components of God, Higher Power, the Divine
So step away from trying to rescue the addicted one and step into your own recovery. You'll find all the help you need to begin healing your relational dynamics!