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When Emotions Turn Toxic

I was reading an article this morning that contained the latest stats regarding addiction overdose and changes in the brain of an addict/alcoholic. And it hit me anew: that sort of information, though helpful, is not what heals family members. What heals those in the path of a loved one's use is this: learn new ways to deal with those old, tired emotions.

Expressive art captures the emotions of relationships beset with addiction; it is the image of a broken heart in the middle of the picture that creates both problems and lessons. Your mode of dealing with the pain, confusion, grief, anger and all those other dark-side-of-the-moon feelings will either lead you into your own healing process or keep you in a mire of trying to do-the-next-right-thing for the one addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Remembering that addiction is a physiological illness occurring inside the addict and has zip-zero-nothing to do with you. It's not yours. It belongs to them and it can be healed. Your emotions belong to you and they can also be healed. Your anger may feel like it belongs to your husband after he comes home drunk after he promised not to stop at the bar, but it's not his. It's yours. Your fear may feel like it belongs to your daughter after you try in vain to reach her, but the emotions belong to you not her.

What is not helpful during periods of aroused emotions is to let them work against you. Shouting or blaming or accusing the one addicted for "ruining my life," or going into an emotional tailspin when your daughter does not answer her cell phone stops you from accepting responsibility for your own process. Toxic feelings are those that impact peace of mind and heart and keep you in victim mode. Don't let that happen to you!

Reaching out to others, creating a wellness practice, finding ways to deepen your wisdom well, taking your eyes off the addicted one and placing full attention on changing your role in the addict's life will bring healing to your mind and spirit.

There is a poem too lengthy to quote here, but it's a gem and a lifesaver: "The Journey," by Mary Oliver. Google it and know that little by little you will find your strength.


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